Author Archives: tinkerta

Close Encounters of the Stoned Kind

My pride and joy- my 2003 MR2 Spyder

Saturday morning errands included shipping a package. A bit brisk at 45 degrees but sunny with clear skies, so I took the opportunity to drop the top on my convertible and use that.

I was pleased to find a parking space right in front of the UPS store, grabbed my package and went inside. I didn’t bother to put the top up; there’s nothing valuable in the car and I’d only be a minute. After I dropped my package off I decided to have a cigarette and enjoy the morning (Yes, I am smoking again, but I am on Chantix and have a new quit-date in the coming week.) I moved to the corner of the building and lit up. It being chilly I stuck my right hand in my pocket.

After a few minutes a fellow who was obviously impaired wandered up and stared at my car. Not unusual even for people who aren’t stoned, and I watched with casual interest. Then the fellow carefully looked left and right, but not behind him where I was standing. After determining incorrectly that the coast was clear he reached in and opened the glove box. I decided to speak up.

“Dude, I am standing right here!”

He jolted and looked around, then peered blearily at me.

“That’s my car,” I informed him.

He sized me up, noting no doubt that I was significantly larger than he was. He stuck a hand in his coat pocked and tentatively offered, “Uh, I have a knife?”

I shrugged and said, “I have a gun.”

He blinked and said, “You do not have a gun!”

I said, “I can assure you, I do.”

He peered across the twenty or so feet separating us, focusing visibly on the hand in my pocket. He thought about it for a moment and asked, “Do you really have a gun?”

I nodded and said, “Yes, I really have a gun.”

He pondered this for several seconds, then slowly withdrew his hand from his coat with the fingers splayed and stared at me a bit more. Finally he murmured, “Have a nice day.”

“You too,” I said, struggling against an unseemly display of mirth. He nodded and meandered away. I got back in my car and continued my errands. I called Linda at my next stop and told her the story. She laughed and said, “You have to post this.”

Be assured, I never displayed a firearm or was directly threatening in any manner, and never felt that I was in the least danger. The fellow’s demeanor and actions did not indicate a genuine threat, though I was prepared in case things turned sour.

Anyway, I hope that you all have a great weekend! Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 12 February 2022

Paint Your Wag… Er, Gun.

My buddy Chris is hanging up his FFL and moving on to a great new job. Best wishes to him and his family, and good luck in the new career! That’s the great news. The not great news is that I had just decided to pull the trigger on getting the 9mm speed gun coated and he’s not going to have time. Bugger.

But being the mensch he is Chris handed me a bunch of Gun Cote paint! OK, a quick stop at Harbor Freight for an airbrush and I was in business… until I started painting and the compressor died. Bugger. OK, off to Harbor Freight again and bought another airbrush that came with a compressor. Never hurts to have a backup, and the combo was half the price of the compressor replacement.

As sometimes happen my rust blue didn’t hold up well at all. Time for coating.

Most people blast the gun before painting but I don’t have a blast cabinet, so I just washed the parts thoroughly with Dawn dishwashing liquid, then Barkeeper’s Friend scouring powder, then soaked the them for an hour in acetone. This seems to have done the job.

I have used an airbrush before, when I was like 12 years old to paint camouflage on model airplanes. So I read the directions for the airbrush, read the directions for the Gun Kote and got busy. I had to string some cord in my shop to hang the parts with music-wire hooks. Easy peasy. So I was learning the ins and outs of airbrush painting while using a product I’d never used before. What could go wrong?

Not much did, but lets say at close range you wouldn’t have to wonder which parts got painted first. There are some spray marks on the under-barrel weight and on the right side of the fixed weight I discovered some blemishes I hadn’t noticed. Fortunately the paint makes it super-obvious, though naturally not until after I had baked the parts.

You’re supposed to bake the painted parts at 300 degrees according to the manufacturer. Your are supposed to bake the parts at 325 degrees, also according to the manufacturer. I went with Chris’s advice and baked them at 425 degrees then let them cool in the oven. The results are…

…well they’re not tragically bad, but they are very obviously the work of an amateur. It does however look cool as hell from a couple feet away. I’m going to need a respray on some parts. At least by the time I got to the frame (the last thing I painted I was dialed in.

For my color scheme I painted the slide, weights and mainspring housing something called ‘SOCOM Black or some crap like that. I painted the frame Light Olive Drab for contrast. The slide release and ambi safety I left the black they already were.

So here it is, warts and all, for your viewing pleasure.

Close ups, uh, not so much. MAKEUP!
From a bit further away it looks pretty good on this side.
Spray marks on the bottom weight, blemishes on the fixed weight. Those will get cleaned up and get a respray.
Slide isn’t perfect, but it’ll do for the moment.
Naturally the front sight needed a fresh coat of orange. That checkered mainspring ain’t looking so hot either.

Not terrible for a first attempt, but no one would be surprised if told them that’s what it is. Live and learn.

Aside from that the only thing the gun really needs is a trigger-job. I mean, it’s good now but it’s not competition-pistol good. I’ll try to walk you though it when that happens.

Anyway it’s close, but no cigar. Well, maybe a cheap one. Next time will be better. Thanks Chris! All the best to you and yours.

Stay Safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 10 February 2022

Bad Bullet? No, Just the Wrong Bullet.

When I was working on my 9mm 1911 project I knew I might need to do a lot of test-shooting, so I got some inexpensive cast 125gr. bullets. These were from Aardvark and are sold at Pinto’s Guns in Renton. I’ve shot a lot of Aardvark’s cast bullets, and their 200gr. LRN-FP bullets has been my go-to bullet for .45 practice ammo for many years. I’ve also had great luck with their offerings for .38 Special.

Keyhole city. Bugger.

I loaded them pretty conservatively and they key-holed all over the place. I’m sure most of you know this, but that means the bullets didn’t stabilize, exhibited poor accuracy and hit the target sideways. At the time I attributed it to the gun, thinking that the muzzle-blast was interfering with the bullet as it passed into the fixed weight. I mean these were bullets from a trusted manufacturer. It couldn’t be the bullets…

Except it was. When I switched to jacketed ammo the problem stopped. I mentioned this to Chris at Pinto’s Guns and moved on, figuring I’d pass the bullets along to a friend to melt down and re-cast. Then Chris asked me to try to figure out why this was happening so they could determine if they needed to find another supplier for cast bullets. OK, testing stuff is a large part of what I do. Happy to oblige.

First things first- measure the bullets. They all came out to a uniform .356″ in diameter, which is fine. Almost all of the bullets fell within a few percent of 124 gr. Nothing really there. OAL varied with weight, but again nothing stood out. I checked the hardness casually- I don’t have a Brinell test machine- and they seemed kind of soft but not too soft. Puzzling.

The I critically examined the bullet design itself. hello, what’s this?

That’s a pretty big step.

Only 38% of the bullet’s length actually engages the rifling, and with the bullets not being hard-cast this could be what we professionals call ‘a clue.’ If driven too fast there might not be sufficient engagement with the bullet, and it might smear in the rifling and not spin fast enough. Time to test this theory.

I loaded some of these bullets to 1000fps., 1050-1075 fps. and 1100 fps. and test-fired them from my Sig P-6 and Beretta Model 1951. I didn’t get the photos of these targets for technical reasons (technically I’m an idiot) so you’ll have to take my word for it. At 1000 fps. the bullets performed fine, but sometimes would not cycle my Sig P-6. At 1050-1075 fps. a very small percentage of bullets key-holed. At 1100 fps. more than 50% key-holed. I had thought I would shoot some into gel and examine the bullets, but since it was pretty obvious the problem was velocity-related I didn’t bother.

I also loaded some in ,38 Special that would exit my Detective Special at around 800 fps. At seven yards I was scattering my shots so key-holing would be obvious.

No evidence of key-holing at all.
One shot/second at 7 yards. Nothing wrong with their accuracy either!

The bullets worked very nicely from the .38. OK, these are now .38 Special range bullets. Not a bad thing.

So the bullets aren’t bad, they are just the wrong bullet design/hardness combination to use in a 9mm. They need to be harder or Aardvark needs to use a bullet that has more rifling engagement. I’ll be reporting the results to Chris and to Aardvark and they can do as they please.

Far and away the worst part of this was all the time and bullets I wasted blaming the problem on the gun’s novel configuration instead of the bullets, but what is life but a learning experience? Mystery solved and I have a couple-few hundred .38 Special bullets. It’s a tragedy of limited scope.

Next time I’ll make sure I am using the right bullets for the job.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 8 February 2022

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