After taking a look at the parts and guts on the Colt 6940 Piston carbine last time, it is now time to show the results of testing the carbine for accuracy and reliability.


For my accuracy testing of the carbine, I used the Leupold 18x target scope on a Larue SPR mount and my usual bags and test as I am wont to do.  I fired all groups shown at 100 yards and 200 yards using a variety of match factory ammo as well as my own match handloads. I also  fired the gun at 1,000 yards and 500 yards in my typical test to push it as far as possible. Once again for the long range resting, the 18x target scope was used,

To make the job a easier , I did use a SSA trigger int he carbine this time.  The reason for using the SSA trigger instead of the milspec trigger this time, was because there is a reputation of piston guns having a little less accuracy than DI guns.  My thinking was to try my best to eliminate anything I could that may give results that I , or anyone, may be biased to attribute to the piston system. So I used the match SSA trigger and a very secure front rest and sand bag set up from a bench.   I wanted to get every bit of accuracy I could from the carbine.


Above are the 5 rounds groups fired at 100 and 200 yards.  Due to limited amounts of some of the test ammo, I was only able to use 5 round groups after zeroing the gun and settling in.   While all groups are what I considered great, I did notice small changes in the group size with certain match ammo  from the DI guns to the piston. When using the DI carbines some of those brands shoot better  in about every DI carbine/rifle I have used and other bands are not as tight while it seemed to be the opposite with the piston.  Now, this is a small amount and not worth even talking  about in a practical matter, I only noticed because of firing the ammo through so many guns that I was able to notice the change,  Practically speaking , and from the outlook of field use, It is irrelevant.  You can notice the SSA and the TAP strings vertically at 200 yards and beyond,  I shot these at a later time with a cold clean bore and with a cold dirty bore and hot dirty bore. Those brands of ammo string vertically in the gun after you get to 200 yards.  Again, practically speaking, it is not enough to matter or worry about in a carbine  with a milspec barrel meant for fighting.  It may be just this one gun, or may be those brands are sensitive to a piston operated carbine. I have no idea.  But I present the info to you regardless.


Above is the target with the boxes of some of the brands tested. Below is a closer picture of the groups for closer inspection.


After seeing the results of the groups and being pleased with the accuracy , I determined it was worthwhile for long range testing.  With the guns potential in mind, I and my friend loaded up and went to the mountain top strip job for the long range testing 3 weeks ago. Weather was mid with slight winds.  Being on top of the mountain, it is hard to catch a windless day.  The wind without fail travels right to left and can be seen on target as can be seen in almost all long range test targets from me.

I used a cardboard target with two orange panels to make target ID easy and to give me a better aiming point.  Readers will notice I have used as variety of different target types and styles for long range testing,  This is an ongoing project of mine to determine the best target and color combination to make long range testing as easy as possible to center the target in the optic for precise aiming,  This system worked well on a sunny day, but the color or the paper was not much help late on when the sun was not shinning on it directly.


The shots fired at 500 yards , I circled with a sharpie. The 1,000 yard shots  I drew a square around them. The one hole with a star like squiggle drawn around it, is a hit that I am not sure is a 500 round or 1,000 yard shot. I thought it was a 1K shot but later I thought maybe I intended to mark it when I fired the 500 yard group.  So I marked it as a 500 shot to not give myself the benefit of the doubt  and make a note of it.  I feel it is more honest in this case to just call it as a 500 yard hit.   On top of that, the 1,000 yard string obviously shifted to the bottom left corner and I feel it was unlikely that one of the 1K shots hit that far right and high.

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The first fired 10 rounds at  500 yards using the Black Hills 77 grain MK 262 MOD 1 ammo.  Five hundred yards is not a serious challenge for a quality carbine. Especially off of a bench rest and bags with an 18x optic.  As per my usual method, I fired 10 rounds on a steel target gong to confirm my zero. I think fine tuned on a few skeet I lay around the target to make sure it is refined, then fire my “record group” of 10 rounds.  As you can see I missed the target completely on one shot and of course the specially marked hit that may or may not be a shot at 500 yards. So NOT giving myself the benefit.  8 out of 10 rounds on target at 500 yrds.   But, this is a very good group.  The wind showed me some mercy while I fired the 10 shots and it shows.  Once again, you can see the vertical stringing sneaking into the group.

Last I fired 20 rounds at 1,000 yards with 6 hits and then the hit in question that may have been a seventh round hit,  Once again, not giving my self the benefit, I toss this shot out since it is in doubt, I give a count of 6 hits. The wind at that distance carried the shots further to left and I used several minutes to get me on the target this much.   For the 1,000 yard group,I switched to my personal hand loads,  It is a pet load that out performs factory ammo and is hot enough I do not share the load data.  Now, whether it shoots better at this range or I just have more confidence in it, I have no idea really. But confidence is a huge factor, so I stick with it since it has always performed well for me.   It takes extreme effort to get a 16 inch barreled carbine on target at 1K.  Using a 20 or 18 inch barrel or better yet, a 24 inch barrel 556 gun is like heaven compared to the gymnastic it takes to get a carbine on but it can be done.  Once again, I show it, just to show what a person can do with an M4.

The  6940Piston has some benefits in the long range testing in the fact that it comes with the SOCOM profile heavy barrel that is a big help. If the piston does disrupt the barrel from its extra movement and vibrations, then the heavy SOCOM barrel meant for harsher full auto firing schedule, helps cut this down possibly.

Last we come to the reason that the piston M4 carbine is supposed to exist. More reliability and especially in hard use with little cleaning, And of course in a military context, full auto fire with little cleaning and lube.

Last week friend of and my neighbor , Tug Valley Armaments brought his full auto guns out for us to do some hard testing of the Piston Colt.  Since getting the gun in the mail from Colt. I have rnot cleaned or lubed the gun.  After 784 rounds of no cleaning and no lube, It was time.  We put the upper on the full auto lower and fired up a few 40 round Pmags to get it so hot, it took glove to even hold it by the  KAC vertical fore grip.  I stuck a full surefire 60 round mag in the bone dry, very dirty gun with zero lube on it and held the trigger down until empty.

The gun went through the magazine without issue. Let me tell you it was hot before I fired the mag, and it was smoking after., We got the carbine dangerous hot.

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You can see the barrel of the carbine smoking from the heat of the 60 round mag dump after not taking a break after also firing through five Magpul 40 round Pmags and various USGI 30 rounders.  There was no problem form the gun. It ran wonderfully.  I cannot make any dubious claims of the BCG being cooler because it was a piston though since by the time I stopped shooting even the receiver extension was hot to touch.

One observation we did not expect is that the gun on full auto  would not run with the full auto lowers carbine buffer.  We slapped the upper on the Class III lower and left the buffer it had in it in place. I went to auto and it was semi auto only.  After thinking about it a second, we put the H2 buffer that comes standard in the  6940Piston, in the NFA lower and the gun ran perfectly. Just more reason why I have always appreciated Colt giving at least the H buffer in their carbines and heavier buffers based on what the  gun was intended to do.

The piston 6940 is a superb piston AR15 carbine. If you are the type who thinks he has to have a piston to kill the commie invasion, I can not see you being let down by this gun or find any complaints.  If you just want a great gun and you like this one and do not have any strong thoughts on the piston vs DI, you are gonna love this gun.  If you are a DI die hard guy like me?  You are still going to really like this gun.   I won’t be switching to piston nor do I feel the need to, but I am impressed by this gun. I think the DI does edge it out in accuracy with match ammo, but in practical field use it is not really a factor.   Since I used match ammo for the testing in the part, I will be using milspec issue ammo testing in the next part  to see how it does and  possibly a direct shoot off  between the 6940 Piston and the standard 6940 DI gun.  So, if you are interested check back for that info.

Man Shoots Soldiers’ Armor With .44 Magnum, What Happens Might Make You Cringe

By Andrew Betts

Our service men and women are issued body armor systems composed of a carrier, soft panels, and hard plates. One of the most common systems is the IOTV, or Improved Outer Tactical Vest. The military faces different threats than law enforcement does and therefore military body armor is not NIJ rated, but the soft panels are widely said to be roughly equivalent to NIJ level IIIA. That means that they should stand up to a .44 magnum 240 gr jacketed soft point at 1,400 fps with no more than 2.7” of back face deformation in a modeling clay backer.

We wanted to know if the armor would meet that standard so we tested a groin protector panel from an OTV. Be warned, this video might make you cross your legs.

It was interesting that the aramid layers are not stitched around the edges, as they are in many other armor panels. They had just a single stitch in the center. Nevertheless, the groin protector panel came very close to passing this IIIA standard. It stopped the bullet and the back face deformation was only slightly over the standard. Of course, .44 mag is not exactly a common threat on the battlefield.

Military armor is designed with other threats in mind, but it is encouraging to know that our soldiers are protected by excellent armor.

Point Of Impact. ( Books for the gun enthusiast )


“I was at my best with a rifle in my hand. I always loved rifles. So I decided to live in such a way that the rifle would be all I needed. And I succeeded.”  Bob Lee Swagger.

Above is just one of many great lines from Stephen Hunter’s masterpiece “Point of Impact”, the first book about his iconic hero Bob Lee Swagger.   This is the book the dreadful movie with Marky Mark was based on.  And I use the term loosely.

Bob Lee is a disabled and retired former USMC  scout sniper and Vietnam war vet. Bob sustained a career ending wound in the hip  just before his partner was killed on a sniper mission in the later years of the war.  Bob is clearly a fictionalized version of the Ultimate Sniper Carlos Hathcock in the universe of the book.  Bob is famous after the war and is well known in the gun culture, though he is bitter and seeks no lime lights.  Because of his exploits and skill during the war, he was nicked names “Bob the Nailer”.  While he is obviously close to the real life master sniper, Carlos himself is represented in the book as the character Carl Hitchcock as a nod to the real life sniper.

As the story opens, Bob is shown to be a recluse who has had a tough life after he is medically retired from the Marines. He collects his pension and lives alone in his trailer in the mountains with no one but his dog. He spends his days shooting and reloading and avoiding people.  Ever day he shoots his rifles, handloads. workds on his guns and reads gun books.  He had trouble with booze in the years before the start of the story and had a wife that left him before he went into his voluntary solitude.

Much like the movie, he is found and set up in a plot that looks like he tries to kill the US POTUS. He goes on the run eventually meeting up with his dead spotters wife and falling in love with her and teaming up with a FBI agent who helps him through the rest of the story.

As tiresome as it is to hear it again, the book is far better than that abortion of a movie. Bob is not arrogant and cocky. He is a Vietnam vet  and much more clever than his movie counterpart.

One thing we learn in the book is that Bob is living a life of quite desperation, just waiting to die.  When he is set up and sets out on the run to clear himself, we learn that he is once again alive for the first time since the war. He is fully engage again now that he has a war to fight.     And the the climax and gun fights of the book do not disappoint.

Unlike the vast majority of writers, Stephen Hunter is a gun guy. The book is full of gun talk and details and is accurate to weapons type and ballistics.  Indeed one rifle  pretty much becomes a character in the book.  Knows as the “tenth black king” a Pre 64 Model 70 winchester target rifle 1 of 100 that is The number 1 of that special run.  It is a 300 H&H magnum with a Unertl target scope used for the kill that sets Bob up and has a long history back to the death of JFK and it is essential to driving the plot.

This great book set off the popularity of Bob Lee and his adventures that are still ongoing to this day, And even some side books about Bob’s father Earl who is even more deadly and impressive as well as heroic as Bob himself.  Earl was a WW2 vet and received the Medal Of Honor.  Earl goes on to have adventure of his own as a Arkansas state  trooper before dying on duty when Bob is still a boy.   Earl had a huge impact on his son to say the least.

The book is one anyone who loves guns needs to read, It is better than any action movie I have ever seen with plot twists and pacing that is truly masterful. It is never dull and is 100 percent entertaining.   I read it many years ago ( it first came out around 91 or 92) and I have probably read it again every two years or so. it is really that good.  Lastly, in addition to all I said, it also has some deep thoughtful things to say about life and duty and doing the right thing.   It  has never failed to entertain me.

Cinema Of The Gun THE WILD BUNCH


I love a good shoot out movie. I have always loved them and very few are as iconic and legendary as The Wild Bunch. It was, at one time the most graphic and intense shoot out on screen.  It  was controversial at the time and a lot of people complained about it as being ultra violent.  It is certainly  violent but it has a lot more going on than just a great gun fight at the end.  It is one of my all time favorite gunfight/western movies and not just because of the guns.

If you have not seen it, i will be talking about a few plot points and spoiling the ending here so be warned on that.  Anyone who has not seen it needs to do so as fast as possible because you have been missing out,

The Wild Bunch is mainly about a gang of aging  outlaws and gunfighters after the turn of the century. The movies starts with them robbing a bank to get enough money for possible retirement but it turns out to be an ambush where almost all of them are killed. They then take refuge into Mexico where they realize their days of living like they had been, are about over and they are a dying breed.  They get mixed in with some Mexican revolution Hi-jinks while a former partner now working for the rail road who they stole from in the past  is trying to hunt them down,  they steal 1903 rifles from the US Army for the Mexicans to use, in return for gold payment from the Mexican general ravaging the countryside.

After they steal the guns they do  let one of their gang members keep a case of the rifles for his poor villager friends and family to defend against same Mex general.  He is found out, and is taken by the Mexican army and tortured while the rest of the gang goes on with the gold since there is nothing they can do.


After building guilt for abandoning their friend, they decided to go take him back from the Mexican General and his men, though they really know it is going to be their end in a blaze of glory. And that is exactly what happens after their pal is killed by the Mexican army after they demand his return and  the leader guns down the General. They do kill about 1/4 the population of Mexico before being killed themselves.

The ending shoot out is intense and hyper violent with  very graphic for the time, blood splattering from the gun shot wounds.  it is a really great pay off, but there is some great stuff in the middle.

The movie has always really resonated with me in a few ways with some powerful themes and moments.

THE WILD BUNCH, from left: Ernest Borgnine, William Holden, 1969
THE WILD BUNCH, from left: Ernest Borgnine, William Holden, 1969

One of the things that appealed to me is the friendship between the gang members, Especially the leader and his right hand man.  They stick by each other and defend each other from the other members of the gang during tense arguments. His friend never questions his leadership and is loyal to the end. Indeed even his last word is the name of his friend Pike’s name as he dies. Still concerned about his friend even at the end.

At one point in the middle of the film, the leader, Pike, tells his pal why he limps. He was shot in the leg by the jealous husband of the only woman he ever loved. He was caught by the husband with her and was hit in the leg and the woman killed. Pike was not able to kill the man, and it has haunted him ever since.

The outlaws relationship with women in the film is interesting as well. As above, PIke is shown to be very tender toward his dead lover. At another point, they have arrived at the home town of the mexican member of their gang to find out his sweet heart has ran off with the corrupt Mexican General. Later when they meet the General he confronts his one time love and sees her laughing at him in the General’s lap.  In a rage he stands and screams “Puuuuttttaaa” and shoots her in the chest with his 1911 killing her.    At the end of the film, in the final climactic battle Pike turns his back to a Mexican prostitute and is shot in the back by her. He turn to her and exclaims “bitch”! and guns her down.   This comes after minutes earlier, he paid a poor young beautiful mexican prostitute with a young child more money than she expected after being with her. Then deciding to go out in a blaze of glory.


After the final fight, the village square is full of the dead ad wounded. PIke still has his hand wrapped around the Machine gun he had been mowing down Mexican bandits with even in death.  His old partner who had been reluctantly  hunting him for the rail road to avoid spending his like in jail comes across his old friend.   He looks down and sees his old friends Colt 45 revolver still in its holster unfired.

pike's gun

Throughout the movie, Pike and the rest of the gang had been using the new, at the time, Colt 1911 Automatic pistol, caliber 45 ACP.  The revolver was the sidearm Pike had spent the most time with. No doubt it was his baby and well loved it was from a time before his 1911 came along and with it more modern guns obviously signifying the end of their era. Pike had still carried his older Colt because he loved it and was not willing to forget it or the memories of his prime it no doubt reminded him of.  Pike and the boys all used 1911s for the entire movie. But PIke still always had his Colt Peacemaker on his hip.  This is where it  was when the outlaws who had outlived their age came to their end.  Never even fired.

The times had moved on and changed without the outlaws changing with it.  They refused to adapt into a new world they did not like. Pike still held onto his old shooter and died with it on.

His old best friend and partner comes across his body and removes the Colt and takes it with him.  He stays in Mexico with the last survivor of the old gang and goes to fight in the revolution trying to preserve or hold onto the old days the best he can while he can, with Pike’s relic from a past age.

The Wild Bunch is a great movie but it is not just a great gun fight with great old actors. William Holden plays the outlaw leader, Pike and does it so well, you really see the pain and regret in his eye and the seriousness and resolve as he leads his last friends and gang to their last suicidal glory filled fire fight.




When the Civil war ended, the breech loading Spencer repeating carbine benefited from  a wave of popularity. Gen. James Harrison Wilson had high praise for the firearm. “the Spencer carbine is undoubtedly the best firearm ever put into the hands of the soldier” he wrote in a document that would end up becoming part of the official records of the union and CSA armies. He went on to saw it “should be supplied for the entire commands all other arms are bad in comparison”.  high praise indeed but is it really justified?

The carbine first got into the hands of Union cavalry in Oct of 1863. The carbine was recommended as ordnance officers deemed the rifle too heavy for mounted troops. the rife combined two highly desirable features, repeated firing and breech loading. both huge advantages in an era dominated by muzzle loaders. Seven rim fire .52 caliber cartridges were inserted through a channel bored through the butt stock. The user inserted a spring loaded magazine tube over the rounds to provide the needed pressure to feed the rounds, one at a time into the receiver when the lever was activated. Pushing the lever/trigger  guard forward moved parts inside the receiver to eject fired cases and dropped the breech block and allowed the magazine to feed a round. Moving the lever to the rear raised the breech block and feed the round into the chamber. the user then had to cock the hammer manually to fire. An additional round could be chambered to give the carbine a total capacity of 8 rounds.

The first model fired a .52 caliber cartridge called the .56-52. this was the model that saw service in the Civil war. According to cartridges of the world , this round was only a fraction more powerful than modern smokeless factory loads in the .44-40. For sporting use the round was considered short range and not effective on anything larger than deer even when fired from the rifle length barrel.    While most users had nothing but praise for its robustness and reliability to stand up to repeated firing and fouling, its main short coming would come to light.

By the time the Spencer carbine became a prominent weapon of the the Union Cavalry many of the engagements were fought dismounted. Against dismounted CSA cavalry armed with Enfield rifles the union soldiers were at a disadvantage. Despite all its good points, the carbine with its short barrel and under powered rim fire round could not deliver a dependable knock out punch.  Though it was difficult to see the results of the carbine during the civil war due to many factors including many different arms,  the later Indian wars would prove the acid test.

Years later on September 17, 1868  in northeastern Colorado near the Kansas and Nebraska border fifty frontier scouts under Col. George Forsyth defended a brush and grass covered sandy island in the Republican river.  The main arm of the men was the Spencer carbine. They faced a Cheyenne force estimated at between 450 and 600 who carried guns and bows and arrows.  Even though the force defending the 150  long by 75 wide sand bar had plenty of ammunition, they accounted for only 9 Indians killed.  Even firing from firing pits and strong points dug from the sand, many of the defenders were dead or wounded by the middle of the day. Among the defenders killed was Lt. Fredrick H. Beecher, second in command. The Island would later bear his name. -AR


John Hurst, one of the scouts described the battle.”Hardly were we located on the island before the Indians were charging us, not in solid bodies, but singly or in groups of a few warriors. Scouts Armstrong and Barney Day were by my side.. each by a small tree. Jack Stillwell and his party were on the east end of the island and Jack Donovan and others were in the center, all pretty well hidden and shooting whenever the Indians came within close range. Our bullets coming from all directions in this manner seemed to daze the Indians. We were armed with Spencer seven shot repeating rifles and this was another thing that puzzled our foes, who could not determine how we were able to load and fire so rapidly.”

The mounted charges by the Indians never overran the defenders, but the defenders killed only a few of the attacking warriors. Unless shot in the head an enemy would neither be killed nor even receive a mortal wound unless hit within a few  yards of the muzzle. the figure of only 9 Indians KIA is reliable as it was well reported by George Bird Grinnell and George Brent. Grinnell was a famed naturalist and studied Indian life. His account of the Beecher Island fight can be found in his book The Fighting Cheyennes. George Bent, left his account in his correspondence.

The Indians killed during the fight were IDed as : Roman Nose, Prairie Bear , Dry Throat, White Thunder, Weasel Bear, Killed by A Bull, Little Man , Black Crow and Old Sioux man. the accounts of their death gives evidence to the inadequate power of the Spencer carbine.

A young scout names Jack Stillwell took up a position a position with several others on the lower east end of the island with several others. They occupied a wash under an overhanging bank in the nearly dry river bed with tall grass and bushes to conceal their position.  These scouts shot most of the Indians killed as they rode directly over Stillwell’s foxhole. Their first kill was Weasel Bear who rode almost directly over the rifle pit. The bullet hit the rider at his hip and came out the top of his back. His nephew, White Thunder saw his Uncle fall and went to his aid, When White Thunder was about ten feet from the crouching scouts they shot him through his shoulder, the ball exiting just above his waist. During this this action the main force of scouts fired and took a toll on the Indian ponies causing the attackers to dismount and advance the attack on foot.-AR

Three Indians managed to sneak close to the scouts main position in the center of the island. Doing this they dug themselves a a firing pit in the soft sand. When Prairie Bear and Little Man rose up over the berm, it was their last earthly act as they took shots to the head. The third Indian in the hole, Good Bear, jumped and dodging and running, got away.

, Louis Farley and his son Hudson were considered the best two shots in the scout unit. Louis was lying in the grass with a broken leg when he saw two Indians as they crept along a ridge of sand. Farley shot them both, neatly drilling them with head shots. This is believed by some defenders to have stopped further infiltration of the scout’s position.

Intent on retrieving the their dead and wounded comrades if at all possible, another of White Thunder’s uncles, Two Crows,with a band of friends went down to the river to retrieve the bodies of Weasel Bear and White Thunder. Stillwell and his concealed party of scouts were still watching the grass for approaching enemy, seeing the grass move about unnaturally, they fired and wounded Bear Feathers  with a crease along his right shoulder. Another round fired from the group deflected off Two Crows’ shield that he had tied to his back and another  round wounded Black Moon and another wounded Turkey Without Feathers in the shoulder. They managed to drag out their  dead friend’s body with a rope they tied to him while another of the party was wounded.-AR

Another Indian killed named Killed By A Bull, was shot at  was described as “considerable distance” by a Springfield rifle, one of a few scattered among the scout. He was shot while carrying away the body of another Indian killed in the fight.

The death of Roman Nose is well known and worth repeating because it an example of the inadequate performance of the cartridge from the Spencer.  He kept a low profile throughout most of the fighting. Believing fully in the power of the medicine in his war bonnet, a single horned affair made for him by a medicine man named White Bull. The power of the bonnet could be rendered ineffective  if  before the battle he ate food served to him with a metal implement. If he did so, a cleansing ceremony was needed to restore the magic of his bonnet. A squaw served him some pan bread she removed from the pan with an iron fork. There was not enough time to perform the cleansing  and being pressured, he joined the fight. Roman Nose went into the battle convinced he would die.-AR

He led a mounted charge of a small band against the scouts and made the same error as did Weasel Bear. Riding  over the small group of scout secured under the over hang in the near dry river bank. A Spencer ball hit Roman Nose in the back just above his hips. He did not fall from this mortal wound but returned to his own lines and back to his own people to finally die before sundown.

Having much faith in the power of their medicine, one of the boys who was at the Beecher Island fight changed his name to Bullet Proof as a result of his battle experience that day. Bullet Proof had been shot in the breast and it appeared ( appeared that is) the bullet passed through him exiting his back. According to this fanciful lad, he was able to stop the bleeding and heal the wound by only placing his hand on the ground and rubbing his wounds.  If this is his medicine the wounds were very slight indeed. “Had he been hit like Gunga Din where the bullet come and drilled the beggar clean, a stronger remedy surely would have been required” – Tate  Most likely the young warrior was hit by a bullet at some distance as he rode toward the island and possible once again as he rode away.  Unfortunately for his pals he was overly impressed with his own invincibility and practiced a dubious medicine that got two of his friends killed.  Supposedly immune to bullets due to Bullet Proofs methods, two friends were later killed while charging the troopers in the 10th Cav. later.-Tate

As the fight went on and with only a few warriors were killed by the Spencer, the repeating ability of the carbine was of very little value to the defenders on the island. It was not safe to be exposed to enemy fire long enough get off more than one or two shots. Scout Sigmund Schlessinger said of his time in the firefight , “I have often been asked whether I killed any Indians, I don’t know.. I did not consider it safe to watch the result of a shot. Also taking a general observation by suddenly jumping up and as quickly dropping back into my hole, which enabled me to take a shot, or as many as the target warranted, without undue exposure”  John Hurst agreed, since twice he shot at mounted Indians but did not see either fall. Seeing an Indian creeping toward him, ” I fired at him but without waiting to see the effect of the shot.” Not leaving themselves exposed long enough to observe the effect of a hit is understandable.

No doubt many more hits were made as accounts vary from sources on both sides of the battle on Beecher’s Island, without any more than 9 killed. One to a Springfield rifles bullet. Other battles and fights from the Indian wars went on to produce reports of Indians shot solid but not dead.  One Captain reported knocking a Indian of about 18 off his horse from less than 30 yards. When the Cavalry officer went forward he found this Indian  dazed but crawling away still alive.  From the known load from the time and the bullets used it is no doubt that the iconic weapon produced less than comforting ballistic performance when one needed to send to the Happy Hunting grounds an enemy as tenacious as the American Indian. Whether due to quality control in ammo, lower velocities than claimed or poor accuracy on the part of the users or the gun, the Spencer carbine seemed to not be the last word on military service rifles its greatest admirers thought to be.

No doubt, another contributing problem is the same thing seen during the Korean War.  In that case, it is the M1 carbine and its .30 carbine cartridge that takes the blame.  Veterans from the war claiming the M1 carbine round so small in comparison to the full size service cartridge just had to be the problem.  When shot at  charging communist troops in their thick quilted coats failed to move to the next life, the men, as they always do, blamed the puny round and not  marginal hits or misses.   Had to be the round not doing it’s job.  Blaming the gun and not the shooter is a timeless tradition.  With the Cavalry troopers surrounded and in a desperate fight, taking snap shots on moving targets moving through high grass and on horses, while under withering fire,it is easy to come to the conclusion all but the most close range shots were certain. The confirmed dead is testament to that.

This Post uses heavily from the following sources. If you want more about the subject  or the rifle and its use in the Indian war the bellow books and articles and recommended. The Tate article providing the

The Accurate Rifle , The Gun With The Powder Puff Punch  ,Tate.

The Beecher Island Fight , John Hurst and Sigmund Schlessinger, Vol 15

A Frontier Fight, George Forsyth

The Battle of Beecher Island And The Indian War of 1867-1869

4 Reasons Your Lever Action .357 Is Perfect for Home Defense

4 Reasons Your Lever Action .357 Is Perfect for Home Defense
How an “Obsolete” Design Could Still Be Right for You

By Andrew Betts



Lever action rifles have been around for a very long time. There is no denying that they are great fun to shoot, but can a rifle designed a century and a half ago adequately meet those requirements? Is the lever action rifle obsolete or is it still a viable home defense tool?

Lever action carbines chambered in .357 magnum pack a serious wallop. The .357 mag cartridge is impressively powerful when fired from a revolver but it transforms into an entirely different being when it is fired from a 16”+ barrel. It delivers terminal performance at least as good, if not better than .223 Rem can produce.

This is absolutely phenomenal. There is no such thing as a death ray, but this gets pretty close. So long as we are talking about power, it is worth mentioning that the .357 mag has enough velocity to defeat soft armor when fired from a longer barrel, too. Level IIIA is the highest NIJ rating for soft armor and is designed to stop .357 mag when fired from a revolver, but as this test shows, it is no match for a .357 carbine.

You might wonder why anyone who isn’t a drug dealer would care about defeating body armor. To be sure, body armor is not commonplace among thugs, but it is being seen more often. Used vests can be purchased rather cheaply at pawn shops and military surplus stores and it turns out that thugs are just as reluctant to be shot and killed as the rest of us. The ability to penetrate body armor may not be the highest priority for your home defense considerations, but as the saying goes, it’s better to have it and not need it….

All of that power comes at approximately the price of a used handgun, too. A Rossi M92 can be purchased for about $500, brand new. That is similar to the cost of a decent shotgun and a fair sight less than you are likely to pay for most other defensive rifles. Of course, cost should take a distant second place to functionality when it comes to the safety of your family, but in the real world, cost has a serious impact on our decisions.

Lever action rifles also have a non-threatening appearance, which could matter in court. Now, if you behave in a legal manner and don’t do something foolish like give an ill-considered statement to the police, you should never see a criminal court. That said, it is always possible that you could run afoul of corruption in the legal system, especially in the states that are infested with authoritarian control freak voters. Even if you act legally and are not charged criminally, you could be sued by anyone at any time for any reason. If you do find yourself in a court room, a wood stocked lever action rifle may look a bit friendlier to a jury than an evil black rifle with cheese grater handguards and an optic. Of course, you should not choose a less effective weapon simply to look better in court. You have to survive to see a court room. If you can have a highly effective weapon that also will not scare a jury, that might not be so bad.

Perhaps more important than any other consideration is your own familiarity with the tool. If you cut your teeth on lever action rifles and spent many hours shivering against a tree clutching a Marlin, you are likely to be far more effective with that rifle than you would be with an AR. That does not mean that you do not need training and if you decided that 5.56mm carbine was a better choice for other reasons, you could certainly gain proficiency with it. What it does mean is that, until you receive professional training in another system that lever action is going to be your best choice. All other considerations aside, the best defensive weapon for you is the one that you can operate most competently. As always, software > hardware. Mindset and training will matter more than any other factor. Regardless of the choice you make, a light and sling are strongly recommended for any defensive long gun as is professional training.


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