Smoking Gunpowder – April 10, 2010

April 10 was Smoking Gunpowder Day out on the 30 acres, where the only other sounds to be heard were birds chirping and the wind rustling through the leaves.  The original plan was for a few more guys to be out with us, but due to family and other obligations, only five of us were able to attend.  There was pleasant weather, great company, and fun all around.

I should have known that one table would not have been enough to hold all the guns everyone brought out for the day. A few rifles were left in the truck, and several (upwards of a dozen) handguns are not pictured. I hate to think how full the gun table would have been had everyone been able to make it out.

Gun Table

One of the guns available was an AK-47, originally fielded by the Russians in 1949. Firing the 7.62x39mm cartridge, the AK-47 is capable of causing considerable damage, is not expensive to produce, and fairly lightweight. Those are just some of the reasons it’s still in use all over the world today.


I found the AK-47 to be fairly accurate, with reasonable recoil. The drum magazine gave us a few fits at first until the tension on the spring was adjusted properly. In my hands, the stock felt too thin and too short. That could just be because I’ve never fired an AK-47 before and am not used to the style of rifle.

AK-47 - Note the ejected shell casing

The 1903 Springfield, the military service rifle of World War I.

1903 Springfield

Every man attending brought his Ruger MkIII pistol. This was a Hunter model with fiber optic sights. You simply can’t go wrong with a Ruger MkIII pistol. The only one that gave me some trouble was one with fancy wooden grips, molded for the thumb on one side. I shoot lefty so the only way to shoot that one was to hold it in my weak hand. It’s not my preferred hand to shoot with but I did just fine.

Ruger MKIII Hunter

One of two Winchester .357 pistols with sequential serial numbers, owned by father and son.

Winchester .357

The SKS, the predecessor to the AK-47. This was a $100 gun show find several years back, although it had not been shot (by the current owner) until now. Cosmoline had dried to a gummy, wax-like consistency and from what I hear was a pain in the ass to clean off the rifle. I was really impressed with the SKS, and if I could find one for that price at a gun show, I would pick one up.


The M1 Garand was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. The Garand officially replaced the bolt-action M1903 Springfield as the standard service rifle of the United States Armed Forces in 1936 and was subsequently replaced by the selective fire M14 in 1957. However, the M1 continued to be used in large numbers until 1963 and to a lesser degree until 1966. The M1 was used heavily by U.S. forces in World War II, the Korean War, and, to a limited extent, the Vietnam War.

M1 Garand

I had an opportunity to fire a GSG-5 (German Sport Guns 5), a clone of the H&K MP-5 in .22lr caliber. If you wish to pick one of these guns up, your only option is to buy used. H&K filed a lawsuit and was able to permanently stop manufacture and import of the GSG-5. I found it to be a bit chunky, and flimsy in construction. The GSG-5 experienced several failure to fire, failure to feed, and failure to eject issues. The sights on the GSG-5 are confusing at best. None of us could properly figure out the rear sight options.

I brought out one of my Zombie Targets for the day, which was a hit with all.  We had some fun gunning down Zombie Osama.

A real treat of the day was the opportunity to fire my Bersa Thunder .380, because with the ammunition shortages over the last year I really have not shot that gun much at all.  I didn’t want to use up too much of my supply of .380ACP since it, along with .45ACp, is still hard to find.  But I did manage to put seven shots, rapid fire in Zombie Osama’s head.  At 10 – 15 yards, all seven shots were in the space of a playing card.

All in all, Smoking Gunpowder Day was really fun, and went by too quickly.  Not everything worked out as we intended, and we came away with some great ideas on setting up the range area out at the 30 acres for next time.

2 thoughts on “Smoking Gunpowder – April 10, 2010

  1. Now I’m all jealous, I need 30 acres to shoot some guns.

    I saw your comment at DPUD’s late so I figured I’d reply here.

    Pistol caliber carbines are nice, almost no recoil. I’m a big fan of rifle/pistol combos so every pistol has a rifle to go with it.
    I even got a .30 carbine Ruger New Model Blackhawk for my M-1 Carbine.

    Shooting a .357 Mag Winchester is nice. You can just about drive nails with it out to 100 yards.

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