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Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Most Catholic of Firearms

What is the most Catholic of all firearms?

One would assume an Italian rifle or shotgun would take this prize. Perhaps something which was given to Pope Benedict XVI, or one of his predecessors, is right now gathering dust in the corner of a storage room where gifts are placed until they can be put on display somewhere in the Vatican.

Think about it: every gift received by any head of state must be kept in some sort of place of honor, because they cannot be cast aside without offending the giver. Unless, of course, one is the current president of our fair country, and decided that a bust of Winston Churchill given to President 'W' Bush after 9/11 could be returned to the British. Hopefully, President Obama kept the pen and box made from the hull of a British Navy ship which combated slavery.

I would argue that the award for the most Catholic firearm would not go to any Italian firearm; nor would I give that distinction to the M1 Garand, the World War II rifle designed by John Cantius Garand. That is a statue of St. John Cantius above, and the M1 Garand rifle below:

No, I think the award for the most Catholic of Firearms belongs to a Soviet rifle which has many names but is generally referred to as the Mosin Nagant rifle. Back in February, I wrote a little essay about something I picked up at a local gun store. It was a Mosin Nagant 91/30, built in 1942, and was only about $120. Over the past few months, I have been slowly reading up on this weapon, taking it apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. I found the experience fascinating, as the history behind this rifle is almost as interesting as its function as a weapon.

Here is the Mosin Nagant when I first took a picture of it:

Now look what has happened. Where once there was one, now there are three! They are almost as prodigious as Tribbles, and that is why they are considered by me to be the Most Catholic of Firearms:

The original Mosin Nagant is at the top of the picture. Another 91/30 is at the bottom; in between is an M44, which is a carbine version of the Mosin Nagant rifle and comes with an attached bayonet. I am still in the process of cleaning up those other two rifles, and thought that I would let them sit out in the sun to loosen up some of the lubricant encasing them. Today is another day with strong winds out of the South, and temperatures above 100, and it did not take long before I had my hands full wiping off the 'cosmoline' lubricant.

I think cosmoline is the Russian version of Vaseline, only darker. Perhaps Vaseline gets dark after a couple of decades.

Along with the rifles, I pulled out the cartridge holders, oil and solvent cans, and the cleaning and tool kit which came with the 91/30's. They were also encased in cosmoline, and I thought I would remove the cosmoline using the North Texas heat rather than the household oven like this man did:

Ew. Instead I put the tool and cleaning instruments as well as the oil/solvent cans out in the back yard. I love my wife and children too much to do this kind of stuff inside. All that brown stuff is the cosmoline:

Note that the two cans are shaped differently. There are collectors who know all about anything that is associated with the Mosin Nagant, and they could tell me where the can originated and how it was designed. I am not that interested in that, though.

The only tool needed to service the Mosin Nagant is this little piece of metal. It has a screwdriver blade on one end, and the oval shaped hole is to help placement or removal of the bayonet. The most important thing on this tool are the series of cuts made into the side of it. Those cuts are used to verify the distance which the firing pin extends out of the bolt. If it does not come out enough, the pin won't contact the primer. If it extends too far, hot gases may spray back at the user when the firing pin penetrates the primer cover. So this is a vital tool to keep the rifle functioning.

I hope that my next blog entry on firearms will be me shooting one - or all - of these rifles.

Psychologist Dr. Ray Guarendi, who along with his wife adopted 10 children, likes to talk about the 'unplanned adoption' they had, when they ended up with one more child than they expected. Well, since we are doing the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover, there is no room for impulsive buying at gun shows - at least not without consulting with Carolyn. So while I would consider the Mosin Nagant to be gifted with the ability to reproduce quickly, I don't expect to see any more new additions to the family gun collection.

We would rather see other, more human, additions to our family:

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