Howard Delo

I made it to the Wasilla gun show for a couple of hours early Saturday afternoon. I was surprised at the wide-open spaces where vendor tables usually were located. I was also surprised at the relative scarcity of people at the show. In my years of attending, I had never seen as few vendors or public in attendance.

Now, I’m not saying it was a “bad” show. I’m just saying, for whatever reasons, there were not the usual number of participants, either vendors or public, that I’m used to seeing here. Several of the vendors I stopped and chatted with commented that the show was “slow.” Normally, early afternoon on Saturday is the busiest time!

Over the years, I had met US Congressman Don Young at gun shows in Anchorage. I had met US Senator Lisa Murkowski at some Board of Fisheries functions. Former US Senator Mark Begich held a fishery meeting a few years back where I met and spoke with him.

Shortly after I arrived at the Wasilla show, I was working my way down a row of tables inspecting the wares when I look up and who should I see? None other than US Senator Dan Sullivan enjoying the show. I got a chance to shake his hand and thank him for his service (he’s a Marine). We chatted for a few minutes and he commented that, arguably, President Trump’s greatest legacy to the American people was the large number of federal judges he has appointed since being elected.

According to the Senator, the 160-plus lower court judges, a handful of higher court judges, and two Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump are all very solidly pro-2nd Amendment folks. He further commented that he could say that with confidence since he had interviewed each one of them during the Senate judicial confirmation process and asked them, specifically, about their views of this topic. That is good to know!

Here’s another item to mark on your calendar along with all the upcoming gun shows. The 2020 Anchorage Boat Show will be held at the Dena’ina Center from Feb. 21 to 23. Doors open at 10 am. Parking is available in the immediate surrounding area. Over the past two years, this show has twice been voted to rank among the top ten boat shows in the USA. If you’re thinking about a new boat or looking to upgrade your current one, this show would probably be worth your time to visit.

Okay, let’s talk a little about guns. I’m currently thinking about signing up for a home study class about gunsmithing. This is a basic class and won’t prepare me for a career in the field, but I would hope to learn a few things for my home projects.

I have mounted scopes on both rifles and handguns, installed sling swivel studs, done limited refinishing of wooden gun stocks, fitted and adjusted sights on muzzleloading rifles, and similar types of projects. Probably my biggest claim to fame here was assembling a complete rifle for myself for my 65th birthday.

Ever since I discovered the 17 HM2 rimfire cartridge, I wanted a repeating rifle in that caliber. I already had a single-shot barrel for my Thompson/Center Contender rifle. The cartridge is a great one for small game hunting, but it never really caught on with the public and is now considered a somewhat obsolete caliber. I don’t know of any company currently chambering a rimfire rifle for this caliber and ammunition can be hard to find.

I purchased a basic model CZ USA model 455 rifle for the action. I bought the last Lilja Precision heavy-weight barrel made to fit the CZ 455 action, and a Boyd’s Gunstocks thumbhole stock inletted to fit the 455 action with the heavy-weight barrel.

On this model rifle, the barrel is designed to slide into the receiver and lock in place with screws. I removed the original barrel and slide the Lilja barrel in place. It was a better fit than the original factory barrel! My next step was to drop the barreled action into the pre-inletted stock to check for fit. The stock was advertised as a drop-in fit and it was. I didn’t need to make any fitting adjustments whatsoever.

I topped the rifle off with the proper CZ USA scope rings holding a Leupold 2x7 rimfire scope and added a sling. I broke in the barrel following Lilja’s instructions and now have a ¼-inch group rifle at 50 yards. I was thrilled!

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