Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long Hunter Rifle!

Last year I picked up one of Cimarron's Texas Brush Popper 1973 lever guns purely with the idea of making it a Cowboy Gamey Gun, thatis, a rifle strictly designed for cowboy action shooting. The main change, other than the ubiquitous trigger j0b would be to "short-stroke" the gun.

For those of you not in Hat & Boot World, short-stroke kits reduce the arc the lever has to travel through. Early short-strke kits were pretty much kludged together, but the modern kits are extremely well designed (so well designed, in fact, that Beretta is offering a factory short-stroke 1873 clone).

I agonized a bunch over who I was going to have overhaul the rifle and finally settled on Jim Finch, Long Hunter, a cowboy world champion and master gunsmith. Jim had done some superb work on my Sweetie's .32 Ruger revolvers. I was initally pretty disappointed when I got the Sweetie noted that working the lever was like pumping something industrial, and the triger was right on up there with "Crappy Triggers of the World."

I got the rifle back a couple of days ago, and all I can say is, "Sweeeeeeeeeeet!"

We'll have a video report up soon on DRTV, but it is a masterful job. The lever throw is reduced around 33%, the trigger pull is now what the trigger pull on a good rifle shoudl be, and everything feels as though it's rolling on rails.

Great job, Jim!


Anonymous said...

A trigger and action job I can understand. But a short stroke kit? I thought that playing cowboy was all about doing things the way they did in the Old West? Sounds like the gamers have taken over.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you for short-stroking a 73! You want a modern lever-action rifle, get a Marlin. You want an authentic rifle, keep it authentic.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the "Cowboy Way" has gone away in favor of winning at any cost.

Aaron Geisler said...

Sounds like a great rifle, have fun with it. Cowboy action shooting has evolved and a short stroked rifle is the norm. I have been involved in CAS for 11 years.

Anonymous said...

In his blog about Shoot Magazine ceasing publication Marshall stated Cowboy shooting was no longer a booming business. Wonder if the gamers have anything to do with that?

Anonymous said...

Personally I am waiting for CAS to allow semi-autos with optics to play.

Michael Bane said...

Guys...guys...I am NOT a western re-enactor...I'm also a gun guy. I have shot cowboy for years and years with two .357 Blackhawks (not authentic) and a stainless 1892 clone (Navy Arms). When we filmed a cowboy match for SG, I intentionally used 2 .44 Vaqueros and an out-of-the-box Marlin .44. I filmed the first Wild Bunch match for SG using my father's 1911A1 and a '92 clone (Legacy Arms) made to be as close to authentic as possible by Steve Young at Steve's Gunz.

HOWEVER, I AM a gun guy, not a western guy. I got into cowboy action shooting because I love to shoot the guns...I have never grew up fantasizing about being a cowboy; I wanted to be James Bond, or at least the protagonist in PKD's MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE...

All that stuff about researching and creating a persona, more power to the people who like to do it! We're all in this for fun. I like to see stuff go BANG, and I like to fiddle with different guns.

My thinking on why cowboy is flat has nothing to do with gamers, but rather with intolerance...the Secret Hidden Bunker is in the rural West, where your average Formal Attire would fit in perfect at a cowboy match. But I have been at too many matches were "newbies" got the Big Lecture on attire...I suspect those newbies never came back.

Replica guns are just that...replicas. They are by definition "modern" rifles. Note that I didn't say I went down to my local gun store — this being Colorado, they have a pretty good selection of original 1892s and even a smattering of 1873 in pretty good shape (and for less dinero than I paid for the Cimarron) — buy one and start carving it up. I carved up WAY too many S&W and Colt 1917s (not to mention assorted "sporterized" Mausers!) back in the day. There are certainly a few things I feel shame about (when I blew up Rick Stone's new High-Power comes to mind), but carving up replica rifles isn't one of them.

Besides, cowboy started and to a large extent remains based not on the Old West, but on MOVIES about the Old West. |For those of us who have seen GALAXY QUEST numerous times, it is wise to be leery of the "historical documents." And don't get me started on Buscadero holsters!

So the truth is, have fun and do what you do...I got a hat, boots and guns that go bang...that's enough...


Anonymous said...

The really amazing thing about cowboy shooting is how large it became. In retrospect it was always doomed to plateau and has probably started a long term downward spiral.

Look at the buckskinning phenom as an example. The 1950/60/70s saw people dressing up and playing longhunter or mountain man (depending on which side of the MS they lived on) and referring to themselves as buckskinners. Much ado was made about wearing era appropriate clothing and performing "living history". The buckskinners were often the ones who pushed for muzzleloader only hunting seasons with their game departments. Yet there was disension in their ranks between flintlock purist vs percussion cap users! Snobbery at its finest! Today,NMLRA membership is stagnant or declining, in large part, because the magazine is still stuck in the buckskinner days. And tradiotnal muzzleloaders have been replaced in the hunting fields by the inlines. And a friend who went to the national spring shoot at Friendship tells me the number of buckskinners was way down.

MB believes attire is what is turning new shooters off cowboy. There is no doubt truth to that. But I suspect gamesmanship is a factor also. IDPA was formed as a reaction against what IPSC had become. And I suspect many who might be attracted to cowboy are turned off by the idea of short stroke kits for 1873s.

Anonymous said...

You ignorant experts whining about gamers and short strokes on the Uberti 1873's don't know what your talking about. The original Winchesters were hand machined and made to much tighter tolerances than the Uberti 1873 Repos. The Italians are in to making the 1873's as cheaply as possible & to make a profit at a reasonable price, thus parts are made in huge batches with very little hand fitting or hand machining. I have a 3rd generation short stroke kit in both my Uberti 1873's. Their shortened strokes match my orginial
Winchester 1873 in 32-20 lever throw exactly. All the short strke kits are doing is removing the slop from the Uberti action links. As for SASS slowing down or losing shooters you again don't know what your talking about. SASS or Cowboy Action Shooting is the fastest growing shooting sport in the U.S. & the World. SASS is growing at 7000+ new shooters a year. No other shooting sport comes close.
SASS appeals to children from 10 to 18, and men and women from 19 to 90. No other shooting sport is as inclusive and Family friendly as Single Action Shooting. Tennessee Deadeye

Michael Bane said...

Thanks, Deadeye!

That's been my experience in randomly picking up original 1892s and 1873s...most of them had shorter strokes — sometimes substantially shorter strokes — than modern Italian or Brazilian replicas.

Hard to remember that in the Old West times even though the guns were "mass produced,"there was still much more hand-fitting than what we see today...


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Rowdy Ray said...

Today was my second time to shoot CAS, I love it ! Like Mr. Bane I am a gun guy first, i just wanna shoot and shooting papaer is boring to me.
On slickin up guns and short stroke , i see it like this. If I was a shootist or sherrif or even a bad guy back in the day,i doubt i would be using a "stock gun ".
So i see no problem with this at all.
On the other hand i would like to see the strokers and non strokers in separate classes, to make it more fair for the guy that cant afford a $1500 gun.

Unknown said...

Nice post! Can’t wait for the next one. Keep stuff like this coming. Nice Post keep it up.

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