Do you ever ask questions like these?
- When did I last replace the recoil spring in the wad gun and does it run best with 11 or 12 pounds for my current load?
- How long have I had this S&W 41 and what did I pay for it new? And when did I get the shorter barrel that I now prefer?
- How long has it been since I gave the ball gun a complete tear down and cleaning?
- My backup 22 (a Ruger Mk III,Volquartsen trigger) looks clean but have I fouled the barrel yet?
In the past, I’ve jotted notes in my shooting log that would let me figure these things out. But since it’s one book for many guns, finding some detail about a specific firearm means a lot of page flipping. And, if the detail doesn’t jump out, does that mean I missed it or did I just forget to put it in there in the first place?
So I came up with a Gun Log in a 5.5 x 8.5″ binder from Staples.
Gun Log, Front Cover
The front cover has a clear cover under which you can slide in something that’s up to 6 x 8.5″. I Google’d “1911 pictures” and found several to choose from. I saved the JPG, did a small amount of editing in paint.net and then pasted up two of them in the needed space. “Print”, cut with scissors and slip it in. Voila!
The 3×5 notes you see taped to the cover are notes to myself. The first is a reminder that, after Sunday’s 2700, I need to call Frank to be sure he will be home so I can drop off the wad gun to let him checker the front strap (20 LPI) while I’m out of town for the next three weeks.
And the second note is to remind me to hunt around with Google to find a small punch set I can keep in the gun box for those rare occasions when a complete disassembly is needed at the range.
On the left is a pocket where an 8.5×11 can be folded in half and stuffed in. That’s the web article by John L. Marshall, “The 1911 Pistol Is Its Own Toolbox!” that shows how to use the 1911 and one of its magazines to completely disassemble that gun. (I still need the small punch set for the gun box, however, because I have more than 1911s and the others aren’t quite so utilitarian.)
You can’t see it but there’s a business card taped to the inside of the cover (just under that article) that has my name, address, email, etc. in case I leave the book at some range. Hopefully someone will find it and get it touch with me.
On the right and in a slip-in folder is a reminder of what I think each gun’s section should contain. Each gun’s section will contain a “cover” page and then a “log”. You can click the picture to see what I think should go on that “cover” page for each gun.
And again, you can’t see it but on the backside of that page are my name and address (again).
There are some additional sleeves in the front that I didn’t photograph. At the moment, they contain:
- Instructions for Mil-Spec TW-25B
- Exploded parts diagram with part names (!) for Series 70 1911A1
Gun Page 1 Frontside
Click on the picture to see what I try to put on this page for each of my different guns.
- Make and model
- Serial number (intentionally blurred)
- Purchase information
- A “Note” because I just can’t seem to remember how the main spring housing’s pin works
- Maintenance intervals
Regarding the latter, my plan is to keep a running total of the number of rounds fired. That running total will just keep going up and up forever. Since there are four different things in this maintenance schedule, I didn’t want to try and track four counts. So there will be just one “total # rounds fired”.
When that running total# rounds fired passes a multiple of one of these round-counts, I will add a note in the log that says something like “*** Time to replace the recoil spring — Check this off when done“. And when I do it, I’ll add a note “MM/DD/YY Replaced the recoil spring” and also go back in the book to check off the earlier note.
Realistically, I doubt I’ll worry about the 500 mark. It’s just too small to bother tracking. Instead, my practice has been to field strip at the end of each day of shooting, brush it out, clean the barrel and lube the places that need to be slippery. And since that happens after as few as 100-200 rounds, that’s way more than adequate.
Gun Page 1 Backside
See “Minor Change” at the end of this article for an update to this page.
Here, for example, I’m going to record spring strengths. While these may vary with the custom load I’m shooting, I don’t expect them to change very often. An occasional “scribble-out and new value” update will be just fine. (And if I someday need to re-copy this whole page well, gee, I guess I can deal with that. It is a “loose leaf” binder, you know?)
And you also see I’ve noted the sight adjustments.
Not seen here: My S&W 41 has both irons and a red dot so both are recorded in this area for that gun. That gun also has “trainer grips”, a 5″ barrel and the dot is removable with quick-release mounts. These features are all there so that gun is “legal” with irons for International events, or with a dot for Bullseye. I’m quite pleased with this dual-use configuration, but that’s a different topic.
Gun Chronological Log Page
Since I wrote up this page only recently, some of the information is transferred from my shooting log while some other content is guess work.
For example, you’ll notice a complete absence of “#rounds fired” — I simply wasn’t tracking that information in the other book. I will in this one but this example page doesn’t have any example to show the accumulation of #rounds into a running total. That latter number is really what I’m after so I know when to replace springs and such.
Regardless, click on the picture to see what kinds of things I put in the “Log” pages.
At the bottom you’ll see some notes about a problem I’ve been having that is due, I think, to a tired, old mainspring. Indeed, when I went to replace it, I discovered the main spring cap in this gun was non-standard and that the old spring had been shortened to fit. That discovery resurrected the memory that I had replaced the main spring housing with one that omits the security lock originally found on the gun. I can only guess that the ‘smith that I had do the switch didn’t have the correct main spring cap so, in re-using the one from the old MSH, he cut the old mainspring to make it fit.
This week I went to a different (!) ‘smith and had the correct parts(and a new mainspring, an 18 lb one, installed.
Thursday morning, I shot the wad gun with this new 18 lb mainspring and, in thirty rounds, I had a light strike. Looking at the primer, the dent was definitely shallow. There are two, equally likely explanations. First, when I reloaded that shell, I didn’t press the primer all the way in. Or second, something in the mechanical chain of main spring, hammer and firing pin didn’t let enough “Whack!” through on that one shot. (The other shells I fired that morning have deeper dents.)
I suppose a fleck of dirt might have slowed things down on that one strike but, well, that just doesn’t seem very likely.
At the moment, a high primer seems most likely.
Nonetheless, I’m going to switch to the 19 lb mainspring. My hope is that a beefier smack might still ignite a slightly high primer and, if a fleck of dirt has gotten into the works, that spring might also overpower it.
And while the stronger spring will affect the trigger weight, with the 18 pound spring, it almost seemed too light so a little more wouldn’t be bad.
I’ll shoot the 19 lb spring at Sunday’s 2700 and, hopefully, there won’t be any “thunk” (no bang) shots. If there are none, I’ll assume the problem is solved and stay with that main spring.
But if I get “no fire on the first strike”, then I’ll probably jump to the full 23 lb spring.
As an aside, yes, I’ve inspected the ammunition and, short of running loaded rounds through the press to try and re-seat any [otherwise invisible] high primers — which sounds really dangerous — I can’t think of anything else to try.
No doubt, there will be times I forget to put something in this new gun log book. But as long as that’s not too often, this system should let me keep better track of, and do a better job of maintaining, my firearms in competition-ready condition.
And the bottom line is, if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
See you on the line!
Minor Change (10/11/2012): With Don Plante’s suggestion, I changed the first page of each gun slightly.
The first page for each gun still contains its identification (serial#, etc) and maintenance intervals, but now it also has the sight adjustments. When shooting, that should be all I ever need to check, if anything. The backside of the first page is now blank. (Spring strengths, etc. have moved to a new second page.)
The second page for each gun, before the log starts, is where the current springs and most recent replacement parts are noted, each update striking out the previous. Recoil spring strength and replacement date (maybe this should be “round count”?), main spring strength and date, and so forth are recorded on this second page. For my wadder, that includes the new firing pin that was put in about a week ago.
Don’s rationale on this second page is that, 1) it provides a single place to look when checking a spring strength, etc, and 2) when this page gets full or otherwise unusable with too many strike outs and updates, that page can be replaced after copying the current values to a fresh piece of paper.
Thereafter, the chronological log begins as described above.