Bullet Exiting Barell

Interior Ballistics

There are four types of ballistics, interior, exterior, terminal, and forensic. Today we will tackle interior ballistics. Watch my posts over the next few weeks to explore the other ballistic theories. These are very basic principles. Each one is an extensive and fascinating study in physics and math. Please do not let the math and physics scare you. I hope that you will continue to explore these fascinating theories.

Handing out Supplies during Hurricane Dolly

Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?

Hurricanes can happen at any time. In previous posts we discussed different disasters that could take place, and how to start to prepare for them. In this article, I’m going to discuss what tends to happen after the feces has hit the fan. We have all seen the footage of the victims of Hurricane Katrina running through the local stores and looting supplies, supplies like plasma televisions, laptops and all the beer they could carry. Obviously, I cannot recommend this course of action. Having supplies like food, water and medicine beforehand is without a doubt the best way to prepare for this scenario. A looter puts his or herself in a very dangerous situation. Local law enforcement may not be available to protect you in a widespread disaster and walking out of the local mega mart with armfuls of valuables could lead to other looters taking supplies from you forcefully.


What in the World is Tannerite Anyway?

Ever wonder how all those people who upload their videos of targets exploding on YouTube get away with possesing and detonating explosives? This may surprise some of you, but the compound they detonate is not a regular explosive—it is a binary explosive shot indicator and subject to a different set of laws. Tannerite, the compound in question, is the trademark for a patented ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder based binary explosive used primarily as a target for firearms practice. Tannerite comes separated into two powders, which by themselves are completely harmless. You combine the two to produce the explosive. It is completely legal and you can purchase it from a number of sources. Tannerite holds unique properties in that it remains stable unless hit with a massive amount of force, such as a high velocity projectile. Simply dropping it or hitting it with a hammer will not produce any effect.

Black Powder Cleaning Kits

Cleaning Black Powder Guns

Whether you have a traditional or modern black powder rifle or handgun, get ready to get dirty. Black powder is a great way to experience the shooting sport and hobby from a new angle. When I hunted with black powder, it helped me get better shooting seasons in my home state. Honestly, with that first Hawken I built from a kit, the real question when I pulled the trigger was would it really work.

Basic Reloading

Hand loading and reloading my own ammo is something I’ve enjoyed for years. It takes a bit of preplanning and preparation to get started, but once set up it can be a very rewarding hobby. In this post, I am sharing some very basic and general steps to give you an overall idea of the process of loading and reloading.

Lee Reloading Kit

Lee Reloading Kit

First, I recommend reading and studying a few books on this topic and learn the safety rules as you will be working with explosive, flammable, and lead products. Be prepared to invest time studying how-to manuals and user guides. You can buy a kit or buy the tools as you go along. You can learn the process over several days. However, you still need to be prepared to invest considerable time to do this the right way and safely.

Finally, if you are delving into this to save money, stop now and go no further. Unless you are loading older, obsolete, and hard to find, cartridges that are already very expensive, then this is not a money-saving solution for most of today’s common calibers. I reload because I have some of those older cartridge needs and because I am looking for the perfect bullet, in one caliber that will perform at distances in a constant and consistent manner.

1. Buy a Book
The first step, and I believe one of the most valuable, is to get a good, modern and comprehensive reloading manual. Two good sources I use are Modern Reloading by Richard Lee, and Lyman’s Reloading Handbook 49th Edition. The majority of the first chapters will get you up and reloading in no time.

Damaged Brass

Figure 1

Badly Damaged Brass

Figure 2

2. Inspect Your Brass
You must inspect each piece of brass (case) you intend to load, even if new. Look for cracks, minor dents as in Figure 1, or major damage to the brass and discard if unusable as in Figure 2.

3. Resize and Deprime Brass
If slightly off in size, on new brass or all used brass, then you can use carbide die sets to reshape the brass. If you already have standard dies then use case lube before you resize brass.

Insert the sizing die into the press. The height of the die is adjustable. Initially, set it high. You can lower the die if needed. Place your brass in the press shell holder.


Figure 3

Pull the handle on the press and insert the brass into the die. This adjusts the brass to the correct shape and size. It will also deprime used brass as the pin, seen at the bottom of Figure 3, pushes the old primer out of the primer pocket.

Dirty Primer Pockets

Dirty Primer Pocket

4. Debur Case
With used brass, you will notice that the primer pockets can be dirty or rough. You should clean primer pockets in this condition with a deburring toolby inserting it into the primer pocket and hand turning. You will also need to debur the mouth of the case. The deburring tool can do both jobs.

5. Clean and Polish Brass
You may choose to add another step at this stage. Some loaders choose to not just clean but polish the cases as they are now sized, de-primed, deburrred, and ready to load.The brass goes into a tumbler along with a media mix and will both clean and polish the brass. Clean brass, not polished, is all that is required. You should only have to tumble brass that is exceptionally dirty.

6. Priming the Brass
Once the brass is cleaned and polished, inspect the cases once more for any abnormalities. If you have a single stage press, you will need to use a hand-held priming tool. This is a simple process but you need to do it correctly and safely. Read your manual carefully to ensure your safety.

WARNING: Primers are explosive so keep your face away from the hand-held primer tool and remember that multiple primers in close proximity can start a dangerous chain reaction.

7. Measuring the Powder Charge
Getting the right amount of powder, to charge your cartridge, is of course the most critical step in the loading and re-loading process. You should be very comfortable with the knowledge you need to properly charge the cartridge, WHEN IN DOUBT, POUR IT OUT and start completely over again. There are numerous powder scales to choose from that are either manual or electronic.

8. Charging the Case
Your powder measurement now confirmed, by the scale, you then transfer the powder into the cartridge case. Have a system in place to move the cases from one side of the bench to the other once charged. Uncharged and charged cases should never be near each other and a consistent method must be in place to keep them separate at all times. A double charged cartridge will at minimum destroy your firearm and at worst severely injure or kill the shooter or onlookers. WHEN IN DOUBT, POUR IT OUT, even if that means numerous cases.

9. Seat the Bullet
If you have a single stage press you can now insert the bullet-seating die. Always start high and adjust to the correct depth. Measure the bullet length with a caliper. This will set the bullet and provide some amount of crimp.

10. Insert and Crimp the Bullet
Some die sets come with a crimping die. If your set includes a crimping die, then insert and crimp the bullet in place.

There it is you have just reloaded your first cartridge. The satisfaction of shooting your first hand loaded cartridge is one that is hard to describe. So go get a book and start learning.

Dalton Gang Gun up for Auction!

What if you could own Billy the Kid’s Winchester 1873, or Wyatt Earp’s Colt Buntline Special? Holding a piece of history in your hands is an intriguing thing, and owning it is even better. Rock Island Auctions is giving everyone the opportunity to own a piece of history. Bob Dalton was the leader of the infamous Dalton Gang, a group of robbers and thieves that specialized in bank and train robberies in the old west. Next month on September 7-9, RIA is auctioning off his sidearm, which townspeople took from his hip when they killed him during a botched robbery attempt. The gun comes with an incredible amount of documentation including pictures, newspaper clippings, and other information surrounding the famous Coffeyville raid where several members of the Dalton Gang perished in the shootout.

o'reilly v chaffetz capture

Silencer Association Calls for O’Reilly Retraction

The American Silencer Association (ASA) wants Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly to immediately make on-air corrections of factual inaccuracies he made about current firearm regulations during his July 24 interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The debate, which focused on the validity of additional gun control measures in response to the tragic events in Aurora, CO, found O’Reilly calling for stricter oversight of the firearms transfer process. ASA pointed out that O’Reilly consistently misstated current gun-law requirements.

The Battle of Wilsons Creek

Many of you have heard of the Civil War’s most famous battles, Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Shiloh. However, one that has never received the attention that is so well deserves is the Battle of Wilson Creek or Republic, Missouri, depending on your stance. This was the second largest battle, following the first Battle of Bull Run to occur once the war commenced in full. There would be battles that would far exceed it in numbers and casualties, but it was the first major battle west of the Mississippi. It was also the first civil war battle where a general perished while leading his men into battle. While the civil war had just begun, this was the end of a 10 year long struggle in the region.

Civil War Rifle

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 would provide the fuel to begin the real blood shed. For the states of Kansas and Missouri, the war had begun with the signature on this act. Simply stated the Kansas-Nebraska Act said that these two states could enter the Union but needed to vote on the issue of slavery. Would they be a free state or a slave state? Nebraska was not in question. It would vote free soil since it was too far north of the slave states and it had not entrenched itself in the slave system for its agricultural society.

Kansas on the other hand was partially involved in the slave system and most of all those counties were along its western Missouri border. Missouri was a border state that was most likely going to be a slave state. The sitting governor, Sterling Price, a former brigadier general wanted to side with the South, which he did when the war commenced. He did not want free soilers to surround him on three of his borders.

General Sterling Price

Anti-slavery abolitionists from the northeast were not going to allow Kansas to be a slave state. They moved to Kansas in droves and even established a town, Lawrence, for these Abolitionists to reside. When the votes would begin, men known as Missouri Border Ruffians would cross into Kansas and vote for a slave state. Alternatively, the newly arrived Yankees from the Northeast would vote free soil. Thus, the Civil War unofficially began along the border counties of Missouri and Kansas. In Lawrence, this was unacceptable. Small groups from Kansas began to raid homesteads of Missouri natives living just across the border in Kansas, and then they crossed into Missouri counties along the border. These raiders, called Jayhawkers and Red Legs, began burning out border homes. Groups of raiders in Missouri began forming together for protection from retaliation, since the raids from Kansas grew in number and violence. These Missouri raiders and bushwhackers began to defend themselves and eventually went on the offensive. At the height of their frustration and need for retaliation, they raided Lawrence on August 21, 1863, killing around 200 men and boys.

The Kansas Jayhawkers and Red Legs would have as much blood on their hands. John Brown, more widely known for his work at Harpers Ferry, took his sons to a cabin of suspected Missourians on Kansas soil, and hacked those inside to death with axes. As the war was just in its infancy, the Missouri counties along the Kansas border already looked like a war zone. The fighting killed hundreds of men, women, and children while homes and property burned out. Most of those people left alive moved to Texas or other southern states. The men left behind would form the Bushwhackers while Kansas would become know as Bleeding Kansas in congress. Out of the Bushwhackers arose names like Anderson, Quantrill, James, and Younger. Through the war and beyond these names would become infamous. Forgiveness and mercy disappeared at a young age from their way of thinking by the work of the raiders from Kansas.

Bloody Bill Anderson

On August 10, 1861,  a battle erupted just south of Springfield, Missouri close to the town of Republic near Wilsons Creek. For most officers and soldiers it would mark the beginning of this war. For hundreds of soldiers on both sides, this was the end—a culmination of years of violence and chance to stand and fight head on and face to face. There would be no more midnight raids or chasing ghosts through the brush. Here they would be in the open, in droves, having a stand up fight. Many of the Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers would take part for their chosen side. After the battle, many Bushwhackers would choose to ride under a black flag for Missouri for the remainder of the war.

The battle took place four months following the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. Former Governor Sterling Price formed the Missouri State Guard, which would seek to help Missouri leave the Union and join the Confederates. This was under the support of the current elected Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson. Price attempted a raid on the state armory in St Louis with the surreptitious support of Governor Jackson. Southern sympathizers who had seized it in April of that year were holding the arsenal.

The next actor in this event, was a fiery redhead who had a no-nonsense, unyielding, and uncompromising attitude. Captain Nathaniel Lyon thwarted the raid on the arsenal. Lyon was without a doubt a Union man and was not open for discussion on the matter. He also believed that Missouri was a part of the Union and it would stay that way. When others spoke of compromise, he refused to talk. He wanted a fight and he would get one soon enough. Once he retook the arsenal, onlookers killed several of the former occupants as they were marched through the town of St. Louis, which had a very German background and one that was extremely pro Union.

General Nathaniel Lyon

A chase began throughout the state of Missouri for several months. After Lyon’s success and regardless of the incident in St. Louis, Lyon now had the authority to fight. President Abraham Lincoln needed generals who would fight and Lyon appeared to be one. This chase would continue through out the sweltering and humid summer, both in and out of Missouri.

Price’s Missouri Guard who was in the lead, tried to gather recruits with whatever weapons they could muster. He also appealed to the Confederacy in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas for help. In that area was a fighting general from Texas who had gathered forces with the Arkansas State Guard, Benjamin McCulloch. The two armies would meet and make camp just east of the town of Republic on August 6, 1861, next to and along Wilson’s creek. General McCulloch would take charge of the two armies, which totaled 12,000-13,000 troops. Many armed themselves with old flintlock rifles and shotguns.

General Benjamin McCulloch

On August 9, 1861, the Union Army, under the command of Lyon and Major Samuel Sturgis, camped in Springfield, with approximately 5,000 well-armed troops. Lyon requested more recruits and when they refused, he had two choices. He could pull back, protect his army and Missouri’s fate, or attack and resolve the matter for the last time. As was his character, he decided to move out late that night and attack in the early morning hours of August 10. The opposing army under McCulloch was prepared to act on a plan to attack the Union forces camped in Springfield. They were preparing to move up the telegraph road when a light rain began and they remained in place by the creek.

Lyon continued into the night. During the night hours, he chose to split his army. One column would attack from the south and his main column would advance from the north, effectively pinning the opposing army in a large vise. The army from the south chose to stay in place.

Lyon attacked at 5:00 a.m. in the morning on August 10, 1861. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek would begin. Lyon’s troops ran into a small southern force on the west side of Wilsons Creek. The Confederates quickly retreated south toward General Price’s camp below their defensive position. This was the first engagement on what historians now call Bloody Hill. The Northern Army would crest this hill and look upon the breadth of General Price’s forces at around 6:00 a.m. Lyon could have charged if not for the fact that McCulloch had set a small battery of cannons on the east side of the stream in view of the hill. These cannons, under an officer named Pulaski, began to fire on Lyons left flank with devastating results. General Lyon would pause just long enough for Price to gather his forces.

The Battle Begins

At the southern end of the vice, the Union forces lead by Colonel Franz Sigel moved in at the sound of gunfire to the north. Sigel’s column was not long for the battle. He caught the southerners by total surprise and they began to turn and run. However, he made two major mistakes. First, he paused too long, which was a fatal error on the attack. Second, he assumed in battle. To his right he saw a group of gray-clad soldiers approaching his location. At this time in the war, the blue of the north and the gray of the south had yet to be established. The local area towns and cities that the troops came from made their own uniforms, if they had them at this time. Sigel <i>assumed</i> that the approaching soldiers were his 3rd Iowa troops—they were not. McCulloch did not pause, upon hearing the gunfire had sent the three groups including the 3rd Louisiana also dressed in gray. Within less than 40 yards of Sigel’s column they began to pour on the fire. Sigel’s column folded and many did not stop running until they reached Springfield.

By 6:30 a.m. the battle lines were drawn on Bloody Hill. This would now become a slugging match for the next few hours and the hill would earn its name. Each side tried to out flank, go around the end of the opposing force, to break the stale mate but these would also fail. Waves from both sides would meet on the hill then fall back.

During one flanking moves on the east side of the Creek, a corn farmer named John Ray arose to see two armies fighting it out in his cornfield. He would watch the battle from the porch and the house would later serve as the hospital for wounded soldiers from both sides. You can still tour the house and its rooms at the battlefield park today.

The main battle continued to rage on Bloody Hill. During the battle, General Lyon was on horseback directing his troops at the front. This practice is ill advised in warfare. He was wounded slightly by a by a fragment earlier but continued. General Lyon decided on another charge down the hill, which he would lead. He was an easy target and reeled in his saddle. Barely alive, when pulled from his horse, he told his orderly,” I am killed.” General Nathaniel Lyon was the first General in the Civil War to die on the field of battle.

The General Falls

At about 11:00 a.m. both sides were exhausted and a lull fell on the field. The Union Army, minus its General decided to retire from the field and return to Springfield. The Confederates would claim the victory. To be objective both sides wanted an ending. Lungs choked with black powder smoke and thirst were the big contributors to that cause.

The battle of Wilsons Creek was over. The immediate results were 1,317 Union soldiers and 1,222 confederate soldiers killed, wounded, or missing. The bigger picture was that the Confederate troops would ultimately concede Missouri, retire to Arkansas, and lose Missouri all together at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas the following March of 1862. The Union would have its border state. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, was previously intended as an attempt to avoid war, cemented itself in place after eight years of war and untold thousands dead.

Wilsons Creek

Crossbow Diagram

The Modern Crossbow: A Beginners Guide

Shooting a bow and arrow accurately is difficult. Shooting a crossbow is also difficult, but much less so. There are many reasons to get into crossbow shooting. You don’t have to spend a lifetime practicing to get effective enough to hunt with one, and advances in technology have made the ancient battlefield weapon an excellent tool for hunting game. As some people age, they have trouble drawing a full power bow. Due to assisting devices on modern crossbows, these people can hunt much later in their lives, since the upper body strength is not as important.