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A Taxonomy of Safeties

In addition to the other two posts so far today, I am sharing another one of Hognose’s posts from Weaponsman.com.  This is a repost in our ongoing commitment to honoring  our dead friend Kevin and his work.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

There are several kinds of safeties that are used on service weapons to ensure that only the proper and deserving people are shot. They generally interface in some way with the firing mechanism of the firearm. They may act on the trigger, the hammer or striker, or the sear, or (in some fiendishly clever arrangements) more than one of the above. It is generally thought better to positively lock the striker or firing pin than merely to lock the sear or trigger. If the mechanism fails due to parts breakage, it is easier to design a fail-safe mechanism if the striker or firing pin is immobilized.

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

Safeties can be classified based on the degree of volition required to use them. An applied safety must be consciously put on, in most cases. An automatic safety is unconsciously applied as the pistol is taken up. Examples of automatic safeties include:

  1. the Glock Safe Action trigger and its many copies and derivatives;
  2. the grip safeties characteristic of many Browning designs, such as the M1911 .45 and the FN M1910 pocket pistol;
  3. similar grip safeties on open-bolt submachine guns such as the Madsen and the Uzi. (An open-bolt SMG poses peculiar safety problems);
  4. transfer-bars and other means to ensure a weapon can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled;
  5. mechanisms that hold a firing pin back until a weapon with a locking breech is fully in battery (the disconnector often does double-duty as this part);
  6. Firing-pin immobilizers as in the Colt Series 80 and newer M1911s (an earlier firing pin safety, the Swartz Safety, was used in commercial Colt 1911s from circa 1937 to 1940, and is used by Kimber today);
  7. A heavy, smooth trigger pull such as that on a traditional Double Action revolver or a DA/SA autopistol can prevent unintentional discharges. However, some heavy triggers (like the Glock NY2) have a bad enough effect on accuracy as to threaten bystanders with unintentional shooting.
  8. Magazine safeties, an obsolete European concept;
  9. Half-cock notches (in British/European English usage, these may be called half-cock “bents.”)

Contrasting with these automatic safeties, that do their work without conscious application by the operator, there are Applied or volitional safeties. Applied Safeties are usually classified by what part of the firing mechanism they work on, and so examples of Applied safeties break down into:

  1. Safeties that lock the trigger. The simplest of these are the crude trigger-blocking safeties on an SKS or Tokarev SVT. More complex trigger-locking safeties are found in the AR series of rifles and the FN-FAL;
  2. Safeties that lock the firing mechanism (which may be further divided into those that lock the firing pin, like the Walther P.38 or Beretta M92, and those that lock the hammer, like the US M1 Rifle, or
  3. The bolt holding notch in many 2nd-generation submachine guns. (These are reminiscent in a way of the safety of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which requires the cocking piece to be rotated and caught in a notch). The case can be made that this is a firing mechanism lock, because the bolt with its fixed firing pin is the firing mechanism.
  4. Safeties that lock the sear. Examples include the .45 M1911, its younger brother the BHP, many other auto pistols, and most general purpose machine guns. Some require the weapon to be cocked to lock the sear, others allow locking the bolt forward (the RPD LMG and the Sterling SMG are examples of this).
  5. Safeties that disconnect the trigger from the sear. This is found in the Bren gun and many other Czech designs, historically. The ZB 26 and its derivatives were quite cunning: in one position, the selector brings the trip lever to engage the semi notch, which is in the upper side of a window in the sear. In the other position, it engages the auto notch in the lower side. In the intermediate, “safe,” position, the  trip lever clears both notches and the weapon does not fire.

Note that automatic safeties, too, can be broken down as working on the trigger, the firing mechanism, and the sear, also. So safeties can also be Classified by Operation.

Safeties Classified by Operation

It is possible to classify safeties in the first place by their means of action:

  1. Trigger safeties
  2. Firing-mechanism (striker, hammer, firing pin) safeties
  3. Sear safeties
  4. Disconnecting safeties.

This is true, obviously, for both automatic and volitional safeties, and classifying them this way puts their mode of action forward as more important than their mode of engagement, which (applied/volitional or automatic) becomes a secondary trait.

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

It is only possible to engage many safeties when the weapon is cocked or ready to fire (presuming a chambered round). Familiar examples include the AR series rifles and the 1911 pistol and other Browning hammer designs. Other safeties engage regardless of the energy state of the striker or hammer, for example the AK, the Remington Model 8 (a Browning-designed trigger mechanism that was deeply influential on 20th and 21st Century firearms designers, including Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner), and the RPD light machine gun.

Combination Safeties

While a weapon may have multiple safeties that do different things (or multiple modes that engage the same safety, as in the safety lever and grip safety of early Lugers), it’s possible for a single cunningly-designed safety to disable multiple points of the firing chain at once. For instance, the Lee-Enfield safety is a model of versatility: it locks the striker, locks the bolt closed (preventing the chambering of a round), and disconnects the striker from the sear. The M1911 or Browning High-Power safety locks the slide closed as well as locks

It’s also possible for a volitional safety to be combined with other functions. The most common example of this is the combined safety/selector switch of most modern assault rifles, like the M16 or AK-47.

To Sum Up

There are a great but finite number of ways to design safety features on modern firearms. Careful study of prior art allows today’s designer truly to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field. John Browning left no memoir or technical book, nor did John Garand, John D. Pedersen, Gene Stoner; and the many memoirs of Mikhail Kalashnikov are disappointing to the technical reader. But each of these geniuses spoke to us in the art of his designs, and they are still available for us to study and to try to read what their art is trying to tell us.

We have not, in this limited post, attempted to discuss “best practices” or the pros and cons of any individual safety design. Very often, the designer will be limited by the customer’s instructions or specifications. (For example, the grip safety of the 1911, which 1970s and 80s custom smiths often pinned in engagement as a potential point of combat failure, was requested of John M. Browning by the US Cavalry. The other military branches didn’t feel such a need, but the horse soldiers did, and Browning first added it on his .38 caliber 1902 Military pursuant to a similar request). Thus, even as a designer, your safety design decisions may not be your own.

Notes and Sources

  • This post has been modified since it was first posted, to expand it.
  • This post will be added to The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech.

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

Allsop, DF, and Toomey, MA. Small Arms: General Design. London: Brassey’s, 1999.

Chapter 13 is an extensive review of trigger mechanisms, including safeties, and while their classification of safeties is different from ours, their explanations are clear and concise.

Thanks to the commenters who not only recommend this long out-of-print book, but also sent us a link to a bookstore that had it (it’s a copy withdrawn from a military library, as it turns out). This out-of-print work is less technical and deep, but considerably more modern, than Balleisen; its examples are primarily British.

Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified. He passed away early last year.

20/20/20/ 1,000

Back  in 2005 I believe it was, I  was at work reading an issue of Guns &Ammo  instead of working.  That month Jeff Cooper was giving his thoughts about the war in Iraq and  dumping on the AR15 and 5.56mm  as he was wont to do. This never did sit well with me. Fast forward to a few months later and Again I was reading Cooper’s column and in it he talked about the  “20/20/20 1K challenge he thought up.  That is, 20 rounds on a 20 inch target and 20 seconds at 1,000 yards.  He opined that  it most likely be done with a 762MM semi auto like the match M14.  That generated a chortle out of me  and got me thinking.    Could it be done?  I wanted to know.  Unlike Cooper I thought using an M14  for the attempt was a dead end as the recoil and movement of the gun  would make it  nigh impossible to keep on target firing that fast.  Not to mention the  gun is a nightmare in my opinion.

In 2006 I started my attempt at making this challenge.  I tried it many times and approached it a lot of different ways.  I never could quite hit the time limit or keep all rounds  on target.  I worked up to it in practice.  I did 500 yards in 20 seconds on a 20 inch target, and got that down pretty good, then I moved up to 700  and so on in increments.  I tried using  heavier and heavier and longer barrels on precision ARs for the extra weight.  I put lead in A2 buttstocks to add more weight and I even considered tying sandbags to the fore arm FF tube.    I stopped short there as it felt like was getting too far from accomplishing the challenge with something a rifleman could and would carry.

The closest I came was 20 rounds on the target but in 21.6 seconds.  Close. But may as well have been  an hour too long.   This went on and on few times a year since 2006.  Then yesterday I did it.

I had no intention or expectation that I was even going to try it again today.  After discussing it with Howard last night, I realized that is why I managed to pull it off.  I was relaxed, I was not putting pressure on myself,I was just having fun after doing some other testing.     My purpose for being at the range was to test the federal gold medal  556mm ammo using the Berger 73 grain VLD  at 500 yards and do the follow up  part 2 of my Colt Accurized Rifle review.   While shooting at a steel gong at 1,000 yards it was  noted how calm conditions were and how dry and hot it was with temps in the high 90s.       I zeroed in on the gong and placed the cardboard target to the left of the steel.    With the idea in mind to get everything right on the steel, note  my data , then shift to the Q target and start the attempts.

With a spotter ready to  shout any misses to me as I was firing, I loaded  thirty round mags with my handloads of the sierra tipped match king 77 grain  bullets and 24.0 grains of Varget.  My idea is I would of course miss a few but If I could shoot more than 20  rounds, I could have extra rounds for the misses and still get  20 on target.

The gun is the Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite.   This is a 24 inch heavy match barrel with freefloat tube.  The gun also has a magpul PRS stock, and Atlas Bipod.  The optic is the Nightforce NXS 5.5x-22x with 56mm objective lens.  For the day’s testing I had took out the colt match trigger and had installed a SSA trigger  and it is a good thing I did.  To help even more I put a sand bag between the bipod and mag well.  This let me push the gun into something to get some weight behind it.

After  two  tries I was getting close  to pulling it off.    I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to pull it off.  So I decided to just see how close I could come.  On the last try I was down to only 25 rounds left after  5 rounds used for sighters because of a  small wind change.

After firing  them   all up it was time to drive down and take a look.   When we  counted them up I couldn’t believe it.    I kept  looking to make sure some holes were not just  holes made by rocks that flew up from near misses.   But I did it, I finally  hit the goal I have been after since 06 when I first seriously started to attempted it.

Below is me with recovered target trying to hide the stupid grin and dumbstruck  face.

After all these years I  finally did it. And its a good thing, at almost 42, I did not have many years left of eyesight that could still be corrected. My only regret is that my friend who is my usual partner in crime for these  pie in the sky attempts wasn’t there to share in the moment with me.   He has always been there to help me with the 1,000 yard iron sight  with AR15A2 hits and the K-31 at 1233 yards and our 1-mile shot.   It just wasn’t the same with him not there to share in the moment with us.

Howard asked me if now that I had done it, could I do it again.  No. I do not think I could pull it off again. I believe the only reason it worked this time as because I was relaxed and not taking it as serious as normal. I had  put no pressure on myself.  Another factor was once again the weather conditions allowed  success that time. The high temp, thin air and almost no wind and what little there was blew in from my 6 oclock.

It’s still strange to think that I have pulled this off after so many years.  It’s that same feeling you had as a kid the day after Christmas. Nothing to look forward to  for a long time almost.

25 rounds fired. 19.8 seconds.  20 inch by 18 inch target, 21 hits, 1,000 yards.  7-10-2018

What is “Cover” in your home and will it Stop a rifle round? Lets find out.

 

 

Today I decided to do a repost  an article  2 parter  older  popular article from our first year.  We have a lot of older great material new readers may not see because it is so buried under  the  constant flow of new articles. With that in mind here is an article from 2012 were I shot up a house for educational purposes. I hope you enjoy if you haven’t read it before and if you have I hope you will enjoy a revisit.

 

I took the time to so a little un scientific testing today of some of the more popular 5.56 rounds used today. It is not a new idea or original to me , but it is worth doing as often as can be pulled off.  It seems to be the one topic about using carbines for home defense that is not as easy to find info on for the new shooters looking to use a AR15 carbine or other  of that type.

I have use of a run down abandoned home on my own property  with some furnishing and appliances still in it. So, I decided to shoot them up for fun, facts and quasi-science.

I used  M855, M193, Hornady TAP  75grain and  the steel cased Hornady 75 grain steel case training round. Rifle was 16 inch barrel carbine with 1/7 twist.  I used cardboard IDPA targets to have an idea of what would happen to a person using cover found in a typical house.

The first test was a refrigerator.  I placed the target ( home owner) on the other side as if the person was taking fire.  I set the target a foot or so away to show any fragmentation without ripping it up too bad and making it harder to see what happened.

I fired from about 5 feet from the “threat” side of the fridge.

Inside it had some typical, if spoiled, food items for authenticity. The fridge is about the normal size for most homes in my opinion.

The first round I fired was M855.  It went into the fridge , started to frag, came apart, the core and jacket then went through the other side and both pieces key holed through the target.  The core also went through the wood I used to prop up the target.

The next was the m193. The 55 grain FMJ did make it through in some pieces, but it did make it on into the target.   The M193 is the  hole in the upper head area. The M855 is the lower keyholed hit. Frags from both can be seen peppering the target.  It is interesting since you will commonly hear how M193 will not penetrate far.

The next round was the Hornady steel case.  I fired the 75 grain round and it went into one side and bulged the opposite side with no shoot through.

Next was the Hornady TAp FPD  75 grain round. This round did better than the steel case.  It made it through both side and into the target. It did however leave most of its jacket in the opposite side skin f the fridge.

Whatever was left did not hit the target and I could not find its impact area. Several more rounds had the same effect.

Next I wanted to show what happens if you hide behind a couch while some one is shooting at you like often happens in Hollywood. I even shot through two walls and a closest door to hit the victim. I used M193 and M855 only since it was clear this is a bad idea after a few rounds.

The rounds went pretty much straight through the thin wooden panel walls and two by four boards. Also the couch did not stop anything.  It seemed in fact the barrier seemed to make the hits more destructive on the target.  Don’t hide behind your couch if you are being shot at. Life is not a movie of video game.

Next I fired all four rounds through two walls and a dryer at the victim.

The picture on the right shows 4 rounds from m193. Interestingly, this time the m193 turned sideways  even through the 1st wall.

Every round tumbled and fragged by the time it was well into the appliance . Most of the projectiles still made it into the target. It did seem the round inside of the dry did cause the  hits to impact lower than they would have if they continued on straight n line of sight.

I was able to get hits after aiming higher. No surprise, the m855 made it to the target the best. Both ball rounds, or what was left of them, went on through another two walls behind the target.

Th TAP did not make it through the dryer.

Next up was a book case with a few books in it. I used soft and hard cover. I did not fill the shelf with books because  I know none of the rounds would have went through.

The only round to make it to the target is the tear from a tumbled m855 round that you can see in the bottom left of the target in the picture. One m855 went off to the side wall.  No other round made it through to the target. They either stopped in the book or zipped of in a different direction or into the unknown. I fired 20 rounds trying to get another hit.

A lot of people do not know the difference between cover and concealment.  Probably because of movies, people seem to think most anything in a house will stop a bullet, even the walls.  This is showing things are not always as secure as you may think.  I would not use any of this as cover if I thought I was going to be shot at. maybe to hide behind, but not to take cover behind.   Unless its a metal or steel wall, you need to think about it.  This also may be a wake up call for those who day dream of zipping off a round during some home invasion fantasy cooked up in their heads.  If you have loved ones in the next room or two over you better think very hard about what you would do when shooting in your house. Even if you thought you had it all worked out.  All of the rounds fired that made it to the target. still went on through at least another wall or two at the least.   SO, be careful what you hide behind and be more careful about who or what may be in the next room or house if you ever have to shoot in your own home. Or, if you shoot by accident. a ND can go a lot further then you think even if you had the gun pointed in what you though would be a safe direction if you did have a ND.    This is of course 556 rounds only and not all of them by any means so keep looking for a round that might be a little better than  the military ammo everyone seems to want to buy for defense. Same goes with handgun ammo or shotguns. This  is not the end all be all test or even slightly scientific, but I show it to you to draw your own conclusions and to keep thinking.

Part 2

Last time I fired a variety of the more popular 556 rounds commonly stockpiled by shooter and one of the most popular defense loads through a variety of things inside of a house to see what happens. The idea was to maybe get and idea what could go wrong if you had to fight inside a house or take cover behind things or you are just worried about over penetration. Just like I said last time ( though some of the more illiterate seemed to not have read)  this is not a scientific test and I make no claims it is.  But it is something to help you think. I hope.

This is the next part to what may be a series of at least 5 “test.”  I am going to show the results of what happened when I fired  5.45 from a AK74 type rifle, 7.62×39 from AK47 type.some ballistic tip rounds from a  5.56 AR15 carbine and  ball and Ranger T  HPs from a  45 ACP.

The first rounds I fired are the 5.45. The ammo is the standard round  as used by the Russian Mil. A lot of people like it because it is cheap and they feel it more deadly then a 5.56 in ball ammo form. Or at least the same if just cheaper.

The rounds punched a nice entry hole going in. But, one the got to the opposite side,they keyholed. You can see they stayed pretty much intact. Look how lean the holes are in the picture below.

They went on through the target, and the wood board behind holding it up and struck a cooking pot behind and stopping.

  The light makes it look like  a hole but it is not.   It did seem in one out of 20 rounds to  have fragged.  With the core some how bouncing off the pot and coming back to stick in the back side of the cardboard target.

You can see the core on the far left. This is the only evidence of fragmentation from the 5.45 I could find all day.

Next I fired some of the ballistic tip 5.56  to see how it would compare to the m193 , m855 and TAP used the last time.

A lot of people will say that ballistic tip will not over penetrate and like to keep it as a home defense round.

Hole by the paster is a perfectly cut hole left by a 55 grain ballistic tip fired through a fridge. This was pretty normal I found. Other damage was parts of metal from the fridge skin.   This surprised me enough to  fire the BT  through an outside window that was double pane into another target 10 yards behind the glass.

  The large hole in the target in the upper left  and bottom are from the ballistic tip 5.56 fired through a double window.  The glass deflected it a few inches from center line where I aimed. Rounds continued on through the  double 2 x 4 door frame it rested against before splattering on the wall behind.  Middle hole in target is from 45 ACP ranger T hollow point fired through same glass.  45 stopped inside the double 2x4s behind target with almost not real deflection.

I also fired the 45 ACp  through the fridge. HPs and ball.

  HPs and ball went through fridge and target. Punches through wood prop, then went deep into stove behind the target.  HPs no doubt caved in on itself and turned effectively into ball.

   I also fired from and outside wall, through a TV entertainment center stand at a target “hiding” behind and through  3 walls to see what would happen.  I used the HPs in every case since I had a pretty good idea what ball would do. I thought anyway.

TV center.

and exit hole after going through wall and 3 layers of the stand.

Below is target after 45 ACP was fired through  3 inside walls and one closet wooden door.

  Exit holes are seen in wall and one of the hits on the target paper. All shots continued on  through cabinet and another wall. This was all done with HP ammo.

Next is from the  much vaunted 7.62×39  ball ammo.  I expected the rounds to go through the fridge destroying it and deep penetration into the stove behind.

  This is what was left of the only round of 30 fired of the M43 round that made it through the fridge.  I fired from 5 feet from the fridge. One made it through and was badly fragged. It did not go through the wooden backer. No other round got through or even bulged the back side of the fridge much to my surprise.   The ‘x39  would go through walls but keyholed and had limited penetration once  it did.   None made it through the book case or dryer either.  GLass deflected the M43 so much I could not get one on the IDPA target so I am not sure what it would have looked like. I ran out of the ammo I brought before I could land a hit. Did not matter since I ran out of glass anyway.

The book case defeated all other rounds just as I expected.

  More holes on one side, but not more exits. Books remain undefeated.  Though all rounds tried would penetrate sometimes up to 10 inches of books alone. When shot through case and books stacked tight, few things seem to have the power. Am going to try a  308 round next on the bookcase.

I am not going to bother showing all the pictures of the dryer since nothing made it clean though.  The 5.45  made it into the dryer but not out the other side. The balistic tipped 556 came closest to a through and through. The 45 ACP did not punch clean through but made some impressive damage before coming to rest on the far side guts on the dryer.  Internal exit holes from the 45 ACP can be seen below. The ranger T tore large gouges through the dryers insides. Does not mean anything, but it is something to ponder.

  All shots fired into dryer first passed through two walls and a bathroom door before hitting the metal of the dryer.

You can see the shredded remains of the rifle rounds laying in bottom of the dryer in the picture.

Once again I was surprised by the results of this very unscientific test. Things I thought that would be stopped were not, and things I thought would penetrate deep did not do much.  Maybe if I did it all again it would be the opposite of this. Who knows?  One thing is becoming pretty clear to anyone who wants to pay attention. Nothing can be depended upon to be “safe” or “safer” from over penetration when talking about being used inside a home.  DO NOT assume your pet HD load or round is going to work like we are told it will be ammo companies.  The only thing you can depend upon is that the worst possible thing that can happen, is likely to happen if you take it for granted and maybe even if you do your best. You just can not know.  the best policy is to do your best not to have to zip off a round in your house if anyone else is inside you do not want hurt.  The best choice in a perfect world is to call the cops and  barricade your self in  a safe room or get out of the house.  We do not live in a perfect world though. So , spend as much time thinking about this as you can if you seriously think you may one dark night need to shoot inside your home. Or re think where you may point your muzzle when loading/unloading your weapon.  Draw your own conclusions because I am not going to make any claims about firearms ammo  doing anything for a fact

 

Winchester Model 52

The Winchester Model 52.  One of the greatest rifles of all time. Some even have called it “perfect” in the past.  I don’t know if it is perfect but it comes about as close to it as I would want in a rimfire target rifle that comes from a factory.     The M52 was made in a time when manufacturers still made  stuff mostly by hand. Especially when it was prestige or target model.

The 52 came out in 1919 and was used in the national matches that year and it was an instant hit.   The original models, often referred to now as “As’ or Pre As”  looked more like  a training rifle for the military ( which it was meant to be) than it looked like most people’s concept of a target rifle.   It went on to be refined over the years before it was discontinued.

The two we are going to look at here is the model52 “B” and “C” variants.

The differences in the two variants is slight.   The triggers are different designs, the barrel band is slightly different than the stock has minor differences but they would not really have been different enough for Winchester to bother to note  them as different models in catalogs at the time.

The top rifle is the “C” and as you can see, it has mounted on it a 20x power Unertl combination rifle scope. The Unertl/Fecker type optics attached to the guns via target blocks that are screwed to the barrels.  You can see see the target blocks the optics mount to  on the barrel of the lower rifle. I will have more on the Unertl in a few days if it as caught your attention

All rifles would accept all of the popular target iron sights of their time. Usually something made by Lyman or Redfield.   The lower gun has mounted Redfield  Olympic competition ironsights. The rifles take a standard 5 round detachable magazine that is removed via the mag release button seen on the right side.

The rifles have an accessory rail on the bottom of the stock forend.  This allowed attachment of the front sling swivel and the  combination handstop/sling swivel seen on both guns.  This was for shooting with sling in matches.  The rail also would accept  other items for use off hand standing,    The pattern of stock is known as the”marksman” stock and was used  on the Model70  national match  andd Bullguns. It was so well thought of that it continued on into the early 2000s but as a synthetic model made by HS-Precision with a bedding block and pillars for the heavy varmint line of Model70s.

The barrels are  heavy contour match barrels. When I say match I do mean match. They have a flat 90 degree target  crown  and you can see the target block  for placing the olympic  front sight with either globe of post.

Accuracy testing the rifles was done with the 20x Unertl on a rest. All groups were fired at 50 yards.

 

As with center fire rifles,  rimfires have their favorite loads.   If you want the best out of your rimfire,match ammo is a must and not the high velocity stuff.   A well known phenomenon is that  a 22 rimfire will shoot better of damp days.   For further accuracy  I recommend a Niel Jones rimfire headspace gauge for measuring rim thickness for consistency and weighing live rounds into lots.

http://www.neiljones.com/html/rimfire_gauge.html

rimfire

Both guns were shot with a variety of ammo in five shot groups.

 

I won’t give any commentary  about the groups pictures and will allow readers to view them  all sine each group has ammo type used noted.

As you can see three different people  fired both guns using a large range in ammo. The Eley Edge and Federal ammo being the  best performers across all three shooters and both guns.   No surprise there.   The Fiocchi  320  was a surprise to me though.  My friend who purchased mentioned that only that lot shot that well. That identical boxes of a different lot shot terribly.  That is why you always test  your zero when going to a new lot of factory ammo. Especially if  you are a Police sniper.  Even if you are not, it is very prudent to check zero and accuracy when you use a different lot of the same ammo.

The Winchester Model52 is another great American classic. If you are into vintage target rifles or you want a rifle you could do well with in any local match , you can’t go wrong with a M52.

 

A Savage Model99

The Savage model 99 is an interesting rifle.  Some really like its looks and  other thing it is one funkly looking rifle.  Either way it was very innovative .   I refined version of the earlier M95 and M92, it was originally  developed to be a possible US service rifle.

It has some pretty trick features for something most modern shooters would consider old and antique.   The internal rotary magazine for instance.   This let the gun use spitzer type bullets. Something that normal lever actions can not do.   The fear being the recoil will cause the bullet to set off the primer of the round in front.   Something I am not aware of actually ever happening or even made to happen in testing… But considered important anyways.

Another thing with that magazine is that is has a counter.  You can see the counter  as it sets at 0 being it is empty.

At the lever is also where the safety  is located, something most lever action of the time lacked.  The savage Model99 has a very smooth action in my opinion and it is a real classic.

 

 

 

 

 

The massive receiver of the M99 was made strong enough for modern smokeless rounds.  This strength and ability with  the modern rounds using spitzer bullets  gave  near bolt action like performance .  The strength and stability allowed for some solid mounting for optics.  The one pictured is a Weaver K4 with the “tip off” rings. That allowed the scope to be pivoted to the side so you can use your iron sights.

This model99 is chambered in 300 savage, A round that was modified and helped  to make the 7.62mm NATO round. 300 savage was meant to give a shorter cartridge that could work well in a lever action that gave the same performance of the .30,06 service round.  It doesn’t  but it does come within about 100 fps of it.

 

These guns are real classics.  I have wanted one for my own safe for many years, particularly one in .250 savage.  But opportunity and money never seem to line up for me.    If you run across one in  any chambering in a deal you can live with I encourage you to buy it.

 

Billy Dixon & Adobe Walls Long Range Shot

About 200AM on  June 27, 1874, a thundering noise woke  the resident sleeping in Hanrahan’s Saloon/house.   The people who rose in response to the crashing sound thought it came from the ridge-pole of the building.  They believed that the main cotton wood beam supporting the roof was giving way.   If it failed,  it would dropped the heavy sod roof on their heads.  This had the residents outside in a hurry to find something to brace the building.  They soon went to Adobe Walls creek to  cut a new cottonwood pole  as a replacement. The others began removing the heavy sod from the roof.  While inspecting the roof while removing the sod it was discovered the ridge pole was completely sound.  Since then it has been suggested that this could have been a case of Divine Intervention.  A warning for the day to come.

For week prior  to June 27, the  residents of Adobe Walls had been trespassing on Kiowa and Comanche  tribal lands. Of course the reason for this was buffalo hunting.  The commercial hunters had already become aware of the growing threat from seeing mounted braves int he area.   There was no doubt the Indians were not pleased with their trespassing and hunting activities.    In response to this threat, the settlers retreated in to the shelter of Adobe Walls.

 

The settlers may have been in a bad mood after the terrifying awakening from the thought of being crushed.  They would  have been a lot more  disconcerted if they had known what was planned  for them.    Seven hundred Kiowa and Comanche warriors ( “All the Indians in the world”) planned to ride   dawn on top of the residents  of the small settlement of three main buildings, a water well and live stock pen.  The intention was to catch them before they rose from their sleep and got themselves ready for the days work.  No doubt it caught this way they would have  had no chance.

Unfortunately for the braves the population had been awakened by the mysterious  noise.    Even more unfortunate for them, when  the huge , angry and ready for blood raiding force of Indian cavalry came charging over the distant the buffalo shooters were already awake and had decided to make a early start of it.   Even worse for the braves,  by just pure dumb chance,  Billy Dixon just so happened to be looking in the  exact direction the warriors came from when came into sight.   Immediately Billy fired a shot into the air, screamed a warning of “Indians!” and raced into the saloon as the  attack was on.

Even so  at the beginning, rounds fired from the rifles of the hunters started knocking riders from horses long before  any of the Indians  could return effective fire with their bows, muzzle loaders and  Henry type lever actions as well as other weapons.  What was supposed to be a sure thing ambush turned into a formidable counter attack

Bullets and hit all around and arrows flew through the air.  The buildings were quickly  strengthened with bags of flour and grain. Everything  seen in a hundred  Hollywood western when the settlers are bracing for an attack.  They fought all day  with no water , no time to eat some not even full dressed as they all knew what would happen to them as captives of the Indians.

” In the initial fiasco, the  Indians took decimating loses in both horses and riders.  Thereafter, albeit more cautiously, they continued attacking, organizing skirmishes throughout that day and the next, looking for a weakness or a safer means of attack-they evidently found none. On the third morning, with a cool. calm and clear weather prevailing,  a “group of about fifteen Indians” convened  a war council on a bluff east of Adobe Walls Creek. According to Billy Dixon, the huddled riders were  “not far from  seven eighths of a mile”  from the settlement.  We have to note  that the distance was  later surveyed.  Mr. Dixon’s stated range held up quite well. One  number reported for that survey was 1538 yards ( 7/8 mile is 1540 yards)-no credible account claims a greater distance.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that the warriors were discussing   giving up on the attack and leave with some pride intact. At that second something happened that ended to possible debate about bowing out with saving face.

Billy Dixon was already well know as a long range shooter second to none, one of the other defenders pointed at the group of braves having their war council  pointed at the group of riders and said, “Why do’t you take a crack at the with your big fifty Billy”?  Dixon knew the range well. it is suggested Billy used the same ridge for target practice in the pas. It certainly would have been in character for him as he loved shooting and long range shooting.  Billy perhaps hunted Buffalo as a job not because of the money but because it gave him the chance to do what he really loved, long range shooting.  So Billy adjusted  the rear sight on his Sharp’s  and prepared to ” give it a try.”

“Billy Dixon was a renowned rifle shot. Not only did he employ his marksmanship skills in making a living, but he also practiced the sport of long range target shooting, in lieu of any other significant vices. Further, he had the best equipment then available and that, I must add, was equipment that would rival some of our best today. Keep in mind that some of the long range target records set in the 1870s and 1880s stood for  generations, e.g., a 1000 yard group measuring 8.6″ fired in 1886. Mr. Dixon was not handicapped by lack of equipment. In competent hands, given a good estimate of the range and calm conditions, Billy Dixon’s 50-90 Sharp’s  was a formidable long range combination. Also he very likely handloaded, using the best powder then available and due care in all aspects of handloading.”

After  dialing in his fine adjustable rear peep sight, Billy took careful and likely make final adjustments for any “wind, bullet rotation, alignment of the planets , that itch behind his neck and any other  effects he might have thought significant”.  He then touched the fine adjusted set trigger. He admitted  his target was “the group of riders” He never claimed he had any one of the braves as his single target.

assuming similarly shaped pointed bullets, 1538 yard time of flight is practically identical -about 5.3 seconds. If his bullet was of the lighter Sharps fifty caliber type( approximately 500 grains) muzzle velocity  would have been about 1350 fps. For the ( more likely) heavier type( perhaps 700 grains) muzzle velocity would have been about 1100fps. At 7/8 of a mile the lighter bullet would have delivered about 535 foot pounds of energy: the heavier bullet about 845 foot pounds of energy.  Meanwhile, if any of the Indians were watching, they would have noticed a cloud of smoke in the yard in front of the main house. It is easy to imagine their mirth at the thought of some foolish White Eyes wasting powder and the lead. Then, an eternal 4.1 seconds later, if they were quiet, they would have heard the distant rumble of a big fifty Sharps rifle”.

Around 1.2 seconds after that  distant sound reached them some impossible event happens.  One of the Chiefs is smacked by the bullet as he falls from his horse.   This stunning event is obviously a sign of bad medicine so they quickly decide they  have better things to do then continuing to charge straight down Billy Dixon’s gun sights.

Billy believed he had killed the rider. The Indian accounts claim the lucky bullet hit the unlucky rider in the elbow breaking his arm.  No matter, the bullet did it’s job and ended the battle.

After the battle Billy went on to have a colorful  life.   Even receiving the Medal of Honor for his part in the Buffalo Wallow Fight.  Later making his home with his wife near Adobe Walls  and lived their until his death.

Billy’s own more honest account of the battle and shot as known to us only because of his wife who knew her husband’s  life story was worthy of recording and nagged him into dictating it to her, Though he died before it was finished.  Billy did not brag , self promote of talk much about his long shot.  Though one of the men in the Adobe Walls fight did. Bat  Masterson was among the defenders and he later  exaggerated the story and made it into  the typical old west yarn, no doubt promoting his own part in it  while he was at it.

 

 

Quotes from Precision Shooting at 1,000 Yards

M. L. McPherson – Replicating Billy Dixon’s Legendary Long-Shot( Part1)