Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

Archive for March, 2014

Designed over 125 years ago, this bit of history made modern once again…

While beat out in the origins of lever actions by nearly 20 years, one of the grandfathers of lever actions, the Winchester 1886, was designed by the legendary John Moses Browning. Seeing a trend towards bigger and heavier ammunition trends, Winchester commissioned for a newer design and in 1884, the conceptual action for the “future” 1886 was adopted and put into reality. The rifle was built to handle the larger cartridges available in that time period, which included the venerable Government 45-70. For nearly half a century the Winchester 1886 was produced in numbers that exceeded 150,000 units. By the end of it’s run in 1935, this workhorse of a rifle had been chambered in several different calibres and had proven its worth to firearms owners across North America.

Chiappa's Model 1886 Rifle

The Venerable Winchester 1886. Still suggested by many to be the best lever action design to this day.

U.S. Patent 306,577, was granted October 14th, 1884. The design in very simple terms added a set of moving locking lugs which ensured the solid lock-up of the breech block, and thereby allowed higher pressure cartridges to be utilized in a lever action design. Previous actions were locked up via toggle links which were insufficient to withstand the more powerful cartridges that were appearing and desired by the firearms enthusiasts of that era.  When the first production of the 1886 rifle was started there were only three calibres available for it. These were the .45-70 Government (1873), .40-82 WCF (1885), and .45-90 WCF (1886).

A lesser known fact is that in 1886, the first smokeless powder cartridge was created for military use by the French in the form of the 8mm Lebel, but this would take time to filter over into the North American market.

In 1887 several more cartridges were introduced specifically due to the 1886’s popularity, and those were the .38-55 WCF, .40-65 WCF and the .38-70 WCF. The large .50-110 Winchester was added in 1899, and a few short years later, after the turn of the century, the first cartridge without a black powder history, the .33 WCF, was added into the lineup of calibres.

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Created in 1958, Chiappa manufactures everything from Cowboy Western Shooting, Hunting, and Reproductions/replicas of classic firearms

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Made in Italy by Armi Sport, a branch of Chiappa

So now that TPF has gone down a but of history of the classic Winchester 1886 lever action rifle, it is time to fast forward nearly one and a quarter centuries later and Italian gun manufacturer, Chiappa Firearms, has endeavoured to produce a reproduction of the venerable Winchester 1886 with modern craftsmanship and quality materials. That means that parts will be 100% interchangeable between the original 1886’s which were all hand fitted for each firearm manufactured. What fit perfectly in one 1886, could just as likely be too loose, or very tight on another 1886 which meant a lot of labour and “fiddling” was required to ensure a perfectly smooth action and precise lock up. The rifle being looked at is a full length 1886 reproduction with a full octagonal barrel chambered in .45-70 Government.

Specifications of the Chiappa 1886 Lever Action Rifle

  • Calibre: .45-70 Government (Modern loads)
  • Barrel: 26″ (66cm) Full Octagon, 1-18″ twist rate
  • Receiver: Case coloured frame
  • Capacity: 8+1 (Shipped with internal plug to 5 as per Italian law)
  • Mass: Approximately 9lbs (4.1kg)
  • Overall Length: 45″ (115cm)

What is case colouring? In the past when firearms were manufactured from softer iron, they needed to harden the outer surfaces of receivers to improve the wear and toughness of the components. Hardness of a metal is usually determined by the amount of carbon that makes up the metallurgy of the metal. In the distant past, to surface harden iron products, was accomplished by packing the iron in a mixture of ground bone and charcoal or a combination of leather, hooves, salt and urine, all inside a well-sealed box. This package is heated to a high temperature, below the iron’s melting point, for a sufficient time to have the carbon infuse/permeate the iron surface. The longer this carbonizing process, the harder the surface becomes due to greater levels of carbon penetrating into the surface.  The resulting case hardened part, due to the impurities in the packing mixtures, created an oxide surface which had patterns of colours and hues ranging from orange to dark blue. This surface was harder and showed better wear and corrosion resistance which was usually the sign of a higher quality firearm in that bygone era. That was known as “Case Hardened Colouration”, yet in modern manufacturing steel, an iron and carbon alloy, is used which has inherent hardness levels and much better resistive properties than the old school materials utilized. What this means is that while the components are no longer case hardened the old fashioned way, the colouration, as if the parts had been produced as such, creates a very attractive decoration.

Alsmost everything is case coloured

Even the butt-stock plate is case coloured

The modern day 1886 manufactured by Chiappa obviously falls into the latter category and has applied case colouration to nearly every major external metal component except for the barrel, magazine tube, breech block and feed gate. That is correct; the butt-stock plate, the lever arm, trigger, hammer, and even the fore-stock cap are all case coloured. The nearly black bluing on the barrel and magazine tube and the wonderfully vibrant walnut wood stock and forearm make for a wonderful visual piece of eye candy. Necessary? No. Beautiful? Yes.

It is a nice looking rifle

Sandwiched between the nice walnut wood, the case coloured receiver and action parts are very distinct and attractive

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The .45-70 Government. At over It is still a big cartridge

The firearms itself is pleasant to shoot, TPF took the 1886 to a local range and proceeded to lob small ashtrays down range. In all seriousness, many thanks to The Gun Centre, located in Kitchener, Ontario; for providing TPF-Online some ammunition to perform actual field tests on this rifle. Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 300gr, Remington Express Rifle 405gr SP, and Hornady Leverevolution 325gr FTX were all used, sixty (60) rounds were fired with no issues and acceptable out of the box accuracy. Using 15cm (6″) steel targets at 45m (50yd), the author was able to hit several runs of five consecutive shots, at least until a flinch started to develop. While quite enjoyable to shoot offhand, the author of this piece will likely not shoot 405gr rounds. or anything similar, from the bench ever again.

Chiappa’s Model 1886 lever action rifle, is a modern day reproduction of the classic Winchester 1886 design chambered in .45-70 Government. With an MSRP of about $1,500.00 USD it is not for the cheap and frugal, nor those who penny pinch on ammunition. Chiappa firearms are distributed through Canada by North Sylva, so if you are interested, retailers akin to Barton’s Big Country Outdoors, located in Grande Prairie, Alberta, should be able to order them for you.

It is a serious rifle in a beautiful package. However if you were looking at this rifle and debating to purchase it or even look at one; ask yourself this, is it Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical! Then go buy one anyways, because more guns = more fun!

The best design?

A close up view showing the beautiful case colouring and the locking bars

NOTE: The basic 1886 rifle featured in this installment of TPF is scarcely available nowadays. The trend has been the Chiappa Kodiak which has a synthetic stock, and a stainless steel constructions, with a shorter barrel.

 

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Banning guns – Abuse and idiocy….

For anyone in Canada who is remotely interested in both firearms and politics, the actions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have not been stellar, and their image of fair, and honourable representatives of Canada’s national law enforcement has been drawn and quartered.

One needs only look at recent firearm seizures during the 2013 High River crisis to know that legal firearms owners were targeted specifically by the RCMP upper echelons. Seizing firearms in the name of public safety, by breaking down the locked doors of homes of the victims of this natural disaster. Tracks of mud from the front door, straight to closets, all under the guise of looking for survivors.  Videos with audio which mentions firearms at the location, no rescue equipment present in the boats going to addresses. Gun owners are targets, and unfortunately it appears that the RCMP has declared open season on us all.

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/3272438235001

The Rolex of rifles

The Swiss PE90, called the Rolex of rifles

So for those who are not caring about politics in general, well have a timeline and breakdown for you regarding the Two primary re-classifications which impact legal firearms owners across Canada.

  • 13 March 2013 – A Swiss Arms PE90, “Classic Green” was submitted to the RCMP by a firearms dealer under the reasoning that it was manufactured as a converted automatic firearm which is prohibited. Other “Classic green” rifles were sent to show the differences.
  • 24 May 2013 – RCMP “discover” that some rifles have questionable characteristics
  • 16 July 2013 – A 38 page report originating from Swiss Arms itself regarding the design lineage and characteristics of the firearms are submitted to the RCMP
  • 26 February 2014 – RCMP reclassify ALL PE/90’s as a variant of the prohibited (SIG 550). Firearms which have been sold in Canada for nearly 13 years, with an average price of roughly $4000, and were all non-restricted. Total affected numbers? 1,800-2,000 firearms. Did we mention NO compensation was offered to owners of this firearm.
  • 27 February 2014 -The Firearms Reference Table (FRT) has all PE-90 classifications shifted to Prohibited status. Firearms owners across Canada complain loudly. Emotional outrage is fanned and given no direction.
  • 28 February 2014 – (first thing in the morning) Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Steven Blaney,  released this statement

    “I am upset by this unacceptable decision regarding Swiss Arms rifles. This decision was made by bureaucrats, not elected officials. I have therefore ordered an urgent review of this unfortunate situation. All options are on the table to ensure that no firearms owner who acted in good faith suffers any consequence as a result of this situation. All options are being explored on an urgent basis. We will continue to take steps to make our country one of the safest places in the world, without penalizing honest citizens.”

  • 28 February 2014 – (afternoon) The RCMP reclassify another firearm, the CZ-858, imported after 2006 as converted automatic, aka another rifle switched to prohibited class. Because these rifles were much cheaper to purchase and ammunition was also plentiful and relatively inexpensive, the decision effect roughly 10,000-12,000 rifles currently in the hands of Canadian firearms owners.
  • 03 March 2014 – Mr. Steven Blaney, initiates a 5 year amnesty from prosecution for owners of firearms that were reclassified. That is a good beginning, except that NO prohibited rifles owned by an individual has been allowed to be taken to a range to be actually used since mid-2005 (That is another story…).

So what we currently have is the following situation.

  1. Somewhere around 10,000-13,000 individuals who are instant criminals due to the RCMP’s inept classification abilities. They, the RCMP,  either are wrong now, or were inept a decade ago, both of which are unacceptable.
  2. An amnesty is a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction. All these individuals effected by these re-classifications had followed all the required laws and regulations regarding firearms ownership and purchased these firearms legally! Literally they were legal firearms owners at 11:59 pm, and at 12:00 am (midnight) there were criminals. The amnesty prevents being charged with possession of illegal property for 5 years.
  3. These guns are now no longer usable for the most part. They can no longer be taken to the range or to hunt with as they were on February 25th 2014. They cannot be transferred legally. They are safe queens.

This is wholly unacceptable. Now some of TPF’s readers may be wondering what they can do. It is very simple and can be done in many ways.

  1. Do NOT Email. Email is worth the paper it is printed on, meaning nothing. It is like arguing on the internet, it may feel good, but does absolutely nothing.
  2. Call/meet with your local MP regardless of political affiliation (If you do not know who that is, click HERE)
  3. Write a letter/fax to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney and your MP. Thank them for showing some initiative at protecting responsible Canadian firearms owners regarding the reclassification and the abuse at the hands of the RCMP. The amnesty is a good first step, but more must be done to correct these attacks against those whose only crime is following all the rules set forth by the Firearms Act. Tell them that compensation is NOT an acceptable solution.
  4. Join the CSSA or another pro-firearm organization and bolster their numbers to work for change.

What to say or ask for is simple? Always use a multiple-step approach. Address the issue, praise the efforts, note that more must be done. Do not threaten. When you threaten something you force people to react defensively. Now people may say they need to force politicians to react defensively, but the secret is continuous pressure which guides the opinion/attitude of politicians. Demanding government action or issuing ultimatums without being civil has two major flaws. It usually comes over as being equivalent to a child having a temper tantrum, and secondly, if you don’t have the ability to significantly follow through with your ultimatum, it is worthless.

Now the authors of TPF do look at Facebook pages and web-forums and sees that many firearms owners are irate at the situation and are demanding the repeal of C-17/C-68. They proudly display “No Compromise” and state that anyone who is not suggesting the same level of commitment is compromising or acting like a sheep. This author has a question to those who continually spout “No Compromise” in this endeavour. We know that the collective efforts of firearms enthusiasts are impacting the current government to do something beneficial for firearms owners. So lets say they actually change only some portions of the act.

We’ll use Rob Anders’ petition as a basis and say they remove classifications & mag capacities, decriminalize (removing S91 & S92 from the CC), eliminate CFO’s (S 58.1), and remove safe storage and transport sections as well. However licensing will still exist….

It that a win? According to the basic statement of “No Compromise”, it is not. So will those people who spout “No Compromise” right now, later  say it was due to their efforts that changes were completed, despite not repealing the entirety of C-17/C-68? Time will tell.

Until we find out the outcome, which could be weeks or even months down the road; Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical urges you to continue to write/call/meet your MP’s and do so on an ongoing basis (reasonable, not daily) and continue to press for change which benefits the firearms owners of Canada.


The ultimate knife? TPF lets you know who thinks so!

Edward Michael Grylls.

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The Ultimate Knife

Many of our readers may not recognize that name, but if TPF were to mention “Bear” Grylls, you may recall that he is the United Kingdom’s version of Les Stroud, and a worldwide adventurer! In truth, if you are a long time reader of TPF, you would have known about this person from previously reviewed products. In this installment of TPF, yet another Gerber/Grylls collaboration was done on what is titled the “Ultimate Knife”. As always however, we here at TPF will give you the facts and details and leave the decisions to you, the readers.

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Thes are the components of what the Ultimate Knife contains:
Knife, Sheath, Fire-starter, Survival guide

The Ultimate Knife is supposedly the only knife you would need in a survival/adventuring excursion. The knife and sheath come with a myriad of features and requirements that would provide many basic necessities for outdoor use. Gerber Legendary Blades has a whole realm of Grylls’ survival equipment available, but of course there is never enough space to describe everything.

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A signal whistle is attached to the knife’s “Hammer” via a lanyard

Contained within the 254mm (10.0″) overall length of the knife is a 122mm (4.8″) drop point blade. This half serrated, hollow ground blade is manufactured from 7Cr17Mov Stainless Steel which allows for good edge retention and extreme ease of cutting rope when required. The blade’s serrations start from the choil of the blade and run approximately 47.5mm (1.875″) in length and with a spine thickness of 4.8mm (0.19″) this knife is fairly robust and meaty by massing 318 grams (11.2 oz).
The handle is manufactured from an orange coloured polymer and is embedded with TacHide™ rubber to ensure a secure and comfortable grip on the knife when in use. Add to that a hammer/pommel measuring 32.4mm x 21.5mm (1.28″ x 0.85″) to the hilt of the knife and it becomes easier to see why Gerber and Bear claim this is the ultimate outdoor knife.

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The TacHide grip is very comfortable

There are actually even more features of the knife which are included for additional survival requirements. On the back edge of the knife spine, is a 19mm (0.75″) section which is machined down as a striker for the fire-starter, to be mentioned later in this review. As well are three through holes measuring 4.9mm (0.195″) in diameter, two of which are at the front edge of the guard and one in the pommel. These three holes are present for if and when the user wishes to mount the knife on a shaft for a spear.  An emergency whistle is integrated into a lanyard cord which is threaded through the pommel’s hole, but it is the sheath and all it’s features which add to the collective exuberance of features in the whole package.

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Attached to the polymer sheath is a diamond grit sharpener

The sheath and secured knife mass a total of 418 grams (14.7 oz) and measure 278mm (10.9″) overall in length when worn. The knife retaining portion of the sheath is manufactured from a injection molded polymer which houses the fire-starter. This fire-starter is a Ferrocerium rod which is embedded into a small plastic handle that snaps into a specific area on the polymer sheath. By striking.scraping the fire-starter against the “striker” located on the knife’s spine, the user can generate high temperature sparks and ultimately fire which is always a great benefit to those who adventure outdoors. The remainder of the sheath is manufactured from ballistic black nylon and contains additional items of interest. The nylon sheath has two (2) Velcro straps on it. The first one is to secure the knife’s handle more fully when fully sheathed, and the second strap holds the plastic knife sheath portion against the nylon sheath backing. The first question to pop into your mind may be why bother? Mounted to the backside of the plastic sheath is a diamond grit sharpening insert of sufficient size to resharpen the knife’s plain edge.

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With vertical and horizontal belt mounting, the small slide-in pocket on the back also has signal instructions.

With survival in mind, the mildew resistant sheath has two more features to help the adventuring outdoorsman. The first is a sewn in pocket which depicts various land to air rescue instructions and signals. This pocket also contains a tightly folded, water resistant, basic survival guide which contains Bear Grylls’ survival essentials. The sheath can be worn two orientations, the tradition hanging belt loop orientation, plus the sheath has two additional loops which allow for a horizontal wearing. For the second method, it is likely that the handle Velcro strap would not be used for additional securing of the blade.

The “Ultimate Knife” as reviewed, was released in late 2010 by Gerber Legendary Blades under product number #31-000751, and is still available to this day at an MSRP of $62.00USD. It can be found all across Canada both online and at real storefront locations such as Wholesale Sports, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. So depending on your requirements, how would you class this “Ultimate Knife”? Tactical? Practical? Or fantastical?

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Everything stowed away and ready for the next outdoor adventure!

Additional Notes: there are newer options  for the Ultimate Knife such as a pure fine edged blade instead of the partially serrated one, as well as a Pro version which uses a higher quality and denser steel for it’s plain edge.