Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ballseye Is Packin' Heat Again

I am giving official notice - to muggers, robbers, gang members, terrorists, father rapers, and any dirtbag who cares to threaten me or my family with loss of life or serious bodily harm, that as of yesterday - I am again packin' heat. I will not hesitate to use it within my rights of self protection or in protection of my family or other innocent parties. You have been warned.

Most sincerely,
PS: If you do plan to do me or my family harm, read up on why I have the Ballseye moniker and bear in mind that over the years my training and my shooting have both improved. In addition, my attitude remains the same with regard to those who would attempt to kill or seriously harm me or my family or other innocent parties.

Further Reminiscences - And Then There Were The Long Guns

Since I recently reminisced about the handguns that I have shot, I figured I may as well also think about the long guns I fun with over the years. Like with the handguns, when it comes to rifles and shotguns I have owned some, was issued others throughout my career, and had other folks let me use theirs' now and again. I am pretty sure, as with the handguns, that I will not remember each and every one of them but I am going to do my best to recall ND list the ones I have shot, with some regularity, in this post.

Summer camp, I got sent away to camp each year for 5 years from when I was about 8 or 9 through 13 or 14 years of age. Although I screamed and yelled and fought like a cornered catamount each July 5th, not wanting to be sent away from home, I have to say that once I started shooting (and fishing and archery and catching frogs and turtles and snakes and camping out and all that good stuff) I liked it. It was at Taconic Lodge near Cold Spring, NY, where I first learned to fire a gun. That was a BB Rifle and I have no idea which brand or model. Once I had mastered the BB rifle, to the satisfaction of the range officers, all Marist Brothers as it was asleep away camp run by the  Catholic Church, I was allowed to move on to the real guns. While I do remember the brands of those rifles, I am not too sure about the models. There is something I will never forget though - the feel of them or the thrill of shooting them. Nor will I forget the bite of Brother Richard Lewis' or Brother John's lanyards across my thighs if I did something considered not safe while shooting. I will never ever forget that they instilled the rules of firearms safety into me and there were a lot more than just 4 rules back then! let me give a little info, as I remember it, about the guns with which I learned to shoot, my summer camp guns.

Summer Camp Long Guns:

The guns of summer camp were Remington and Winchester bolt action repeating rifles. I am not too sure of the models but the Remingtons were very similar to my Remington Matchmaster 513T. There is a good possibility they were in fact that model otherwise were very similar to it. I distinctly recall the very heavy weight of the Remingtons and that they seemed huge. That was in marked contrast to the Winchesters which were quite the bit lighter. Back then I preferred the lighter Winchesters, that was until I realized I actually shot better with the heavier Remingtons. I am guessing that was after a year or two of shooting them and of me growing and putting on a bit of strength. The Remingtons definitely had peep sights with a globe type front sight. I do not remember, with certainty, the type of insert that was used in the front sight but think it may have been a post. As for the Winchesters, I have no idea as to the model. Funny how I have an idea as to the Remingtons but not to the Winchesters. They too had peep sights if I recall correctly. Both brands of rifle fired from a box magazine. Of course, at first, we were only allowed to load one shot at a time. We had to hit the marksman level, in an NRA course of fire, before we were promoted to loading five rounds in the magazines. I think my 513T mag holds 6, but at camp, 5 is all they let us load. I got decent to good at shooting and was awarded some patches for my marksmanship. I never forgot about, learning to shoot and all the fun that went with it. It was a good thing.

After summer camp, it was pretty much a long dry spell for me relative to shooting opportunities. Over the years, I got to shoot a few rifles belonging to friends when we went upstate during the summer or hunting season. I was forbidden from owning a gun by my mom. Go figure, she sent me to summer camp where I learned to shoot and she would not have a gun in the house. The few long guns I remember shooting in my later teens and then in my young twenties were:

Wayward Youth (Almost) Guns:

Japanese Arisaka Type 38: I remember it had a flower stamped into the metal atop the receiver, seemed a strange place to stamp a flower. My buddy Mike owned it, his dad had brought it back from WWII. It was in really great condition. I am certain it was a carbine and pretty sure it was a Type 38. One day, Mike asked if any of us wanted to fire it and I said sure. I was the only guy out of 4 of us in total who was willing to shoot it. I took a look at it, then loaded it up then fired it. Mike said he had expected it to blow up because he thought the barrel was bent. It just went bang as it should have gone and that was it. Fired it a few times I think, always on trips upstate. It had one heck of a kick.

Unknown Make & Model 22: My friend Gerhardt had a 22 caliber rifle. I don't remember the brand or make. We shot that quite a few times when we visited a bungalow owned by his parents near Newburg

I did not buy my first firearm, probably until I was about 21 or 22 years old. That was a pistol, an RG-25 semi-auto. I did not get my own long gun until at least a couple or few years later, that was just after I started my federal LEO career as a Border Patrol Agent. I am guessing I got it in 1980 or 81. Before that though, I had been familiarized with some other long guns. That was at the Border Patrol Academy, at FLETC in Glynco, GA, from October 1979 though February 1980. Since I shot them before the rifle I wound up buying for myself, I'll list em first.

BP Academy Long Arms:

Remington 870: The shotgun of choice as far as I am concerned. My experience with this shotgun at the academy impressed me with the power of the 12 gauge and the versatility of a pump gun. Throughout my career of 32 years, the Remington 870 was usually my weapon of choice if going out on a potentially dangerous operation. That was while I was in the Border Patrol and then in the Customs Service all the way through the Department of Homeland Security in ICE and HSI. There was a short time in there, when I was in the Customs Service years later, that I sometimes chose an MP-5 over the shotgun. I had both issued to me at the same time but I eventually gave up the MP-5 and stayed with the shotgun for most of the remainder my career.

Remington Model 760 Pump Action Rifle in .308 - Now here was a fun gun, one heck of a nice rifle. We did not get to shoot them much but did get to have some fun with them. More fun with these was in store for me later on.

My Long Arm Purchases Circa My Border Patrol Days:

I did not buy many guns, at least not many rifles and shotguns while I was a Border Patrol Agent but I did buy a couple of them. Lest I keep you in suspense, here they are:

Ruger 10/22: I bought a standard version with a birch stock. I an pretty sure I bought mine in early or mid 1980 although the buy could have been made in 1981. Whenever it was that I got it, I have to say that when work moved the decimal point on my paycheck over by 2 spaces, I was happy to have this rifle and a box of shells for it. You see, my paycheck, paid every two weeks, was something like $526.00. One payday, they paid me on time as usual but what was unusual was that they moved the decimal point and it was moved to the left - 2 spaces. Yep, they paid me a whopping $5.26 and I was otherwise pretty broke. I got to borrow a little money from a friend or two but I sure had to be frugal. So I went out and shot myself a fat cottontail while I waited the next few days before work got my pay issue straightened out. Along with a head of broccoli that somehow followed me home and some carrots that materialized in my tricky bag, I ate pretty good for a few days and finally got paid the right amount. That very same 10/22 is still sitting in my gun locker today. It holds a place of honor as a good provider. Over the years it has taken a good number of small game and shot the heck out of a lot of paper and steel targets and good bunch of tin cans too. That even though the front sight dot broke off of it years ago, maybe when I as still in the BP out in CA or maybe back here in NY, I cannot remember. Never got it replaced, there is more than enough front sight left to shoot well with it the way it sits.

Remington 870 Wingmaster: I also bought myself a really nice Remington 870 Wingmaster in 12 gauge while I was in the Border Patrol. I saved for quite the while to get that one. It was a beautiful gun and I got a good amount of rabbits, dove and quail with it in the couple or few years I had had it out west. A few years after I moved back home to NY, I wound up selling it to a coworker. When he asked me why I was selling it, I told him, "Because I am getting married and I need the money". What a peckerwood was I to have sold that gun, it truly was a beauty. That was in about 1986. I wound up replacing it with another 870 not all that later on but not one with anywhere nearly as nice a metal and wood finish and wood checkering as had that Wingmaster. Wish I still had it is all I can say.

That was it for the long guns that I owned while I was in the Border Patrol. Of course, I was issued some long arms, well not really issued to me long term but rather on a day by day basis depending on where I would be working. If working in town, it was unlikely I would take out a rifle and somewhat more likely I may take a shotgun. If working certain areas that were bad spots, I would often take a shotgun and if working out in the desert, I would sometimes take a rifle. I also got to dabble with a submachine gun while I was a BPA.

Border Patrol Issue Long Arms:

Shotgun & Rifle:
Just as at the academy, we had Remington 870 shotguns and 760 rifles. I am not sure how many of each that we had, but am pretty sure it was at least 6 to 10 shotguns and about the same amount of rifles. No reason to list more about them here, they were pretty standard versions, of course the 870 had a smooth bore with rifle sights on the barrel. The rifles also used steel sights, no glass for us. I will say that I had some fun shooting these guns at the range and out in the desert. Never had to defend myself with one but know if I had to have done so, they would have gotten the job done well. We had one supervisor who used to hold shoots with the rifles out in the desert, our range for the 760s, since the local ranges would not allow them. He held a few shoots with them but often, it seemed, the shoots were cancelled instead of being held. Seemed more often than not. The thing was, he always took the ammo for those shoots, and I heard he always reported that we (as the agents who had been scheduled attending those phantom shoots) always shot it all up. When he retired, he reportedly drove out of town hauling a small open bed trailer that held about 10 or more full cases of .308 ammo - go figure, as far as I know they did not arrest him.

Submachine Gun:
Heckler & Koch MP5 - I am certain it was an H&K and pretty sure it was an MP-5. We got a few of these, for emergency situations, after the Cuban Refugee program had been running full force and there had been a few riots at the INS El Centro detention facility. They were never issued as far as I am aware but a cadre of agents was qualified with them in case they ever had to be issued. I was among the agents so qualified although the first time I fired this gun on full auto I left some to be desired. The MP-5s that we had, required a key to get them into full auto. Once set to full auto, a brief squeeze of the trigger would fire the gun in a 3 round burst, If, instead, you held the trigger fully rearward and kept it there, it would fire full auto. This was explained to me and they told me to go ahead and fire it in 3 round bursts. I think the first shot was 2 rounds, the remaining were all 3 round bursts, The firearms instructor was duly impressed as somehow I had overcome my klutziness and gotten it done better than anyone else. I liked that gun immediately! He came over, had me reload with a fresh mag, and told me to shoot at balloons set up across about 5 targets downrange. What he wanted me to do was to hold the trigger back all the way and keep it there, thus firing in full auto. Okay, I did what he told me to do but had no experience firing anything like this except for what I had just fired in burst mode moments before. The gun started to blaze and I started pivoting a bit from left to right and as I did so I did not realize the gun was rising until it was pointed up at about a 45 degree angle or more. Just the, the engine of a small plane flying overhead started to cough and sputter. They were sure I had hit the plane and we all expected it to crash but after a few seconds, the engine started to whirr as it should have been doing. That engine running right again was music to my ears and I can say without a doubt those few moments between it sputtering and whirring seemed an eternity. I shot that gun several more times but as I said, they never issued, them, except for range familiarization and qualifications, as far as I am aware, at least not while I was still working for that agency.

Four years in the Border Patrol was more than enough for me, well maybe I should say 4 years in Calexico, CA. The Mexicans called it El Hoyo, the hole, and those are my feelings about it too. It was culture shock to say the least. As far as the BP went, it was a great place to work, the people working their were truly outstanding and the job, well while everyone did burnout doing it, it was an adventure nonetheless, the real wild west. Still though, Calexico and the whole Imperial Valley and most of California were not for me.

So I decided o try to get back to New York, and I finally landed a job with U.S. Customs Tactical Enforcement Division as a Patrol Officer at JFK Airport. A few years later, I got the much better job, still with Customs, as a Special Agent. Customs was a great place to work, the people there were wonderful and the work was excellent. I got a lot of firearms experience while with Customs and it was while with them when I first became a firearms instructor as part of my collateral duties. They had me attend an NRA Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor class, for pistol, revolver, shotgun and rifle, and it all blossomed from there. Some years later I also attended similar training classes within the agency, when it was time to recertify. I became familiar and adept with a bunch of different firearms and was skilled enough to then take a Heckler & Koch MP-5 training class offered by my agency and I was certified to carry one of them. It seemed natural that I would also later become an MP-5 instructor.  Those were fun times. Without further adieu, here is the list of long arms that I was issued at one time or another while with Customs:

Customs issued Long Arms:

Remington 870 (at least 3)

Ruger Mini 14

Submachine Gun:
Heckler & Koch MP5 (2)

The list of issued long arms at Customs was not all that long but they were what would have been needed to get the job done. I went on an awful lot of operations armed with the shotgun or MP-5. Thankfully I never needed to fire them for defense.

After 9/11, well the job changed. The Immigration & Naturalization Service was done away with by an Act of Congress. The investigative functions of the U.S. Customs Service and the old I&NS were then merged with some other agencies into Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the newly formed department of Homeland Security. The job went downhill after that. Sure there were good people with which to work but truth be told the agency was pretty much rudderless under mostly inept management. one of the biggest problems was the concept of management versus leadership. We did not have leaders, we had managers who did not know how to lead the charge but who would tell this person or that person to do the job because the managers did not know anything about it. I said for the most part, some of our supervisors and mid level managers had come up from the ranks and knew how to get it done, just not most, not by long shot. As a matter of fact, the third or fourth survey regarding moral in federal agencies has just been reported on and ICE came in about 222 out of 240 agencies, the higher the number, the lower the moral. Again, it is mostly because those steering the sinking ship don't have a clue where they are headed - especially under the current administration. But I digress, let me stick to my guns and list those issued to me in ICE, later called Homeland Security Investigations (because they thought a name change might warm up our moral).

ICE Issued Long Guns:

Remington 870

Submachine Gun:
H&K MP-5

Nope, I was never issued a rifle under ICE or HSI.

While with still Customs, after I had sold of some of my firearms when I got married, I came to the realization that I missed those guns. I also realized the folly of having sold them like that and I started to acquire more of them. I bought hunting arms, target guns, and all round plinkers. That trend has continued right up through today. Of course, I still sell some now and then but not because I am want money as much as because I want to buy something else or just get rid of a clunker. The list of long arms that I have gotten for myself, over the years, is a bit longer than the list of issued gun at the BP, Customs, and ICE (HSI) combined.

Long Guns I Purchased Since About 1987:

Remington 870 Express Combo with 28 and 20 inch barrels. The 28" barrel has a vented rib with bead front sight and the 20" (or is it 22") barrel has rifle sights. It has been a great deer gun and has also taken rabbits, squirrels and upland gamebirds. I have it ready for home defense too. I can tell you one thing about it, I am as comfortable handling that gun as I ever have been with any. It is a solid work horse if a firearm and I would bet my life on it in a do or die situation. It is the only shotgun I own although there is at least one other shotgun in the household, owned by my son, hat one a Mossberg.

As for the rifles, I do not think I am going to have any bit of difficulty listing them. I have sold a few but that is it. The rest of them, I still have. It is not a very extensive number of them but certainly enough for any practical uses I have for them - such as hunting, target shooting, or self defense. Plus, there is enough variety to have fun plinking.

Rimfire Rifles:
Savage MKIIG - in .22LR. I bought this at a gun show in upstate NY. I got to have a lot of fun with it but later sold it to get some cash for a gun more fitting he size of my son at the time. I do not think mine had the accu-trigger but it may have had it. 
Armscorp 14Y - in .22LR; sold the above Savage to purchase this one for my son. It was more the right size for him than the full sized Savage.
Henry U.S. Survival Rifle in .22LR
JC Higgins Model 43 - .22LR, basically a Marlin Model 81.
Henry U.S. Survival Rifle - .22LR caliber. My wife actually gave me a gift certificate at a local gun shop and this is what I picked out. Was made in Brooklyn, NY - gotta love that wit Bloomberg as mayor. Sadly they have since moved to NJ.
Marlin Model 56Marlin lever action called the Levermatic, .22LR
Marlin 25MN - in .22 Magnum
Polish WZ-48 - Nagant Trainer, a single shot in .22LR
Mossberg M44 - Government trainer, in .22LR (a tack driver)Remington Model 241 Speedmaster - in .22LR
Remington Model 513T Matchmaster - in .22 LR
Ruger 10/22 All Weather - .22LR (a gift to my son from me). Of course, I also still have my original Ruger 10/22 that was a gift from me to me.

Centerfire Rifles:
Browning BLR Lightweight - .358 Winchester caliber, lever action rifle with straight grip. This one was made in Japan. I got it at a good price but wound up selling it, at a better price for me, because ammo was sky igh for it. What a jerk, I never should have sold it, one of my biggest regrets as far as selling a gun goes. I could have taken any game animal in the USA with that rifle in that caliber.
Marlin 336C -  in .35 Remington. Sadly I sold his one.
Marlin 336CS - in .35 Remington. I realized I had sold a good thing in the above rifle and this was the replacement. Brendan got his bear with this one, a one shot kill.
Marlin Camp 9 - 9mm carbine. Bought it for home defense, then familiarized myself with it. I soon saw it only as a piece of junk and decided to sell it. This was one of the few firearms I do not regret selling.
Mosin Nagant M44 Hungarian - 7.62x54R.
Mosin Nagant M44 Russian - 7.62x54R. I got this one at a low ball price but later sold it to a friend who wanted it.
Mosin Nagant 91/30 - 7.62x54R. This one has a bent bolt, maybe used to be a sniper rifle.
Mosin Nagant 91/30 Russian - 7.62x54R. A run of the mill model.
Romanian AK-47 WASR 10 - 7.62x39mm
Ruger Mini-14 - .223 caliber. I think it was a ranch Rifle but don't remember for sure. I had some difficulty with this one, just kept getting terrible groups. I sold it and the guy who bought it loved it. I may have been shooting the wrong grain weight bullets out of it. I did not realize, back then, the difference they could have made.
Yugoslavian SKS (3) - 7.62x39mm. I bought 3 of these on my C&R so I could pick out and keep the best of them. I sold the other 2.
Mauser 24/47 - Yugoslavian 8mm Mauser.

Not a big list but it keeps evolving. My son has a Mossberg 500 pump shotgun but because of the pistol grip stock (no butt stock, just a pistol grip) we have not found a range where they will allow us to shoot it.

I think that about covers them all. I have to update my inventory and make sure I have gotten it right but that is a chore for another day.

All the best,
Glenn B