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The Evolution of Accuracy!

Rigbys Return!
Volquartsen Evolution

Gradle Express

Marlin XL7W
A Classy, Affordable Sporter!
January 2010


No. 248

25274 01240

Printed in USA

$5.99 U.S./Canada

January 2010 Volume 42, Number 1 ISSN 0162-3593 Issue No. 248

8 14 16

From Zimbabwe
Spotting Scope Dave Scovill

20 22 24

Gun Control
Mostly Long Guns Brian Pearce

28 30 38 48

.22 Long Rifle

Classic Cartridges John Haviland

Borescope Views
Optics Ron Spomer

Theyre Alive! Theyre Alive!

Straight Talk Ron Spomer

Marlin XL7W
Classy Bolt-Action Sporter
Stan Trzoniec

.22 Rimfires
Down Range Mike Venturino

Trigger Shoes
Light Gunsmithing Gil Sengel

25-Year Quest
The Evolution of Accuracy
Mike Venturino

Levergun Hunting
North America to Africa
Brian Pearce

Page 48 . . .

Page 30 . . .

Page 38 . . .

Background Photo: 2010 S. Jordan Palmer

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On the cover . . .
The Marlin XL7W features a walnut stock, a Burris 6x 40mm scope in Leupold rings and an adjustable trigger. Photo by Stan Trzoniec.

Page 38 Page 78 Page 68

58 68 78 86

Rigby Redoubled
Up from the Ashes
Terry Wieland

Gradle 7mm Express

The Original Short Magnum
John Haviland
Issue No. 248 January 2010

Volquartsen Evolution
Product Tests Clair Rees

Sporti Fi earms Jour al ting Firear urnal

Publisher/President Don Polacek Associate Publisher Mark Harris

94 98

Whats New in the Marketplace

Inside Product News Clair Rees

Rifle Index Volume 41 A Man of Iron

Walnut Hill Terry Wieland

Editor in Chief Dave Scovill Managing Editor Roberta Scovill Art Director Gerald Hudson Production Director Becky Pinkley

Contributing Editors
Associate Editor Al Miller John Haviland Ron Spomer Brian Pearce Stan Trzoniec Clair Rees Mike Venturino Gil Sengel Ken Waters Terry Wieland

Page 58 . . .

Advertising Director - Stefanie Ramsey

Page 68 . . .

Advertising Representative - Tom Bowman Advertising Information: 1-800-899-7810

Circulation Manager Michele Elfenbein Subscription Information: 1-800-899-7810
Rifle (ISSN 0162-3583) is published bimonthly with one annual special edition by Polacek Publishing Corporation, dba Wolfe Publishing Company (Don Polacek, President), 2625 Stearman Rd., Ste. A, Prescott, Arizona 86301. (Also publisher of Handloader magazine.) Telephone (928) 445-7810. Periodical Postage paid at Prescott, Arizona, and additional mailing offices. Subscription prices: U.S. possessions single issue, $5.99; 7 issues, $19.97; 14 issues, $36. Foreign and Canada single issue, $5.99; 7 issues $26; 14 issues, $48. Please allow 8-10 weeks for first issue. Advertising rates furnished on request. All rights reserved. Change of address: Please give six weeks notice. Send both the old and new address, plus mailing label if possible, to Circulation Department, Rifle Magazine, 2625 Stearman Road, Suite A, Prescott, Arizona 86301. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Rifle , 2625 Stearman Road, Suite A, Prescott, Arizona 86301. Canadian returns: PM #40612608. Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. Publisher of Rifle is not responsible for mishaps of any nature that might occur from use of published loading data or from recommendations by any member of The Staff. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. All authors are contracted under work for hire. Publisher retains all copyrights upon payment for all manuscripts. Although all possible care is exercised, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for lost or mutilated manuscripts.

Wolfe Publishing Co.

2625 Stearman Rd., Ste. A Prescott, AZ 86301 Tel: (928) 445-7810 Fax: (928) 778-5124
Polacek Publishing Corporation

Background Photo: 2010 S. Jordan Palmer

Rifle 248

saw an article recently about dangerous game cartridges and rifles. The princi ple topic was elephant, one of which the author admitted to kil ling. It was stunning! He then extrapolated from a sample of one and went on to make a broad range of expert recommendations.

by Dave Scovill
worth of government hardware. And, I know hunters who have killed one elk and were miraculously transformed into an expert on trophy elk hunting bullets, cartridges, rifles, you name it, the whole enchilada. This is not to ignore onehit-wonders who espouse expertise on bears, Cape buffalo, deer, etc., ad nauseam. Some of these folks wound up on the lecture circuit offering homespun advice to anyone with the price of admission. (I kid you not!) So, to level the playing field a bit, I asked our friend and African PH Ganyana to give us a rundown on a few Solid Facts about dangerous game.

Ill also admit that nearly a half-century of enduring self-proclaimed braggarts has caused me to become a bit suspicious of any who, to hear them tell it, have all the answers. In flight school, there was always at least one top gun who knew everything, until he pruned a few tree tops or attempted water skiing with several million dollars



GANYANA gives me an almost on point of aim at 100 meters, certainly more than good enough if I need to fling some long-range lead at a retreating wounded animal. The 9.3 is my everyday rifle what I use on all other occasions, including my personal hunting. The lack of powder capacity in the 9.3 case and the limited selection of South African powders has meant not being able to work up a decent load for any of the monolithic bullets, be they solids or hollowpoint, that meet my velocity criteria, penetrate sufficiently on elephant and regulate

ver the last couple of months I have read and listened to a pretty good debate on standard versus heavy-for-caliber bullets for use on dangerous game. I was asked for my take on this. Let me open by stating what I use (and why) and then onto what I recommend clients consider before they choose ammunition for a particular hunt. I primarily use two rifles, a Mauser 9.3x62 and a Krieghoff 500/416, and these calibers in themselves impose restrictions in bullet selection. I also guide hunts almost entirely for lion or

elephant these days. Because I hunt lion, I want a bullet impact velocity of over 2,250 fps, and I dont want to change sight settings between softs and solids, which still further limits selection. That I live in Africa and only have South African powders to work out the perfect load is a final complication. So, the Krieghoff is regulated and sighted in for Woodleigh 410grain bullets at 2,330 fps. Thats how it came, and thats perfect. It is for elephant hunting in the jesse, following up a wounded lion, buffalo or accompanying a dogged leopard hunt. In all four instances, the action is going to be close and fast, and the rifle is zeroed for 25 meters, which still

The elephants skull the broomsticks mark the ear holes shows that the position of the brain forms a perfect frontal shot. The hard, curved surfaces of the tusk bases and the zygomatic arch are the real bullet killers (besides the front leg bone). They have a very hard surface, and bullets with a poor shape tend to deflect off these curved surfaces.
8 Rifle 248

with the inexpensive Speer bullets I use for practice and plains game hunting. I have four loads that work for me: 286-grain Woodleigh solids; 286-grain Stuart softs for buffalo; 286-grain Norma Oryx for lion, eland or leopard; and Speer 270 grain for everything else. The three 286grain loads all shoot to point of aim at 100 meters (and 25, for that matter), while the Speer bullets are one inch or so high at 100 and spot on at 150. One sight setting, and nothing to remember. However, those are not the only options or even the best options. It depends on caliber, soft or solid and what you are hunting. When I owned a .458 Lott, I loaded Barnes Super Solids for elephant and TSXs for everything else. Why, you may ask? Why change bullets? Lets start by considering elephants and bullets for use on them. First there is a world of difference between a bull and a cow. It is not just a matter of size; it is the great difference in thickness between the four obstacles that the bullet must be able to penetrate safely for it to be completely safe and usable under all situations. These are the front leg, the zygomatic arch, the teeth and the tusk bases. A bullet that does not hit one of these four tough targets cannot be considered in a discussion of bullets suitable for all-around use on elephant under all circumstances. When the elephant culling program started in Rhodesia, many of the officers started off us ing the standard military issue Fabrique Nationale (F.N.) FAL in 7.62 NATO for shooting the cows and calves. Within a couple of years, the F.N. was out of favor. Usually it worked fine, but if the angle was poor and you hit a tusk base or zygomatic arch, there were just too many failures. The park service switched to using 7.62x54R armor-piercing ammunition fired from captured Soviet Draganov
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rifles (with scopes removed) or M1 Garands with monolithic solids. (As an aside, we had several CIA agents come bearing lavish gifts and looking to get their hands on a Draganov. The West knew of this new and deadly soviet snipers rifle but didnt have any, whilst Rhodesians had captured a bunch, tried them, stuck to their Enfield envoys for sniping and tossed the Draganovs at the park service. A mate of mine got a new starlight scope simply for letting an agent have a rifle and some ammunition for an afternoons test.) On bulls, nobody used anything less than .375, unless circumstances forced one into using something smaller. I must stress that with a perfect shot, penetration on elephant isnt an issue. A side brain shot on a cow that passes above the arch can be safely taken with a hot loaded .45-70. In fact, give it a decent bullet like a Barnes, and I would expect it to exit on a bull. A charging cow in the jess? Hit her square between the eyes with a .50 Alaskan and the bullet should come out the back of the head. Thousands of elephants have been cleanly taken with rifles ranging from .22 Savage and the old black-powder .577/450 Martini Henry, to say nothing of .303s and the 8mm Mauser, which was my fathers choice of a decent elephant rifle during his three-year stint as a professional ivory hunter. (As a kid I watched him

drop 17 bull elephants with 18 rounds using 227grain Kynoch solids and fed into the rifle from stripper clips, so he could keep the rate of fire up while the elephants were trying to get out of the orchard.) No, we are only considering when things go wrong a bullet suitable for all occasions and conditions. What do we need for reliable penetration on elephant? Basic physics tells us there is a direct relationship between sectional density (SD) and velocity as regards penetration. We know from over 100 years of hard experience that a bullet with an SD of .340 needs to land at over 2,050 fps to have more than adequate penetration, and that a bullet with an SD of .300 needs to arrive at 2,300 fps. (See the graph.) But SD and velocity are not the only factors at play. Bullet shape is critical. All the tough targets in an elephant present the bullet with a curved surface. If the bullet isnt to deflect or tumble, it needs a blunt profile. Arguments rage as to whether a large, flat meplat like the Barnes Super Solids increase penetration or if a blunt profile like the Woodleigh 9.3 bullets I use is all it takes. I cannot decide despite having used both and seen many clients use both. Certainly a flat meplat makes a louder thwak when it hits, but that isnt relevant to dropping an elephant! However, I dont think anybody would argue that blunt is essential. The last factor is bullet integrity one people forget and bullet makers often gloss over. If the bullet fails, then penetration is going to be inadequate QED. Under what conditions do bullets fail? Obviously if the jacket material is too soft (for a conventional FMJ-type bullet). Prime examples were the 1950s vintage Kynoch when gilding metal jackets rather than steel were used, the old German nickelcolored solids from firms like RWS and DWM and even the relatively new (and quickly dropped) Hornady encapsulated. In monolithic bullets, too soft is better than too brittle. A bullet that mushrooms slightly will not penetrate as far, but it is a heck of a


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lot better than one that breaks in half or loses a chunk off the trailing edge and tumbles. But what many a hunter fails to understand after recovering the bullet after a failure is why it failed. The simple answer is that the impact velocity was too high for the structural integrity of the bullet used. The forces trying to tear a bullet apart increase to the square of velocity, i.e., an exponential curve rather than a straight line, and all bullets I have ever tried had a threshold velocity, above which bullet failures began to occur with increasing regularity. Also, bear in mind that most elephants are shot at close range 15 yards or less in hunting scenarios and considerably less in selfdefense, so for all practical purposes, muzzle velocity equals impact velocity. Ive had great success with Woodleigh 9.3 bullets at around 2,400 fps over the last 18 years. Ive seen several failures from 300-grain Woodleighs fired from .375s at 2,550 to 2,600 fps. In fact, among knowing PHs, the trend in recent years has been to download the .375 to 2,450 fps. Penetration improves

significantly but tapers off rapidly as you drop velocity below 2,400 fps. Monolithics? I have never seen an A-Square bullet deform, even out of a .378 Weatherby, but I also know the barrel life of our M1 Garands and issue .458s used with A-Square monos was under 500 rounds so have never used them in my own rifles. Barnes Super Solids? Great bullets at reasonable impact speeds. As impact speeds increase above 2,500 fps, they begin to mushroom. Velocity is an essential component of penetration, but you can have too much of a good thing. Another good example of this structural integrity issue is from the old (and sadly discontinued) Speer African Grand Slam solids with a tungsten core. They were the choice of bullet for the .458 Winchester, where powder capacity was lacking, and also superb from high-velocity numbers like the .460 Weatherby. I never saw many used in .416, but out of a .375 and particularly the .378, they were prone to spectacular failures. The thick brass jacket would come off and the tungsten core would tumble. In this instance, it wasnt so much the velocity that caused the failures, but either the ratio of jacket to core (The .375 had much more jacket relative to its diameter than the .458.) or diameter to length (The .458 bullet is relatively short for its caliber and short bullets are less prone to tumbling on impact with a curved bone.) or a combination of both. In summery then, we can say for elephants that any decently constructed bullet arriving at an appropriate velocity for the sectional density will do just fine. The blunter the bullets profile the better, but in a magazine rifle, reliability mustnt be sacrificed just for the sake of having a bullet with a big meplat. Is there any real difference between using a 550-grain bullet at 2,150 fps or a

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Rifle 248

450-grain bullet fired at 2,325 fps from your .458 Lott? Not enough for me to recommend a client use one in preference to the other. From a .460 Weatherby, a 550grain at 2,450 fps or a 450-grain at 2,700 fps? Give me the 550-grain load any day. The lighter bullet is simply going too fast for current technology.



I cannot understand how people can still recommend solids for buff. We live in the twentyfirst century. Does velocity have any appreciable effect on buffalo? Not in the calibers I shoot. A 320-grain Woodleigh soft from my 9.3 is no less effective than a 286-grainer, despite arriving 150 fps slower. Actually, the greater penetration offered by the heavier bullet is probably more important, particularly as it will allow poor angle shots (or a Texas heart shot on a departing, wounded buff). I have never felt that a buff has been particularly impressed by any bullet under .50 caliber, and the difference in knock-down effect between a .404 Jeffery and a .460 Weatherby isnt worth worrying about. It is on buff that the heavy-for-caliber argument is at its best. A .404 shooting a relatively soft 450-grain bullet (like a Woodleigh soft) is going to make a bigger wound channel and still offer the deep penetration occasionally required, compared to a more stoutly constructed 400-grain bullet landing faster. If you are hunting buffalo, then an appropriately constructed 600-grain soft is an entirely reasonable choice for a .458 Winchester Magnum. Nobody could accuse a 9.3 or .375 of possessing any significant knock-down effect on buffalo, whatever load you care to stuff into them, and its only when you reach the .500 Jeffery and .505 Gibbs that you can actually talk of bullets having a noticeable effect on the buff, and whether you
(Continued on page 85)

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by Ron Spomer
check leades for concentricity and muzzle crowns for dings; and study land-to-groove concentricity. About the only thing I havent checked are my own ears for wax buildup, but now that Im thinking of it . . . A borescope the Hawkeye, at least consists of a series of magnifying lenses and mirrors in a long (your choice of 7, 12, 17 or 22 inches), thin (.165inch) tube that will fit down a .17-inch caliber bore. This transmits a 360 degree, magnified, fisheyelike view straight forward. A 90-degree (right angle) mirror tube with a .188 inch outside diameter (OD) slips over the main tube to provide highly magnified, close-up views of the lands and grooves. It will fit .20 bores, and it rotates 360 degrees so you can spin it to examine in minute detail every millimeter of any bore. Its as if you are inside the barrel with a 20x magnifying glass. To illuminate those dark caves, you screw a common Mini-Maglite flashlight to the Hawkeyes handle. Larger, brighter lights can be attached, but Ive found the Mini-Mag bright enough for typical sporter calibers. More voluminous spaces require more light. The light travels down the tube to illuminate barrel walls while the lenses enlarge those same walls for a microscopic view. For the past decade or so, all was well in my borescoping world. Then came the 2008 SHOT
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orescopes put me in mind of that old cartoon in which a patient being examined on a proctologists table says No, Doc! I said I wanted a Bud Lite! This is not to imply that using a borescope is painful or even uncomfortable, but it is rather high-tech and a great way to see whats going on in otherwise dark and inaccessible places like chambers, throats, lands and grooves of firearms. The average rifle fanatic doesnt need a borescope, but once he or she uses one, he generally feels he cant live without it. Such was the case with me several years ago when I borrowed a Gradient Lens Corporation Hawkeye borescope. Marketing Manager Ken Harrington was smart enough to realize that once tried, forever desired. When the test period was over, I was in love. I just had to have that handy peek-a-boo optical instrument. The check was in the mail.

Since that day my infatuation with the Hawkeye scope has only grown. I pull it out to check every new barrel that comes through the door. I study barrels after the first shot or two to understand where and how badly they copper foul; scope them while cleaning to see how quickly they shine silver; look for internal rust in old guns, rough edges on lands and signs of heat cracking in throats; check chamber walls and barrels for tooling marks, nicks and gouges;

The Hawkeye borescope consists of a series of magnifying lenses and mirrors that offer a fisheye view, or the right angle mirror that rotates 360 degrees with 20x magnification.

Show and a chance encounter at the Gradient Lens Corp. booth. The company had upgraded the optics of the Hawkeye borescope. New and improved. Brighter and clearer than ever, thanks to improved endoGRINS relay lenses; new, multicoated objective lenses; and new, dur able, easy-clean mirrors. Theres even a new SuperNOVA light source and an independent focusing ring for photography in the PRO model. Adapter rings make it possible to mount a digital camera to the borescope using lenses from 28mm OD to 58mm OD. With the Luxxor Digital Camera System you can get a video read-out of what the scope sees in real time plus capture still images and even 30-second video clips. Now thats a great way to maintain a history of the life and times of a rifle barrel. My Hawkeye went back to the shop to be upgraded with the new lenses and mirrors. Although I did not splurge and purchase the hardware for making pictures or video, you might want to. Gunsmiths could really benefit from photographic records of clients barrels. So could anyone who shoots competitively. Collectors who buy and sell rifles would take a lot of guesswork out of the enterprise and command premium prices with photographic evidence of internal parts. Such digital photos or video clips could be emailed to potential clients. Collectors could store digital image files of their inventory, and target shooters would be able to follow the deterioration of the lands. Digital imaging via the Hawkeye borescope opens a whole new world for barrel and accuracy management. A borescope certainly isnt the most critical optic a shooter/ hunter can own, but its one of the most revealing. No other device uncovers those ancient mysteries lost to the deepest reR cesses of your rifles.
January-February 2010

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ike most, I started my rifle shooting career with .22 rimfires. Unlike most, I never developed a particular fondness for them. In fact my hand-jotted records of the past 50 years indicate Ive only owned seven .22 rimfires in my entire life, and four of those were given to me as a preteen. That means with my own hard-earned cash Ive only bought three, with the most recent coming shortly before this writing. (By comparison those same records show Ive owned 25 rifles and carbines chambered for .44-40, 27 for .30-06, and the all-time winner is .45-70, of which Ive owned 36 various types of single shots and leverguns. Perhaps the reason for my attitude is that I grew up in southern West Virginia where there was little in the way of rifle shooting tradition. It was more a shotgun and handgun area. By the time I moved to Montana and fell in with many rifle shooters, I was already an avid handloader. Shooting centerfires didnt seem like a burden. When strapped for cash, as was usual in my younger years, I felt it more logical to spend what money was available on powder

These two groups were fired at 100 yards with Mikes two .22 rimfires. At left is the group fired with the Colt/Walther M4 and Federal Champion HP/HV ammunition, and at right is the group fired with the Winchester Winder Musket and Lapua Midas M ammunition. Both were fired with the rifles peep sights.
and primers and then cast bullets to handload for the assortment of guns currently on hand. Spending that money on .22 ammunition would have only fed .22s. Right now I own two .22 rifles, which are as different as night and day. Besides being the same caliber, they have one other factor in common. I bought both in fits of impetuosity. The one that has been here longest is a Winchester Single Shot, aka Model 1885, aka high wall, aka Winder Musket. Although Winchester never tagged its .22 rimfire single shot, when fitted with militarystyle stocks as Winder Muskets, the name is almost universally used. Charles Winder was an officer in the Ohio National Guard in the early 1900s. Beginning in 1904 he consulted with Winchester in developing these .22s as marksmanship training rifles for recruits. Winder Muskets were made both as low walls and high walls and in .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle chamberings. From
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These two groups were fired at 25 yards with Mikes two .22 rimfires. Top group fired with a Winder Musket and Lapua Midas M ammunition measures 1 4 inch. Bottom group fired with Colt/Walther M4 and Federal Champion HV/HP ammunition measures 58 inch. Both were fired with the rifles peep sights.
my observations at many gun shows, the low wall .22 Short versions are most common, and the high wall .22 Long Rifles are least common. Even more rare are high-wall, .22 Long Rifle Winder Muskets with the takedown feature. (Mine is not one of those.) Many of the high-wall, .22 Long Rifle Winder Muskets carried open rear sights very similar to those found on the Krag rifles then in use by the U.S. Army.

Not being a .22 Long Rifle fan, I wasnt looking for a Winder Musket when wandering around a large antique gun show in Las Vegas in 1995. In fact I had already spent so much money that I wasnt looking for anything on that last morning of the show. Then in an aisle nearly empty of people, there sat this beautiful condition Winder Musket. Until that point I didnt even realize they had been made as high walls and in .22 Long Rifle. As I stood gaping at it, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a fellow start down the aisle. His attention was obviously focused on that Winchester. Perhaps greed took over, but something made my hands flash out fast as lightning and grab the rifle. Gun show etiquette says that whoever has his mitts on the item gets first chance to buy. That poor fellow exuded disappointment. The seller merely smiled knowing he was sure of a sale without dickering. Ive rationalized that the .22 Winder Musket was bought as my offhand practice rifle for BPCR Silhouette. This fiction was even carried to the point that a gunsmith was paid to install closecoupled double set triggers in it. Also a Lyman 17A front sight was dovetailed in and a Steve Baldwin Soule-style, Vernier tang sight bolted on. As a practice rifle Id bet that no more than a few hundred rounds have been fired though it in nearly 15 years. It seems that Ive always got something more important or

Mike only owns two vastly different .22 rimfire rifles. Top is a Winchester High Wall Winder Musket, and bottom is a new Colt/Carl Walther M4.
January-February 2010

more enjoyable to do than practice. That said, it must be admitted that this Winder Musket is a finely accurate rifle. Last month I was with my friend Shrapnel, so nicknamed by me for his propensity for blowing up guns, when he wanted to stop in the Shedhorn Sports Store of Ennis, Montana. I wasnt interested in buying anything, but it was a warm day and the store is air-conditioned. While Shrapnel was checking out every possible bargain among the hundreds of guns, my attention was drawn to a rack of AR-type rifles. There was something different about them that I couldnt quite place, so I picked up one. Its tag indicated .22 Long Rifle, and I soon realized the different thing was its magazine. Previously the only .22 Long Rifle AR-type rifles Id ever heard of were cheapies made in some third-world country. The little carbine I was holding certainly wasnt cheap in either quality of manufacture or price. Furthermore it carried the Colt logo but was clearly marked as being made by Carl Walther, Germany. Lastly, it was stamped US Exporter, UmarexUSA, Fort Smith, AR. Personally to me Germany is synonymous with quality, so I whipped out one of those magic plastic cards and bought myself a second .22 rimfire. The little carbine is pretty much a dead ringer for the U.S. militarys current M4 and not too far off Colts

own CAR15 .223s, one of which Yvonne owns. It has the collapsible shoulder stock, 16.2-inch barrel with integral flash hider and weighs 612 pounds. It has some differences. The forward-assist button on the right rear of the receiver is non-functional, as is the bolt release on the left side. The bolt will be held open by the magazine follower after the last shot is fired. To drop it the magazine must be removed; then merely by pulling back on the charging handle, it lets the bolt drop. Sights front post and peep rear are also like those used on the militarys M4. They are fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The carrying handle is detachable. In its place scope mounts can be fixed to the receivers top. Perhaps thats not a bad idea at my age. This little .22 came with a single 30-round magazine, which I consider near useless. It makes the carbine near impossible to shoot over sandbags because it extends so far. The UmarexUSA website ( was found and two, 10-round magazines ordered. Because neither of my .22 rimfires was intended for paper punching, there were no targets lying around the gun room to photograph. So some groups were fired at both 25 and 100 yards. That the Winder Musket did well with Lapua Midas M ammunition was no surprise. That the little M4 did so well with bulk packaged Federal Champion high-velocity hollowpoints was, especially considering its 9pound trigger pull. With the growing popularity of .22 BPCR Silhouette, a couple of the gun clubs here in Montana have now built suitable ranges so there may come a growing purpose for my Winder Musket. Its been fired in a few such matches and is perfectly competitive. As for the .22 rimfire M4 look-alike, Im not sure exactly what purpose it will serve, but if things continue as now, it will be fired plenty. I liked it on first sight. R


Rifle 248


by Brian Pearce
Brian used a Merkel KR1 bolt-action .308 Winchester to try Winchesters new Super-X Power Max Bonded ammunition on Wyoming pronghorn.
selves to ultimately disarm all Americans. Their plans are nothing short of absurd but nonetheless threaten virtually every freedom we enjoy and include horrendous taxes on ammunition with strict quantity limits. Handloading would be completely banned. And there are proposals that will heavily tax guns all guns on an annual basis until they cannot be afforded. The above will eventually lead to a national gun registration, followed by confiscation and a ban of private ownership of all firearms, the same strategy Hitler used in pre-World War II Germany. If we allow that to happen, we will no longer be citizens, but subjects. How much money, property or assets we possess, or what our religious convictions are will no longer be important, as each will be taken from us. Never before in our 234-year history have our gun rights (along with all others) been in such jeopardy. We are in serious times and must act now. The Second Amendment of the Constitution, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the

irearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American peoples liberty teeth and keystone under the independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizens firearms are indelibly related. George Washington As I write these words, politicians and lawmakers are attacking practically every God-given and blood-earned right that we enjoy as American citizens. The antigun crowds, beginning with President Obama and trickling all the way down to state lawmakers, are quickly positioning them-

security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. was not about hunting. Rather it was for an armed citizenry intended to serve as the nations military and to defend from all enemies, even preventing the government from becoming oppressive. George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment, wrote during Virginias Convention to ratify the Constitution in 1788, I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them. Clearly we know the motives of those who desire to do so. Their intents are neither naive, innocent nor ignorant (uninformed) but are just as horrid and deliberate as Hitlers actions. Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated, In politics nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. I am a bit hesitant to admit it, but I have known many
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politicians very well, and their actions are absolutely deliberate! Rifle is a sporting firearms journal, and frankly we have not dedicated many pages to fight the antigun movement. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the single largest and strongest organization fighting for our Second Amendment rights. There is much we can do to fight the antigun crowds, but at the very least, join the NRA and contribute freely to the cause. In short, it needs members for strength, and it needs money to fight. Consider giving a membership to a friend. To join, call 1-800-672-3888 or online at On the other hand, if you want the best magazine dedicated to sporting rifles, you will need to subscribe or renew your subscription to Rifle. ***

Winchester Super-X Power Max bonded ammunition features a new bullet with proprietary technology that keeps costs comparatively low.
spite of being a new item for 2009. Nonetheless, Winchester is producing it as fast as possible, and it should be largely available by the time you read these words. Current offerings include .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, .30-30 Winchester, .30-06, .300 WSM, .300 Winchester Magnum and .308 Winchester. And there are five additional calibers planned for a 2010 introduction. The bullet design features a lead core with a copper alloyed jacket. And there is no plating or coatings that sometimes contribute to fouling and other problems. The bonding process is what Winchester refers to as proprietary and includes a state-of-the-art procedure that reduces costs and results in a quality product. The jacket is contoured, notched and has a protected hollow point to help prevent magazine battering of the nose. In dissecting a 150-grain bullet pulled from a .308 Winchester cartridge, the jacket measured .07 inch at the shank (and base), then tapered, becoming thinner at the ogive. The hollowpoint cavity measures around .100 inch deep. This ammunition is intended to offer a premium bonded bullet that gives reliable performance on big game but at an attractive 21

price. Prices are similar to Winchesters Power-Point ammunition with street pricing ranging from $25 to $35 per box for standard and magnum cartridges. Using a Ruger Model 77 Mark II
(Continued on page 84)


The Winchester Super-X Power Max is a relatively new line of hunting ammunition that features a bonded bullet. As most are aware, practically all ammunition has been sparse for a year or so, and I have not seen this particular product on dealer shelves in

The new Winchester Power Max bonded bullet features a lead core with a copper alloyed bullet. At the shank, jacket thickness is .07 inch but tapers at the ogive and features a hollow point.
January-February 2010


by Ron Spomer
her boyfriends, stood beside the stricken shopkeeper, beseeching her to please hand over some cash. Fortunately, the bystander had no weapon of his own with which to escalate the tension and endanger other lives. Sadly, the alleged assailant did not know this and, seeing hed been observed, became confused and inadvertently discharged his cheap Saturday Night Special, killing the clerk. Well, reporting may not be quite that egregious, but you get the drift. Journalists of late have As gun owners we understand this better than most, because we have been on the receiving end of biased reporting for decades. Some is as subtle as describing any firearm as a weapon. A headline might read Skeet Shooters Bring Weapons to Town for Tournament. Some news is routinely slanted and colored, such as the terms Saturday Night Special, Cop Killer Bullets and Assault Weapons. A hypodermic needle used to inject ricin into a spys buttocks is an assault weapon. So are some peoples fists.

odays news reports are often like a scene from a Frankenstein movie the Mel Brooks edition. The News Media has been reporting lately that bullets are alive. Theyre alive! Theyre alive! You remember The News Media, dont you? Before they became The Entertainment Media, these were the reporters formerly known as journalists. They were called the Fourth Estate, because they were supposed to sound the alarm on corruption in big business, government and organized religion for the benefit of ordinary citizens and society as a whole. Journalists were supposed to (and often did) dig up and expose the ugly truth by accurately, dispassionately and fairly reporting what they saw and heard, including statements from people, right or wrong. Sort of like this: A bystander at the scene, who was heading into the store to buy a Snickers bar, said the accused killer Stood over the fallen clerk, taunting her, threatening to shoot her if she didnt open the safe. If Id had a gun, I could have stopped him before he killed that poor woman. Nowadays, depending on the political leanings of the jour nalist (or journal), the above incident could read more like this: A bystander at the scene, who was there to corrupt his body with refined sugar and trans-fats, said the alleged assailant, who had been abused as a child by a drugaddicted mother and a series of

A popular little propaganda trick most TV news shows employ is showing a background picture of a handgun or cartridge while reporting on any crime story whether a firearm had been 2 involved or not. While the 01 0S ar helpless public stares at ah Sp om a frightening, black reer volver, they hear the grim statistics: Burglaries are up a quarter percent over last year. Rapes are up five percent and jaywalking 20 percent as a crime wave continues to sweep the metroland. Point blank range is a phrase little understood but universally applied by the news media to color reports of shootings. As used, the phrase suggests an unsporting ruthlessness in the shooter, often a police officer, implying that he didnt just shoot the perp, but really, truly, most assuredly wanted to shoot him because, well, he shot him at point blank range. Subtle propaganda and nuanced phrasing such as this rarely alert the average citizen, but shooters who know better catch this stuff
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so often slanted their reports, fudged facts, omitted facts, nuanced language and outright made up stories (see New York Times) that few of us trust them any more than the politicians, charlatans and corporate raiders theyre supposed to expose.


and begin to understand how imperfectly journalists perform. It makes us wonder what else they get wrong. A recent report out of Iran noted that Iranian security forces actually fired live bullets to disburse the crowd. Live bullets? Is that part of the organic movement? Instead of the old-fashioned bullets formed from inert metals such as lead, copper, tin, zinc and bronze, they are now made of what? Compressed corn cobs infused with bacterial cultures that will biodegrade said live bullet within 60 days after it is fired? Of course, if they fired live bullets one day, viewers may infer theyve fired dead bullets in the past and may do so again in the future. And this raises questions: Is it better to be shot with a dead bullet or a live one? What is a dead bullet? Is it an organic, live bullet that has been so degraded it no longer has the dimensions of its original caliber? Has it been so degraded that it no longer looks like a bullet? Or is it one of those old-fashioned, inorganic metal bullets that has been propelled from a cartridge by expanding powder gases, traveled through the air and expended its kinetic energy, never to arise again? Could a dead bullet be resurrected if it were melted and re-formed to its original shape? A columnist in todays local paper reported that a man in the Midwest shot himself in the stomach when he smashed a bullet with a hammer. Seriously. He wanted to destroy the bullet so it wouldnt harm his kids. There are some strange goings on in the Midwest. So Im guessing what he had there was one of those genuine live bullets. He may have seen it slinking around his yard, perhaps even creeping through his house looking for children to attack. Thank heavens he dropped the hammer on it in the nick of time. Complete story on News Eleven tonight. R
January-February 2010

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h, yes, triggers. Nothing so excites (or ignites) the serious rifleman, handgunner or competitive shotgun user as does the mere mention of the word.

by Gil Sengel
triggers failed and the users didnt. That three-toed unicorn would have easily made the book, but the darn rifle went off before I was ready! whines an irate hunter. Must have been the trigger! Of course, the opposite can be true as well. Such as, The crosshairs were square on the old bulls heart, says our nim rod. Would have blown it to smithereens, but the darn rifle didnt go off right, and the bullet went through the prostate instead! Must have been the trigger. About this time someone should be saying to himself that Sengel isnt supposed to be talking about triggers. The subject is trigger shoes. Then if the shooter has counted less than 40 birthdays, there may be a question as to what a trigger shoe really is. the pull weight one bit. If the trigger released at 4 pounds before adding the shoe, it will still release at 4 pounds after installation. What does happen, for most folks at least, is that the pull weight feels lighter. This is be-

How can this be? A trigger is just like a switch. To turn on a light, one flips a switch; to fire a rifle, one pulls a trigger. Simple enough. Yet we can make it so complicated! Theres no end of tales of how

The narrow trigger on this Remington 521T will get a trigger shoe.

That is certainly a fair question, because these little pieces of steel have not been mentioned anywhere for some time. A whole lot of years ago, gun shops would put a sign on the wall listing common gunsmith services and their costs. Often there was an entry like Economy Trigger Job followed by a figure of $2.50 or so. That was the cost of a trigger shoe, installed, plus hitting the trigger working parts with a toothbrush and applying a drop or two of oil. A trigger shoe is simply a small piece of steel that fits over a trigger to make the surface contacted by the finger a great deal wider. The idea is to make the trigger do its job better. How adding to trigger width affects the pull is not all that obvious. First off, it will not change

The tracing on the steel is the front of the trigger. The steel must be inlet over this surface. Excess metal on top of the blank must be removed to eliminate dents on the back side.

Steel for the shoe may be plate or rectangular stock, but it must be mild steel. This will prevent breakage of tiny taps used for setscrew holes.

Alternative to profiling the rear of the shoe is to round it enough to cover the original profile. This is acceptable, provided there is enough room at the rear of the guard bow.
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cause a wide trigger face does not dig into the pad of the finger like a narrow one. Nerve endings in the finger tip tell the brain less pressure was applied to fire the rifle, even though that was not

the case. Varying sensitivity in each individuals finger is the reason. Having worked at farm, construction and mechanical maintenance jobs for years, sensitivity in my fingers is degraded. If a trigger pulls at much under 1.5 pounds it will release before my brain detects a finger has even touched the thing. A wide trigger shoe on a 2-pound trigger gives the same results. It is this phenomenon that makes the trigger shoe useful for many applications. Before the availability of replacement triggers for military rifles, the trigger shoe was a common accessory. Gunsmiths replaced the heavy military return spring, removed the first or take-up stage of the twostage trigger and installed a trigger shoe. The result was almost always a very good, safe pull of under 4 pounds that required no work on existing engagement surfaces. Hunters were delighted with both the result and low price. Varmint and target shooters were a bit more particular. They replaced the military triggers with something else (usually a custom job), adjusted it down to 3 pounds or so, then installed a trigger shoe to make let-off feel even less. Adjustment followed by shoe installation was also common on Remington and Winchester factory triggers. Today trigger shoes are not used for these purposes. Apparently shooters dont mind paying $60 to over $200 plus installation for replacement triggers that can be adjusted to low pull weights. Nevertheless, trigger shoes can still be useful. Take doubleaction revolvers and many autoloading pistols (mostly .22 rimfires), for example. Put in an overtravel adjustment screw, add a trigger shoe and the pistol takes on an entirely different feel. Field accuracy will improve noticeably without the cost of a

trigger job, altering mainspring pressure or sear engagement. Shotgunners can also make use of trigger shoes. Since they dont pull triggers, but more or less slap them, the wide surface allows this with less disturbance to the gun, as is true for the singleshot farm gun often used as a first gun for children. Their trigger pulls are usually just plain terrible. A 7-pound gun having an

The groove for the trigger is laid out prior to filing.

Much of the excess metal in the trigger slot can be removed with a hacksaw.

Filing of the trigger slot is complete.

January-February 2010


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8-pound trigger makes learning smooth swing and follow-through impossible. A trigger shoe can help while the child learns the basics and quickly graduates to a proper gun. Obviously none of this knowledge is worth a darn if we cant find a trigger shoe to experiment with. Fortunately, making one is a perfect project for the home gunsmith. The one being made here serves two functions. First is to make the let-off of the Remington Model 521T a bit more controllable. These rimfires have the trigger in direct contact with the firing pin. Only so much can be done to them and have them still be safe for kids to use. The second function is purely a custom option. The Model 521T is a youth gun having a close pistol grip designed for small hands. The youngster who will use this rifle has long fingers. The trigger is just too close. A thick trigger shoe will be made to move the trigger face some .25 inch forward. The standard width of all trigger shoes is .5 inch. Be certain the metal used for construction is mild steel. It should file and drill with little effort. This is to prevent breakage of the small diameter taps used for the setscrew holes. One-half by .75-inch mild steel is usually available at the larger home center stores. Just follow the photos. There is nothing complex. All is file work, except the drilling and tapping. Trace the front of the trigger on the steel as shown. Lay out the width of the trigger on the back of the steel blank as illustrated. Remove the steel within the lines using a hacksaw. The edge of a 10-inch bastard-cut mill file will quickly remove any steel remaining in the slot. Deepen the slot, using the tracing as a guide, until the trigger slides completely inside. It should contact the bottom of the slot at both the top

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The forward edges of the trigger are finished at 45 degrees; the face of the trigger is flat. Some folks want the entire front well rounded.
Rifle 248

and bottom of the trigger blade. This is also illustrated. Now its time to drill and tap. A drill press must be used because of the small drills. Old commercial shoes used two number 4 setscrews having 40 threads per inch. All of mine have used larger 5x40 tpi setscrews and they are small enough! Diameter is about .125 inch, and this wants to be no closer than about .025 inch from the edge of the shoe. Use a felttip pen to blacken the surface of the metal, then lay out the holes using a dial caliper and small divider. Location of the holes is not critical so long as they are about .5 inch apart. After drilling each hole, run the tap in using a center in the drill chuck to center the tap wrench. Use tapping fluid, so taps wont break (at least not as often). Now lock the shoe on the trigger to be certain it does not contact the inside of the trigger bow at any point when pulled back against the overtravel stop. If on a rimfire that uses the trigger as a bolt stop, be certain the trigger comes back far enough to release the bolt. All that remains is to thin the

of pull. A more conventional looking shoe is also shown. That is all there is to making this very useful firearm accessory. Best of all, even if one doesnt want to bother with making a trigger shoe or two, finding old commercial ones gives another reason to never miss a R gun show!

The trigger shoe is on the rifle. The shape is per the owner. Do not polish. A fine, file-finish is preferred.

The shoe is now blued and installed.

A commercial shoe was put on this Sako L46 .222 Remington in 1963.
shoe (front to back) then round its front face that contacts the finger. The shoe pictured is very thick for the reason stated earlier. Usually a trigger shoe adds only some .10 inch to the length 27

The bad thing about shoes is the round/half-round lock screw marks on the trigger blade.
January-February 2010



by John Haviland
The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is commonly loaded with a 36- or 38-grain hollowpoint. These Remington .22 Game Loads have a 36-grain hollowpoint. However, Aguila loads .22 Long Rifles with bullets weighing 20 to 60 grains.
over 120 years. Since the .22 LRs introduction in 1887, the little rimfire has been continually improved. It made a smooth transition from black to semismokeless to smokeless powders. Remington introduced the first high-velocity load in 1937. CCI stepped up the velocity of the .22 Long Rifle even higher in 1977, when it introduced its Stinger, with a case .10 inch longer than a regular LR case. With the king of speed with a velocity of 1,640 fps. Over the years Remington coun-

get kind of antsy without shooting a rifle every day or so, and the only cure for this fretfulness is to grab a rifle or handgun chambered in .22 Long Rifle (LR) and head outside. With a .22 in hand I can wile away the day plinking at cans and pine cones for less than the cost of a movie ticket. If more therapy is still required, a hike into the hills and creek bottoms for small game with the .22 stoked with hunting loads will complete the cure. A box of super accurate .22 LR match loads restores my steadiness and vision. With dozens of loads for such a wide variety of shooting and hunting, small wonder Americans fire several billion .22 LR cartridges each year.

Dozens and dozens of .22 Long Rifle loads are available in a variety of bullets at various velocities. The Fiocchi load (left) shoots a 40-grain bullet at 1,120 fps, Remington loads (center) shoot 36-grain hollowpoints at 1,280 fps and the CCI Stinger (right) shoots a 32-grain bullet at 1,640 fps.
The demand that made the .22 LR the most popular cartridge in the world has been building for extra powder the case held, together with a lighter 32-grain bullet, the Stinger was the .22 LR tered with its 33-grain Yellow Jackets at 1,500 fps and 36-grain Vipers at 1,410 fps and Federal with its Hyper Velocity 31-grain bullet at 1,550 fps. A few years


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The .22 LR will shoot under one inch at 100 yards. However, the slightest wind will blow .22 bullets off course. These groups were shot with Winchester PowerPoints through a CZ Varmint rifle.

ago, CCI started loading the Quik-Shok. This cartridge uses the Stingers longer case and a 32-grain bullet at the same fast speed, but the bullet splits into three pieces on impact. Velocitor is CCIs all-out Long Rifle. The cartridge uses a standard Long Rifle case and fires a 40-grain bullet at a velocity of 1,435 fps. Mexicos Aguila now holds the .22 velocity crown with its Super Maximum. The cartridge uses the same length case as the CCI Stinger but is loaded with a 30grain solid point bullet. Aguila lists the 30-grain bullets velocity at 1,750 fps. The 30-grain bullets actually leave the muzzle of my Ruger 77/22 slightly faster at 1,760 fps.

grouse to liven up the taste of my canned chicken stew. The bullets poked a hole clear through the wing butts of the grouse, and

they fell dead right on the spot. None of the grouse had so much as a bite of bloodshot meat.
(Continued on page 93)


Ive been shooting Stingers and Quik-Shoks at prairie dogs and ground squirrels for years and the Velocitors and Super Maximums the last few years. Out to 75 yards, these loads put a big hurt on the little rodents. One alfalfa stuffed varmint fell especially hard. I crawled up on the town that had invaded the farm field and planted my elbows in the soft dirt. I picked out a prairie dog just like I would a pronghorn buck from the herd. The 40-grain Velocitor bullet jerked the rug out from under it, and the prairie dog fell over on its back and never moved. The key to these one-shot kills is to place the bullet in a lethal spot, just like with big game. Subsonic loads, like the Remington Subsonic with 38-grain hollowpoints, are gentler on the tender meat of edible small game. One fall I spent quite a few days in the mountains hunting bighorn sheep and shot ruffed
January-February 2010 29

Stan Trzoniec

wanted a wood stock, not synthetic not that I have anything against plastic, I just like the feel and handling of a wood-stocked rifle. Not only do they look better to me, but they also tend to kick less. Hardwood, walnut or even a laminate is not a problem, as long as its wood! A long action would be nice, as I tend to stick with the more traditional cartridges.

Looking at all the latest products this year, I came across the Marlin XL7W that is a new entry in the line. The rifle felt good, the lines were clean, and chambered in the .270 Winchester or .30-06 with a handy 22-inch barrel, it was perfect for my needs. Since price can be an issue in these times, I was very surprised to see the retail price pegged at $505.59. I ordered one on the spot! Now Marlin, as you well know, is not famous for bolt-action, centerfire rifles. As you may recall, around 1996 Marlin introduced the MR-7 bolt-action rifle. Going on the premise that any rifle with a 7 in its title makes it an instant success, it combined the features of many other rifles but, for the most part, followed the Winchester Model 70 school of thinking. In any event, the rifle faded out around

Classy Bolt-Action Sporter

30 Rifle 248

2000, and that seemed to be the end of Marlin bolt actions. Almost a decade later, we are blessed again with a Marlin bolt gun, the XL7W. This time, with the Remington influence behind it, the folks at Marlin may have gotten it right. For around $500, there are features that even some of the high-priced spreads dont have, like a one-piece scope base. To me its a working rifle, so dont expect fancy forend tips or caps but do expect top-quality workmanship and excellent value. When the rifle arrived, I was even more pleased. The lines are clean along the classic design. There is no high comb, and when I put the rifle to my shoulder with the scope attached, my eye naturally centered on the reticle. The forearm is perfect for

the average hand not too thin or overly bulky. As mentioned, there is no exotic wood tip, which is no big thing, but this might be something they could incorporate on a higher priced, more deluxe rifle in the future. Moving back, there is a perfectly cut checkering area, done in a traditional point pattern with more than ample coverage. The pistol grip is swept back for ease of handling, but in my opinion, there might be just a touch too much sweep. Im an average guy with average hands, and to me if they would move that curve of the wrist of the rifle forward slightly, it would feel better. Again, there is cut checkering on the pistol grip with a racy design, which offers more checkering in a somewhat tighter area. There is no pistol grip cap.

The new Marlin XL7W features a walnut stock, rings from Leupold and a Burris 6x 40mm scope. For the price of around $500, this new Marlin is quite a bargain, especially in these recessionary times. Lines are clean; quality is very high.

January-February 2010 31

Left, the bolt handle is swept back slightly, and the safety is just behind it. The bolt shroud is stylized, and a red cocking indicator is under the shroud. Above, the one-piece Weaver-type scope base is included in the price of the rifle and is somewhat relieved as to allow additional clearance for cases to eject.
The buttstock is rather full, something I like to help keep recoil at bay. On the right side, there is a flare cut into the stock to aid in the comfort of the shooter. On the left side, a cheekpiece has been added that flows into the buttstock and, combined with a bit of cast-off and the addition of a Decelerator (Marlin calls it Soft-Tech ) recoil pad, what this article is about, this is a free item, so we are still at $505.59. Attached with four screws, it is Weaver designed and fits easily on the top of the receiver. Under the front receiver bridge is an escape hole for hot gases, if a defective cartridge is fired. Forward of that is a barrel nut that sandwiches the recoil lug in between the barrel and receiver. To that, the button-rifled barrel 22 inches with a one-in-10-inch, right-hand twist sans iron sights is installed. The bolt is fluted as an aid to less drag as it moves in and out of the receiver. Highlighted in blue and polished metal, it adds greatly to the appearance and functionality of the rifle. On the business end, there are twin locking lugs, with the right lug incorporating a bolt guide that rides on a rail on the inside of the receiver, which makes the operation smoother and cuts down on bolt wobble. There is a massive extractor and a plunger-type ejector within the bolt face. At the end of this 712-inch bolt, the handle has been somewhat relieved of metal to accommodate the most demanding eyepiece on any scope. There is a bit of a jog in the handle, followed by checkering of both sides of the knob. To the rear of that is the fully enclosed bolt shroud that protects the shooter in case of a defective cartridge and harbors a cocking

For around $500, there are features that even some of the high-priced spreads dont have.
makes this rifle a pleasure to shoot. To add a custom touch, the pad was installed with a black spacer, blending flawlessly with the stock. The stock is a nice piece of quarter-sawn walnut with what appears to be a tough finish. Sling swivel studs are included. Since the action is the heart of the gun, we can start there. The receiver is polished and blued to match the barrel and is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. For those on a budget, which is

Below, up front are twin locking lugs, a bolt guide on the nearest lug with the extractor and a plunger-style ejector. Below right, the bolt release is on the left side of the receiver. Pushing it down allows the bolt to follow out of the receiver.

Marlin XL7W
32 Rifle 248

The stock lacks a pistol-grip cap, while the butt is rather full and includes a cheekpiece and a one-inch Decelerator recoil pad with a black spacer.
indicator. To remove the bolt, the release is on the left side of the receiver. Pushing it down allows the bolt to follow to the rear and out of the rifle for cleaning or travel. This rifle is equipped with a blind magazine, which most folks either love or hate. For dumping wood is cut out for the floorplate or bottom metal, aiding accuracy. Capacity is four in the magazine plus one in the chamber. There is no fancy glass bedding, but this rifle is pillar bedded. Sometimes a custom upgrade, Marlin includes this as standard fare, and the barrel is free floated out to the muzzle end of the stock, where there is a pressure ridge inletted into the wood. Mostly commonly called threepoint bedding, if done correctly, it exerts just enough upward pressure to keep the barrel secure during firing, eliminating vibrations that can destroy accuracy. A two-position safety lever is located behind the bolt handle and is simple to operate with clear and distinctive detents. Pulling it back locks the trigger in a safe position, locking the sear but allowing the bolt to operate. Fully forward allows the rifle to fire. This Marlin rifle has a fully adjustable trigger that broke at a clean 312 pounds of pull. Called the Pro-Fire, it incorporates a primary lever that must be pulled back before the trigger can be fully released. Discarding this movement in the pull factor, the trigger broke with just a predicable amount of slack before the sear broke. To adjust the trigger, remove the magazine via one Phillips head screw. On the 33

There is no fancy glass bedding, but the rifle is pillar bedded.

all the rounds, you will have to run each round out of the magazine rather than opening up a floorplate and have them fall conveniently into your hand. On the other side of the coin, proponents will state that it does add rigidity to the stock, since no

ward side of the trigger assembly, there is an adjusting screw held in place by a jam nut. Loosen the nut, turn the adjusting screw counterclockwise to decrease trigger pull and clockwise to increase it. For a large-caliber hunting rifle, it is advisable to keep the pull at around 3 to 312 pounds. Shooting at the bench for ac curacy or testing handloads, it can be decreased to around 212 pounds, but out in the field, keep it 3 pounds or above.

The trigger is adjustable via the jam nut and adjustment screw located on the front of the fire control. To adjust the trigger, it is necessary to remove the magazine.

Model: Marlin XL7W Action: bolt action, centerfire Stock: walnut Cartridges available: .270 Winchester (tested) and .30-06 Barrel length: 22 inches Overall length: 4212 inches Sights: none furnished, scope base included Weight: 612 pounds Finish: satin finished action and stock Price: $505.59 Manufacturer: Marlin Firearms Company

January-February 2010

The barrel is secured to the receiver via a barrel nut. The recoil lug is between the receiver and barrel.
Working on our budget, the scope was next. Looking through the ads in Rifle or through mailorder outlets, you can certainly find a scope to fit your needs. Talking to Len Zemaitis at Burris, we agreed that a fixed power scope like the Burris Fullfield II 6x 40mm configuration would fill the bill. He told me that all hunters looking for a scope should consider the following, and Ill quote his note: It is important for you (the hunter) to understand that just last year Burris, like all the major manufacturers, instituted Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP). These days optics seldom sell at list pricing, but more likely at or a bit above established MAP pricing (like cameras or electronics) or what some call real world pricing. Therefore this scope currently lists at $397 but expect to pay around $229, depending, of course, on your dealer. Rings can be purchased rea-

The XL7W stock is pillar bedded, and a tight mortise accommodates the recoil lug.
Cartridge selection is important, and out of the two, I picked the .270 Winchester. I know by now you have read reams and reams of information on the cartridge and how Jack OConnor

sonably, and aluminum rings in particular are available for around $10 to $20, depending on the model. Since most of us have a pair or two in a drawer, thats where I found a set of Leupold Rifleman rings; so again, they were free. Cost of the rifle and scope came to $734.59, which Im sure can be shaved a little depending upon the dealer and location. While I know there are other rifles or rifle/scope combinations out there, the choice of any rifle is a personal matter, which is why I settled on the Marlin and Burris combination. Its right for me.

This Marlin rifle has a fully adjustable trigger.

made it popular. However, if you read further, OConnor will give some of the credit to Townsend Whelen for the cartridges upstart. Nevertheless, now going on 85 years in the shooting sports, it is hard to fault this cartridge for most North American game. Ive hunted with it exclusively for three years to test it on various game like mule deer, pronghorn and caribou, and Ive never found it lacking if I do my part. Accuracy is right up there, and most folks will find recoil is tolerable. In fact, the load

Marlin XL7W

Trzoniec found the new Marlin XL7W nice to hold, and it came up to his shoulder in a most natural position. The stock seems right for the average shooter.
Rifle 248

Range Testing
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that provides the best results in my Remington Model 700 Classic is a 130-grain bullet over 57.0 grains of IMR-4831 for 3,029 fps in a 22-inch barrel. At 100 yards, this load consistently groups three shots in .5-inch circles with Remingtons Core-Lokt bullets. At the range, shooting at 100yard targets from a solid benchrest position with ammunition samples from Hornady, Remington and Winchester, the Marlin performed as a modern rifle should. Without a major break-in, hunting groups were under 2 inches to start, which I would hope would shrink with some additional shooting and perhaps some finely tuned handloads. Overall, at 100 yards, this is a rifle Id take out tomorrow without any hesitation to go hunting.

Best accuracy was produced by the Hornady 130-grain load at 100 yards.
While this seems like a bed of roses, one disturbing problem kept popping up. Over the years, Ive gathered a stash of dummy rounds (no powder, no primer) in a variety of cartridges that I use to check the function of any gun I get in for testing and evaluation. I cycle the action slowly to see how each round is picked up from the magazine and fed into the breech. Then I load the magazine again, and this time the action is cycled just as quickly as I can to see if any problems exist. Well, it wasnt long before one problem developed, that of the bolt sticking in the up position and no way to pull it back to eject the spent shell as it came from the box. It only happened when the bolt was lifted to the maximum uplift of the handle in a hurried situation. This condition did subside somewhat by cycling the action repeatedly for a half-hour at the range, so Id consider this part of the initial break-in period. Aside from that, I cannot fault this new Marlin. For those who might want a synthetic or camocolored stock, they are available. Besides, the price is right, and along with a five-year warranty, it may be difficult for your favorite dealer to keep them in stock. For more information, contact Marlin Firearms Company, 100 Kenna Drive, North Haven CT 06473. R
Rifle 248


This is a gage to measure consistency of rim thickness on .22 rimfire ammunition (a .22 rimfire rifles headspace is determined by case rim thickness). The more consistent the rim thickness, the more consistent the ignition of the primer and the powder charge in the case. In other words, the firing pin will fall the same distance every time if the same rim thickness is used on every case being fired for a particular group. By sorting the shells into various groups by rim thickness, a reduction in group size of up to 25% can be realized in some IF NOT MOST rimfire rifles. This information about group reduction comes from the .22 rimfire benchrest participants who compete in the extremely difficult BR-50 matches. All of the top shooters sort their shells into groups by checking rims and weighing the unfired cartridges.

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Mike Venturino
Photos by Yvonne Venturino

cision that keeps bullets inside those dimensions, and then some. Prior to the advent of BPCR Silhouette, we fans of BPCRs mostly shot them at rather generous gongs or hunted with them. A general consensus was that groups of around 3 inches at 100 yards were about par for the course, considering the open barrel sights or even with the peep sights available then. Furthermore the various gong shoots allowed duplex loads: mostly of 10 percent smokeless powder under the black powder. And hunters quite often just shot smokeless powders. I did then. Back in 1985 the new sports NRA originators put a bump in the BPCR road. They decreed that ammunition could contain only black powder and lead alloy bullets. The single substitute allowed was Pyrodex. You should have heard the screaming and fussing done by the duplex addicts. Collectively they said, Black powder wont work by itself. Theres too much fouling. You have to allow duplex loads! Others saved their breath and went to work trying to get straight black powder to shoot well. I did too. As to the rifles themselves, the NRAs rules said that they must be single shots of American design prior to 1896 or approved replicas thereof and they had to have exposed hammers. Such famous ones as Sharps Model 1874s, Remington Rolling Blocks, Winchester High Walls, Ballards and so on were all present at matches from the very beginning.
Rifle 248

rom the very first day of the very first Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) Silhouette match held in 1985 at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico, I have been on a quest for the ultimate match rifle. Related factors are the perfect cartridge and perfect sights for the game.
Nearly all BPCRs that showed up as early silhouette rifles were far from perfect for trying to hit metallic silhouettes out to 500 meters. Specific reasons will be forthcoming. The largest targets, the 500-meter rams, are only 13 inches tall from belly to backbone. And the 385-meter turkeys bodies will only contain an 11-inch circle. Pigs at 300 meters measure 14 inches from top of hump to belly line. At least competitors can fire at those three targets from a cross-stick rest. Chickens are a different matter entirely. Theyre about the size of a dinner plate although irregularly shaped. They must be shot from offhand at 200 meters. Fringe hits on heads, necks, legs and feet still count as long as the target falls, but such hits are in the luck category. A competitive match rifle must deliver a level of pre38

In 1873 the U.S. government decided that .45-70s should have a rifling twist rate of one turn in 22 inches. That was what trapdoor barrels were cut with. Such a slow twist was deemed appropriate because initial .45-70 bullets were only 405 grains, or about 1.10 inches long. To enhance longrange performance in 1881, the army adopted a 500-grain bullet. It had to be kept fairly short because of that twist rate. Hence it had a rather full, or blunt, roundnose. Sporting rifle makers, such as Sharps, Remington, Winchester and Marlin (Ballard), all tightened the twist up to one turn in 20 inches in their respective single shots. Likewise, most of the single-shot, .40-caliber rifles contained 20-inch twists. Twentyfive years ago, the modern makers reproducing 1870s rifles or making barrels for them copied those same twist rates. Hold that thought for a moment. At first BPCR Silhouette competitors went right to the heart of the matter the rifles actions. Many shooters sagely said, A rifle like a Sharps just wont do.
January-February 2010

The Evolution of Accuracy

Above, a zoom photo of the Raton silhouette range shows the irregular shapes of the targets, excluding the 200-meter chickens. The silhouette targets on the range at the NRAs Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico, are placed at 200, 300, 385 and 500 meters. The chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams are challenging targets, especially with iron sights.
That big, side-mounted hammer causes the rifle to torque when it falls. They said that only rifles with centrally located hammers would be competitive. Even more, it was said that the rolling blocks wouldnt do either, although their hammers were central-hung, 39

25-Year Quest
cause said hammers were too heavy. What it all boiled down to was that the in-the-know people said ultimate rifles for BPCR Silhouette would be based on the Winchester High Wall action, with Ballards and Remington Hepburns following. It was all nonsense. For evidence of that statement, at the recently completed 2009 BPCR Silhouette National Championship, Steve Morris of Washington won the iron sight title using a Shiloh Sharps Model 1874. He also performed the unprecedented feat of hitting all 45 pigs, turkeys and rams in the first days match. (Plus four of the offhand chickens.) The third-place shooter was Mike Huebner of Texas, also with a Shiloh Sharps Model 1874, and the fifth highest placing competitor was Steve Morris wife, Beth, with her own

These are Mikes Lone Star Rolling Block competition rifles. Top is a .40-65 and bottom, a .45-70. Both rifles have 32-inch, full-octagonal barrels.

Shiloh. Well cover their chamberings shortly. First, however, I want to go back to the early days. Although most BPCR Silhouette competitors used .45-70s, they were picked simply for convenience. Suitable brass, dies, moulds and

kept the playing field fairly level. Otherwise if extra heavy rifles were allowed, an advantage would naturally accrue to the youngest and/or strongest shooters. The second recoil-related factor was that around 1988 some sharpeyed rule book reader discerned that cross stick rest did not specify sitting cross stick rest. He went prone and so did almost

Back in 1985 the new sports NRA originators put a bump in the BPCR road.
such were available already, but recoil was a problem. The usual match consisted of 40 shots for score, with about half that number used for sighting. Some matches were a 60-shot course of fire, with again about 20 shots used for sighting. There were two other recoilrelated factors. From day one the NRAs rules for BPCR Silhouette allowed a maximum rifle weight of 12 pounds, 2 ounces. It was an arbitrary rule adopted because it everyone else rather quickly. Of course, that position accented recoil even more. Therefore there was a trend toward smaller caliber cartridges, such as the .40-65 Winchester, .40-70 Sharps, .40-60 Maynard and even the .38-55. About that same time, I got the brainstorm that what I needed was an extra heavy bullet for my .45-70 Shiloh Sharps. A custom mould maker cut a set of blocks for a 550-grain semipointed bullet 1.5 inches

Mikes Sharps Model 1874 .45-70 competition rifles include (top) a Shiloh Roughrider mounted with a 6x Montana Vintage Arms telescope, (middle) a Shiloh #1 and (bottom) a C. Sharps Arms version. The two Shilohs have 30-inch, full-octagonal barrels, and the C. Sharps Arms has a 32-inch half-round/half-octagonal barrel.
40 Rifle 248

long. While the lighter-caliber shooters proceeded to get better scores, I proceeded to pound my shoulder even harder with that big bullet with a marked lack of success on the scoreboard. I couldnt understand why. My new bullet shot great groups at 200 yards, but I couldnt hit much with it when on the metallic silhouette ranges. Now go back to the above topic of one-in-20-inch twist rates. The simple matter was my 1.50-inch, 550-grain bullets werent truly stabilized with that twist rate. They would hang in there long enough to shoot decent 200-yard groups, although looking back at some of the targets, there was a definite trend toward oblong bullet holes. Somewhere past 200 yards, my bullets lost stability, becoming decidedly erratic. Of course, this was not recognized

Above, these BPCR Silhouette rifles are based on original actions from the 1870s. Top is a Sharps Long Range #2, being rebarreled with a Krieger .45-90 barrel. Bottom is a Remington No. 1 Rolling Block Creedmoor .45-90 with a Krieger barrel. Both have single triggers. Right, most BPCR Silhouette competitors prefer double set triggers, as shown on this Lone Star rolling block. Mike is not completely sold on them.
at the time, and my poor performance was blamed on the .4570s heavy recoil. Thus I joined the small-caliber trend, having one of my Shilohs rebarreled to .40-70 Sharps Straight. That barrel still had a 20-inch twist, but my only .40caliber mould was for a 375grain roundnose bullet about 1.10 inches long. The combination worked well enough that the first glimmers of success came. I won a local monthly match. Such was the impetus to my enthusiasm that I started thinking about rifling twist rates and how faster rates would make heavier bullets feasible. I was far from alone in this, and together enough voices were raised that Wolfgang Droege, then Shilohs owner, was prevailed upon to change rifling twist rates. First he went to one turn in 19 inches for the .45s and one in 18 inches for the .40s. All in all there was a distinct improvement in downrange performance. In 1990 I had one of the latter barrels fitted to an original Sharps Long Range #2 action and buttstock and won the very first match fired with it. I wasnt the only one happy with tighter twist rates, so Wolf next went to 18-inch twists for .45s

Left, Mike has all his BPCR Silhouette rifles mounted with Montana Vintage Arms Soule-style tang peep sights such as these. In front is a midrange version carrying the Hadley-style eyecup with various aperture sizes. The sight at rear is a long-range version with a standard eyecup. Below, Montana Vintage Arms No. 113 front sights feature interchangeable inserts and a spirit level.

January-February 2010


25-Year Quest
2009 John Worthington photo

and 16-inch, .40-caliber twists. By 1992 I had acquired another original Sharps and had Shiloh put a 16-inch twist, .40-70 Sharps Straight barrel on it too. That year I managed to set a Long Run record on rams at the Raton nationals. I hit 14. That has long since been bested, but it fed my already considerable enthusiasm for the game. Therefore, I briefly bought into the light, central hammer theme, figuring that would put me closer to the winners circle. Those rifles were high walls, original and reproduction actions with 16-inch twist barrels and otherwise set up for BPCR silhouette. These were chambered for .40-70 Sharps Straight and .4065 Winchester. Strangely enough, my scores stayed static sometimes even dipping embarrassingly low. In fact I shot higher scores with both rebarreled original Sharps than I ever did with any high wall-type rifle. One difference between my rifle types was triggers. The high walls had double sets, either close coupled or wide spaced types. Both of the original Sharps rifles on which new barrels were

Above, Mike prefers a strap-on recoil pad instead of having the soft rubber pads on his rifles. Note the imprint of his rifles buttplate in the pad. Right, some silhouette competitors prefer soft rubber recoil pads, as shown on the rifle at the rear. Mike prefers either checkered steel buttplates or hard rubber types but with a sandpaper (center) backing to prevent sliding on the shoulder during recoil.
mounted were coincidentally single trigger designs. In fact the Long Range #2 still had the exact 3-pound pull weight as specified by Creedmoor rules in the 1870s. Today, I still have that rifle and a couple of other BPCRs set up for silhouette with single triggers. I do some of my best shooting with them. Why? My theory is that very light set triggers will allow sloppy habits while still enabling frequent hits. In other words the shooter can tap the trigger and still connect with steel. Single trigger rifles will allow no such thing. Tap a single trigger and that shot will be a wide miss. Do I think a single trigger is necessary in an ultimate BPCR Silhouette rifle? No, I dont, but neither do I think one is a detriment as long as it breaks cleanly. In my early days of BPCRs, I gave Remingtons rolling blocks

Twenty-five percent of all BPCR Silhouette events are fired offhand at the 200-meter chickens. This is the chicken firing line at the 2009 National Championships near Raton, New Mexico.

Seventy-five percent are fired from cross-sticks with about 99 percent of the shooters going prone. Mike is shown spotting for his partner Darrell Smithson. He feels that the shooting/spotting team is a more important factor than the exact rifle type being used.

2009 John Worthington photo

hardly a thought, but in 1997 I length of a .45-90. That was a We sure have come a long ways wanted to add a match grade one complete bust. By actual count since thinking groups that size to my rack of silhouette rifles. So 40 pounds of lead alloy were are fine at 100 yards! an order was placed fired away trying to get with the Lone Star Rifle as BPCR Silhouette competitors are using the rifle to group the Company. Still a part of well as it had with four brands of barrels above all others. shorter chamber. Buythe small caliber trend, at first I wanted it to be ing a couple of new But, lets back up a bit. In 1996 a .40-70 Straight. David Higgenrifles was a better move. They botham of Lone Star dissuaded were a C. Sharps Arms Model most of us avid BPCR Silhouette me, saying that hed had .40-70 1874 .45-70 and a Shiloh Rifle competitors were set on our ears Straight chambered rifles come Manufacturing Sharps Model when Dave Gullo (proprietor of 1874 .45-70. With both of them Ive back from dissatisfied customers Buffalo Arms Company, 660 Vershot scores at least high enough but never a .40-65. When the rifle meer Court, Ponderay ID 83852) to rank in the top 10 at the nationarrived, it was a work of art, bewon the national championship. als, something Ive never done cause Higgenbotham had it enThe surprise wasnt that he won with any other BPCRs. graved and inlaid with my initials but that he used a .45-90. That by Montana engraver Michael At times at the nationals, Shiloh went completely against the train Gouse. From the beginning it has presented rifles to top overof thought that small calibers shot well, and I even won the all shooter (or top woman shooter) with less recoil were best. There 2000 Montana State BPCR Siland top shooter firing a Shiloh was a big rush to take .38- and houette Championship with it. rifle. In 2006 that latter category .40-caliber barrels off rifles and How good is shot well? Heres was yours truly, and the prize replace them with .45s. one example from a single occawas a Shiloh .45-70 with a 30It took me a few years, but I sion. On a dead calm day in 2003, inch heavy full-octagonal barrel. eventually joined in. In 2001 I I shot three consecutive groups Then I used it, mounted with a 6x had a Shilohs 2.10-inch .45-70 with it at 300 yards. They measMVA scope, to win the Arizona chamber run out to the 2.40 inch ured 3.25, 3.50 and 3.25 inches. Scoped Silhouette Championship

January-February 2010


25-Year Quest

Above, Mikes favorite BPCR Silhouette bullets are all poured in custom moulds. From left: .40-caliber, 420-grain Creedmor; .40-caliber, 425grain Pointed; .45-caliber, 533-grain Creedmoor; 555-grain Government; and 560-grain Creedmoor. All weights are with 1-20 (tin-to-lead) alloy. All bullets are from custom Brooks moulds, except the 533-grain Creedmoor is from a now discontinued Mos mould. Right, Mike hopes all his BPCR Silhouette rifles shoot as well as the Lone Star .40-65 did one day with these three consecutive five-shot groups at 300 yards.
for 2008. I get along great with .45-70s. What about the recoil bugaboo? Strap-on recoil pads for the shoulder answer that problem. Heres an interesting fact. Those first, third and fifth placing shooters at the 2009 BPCR Silhouette nationals all used .45-70s. In fact, of the top 10 placing shooters, all used .45caliber rifles: six .45-70s and four .45-90s. As a group BPCR Silhouette

If you want to shoot like a champion, choose Lilja!

competitors are using four brands of barrels above all others. Those are Badger, Green Mountain, Krieger and Shiloh. Almost all in .45 caliber have 18-inch twists, but a few shooters are experimenting with 16-inch twists. Personally, I have discovered that while I can shoot to a competitive level in the national championship with .45-70s, the .45-90s almost have me buffaloed. Most .45-90 shooters load them with charges of 80 to 90 grains of various types of black powders. For bullets most use weights from 530 to 580 grains. The recoil of such loads is simply too much for me. Even padded up my right shoulder gets sore when firing such heavy bullets at 1,250+ fps from an 11- to 12-pound rifle. Being leery of .45-90s almost caused me to miss buying an exceptional BPCR. Its an original Remington Creedmoor buttstock and action fitted with a 32-inch Krieger barrel. When a friend offered it, I didnt want a .45-90 . . . but also didnt want such a nice rifle to get away. To my great joy, it was discovered with a minimum of load development that this rifle would group 10 shots in slightly over 3 inches at 300 yards. But it did so with a mild load using only 70 grains of Swiss 112 Fg black powder and a 555-grain bullet with governRifle 248

Laura Goetsch won both 2009 National High Power Silhouette Championships using two Lilja 6.5 caliber barrels. Laura was high woman scorer in both events and she beat out all the men too.
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Laura Goetsch



25-Year Quest
ment style roundnose. (Custom mould from Steve Brooks, 1610 Dunn Ave., Walkerville MT 59701.) The chronograph read that combination as giving only 1,150 fps. Since my favorite .45-70 load uses 560-grain bullets at 1,125 fps, there was no significant increase in recoil. With that .45-90 rolling block and load, in the 2009 Montana Regional Championship, after almost 25 years of trying, I managed to hit all 30 pigs, turkeys and rams in a 40shot match. Some might question whether a decrease of only 100 fps would be so noticeable. Take my word for it, when bullet weight is so heavy, 100 fps makes a difference. Hoping that another Krieger barrel will be so accommodating of my light .45-90 handload, Ive sent that original Sharps Long Range #2 to gunsmith John King (PO Box 700, Kila MT 59220) for rebarreling. Also while at the 2009 nationals at Raton, a friend put up his Lone Star .45-70 for sale. It has nicely figured wood with checkering, pistol grip and a hard rubber shotgun buttplate. The 32-inch, full-octagonal barrel is by Badger. I nabbed it. That makes a total of six BPCR Silhouette rifles I currently have on hand with a seventh in the works with John King. With all six in 2009 Ive scored respectably at monthly matches and at regional, state and national championships. Perhaps readers are seeing a trend here. Because I opted out of the central, light hammer train of thought, my BPCR rifles are four Sharps 74s, the original currently being rebarreled, and reproductions from C. Sharps Arms and Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing. Also I like rolling blocks one original with a new barrel and two Lone Star reproductions. I prefer those action types because they were the most popular single shots of the 1870s.


Except for one .40-65, all are .45 caliber, either .45-70s or .45-90s loaded down to equal .45-70s. All have 18-inch rifling twists, except the .40-65s 16-inch twist. Some other things all have in common are pistol-grip stocks with shotgun buttplates. Some are steel buttplates and some are hard rubber. It makes no difference, because I stick a sandpaper-type material meant for non-slip step edges on all. That

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Mikes BPCR Silhouette rifles are chambered for (from left): the .40-65 with a 425-grain Brooks pointed bullet, .45-70 with a 555-grain Government bullet and .45-90 with a 555-grain Government bullet.
keeps them from sliding on my shoulder during recoil. All these rifles weigh between 11 and 12 pounds, 2 ounces, including sights. For front sights all have Montana Vintage Arms #113, except the C. Sharps Arms 74, which has a Montana Vintage Arms #112. (The difference between MVA 113 and 112 is that while both have a spirit level, the latter also is windage adjustable.) Such front sights accept a variety of inserts, of which I only use aperture types. All eight rifles have Montana Vintage Arms Soule-style rear sights,
Rifle 248


mostly the midrange size but a long-range one on the C. Sharps Arms 74 because I also use that rifle occasionally in the NRAs Long Range Target events at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Barrel lengths run from 30 to 32 inches. With a full-octagonal barrel 1.01 inches wide at the muzzle on 74 Sharps actions, length must be kept to 30 inches in order to make legal weight. A half-octagonal barrel such as on the C. Sharps rifle can go to 32 inches and remain inside the limit. Rolling block actions are lighter, so an equally wide barrel for them can be a couple of inches longer. Triggers? I dont much worry about them. If they break cleanly even up to 3 pounds I am happy.

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Being leery of .45-90s almost caused Mike to miss buying an exceptional BPCR.
Every one of those six rifles will group my chosen handloads into 1 12 MOA out to 300 yards, which is as far as I can test fire on paper here at home. Each is capable of winning matches and could satisfy my quest for the ultimate BPCR Silhouette rifle. I could live with only one if I had to, but making such a choice would probably drive me to distraction. It has taken me awhile, but Ive finally figured out that the ultimate rifle isnt a specific type. It is a rifle that is very accurate because it has a quality barrel with proper twist rate for the length of bullets used. It also helps if the shooter finds the rifle visually appealing; and perhaps most of all, it must be one that doesnt hurt the shooter every time its fired. Then if it is shot in dozens of matches every year in conjunction with a good shooting/ spotting partner, it will make the shooter a contender at any BPCR Silhouette event. My quest for the ultimate BPCR Silhouette R rifle is over.
January-February 2010 47

Lever Hunt
North America to Africa

Brian Pearce

he Idaho elk season was drawing to a close and due to shipping several hundred beef calves, not to mention weaning a similar number, there had been no opportunity to hunt. With just a couple of days left, I finally broke away with a saddle horse to one of my favorite hunting areas, naturally with a good leveraction rifle tucked neatly below the saddle stirrup leggings.

fog) blew in. About halfway up the draw, visibility increased to 20 or 30 yards or so. At this point I became casually aware of a small yellow bush or object that was unclear due to the clouds. With the naked eye it could not be defined, so the 9x glass was used, which still left it unidentified. Other areas were glassed, with my interest returning to the yellow object a number of times. Suddenly, the clouds cleared just enough that the object in question became clear; a bull elk was bedded with his yellow rump and head toward me. If I even twitched a muscle, he would be up on his feet and disappear into the timber. I froze and considered how best to get a shot into him, as the angle was difficult, but then the clouds thickened and all visibility of the bull was lost. Thoughts of had I blown my chance? ran through my mind, as I quietly lowered the binocular and

gun ing
The elk had already been pushed hard and had moved to higher country where they might escape the pursuit of hunters. I followed, until the trails literally disappeared into the clouds, and the wind blew steadily. The weary cow pony was hobbled, cinch loosened and allowed to graze while I continued hunting on foot. Upon reaching a thickly wooded, brushy draw, fresh sign was discovered, and tracks indicated a bull. Very slowly I eased down the steep draw, regularly using the 9x binocular to study movement, colors and to search for parts and pieces of elk. Upon reaching the bottom of the draw, no fresh elk tracks exited, so I was sure the bull was still there. The clouds were as thick as pea soup, but the wind would drift them along, allowing the air to clear for a few moments until another cloud (or
January-February 2010

Hunting the Alaskan wilderness requires wading rivers, dealing with sinking sand, getting through thick brush and carrying a heavy pack, not to mention the rain, snow and bears! A compact, powerful and reliable levergun, such as this Marlin Model 1895G .45-70 Guide Gun is an ideal companion.


Levergun Hunting
brought the Browning Model 1895 .30-40 Krag to shoulder while thumbing the hammer. It seemed like forever, but the clouds soon thinned, and the bull was clearly visible. He realized his mistake and was instantly on his feet running toward the trees and brush that would mark his getaway. The Williams aperture sight with gold bead front sight instantly found the target, and the bullet struck home. Knowing how tough elk can be, however, especially when spooked, another bullet was fired. The bull collapsed within a few feet. Both bullets struck him at a raking, quartering angle, then drove through the vitals. During the 1920s and 1930s, bolt-action rifles were gaining a

large acceptance among American hunters and shooters, and rightfully so, as they offer many virtues and are certainly worthy

Left, two of Brians favorite rifles for hunting are the Browning (left) and Winchester Model 1895 (right). Below, the Model 1894 Winchester is a proven field rifle.

Above left, the Marlin Model 39A, 39A Mountie and Winchester Model 9422 are popular .22 Long Rifle sporting leverguns. Above, the Marlin Model 1894CL, Winchester Model 1892 and Browning Model 53 are best suited as hunting rifles.
field rifles. On the other hand, there were popular gun writers from that era (and even currently), as well as other notables, who criticized lever-action rifles solely in an effort to make their bolt guns look better. Unfortunately this left many with pre conceived false notions about leverguns. First and foremost, leverguns are sometimes criticized for lack of accuracy. It has been my observation that those repeating this rumor either dont know how to shoot iron or open sights or dont actually use leverguns. And many dont use correct techniques when shooting from a sandbag rest. Leverguns are certainly not benchrest rifles, as their rather slow lock time and the forearm and barrel arrangement are less than ideal for that type of work. On the other hand, I have seen nearly new Winches-


Rifle 248

ter rifles built from the 1890s through the 1930-era produce MOA accuracy with correct loads. Many years ago I obtained a Winchester Model 1886 Extra Light Rifle .33 WCF, along with nearly a dozen boxes of original ammunition. The rifle had only been fired a few times and was in 99 percent condition. Even though I knew that such a fine condition antique gun did not belong in my soiled hands, I couldnt resist shooting it, wherein it proved to be capable of sub-MOA accuracy. Fortunately, it now resides in a museum. Likewise I have shot several Model 1894 rifles (.30-30 and .38-55 WCFs) that would easily shoot inside 2 inches and often clustered three shots around one inch. Over the past decade, more than a dozen Marlin leverguns have been tried, including Models 1894, 1895, 444 and 336. These guns were new in the box and have included both MicroGroove and Ballard-style rifling, with calibers such as .218 Bee, .25-20 and .32-20 WCFs, .32 H&R Magnum, .357 Magnum, .30-30 Winchester, .38-55 WCF, .444 Marlin, .45 Colt and .45-70. With the correct factory load or handload, each has proven capable of MOA accuracy or very close to it. I have hunted with a number of the above rifles, and never once

Replacing factory open sights with quality aperture sights will help hunters place shots accurately in the field.
has there been the need for greater accuracy than they deliver. I do not ask the cartridges to reach farther than their effective distance, nonetheless there has been a significant number of game taken. (It should also to run. The second shot was not necessary but put him down instantly. Of the nine animals taken on that particular hunt, the one taken with the levergun was the only one taken cleanly (and there were a variety of modern magnum rifles used). Most of the Japanese/Miroku (produced for Winchester and Browning) lever-action rifles have been great shooters. I have used a number of these, including several Models 1895, 1886, 53, 92 and 71. Calibers have included .30-40 Krag, .30-06, .405 WCF, .45-70, .32-20 WCF, .357 Magnum, .45 Colt and .348 Winchester. Like the Marlin levergun, most cartridges have produced near MOA accuracy. When sighting in a .30-06 (Model 1895) at 75 yards

Leverguns are sometimes criticized for lack of accuracy.

be pointed out that many outof-box, bolt-action rifles have failed to produce the above level of accuracy.) I recall being on a Colorado pronghorn hunt, wherein a Marlin Model 336 Cowboy .38-55 WCF was used to take a nice buck at 200 yards. The cast bullet was placed vitally, but he started

Left, to fully appreciate the handiness of a levergun (top), hunters should carry one in the field. The narrow receiver allows easy hand carry. Below, the .30 WCF is the most popular levergun cartridge, for which there is a broad selection of excellent ammunition.

January-February 2010


Above, lever actions with tubular magazines, such as this Winchester Model 71 .348 WCF, can be reloaded with the rifle at the shoulder, while a round stays in the chamber and the rifle is cocked and held on target. This has added to their popularity among hunters and dangerous game guides.
for an Alaskan hunt, it placed five shots into a single ragged hole with its factory issued open sights. Before moving past the subject of accuracy, it should be pointed out that all guns are not created equal. Some saddle ring carbines, typically with two barrel bands, do not shoot as well as rifles, wherein the forearm is attached to a dovetail in the bottom of the barrel. Rifle barrels are usually heavier (and stiffer), which results in better overall accuracy than carbine barrels. It should also be mentioned that many older leverguns have seen heavy use, and often abuse. Some still shoot surprisingly well, while others leave much to be desired. Nice condition guns that were cleaned vigorously from the muzzle, and the crown or rifling damaged by the cleaning rod, naturally perform poorly. The point being: Avoid making conclusions about levergun accuracy based on experience with rifles of unknown history, or for that matter a single rifle. Many dont care for the comparatively low velocities associated with traditional levergun cartridges. Certainly they are less than ideal for longer shots and open country, but since most big game is taken within 200 yards, they work fine. For instance when hunting Africa (Zimbabwe), two rifles were used a Winchester Model

Top, in spite of rumors to the contrary, leverguns have proven accurate. Above, even with factory issued open sights, this 100-yearold Winchester Model 1894 .30 WCF rifle delivered respectable accuracy at 75 yards.
70 (pre-64 type) .300 H&H Magnum and a Marlin Model 1895 (1972 vintage) .45-70. The .300 was carried the first day out, which accounted for several animals from warthog to wildebeest, but it didnt take long to realize that the shorter levergun was considerably handier to carry,

Due to their short overall length and flat sides, lever-action carbines, such as this Winchester Model 1894 .30 WCF, remain popular with horsemen and hunters. Leverguns carry nicely under stirrup leggings and allow the horse to bend without binding on the rifle.

Levergun Hunting
52 Rifle 248

Above, while hunting in Africa, Brian used a Marlin Model 1895 .45-70 to good effect on Cape buffalo and zebra. Left, this Canadian black bear met his fate with a Marlin Model 1895SBL .45-70.
open or aperture sights and fast handling like a shotgun with generally excellent balance. And they could be operated fast from the shoulder, with rapid-fire feats being a popular part of the shows. Likewise, millions of hunters have discovered these same advantages. Most lever-action rifles feature tubular magazines, and other than a couple of exceptions, such as the Uberti Model 1860 and the Marlin Model 1894CB .32 H&R Magnum, these rifles can be reloaded with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked. This has helped make the lever action practical for personal/property defense and taking dangerous game. There are a number of instances wherein hunters have been faced with a dangerous and wounded animal, but in running low on cartridges kept their rifle to the shoulder and on target (or where the animal was last seen), with a round in the chamber, holding it firmly with the left hand, while shoving ammunition through the loading gate with their right hand. In this fashion the gun is always ready to fire, even while reloading. There is no shortage of cartridges for leverguns, which cur54 Rifle 248

Levergun Hunting
particularly when getting through brush. It was also fast to get into action and offered the power and penetration required for taking all plains game, even at difficult angles. The .45-70 loads used on this hunt primarily pushed 405grain bullets (both solid and softpoint) at 1,800 fps, and in spite of their relatively low velocity, there was never the need for more to make a shot. The only exception being the pesky baboons at 300 to 500 yards, wherein the .300 was the preferred rifle. (The PH requested that we shoot all the baboons we saw.) The lever-action rifle was the favorite of many skilled exhibition shooters during the golden era of such sports. They were accurate, properly stocked for

rently range from .22 rimfires to the .45-70, and there are a number of big-bore wildcats that offer substantial power. Most will find a suitable levergun round for hunting any game animal in the world.

Most of the Japanese/Miroku (Winchester/Browning) lever-action rifles have been great shooters.
the same basic action design and generally shoot well. Another rimfire levergun I am fond of is the now-discontinued Winchester Model 9422, which since its 1972 introduction was always a quality gun (unlike many Winchesters of that era). As a boy growing up, my father had a well-used prewar Winchester Model 94 .30 WCF carbine with a reddish colored walnut stock. Long before I was born, it was used in sheep camp by his herders to dispatch black bear, coyotes and other threats. To a young boy, it was a big rifle, but I shot it every chance I got. As an early teenager, I started handloading, which allowed me to shoot it regularly, and it accounted for a number of deer. In anticipation of hunting bears with one of my brothers, I started shooting 50 to 60 rounds everyday and became very familiar with trajectory and accuracy. When the time came to hunt bear, my brother, 11 years older, selected a scoped bolt-action rifle while I stuck with Dads old .30 WCF. Late in the evening, after a long days work, we stalked six bears that were feeding on a livestock carcass that was left a few days prior. Their position, along with a dozen eyes, made it very difficult to get close, and in fact it was a long shot by any standard. Figuring I had absolutely no chance of hitting one with the iron-sighted levergun, my brother said he would take the first shot, then I could open fire. He got comfortable, resting across a large

To list favorite leverguns and cartridges is difficult, as there are many worthy models, but lets briefly consider those that I use most working guns if you will. I was still in my single digit years when one of my older brothers came home with a Marlin Model 39A Mountie. I found it handsome and liked the buttery smooth, quality feeling action. It was borrowed on a regular basis to clean out the skunks from the barn, thump jackrabbits in our hayfields and plink at tin cans. In the years since, I have owned a number of Marlin Model 1897, 39 and 39A rifles that all share

January-February 2010


Levergun Hunting
downed pine tree and fired. As the bears hustled for cover, I stood up, gave an appropriate lead on a beautiful brown/blonde and fired offhand. The bullet struck him in the neck, and he

swapped directions, still running at full speed. I fired again, hitting just under his belly. The third shot struck home, driving the 150-grain bullet through both lungs, which put him down for good. The tall grass made it impossible to see the downed bear, and my brother refused to believe I had indeed killed one. It took the better part of a half-

hour to drop over a cliff, cross a creek and reach the meadow where he was recovered. My brothers bear, on the other hand, had been hit, and in spite of tracking him for at least a mile, was never recovered. (Considerably more experience has been gained since that first bear, and it is definitely not suggested to use a .30-30 at such extreme ranges.) In the years since, I have hunted with a number of Winchester Model 1894 (and 94) carbines chambered in .30 WCF, and generally due to the quality of the pre-World War II guns, they are preferred. I fully understand why this model and caliber combination has become the worlds most popular sporting rifle and, while not especially original, is rightfully a favorite. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, leverguns chambered in .25-20 and .32-20 WCFs were popular in Winchester Model 1892 and Marlin 1894 rifles and carbines. People of the earth, those who farmed, ranched and lived largely independently, found them useful for a variety of purposes, including taking small edible game, and skunks, raccoons, foxes and other critters that commonly raided chicken houses. They were even used to hunt deer for meat. Shots were not long, nor risky, but bullets were carefully placed for a certain kill. Likewise I find those two cartridges useful and fun. A Marlin Model 1894CL and a Winchester Model 53 in .25-20 WCF are favorites, while a Browning Model 53 and Marlin Model 1894CL, each chambered in .32-20, have accounted for considerable game, including a number of deer, each taken with a single shot. Moving up the ladder in horsepower, I have used a variety of big-bore leverguns that have included .33, .348, .35, .38-55, .3856, .40-82, .405, .45-60 and .45-75 WCFs, and .40-60, .444 Marlin, .45-70, .45-90, .450 Alaskan, .470 Turnbull, .50 Alaskan, .50-110

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WCF and others (including a number of wildcats). Several of these are worthy hunting cartridges as they offer enough power to anchor any game animal on earth. In spite of more powerful cartridges being available, I am still fond of the proven .45-70, especially when firing 400- to 430-grain bullets around 2,000 fps. Editor Dave Scovill may believe it is slightly on the boring side, and I cant argue, but it works so well that I can live with boring. It is accurate, easy to handload with a variety of ex cellent bullet choices, and there are factory loads for almost any practical application. As long as the right bullet is chosen, it has put down all the game I have pointed it at, ranging from elk in the dark timber to Africas Cape buffalo. In his book Rifles for Large Game, Elmer Keith stated, I would prefer a good solid frame Model 86 Winchester caliber 45-70-405 with lightweight 22" nickel steel barrel and good sights to any and all .30-caliber bolt action rifles for close range timber shooting on all American species. Keith owned five of these rifles and regularly used them when hunting brush and timber country for mule deer, elk and bear. And our old friend Ed Stevenson, Alaskan outfitter and guide, uses Marlin Model 1895 and Browning Model 86 .45-70 leverguns as backups for clients when hunting the great brown bear, wherein its reliability has saved his bacon on many occasions. When it comes to favorite working .45-70 lever-action rifles, it boils down to just two: a Winchester Model 1886 Light Rifle with 24-inch barrel and a Marlin Model 1895 with the two-thirds length magazine and 22-inch barrel. In addition to being accurate and fast handling in timber or brush country, their overall length allows them to be carried on a horse, in a saddle scabbard,
(Continued on page 92)

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January-February 2010


Up from the Ashes

Terry Wieland

belief came about is unclear, but according to original records, John Rigby founded the company in Dublin in 1775, the same year he was married. Apparently, a misprint in a company advertisement was allowed to go uncorrected for the better part of a century, and the false date was gradually accepted as gospel. The fact that John Rigby himself was not born until 1758 should have been a tipoff. Faced with embarrassing questions, the company for years made muttering noises about other Rigbys in Dublin

he London gun trade is replete with fabled names, but even in such exalted company as Holland & Holland and Purdey, John Rigby & Co. occupies a special place.

For more than a century, it was known as the oldest gunmaker in the English-speaking world; it was the company that introduced the .450 Nitro Express, and it inspired the magnum Mauser action. When the Big Three of English riflemaking were named, J. Rigby was always among them, and often given the top spot. Through two centuries and many owners, Rigby took great pride in its place in the order of precedence, supposedly founded as it was in 1735. This made it substantially older than Purdey (1812) and a full century older than H&H (1835). Well, we may as well dispose of that fiction right now. Rigby was not founded in 1735, but in 1775 40 years later. Exactly how the misplaced


Rifle 248

This John Rigby .450/400 314-inch rising-bite rifle was built in 1909, a superb example of the gunmakers art.
press rifle in 1856, it eventually became known primarily for its shotguns. Holland & Holland was both a shotgun- and a riflemaker and remains so to this day. For John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers), Ltd., it was rifles. The companys first really notable product was a muzzleloading caplock target rifle, caliber .451, that showed very well in the long-range shooting matches of the day. Even after breechloaders became dominant for hunting, target shooters clung to muzzleloaders as more accurate. As the nineteenth century wore on, target shooting became more popular with both participants and spectators, and the debate heated up. Breechloaders became more accurate and challenged muzzleloaders for the accuracy crown, and national teams traveled back and forth across the Atlantic for one challenge match after another. Many great British names were prominent in these 59

before the founders birth. Rigby has been in existence now for 235 years a long time by anyones measure and during that time it has changed hands, changed nationality and changed products more than a few times. Although now known as a London gunmaker, the company was founded in Dublin and did not open a London branch until almost a century later, in 1866. In 1892 it sold off the Dublin operation to Truelock & Harris and became solely a London gunmaker. Rigbys first products were dueling pistols, but from the start he made all manner of firearms. Gradually the company began to specialize in rifled firearms. After 1860, as the break-action gun gained ascendancy, most makers became specialists. Although Purdey is renowned for introducing the exJanuary-February 2010

This John Rigby .470 Nitro Express built on a risingbite action, probably in the 1920s, has seen hard service but still locks up tight as a vault. The action is extremely strong, and as a result can be made slimmer than comparable double rifles.
matches. As well as Rigby, George Gibbs of Bristol, W.J. Jeffery of London and W.W. Greener of Birmingham all vied for the accuracy crown of the U.K. and the world. Rigbys distinctive barrel style part octagonal, part round became famous in itself, and to this day rifles are noted for having Rigby barrels.

Rigbys patented forend latch is a positive locking system, not dependentg on springs in any way either to lock up or stay closed. This is important in a heavy-recoiling rifle, where the recoil can overwhelm the spring and cause the latch to open.
dle connected a cam to a top lever, which moved Purdeys lugs forward and back into slots, or bites, in the barrel lumps, locking the barrels closed. In terms of strength, Purdey underlugs alone are more than sufficient for any shotgun, but at the time the trade did not realize this, and for years various gunmakers sought the perfect third bite one more fastener to add

Through the second half of the 1800s, the entire British gun trade was feverishly developing sidelock and box-lock double guns, one feature at a time. After Joseph Lang fashioned the first break-action gun in the 1850s, the two greatest breakthroughs in gun design were the Scott spindle, designed by William Middleditch Scott (of W&C Scott fame) and Purdey underlugs. The spin-

Rigbys first products were dueling pistols.

The rivalry came to a head at Creedmoor in 1874 when an American team armed with Sharps and Remington breechloaders defeated the Irish team, all shooting Rigby muzzleloaders, by the slimmest of margins. The Americans won it all on the very last shot. It could hardly be called the death knell of the muzzleloader, but from then on, breechloaders for both targets and hunting were irresistibly in the ascendancy.

Rigby was Mausers British agent from 1898 until 1914. It imported rifles and actions for sale to the trade and also built a variety of boltaction rifles. Seeing the need for an oversized Mauser to accommodate large cartriges for dangerous game, Rigby convinced Mauser to produce its magnum action. This .416 Rigby was built in the 1980s.

Rigby Redoubled
60 Rifle 248

strength. Many approaches were tried, from Purdeys own hidden bite to the Greener cross bolt to Westley Richardss rib-extension dolls head. In 1879 Rigby joined with an obscure London gunmaker named Thomas Bissell to patent (#1141) a design that came to be known as the rising bite. It consists of a U-shaped rib extension that closes down into a corresponding cavity in the standing breech. In the center of the cavity is a solid post with a rear section that moves up into the nose of the rib extension as the action is closed, locking it as solid as a vault. So

This .470 was built in 1990, when Paul Roberts owned Rigby. When photographed in 2009, the rifle was for sale for $120,000. Although it has the signature Rigby scalloped locks and carved-leaf fences, it is built on an H&H-pattern action, not the rising bite. It was never Rigbys practice to extend the tang down to the grip cap, although this was common on other double rifles from the most basic to the deluxe.
strong is the rising bite, it does not really need the Purdey underlugs, and it is almost impossible to shoot loose. Rifle experts have called the Rigby rising bite the ultimate double-rifle action. When smokeless powder appeared on the scene, and Rigby introduced the .450 Nitro Express in 1898, it already had a strong and elegant double rifle that would handle the increased pressures with ease. From 1898 to 1914, Rigby was the most prominent of English riflemakers. Aside from introducing the .450 NE, which dramatically changed the hunting world,

Left, the actual rising-bite mechanism, up and down, was patented in 1879 and is the strongest bolting system ever developed. Below, in the early years, Rigbys best guns and rifles were engraved with the name Jn.. Rigby & C.. . The company embraced old English lettering and gold inlay. This rifle is an exception, having no gold inlay except the word safe. The plunger on the safety prevents it from being moved accidentally. In the very early years (1880-1900), lock plates had a more pronounced hump than this example.

January-February 2010


Rigby Redoubled
Rigby also became the British agent for Mauser, importing K98 actions for the British trade. Rigby recognized early the potential of the bolt action and immediately seized upon the excellent 7x57 Mauser chambering, renamed it the .275 Rigby and began marketing complete boltaction rifles. Two prominent users of .275 Rigby rifles were W.D.M. Karamoja Bell in Africa and tiger hunter Jim Corbett in India. As well as importing actions, Rigby also advised the MauserWerke in Oberndorf on differ ent features. Like all the London trade, Rigby was focused on rifles for dangerous game in both Africa and India, and on the development of cartridges for hunting elephants and other serious animals. They realized the standard 98 action was simply not large enough to accommodate dangerous game cartridges. At Rigbys urging, Mauser developed

If the barrels are the heart of a double gun, and the frame is the soul, then the locks must be the brains of the operation. This original lock mechanism was produced, in blank form, by Chilton, one of three famous English companies that made locks, along with Brazier and Stanton.
an oversized magnum action that could handle really big cartridges. The arrival of the magnum Mauser opened the floodgates. In 1911 Rigby unveiled the .416 Rigby a stocky big game round that could handle the biggest and the toughest. The .416 Rigby is one of the best dangerous game cartridges of all time. Comparable cartridges from other makers included the .404 Jeffery (1909), .375 H&H (1912) and the .505 Gibbs (1911). With standard bolt rifles shooting the .275 Rigby, big bolt rifles for the .416 Rigby and its risingbite sidelock double rifle in calibers like .450 NE and later the .470 NE, John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Ltd. was recognized as the preeminent riflemaker in the U.K. The Great War, from 1914 to 1918, wrought havoc in the English gun trade. Workers went off to war and did not return. Older craftsmen retired, leaving no one

Below, the new London Rigbys first CNC-produced rising-bite frame is shown alongside an original that was used as the pattern for the computer model. Right, a new CNC-machined lock plate is compared to an original from almost a century ago. The new plate will have its lock mechanism fitted and perfected, then polished and finally engraved. After that the mechanism will be reinstalled, and it will be ready to go to work.


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Rigby Redoubled
to train newcomers. And after the Armistice, the U.K. was plunged into an economic downturn comparable to the Great Depression. The 1920s saw an extensive consolidation of the entire British trade, but Rigby was one of the London companies that survived intact. For all that, the period between the wars is regarded by many firearms experts as the real golden age of English gunmaking. Shotguns and rifles from between the wars display a virtuosity of craftsmanship despite the economic unrest and increas-

ing unionization that brought down many a great name. Throughout this period, the bolt action played an increasingly important role in the fortunes of John Rigby & Co. Although Rigby continued to make box-lock and sidelock double rifles, fine single shots and shotguns, the straitened economic circumstances of many of its clients made its Mauser-actioned bolt rifles look like bargains compared to its doubles. Still, the flagship of the line was its best quality sidelock double rifle built on the rising-bite action. With its distinctive scalloped lock plates and carved-leaf fences, a rising-bite Rigby was identifiable at 20 paces. Unfortunately, the rising bite is both complex and expensive and requires extraordinary gunmaking skills. Its complexity does not make it complicated; on the contrary, it is much like the Mauser 98 itself. It is a very simple, durable and reliable action that requires many machine cuts in the initial manufacture and careful fitting. Once together, it is as strong as granite and eminently reliable. The first rising

David Eden in the London Rigby shop is working on a muzzleloading single-shot target rifle. Eden specializes in this famous Rigby rifle and has won several long-range matches in England with a rifle he built himself.
bite I ever handled, a .470, had seen very hard service over 80 years but was still rock-solid. Rigby made rising-bite rifles for nitro cartridges from 1898 until 1939. How many were made is anyones guess. Most estimates run around 500, which is not many. When war broke out again in 1939, and Rigby turned once more to war production, the rising bite was discontinued. After 1945 it was quietly abandoned as too expensive to produce. Although one or two may have been assembled from parts that were left over, the rising bite was, for all intents and purposes, dead. Rigbys history from 1945 to 1997 consists largely of struggling to survive in a world increasingly hostile to big game hunting, with an ever-shrinking empire. India became independent in 1947, and the maharajah market a vital factor in doublerifle production especially disappeared. Hunting in Africa went into steady decline, and Rigbys British clients were increasingly threadbare.

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Rifle 248

bankruptcy and a procession of new investors buying out the old. The proprietor, Geoff Miller, has a background in the aircraft industry with an interest in benchrest shooting. The Paso Robles double rifles, both sidelock and box lock, are assembled from prefinished parts on Merkel actions; its large bolt-action rifles are built on Mausers from Germany, but the smaller calibers are now built on pre-64 Model 70s at least according to my last communication with them. Geoff Miller never made any secret of his contempt for both British gunmakers and the British way of doing things, and this was not lost on the gunmaking community in London. Some prominent British collectors with an interest in Rigby became increasingly bitter about what was being done with a once-great name. Then, in 2005, a strange twist of fate: Mark Neal, a London engineering consultant, went down to Companies House to research available names for a new gun company and found that the name John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Ltd. was unregistered and available. He quickly registered the

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Al Martins is working on the first new lock plates for rising-bite rifles. These plates just arrived from the CNC shop when Terry visited the new London Rigby company in October 2009.
Still, the company survived as others Gibbs, Jeffery, Churchill fell around them. In 1984 Paul Roberts acquired the Rigby name and made firearms of all types until 1997, when he sold the company records, rights to the name and famous addorsed-Rs trademark to a group of investors fronted by the Rogue River Rifle Co. of California. John Rigby & Co. left London and was re-established in Paso Robles. During his tenure, Paul Roberts made some fine doubles and bolt-action rifles and introduced one cartridge, the .450 Rigby, in 1995. It is a necked-up .416 Rigby and had little impact. He also dallied with a rimmed .416 for double rifles and was even persuaded to make the first (and only) Rigby double rifle in .416 Rigby. Bolt-action rifles from this period were built on military Mausers or the BRNO magnum action, a heavily modified Mauser derivative. The Paso Robles-era in Rigbys history will not be recalled with pleasure. The first decade was one of legal turmoil, lawsuits and countersuits, flitting in and out of
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Rigby Redoubled
name, along with some varia tions which had been used by the Rigby company throughout its history, and then sewed up those names in Europe and the British Commonwealth as well. How could this happen? As it was explained to me, when Miller took Rigby to California, he neglected to protect the name in the U.K. It was registered for a time by a third party, then allowed to lapse; it was here that Mark Neal acquired it. And, having acquired it, Neal decided to make a very bold move. He would resurrect the rising bite, Rigbys pride and joy that had been out of production for 70 years. An expert in CNC machining, Neal knew the key would be to minimize bench time by using CNC methods to machine the basic action. British gunmakers have many traits, of which an instinct for self-preservation is one of the greatest. All of them know the key to the survival of their cherished trade is CNC from Purdey and Holland & Holland on down. In early 2008, Neal began in great secrecy to reverse engineer a rising-bite action. Since none had been made for 70 years, there was almost no one left who knew how it had been done. Neal had to figure that out, then build a computer model that he could plug into a CNC machine. On August 13, 2009, the rifle world was rocked by the unveiling of a new website: www.john, announcing a new Rigby company offering a line of rifles and shotguns, with the best models built on a real rising-bite action. If you want an analogy: Suppose the Rolls-Royce name had been sold to a company in eastern Europe that then proceeded to market Yugos with the RollsRoyce Spirit of Ecstacy on the hood. But the name was left unRifle 248

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protected in Britain, an English group, grabbed it and promised to once again produce the prewar Silver Ghost. Thats an analogy for what has happened with Rigby. Six weeks after the website went live, I was on a plane to London to meet Mark Neal and see for myself.

the California group result in a victory for the new Rigby in London. At the moment, the Cali fornia group owns only the rights to the Rigby name in the U.S., as well as the addorsed-Rs trademark. The company records are still owned by the investor, who put up the money for In his shop in a northern In 1911 Rigby unveiled the .416 Rigby. the purchase from Paul Roberts in 1997, and are suburb, I found several reported to be in storage in Aricraftsmen at work on various the new Rigby companys line of parts of Rigby rifles, a pair of products. zona. The London company owns chopper lump barrels chambered the Rigby name (as well as variNeal is a traditionalist who also in .450 Nitro Express and desous historical usages) in virtually loves bolt-action rifles and hopes tined for the first new rising-bite the rest of the world. to offer old Mauser-actioned Rigby rifle and the frame of the rifle It does not appear there will be models from the early 1900s, comnewly machined on CNC equipany clear-cut legal victory that replete with striker sights and origiment and ready for the next steps sults in the demise of either comnal Rigby express sights. As well, in production. The first risingpany, in which case the fate of he is working on the computer bite rifle is scheduled for complethe two Rigbys will be decided model for that rarest of beasts, a tion in March 2010. by the gun-buying public based on snap-underlever rising-bite rifle. As well as the rising-bite double what each company produces and All the new Rigby rifles will be rifle, Neal intends to reintroduce charges for their firearms. On that built and proofed in London. other rifles and shotguns from basis, looking at the companys All this assumes, of course, that Rigbys past. Riflemaker David 235-year history, the advantage R clearly lies with London. Eden is part of Neals group who the inevitable legal hassles with

has, on his own, made re-creations of the famous muzzleloading .451 target rifle. In fact, a couple of years ago, he won a major long-range match in England with a Rigby rifle of his own making. The Rigby target muzzleloader will become part of

January-February 2010


John Haviland

hile deer hunting last fall, I noticed my partner carried an unusual rifle. He explained his grandfather had been a hobby gunsmith and had made the rifle decades ago. Its chambered in Gradle 7mm Express. Want to help me work up some loads and shoot the rifle next spring? he asked.

ing oil and inserting the cases into a chamber made with a chamber reamer. An air cylinder with a piston is attached to the chamber and air driven into the chamber to expand the brass to fit the chamber. The cases are necked down to 7mm in a sizing die, the rims turned off and a new extractor groove is cut.

The Original Short Magnum

Before spring arrived we got all our ducks in a row, acquiring reloading components, dies and load data. When we finally shot the rifle, it took me way back to the glory days of magnum cartridge wildcatting after World War II and carried me forward to todays cartridge development. The Gradle 7mm Express is the original short magnum that is so popular today. According to P.O. Ackleys Volume 1 Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders about the Gradle: Higher velocities are claimed with the relatively short fat case, as compared with the longer, and slimmer cases of equal capacity. That sounds similar to the claims made for todays various short magnum cartridges. Ackleys book lists loads for 140- to 175-grain bullets with some rather optimistic velocities. As we shall see, though, while the Gradle 7mm Express produced some good bullet speeds, it and other of todays short magnums contain no mysterious properties that pull additional velocities out of a hat. Roy Gradle of Santa Barbara, California, created the cartridge bearing his name by extensively altering the .348 Winchester case. As near as I can determine, Gradle developed his cartridge during the 1950s. The August 1949 American Rifleman contains an advertisement by Gradle marketing his gun work. The December 1949 Rifleman contains a blurb about custom gun work by Gradle, notably his left-hand action and .30-348 Winchester wildcat cartridge he made for the Winchester Model 71 lever action, but not his 7mm Express. According to P.O. Ackleys book, 7mm Express cases are formed by filling a .348 case with lubricat68

Rifle 248

Fortunately, my hunting partner Carl Mendenhalls late grandfather Charlie Miritz had left behind about 100 fired Gradle 7mm cases, a few loaded cartridges and 50 new cases in the boxes of belongings remaining from his South Side Gun Shop in Cut Bank, Montana. On firing, the new cases actually shortened from .001 to .003 inch. I suspect this

was due to the cases fully expanding to fill the chamber, thus shortening the cases a smidgen. (Smidgen being a scientific term.) The Gradle 7mm Express rifle Charlie Miritz made was based on a Model 1917 Enfield action. The Enfield action is a good .5 inch longer than necessary to hold the 3-inch Gradle cartridges. But back then

Below, the Gradle case (right) requires a lathe to turn down the .348s (left) rim and cut an extractor groove. Right, the .348 Winchester (left) is the basis for the Gradle 7mm Express (right). The Gradle case was formed with a hydraulic die and air pressure to form its rounded shoulder.

7mm Express
January-February 2010 69

Left, the bolt handle on the Enfield action had been replaced with a straight and slightly swept back handle. Above, the Enfield action is plenty long for the short Gradle cartridge.
most gunsmiths made do with the actions that were available and economical. The Enfields aperture rear sight had been milled off the rear bridge and the crooked bolt replaced with a straight and slightly swept back bolt handle. The original trigger had been replaced with a Paul Jaeger adjustable trigger. The Enfields deep magazine held three of the fat Gradle cartridges. The magazine well, below the cartridge support rails, had been widened at the rear and the cartridge support rails widened to accept the wide Gradle cartridges. The bolt face rim was widened to accept the .533inch rim diameter of the Gradle case. On the left rear of the 24-inch barrel is printed Roy Gradle 7mm Express. The Enfield action has no visible markings to indicate which company produced it. It is probably a Winchester or Eddystone version, because those models had a weight-saving cavity cut in the rear bridge. I was not going to remove the Leupold Adjusto scope mount on the rifle to determine if it covered identifying marks. Reattaching the Adjusto mount on the rifle would require shooting at least a box of cartridges to again sight-in the Lyman 78-inch Fixed Alaskan 2.5x scope. The Adjusto mount was popular decades ago when most scopes stock for his rifle from E.C. Bishop of Warsaw, Missouri. He completed the stock with a hard finish that has stood up well against the knocks of time. The stock wears the Weatherby influence of a large cheekpiece, raised comb and angled grip cap. Miritz used the rifle for big game hunting for years. Miritzs wife, Helen, thought the cartridge was on the small size for big game. She hunted with a .300 H&H Magnum.

Gradle developed his 7mm Express at a time when cartridge experimenters like Powell, Miller and Weatherby were testing various shoulder shapes in hopes of finding a design that allowed the propellant gases to flow easier from the case and reduce back pressure. Powell and Miller came up with the Powell Miller Venturi Freebore (PMVF) that had a rounded junction at the shoulder and case body. Weatherby took

The fixed Lyman scope on the 7mm Express rifle was adjusted with a Leupold Adjusto mount. The mount requires loosening the mount, making adjustments and then retightening.
had no internal adjustments for the reticle. The Adjusto requires loosening the left windage screw, making windage adjustments on the right windage screw (clockwise for right) or the disk under the rear ring (counterclockwise for up) with each click moving the reticle .5 inch at 100 yards. The left windage screw is retightened and the rifle shot in hopes the adjustments were correct. Miritz ordered a semi-inletted

Gradle 7mm Express


Enfieldss trigger was replaced with a Paul Jaeger adjustable design.

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Left, the Bishop stock on the 7mm Express rifle shows the California style of a raised comb popular during the 1950s. Above, Charlie Miritz built his Gradle 7mm Express rifle in his South Side Gun Shop in Cut Bank, Montana.
the PMVF cartridge case and added a second radius at the junction of the shoulder and neck. With smoother corners at the junction of the shoulder and neck, gases supposedly flow from the case without creating as much back pressure. To this day fantastic claims are still made for various shoulder and case designs. Shoulders with different angles can supposedly direct propellant gases to specific points with the result of a more even pressure and more energy directed at pushing the bullet down the bore at a higher velocity. The problem with these theories is propellant gases exert pressure equally in all directions. Its also said shorter and fatter cases yield more velocity for the same amount of powder in relation to longer cases. Chub Eastman wrote an article in Handloader where he investigated such claims. He chambered

January-February 2010


Gradle 7mm Express

a barrel in the long and sloping .300 H&H Magnum cartridge and recorded the velocities of some loads. Then he rechambered the same barrel to the squat .300 Winchester Short Magnum and shot the same loads in the .300 WSM. The long and short of it was there was next to no difference in the velocities of the various loads.

Table I

Shooting Results for the Gradle 7mm Express

bullet (grains) powder charge (grains) velocity (fps) group (inches) overall loaded length (inches)

140 Sierra spitzer

H-4350 IMR-7828 Magpro RL-19

150 Nosler Ballistic Tip

The Gradle 7mm Express is the original short magnum.

The Gradle case has a radius at the junction of the case body and shoulder and a convex shoulder. The Gradle case, though, is about .5 inch shorter than magnum cases like the .300 Weatherby and .3 inch shorter than cases like the 7mm Remington and Weatherby Magnums. In fact, the Gradle case is a dead ringer for the 7mm Winchester Short Magnum, except for the Gradles slightly longer neck, rounded

150 Sierra spitzer boat-tail

160 Grandfather Miritz 162 Hornady A-MAX

H-4350 IMR-4831 IMR-7828 RL-22 H-4350 IMR-4831 IMR-7828 RL-22 IMR-4350 H-1000 Magnum

60.0 61.5 64.0 66.0 70.0 63.5 64.5 57.0 58.0 61.0 59.0 60.0 62.0 63.0 63.0 61.0 67.0 69.0

2,948 3,130 2,841 3,109 2,946 2,912 3,145 2,840 2,735 2,750 2,665 3,023 2,978 2,838 2,886 2,970 2,800 2,893

1.45 1.46 .28* 3.27 1.96 1.26 1.80 3.20 1.82 1.03 2.45 2.10 2.10 1.96 2.45



* three in one hole Notes: Loads shot through an Enfield action with a 24-inch barrel. WLRM primers and re-formed .348 Winchester cases used. Scope was a 2.5x Lyman Alaskan.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data.

shoulder and a few thousands of an inch differences here and there. The Gradle and 7mm WSM cases are also close in case capacity, as the Gradle holds 95 percent of the water that the 7mm WSM case can contain. The

7mm Express and 7mm WSM cases cut in half lengthwise show the two cartridge cases have the same thickness through the web, head and body. The extraction groove on both cases is so close to identical they use the same shellholder. It would appear someone learned the basics of the current short magnums from Mr. Gradle.


Somewhere in the passage of time, Grandfather Miritzs Gradle 7mm Express dies had been lost. But buying new reloading dies for the 7mm Express was as easy as contacting CH/4D (, a company that specializes in dies for wildcat and obsolete cartridges. Dave Davison of CH/4D has dies in stock for over 1,200 different cartridges. Not only were dies on the shelf for the Gradle 7mm Express, but Davison also had dies for the Gradle 7mm Express Rimmed. To make certain the dies were the correct dimensions, Carl Mendenhall
72 Rifle 248

Except for a few minor differences, the 7mm Express (left) and 7mm WSM (right) of today are the same cartridge. Both designs have nearly the same case capacity and the head and web of both cartridges are very thick.
mailed a few fired 7mm Express cases to Davison. The correct dies promptly arrived in the mail. While first sizing fired 7mm Express cases with the CH/4D die, a dent was often made on the shoulder of the cases. The dents showed up even when I was extra careful to make sure no lubricant touched the shoulder area. I speculated air trapped in the die caused the dents and Davison concurred. A hole drilled in the shoulder area of the die would bleed off that air, but Davison said he would not drill a hole into the side of a die. In loading well over a million cartridges, I never found one that would not work if the proper lube was used, but the Gradle shoulder is going to be one of the more difficult (to keep from denting the shoulder). That proper lube was Imperial Sizing Wax, which CH/4D sells. Using it eliminated the pressure dents in the cases. Carl and I came up with a trimto case length of 2.30 inches from measuring the length of the new and fired 7mm Express cases.

Miritzs rifle has a chamber that accepts 7mm Express cartridges with a length of slightly over 3 inches. The magazine of the Enfield action will hold cartridges nearly .5 inch longer. In contrast, the 7mm WSM (right) has a maximum cartridge length of 2.86 inches to fit in a short action.
For starting loads I took 95 percent of the maximum weights of several propellants listed for the 7mm WSM cartridge in various handloading manuals and re-

Gradle 7mm Express

Left, CH/4D had Gradle 7mm Express dies in stock. Forwarding a few fired cases to CH/4D helps ensure the dies are the correct dimensions for a wildcat cartridge. Below, these powders were used to load the Gradle 7mm Express.


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duced those weights another few grains. Those propellants weights resulted in up to 2,948 fps with
Table II
bullet (grains)

Sierra 140-grain bullets and 2,840 fps with Nosler 150-grain Ballistic Tips.

7mm Magnum Comparisons

powder charge (grains) velocity (fps)

7mm Gradle Express: 140 Sierra spitzer H-4350 RL-19 61.5 63.5 64.5 61.5 62.0 64.0 70.0 3,130 2,912 3,145 3,104 2,871 2,948 3,164

7mm WSM: 140 Nosler Ballistic Tip 7mm Remington SAUM: 140 Sierra boat-tail 7mm Remington Magnum: 140 Sierra spitzer RL-22 RL-19 RL-22 H-4350

7mm Gradle Express: 150 Sierra spitzer boat-tail H-4350 IMR-4831 60.0 58.0 62.0 62.5 63.0 61.5 68.0 57.0 63.0 68.0 74.0 68.0 3,023 2,735 2,978 3,036 2,886 2,890 3,006 2,858 2,938 2,870 3,154 2,946

7mm WSM: 150 Sierra HPBT Match 7mm Remington SAUM: 150 Sierra HPBT Match H-4831 H-1000 IMR-4350 RL-22 H-1000 Magnum RL-25 H-4350 RL-22

7mm Remington Magnum: 150 Sierra HPBT MatchKing

7mm Gradle Express: 162 Hornady A-MAX 7mm WSM: 162 Hornady SST H-1000 H-4350 H-4831 Magnum H-4831 H-1000 IMR-4350 H-4831 IMR-7828 IMR-4831 IMR-4350 H-1000 69.0 58.0 62.0 75.0 60.5 67.0 56.0 60.5 66.0 63.0 61.0 71.0 2,807 2,828 2,803 3,097 2,823 2,887 2,820 2,857 2,838 2,923 2,816 2,977 H-1000 Magnum 67.0 69.0 2,800 2,893

7mm Remington SAUM: 160 Nosler AccuBond

7mm Remington Magnum: 160 Speer boat-tail

Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data.

January-February 2010


Gradle 7mm Express

I bumped up those powder charges to a couple of grains for the second go-around. There was a tremendous amount of velocity increase between the starting and top amounts of propellants with the Sierra 140-grain spitzer. For example, an additional 1.5 grains of H-4350 increased the velocity of the 140-grain Sierra by 182 fps, and 2.0 grains more IMR-7828 stepped up velocity by 268 fps. The 150-grain bullets showed a more realistic and evenhanded velocity increase. I ran out of Nosler 150-grain Ballistic Tips, so I shot the increased propellant charges with Sierra 150-grain spitzer boat-tails. Three additional grains of H-4350 increased velocity of the 150-grain bullets by 183 fps, and 4.0 extra grains of Reloder 22 increased velocity by 221 fps. Those velocity increases are only slightly above the increases per grain of pro pellant for the 7mm Winchester Short Magnum listed in the Nosler, Sierra and Speer reloading manuals.

Above, these bullets and the Nosler 150-grain Ballistic Tip were fired in the Gradle 7mm Express. Right, this 1.26-inch group was produced by Sierra 140-grain bullets and Reloder.

The Hornady 162-grain A-MAX bullets reached nearly 2,900 fps with 69.0 grains of Ramshot Magnum. That was right in line with the results of the 7mm WSM listed in the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, Sixth Edition. A few cartridges loaded by

Grandfather Miritz were in the boxes of his Gradle cases. A label stated the load was 61.0 grains of IMR-4350 with 160-grain bullets. The bullets looked like Sierras. They clocked 2,970 fps, about what can be expected from todays 7mm Remington Magnum. The 7mm Magnum Comparison (Table II) matches the Gradle 7mm Express with todays 7mm Remington Short Action Ultra Mag, 7mm Winchester Short Magnum and 7mm Remington Magnum. There is a slender dimes difference between the four cartridges.

Carl Mendenhall proudly holds his grandfather Miritzs Gradle 7mm Express.

The Gradle 7mm Express rifle Charlie Miritz made was based on a Model 1917 Enfield action.
Carl Mendenhall is going to replace the fixed-power scope on his grandfathers Gradle 7mm Express with a new scope with internal adjustments. Then he is going hunting with his original 7mm short magnum and continue the fine tradition of what his grandfather Charlie Miritz and Roy Gradle started nearly 60 R years ago.
76 Rifle 248


by Clair Rees

im Janzen, Ty Herring, his wife, Angel, and I had permission to hunt prairie dogs on a Vernal, Utah, ranch owned by Eric Manwaring. Come fall, the ranch would magically transform into the Thunder Stick hunting preserve, with Eric guiding hunters to trophy deer, elk, geese and other denizens of the ranch. While I was there, I booked an early fall honker hunt. When it comes to prairie dogs, hunting is a misnomer. You have to hunt to find the critter but youre not searching for a lone animal or even a small herd. If youre in the right area, prairie

Volquartsen Evolution with 30-round AR-15 magazine, Hollands Tactical Hunter scope and Harris bipod.
dog towns arent hard to find. Visible from considerable distance, most of these rodent enclaves are home to hundreds of the plague-ridden pests, each with its own elevated mound of dirt. Once you locate a populous town, the hunting ends and the shooting begins. Shot-by-shot accounts of any prairie dog shoot can become boringly repetitious, so Ill spare you the details. Suffice to say the Volquartsen gave yeoman service, even providing a few rare 400-yard kills. My aging eyes prevented longer-range attempts in spite of the excellent 2.5-10x 42mm Hollands Tactical Hunter mounted on the rifle. hit these pint-sized targets, and you should have little trouble scoring when deer season rolls around.

The Evolution trigger was one of the best Rees has used.
Serious prairie dog shooters prefer specialized rifles designed specifically for the sport. I remember when bull-barreled varmint





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Bolt and carrier removed from the receiver for cleaning.

Rifle 248

rifles were relatively rare. Sportsmen used any small-caliber centerfire they had on hand. My first varmint rifle was the single-shot Winchester .22 my grandfather loaned me whenever I visited his ranch. I cut short the career of many rockchucks and ground squirrels foolish enough to let me sneak within rimfire range. My safe harbors an embar rassing number of heavy, highcombed rifles with barrels the size of truck axles. Intended to be toted to a sandbagged bench only a few yards away, these bulky firearms weigh 9 pounds or more. That extra heft promotes long-range accuracy. Nearly all my varmint rifles feature manual bolt-action operation. Today, AR-15-style rifles are becoming increasingly common on prairie dog, ground squirrel and marmot shoots. Some of these autoloaders are highly accurate and are dear to their owners hearts. Best known for its high-quality .17- and .22-caliber rimfire autoloaders, Volquartsen has entered the centerfire market with its new Evolution rifle. Specifically designed for shooting prairie dogs and other varmints at extended range, the Evolution autoloader is chambered for the .223 Remington and .204 Ruger. The new rifle features a CNCmachined stainless steel receiver thats just short of massive. No castings are used. Most components, including a custom-rifled Volquartsen barrel, bolt, trigger guard, and other parts, are precision-machined from stainless steel bar stock. The rotating bolt has seven locking lugs and rides in a sturdy, stainless carrier with twin return springs. The bolt face is fully recessed and contains a plunger ejector. A substantial springloaded claw extracts fired cases from the chamber. The bolt is activated by a unique operating system that taps gas
January-February 2010


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The removable compensator has 32 ports, which reduces barrel jump.

plied, but the rifle accepts any AR-15style magazine. While longer magazines could interfere with shooting from a sandbagged rest, I had no problem using one with the relatively high X-Rest forend rest Id brought along for the prairie dog shoot.

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from ports in the barrel. These ports are located immediately behind the rifles forend. If any stray gases escape, ventilation cuts in the forend dissipate them harmlessly into the atmosphere. The slots also promote barrel cooling. The magazine well and trigger guard assembly projects 58 inch below the stock. A crossbolt safety rides 212 inches in front of the trigger, far enough to require shifting your hand from the pistol grip to reach it. Pressing the safety from on to off is best done left-handed. The magazine release is on the right side of the trigger guard assembly, an inch ahead of the safety. A 10-round magazine is sup-

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Crossbolt safety is too far forward to reach with your trigger finger without moving your hand from the grip. Magazine release is an inch ahead of the safety.
My Evolution has a 22 12-inch barrel. This includes an optional, removable compensator with 32 ports that virtually eliminate muzzle jump. Muzzle-to-butt measurement is 4212 inches. A 9inch long Picatinny rail machined into the top of the receiver makes scope mounting fast and easy. A number of stock options are available. The test rifle has a satin-finished walnut stock with a high Monte Carlo comb. The forend is 178 inches wide and is obviously designed to fit a sandbagged rest. Some very attractive figuring appears in the pistol grip and butt section. A ribbed rubber pad caps the butt. The trigger is a pure delight,


Rifle 248

breaking cleanly and consistently at 234 pounds with no discernible take-up. This is by far the best trigger Ive experienced on an autoloading rifle. It would give most of the bolt rifles in my safe a real run for the money. Weighing in at a full 10 pounds (before adding a scope), the Evolution is obviously intended for shooting prairie dogs and ground squirrels from a stationary rest. Its ideal for such use, as its heft aids precise shooting at extended range. Prairie dog shooters typically set up their benches only a few yards from the truck, so the weight of bull-barreled rifles isnt a problem. However, this isnt a firearm youd tote over hill and dale in search of more elusive prey. Volquartsen also offers this rifle with I-Dash barrel fluting, producing a 12-ounce reduction in weight. Accuracy? Shooting Hornady

40-grain V-MAX ammunition from a sandbagged bench at 100 yards, the Volquartsen Evolution delivered 0.531-inch, fiveshot groups. Lone fliers invariably spoiled what would have otherwise been ragged one-hole clusters. The best ac curacy a 0.281-inch five-shot group was produced with Black Hills factory ammunition loaded with 55-grain softpoints. Reliability was equally impressive. During the Vernal prairie dog shoot, I experienced only one This 0.281-inch, five-shot group was made feeding failure. With with Black Hills factory ammunition loaded that lone exception, the with 55-grain softpoints. Evolution auto loader with AR-15 autoloaders, it was functioned flawlessly, chewing nice not having to bother with a through hundreds of rounds forward assist plunger. Also, the without a bobble. After earlier experiences shooting prairie dogs warm walnut under my cheek felt

January-February 2010


The Evolutions Evolution

olquartsen has long been known for producing highquality rimfires, so the Evolution is a real departure. I asked Scott Volquartsen why the company decided to create an all-new sporter to digest centerfire ammunition. We wanted to branch out and try something new, Scott said. Ive always thought it would be fun to design an autoloading .223 centerfire as a pure sporter, not just another black rifle. The Evolution would also appeal to California sportsmen, who are prevented from using AR-15-style rifles. The Evolution is currently chambered for either .223 Remington or .204 Ruger ammunition, he said. The same basic platform is used for both. One day well probably offer an Evolution rifle that will accept both cartridges simply by switching barrels. Asked what problems Volquartsen had to solve in building the new rifle, Scott replied, Our biggest challenge was designing an operating system that could be entirely contained within the stock. We didnt want to add an extended barrel shroud. The gas system features a spring-loaded piston that transfers energy to the bolt carrier. Gas enters the operating system through ports in the barrel. As the carrier is driven rearward, the bolt lugs unlock, allowing the bolt to rotate in the carrier 2212 degrees. Our rotating bolt is nothing new, but we spent a lot of time figuring how tight we could make the tolerances while keeping operation 100 percent reliable. Tight tolerances mean greater accuracy.

The operating system taps gas from the barrel just under the forend.
The rifle was designed to function reliably with a wide variety of ammunition and bullet weights. A one-in-9-inch twist was chosen to provide accuracy with the most popular loads, but this twist works best with 45- to 60-grain bullets. According to Volquartsen, one-in-712 and one-in-12 twist rates will also be offered for those who want to use lighter or heavier bullets. One unique thing about the Evolution is that the entire rifle bolt, gas action, barrel and receiver is completely machined from the ground up. No castings are used, Scott said. We machine 95 percent of the Evolution in-house. A few precision parts like the hammer, sear and disconnector are made by EDM wire cutting. The crossbolt safety and firing pin are produced elsewhere on screw machines. Most components are heat-treated from 56 to 58C Rockwell, providing exceptional durability. We also produce our own stocks, he pointed out. We use a four-axis CNC router and make stocks one at a time. Theyre inletted and turned in the same operation without ever leaving the jig. Two possible drawbacks are the Evolutions 10-pound heft and an equally hefty $2,340 price tag. When I asked Scott about this, he said, The entire stainless steel rifle is produced by precision machining, making it costly to manufacture. The Evolution will be primarily used for prairie dog hunting. This means that instead of being a problem, extra weight is actually an advantage. A heavy gun is easier to steady on sandbags and boosts potential accuracy. If you order an Evolution with a compensator installed, muzzle jump is reduced to virtually zero. The combination of weight and compensator means you can stay focused on the target after the shot. We plan to have a considerably lighter version incorporating a high-strength aluminum receiver available in early 2010, he noted. This gun should weigh three pounds or so less, making it easier to carry long distances. Were also looking at a .308 platform later on. This would have a wide range of hunting applications. We began shipping the Evolution rifles in 2007, and theyve sold very well, Scott said. Were excited about the R future.
Rifle 248

The stainless Evolution receiver is just short of massive. It is machined from 416 stainless bar stock.


more familiar than the AR-15 stocks Id used. In two days of shooting, several hundred rounds were fired through the rifle. I decided it was time for cleaning. If you dont read the instructions carefully (I didnt), its possible to inadvertently remove the cross pins securing the lower to the upper part of the receiver. I know from experience that you really dont want to do this. After correcting the problem Id created, I drifted out the correct trio of pins, allowing the trigger guard/magazine well assembly to be separated from the action. Next I used the operating handle to start the bolt moving to the rear. Before the bolt was fully retracted, I removed the bolt handle (necessary to the take-down process), then placed my fingers in front of the bolt and pulled it all the way to the rear. I took care not to put rearward pressure on the forward part of the bolt, otherwise I couldnt have removed the bolt and its carrier from the receiver. Finally I lifted the bolt and carrier free, exposing the bore for cleaning. Disassembling the rifle, I was surprised at the lack of dirt or debris. The action looked spotlessly clean in spite of all the ammunition Id put through it. The Evolution is costly, but it really performed. Tolerances are extremely tight, resulting in stellar accuracy. The rifle is heavy, even by varminting standards, but this isnt a detriment when you shoot from a stationary bench. The bottom line? This is one of the most accurate rifles Ive ever used on a prairie dog shoot. Thats saying a lot, particularly for a self-loading rifle. For more information, contact Volquartsen Custom, PO Box 397, Carroll IA 51401; or visit online R at:
January-February 2010

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Barrel Fluting
Cools Faster Reduces Weight Adds Rigidity to Barrel No Reduction in Accuracy

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Dale Hegstrom, Gunsmith 6593 113th Ave. NE, Suite C, Spicer MN 56288 Telephone: 320-796-0530 Email:


*Many Styles *Over 170 Chamberings


*Trued Remington 700 Action *S.S. Walther Barrel *H-S Precision Stock *3 lbs. Factory Trigger

*Vais Muzzlebrake installed - $245 (Includes return shipping or muzzle cap) *Krieger Barrels installed - Starting at $550 (Includes action truing) *Factory Rifle Accurizing - True action, pillar bed, adjust trigger, recrown, lap rings,
mount scope, range test - $325 + Ammo (No extra charge for fitting aftermarket stock or trigger)

*Cerakote Metal Finish (Extreme corrosion protection and durability) Long gun with scope mounts - $275)



Box 570 260 Big Clearing Rd. Roundup, MT 59072

Mostly Long Guns

(Continued from page 21)

John Witt, Gunsmith

CALL: 406-323-2431

.308 Winchester with a 22-inch barrel, the Winchester Power Max ammunition produced an average of 2,785 fps (advertised at 2,820 fps) for five shots. The average of three, three-shot groups measured just over 1 14 inches from the same rifle. Switching to a Merkel KR1 boltaction rifle, 100-yard groups averaged something around one inch from a sandbag rest. The proof of any hunting bullet is in how it performs in the field. The above Super-X Power Max .308 Winchester load was used on a Wyoming pronghorn hunt in a Merkel rifle. At something over 200 yards, the bullet drove through a buck at a slight quartering angle and exited the offside. The wound channel through the vitals showed positive expansion with a fist-sized hole but did not leave acres of bloodshot meat as some frangible bullets do. And there were several other pronghorn taken by other hunters with the same bullet that gave similar performance at distances of 27 to over 300 yards. In spite of the Power Max bonded being

designed specifically for whitetail deer hunters, it appears to be an excellent bullet for hunting thin-skinned big game, and I look forward to putting it to work on additional hunts.



The lead-free ammunition and bullet market continues to grow, and Nosler is now offering a 35grain, .22-caliber Ballistic Tip Lead Free. It features the polymer orange tip with a gilded metal jacket that Nosler de-

Nosler is now offering a lead free 35-grain, .22-caliber varmint bullet featuring a plastic tip.
scribes as ultra-thin. The core is soft iron, which offers explosive expansion. I have not used these bullets on prairie dog shoots, but I did find two pests on the ranch that needed taken care of, and the effects were absolutely devastating. Sample bullets were tried in a Savage Model 10 Predator .223 Remington that was topped with a Weaver 6.5-20x44 variable scope. Using 26.5 grains of Hodgdon H-322, Winchester cases and Remington 712 primers, the Savage continually placed five shots inside .75 inch at 100 yards, even from a warm barrel. Clearly Nosler has done its homework with this bullet, as it is accurate, frangible and can be used for hunting in R lead-free zones.


Rifle 248

Spotting Scope
(Continued from page 13)

choose 525 or 570 grain in either caliber, you are going to get a buffs instant attention when you put a bullet through the boiler room. Again, all things being equal, I would choose a softer 570-grain bullet over a harder 525-grain design a bigger hole for the same level of penetration. Velocity is simply not an important consideration. A 600-grain bullet at 1,750 fps shoots plenty flat enough for buffalo hunting in all but exceptional circumstances. I can safely state that through two years of buffalo culls, 12 years of shooting buffalo for parks rations and 10 years of full-time professional hunting, I have never fired at a buffalo over 100 paces away.

and the heavier bullet will give a bigger, deeper wound channel. If you are shooting a slow expanding soft or monolithic hollowpoint, like a Barnes TSX, out of your .460 though, I might even be tempted to recommend the 450 grain simply because they open so slowly that you need all the velocity you can get to open them quickly enough for lion. In .500 Jeffery or .505 Gibbs, I would stay with the standard weight bullets to keep the impact velocity up. On lion the difference between a 535-grain bullet at 2,350 fps from a Jeffery and a 570-grain bullet at 2,100 fps from a .500 NE is chalk and cheese. For a follow-up on a wounded lion, I would never swap my .416 for a .500 NE. If I were a bigger man and better able to handle the recoil, I would certainly consider a .500 Jeffery though.

(That is, a .458 Lott with 550grain softs isnt going to be my first recommendation.) And elephant, the animal that started it all? It really doesnt matter so long as the velocity is appropriate for the sectional density. It must be noted, though, that on many rounds where the penetration is on the shallow side for all-around use, increasing bullet weight (while dropping velocity) is a much easier way to increase penetration without raising pressures, than going the other way. R

Thompson Center Arms Company

Encore & Contender/G2 Accuracy Solutions by Bellm TCs, Inc. We make em work!


Bullets must land at over 2,250 fps. I toyed with 400-grain Barnes TSXs in the .458 Winchester Magnum as suitable lion medicine and used 450-grain TSXs in the Lott for the same reason. Few clients believe that my 9.3 shooting 286-grain Norma Oryx bullets will fold a lion better than their .458 Winchester with 510-grain bullets until we have a charge and I get to back them up after their .458 fails to impress the lion. Penetration is seldom the issue. The bullet has to hold together well enough to penetrate six inches of rock-hard muscle on a charging cat, and after that it can blow to pieces for all I care. Does more velocity help? Yes, if you can drive the bullet faster than 3,300 fps. I had a client stop a charging lion with a 7mm STW loaded with Barnes 150-grain TSXs. Spectacular is the only way to describe the result. On lion it is imperative to match bullet construction with velocity. Out of a .460 Weatherby shooting a rather soft soft like the Woodleigh, I would choose the 550 grain over 500 any day. With either bullet the impact speed is above the critical level,
January-February 2010

So, heavy-for-caliber, standard or light? Depends on what you are hunting. What is your primary quarry and what else will you be taking with that rifle. Coming on a buff/plains game hunt and bringing two rifles? The heavy-for-caliber soft in your bigbore rifle might be entirely appropriate. Doing a lion/plains game hunt where all thats offered is lion, eland and zebra? Anything from a .338 Winchester Magnum up so long as the bullet is still doing 2,250 fps when it crosses the 50-yard line is great.

STATEMENT REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 24, 1912, AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS OF MARCH 3, 1933, JULY 2, 1946 and JUNE 11, 1960 (74 STAT. 208), SHOWING THE OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT and CIRCULATION OF THE RIFLE MAGAZINE (PUBLICATION NO. 607840). PUBLISHED BI-MONTHLY AT PRESCOTT, ARIZONA, FOR NOVEMBERDECEMBER 2009. 1. The name of the publisher is Don Polacek and the editor is Dave Scovill, Prescott, Arizona. 2. The owner is Polacek Publishing Corporation, 2625 Stearman Rd., Ste. A, Prescott AZ 86301. 3. The known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities are: (if there are none, so state.) None. 4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases where the stockholder or security holder appears upon the books of the company as trustee or in any other fiduciary relation, the name of the person or corporation for whom such trustee is acting; also, the statements in the two paragraphs show the affiants full knowledge and belief as to the circumstances and conditions under which stockholders and security holders who do not appear upon the books of the company as trustees, hold stock and securities in a capacity other than that of a bonafide owner. 5. The average number sold or distributed, through the mails or otherwise, to paid subscribers during the 12 months preceding the date shown was: (This information is required by the act of June 11, 1960, to be included in all statements regardless of frequency of issue.) 120,929 DONALD R. POLACEK, President

Building DOUBLE RIFLES on Shotgun Actions, 2nd Edition - By W. Ellis Brown

This book is written to take the gunsmith or advanced hobbyist step by step through the process of building a double rifle, using the action of a side-by-side shotgun. Chapters include evaluating actions and cartridges; building monoblocks; ribs; bushing firing pins; and proof testing. Of particular interest is the chapter on regulating the barrels to shoot to the same point of aim. Brown details each step of the entire process, to end with a functional, well regulated double rifle. Double rifle ribs are now available on the web site.
HB, DJ, Large Format, 217 pages with over 300 b/w photos, color photos and diagrams . . . . . . . . . . $54.95 + $5.00 S&H*
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by Clair Rees

was about to leave for a prairie dog shoot when I received a prototype of an interesting new shooting rest. Developed by Montie Design, this innovative rest consists of two 1258 inch long aluminum front legs and a rear leg just 9 inches long. The legs are powder coated and can be assembled into the rests X-shaped configuration in seconds.

the whole assembly weighs 19 ounces. Talk about portable! A single cotter pin with springloaded detent holds the whole thing together. Theres nothing like this on the market, said Montie Roland, president of Montie Design and an avid shooting enthusiast. Roland, who once shot competitively and has a daughter on a local junior rifle team, said he got the idea for the product after tiring of carrying around a heavy rest and sandbags. I thought a lighter, handier rest would serve recreational shooters better, he said. I was surprised at how well this quick-takedown rest steadied the varmint rifles Id brought along. The rubber-padded support legs raised a Volquartsen Evolution autoloader high enough to allow the use of 20- and 30-round AR15 magazines. This new rest can be used with a variety of rifles, handguns and even shotguns. It can be placed on a shooting

bench or used from the prone position. Manufactured in the U.S.A., the X-Rest is made of sturdy, corrosion-resistant 5052 aluminum. Tripod configuration provides good stability, even on uneven surfaces. It can quickly be tilted forward or sideways to adjust for different ranges. MSRP: $59.95. For more information, call 1800-722-7987, or visit the products section at

Broken down, the rest fits neatly into a carrying pouch with drawstring. Including the pouch,

Federal Introduces M1A, M1 Garand and .338 Federal Ammunition

Owners of M1A and M1 Garand rifles can now buy economical American Eagle factory loads that dont sacrifice accuracy. Federal offers similarly affordable loads for .338 Federal rifles. There is a very large number of shooters who use the M1A and M1 Garand rifles at the range, said Kyle Tengwall, director of marketing. Whether its prac ticing for a competition or just spending some time at the range, these shooters need affordable loads that perform well. These new loads cater to this special
86 Rifle 248

segment of shooters, and were proud to offer them something that shoots great and is available at a price that cant be beat. These special loads use staked

primers to reduce the risk of firearm malfunction, including slamfires. The M1 Garand load features a 150-grain FMJ bullet and a carefully selected propellant that produces pressures that

match the gas system design. Advertised muzzle velocity is 2,740 fps. The M1A load uses a 168grain Open Tip Match bullet that gives match-grade accuracy at an affordable price. Muzzle velocity is 2,650 fps. The increasing popularity of semiautomatic and AR-style rifles has resulted in gun manufacturers chambering these firearms in larger calibers formerly associated with bolt-action rifles and big game hunting. The shortaction non-magnum .338 Federal cartridge produces excellent hunting performance without the recoil of larger calibers. For semiautomatic rifles chambering the .338 Federal, the company is introducing a 200-grain softpoint offering under the Power-Shok line. Muzzle velocity is 2,700 fps. These rounds are suitable for use on the range or in the hunting field. For more information about these new loads, contact ATK Armament Systems, Dept. R, 900 Ehlen Drive, Anoka MN 55303; or visit the website: www.federal

claimed to be accurate to a full 1,000 yards, yet fits handily into a shirt pocket. The 6x monocular is easy to use. While an RX-1000 TBR (True Ballistic Range) version featuring an inclinometer and TBR readings is available for those concerned about long-range holdover in mountain country, the RX-1000 Compact offers sim-

ple rangefinding without those bells and whistles. Aside from its Lilliputian size, the first thing I discovered when using the rangefinder is the viewing quality. The Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) provided an exceptionally sharp image that was notably brighter than that provided by many range finders Ive used. According to

Leupold RX-1000 Compact Digital Laser Rangefinder

Leupolds latest rangefinder has a lot to offer. Measuring a compact 3.8x2.8x1.3 inches and weighing a bare 7.8 ounces, this rubber-armored powerhouse is
January-February 2010 87

full second required to return a reading. When I tried measuring the distance to a prairie dog mound 273 yards away, it took five attempts to succeed. A larger, heavier (and more expensive) laser rangefinder I borrowed returned a reading on the very first try. Gripping the RX1000 firmly in both hands, then resting my elbows on the shooting bench solved the problem.

Operation is simple. You have only a Mode and Power button to contend with. The Scan mode continuously updates the range as you track a moving target. The CR2 lithium battery is supposed to provide at least 2,000 measurements. MSRP: $349.99. See this compact, ultra-bright rangefinder at your Leupold dealer. For more information, visit

Wrap-Around ScopeArmor Deluxe Cover

Leupold, the OLED display dramatically increases light transmission up to 3x higher than LCD models. Three adjustable intensity settings allow you to match the OLED display to current lighting conditions. I appreciated the fold-down rubber eyecup, which allowed a full viewing field when I wore glasses. The eyepiece is also easily focused. While light and compact are desirable attributes, they did make it difficult to hold the rangefinder steadily on target for the

Top Quality Hunts for Elk, Mule Deer, Antelope and Turkey!

RB Outfitters and Guide Service

Heres an innovative product that provides all-around protection for riflescopes, along with fast, easy-off removal. Offered by Carson Optical, ScopeArmor Deluxe is a lightweight neoprene cover that shields both eyepiece and objective lenses from dust, debris, rain and snow. This differs from conventional scope covers in that it wraps completely around the body of the scope, protecting the tube from accidental dings or other damage. No zippers or hook-andloop fasteners are used. The covers flexible shape fits everything except the longest varmint or target scopes.

Ron Schalla P.O. Box 57 Chama, NM 87520 Tel: 575-756-1409 E-mail:

To attach, simply slip the covers oval-shaped front over the objective lens, then wrap the stretchable neoprene around both the scope and rifle. Finally, stretch the other end to cover the eyepiece. The neoprene cover remains firmly in place until youre ready to use the scope. Then simply pull the loop at the rear of the cover, and the ScopeArmor Deluxe silently falls away. Carson Optical also offers a simple, stretchable neoprene ScopeArmor sleeve without the wrap-around feature. The ScopeArmor Deluxe cover lists at $25, while the ScopeArmor sleeve sells for $17. ScopeArmor covers are available at many sporting goods retailers or can be ordered online at: For more information, call 1-877-9OPTICS (967-8427).
Rifle 248


Precision Barrels Highly Efficient Muzzle Brakes Barrel Lining for Accuracy Restoration

Dennis E. Olson Gunsmithing

P.O. Box 337 - Plains, MT 59859 - (406) 826-3790

Harry Lawson, L.L.C. Since 1965

CUSTOM STOCKS - Finished or semi-finished
Muzzle Brakes, Custom Metalwork CATALOG $2.00
3328 N. Richey Blvd., Dept. C, Tucson, AZ 85716 (520) 326-1117

Lawson Classic


Birchwood Casey Perma Fin Air Cure Gun Finish Kit

rate coats of Perma Fin from the three-ounce bottle, using a small paintbrush. I let each coat dry the recommended 90 minutes, then sanded it lightly before applying the next one. After final air drying, the barrel and trigger guard looked greatly improved. The Perma Fin Kit comes complete with an air brush and accessories (compressor not included), a pair of vinyl gloves, an abrasive sanding pad and two, three-ounce bottles of Perma Fin. Or you can buy the three-ounce bottles separately. Retail price for the kit is $64.40 and $16.10 for a three-ounce bottle.

Birchwood Casey has expanded its lineup of gun refinishing products with Perma Fin a new finish that makes it easier to touch up worn metal parts on your firearms. Perma Fin is a single-component, water-based polyurethane resin liquid that permanently adheres to metal firearm surfaces, as well as to plastic and rubber. It can be applied with an air brush (supplied in the kit) or a fine-bristled paintbrush. Properly used, it provides a durable, long-lasting, black satin finish. Once you apply Perma Fin, there is no need to heat or bake treated parts. Air drying is all thats required. There are no components to mix, and Perma Fin contains no harsh chemicals. The product is water-based, making cleanup easy. The solution should be shaken well for about two minutes, advises Birchwood Caseys Mike Morgan. There are two 17mm ball bearings in each 3-ounce jar to aid in the mixing process. Mixing well is very important to eliminate possible lumps. However, because of the size of particulates in the solution, the dried finish may have a very slight coarse feel. When the product is properly applied, it looks great. Ive tried Perma Fin on worn sections of the barrel and trigger

guard of a rifle thats seen some hard use. The product was easy to use (I shook the container vigorously for well over two minutes). Because the treated areas were small, I applied five sepa-

For more information, contact Birchwood Casey, Dept RI, 7900 Fuller Road, Eden Prairie MN 55344; telephone toll-free: 1-800328-6156; or visit the website:

Quick-Draw Gun Rack

Offered by Great Day, Inc., this universal mounting rack is designed for side-by-side seating utility vehicles like the Kawasaki Mule, Polaris Ranger, John Deere Gator, Arctic Cat Prowler, all golf cart-style vehicles, etc. Guns are held upright, providing ample leg space for driver and passenger. The Quick-Draw holds two guns (rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader) securely in soft, cushioned clips. Specially designed hook-andloop fastener pull-tabs allow the holding cradles to fit the exact size of the stock or forearm of the guns they hold. The guns are held firmly no loose fits to disturb sights and scope settings. The stand-alone mount can be positioned at any angle to fit the vehicles available space and the shooters preference. The frame is constructed of aircraft aluminum and covered with durable powder coat paint. It is made in the U.S.A. For more information, telephone: 1-866649-1918, extension 137, or visit online: R
Rifle 248

Bullet Casting

Catalog #544.10

This DVD video takes you on a step-by-step tutorial about casting bullets. From all the equipment needed to the final bullet sizing, it is all here in this full-color video. Produced in conjunction with, this video is perfect for the beginning bullet caster. Save money on ammunition costs while you enjoy a great new hobby!

Shipping & Handling: $3.25 U.S. & Canada, $6.50 Foreign (U.S. funds only) AZ Residents add 8.35% tax.

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Levergun Hunting
(Continued from page 57)

while allowing the horse to bend and move without binding on the rifle. The shotgun-style buttplate reduces felt recoil, which is

especially appreciated when using full-house loads. The 22- and 24inch barrels offer enough muzzle weight to aid in (or help steady) offhand shooting. Both rifles shoot well with a number of loads and will commonly go into 1 12 inches or less at 100 yards. A few years back, USRAC/Winchester offered a Model 1886 Extra Light Rifle with a 22-inch barrel, which with a little trigger and sight work would be a worthy choice. There are a couple of revolver cartridges that make excellent levergun rounds, including the .357 and .44 Magnums. The former round can push a 158-grain bullet around 1,900 fps with select ammunition and has accounted for deer and multiple pests around our home. Recoil can be managed by almost anyone, so it also serves as a home defense gun (in a Marlin Model 1894CB Limited 20-inch

and carbine with 1812-inch barrel). Many shooters dont realize just how effective and efficient a .357 Magnum rifle is until they put it to work. The .44 Magnum is more of the same but with greater recoil, power and versatility. If a rifle or carbine has a one-in-20-inch twist, it will stabilize bullets ranging from 180 to 320 grains (and probably heavier). Heavyweight bullets of proper construction can be pushed around 1,700 or 1,800 fps, making it suitable for hunting large game, while 240grain jacketed hollow bullets have proven decisive on deer and serve well for home/personal defense applications (assuming the shooter can master the gun). Over the past 30-odd years, I have tried a variety of Winchester pattern Model 1892 and Marlin Model 1894 (as well as 336-44) carbines and rifles in .44 Magnum. The one I have taken a shine to lately is a Marlin Model 1894 stainless steel that was converted to a takedown by Dave Clay (; 4201 East Renfro Street, Alvarado TX 76009) and was featured in a previous issue of Rifle magazine. It has an 1814-inch octagonal barrel with a one-in-16-inch twist, MPI synthetic stock, XS aperture sights, ultra smooth action with oversized loop lever, a meltdown package for easy carrying in the field and can be kept loaded with nine cartridges while broken down. With select ammunition it will shoot groups inside one inch at 100 yards, and I would not hesitate to hunt elk, moose or the great bears of Alaska with correct loads. Likewise it clusters low velocity cast bullets into a ragged hole, opening possibilities on small table fare with minimal meat damage if needed. The levergun is much more than western nostalgia. It also continues to serve as a first-rate hunting arm that happens to have handsome looks and a warmth that few sporting arms R can match.

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Rifle 248

Classic Cartridges
(Continued from page 29)

A .22 LR load shooting a bullet at subsonic velocity also provides the best accuracy because the bullet is not affected by the increased buffeting of air turbulence created at velocities that exceed the speed of sound. A subsonic bullet also drifts less in the wind than a high speed bullet from a .22 LR, even though a subsonic .22 bullet starts out several hundred fps slower. That just should not be possible because the shorter time of flight of the high-speed bullet ought to allow the wind less time to push it off course, but that is not the case. Instead, wind deflection is proportional to the amount of delay in bullet flight caused by air resistance. For instance as the Wind Deflection chart (Table I) shows, the CCI Subsonic 40-grain HP has a muzzle velocity of 1,050 fps and a .3107 second time of flight to reach 100 yards. However, the bullet would require only .285 second (300 feet divided by 1,050 fps) to cover the same distance in a vacuum. Consequently, the delay caused by air resistance to the subsonic bullet is .0257 second. In comparison, the delay in the flight caused by air resistance to a CCI Velocitor 40-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity 385 fps faster than the subsonic bullet is somewhat higher. The Velocitor bullet has a time of flight of .2424 second through the atmosphere to reach 100 yards. Its time of flight in a vacuum is .209 second (300 divided by 1,435), so its air resistance delay is .0334 second. As the chart shows, even though the CCI Subsonic bullet starts out slower than the CCI Velocitor bullet, the subsonic bullet drifts 1.46 inches less at 100 yards in a 10-mph wind. When golfers miss a putt, they sulk and swear and pitch their
January-February 2010

putter in the nearest water hazard. Thats a poor outlook on a game. Perhaps they should take up shooting a .22 LR. Then if they
Table I

missed they could just shoot again and come away with a much better perspective on the R game, and life.

Wind Deflection
0 1,435 0 0 25 1,329 0.36 0.0543 50 1,236 1.46 0.1128 75 1,157 3.31 0.1756 100 1,092 5.86 0.24

40-grain CCI Velocitor hollowpoint

yards: velocity (fps): 10-mph wind drift: time of flight:

40-grain CCI Subsonic hollowpoint

yards: velocity (fps): 10-mph wind drift: time of flight: Table II 0 1,050 0 0 25 1,003 0.3 0.0731 50 963 1.16 0.1494 75 929 2.53 0.2287 100 899 4.40 0.3107

Select .22 Long Rifle Loads

yards load (grains) muzzle 25 50 75 100

32 CCI Stinger hollowpoint:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,640 191 1,460 151 -0.29 1,304 120 0 1,176 98 -0.99 1,079 82 -3.55

40 CCI Velocitor hollowpoint:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,435 183 1,337 159 +0.19 1,230 134 0 1,149 117 -1.24 1,084 104 -4.09

40 CCI Small Game flat point:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,235 135 1,155 118 +0.1 1,088 105 +0 1,035 95 -1.83 992 87 -5.68

38 Federal American Eagle hollowpoint:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,260 135 1,182 118 -0.02 1,110 105 0 1,010 85 -1.73 940 75 -5.3

40 Lapua Midas+ roundnose:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,073 102 1,053 98 +0.6 985 86 -0946 80 -3.79 920 75 -8.2

40 Remington/Eley Club Xtra roundnose:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,085 105 1,041 96 +0.2 1,004 90 -0972 84 -2.35 944 79 -7.0

38 Remington Subsonic hollowpoint:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,050 104 1,041 96 +0.2 1,004 89 0 972 84 -2.62 944 79 -7.7

40 Winchester Super-X Power Point hollowpoint:

velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 1,280 146 1,186 125 -0.03 1,110 106 0 1,049 98 -1.72 1,000 89 -5.38


Sporti Fi earms Jour al ting Firear urnal

I N D E X to Volume 41
Issue Numbers 242 to 247
January 2009 to December 2009
AMMUNITION/CARTRIDGES .25 Caliber Cartridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 34 8x57mm Magnum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 72 BALLISTICS/BULLETS Calibers for Dangerous Game . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 74 Drifting into Trouble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 54 Long-Range Varmints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 58 BOOK REVIEWS Column Great Northwest Fur Trade A material culture, 1763-1850, The . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 66 Of Sorts For Provincials American Weapons of the French and Indian War . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 90 Savage Ammunition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 86 CLASSIC CARTRIDGES Column This Box of Old Ammo . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 26 .30-40 Krag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 16 .300 Savage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 14 .338 Winchester Magnum . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 24 .356 Winchester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 34 .41 Remington Magnum . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 20 CUSTOM CORNER Column Hill Country Rifles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 116 Montana Rifle Company . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 88 CUSTOM RIFLES Nosler Model 48 Varmint Rifle . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 38 Plan Your Custom Rifle Carefully . . . . . .No. 243, p. 34 DOWN RANGE Column Buttstocks and Buttplates . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 16 History Guy, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 30 How to Almost Lose a Championship . . .No. 247, p. 24 Paper or Steel? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 22 Trip to Iwo Jima, A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 14 Ugly Rifles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 20 GENERAL (History/Firearms/Misc.) What a Gun Writer Learns . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 44 Silence Is Golden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 68 .38 WCF/.38-40 Rifles and Carbines . . . .No. 243, p. 64 HUNTING RIFLES/FIELD REPORTS Buffalo Guns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 76 Calibers for Dangerous Game . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 74 INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT Norma Precision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 48 State of the Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 62 INSIDE PRODUCT NEWS Column BedBunker: Concealed, Secure Gun Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 90 BlackHawk Pro-Shooters Mat . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 111 Bushnell 4.5-30x 50mm Elite 6500 Riflescope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 81 Bushnells BackTrack GPS . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 82 CJ Weapons AR-308 Bore Stay . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 110

Campbell Industrial Supply Rotary Gun Cabinet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 94 Coppermax Shooting Glasses . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 82 Knight KP1 Rifle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 94 Knoxx Industries Rifle CompStock Recoil Reducing Stock . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 82 Leupold Acadia 10x42mm Binocular . .No. 243, p. 84 Magna-Tip Professional Super Set . . . . .No. 244, p. 80 Red-Legged Devil Monopod . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 82 Remington VCI Gun Protection . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 84 Scissor Stix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 91 Sinclair F-Class/Varmint Bi-Pod . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 84 Swarovskis Snap Shot Adapter . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 93 Trophy Tools Scope, Camera Field Clamp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 92 Wheeler Engineering Scope Mounting Combo Kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 112 Zeiss Improved Compact Binocular . . . . .No. 242, p. 92 .338 Marlin Express . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 83 LIGHT GUNSMITHING Column Basic Maintenance Rimfires . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 24 Chamber Casting Alloy . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 14 Cracked Stocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 28 Replacement Trigger Guards . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 28 Stock Cross Pins and Cross Bolts . . . . . .No. 247, p. 14 Stock Pitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 30 MILITARY RIFLES/CARTRIDGES Factory Loads for World War II Rifles . . .No. 246, p. 78 From Military to Civilian . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 70 Inauspicious Beginnings . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 54 Springfield 1903-A3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 48 MOSTLY LONG GUNS Column Another Shooter in the Family . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 12 Bolt Handle Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 18 Casull Cartridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 34 Iron Sights Versus Scopes . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 24 Marlin Model 925M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 20 Speer TNT GREEN Bullets . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 28 OPTICS Column Comparison Shopping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 12 Dial Awhile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 24 Future Scopes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 22 Heating Up the Debate, I Gather . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 22 How to Wear a Binocular . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 32 PRODUCT TESTS Column Benjamin Marauder Dual-Fuel Rifle . . . . .No. 247, p. 84 GAMO Hunter Extreme . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 106 Left-Handed Savage Sporter . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 84 Rebirth of the Ranch Rifle . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 90 Remington Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical Rifle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 88 Sound Metal Products Mauser Bottom Metal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 56 RIMFIRE RIFLES Tale of Two Rimfires, A . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 96 Winchester Model 67 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 64 SPORTING RIFLES Big Little Rifle and Little Big Rifle . . . . . .No. 242, p. 38 Big Results from Small Cartridges . . . . .No. 243, p. 44 Bolt Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 68 Browning X-Bolt Medallion . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 40 Buffalo Guns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 76 Kimber 84M Montana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 56 Merkel KR1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 74 Marlin Model 1895SBL .45-70 . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 88

Remington Model 700 CDL SF and the 7mm-08 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 60 Rifle for Mule Deer, A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 44 Savage AccuStock Rifle . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 40 Savage Model 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 30 Season with the .375 Ruger, A . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 82 Shooting the .470 Turnbull Levergun . . .No. 242, p. 48 .223 Remington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 54 SPOTTING SCOPE Column Brass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 8 Dual Purpose Varmint/Big Game Rifles . . .No. 245, p. 8 Nowhere to Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 8 Standard Rifles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 8 Trouble with Irons, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 8 Working Loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 246, p. 8 STRAIGHT TALK Column Fashion Police Needed for Shooters, Hunters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 245, p. 18 In-Flight Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 243, p. 18 Keep the Firearm Language Alive . . . . . .No. 246, p. 36 Ready, Aim, Hello? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 242, p. 12 Squeaky Clean Liars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .No. 247, p. 32 Why We Hate (Some) Guns . . . . . . . . . . .No. 244, p. 28

Eastman, Chub Nosler Model 48 Varmint Rifle, No. 245, p. 38. Ganyana Calibers for Dangerous Game, No. 242, p. 74; Buffalo Guns, No. 247, p. 76. Haviland, John Kimber 84M Montana, No. 242, p. 56; Big Results from Small Cartridges, No. 243, p. 44; Merkel KR1, No. 245, p. 74; Norma Precision, No. 246, p. 48; Long-Range Varmints, No. 247, p. 58. Classic Cartridges appears in issues 242 through 247. Hoots, Lee J. A Rifle for Mule Deer, No. 244, p. 44. Miller, Al 8x57mm Magnum, No. 243, p. 72; A Tale of Two Rimfires, No. 246, p. 96. Pearce, Brian Shooting the .470 Turnbull Levergun, No. 242, p. 48; .223 Remington, No. 243, p. 54; Remington Model 700 CDL SF and the 7mm-08, No. 244, p. 60; State of the Industry, No. 245, p. 62; Marlin Model 1895SBL .45-70, No. 246, p. 88; Bolt Actions, No. 247, p. 68. Mostly Long Guns appears in issues 242 through 247. Rees, Clair Inside Product News appears in issue 242 through 247. Scovill, Dave Spotting Scope appears in issues 242 through 247. Sengel, Gilbert Winchester Model 67, No. 242, p. 64. Light Gunsmithing appears in issues 242 through 247. Shoemaker, Phil A Season with the .375 Ruger, No. 242, p. 82; Inauspicious Beginnings, No. 244, p. 54. Spomer, Ron Plan Your Custom Rifle Carefully, No. 243, p. 34; Drifting into Trouble, No. 245, p. 54; Silence Is Golden, No. 246, p. 68. Optics appears in issues 243 through 247. Straight Talk appears in issues 242 through 247. Trzoniec, Stan Savage Model 25, No. 242, p. 30; .25-Caliber Cartridges, No. 244, p. 34; Browning X-Bolt Medallion, No. 246, p. 40; Savage AccuStock Rifle, No. 247, p. 40. Custom Corner appears in issues 245 and 246. Venturino, Mike Big Little Rifle and Little Big Rifle, No. 242, p. 38; .38 WCF/.38-40 Rifles and Carbines, No. 243, p. 64; From Military to Civilian, No. 244, p. 70; What a Gun Writer Learns, No. 245, p. 44; Factory Loads for World War II Rifles, No. 246, p. 78; Springfield 1903-A3, No. 247, p. 48. Down Range appears in R issues 242 through 247.


Rifle 248

Walnut Hill
(Continued from page 98)

After he killed the Champawat tiger, the government rewarded Corbett with a Rigby-made .275 Rigby on a Mauser action, which he carried for many years thereafter. In the 1930s, he added a Mauser-actioned Westley Richards .275 Rigby from Manton of Calcutta, the gun shop with which he did most of his business. To the best of my knowledge, none of these rifles was ever fitted with a scope, even though scope sights were increasingly common and available after 1918. Corbett himself acknowledged their virtues and was well able to afford one. Reading Corbetts accounts, one is struck immediately by a continuing theme throughout: He is always on foot or in a machan or, more often, just wedged into the fork of a tree. He climbs trees, scales rock faces and negotiates areas of thick brush and thorns. It is, after all, the Himalayas. Usually, he is carrying his rifle one-handed. On one memorable occasion, he kills a man-eating tiger at a distance of a few feet, holding the Rigby rifle in one hand, stretched at arms length like a handgun. So the logical conclusion is that, for Corbetts purposes, the scopes virtues did not outweigh its disadvantages. Todays hunter may wonder what possible advantages iron sights could hold over a scope, but that is because the majority of todays rifle shooters have never used a rifle equipped just with iron sights or a receiver sight never carried one in the woods, never backpacked with one, never brought down a big game animal with one. Had they done so, the virtues of such a rifle would be more than apparent. Jim Corbett placed a very high premium on being able to carry the rifle in such a way that it was instantly available. Instantly.
January-February 2010

Much is made of the ergonomic advantages of the old Winchester 1894, which carries so naturally in the hand and is so quick to the shoulder. Very few early 94s had a scope. A Mauser rifle without a scope carries just as naturally and comfortably as any 94 at the military trail position nestled in one hand, arm straight down at the side. It balances right at the floorplate, which is rounded

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and fits in the hand as your thumb wraps around the bolt. Carried in this position, the rifle can be brought to the shoulder almost as quickly as when it is carried in two hands across the chest, like a bird gun. Quick as the shotgun carry is, it can only be maintained for short periods, and not at all when negotiating really difficult terrain. The old trail carry is good anywhere, anytime, under any conditions and is especially valuable when backpacking in the mountains. Unfortunately, a conventionally mounted scope makes the trail carry very awkward, which leads most hunters to carry their scoped rifles slung on their shoulders. I suspect that more chances at big game animals are squandered because the rifle was hanging uselessly from someones shoulder, when a golden opportunity presented itself, than for any other reason.

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Most of Corbetts hunting was in the Himalayas the worlds most serious mountains but as with most mountains, distance was deceptive. Certainly you could see for miles, but in broken country, overgrown ravines, thickets and patches of jungle, ac tual shooting distances were considerably shorter. When Corbett killed a tiger or leopard or, for that matter, a gaur or sambur the ranges were measured in feet as often as in yards. Corbett was a superb stalker, as well as an expert game caller, using the jungle creatures own languages. He believed in bringing animals in close and making a certain shot, not in potting away at extravagant ranges. The few times he did flick up one of the folding leaves on his rifle, to take a shot at several hundred yards, it was usually because he had no choice. One could argue that todays riflescopes are vastly better than they were in 1926, and therefore the advantages of a scope over
Rifle 248

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Col. Richard Meinertzhagen shot this tiger with a Holland & Holland .375 double. In the thick undergrowth, iron sights were not only suitable, they gave a real advantage. The date on the photo is April 28, 1926. Just three days later, Jim Corbett killed the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag.
is about what you would get today. Maybe a few minutes more, but not a quantum increase. Any serious advantage with a scope lies in ranges beyond 200 yards. Inside that range, and especially for hunting in thick brush and rugged terrain, iron sights can change the whole game. Iron sights restore to a rifle the instinctive handling of a shotgun.

In the end, Corbett dispatched the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag the most famous renegade carnivore in history, aside from the man-eaters of Tsavo with one shot, fired from 20 feet thats right, feet in pitch-darkness, as it attacked a tethered goat. The rifle was his .275 Rigby, and it had a flashlight taped to the side. He had the rifle already trained where he knew the goat to be, and the dying battery gave him one brief flash in which to glimpse the leopard and pull the trigger. Would the shot have even been possible had the rifle been fitted with a scope? I doubt it. But I have no doubt at all, in the same situation or in any situation involving a dangerous animal at close quarters, I would take iron sights, and the ability to shoot quickly and instinctively, R every time.

iron sights are much greater today than they were then. I dont agree. Corbett said a scope afforded an extra half-hour. That

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January-February 2010


im Corbett is the most famous tiger hunter of all time, known to several generations of hunters and readers from his books about hunting maneaters in the Himalayas.

by Terry Wieland
ing about any details of rifles unless they had a direct bearing on events but it is safe to assume Ibbotsons scope was either German or British, probably a straight 78-inch tube with magnification of 2x or 2.5x at the most. Such a scope would not give much advantage by todays standards, but according to Corbett, it afforded them a full half-hour side the point: The scope gave a serious advantage, and Corbett recognized it. So the question is, why did Corbett not have a scope on any of his own rifles? Throughout his hunting career, Corbett used at least five different rifles. He began with a Martini-Henry .450 as a child, and

Corbetts career began with the killing of the Champawat maneater in 1907 and continued until the outbreak of war in 1939. Although he collected his accounts

An interesting sight arrangement on a W.J. Jeffery .404, built on a military Mauser action in the early 1920s: The aperture on the striker is the main sight; the standing leaf of the express sight has been hollowed out to allow a clear view through the aperture. When a longer distance is needed, the appropriate folding leaf is raised.

in two anthologies, an entire third book The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag was devoted to the hunting, and eventual slaying, of one leopard that terrorized the district of Garhwal for eight years and killed more than 125 human beings. Corbett killed the Rudraprayag leopard in 1926. For most of the time that he hunted it, Corbett used one of two rifles a .275 Rigby (7x57) and a .450/400 and eventually killed the leopard with the .275. At one point, hunting with his friend Sir William Ibbotson, both were armed with .275s. Corbetts rifle had iron sights with folding leaves set for ranges out to 300 yards, while Ibbotsons rifle had a scope. In 1926 scopes were rudimentary by todays standards. Corbett gives no details he was infuriatingly unforthcom98

more shooting time than he had with iron sights. One time, lying in wait for the leopard, Corbett guarded against an attack while Ibbotson lay facing the bait 100 yards away with his scoped rifle aimed where they expected the leopard to appear. Several times in the book, Corbett mentions the capabilities of the scope, and just as often they tried to put them to use. The fact that it never bore fruit is be-

later acquired a .500 BP double rifle, in which he shot both black powder and modified cordite ammunition a transitional smokeless load for use in blackpowder proofed rifles. Although several tigers fell to the .500, Corbett moved on to a .450/400 (whether the 3 14- or 3-inch version, I dont know) shortly after they became available in the early 1900s.
(Continued on page 95)

Rifle 248