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HighCalJay speaks out! #1

~July 16th, 2020

Colt for Zoot – Pros and ConsThe Colt 1911 is as steeped in American history and Americana as any other firearm. The 1911 was released in… you guessed it, 1911. It was designed by John Browning, the designer of another great autoloader, the Browning High-Power. It was created when the US military wanted a semi-automatic autoloading pistol to become their official sidearm. The Colt 1911 beat out 5 other competitors to win the contract. It went on to become the main servicepistol for the US Armed Forces from WW1 throughout much of the 20thcentury with few changes along the way. It lasted until 1985 when it was replaced by the Beretta M9. This goes to show how revolutionary the gun was in the 1910s and 1920s. As firearms technology kept getting better, it never lost its relevance. It was not just the military that used it though. A high-quality autoloading pistol was a great choice for any gangster looking tobe somebody. It wasn’t necessarily the only one on the market, but it only had a couple of worthwhile competitors. The only problem here is that the lawmen also understood how special the firearm was and eventually followedthe adage of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.One major pro for the Colt 1911 is the round that it shoots. For a handgun, the .45 is a pretty powerful round. You basically had to purchase a bolt-actionrifle to find one with more punch. If you have a Tommy Gun, then even betterbecause you can buy the same round for both of your firearms. The .45 occupies a balanced place in the round hierarchies. It is incredibly powerful and will never leave one outgunned. It also doesn’t pack so much of a punch that it is difficult to fire. The recoil is noticeable, but definitely controllable. If you want a smaller round however, you can still carry a Colt by your side. A version of the gun was also made that fired .38 Super rounds. It had the same engineering behind the .45s with a smaller round which some find more suitable.A downside to using a more powerful and larger round is being able to carry less. The magazine of a Colt .45 only holds 7 rounds. While 7 bullets can takedown 7 coppers, what if there’s 8 of them? Or what if you’ve spent your nightat the local speakeasy, and heaven forbid, you miss a shot? Even the .38 Super version only holds 9 rounds. One good thing about the magazines is that they are plenty plentiful though. The gun is so popular that magazines can be found cheaply. Another thing the magazines have going for them is that you see how many rounds are left through a simple system of holes on the sides that show each round.
The 1911 is also just a plain good shooter. Even when knowing bettermagazine capacities exist, it can be hard to not favor a 1911 once you’ve fired one. It weighs a bit more than some other pistols. Some may not like this, but for others this means that it is easier to control while firing. It is alsoincredibly comfortable in your hand, and the simple wooden grips work like acharm for staying stable in your hands. Its accuracy is top notch as well. It is a staple of shooting competitions, even ones where modern firearms are used. The magazine release, slide release, and safety all feel very smooth to use. Some shooters don’t like safeties on their handguns, but the 1911’s safety is positioned in a way where it is incredibly easy to access with your thumb. It’s a great performer for a Zoot shoot.It is also reliable. As long as you clean it before every Zoot meetup, it should function well. Cleaning them can be a small hassle. It isn’t so complicated that it’s hard to remember how though. The main problem for me is taking it apart without the screw shooting across the room. This won’t be a real problem though for most lawmen and outlaws though. One last pro it its looks. It has a stylishly rugged appeal. It looks like it belongs next to glass of whiskey, a cigar box, and a mahogany table. While guns are tools, it never hurts to have one that looks good! Due to how heavily they were used, authentic ones from the time period aren’t as hard to find as other guns from the era. You can also find modern ones that fit the older aesthetic at reasonable prices, as they still manufacture them in roughly the style they had back in the day. On the subject of finding these fine works of art, keep in mind that .38 Super ammunition is harder to find and is a bit more expensive. .45 rounds are still common though, so this isn’t a problem with the classic .45 version.There are a lot of guns that make their ways to Zoot shoots, but the Colt 1911 is undeniably one of the classics.

Howwell Arms Tommy Gun Spring Kit

~June 12th, 2019

Deacon reporting here.
Well, Maggie at Howell Arms sent me one of their spring kits. While I am trying to make a decent video, I do want to tell you that this kit WORKS. It is a very easy installation and definitely does reduce the pull weight when charging the gun. I am 6′3″ still am very impressed with it. I had a 1927 with a horrible charge pull and this kit would have made it a much more easily run gun. My Auto-Ordnance M1 loves this kit. It ran perfectly with 230 Grain FMJ and my cast handloads. This is a must have for your Tommy Gun. If I ever get another 1927 I will put one in it immediately.

Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #10 Gotta love them .32s!

~May 31st, 2019

Okay, it is impressive to watch the big guns get unloaded on targets, and a rush when you touch them off. But, for pure fun, the milder rounds are the cat’s pajamas! And there aren’t many that are more fun than the .32s!

Okay, some of our finest Zootin’ guns are these too! The Walther PP and PPk, the Colt 1903, Browning .32s, the Savage 1907, the Ruby, Tokarev and Mauser HSc and Broomhandle in autos and then every maker made made .32 revolvers. The 32s [with the exception of the Broomhandle] are all small to medium size guns, so are easier for shooters with smaller or weaker hands to handle easily. Recoil is VERY pleasant with these guns and you can find good deals on used top break .32 revolvers easily. There are 2 .32 H&R top breaks in my local gun store right now for $160 each. [I am debating about grabbing one of them myself]

So here’s the break down of these cartridges.
First up, the 7.62 Nagant. A Russian built Belgium designed revolver used for over 80 years! Adopted in 1895, it uses a very unusual system of sealing the cylinder of the gun. Some of these are roughly machined as they were built during the World Wars, but many are very good. It is the only gun that uses this round and surplus ammo has dried up. New ammo is tough to find and will have to be ordered online usually.
Next, the .32 ACP. One of the first really successful auto rounds, designed by John Browning, it is a delight to shoot. There are so many fine guns out there to run this round it is overwhelming! If buying an older gun, make sure magazines are available for them. One oddity about the .32 ACP is that many .32 revolvers can fire this round as it is semi-rimmed. Ammo is easy to find.
Now we have the .32 S&W and it’s progeny. A revolver round that was extremely popular, it was then stretched to make the .32 Long! It’s history soesn’t stop there as it also was stretched twice more to give us the .32 Magnum and now even the .327 Magnum! Both the original and Long are completely legal for Zoot Shooting and many .32 Magnums will pass out 10 foot rule and will fire any of the rounds. Low recoil makes these very fun to shoot and in better quality guns they are ridiculously accurate. .32 S&W is a challenge to find, but any gun store can get Long for you easily.
Next up is the .30 Mauser [7.63 Mauser] and 7.62 Tokarev. The Mauser was developed for that New-fangled Broomhandle gun from 1896 and was a hot rod back then. The Broomhandle is a heavy gun so recoil is smooth and easy. The Russians decided they liked the round but wanted it to run in their submachine guns and their new 1933 Tokarev pistol, so they bumped it up even more! While the 2 rounds are identical externally, do not run Tokarev ammo in a Broomie, it is too hot and will damage the gun! The Tokarev pistol is all steel, very good sights and can have a very good trigger. It is comfortable to shoot, recoil is about that of a .38 Special. It is a LOUD round, so be prepared! Tokarev ammo is easy to find although most surplus is gone.
The pictures below show the cartridges I had on hand with the .45 ACP and .38 Special included for comparison.

Reduced spring kit for Tommy guns!

~May 29th, 2019

For those of you with Tommy guns, the recoil springs from the factory can be a handful. A reduced spring kit has been available but only sporadically and difficult to find. They are now being carried by Howell Arms, a reputable company for those who have been looking for it.

Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #8 The P-35 Hi Power

~May 26th, 2019

One of the finest guns ever designed around the 9mm round was John Browning’s last work, the FN/Browning Hi Power. The “Maestro” as he was called in Belgium, died while while working on this pistols design, originally for the French Army. The gun would be finished by Dieudonné Saive, his protege, and a superb designer in his own right. It was ground breaking, a 13 round magazine capacity with a single action trigger, that could be handled well by almost any hand size. This pistol would be the standard by which 9mm pistols would be measured for the next 80 years! It served over 50 countries armed forces, fought on both sides in World War 2 and remained in production for 82 years by FN. It is still being produced by several other builders today.
Why should Zooters be interested? First, the 9mm round it fires, is light recoiling and accurate, it is also the least expensive centerfire round to buy today. The grip is extremely comfortable for most shooters and the sights are decent on older models and very good on later ones. Magazines are plentiful and affordable, still made by MecGar, who made the ones Browning and FN shipped with their pistols. 10, 13 and 15 round magazines are flush fitting. The Hi Power originally was made with a burr type hammer, which is notorious for biting fleshier hands [like mine! ouch] but the spur type hammer came about later. This hammer is approved for Zoot Shooting. Many folks will improve the trigger weight by removing the magazine retention [a military request] that keeps the magazine from falling free when you hit the mag release. Removing this device improves trigger quality and allows the mag to fall out of the gun. Grips are easy to swap out, only one screw per side and are easy to find. Later guns with the ambidextrous safety may require a small amount of inletting to fit properly. It will fit in almost any 1911 holster as well. Even though it is almost the same weight as the 1911 when loaded up, it does seem better balanced to me, an avowed 1911 fan.
Try one out if you get the chance, it is one of our great handguns.

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