Sneak Peek Into A Smoky Future
Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos: Yvonne Venturino
Two days after this writing I’m going into the hospital for a full replacement of my right knee. There’s no reason to mention it in these pages except for—in practical terms—I’ve been crippled for several years now. Although carrying excess weight hasn’t helped, the problem started with an accident in 1976. My mishap included the knee popping out of joint, breaking off a piece of the kneecap in the process. An operation in 1977 put me solidly back on my feet. I hunted, rode horses with Yvonne, competed in shooting events and lived normally.
In this new century, however, age and arthritis has taken its toll. Favoring my right knee has contributed to destroying my left one. More than one orthopedic surgeon has told me that on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being worst), both my knees are 10s.
Duke’s future plans include learning the ins and outs of this nice
US Model 1896 .30 “Krag” cavalry carbine.
A burst of impetuous gun lust led Duke to buy this Argentine Model 1909 7.65mm Mauser.
This will, no doubt, lead to a serious handloading project.
SAAs, Snubbies on the Side
My point here is not to whine about my physical condition but to share with readers my plans for shooting projects in the future when I’m fully mobile again. For instance, in 2017 I sold some items and reinvested the bucks into Colt SAAs. They range from a 1904 .38-40 to a 2004 .44-40 collectively of all three generations. Also some are .44 Specials and .45 Colts. I have not been able to do much more than plink with a few of them; some have yet to even be fired. In the future I plan to machine rest test every single one of these SAAs plus shoot all to determine point of aim to point of impact. If needed, they will be sighted in.
In a fit of exuberance in 2016 I laid in several S&W and Colt snubnose .38 Special revolvers. In the future they will get the same treatment as the SAAs. There is no great reason to machine rest test 2-inch barreled snubnoses meant for perhaps shooting at 10 paces. That said, in 45 years of machine rest testing I’ve never tried a snubnose. I’m curious.
Duke was recently given a “snail drum” 32-round magazine for his 1917 vintage
German Artillery Luger. What does this acquisition portend?
Cool Krag, Argentine Mauser
Back in 2013, I helped a young lady at a gun show sell a few antique military US Cavalry carbines left to her by her father. In doing so she noticed I was fond of her US Model 1896 .30 “Krag” carbine. After the others were sold she asked if I wanted to buy it. I said, “Darling, I only have X-amount of dollars on me and that’s about half what that Krag is worth.” She said, “If you want it then I’m happy with X-amount of dollars. Five years I’ve owned that carbine and hardly fired that many rounds through it. In the future I intend to try handloads in it that shoot well in my US Model 1896 .30 infantry rifle including both cast and jacketed bullets. And, of course, get it zeroed.
Usually I’m a planner, meaning I set my sights on a certain gun or caliber and then work towards owning a sample. That’s until I’m at a Montana gun show with a bit of jingle in my pocket. Then I’m impetuous. It was that situation in 2015 that led me to buy a Model 1909 Argentine 7.65mm Mauser. I would just about bet my fortune it had never been fired. The condition was that pristine. It has now been fired—slightly. Just enough to know the accuracy potential is as good as its condition. So in 2016 I bought its predecessor—an Argentine Model 1891 7.65mm Mauser. The actions of these two Mausers vary in strength with the earlier being the weaker. In the future I plan to shoot both rifles, again with cast and jacketed bullets, determining safe handloads for both levels of action strength.
Duke also wants to explore the potential of .38 snubbies. As an equal
opportunity shootist, he will cover both Colts and S&Ws.
.401 SL, Snail Drum Fun
The story can go on and on. A Winchester Model 1910 .401 Self-Loader is here along with everything needed to fire it. I have not. That is in the future too. I’ve had a German 9mm P08 Artillery Luger dated 1917 for three years. That’s the version with an 8-inch barrel and was issued with a wooden shoulder stock and 32-round “snail drum” magazines. This one I have shot. Recently a kind gent gave me one of the very expensive 32-round magazines. It fits perfectly in the Luger but here is the same story of this column’s theme—I’ve just not been fit enough to go out and have fun with it.
Many years ago I told my mother that in the future my plan was to live in Montana and make my living writing about guns. Her reply was, “Big talk, we’ll see how that goes.”
We did. So I’m talking big again!