Copyright 2020 – Stephen Redgwell
What do older men talk about when they go to the range? Here are Dave, Edmund and Ken, sitting in the clubhouse. They discuss powders, name drop and generally prevaricate.
Dave was the first to speak.
“Have you guys ever been to that web forum, 24 Hour Campfryer? I’ve been reloading for 42 years and a lot of the stuff they post is nonsense! I’m surprised more people haven’t blown themselves up! And believe me, I know. Over 42 years working a press and reloading for 20 odd cartridges teaches a man something.”
Edmund couldn’t contain himself. “Oh brother, the big kahuna has spoken! Dave has been handloading for 42 years and thinks 20 cartridges makes him an expert!! BWAAHH! I started reloading over FIFTY years ago and reloaded for over 40 cartridges! I used powders that you weren’t even qualified to handle. Back then, it took a lot more than just reading a book! Heracles Powder Co. got most of my business. They KNEW how to make proper powders for rifles like the 256 Newton and the 270! In fact, Elmer Keith used to phone me regularly for advice!”
Ken laughed and said, “Oh, Elmer phoned you, did he? Were you emptying septic tanks back then? Talk to me when you’ve learned something, Edmund. My reloading shed was bigger than your house! I had over 1000 lb of powder stored inside. You claim to have used Heracles? That’s wonderful, but I reloaded for most of my gun club and the local police. I had plenty of Hogdung Powder, as well as Miracle, LoVel and Reliant! 55 years of reloading makes me king of the mountain! When I read about them guys on the Campfryer getting their panties in a twist about hot loads, I break out laughing! Ooooh! Half a grain over max! Did you live?”
Dave tried to defend himself.
“Well Ken, when I say 42 years of reloading, that’s 42 straight years of doing it every day! I gave John Nosler the idea for the Partition. My favorite powders were made by MIR – Military Improved Rifle. I had two favorites – MIR 2020 was dead nuts accurate in my 30-06. I could shoot bullets a mile with it. And MIR 666 – it took skill and guts to even have it in the house! You remember when the government talked about not allowing anyone to have any powder in their possession unless they were chemists? Thank goodness, I went back to school! I was enrolled in one of the first university correspondence courses for chemisting. David Donald Davidson, BChem.”
“You always were a Johnny-come-lately, Dave. BChem, eh? Sure. I went to a real university. I did my graduate work at the University of Arizona. One of my physics professors was THE Jack O’Connor! I got it from the horse’s mouth!”
Dave shook his head in disbelief. “Edmund, Jack O’Connor didn’t teach any science courses. You’re full of it, again! But I will say this about Jack. He was a good listener. Back when he was learning about the 270, I’d help him out, give him tips, and pass along my personal observations. He’d phone and ask questions like, ‘Dave, what powders and bullets do you think I should try in my Remington 270?’ I remember that conversation! ‘Jack’, I said, ‘Dump the Remington and get a Model 70. It’s a better rifle.’ Which he did, of course! He always did what I told him…”
Ken couldn’t contain himself.
“Dave, the fellow with the BChem, who knew Jack O’Connor personally, and guided his early writing career.”
“That’s right, Ken. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Jack always did!”
“Ahem, which ‘Jack always did.’ You’re so full of it, Dave!”
Edmund was the last to speak.
“Well, how about a coffee, guys? We’ve been at the range most of the morning, and I’m just about worn out! Whadda you say?”
The three old men picked up their unopened gun cases and wandered off to the parking lot. It was another good day at the range!