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Castle nuts: To stake or not to stake, that is the question

The castellated nut– also called a castle nut or slotted nut– gets its name from its resemblance to the top of a medieval castle tower or keep due the notches cut into the ring. The larger set of notches allow a castle nut wrench to grip the ring and torque it down.

The smaller set of notches are there specifically to provide a location for the end user/builder to stake the castle nut– creating a dimpled wedge in the metal– to prevent it from accidentally loosening due to the vibration of the AR when firing, or through repeated handling over time– so why not use them, right?

Most would agree as many factory builds come standard with very deeply staked castle nuts, often in two or more places.

But should you stake your own nuts?

More in my column at Tac.44.com.

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Feeling froggy? Like 1944 froggy?

IMA  has a great grouping from a frogman of Underwater Demolition Team 7 during WWII.They include a set of Owen Churchill of LA swim fins, a Waterproof Bag BG 160 by U.S. Rubber Company, a wetsuit with feet and hood, as well as decorations from one D.A. Leavy of UDT 7 for action in the summer of 1944 off Saipan and Tinian.

It is a really great set, head on over and check it out in detail.

More on UDT 7 here.

73 years ago today: Of mustaches and Mausers

Here we see the good Major Stewart Fotheringham and CSM Low of ‘X’ Company, Scots Guards (then under command of 1st Welsh Guards) as they watch mopping up operations during the advance on Brussels, 4 September 1944.

The Major is carrying a repurposed German Mauser KAR 98 rifle to accompany his most excellent whiskers.

Have a great Labor Day, and may your mustache be epic today.

Pritzker on Southeast Asia

“Home Cookin’, 1967. A member of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division eats his first hot meal in five days after operating in the Quảng Ngãi Province. Photo by Specialist 5 Robert C. Lafoon, U.S. Army”

“…He was known for his Mohawk haircut. He’s sitting there eating some turkey and some peas. We had been out and had humped all day long and I mean humped—it was mountains. Fortunately, they flew in hot chow. In that unit itself he was known for that Mohawk haircut so I said hey, I gotta get a shot of this guy.”— Photo commentary shared by Specialist 5 Robert C. Lafoon, U.S. Army 1967

Visit the Pritzker Museum & Library in Chicago or go to this website to explore more than 150 images and listen to dozens of firsthand accounts of those who fought and documented the Vietnam War.

Summer days in the South

Spent some time last week in Jackson at the Cathead Distillery (the only one in the state since Prohibition) helping to promote The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a 1,600-page scholarly reference work compiled over the past six years by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss and published by the University of Mississippi Press.

Did I mention it is 1,600-pages?

Of the 1,400 entries, I managed to contribute a few on military history subjects. The signing at Cathead was hard work, broken up by excellent beer and spirits, but it was an honor to converse and share space with some 30 other contributors including some of the best authors in the South– present company excluded.

I also got to watch a Mississippi Braves game from afar and see what 375 oak barrels of aging bourbon looks like, which is always a treat.

In other news, as the summer progresses, the hibiscus plants and cherry tomato bushes in the garden are working overtime.

Growing your own tomatoes are a great way to save $2.71…

Nonetheless, bring on winter. It’s friggin hot.

New skins for an old warrior

When my grandfather joined the National Guard at 17, but before he headed off to war on active duty, he bought a “fighing knife” from a local hardware store as any strapping youth in olive drab needed just such the item.

It was a PAL RH-36.

The PAL Cutlery Company of Plattsburgh, NY. was established in 1935, specializing in kitchen implements. The company was a merger of the Utica Knife & Razor Company of Utica, NY and the Pal Blade Company of Chicago, IL. Pal used both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades until they went out of business in 1953. They purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1939, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs and soon began production in the old Remington owned factory in Holyoke, MA.

The design of the RH-36 came from that Remington acquisition, as the designations meant “Remington, Hunting, Pattern 3, 6” blade”. These were one of the most common US fighting knives of WWII, these were bought by all branches during the war, often with unit funds, and were also available as private purchase knives– such as my gramps.

Overall length is 11-inches with the razor-sharp blade just over 6, thus balancing well. Though some blades were parkerized, this one is bright though there is some patina. The old “PAL RH-36” markings are clear on the ricasso. The leather washer grip with red spacers is still tight, though dark. The pommel and guard are still surprisingly tight after more a half-century of use.

It has been sharpened and resharpened perhaps hundreds of times and was used by my grandfather overseas until he left the military in 1974, then sat in a box until I recently inherited it. The original sheath has long since broken, and subsequently discarded, leaving the blade naked.

Now, with the help of my friend Warren at Edged Creations who handcrafted the new sheath with three layers of leather, hand stitching and copper rivets, it should be good for another 70 years.

Thanks, Warren!

Papa loved his shotguns, even as a youth

“John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.” Date: ca. 1913. Accession Number: EH783N, Scanned original 2.75X3.5 nitrate negative by SL on DAMS2B.

Description: A young Ernest Hemingway standing in a field with a shotgun in his left hand and a dead bird in his right hand.

The shotgun seems a classic Winchester 1887/1901 lever-action model. Designed by John Moses Browning, just fewer than 28,000 were manufactured and production ended around 1920, replaced by the much more popular pump-action Models 97 and 12, also Browning designs.

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