Taffin’s Tranquility Tips

Part I

“Vee Grow Too Soon Oldt Und Too Late Schmardt,” is a saying I heard often from the time I was very young. It may have come from my maternal grandmother who was German, however growing up in Ohio we were close to Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch and it seems to be credited to the latter group more often than not. Then again Deutsch is the word for German, which may have gotten mixed up with Dutch.

Whatever the case the phrase certainly applies to most of us, however the saving grace is, as we do grow older we do manage learn a few things to make our life a little more pleasant, a little easier, and definitely more tranquil. When I went through my life-saving operation now more than 2 years ago my doctor cautioned me afterwards to do everything I could to avoid stress. That is wonderful advice and keeps us all out of a lot of situations we don’t want to be involved in in the first place. So here are some things I have learned to make everything we do just a little easier.

Ivory stocks are expensive but easily cared for.

“Buy ’Em Both!”

The question, “Should I buy this one or that one?” constantly comes up and my answer is always to simply by both of them if there’s anyway at all it can be accomplished. Six months down the road the money will not be missed and there will be no agonizing over whether the right one was purchased or did we make a mistake. Freedom Arms or Custom? Buy ’em both. Should I go with a .44 or .45? Buy ’em both. Do I want a 1911 or one of the new polymer framed .45s? Buy ’em both. See how simple it is and it resolves all future problems if—and this is a big if—the money can be made available to do both.

Sixguns are like people; that is, everyone has their own personality. Asking questions such as, “What is the maximum load for my gun?” or “What is the most accurate load for my gun?” is the mark of a novice. No one can determine the answers to these questions except the shooter of the individual gun. Finding the most accurate load is impossible, as how would we ever know when we got there? What is a most accurate load in one sixgun may be absolutely mediocre in another duplicate acquired from the same manufacturer. Searching for “most accurate loads” can be a very pleasant personal experience. Maximum loads are set for cartridges and the published maximum load may actually be too hot for a particular sixgun or semi-automatic. No matter which firearm is being used, so-called maximum loads should only be approached with extreme caution but they are rarely needed.

Let’s look at some other things I have managed to pick up over the years, way too many years in some ways. For those who wear eyeglasses, always order two pair. That extra pair can be invaluable in case the first pair is broken when camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.

Theodore Roosevelt, the ultimate outdoor president, always had several pairs sewed into his hunting jackets. One of the most valuable pieces of equipment whether one is shooting, camping, hiking, fishing, or hunting is a small emergency medical kit with the usual bandages, tape, disinfectant, etc., and don’t forget extra doses of any prescription medications.

The most important items on any tool bench are quality
screwdrivers such as this set offered by Brownells.

Reloading Tips

After reloading for over 55 years if nothing else by accident I have picked up many tips to make things easier. The best and most reliable sources for reloading information are to be found in loading manuals and from established and experienced writers for equally established gun magazines. Information from unknown posters on the Internet can be dangerous. Primers are an exceptionally important part of the reloading process. Keeping a pair of tweezers on the loading bench will find them coming in quite handy for picking up primers without being concerned about contaminating said primers with oil from the fingers. Certain powder and powder measure combinations can be incompatible. If powder granules stick to the inside of the plastic hopper on the powder measure, rub the outside of the plastic with a static-free sheet normally used in the clothes dryer for cling free clothing. When loading several different types of loads, an easy way to separate plinking to standard to heavy duty level loads is to mark the heads of the brass cases with different colored felt tip pens.

When using non-carbide sizing dies, brass can easily be lubed by placing the number of desired rounds in a shallow cardboard box. Apply spray-on lube lightly, shake, spray again, and the cases are ready to be sized. I follow the same procedure even when using carbide sizing dies as it reduces the effort necessary for sizing which can be quite relevant when doing hundreds of cases. To prevent scratches on both resizing dies and cartridge cases, brass cases should be cleaned before resizing. If the primers are removed before tumbling, media will often stick in the flash-hole, however it will automatically be removed by the decapping rod on the resizing die.

Many currently produced Colt Single Actions and replicas thereof chambered in .45 Colt often have cylinder chamber mouths anywhere from 0.002- to 0.004-inch larger than the desired 0.452-inch size. For those who do not cast most commercial casters offer 0.454-inch bullets, which will often give better accuracy in such cases. For those who do cast their own leaving a bullet in the mold to prevent rust does not work. It is simply a myth. Instead oil the mold after each use. Oil is much easier to remove than rust.

Guns are a major investment and require care. I like to fancy up my favorite sixguns with ivories, however ivory handgun stocks are expensive. To prevent them from cracking rub a little Johnson’s Baby Oil on the inside of each panel every 6 months or so. For storing handguns in minimal area in the safe, place them in old socks. No extra room is taken up and the handguns will not get scratched.

Many firearms are damaged when someone tries to take them apart. Never try to remove the side plate from a double-action revolver or 1860/1866/1873 Winchester levergun by prying. After the screws are removed gently tap the frame with a rawhide or plastic mallet until the plate pops loose. How often have we seen used firearms in gun shops and gun shows with buggered up screws? Proper fitting screwdriver blades will prevent damage to screw heads. Brownells offers screwdrivers with extra bits stored in the handle in two configurations, one for Colt Single Actions and the other for Ruger single actions with each having every size bit needed for any screws on these guns. They also offer a full-sized set of bits with several handles to cover just about any need when it comes to gun care. As a shooter of single actions for well over 55 years I have learned to carry a proper fitting screwdriver in my shirt pocket as screws will loosen routinely.

Taping the barrel before filing the front
sight will prevent scratches.


If that favored fixed-sighted sixgun is not shooting to point of aim, a little experimenting can often prevent changing the sights. Heavier and/or slower bullets will normally strike higher than lighter and/or faster bullets, and different powders will sometimes move the group windage wise. If this doesn’t work fix-sighted revolvers may need a little tweaking to sight them in for an individual shooter. When filing a too-tall front sight to the proper height always tape the barrel area around the sight base with friction or plastic tape. Not doing so is a guarantee the file will slip and nick the barrel.

When filing a too tall front sight to raise the point-of-impact remember the point-of-impact off sandbags may be different than from your normal shooting position. Sight in the same way you intend to shoot. When adjusting sights always remember the rear sight is moved the direction the point-of-impact is to move, however the front sight is always moved in the opposite direction. Use brass punches and a plastic or brass-headed hammer to move dovetailed sights in either direction.

There are many custom grips/stock makers out there who offer just about anything we want. However, if money happens to be short and we can’t afford custom stocks for a Smith & Wesson revolver, oversized wooden target stocks which can usually be picked up quite cheaply (if they don’t have a diamond in the center) can be made quite serviceable by using files and sandpaper to remove the checkering, reduce the width, and round off the sharp corners at the base.

Carpet and dollar stores usually have 1×2-foot or 2×2-foot carpet samples with bound edges that can be used as a pad on the workbench for disassembling, cleaning and reassembling, firearms. The nap of the rug not only protects the finish of the sixgun or semi-automatic it also prevents screws and springs from rolling off the bench… more next month.
By John Taffin

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