Spencer Update, Balistol and Christmas Wishlist

Well, the 102nd National Skirmish is complete and on the books, and all things considered it was a fairly good shoot. There seemed to be a lot of downtime between relays, but other than that we all had a good time down on Confederate Road.

I was looking around for new stuff at the National, and I was somewhat disappointed that the Taylor Arms Spencer Carbines were not yet available. A recent communication with Taylor Arms about the Spencer project resulted in my being notified that Taylor representatives completed a trip to the manufacturer in Italy in October, and they expect the first shipment of Spencers, in .44 Russian caliber, to be delivered for SAMMI inspection by the end of the year. The .45 Schofield Spencer will follow, and the 56/50 Spencer will be the last produced. Current projections are for the Spencer in .44 and .45 to retail at about $1600. Pricing on the 56/50 Spencer has not yet been established by Taylor. My communication from Taylor recognized that "this has been a very difficult project and it is (Taylor's) goal that all the problems be worked out prior to releasing these guns on the market." Taylor has a firm reputation of making things right, and when the Spencers are finally ready, I think we will find out it was worth the wait.

One new gun we don't have to wait any longer for is the Starr revolver replica, which has been approved for N-SSA competitions in it's single action form, and it's at the top of my Christmas wishlist. I know, I don't need any more percussion revolvers, but the Starr is a heft hunk of crafted metalwork, capable of delivering service for many years. The price for the Starr, in both historically accurate double-action and N-SSA approved single action seems to be settling in at $299 from firms like Cabela's and Dixie Gun Works, and Christmas comes but once a year. I'm sure lots of skirmishers and reenactors would appreciate a Starr under the tree instead of on top of the tree this year!

Another revolver on my wishlist is a .36 Navy or Remington. They are historically accurate, lighter than .44s and a lot of fun to shoot. I definitely want to get a steel frame Navy, just 'cause it's easier to keep clean then the brass framed ones. I don't think a brass frame Navy in .36 is a strength liability, simply because the light loads we shoot at 25 yard targets don't stress either frame enough to worry about. If I hit the lottery anytime soon, I would have to pick up a second generation Colt. I stop by the Chattahocee booth every National, just to drool. Another alternative would be a nice replica, like those available at most sutlers.

Of all the rotten luck at a National, I managed to bang my front sight on my Henry loose just before individuals, so it was up the hill over the bridge to Bill Osborne at Lodgewood Mfg. Some quick math after looking at my target had identified that I needed to move the sight 3/32 of an inch to the right, and Bill was able to fix me right up with some quick gunsmithing. While I was waiting, I picked up a bottle of Balistol from Bill. As you may remember, fellow Civil War News columnist Joe Bilby is a great advocate of the usefulness of Balistol, and I must now confess to being a Balistol convert. Not only does this non-toxic lubricant clean blackpowder like Sherman marching through Georgia, it keeps leathers clean and soft and is an excellent stock cleaner. I even was able to resurrect a few 45 Colt cases that had been fired months ago and never cleaned. They all had that green oxide growing in them, but after a week of soaking the cases in a low concentration of Balistol and water, the cases are completely useable. There are lots of camp uses for Balistol, and it seems to be as effective in a concentration of water as full strength. Balistol is becoming more and more available to shooters and reenactors, and I highly recommend this safe, effective cleaner to all blackpowder shooters.

Wow, hard to believe that another year has gone by already. Next year, there will be lots of skirmishes and shoots and reenactments to attend and participate in. I want to wish all three of my avid readers (up 50% from last year!) the best of the New Year and all the pleasures of a wonderful Christmas season. It will be very important that we all continue to exercise responsible gun ownership, shoot safe and have fun in the real New Millenium.

2000 by Tom Kelley

return to homepage

go to Tony Beck index

go to Joe Bilby index

go to Tom Kelley index