Made in USA – When size and quality matter.

Builders,

When you have a shooting range right in your back yard, you never know what friends and neighbors will show up with. At our home, almost all designs put to work are products of American minds and hands. I am sure our international friends are just as proud of the craftsmanship of their own countrymen, as they should be,  but our small range tends to highlight America’s outstanding work in the field.

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We rarely shoot after sunset, but Daylight Saving and weeknights, leads to turning on the lights. Some of the larger hardware produces spectacular muzzle flash, which adds to the artistry of a night event. Tonight was such an evening. If your only exposure to firearms is TV, accept an invitation from a sportsman in 2017 to expand your understanding and experience without the media deciding what opinion you will have.  I never pick up a firearm without considering my gratitude that I live in a country where rights and responsibilities are considered as they apply to the individual. The fact this is ingrained in our culture is also why we have the right to fly planes which serve no purpose for society, just for satisfaction of the creative individual.

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Understand the Quality of “Made in USA”: In my hands I am holding a Winchester model 1906. This specific one was made in 1912. Although it is 104 years old, it works perfectly, and I put about 20 rounds through it. This was the design that Teddy Roosevelt used to teach his children to shoot. In an era where disposable appliances like I-pads are worshipped, it is a simple human pleasure to use a machine that was built to last more than a century.

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If you know firearms, it is easy to see the family resemblance to an 1897 Winchester pump shotgun. There is a reason for this, they were both designed by the greatest firearms designer who ever lived, John Browning (1855-1926). His designs of the Colt 1911 and the M-2 are still in mass production at 105 and 97 years of age. No rational person would argue the man’s genius.  He was, and remains, without compare. Yet on any discussion of “Made in USA” there will always be 20% of Americans who compulsively chime in to say the best of everything, the best designers, the highest quality are always imported. If you bring up John Browning, they must mention Paul Mauser; mention Charles Kettering  and they will pathologically bring up Robert Bosch. I am an aircraft mechanic, not a psychiatrist, but I will guess that something happened in these peoples youth to make them compulsively identify with foreign products and people rather than their fellow countrymen and their work. Factor that in the next time someone is telling you Mercedes are the best cars ever built.  A Rotax 912 is certainly a good engine, but watch how some of its fans compulsively dismiss O-200s because they emotionally believe that anything imported is better.

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Size matters: Smith and Wesson 500 Magnum.  On the topic of impressive muzzle flash, this may be the last word. Get a look at the Corvair Gold Oil Filter housing for size comparison. The rounds pictured are L-R a 510 grain S&W 500 Mag, a .22LR and a .38 Super. Look closely, right above the trigger it says “Made in USA”. This has some sharp recoil. In between rounds we were shooting full power .357 Mag. rounds out of a 1960 Colt Python, and by comparison the .357 suddenly felt mild, if not down right soft.  I am typing this six hours later, and my elbow joint still smarts.

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I happen to like all kinds of mechanical devices, planes and firearms are just two of them, but they are both things that the United States has an outstanding record of creativity, manufacturing, and lasting quality on. The history of the designers and craftsmen, and the places where the products are/were manufactured is a great part of our country, something to be proud of. Your Corvair engine, both as an original General Motors product and as a product of your own workshop, is a perfect part of this pantheon of machines that we celebrate, both for their design and creation, but also our right to use them responsibly in a way that enhances and expresses our individuality.

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-ww.

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