Sunday, September 24, 2017

This Is Why You Don't Fuck Around With Guns

Pointing guns where they should not be pointed could have dire consequences and no one says it better than does Johnny Cash in: I Hung My Head:

All the best,

Post Road Trip Report (or my reason for not blogging for 4 days)

On Wednesday last, I took a drive to the north western side of the Catskill Mountains to partake in the early black bear hunt. I left kind of late that day but still got in a few hours of scouting for bear (and for good deer hunting spots). I was out the woods only a short time where, maybe after only about 10-15 minutes of hiking along some old logging roads, I found this:

Clear evidence of bear in the neighborhood.
 There were bear around for sure but just in case you missed it in the first photo, here is a close-up.

Surprisingly to me, there were no seeds evident in this bear scat.
At this time of year they eat lots of a variety of late berries.
I hiked to the top or near to it of a mountain, sat down and took a break after wiping the sweat from my brow. I have to admit, I am not in great shape and I was carrying my 870, had my Redhawk strapped to my hip, and was hauling a pack weighing about 15 to 20 pounds (much of that in bottled water but I had enough of everything to survive a few days if I fell and broke something and could not walk out). Once I was seated and drank a bottle or so of water, I got to thinking - what in Hades was I about to do with a bear if I shot one! Sure, I could drag out a small one, or go and get help from the locals to drag out a bigger one but I figured by the time I got it to my car, it might well be ruined due to the heat. It had to be about 85 degrees and just about as humid as it can get in NY state! If I had gotten one, I would have had to skin it and at least quarter it in the field (and was not prepared to quarter it unless my K-Bar could do the trick) so as to cool it off enough to prevent the meat from spoiling. Regardless, I saw no bear, just bear sign, a few possible bear tracks and some scat. Hell, even the squirrels were absent - and that even where there was plenty of evidence of them having fed on acorns from the oaks that were all around me. The forest floor was littered with acorn husks and caps and with many small branches with several fresh leaves still attached to each. Apparently the squirrels had broken off the branch tips while getting those delectable acorns. I had been planning on camping there to continue the hunt the next day but the heat, the lack of critter activity, the worry about what to do if I got a bear, along with my sweaty brow, was enough to convince me - no more warm weather bear hunting. Add to all that, by the time I was back down at my car, it was too damned late to look for a suitable camp site. Off I went.
I moved west to Binghamton and set up camp in Motel 6 for two nights. At least they had air conditioning. They were also close to some state land I have hunted before, well 20 miles or so away but that is relatively closer than from my hone to the state forest. On Thursday, I went to Cascade Valley State Forest and did some deer and bear scouting while carrying the 870 again. This time though I had changed from the 20" barrel to a 28" and I was loaded for squirrel. Yes I had the Redhawk just in case. I saw very little deer sign, some bear sign and also squirrel sign. The only critters I saw though were chipmunks. Even the birds were taking a break from the heat as I saw almost none flittering about, it was as hot as the day before or hotter and all God's furry and feathered creatures except for the chipmunks seemed to be taking a break. I did see several amphibians in the form of three species of frogs, one salamander and one red eft. Go figure, but they were all near water if not in it so able to cool off if need be.

Neat little Spring Peeper.
Again, I saw a lot of squirrel sign same as I saw in the Catskills. I also saw the same type of bear sign, a couple of big piles of it. This time each plop was loaded down with seeds/pits. My guess is the bear that left it was a bigger bear than the one whose scat I saw in the Catskills and here is why I guess it:

Not the biggest pile of it I've ever seen but much bigger than the one the day
 before in the Catskills, note it's a size 12 boot. I 'd like to come across the
bear that left it so long as I was armed well and saw it before it saw me.
Probably one of the sources of the seeds in that bear scat were small trees and bushes in the area and loaded with small fruit like this:

I've no clue as to what type berry bush is this but they were abundant as
were some small trees with orange berries and big sharp pointy thorns.
As for deer sign, there was very little of it but I found some in a spot I have hunted before and I expect I will hunt this year. I also found a new spot, a fairly nice clearing in the middle of the woods with some deer sign in and around it. At one edge of that clearing is a nice mature apple tree full of apples. I will be hunting there too - I am about as certain as one can be on that. I hope I get to go there during the early part of the crossbow season when apples may still be on the branches.
On Friday , I headed northwest to Geneva, NY for the Hessney Auction preview that afternoon and for the auction on Saturday. More info on the auction in my post immediately prior to this one. I went to the preview, only the first or maybe second time I have ever been there for all 3 hours of it and took my time checking out the auction lots. Well, actually, I stayed for about 2 hours and 45 minute. Then it was off to my motel in Canandaigua, NY about 20 miles west of Geneva. Only motel available that close, with rooms and with an almost reasonable rate. Hoofed over to and hung out in a local watering hole for a while until the bartender or a customer stole some of my cash off of the bar, when I mentioned it to him he was smug and nasty and no reason to be so unless he was a guilty fucker as I saw it. I him to go fuck himself and left. Since it happened twice, I was pretty sure it was the bartender as different patrons were there earlier when it first happened than when it happened a second time with completely different group of people at the bar. He was the only common denominator except me being stupid enough to leave cash on the bar after the first time. It wasn't much but enough to piss me off yet not enough to have me causing much of a scene over it so I hoofed it back to the motel without getting myself in trouble.
Next day, off to Geneva for the auction - a bit later than I expected but then again I remembered I did not have to be there early for the preview that day immediately prior to the commencement of bidding. I got there with plenty of time even though door opened at 0830 and I strolled in around 0915. had my seat reserved in the front row, something I did on Friday night, and was set to have a good time. This Hessney auction was great but was different too. It was an Early - Modern Gun and Military Auction and this time, as opposed to some others billed the same way that had few old guns and fewer military items, there were a very high number of military items for sale including firearms like M1 Garands and M1 Carbines. As usual the auction house staff were friendly, courteous and just all around good folks. I had an excellent time there, a better time than going to a gun store or a gun show.
Drove home last nigh despite being pretty pooped when I left the auction house. A decent meal gave me the impetus to make the whole 6 or so hours drive (Geneva is about 320 miles from my place). I didn't even doze off for a few seconds while driving either! ;>)

All the best,
Glenn B

Cleaning A Yugo SKS - How Many Cotton Swabs Does It Take?

I don't know about you but I use long handled cotton swabs when cleaning my guns - they get into a lot of places that would otherwise be almost impossible to reach and clean. Today I cleaned my new Yugoslavian SKS, yes the type of SKS with the integral grenade launcher although I am not sure of the exact model designation M59/66 or M59/66A1 but will check on that later.

My new Yugoslavian SKS, not a bad looking rifle at all.

I have not disassembled my original Yugo SKS in way too long so I needed help in making sure I got things right with the new one. While I could have gone to you tube and enjoyed (or suffered though) a video about how to do it, I decided to look for my old tried and true CDs and look for their manual on how to disassemble a Chinese SKS. Granted, it is different from the Yugo edition because the Chinese does not have an integral 
grenade launcher and related parts but those parts are as easy as pie to take apart. Anyway, the CD helped me move along without a glitch. Before moving on, let me say just one thing on glitches with taking apart an SKS - when they warn you to be careful when removing the gas piston extension and its spring they mean it. I thought I had the hole covered but my grip must have shifted a bit and the darned things shot out of there with the speed of light, hit a door a few feet to my right and bounced back right on my desk where my laptop was sitting. I am happy that made the parts easy to find and am ecstatic that they did not hit the laptop's monitor cause they would have done damage. Learn from my mistake - make sure cover that hole to prevent the parts from flying out.

Otherwise, everything went well and I did 95% plus of a detail strip. The only thing I did not disassemble for cleaning was the trigger group. It seemed to be pretty clean. As for the remainder of the gun, there was virtually no Cosmoline inside if it and note I said virtually as I did find a dab of it at the back of the receiver cover. From the look of it, I would say that when first purchased by its prior owner it was in almost new condition and I do not mean factory refinished either. It may have been fired some when issued if ever issued but not much. Once the first owner had it, he evidently fired it infrequently. I am guessing it was so infrequently as to have shot with it only once, or maybe a few times at most, and then maybe he gave it a field cleaning or maybe not.

He should have detail stripped it and cleaned it after he fired it, if indeed he did fire it and it looks as maybe he did so as many as three times but apparently did not detail strip and clean it. The trigger group was clean but despite that, a lot of the SKS was a bit fouled to pretty damned filthy. The pretty filthy parts are what make me think it was fired a couple to few times or that at least a darned good amount of rounds was fired through it if only fired once. The lack of any heavy wear on most of the rifle's action parts with most wear seeming to be from banging around in a crate,  or getting put into and taken out of a gun cabinet, is what makes me think it was fired only a minimal amount of times. It does not look like new now but is certainly 95% or better. My guess though would be that at least 500 rounds went down the bore of this one and that accounted for the badly fouled internal parts. Again though, it was probably not more than that or at most 1K of rounds fired through it since there is so little wear on parts in the receiver.

So where was the dirt? The bore was fouled a bit with gunpowder and primer fouling and with copper. As said above, the action was also only a bit fouled. That made me guess it was given a basic cleaning after shooting it and the remaining fouling leeched out after cleaning or that it also was fired and cleaned, then fired a subsequent time, with only a small amount of ammo going through it, and not given a field cleaning after the subsequent shooting with it.

Whether or not what I surmise is correct, it needed a good cleaning. The gas piston end was very carbonized o its face and took quite the bit of scrubbing with a brass brush and patches after several good soakings in solvent. The gas piston tube also was filthy. So too were the gas piston extension and its tube. The gas shut off valve, gas shut off button and its spring were badly fouled as was the housing for them (making me think a good number of rounds went through this one) and it just got the field cleaning of the action and bore. As for the question in this post's title and opening line - it took a lot of cotton swabs to get most all of the fouling out of parts that I could not otherwise have reached. Almost half of what I used of them went to cleaning the gas valve housing alone. That little booger hole was filthy!

If there is one set of things that can screw up the functioning of a Yugo SKS it is, I think, the gas valve assembly. Sure, other things can go wrong but when it comes to the action not operating properly it is among the first things I would check from the valve button being in the wrong position and allowing only for single shots (proper position for when using the grenade launcher) to it being so badly fouled as to not allow enough gas to get to the piston to operate the bolt assembly properly or at all.

Regardless of having to clean it, I have no cons to mention about the actual gun so far. The good things about it are that: I was able to pick it up at the Hessney Auction yesterday, I got it for an okay price as far as SKS rifles go lately, it is a Yugo SKS meaning no stamped parts, it was relatively easy to disassemble and clean, it is clean now and as I said it looks almost brand new. The metal wear is minimal and the wood is virtually pristine. It also has all matching original numbers. I said original numbers because there are also electro-penciled numbers and importer markings on the gun. It is a very nice SKS.

I made plenty of other bids at the auction yesterday but only picked up this one firearm. Sadly for me, I did not have the high bid of the Yugo SKS they auctioned off that did not have an integral grenade launcher. That was a nice gun as well as the one I got but when the bidding brought me to a point where my next bid would have been $50 above what I had set as my limit, I bowed out. It pays not to go overboard when bidding at auctions or should I say - it sucks the money out of your pocket and pays the auctioneer nicely 
while putting a smile on his face and too much of your money in his pocket if you do go in over your head.

The other things I picked up were two vintage bayonets for wall hangers, a box of firearms related books, and some ammo. The ammo consisted of three boxes of Remington 38 Special +P SJHP hard to impossible to find lately and the last going price I saw for them was about $28.00 per box of 50. I figure if they get them back in stock the price will be somewhat lower - maybe around $20 per box; I got them for $14.30 per, including the buyer's premium. I wish that they had had more of it. I also picked up 5 boxes of Sellier & Bellot 8x57 JS 196 grain FMJ (8mm Mauser) ammo. I  got that at a great price, much less than for half of what they go for at retail.

Now to get mine arse back to work by assembling it (nope have not done that yet). Then hopefully a range trip with it later today or tomorrow. Pause for reassembly...

OK, I got it back together and it was easier than I recall doing it with my other Yugo SKS; that is a good thing. The only part of assembly that seems to be a pain is getting the trigger group seated properly. I tried pushing it in place a few times and then just whacked it with the heel of my hand while holding it in place with the other. That worked like a charm. It is ready for the range to be test fired to make sure I reassembled it properly  and that it works and that it is a good shooter. I suppose that right after shooting it, I'll have to disassemble it, clean it and reassemble it, then test fire it again and just jeep the torturously monotonous cycle going until I am out of ammo for it - that may take me years to accomplish!

All in all, it was a good trip even if just to find out how many cotton swabs it takes to clean a Yugo SKS. Oh yeah, the actual number I used today, cleaning just that one SKS, was 56 and they were the type with a much larger cotton head than the usual Q-Tip type. I should buy stock in cotton futures.

All the best,
Glenn B