Gun ’Riter Weekend

All Work And No Play …
; .

For Duke’s most recent gun ’riter Saturday he used these Colt SAA
.32-20s and the Cimarron Arms Model 1873 .32-20.

One thing quickly learned upon diving into gun ’riting full time in 1981 was being self-employed causes a tendency to feel guilty when not producing. Therefore, I’ve tried to make weekends sacred — as in not writing at all on those two days.

At times it might be necessary in order to meet deadlines or editors get frustrated. Right, Brent?

So what does a gun ’riter do for weekend recreation? Does he play tennis or golf? Go fishing? Watch football on TV? Fly drones? Personally I shoot. During the week my shooting is for work. Shooting on weekends is strictly for me. No load testing for groups, no chronographing, no note-taking. Just banging away for fun.

Targets can be steel, chunks of firewood, empty spray paint cans. If it’s just me I favor my “flipper” targets as produced by Young Point Mfg. of Billings, Mont. Flippers are steel devices with four legs of 4 ½” length, each holding a 3 ⅜” circular paddle. Hit one and the device flips so another leg becomes the target. No intermissions for setting or painting targets; I can just shoot until I’m tired or out of ammo.

This past weekend was likely as perfect as it gets for me nowadays. Having generated plenty of words last Monday through Friday, I got out of bed Saturday morning ready for a gun ’riter’s version of relaxation. The only problem with my private shooting range is it faces east. Therefore, I wait for the sun to get past noon before I shoot.


Duke’s favorite place on this world is his gun vault where he has
a bison-hide-covered chair to sit and meditate.

Duke’s second favorite place on this world is his shooting house where
he has steel targets at 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards.

First came coffee and a bite to eat, then my 10-lb. dog Sparky and I moseyed to one of my favorite places on this entire planet — my gun vault, where I’m surrounded by Winchesters, Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers, single shot rifles and more World War II firearms than I ever envisioned owning. What did I do there? Nothing! Here’s how I can best describe it: Sitting there in my buffalo-hide-covered chair is gun ’riter meditation.

Following that, I went to my reloading bench and sorted through some of the clutter. Of especial interest was a stack of .38-40 reloading dies. Yes I mean a stack as in eight sets of .38-40 dies by RCBS, Lyman, C-H, Lee, Hornady and Lachmiller. The latter company ended business about 1971 and Lyman dropped .38-40 dies from their catalog circa 1978. Why eight sets? Because I got a bee in my bonnet about .38-40 die dimensions changing over the years. All but one of those die sets was found on eBay. My plan is to load with all sets and compare dimensions and shooting results in both old and new Colt SAAs vintage Winchester and Marlin lever guns. It’s the sort of idea that besets a gun ’riter’s mind and won’t let him rest until he just knows.


Duke’s current favored steel target is a Flipper. Hit one paddle and another flips up.

After sorting through all those dies to ascertain their usability, I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon at my second most favorite place on this planet — my shooting house where I have steel targets at 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards. My hands felt a bit more arthritic than normal so I babied myself by using two Colt SAA .32-20 with 5 ½” and 7 ½” barrels and a Cimarron Arms/Uberti Model 1873 .32-20 carbine. My targets were steel, swingers and flippers at 25 yards for the revolvers and at 50 yards for the carbine.

Sunday dawned with another perfect Indian summer day — or should it now be called Native American Summer? — and my hands felt better. So I called a good friend of nearly 50 years and said, “If you’re not doing anything this afternoon, why don’t you come over and bring a Colt and Winchester.” He did and we shot steel with SAA .45s, .44-40s and .45 ACP — yes, I have a Colt SAA caliber stamped .45 ACP — and original .44-40 Winchester Model 1873s. We had a great time burning plenty of ammo and reminiscing about “old times” working in Yellowstone National Park those decades long past.
For me, this is an average gun ’riter weekend. But what if it rains or snows? Well, then I spend afternoons listening to audiobook murder mysteries while processing fired brass at the loading bench or casting bullets out in the shop.

Young Point Mfg.
[email protected]

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