Tail Zippers and Tail Strippers: Are they worth it?


For a trapper when you are skinning out a critter it seems the tail can be one of the toughest things to make come out right. I’ve heard claims that a tail zipper makes doing the tail like working a zipper on your coat.

Well, after finally struggling with tails for a few years I bought a tail zipper. Turns out they are not quite as amazing as people claim. After you start the tail you can use them and they work pretty amazing down until the last 1/3 of the tail when the knife blade won’t contact the skin anymore. So you end up back using your knife again. Worth it? For $3 dollars or so I think so. It does 2/3s of the tail for you so I’ll take what it gives me.

tail_stripperTail strippers on the other hand have surprised me. I had really thought the tail zippers would be amazing, but I was skeptical about the tail strippers. I got two different strippers. The metal hinged type that has just one whole in the center. Then I got a plastic one that had a smaller and a larger whole. I tried the metal one and was very unimpressed. It just didn’t work well, but just dug into the flesh. The plastic stripper on the other hand is amazing. After you split the skin on the tail and start the tail for the first few inches you can get the bigger hole over the tail and it just pulls right off. You may or may not need to use the smaller hole. It doesn’t do the whole tail, but its the end anyways that is the most trouble. All in all I’d say the plastic tall stripper that came for free with my tail zipper was my best buy.

I bought my plastic stripper and tail zipper from ebay. Cabelas has the tail zipper on their site if you are willing to buy 5 or more or some silly number like that. They also had the metal stripper for $3.99. For the plastic stripper and tail zipper set though on ebay it was only $4.95 so its a decent deal there.

2015 Rifle Season

Well, I had a great rifle season this year. I shot a buck up by Watersonville then a few days later I shot a doe there as well.

buck_2015When I shot the buck I was approaching a gully where I often see deer on the other side. I heard something coming from behind me so I turned around and saw a buck trotting along about 50 to 75 yards away. With a quick look for points I found 3-points on one side to make it legal then I shot with my 30-06. Its tail dropped and it ran off. There wasn’t any snow, but I was able to track it by the ruffled leaves and spots of blood here and there. My brother saw it then my father got to shoot at it and miss. Then I had a quartering away shot and tried for its head twice, but only hit once. It would go for a distance then lay down until you jumped it again. Finally, just before dark my brother was able to shoot it in the neck and finish it off. My initial shot had been more of a gut shot which was why it had been so much trouble. Unfortunately, it was not as much of a fast clean kill as you would hope for.

doe_2016On the flip side my doe only took one shot and dropped on the spot. I was watching a little ways up the road from where I had shot my buck a few days later with one of my friends. Then as evening came I saw two does come running in the woods about 100 yards away. I was sitting up against a tree so I had a good stead aim and after checking to make sure there were not antlers I shot with my 30-06. The doe instantly fell where it stood.

I had a good season. I never expect to fill my buck tag anymore with the antler restrictions, but I’ve been blessed with a buck two years in a row now.

Sig Sauer P250 Subcompact versus the Kel-tec PF9 For Concealed Carry

Sig Saucer P250 SubcompactWell, I’ve acquired another gun. A friend of mine was selling his Sig Saucer P250 Subcompact. At the time when he asked me if I wanted to buy it my Kel-tec PF9 was broken and I was having issues getting parts from Kel-tec so I decided to buy it.

My first feelings about the Sig was how sturdy and solid it feels. Then I racked the slide and found that it was smoother and easier to pull back then the PF9.

When I first shot the Sig I was impressed with how accurate it was and how smooth it felt to shoot it. I still have to stage the trigger part way back like my PF9 for longer range shots, but it was easier to stay on target. The PF9 is an accurate gun too, but I would say the difference is the level of focus I required to be accurate. For close range shots the Sig seemed able to shoot very quickly, comfortably, and accurately. In contrast, my PF9 kind of jars your hand a bit and the trigger is uncomfortable. The PF9 at close ranges is so so for me, but if you are close enough even that can become less important.

The size for the Sig is a bit bigger and heavier which I can feel the difference when I conceal carry, but I would not say its necessary a bad thing.  On the plus side it has 10 rounds in the magazine instead of 7 like the PF9. Also for me a big consideration is my confidence in its accuracy is much higher for the Sig. On the bad side for the Sig though it does not seem like a good pocket gun at all. In contrast, the PF9 it just barely small enough to pocket carry very nicely.

Another thing that impresses me about the Sig is its ability to change calibers and sizes easily with a caliber exchange kit. So I can change my 40 S&W into a 9mm, .357 sig, 45 ACP, or .380 ACP. The change over looks really easy too and can be done in under a minute with no tools. Also the kits are not registered as a gun so I can get them without going through an FFL which is a big cost saver. A con though is the kits seem to be pretty pricey and sometimes you almost wonder if it would be cheaper to buy another gun. So for now I’m just watching ebay for some used kits to see what time will turn up.

One annoying thing I have noticed about the Sig is that the magazine release tends to stick and jab you if you carry under the waist band. Perhaps, better positioning of the gun can fix this, but it does seem a bit painful at times.

So which one will be my primary carry? The Sig. Why?

  1. .40 S & W (It just seems like a better round then the 9mm)
  2. It feels good in my hands
  3. I am confident in how it shoots
  4. It has a 3 round advantage to the PF9 (barring a mag extension)

I’ll still use the PF9 just not as much. Each gun has something its better at so its about learning which is best for each situation.

Made A Side Plate For CVA A Muzzleloader

gun build 1 side plateOne of the other things I was missing from my CVA kit was a side plate. So I made one!

To start off with I went through my Track Of The Wolf catalog until I found a side plate I liked. Handily, their parts have life sized pictures.  Then I traced over the side plate and used carbon paper to transfer its outline to a piece of paper.

After I had a good outline that seemed to fit well on the stock I cut it out of a piece of steel then started grinding to a closer fit. In the picture here the plate is still a bit too big. After I drilled the holes in the plate I further trimmed it some to make it fit nicely.

I choose to use steel over the traditional brass for one main reason. I didn’t have any sheets of brass laying around, but I did have steel laying around. Some guns were actually build using steel hardware so its actually not fully incorrect historically. Most importantly, it was good practice for me in building a plate that is the proper size.

Screw Driver for Gun Screws

Chapman_screw_driverMany times I have worked on one of my guns and had a tight screw… Often times that goes bad and I end up messing up a the screw and have an ugly head to look at there after. Other times I get my impact driver out which sometimes works, but once I broke a bit doing that.

Well, my problem is that my screwdrivers have slanted edges, but the screw’s head is a straight slot. After doing some looking around online I found the Chapman 9600 Gunsmith Screwdriver kit. It has bits in it that have straight edges instead of the slanted edges found on most screw drivers.


Another nice feature in this Chapman set is their midget wrench which supposedly allows you to apply up to 200 lbs of torque. According to the instructions those 200 lbs is enough force to break some of the bits in the set. They also included a nice chart of showing each bit and at what torque each bit breaks.

All in all I was very impressed with the kit and how much thought the Chapman company seemed to put into their product. I tried it on one of my screws on my Siler lock and it seemed to work well.

Will A Small Siler Lock Replace A CVA Lock?

20150303_182733Recently, I picked up an old project. Building an old kit gun from CVA! The kit was only partially complete–one of the missing pieces was the lock.

While researching more custom gun kits I have come across the Siler lock. I really wanted to put that lock on this gun, but its fit was doubtful given that the stock was pre-inlet for a CVA lock.

Well, despite the questions of fit I decided to give it try. Turns out the lock is a bit longer, but its not as wide. This leaves a little gap both above and below the lock. Not good…however, the lesson learned is the Siler lock that comes with a rectangle lock plate would have worked  with some cutting of the plate. On the other hand if I am able to patch in some wood in the gap area and make it look decent I think it might be nice having a standard Small Siler lock in place.

The Truth About Silencers

So I’ll admit it. I didn’t really know anything about silencers except for what I’ve seen in movies where they use them to shoot people quietly.

According to this article on silencers on arstechnica turns out how silencers are portrayed in movies is incorrect. They say it actually just makes the sound quieter to the point that you don’t need earplugs when you shoot. An exception would mainly be the .22 silencer in the article which does seem to fit the common perception.

The bottom line…silencers really are not just for bad guys doing killings. In the article they pose several reasons why normal people would want a silencers.

  1. You can target shoot without earplugs and avoid disturbing the neighbors quite as much
  2. You can shoot while hunting without going deaf
  3. Animals are not quite as disturbed while shooting at them
  4. Protection of hearing for hunting dogs

Another miss-conception I held was silencers are illegal. According to the article the only states they are illegal in are: “California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.” So….actually they are legal in a lot of states.

The bad news is to purchase a silencer does not just require a transaction with an FFL, but also “pay[ment] $200 for a BAFTE tax stamp and fill out some paperwork.” In addition to that the article points out that silencers often cost as about as much as or more then a gun does.  So, I don’t think I’ll be getting one anytime soon.

An interesting article though and it goes into how silencers work.

Preparing A New Bullet Mold

IMG_20141109_131458The other day I broke in a new bullet mold. The first step was to clean out the cavities to remove any oil. I used rubbing alcohol and just rubbed around inside of each cavity.

IMG_20141109_135701Next I put soot in the cavities by burning a candle directly under neath each of them. This step is much easier without the handles installed. The reason for doing this is to help keep the bullets from sticking in the mold.


IMG_20141109_140146Finally, I lubricated the pins and hinge for the sprue cutter. I used anti-seize which is rated at 1600 degrees. The directions from Lee also says you could melt some beeswax into the pins.


IMG_20141109_140634Now is the time to install the handles. I’ve installed them first before and that makes sooting the mold much harder.


This year for the first time I’ve been playing with a trail camera. Its been very interesting to get to see what all wildlife is out there. So far I’m starting to recognize different bucks and notice the size difference in the does.

Tonight I was out later on moving my trail camera and I saw/heard a turkey fly up to a tree. When I walked out of the woods I spooked three of them out of the trees! I still need to shoot my first turkey maybe I’ll get a chance this year when the season opens up. I’ve been seeing turkeys show up on my trail camera from time to time so they seem to be staying in this area.