Crossfire April 2019



Tale of a Kansas Krag

I greatly enjoyed Duke’s February column on the .30-40 Krag. A U.S. Model 1896 has been in my family for more than 60 years. And does it ever have a story behind it! This rifle was kept in a small bank in Smolan, Kansas. A circus was playing in the county seat, Salina. This was way back when bull elephants could be in the show. One of them, for goodness knows what reason, suddenly went berserk. The police were called to kill the rampaging bull. However, their .38 Specials with 158-gr. lead bullets did more to irritate than cause harm to the bull. Then someone remembered the bank’s Krag. The police got it and shot the elephant dead. How many rounds did it take to do the job? Nobody is left who knows, but it was most likely more than one. Decades later when the bank’s cashier had embezzled and lost so much money playing the commodities market that the bank had to close its doors, my Father was able to buy the locally famous Krag. Incidentally, my Grandfather’s diary illustrates that he used a .30-40 Krag to good effect on the Moros in the Philippines. Although over the years I’ve put maybe a dozen rounds through the family Krag, I never took it hunting due to its oh so long barrel and overly generous weight.
Chester Peterson Jr.
Lindsborg, KS

Do a little internet research on the Salina elephant; lots of great (and some conflicting) stories on that late, lamented beast? —BW

FN 509

Not Cool?

It is with great disappointment that I write to you regarding Will Dabb’s February cover feature on the FN 509. The article states “If it were a girl, it’d be the one your mother warned you about.” The article goes on to state that the weapon has a “railed dust cover for cool-guy stuff.” As a female veteran, gun owner and hunter, I am deeply offended by such sexist language.  Was it so difficult to discuss the weapon strictly in terms of its capabilities and features without devolving into sexist terms that demean and insult women?

You obviously either do not care or have no interest in maintaining your female readership.
Dr. Sylvia M. Rafels
Via email

Sorry, but I didn’t believe changing the sentence to “If the gun were an individual of a gender identity to which you were attracted, it would be the one that your primary childhood caregiver warned you against engaging in a mutually-consensual physical relationship due to likely triggering concerns” had the same ring.  Since the author is (to use ‘progressive’ terminology) a cis-Male, I felt his metaphor was appropriate in the context. Also, “cool-guy” is widely considered a gently self-mocking term for a person who is excessively “tactical” when it comes to weaponry or combat. I assure you no one, male or female-identifying, on our editorial staff wants to “insult or demean women.” I’m sorry you feel that way. —BW

April 2019 Crossfire

Still Sweet on the ’16

I’ve been reading these letters and comments about the M16 when it was introduced to the military. Yes. It was easier and cheaper to manufacture. Worked great with the Air Force as a security weapon. It was lighter. It reduced the weight the soldiers had to carry and let them make up that weight loss with more ammo! Yes, there were problems. Preventive maintenance. When designed, they hadn’t planned on all the humidity, dirt, water, mud, and anything else associated with a jungle. They didn’t realize that this humidity would cause the barrels to start rusting so quickly. The soldiers started developing their own form of lubricants. They also started designing tools to get into all the nooks and crannies such as where the bolt locks into the chamber. Dentists started losing some of their picks and other hand tools. 

Cleaning kits were put into the butt stocks. A major change was a chrome lining for the barrel to stop them from rusting. Then came a forward assist. The flash suppressor was changed so as not to snag on branches.… When I enlisted in 1971, our lessons in cleaning the M16 involved a large drum of solvent and we were told not to take it into the shower. As with any weapon made, it had its drawbacks at the beginning. As problems are discovered and solutions devised, these weapons become more reliable. If the M16 wasn’t made, we wouldn’t have the ARs we have today. Now the M16/AR15 is one of the most popular rifles on the market, being made by dozens of manufacturers. It’s not the rifle “Made by Mattel” anymore!
Frederick “Ski” Ludwikowski
Clarksville, TN

.357 Maximum

Laws in the Midwest now allow using the .357 Maximum cartridge (in a rifle ) in areas designated for shotgun slugs. I can find loads galore from Hornady and Speer manuals in TC handguns, but no velocity information on rifle barrels, even on the Internet.

Apparently others with such a rifle also cannot justify the expense of a chronograph for just a few uses. By any chance do you have any such data? The issue I see is that the velocities may easily exceed the effective range for .357″ bullets. On the other hand they might be too low for the .358″ bullets.
Chris Johnsen
Via email

I can’t help much now, but early next year I should have a Winchester M94 .357 Magnum converted to .357 Maximum by Milt Morrison. I would expect to pick up at least 300 fps over .357 Magnum loads. I’m not sure what you mean by “.357” and “.358” bullets. So I’m guessing you are talking sixgun bullets vs. rifle bullets. I plan to use 180-200 grain gas-checked bullets mostly in my conversion. There are some pretty tough .357 bullets out there, especially in the 180-grain range. Good Shootin’ and God Bless. —John Taffin

Thanks, Holt

I read with keen interest Holt Bodison’s article in the January issue which alerted me to the existence of the Caldwell Precision Turret Shooting Rest for the AR platform.  It sounded intriguing, so I ordered one in for a trial. Holt’s writeup was very accurate, and I have now ordered a second of these devices to keep handy on a continuing basis on my shooting range in West Virginia. Learning of helpful and economical new shooting products is one of the reasons I read GUNS cover to cover. And pay close attention to products your writers think well of.
Louis H Knapp
Winchester, VA

Balancing Act

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the December issue. It had an outstanding variety. I enjoyed every article. You have the perfect mix of old and new. The articles on the modern guns were interesting. The leverguns and revolvers articles were top notch. We should never forget that working men and women used wood, steel, levers and wheels to build America. I appreciate that you remember this.
M.C. McClintock 
Madison, NC

We all own plenty of plastic and aluminum guns but they just don’t have the cachet of blued steel and full-grain leather! —BW

Crossfire April 2019

Hogue and . . . Hogue

In the January “Campfire Tales,” John Taffin writes about his Smith and Wesson Model 3913. In the photo it appears the gun has a very nice set of custom wood grips. I have an S&W Model 45 Chief, which have a set of Hogue rubber grips. They’re way too large for concealed carry. Where did John get his thin wood ones?
Clay W.
Via email

You’re already in the right place! Those grips came from Hogue several decades ago. They may still be able to help you. Good Shootin’ and God Bless. —John Taffin

A Class Reunion

I look forward each month to GUNS Magazine arriving in my mailbox. I particularly enjoy John Taffin’s monthly installment of Campfire Tales and the two-part article in January and February titled “60 Years of Concealed Carry” was really fun to read. Back in the 1970s, I was lucky enough to be one of Mr. Taffin’s 7th grade algebra students at Hillside Jr. High in Boise. For the last 40 years I have been grateful to him for the excellent and inspiring teacher that he was. Math didn’t come naturally to me, but he was one of the best teachers I have ever known. The head start he gave me in algebra served me well through college and my work career. After reading the “Carry” article I was delighted to learn that not only were we well taught, we were also well protected. Would that there were more teachers like Mr. Taffin. I frequent Buckhorn Pawn in Boise looking for guns I don’t need.  I always hope to run into Mr. Taffin there so I can thank him personally.  Until that happens, please relay best regards and sincere thanks from one of “Taffin’s Turkeys.”
Rich Payne
Via email

I remember you well, Rich. “Taffin’s Turkeys” was our homeroom name and we won everything in competition as did “Taffin’s Toughies” another year. We all had T-shirts with a proper logo. Those were good years! —John Taffin

Think Tank Correction

Nobody is perfect, not even GUNS! In the “Think Tank” column of the March 2019 issue there was a typographical error on page 79. It listed the popular “Skeeter” .44 load as containing a Keith #429421 bullet and 10 grains of Unique, which is incorrect. The correct load should be the same bullet sitting over 7.5 grains of Unique. Of course we know you reloading experts already knew that! Regardless, we apologize for any inconvenience. —BW

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