Crossfire July 2019


Transplantable Humor

I read the letter from Dr. Sylvia M. Rafels in which she expresses her feelings about Will Dabbs’ February article on the FN 509. Since she’s a doctor, maybe she knows someone she could speak to about her “issues” and perhaps could be directed to a facility where she might receive a “sense-of-humor” transplant. Thanks for a great magazine and keep up the good work! If you’re not offending someone, you’re probably pretty boring. Just sayin’ …
Joe Walker
Via email


Paging Dr. Taffin

I just bought a pre-war Colt .38 revolver. The last patent date is Oct. 5, 1926 and the serial number is L615XXX. It has mother-of- pearl grips and the Colt medallion in silver. It’s blued with a 4″ barrel and — I believe — it’s a .38-40. It has some holster wear but the action is as smooth as butter. I loved John Taffin’s May “Handloading” column on reloading the .38-40. I’d like to know if you can still buy factory .38-40 or do you have to handload for it?
Chris G.
Via email

Chris: Thank you for writing and for the kind words. If you have a .38-40, it should be marked on the barrel “.38 WCF.” In this case it would be the large-framed Colt New Service. I’m guessing you have an Official Police chambered in .38 Special. Check the barrel markings as to caliber and model. If it’s a .38-40, Black Hills and several other companies offer .38-40 loads for Cowboy Action shooters. I use a lot of them in my New Service and SAA .38-40s. Attached you’ll see a picture which shows why I like the .38-40 so much! Good Shootin’ and God Bless. —John Taffin

I’ve known for a while that I don’t shoot enough. I have NIB guns just idling in storage. Anyway, when John Taffin recently wrote about .38-40 revolvers, he also mentioned a Winchester M92 of the same caliber. Of the many guns I seldom shoot, I have a Marlin Safety saddle gun in .38-40. My grandfather bought it in 1899. I never knew him so I don’t know how much it was fired. It passed to my father who never used it. After John’s article, I took it out. It’s in good condition and accurate. The only load I had on hand was one designed for Cowboy Action, which I presume is on the light side. The rifle has an adjustable rear sight that may be common for this model. Before I fire at a distance, I was wondering if John might have an idea of the effective range for the load I have for it — a 180-gr. flat-point. His articles are always interesting and informative. I need to start shooting what I have. If I don’t do it now, when will I?
Dean Hall
Via email

Dean: That’s a real old classic Marlin you have. Adjustable sights were always somewhat optimistic as to distance. I have a .44-40 with a ladder sight graduated out to 1,000 yards! (no, I don’t think so!). Be happy with 100 yards or thereabouts. Those cowboy loads are perfect for those old rifles, I’d stick with modest loads like them. Good Shootin’ and God Bless. —John Taffin

Plastic and Black Powder

Regarding John Taffin’s excellent article on the .38-40, I have some comments! I’ve been making black powder cartridge handloads for both rifles and handguns for a number of years. If memory serves me correctly, I bought my Lyman 55 powder measure in the early ’70s. At the turn of the century I started shooting black powder cartridges in SASS events. I then graduated to gong shoots using my Pedersoli Sharps loaded with my custom black powder cartridges using my old Lyman 55. Recently I found a lonely Marlin 336CB in .38/55 and have been shooting it with my custom black powder handloads using the old Lyman 55. You do know the old Lyman measure has a plastic sleeve! After some hard thinking, I decided to reduce the risk of loading black powder with plastic sleeves and found an outfit that made aluminum sleeves for my Dillon powder measures. But I do have a plastic powder flask for dispensing black powder made years ago. I also noticed that my Swiss black powder comes in plastic cans. I still have some Goex in steel cans but these are from a dozen or so years ago.
Carl Zmuda
Via email

Smith & Wesson

No Handloads?

I read the May column by Tank Hoover on Mag-na-port customizing his S&W Model 29. It was very good except when he mentioned he uses handloads when he carries it concealed. I’ve taken classes for a concealed carry license in my state, and the lawyer who gave us the “dos and don’ts” of using deadly force said never use handloads in your carry gun. He pointed out the lawyer for your deceased assailant’s family will claim you handloaded your bullets to “kill.” There’s a slew of factory self-defense loads by reputable companies that will do the job.
Via email

There’s good points on both sides of that issue, Rock. What if you’re in the field hunting and have to defend yourself with a hunting handgun loaded with handloads? What if you’re handicapped and need very light loads? There are other situations which can be defended. But generally, I’d agree sticking with factory loads is always best. But — that won’t necessarily save you from a hungry attorney! —Roy Huntington


.357 Classics

John Taffin really struck gold with his April .357 Magnum article. I have a few of the guns he mentions — namely a nickeled S&W Model 27 with an 8 3/8″ barrel and a 4″ Model 19 with a target hammer and trigger. I’ve also got a blued 6″ Colt Python. For concealed carry I now have another Model 19 Smith round-butt with a 2-1/2″ barrel — red ramp front sight and white outline rear. I put Ahern Combat grips on it. I load it with Cor-Bon 110-gr. JHPs or Speer 130-gr. GDHPs. For the trail I have a 4″ S&W Model 586 I carry in a Don Hume thumb-break holster. It shoots like a rifle with 158-gr. magnums. I’m a DA revolver fan and I’ve read Bill Jordan’s No Second Place Winner many times. Thanks for another great article!
Joseph Solimando
Hamburg, PA

Joseph: The 586/686 is one of the best and most under-appreciated .357s ever made. And how do you top the 2-1/2″ M19 as a carry gun? Thank you for an interesting letter on great sixguns. Good Shootin’ and God Bless! —John Taffin

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