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Savages NEW AccuStock!

Long-Range Varmint Rifles Springfield 1903-A3


November 2009

No. 247

Controlled Round

Push Feed Actions

25274 01240

Printed in USA

$5.99 U.S./Canada

November 2009 Volume 41, Number 6 ISSN 0162-3593 Issue No. 247

8 14 22

Standard Rifles
Spotting Scope Dave Scovill

24 28 32

How to Almost Lose a Championship

Down Range Mike Venturino

34 40 48

.356 Winchester
Classic Cartridges John Haviland

Stock Cross Pins and Cross Bolts

Light Gunsmithing Gil Sengel

Speer TNT GREEN Bullets

Mostly Long Guns Brian Pearce

Savage AccuStock Rifle

The quest for accuracy continues!
Stan Trzoniec

Future Scopes
Optics Ron Spomer

Squeaky Clean Liars

Straight Talk Ron Spomer

Springfield 1903-A3
Remingtons Battle Rifle
Mike Venturino

Page 40 . . .

Page 68 . . . Page 48 . . .


Background Photo: 2009 Ron Spomer

Rifle 247

On the cover . . .
The 9.3x74R Beissel & Winiecki Posen double rifle is proof-marked September 1912 and features a trigger guard made from real horn. Photo by Chub Eastman.

Page 40 Page 58 Page 48

58 68 76 84

Long-Range Varmints
Haviland tests performance to 500 yards.
John Haviland

Bolt Actions
Controlled Round Versus Push Feed
Brian Pearce
Issue No. 247 November 2009

Buffalo Guns
The Legendary Mbogo

Sporti ting Fi Firear earms Jour urnal al

Publisher/President Don Polacek Associate Publisher Mark Harris Editor in Chief Dave Scovill

Benjamin Marauder Dual-Fuel Rifle

Product Tests Jess Galan


Whats New in the Marketplace

Inside Product News Clair Rees

Managing Editor Roberta Scovill Art Director Gerald Hudson Production Director Becky Pinkley

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

Advertising Director - Stefanie Ramsey stefanie@riflemag.com Advertising Representative - Tom Bowman bowman.t@sbcglobal.net Advertising Information: 1-800-899-7810

Circulation Page 76 . . .
Circulation Manager Michele Elfenbein circ@riflemagazine.com Subscription Information: 1-800-899-7810 www.riflemagazine.com
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 Deptpartment, 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 which 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: 2009 Ron Spomer

Rifle 247


by Dave Scovill

ardly a week goes by that we dont hear from someone who wants reduced loads for whatever cartridge. The common denominator is that folks are interested in reduced recoil for new hunters, either children or adults. More often than not, they have a rifle but want to tame it down a bit for practice. The fallacy in the reduced recoil idea is that sooner or later, assuming folks ultimately want to use the rifle for hunting, they will have to deal with normal recoil, which for some may be a bit of a shock after they get used to reduced loads. The other problem is that for some cartridges, like belted or nonbelted magnums from .270 to .30 caliber, it simply isnt practical or prudent to reduce loads below the suggested starting loads listed in various reloading manuals for the bullet weight of interest. The same applies to nonmagnums, such as the 7mm08 and .25-06 Remingtons, or even the .270 Winchester and .3006. Reducing the powder charge below the suggested starting loads is not recommended.

Managing Editor Roberta Scovill took this 6x6 bull at 374 yards with a Barnes 150-grain TSX in a Remington Model 700 7x57mm Mauser.
There are a lot of reasons for not reducing loads beyond recommended minimums in manuals, but it really boils down to the fact that gunpowder simply does not burn properly below minimal pressures and temperatures, especially in cold weather. Folks can nitpick the facts and fiddle around in no-mans land all they want, but sooner or later, it will come back to haunt them in terms of spurious pressures and ve locities, blown primers and, in the worse case, a ruptured rifle. Thats particularly true for slowerburning rifle powders that are coated with deterrents to slow the burning rate, such as H- or IMR-4831, 4350 and others generally used to develop optimum velocities with mid- to heavyweight bullets in a variety of cartridges, from the .257 Roberts or .30-06 to the big magnums. In general, if the velocity range you might be looking for in a given cartridge is below the suggested minimums, use pressure-tested, factory-managed recoil ammunition or switch to a different rifle that better meets recoil requirements. Generally, the easiest way to reduce recoil is to reduce the bullet weight, such as 110 grains in the .270 or 120 in 7mms.


Rifle 247

This lineup of bolt rifles includes (left to right): a Remington Model 700 7x57mm Mauser (Leupold scope), Ruger Model 77 MKII 6.5x55 (Nikon scope), Remington Model 700 Mountain Rifle .257 Roberts (Kahles scope) and Ruger Model 77 Ultralight MKII .270 Winchester (Leupold scope).
The problem is that readers questions are characteristically a little late, especially if someone has just acquired a 7mm Remington Magnum and wants loads to duplicate the low end with the 7x57mm Mauser or 7mm-08 Remington. To get ahead of the curve, there are a few rifles/cartridges that better suit intentions regarding reduced recoil. For deer, the .257 Roberts is at the top of the list. Next up is the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, followed by the 7x57mm Mauser or, if you prefer, the 7mm-08. I would include the .243 Winchester, but experience suggests, to me at least, the .257 is a better choice and Ive taken a great number of deer with both. I should also note that the problem of reduced recoil is not new for me. Back when my children decided they might like to go hunting, my daughter Alicia wanted a Model 94 Winchester .30 WCF and son Jason leaned toward my own personal choice,

the 7mm Mauser. I worked up a couple of starting loads for both rifles, sat the kids down at the bench, taught them how to shoot properly, draped a folded bath towel over their shoulders and turned them loose. Seventeen years later, they both still have the rifles. The scenario repeated with my wife, Roberta, when she grew tired of staying home while I was out hunting and agreed to a pronghorn hunt in Montana. As the managing editor of Wolfe Publishing, she has a good background in rifles and cartridges but had never pulled the trigger on any rifle, let alone one suited for big game. We both of us decided on a Remington Model 700 .257 Roberts Mountain Rifle with 87-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips at just under 3,000 fps. After a bit of practice from a bench, Roberta switched to shooting sticks, to emulate field conditions, and one shot at less than 100 yards did the trick nicely. Robertas next challenge was caribou with our friend Barry Taylor (Arctic Safaris) 180 miles north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The rifle of choice was a Ruger Model 77 MKII 6.5x55 with a 140-grain Nosler Partition. One shot at 75 yards or so worked fine. More recently, Roberta bought a Remington Model 700 7x57mm Mauser from Ken Waters, and I worked up a load with the 150-grain Barnes Triple10 www.riflemagazine.com Rifle 247

Daves daughter Alicia is the current keeper of the legendary 12 gauge that has passed through four generations of the family. Inset, Dave broke the stock in 1956 while finishing off a lambkilling hawk. The makeshift screw/repair has held for over a half-century.
Nowadays, Roberta rarely shoots off the bench, but picks up where she left off with shooting sticks. If she has learned anything in 20+ years of editing Handloader, Rifle and now Successful Hunter, it is that you dont shoot groups in animals, and there are no benchrests in elk or mule deer country or Africa. Of course, anyone who has read this magazine over the years knows I started out in 1955 with Moms .257 Roberts, switched to a .243 Winchester after college, added a Model 94 .30 WCF and finally settled on a Ruger Model 77

2009 Jay Yoder photos

Shock at 2,700 fps for elk. The first shot at something around 370 yards put the 6x6 bull on the

ground. She used a Ruger Model 77 MKII .270 Winchester Ultra Light on two other elk as well.

November-December 2009



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7x57mm Mauser in 1973. During that 19 year period, I used/borrowed every rifle/cartridge I could lay my hands on, including most everything from a 6mm Remington to a .338 Winchester. It didnt take long to learn that I didnt need a wonder magnum, although I used several before I woke up. Looking back over the last halfcentury, Im still of the opinion that the .257 Roberts, 6.5x55 Swede and 7x57mm Mauser are the pick of the litter for anyone who might be recoil shy, and theyre more than sufficient for game as big as our Arizona bull elk. (You can toss the .270 WCF into the mix if you like, since it is a 7x57mm Mauser, or vice versa.) The school-age daughter of a friend up in Utah even dropped an elk with a 100-grain Barnes TSX from a .243 Winchester. The dilemma most folks seem to have in choosing a rifle for children or wives is confusion inspired by ballistic tables. One cartridge might shoot a similar bullet weight 100 fps faster than the next, and for whatever reason, folks get hung up on .5- to .75-inch variations in trajectory, or 100 foot-pounds of energy. Another hang-up is some magic velocity 3,000 fps, or whatever. Ive done that too, until I came full circle and wound up back at the 7mm Mauser. Some folks might like to challenge the fact that I left out the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, 6.5x57 or whatever. But ballistically, the .260 is a 6.5x55 and a 7mm-08 is a 7x57. If you like the Remington Model 700 CDL 7mm-08, for example, it fills the bill nicely, as does the 6mm Remington versus the .243 Winchester. You can debate the issue until the next blue moon, but they are all peas in a pod. Then there are the philosophical issues. As John Haviland noted not long ago, why is it that a 6.5x55 is fine for a womans

A Kimber Model 84 .257 Roberts (Kahles 6x) is shown for comparison with a Remington Model 700 .257 Roberts Mountain Rifle (Kahles 4x).
rifle, while macho-type he-men must have a .300 of some sort? The truth is, a .264-inch bullet through the elks lungs is the same as a .308 bullet in the same place. Moreover, beyond a certain point, impact velocity becomes irrelevant. Yes, there is the matter of reach, but it rarely matters except for ranges beyond 300 yards or so, where some measure of experience with judging distance and trajectory might make a difference, assuming the shooter is capable of taking advantage of the somewhat flatter trajectory. For the most part, however, most folks could shoot a bit better if they werent shooting magnums in the first place; which probably explains why the .270 Winchester is one of the most popular cartridges to ever come down the pike, and the 7x57mm
(Continued on page 88)



Rifle 247



by Gil Sengel
Much the same can be said of Paul Mauser and the bolt-action rifle. Yet Mauser was so good at perfecting the concept that every cut, every line on a Model 98 action is there for a functional purpose. Some riflemakers today say they have improved the design by leaving off some of the original features. A closer look finds these folks didnt really understand why the features were there in the first place. There was one detail, however, that Mauser never quite perfected. That was recoil damage to wooden stocks. We know that Mauser was aware of the situation, yet there was just no substitute for trees and the properties of wood. Today, that has all changed. Gunstocks are now made from the same materials used for toothbrush handles and chemical sprayers. Given the colors of some of these stocks and the designs of others, their creation may have been inspired by brush handles and lawn sprayers! Nevertheless, for those of us who prefer bolt guns in traditional fittings, the problems of the tree remain. Lets look at the type of recoil damage we will be repairing (or preventing) in this column. Everyone knows that recoil in a bolt-action rifle is transferred from the barreled action to the stock by the receivers recoil lug. On original Mauser military designs, the lug is adequate for its task. Quite frequently, however, humans have come along and messed things up. Like when actions designed for the 7.9x57mm are rebarreled to large caliber, hard-kicking magnums.

ost folks are surprised to learn that Samuel Colt did not invent the revolver. The concept and the guns were around before Colt (or his parents) were born. It was simply an idea

This Remington brass reinforcing cross pin is in a factory Model 700 stock.
Recoil from these more powerful rounds can drive the recoil lug into the stock, compressing it. In many cases a section of wood will chip out behind the lug. A simple, yet seldom used, way to prevent this is providing another recoil lug on the new barrel. One problem solved, but there is yet another stock flexing at the magazine recess. Simply put, when the recoil shock transferred to the stock by the recoil lug (or lugs) gets to the

A pre-64 Model 70 stock showing where it will split (arrow) behind the recoil lug. Note the chip out behind the guard screw hole.
whose time had not yet come. A flintlock revolver was about as practical as a horse-powered helicopter.

This area behind the magazine box (arrow) is where a split will occur due to flexing, as explained in the text. The split has started on this stock from an old 06.
14 www.riflemagazine.com

If the stock is to be refinished, a clay dam around the recessed bolt head allows filling with epoxy, which is finished flat with the wood surface.
Rifle 247

Easy to use is Brownells Stock Pin Repair Kit. It doesnt have to be used after the stock is broken or split. A pin will prevent a split from happening in the first place.

thin strips of wood on either side of the magazine box, they bow outward slightly. This causes the small bridge of wood just forward of the trigger to eventually split while the rear action tang moves back, driving into the wood at the pistol grip. A small crack soon appears there, and glass bedding wont prevent it. One may think that just keeping the rear guard screw tight will prevent these splits, but that is not the case. The bedding surface under the rear tangs is always small on flat-bottomed actions. Round-bodied receivers are no better, because tightening the guard screws just pulls them into

the wood like a wedge and splits the stock anyway. Mausers steel ferrules around the guard screws help here (and you thought pillar bedding was a new idea). So do the oval panels on some commercial Mauser sporters. These left the wood around the magazine box about twice as thick as normal. Fortunately there is a way to prevent (or repair and prevent recurrence) of stock splitting on most any staggered-column box magazine bolt gun. Steel stock cross pins and cross bolts are the answer. Wood cant split when steel is holding it together. Installation of these devices is easy, but like sling swivels, if not done properly, the error is glaringly obvious from 30 feet away. All that is required is a simple drilling fixture as shown in the illustrations. It is intended to clamp to a drill press table but is shown on my milling machine, because the clutter around the drill press was too much for photos. The fixtures base is made from two 10x34-inch pieces of 34-inch plywood glued together for ridigity. A pointed steel pin protrudes about 38 inch above the surface, centered laterally on the base, and 15 inches from the right-hand end. A foot long section of 4x4 pine is held to the base by two carriage bolts moving in slots
Rifle 247


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The Gage That Works!


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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101-D Allison St. Lock Haven, PA 17745 TEL (570) 748-6772 FAX (570) 748-4443 Bill Gebhardt, Owner
(NRA Benefactor Member - IBS Life Member)

Location of the stock pin must be accurately determined on both sides of the stock and deeply marked with a center punch.



Slide the 4x4 up until it contacts the stock flats on either side of the barrel channel. Move the 4x4 and stock until the drill is perfectly aligned with the other center mark in the wood. Tighten the wing nuts on the 4x4 and clamp the stock to it using a bar clamp having thick jaw pads as shown. This may take a bit of practice at first. Drill a pin or bolt hole and recess for the bolt head if required. Remove the stock from the fixture, put a drill bit in an electric drill and complete the final 18 inch. Hold a piece of wood faced with a couple of layers of card-

Close-up of the pointed fixture pin described in the text.

about 2 inches long and locked by wing nuts on top. It provides an adjustable, lockable support on which to clamp the stock when drilling. In use the fixture is C-clamped to a drill press table with the pointed steel pin exactly centered on the drill chuck. The stock to be drilled must first have the centers of the required holes located precisely on both sides of the stock. Spend whatever time is needed to get this correct! These points are then deeply marked by pushing a center punch into the wood. Now, with the quill stop set so the drill just misses the drill fixture pin, place the stock with one center mark on the pin point.

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Set the drill to miss the fixture pin by about 18 inch to prevent splitting on the far side of the stock.
board against the stock to prevent chipping-out wood when the drill comes through. The photos show drilling for a stock cross pin. These are sold by Brownells as stock repair pins. They are the handiest thing anyone who does stockwork repair can have on his bench. Remington has used a similar item ahead of the trigger recess in its Model 700 stocks for years. This cross pin is a 212-inch piece of threaded brass, available in two diameters. To prevent splits behind a recoil lug or ahead of a trigger, a hole is drilled through the stock with a provided drill
www.riflemagazine.com 17

The drill chuck and pointed pin must be perfectly aligned.

November-December 2009

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Mount the stock in the fixture, position as per text, clamp everything tightly, then drill the hole.
bit. A few drops of ACRAGLAS are placed in the hole. The pin, locked in the chuck of a variable speed electric drill, is run into the hole until it comes out the opposite side. Dressing the ends flush with the wood finishes the job. If the stock is already split, the cross pin cannot pull the wood together. It is necessary to make the repair first, then run the pin through to prevent it from ever splitting again. A cross pin is entirely adequate in front of the trigger and behind the recoil lug in most rifles. When cartridges are big magnums of .40 caliber and above, more reinforcement might be wanted behind the recoil lug. If the stock is to be refinished, an embedded cross bolt is the thing to use. Two are shown as numbers 4 and 5 on the display board photo. Both, along with washers and 10x24-tpi nuts were purchased at a hardware store for a few cents.

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Clamp the stock in the gun vise, put a couple of layers of cardboard on a hardwood backer (to prevent chipping when the drill comes through) and complete the hole.
The only difference in drilling for cross bolts as opposed to cross pins is forming a recess for the bolt head on one side of the stock and for the nut on the other. After drilling the bolt body hole, the drill bit is replaced in the chuck with a 716-inch, four flute end mill (cost about $5). Use the end mill to cut a flatbottomed recess deep enough to cover the cross-bolt ends. To recess the opposite side of the stock, it must be flipped over on
Rifle 247

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18 www.riflemagazine.com


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Run the Brownells pin in with a variable speed electric drill.

the drilling fixture, along with the 4x4. Then center, clamp and drill as before. After installing the bolt, a clay dam is made around the hole and poured full of black-dyed epoxy. When hard, sand flush with the wood. Many folks think these black dots look so neat they want the same in front of the trigger! If stock refinishing is not desired, the only option is a cross bolt with exposed ends. Numbers 1 and 2 on the display board photo are simple steel carriage bolts bought at a hardware store. They require a slotted nut shaped

Cut the recess for exposed-head cross bolts using a common mill cutter. Obviously if this were a stock, the drill fixture would be used.
like the head and having a blind tapped hole to be made on a metal lathe. If one prefers, a complete bolt is available from Brownells (number 3 on the display board) very inexpensively. A proper diameter end mill is used to set the bolt heads flush with the wood surface. If the mill is turned fast and fed slowly, it will cut a clean hole, making no other work necessary. Cross pins or cross bolts, to repair splits or prevent them, a little equipment and knowledge make the job easy and look R professional too!

Display board showing cross bolts and cross pins. Nos. 1 and 2 are exposed-head fasteners from a hardware store. No. 3 uses a spanner wrench and is available from Brownells. Nos. 4 and 5 are recessed deeper and covered with black epoxy. Nos. 6 and 7 are Brownells stock repair pins.
20 www.riflemagazine.com Rifle 247

by Ron Spomer
If too bright they obscure the dim target, but just a speck of red light where the crosshairs meet is sufficient for a precise aim. This minimizes wounding loss and keeps the respect of the public.

ow would you like a scope that communicates with your rifle? Zeiss has one. Its the Varipoint iC, recently released in Europe. Why, you might wonder, would a scope and rifle need to communicate? One reason is to turn on the illuminated reticle. Another is to take a picture or turn on a range-finding feature when the rifle points at a target. The former is what the Varipoint iC does. The latter is reportedly in existence, but only for military applications.

Lighted reticles have been around for quite a few years now. Trijicons unique fiber optic system concentrates ambient light to illuminate its retiIn Europe, where hunters are cle. In full dark a trihighly trained and maintain retium phosphor coatspect from the general public for ing makes the sight their roll in keeping deer, fox and glow. Bushnell has a A magnet in the cocking device on the rifle particularly wild boars from damsimilar phosphor retiactivates a switch in the eyepiece of the scope aging fields, meadows, forests cle called the Fire Fly. to turn on the illuminated reticle. The threeand suburban shrubbery, night shot group on the target was done at 300 The user charges it by hunting is an accepted practice. yards with a 6.5-284 Norma barrel on shining a flashlight Boars are largely nocturnal, espethe R93 Blaser. into the scope for 10 cially where heavily hunted. They seconds. The reticle are also nearly black. Trying to then glows long enough for an is. Your options are to leave the align a black crosshair on a black evening hunt. Most illuminated reticle illumination turned off animal even before dark can be scopes (Burris, Swarovski, Leu until the moment of truth, change difficult. American wild pig and pold, Pentax, Nikon, Vortex, batteries frequently and well beblack bear hunters have this Schmidt & Bender, Nightforce, fore anticipated shooting opporproblem. Even moose and mule etc.) require a small battery. Battunities or suffer if the darned deer can be hard to target with teries eventually run out of juice. traditional cross wires in dark thing goes dead at an inopporforests or evening woods. EuroIf they do this just before a shot, tune time. peans prize illuminated reticles. your illuminated reticle no longer Germans dont like to waste opportunities at inopportune times. So Zeiss and Blaser, the biggest riflemaker in Germany, teamed up to create what might be a small wave of the future the communicating rifle and scope. For its part, Blaser installs a magnetic Rebated Boattail Aluminum Tip generator in the cocking slider (Super Low Drag) (similar in location and operation Contact: Bullet Bob to a tang safety) on its R93 iC 406-723-8683 rifles. Zeiss installs a sensor in the bottom of its Varipoint iC P.O. Box 127 Butte, MT 59703 eyepiece. Shove the R93 cocking www.customprojectile.com slider forward (which cocks the

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50 Caliber BMG



Rifle 247

rifle for firing) and the magnet turns the scopes illumination on. By the time you get your eye behind that scope, the center of its reticle is aglow with the tiniest red dot in the business. Black boars beware. Once you uncock the R93, the scope illumination also goes off. Of course, you can override this by manipulating the scope manually, leaving it on for as long as you wish. Another form of gun/scope communication was the interesting photographic Smart Scope sold by Adirondack Optics in 2004. When turned on, the scopes internal camera ran continuously, but none of its video images were saved to its internal SD card until the recoil of the rifle triggered the unit to save a split second shot. The rifle was essentially the shutter release. This resulted in a photo being taken through the

scope, with the reticle superimposed over the animal at the instant of the shot. Not only was this a cool picture for the hunter, but a great educational and informational tool. If you wondered, for instance, if youd missed, shot high or shot low, you just uploaded the SD card and saw where the crosshair was when the shot broke. Sorry, Ralph! You flinched and shot under him! I havent seen the Smart Scope advertised for several years now, and the most recent date on its website is 2006, so I dont know if its scopes are still being made, but the idea surely wont die. Watch for more like it. The wildest, most advanced and potentially unethical scope/rifle communication might be the rumored ability of an electronic scope to measure the distance to a target via standard laser rangefinder, then employ an on-

board computer to move the crosshair to the precise position for a perfect hold. You would no longer hold high, dial your turrets or choose one of several subreticles in your scope for long-range shooting. Just trust the scope/computer to shift the reticle as needed, concentrate on keeping steady and launch the bullet. Of course, this doesnt take into consideration the wind speed or direction, and I doubt it ever will, because wind, unlike gravity, isnt constant. Beyond 400 yards, wind deflection can lead to gross inaccuracy and crippling loss. Certainly humankinds inno vation and technology will create ever more efficient ways to aim rifles, but once the bullet is launched, its at the mercy of Mother Nature. And everyone knows you cant fool Mother R Nature.

November-December 2009




by Mike Venturino

riend and Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette (BPCR) shooting partner Darrell Smithson of Helena, Montana, is one of the best shooters Ive ever seen. He is always a contender at a match and has a considerable number of trophies proving his ability. One event that he had never won, however, was the Montana State Championship held in Butte since 1998. That Butte range is one of the trickiest in existence. Winds and mirage can change instantly and/or constantly. Evidence of that can be seen in scores fired there. Master Class performance is rare.

The Montana State Championship title is coveted, not the least reason why being that Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing donates one of its beautiful Model 1874 Sharps reproductions to the winner. Shooters from all around the West attend the match with several prior national champions always in attendance. Yet it has usually been that Darrell and myself have, crudely put, fallen flat on our faces during the three-day event. Most BPCR Silhouette championships nowadays consist of two distinct matches. At Butte, day one is a separate scoped championship consisting of a 60-shot course of fire

Darrell Smithson receiving his prize as iron sight match winner for the Montana State BPCR Silhouette Championship a Shiloh Model 1874 .45-70. From left to right: match director A.P. Ulsher, Kirk Bryan of Shiloh, Darrel Smithson and Mike.
for which Montana Vintage Arms (61 Andrea Drive, Belgrade MT 59714) donates one of its fine 6x, longtube scopes for the winners prize. Days two and three are iron sight 40-shot courses of fire with the 80-shot aggregate determining that years iron sight state champion. Let me give an example of falling on our faces. At day one of the 2008 iron sight match, Darrell and I shot the 500-meter rams as our second target of the day. He hit one of 10. I have spotted for him for several years and am quite familiar with how he, his rifles and his handloads shoot. His primary rifle is centered on an original Remington rolling block action built into a custom rifle with a .45-90 Krieger barrel by Montana gunsmith John King (PO Box 700, Kila MT 59920). Quite often Darrells bullet strikes (splatter) on rams will overlap.

Mike shown shooting while Darrell Smithson spots for him. By shooting together for several years, the two have come to know each others rifle and handload capabilities.
24 www.riflemagazine.com

That day they did not, landing from the top of the berm to the ground beneath the ram rail. Darrell was understandably upset. That performance on the morning of the first day put him out of the runRifle 247

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ning for the state champion title. I said to him, Darrell, I know that rifle, and I know you. Something is wrong. Start looking. What was wrong was that the stop in the rotating wheel of his Hadley eyecup had become worn. That allowed it to move slightly with recoil, in effect changing the elevation of the sight from shot to shot. A representative of Montana Vintage Arms, the maker of the Hadley eyecup, was there and replaced it. The next day Darrell and I shot rams as the last target of the day when winds and mirage are at their worst. He hit all 10. Now fast forward to the same event in 2009. Four weeks prior, Darrell had surgery completely replacing his right knee, damaged in a work-related accident. He was still on crutches. Another friend and I got his gear to the line every relay and helped him up and down from his shooting mat. Twenty-five percent of every BPCR Silhouette match is fired offhand at chicken silhouettes placed at 200 meters. Watching Darrell shoot them balanced on his good left leg with his right foot barely touching the ground was almost comical, until you saw the pained look on his face. On the scoped championship day, Darrell shot the 300-meter pigs last, toward the end of an 11hour marathon. (Factors from weather to not enough target setters delayed the match considerably.) Pigs are the easiest of the metallic silhouettes to hit, which isnt the same thing as saying they are easy. We were battling constantly changing winds, and on shot number six, Darrells bullet went right over the pigs back. Thats when he turned to me and said, This pig load is accurate,

but I know this bullet is more wind sensitive than my turkey and ram bullet. Duh! Images of whacking his new knee with a set of cross-sticks flitted through my mind! Why shoot a known wind-sensitive bullet in the worst winds of the day? That was attempt number one of almost losing a championship. Darrell and two other shooters tied for first place with scores of 45X60, but he managed to win the scoped champion title in the shoot-off at the 200-meter chickens. Day one of the iron sight event went well. Darrell hit 31x40. (Thats the minimum for a Master Class score and the only such score shot in the three days.) The next highest placing shooter hit 29x40, giving Darrell a not too comfortable lead. Day two started out well enough. We shot chickens first and Darrell hit four of 10. That wasnt too bad, especially considering his knee. Things started downhill on the pigs. Again he shot that wind-sensitive bullet, and again one shot went over a pigs back. Things were too tense to again threaten him with bodily harm, but I felt like it. That was attempt number two of almost losing a championship. Next on the turkeys, he could have threatened me. Winds were going crazy, not only changing quickly in speed but also doing complete reversals from shot to shot. My spotting wasnt the best, and Darrell only hit six of 10. That was attempt number three of almost losing a championship. I then took a peek at the scoreboard. It showed that we were going into our last animal targets of the day with a onepoint lead over the next highest shooter. And the winds werent behaving any better than on turkeys. BPCR Silhouette allows sighting shots on each animal at a non-falling gong within the allotted time, but once the shooter goes for score he is committed.
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Darrell planted several shots dead center on that 500 meter distant gong and then went for score. At the sound of the shot, I saw nothing! The ram didnt go down and there was no dust from a miss. That rattled us both. How did a bullet just disappear? But he pulled out of it and hit the next three rams dead center. On shot number five near-dis aster struck. For a reason still unknown, the hammer of his rolling block followed the breechblock as it was closed. The rifle discharged into the mountain behind the targets, but the shot still counted in his score. We didnt know where shot one had gone, and the fifth was wasted. With

five shots to go the other fellow was now tied with him. We were both unsettled to put things mildly. While the target setters were putting up the silhouettes again for the last five shots, I happened to look at his sighting gong. Sure enough there was another bullet strike dead center of it! He had shot at it instead of ram number one. Duh, and double duh! That shot was number four of almost losing a championship, and his fifth had been number five. At this point Darrell and I had a serious conference. If he hit all five rams and his contender hit all five of his turkeys, the worst was that they were tied. But I

pointed out that the other fellow was shooting at a smaller albeit closer target in winds and mi rage just as bad as ours. We had to keep our heads in the game, which translated into staying calm and working together. We did! Darrell hit all five rams, and the other fellow dropped a turkey. No one else of the 72 shooters was in a position to challenge his lead. He ended up being both scoped and iron sight 2009 Montana State Champion, something no one else has ever done. That meant he was taking home both a brand new match grade scope and a new rifle to mount it on. It surely was an almost thing.

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November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 27



by Brian Pearce
a lead-free pill that would stabilize in most rifles that commonly feature one-in-12- or one-in-14inch twists, while keeping costs in check. The bullet jacket is traditional gilded metal, while the core is constructed of copper dust, mixed with matrix and tamped tightly. The two Federal loads were tried in three rifles, a Kimber Model 84M Varmint .22-250, a Kimber Model 84M LPT and a Savage Model 10 Predator, the latter two being chambered in .223 Remington. It was observed that some rifles (belonging to other attendees) did not perform

was recently invited to try new Federal Premium loads in .223 and .22-250 Remingtons designed especially for varminting. It is not just another frangible bullet delivering devastating results on pests, but rather it is constructed lead free, or what is referred to as green (a political term I am not fond of, but one that most understand). The bullet is legal in zones or states that require the use of such when hunting. The Federal loads contain a 43-grain Speer TNT GREEN bullet, which is about the heaviest weight that could be stuffed into

New Federal Premium varmint loads feature a lead-free 43-grain Speer TNT GREEN bullet. The jacket is gilded metal while the core is constructed of copper dust mixed with matrix, then compressed.
as well as hoped with the new loads, but the two Kimber rifles I brought along grouped around 114 inches at 100 yards, while the Savage grouped under one inch (from a sandbag rest). The .223 Remington load is advertised at 3,600 fps muzzle velocity, while the .22-250 is rated at 4,000 fps. From the 24-inch barrel of the Kimber LPT, the .223 reached 3,571 fps with an extreme spread of 55 fps for five shots. From the 26-inch barrel, the .22-250 achieved 3,949 fps with an extreme spread of 89 fps. In shooting something close to 1,000 rounds in the above rifles on Wyoming prairie dogs, the terminal performance of the TNT GREEN bullet proved worthy, with quick, devastating results. In addition to the new TNT GREEN bullet, traditional lead-core softpoint, hollowpoint and tipped TNT versions will remain available in the Speer lineup.





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28 www.riflemagazine.com

SSK Industries

Trophy Bonded Bear Claw Bullets

The late Jack Carter developed and designed the Trophy Bonded line of bullets, which became
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Federal Premium ammunition will be offered with new Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets. The entire product line will become available as a component to handloaders in 2010.
popular with hunters, especially those who pursue large and dangerous game. His business grew rapidly, and eventually a deal was struck that allowed Federal to manufacture bullets and load them in its Premium line of ammunition, which ultimately led to a buyout. Shortly thereafter, Trophy Bonded bullets were marketed under the Speer bullet heading, but somehow this strategy fell short of expectations. New for 2009, Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets are getting a facelift in production process, quality and design. Slight changes in the jacket and core are intended to reduce runout and improve accuracy. The jacket is constructed, as it has been for many years, of gilding metal (95/5, copper/zinc) and is now bourrelet grooved, which reduces fouling and pressures and generally improves accuracy. And finally there is a flash-plated nickel applied (very thinly) that is reported to reduce fouling and bore friction, while leaving a distinguished appearance. The bullets will retain the unique bonding process that marries the jacket to the core with a solid copper shank, at least on expanding versions. The Trophy Bonded line will include Bear Claw, a lead softpoint; Tip, which is plastic tipped; and Sledge hammer, a solid. New in 2010, the three lines of Trophy Bonded bullets will be offered as components to handloaders under the Federal Premium name and will be available in .284 through .474 calibers.
November-December 2009

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I have only had the chance to fire a few rounds on paper with the new Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets in .416 Rigby, which is certainly not enough to form much of an opinion as to terminal performance, accuracy, fouling, etc. Initially, however, the changes certainly seem to be an improvement. As additional bullets become available and are put through the paces from the bench and in the field, it will be reported here.

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Nitrex Optics TR Two 3-15x42 Scope

There was a time when reliable, clear riflescopes were few and far between, but that has changed, as several companies have jumped into that market with both feet. One such example

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The new Nitrex TR two scope (shown in 3-15x42 matte) offers desirable features combined with quality optics.
is ATK, when in the late fall of 2007, it announced the Nitrex Optics line of scopes, as well as binoculars, intended primarily for big game hunters. Sales were strong, stronger than expected, as they featured a one-inch, onepiece tube; quality lenses; and were of traditional size with a reasonable price. In an effort to expand the product line, Nitrex Optics has come out with the TR two line of scopes that is geared for varmint hunters and target shooters. I had the opportunity to try a 315x42 version on a recent prairie dog shoot, and the scope offers several noteworthy features. In addition to items commonly found on quality scopes such as a one-piece tube, fully coated lenses, argon purged, shockproof, fogproof and waterproof it features side focus, pull-up resettable turrets and an external focusing eyepiece. If you have not had the opportunity to try pull-up resettable turrets, here is how they work. The Nitrex TR two line features 14 MOA click adjustable turrets. To sight in, pull up the windage and elevation turrets and turn them to move the point of impact as needed, then push the turrets

The Nitrex TR two features pull-up resettable turrets, which is a slick adjustment system, especially for varmint hunters.
back down to the locked position. In the locked position, the top of the turret, known as a screw, may be removed by unscrewing it, then the dial indicator, or turret body containing reference marks, is lifted up, rotated then reinstalled so that the 0 is at the reference marks and the screw reinstalled. The above feature is practical for a varmint scope. For instance, lets say a dominant side wind is drifting bullets a few inches to the side of a prairie dog 350 yards away. If the resettable turrets are zeroed as described above, the windage can be turned an appropriate amount until bullets are striking where desired with a dead-on hold. When the wind stops, the rifles original zero may be retained by turning the 0 on the dial indicator back to its original setting. I applied that example in the field, and it works very well. Incidentally, the 1 4-MOA click adjustments were accurate and positive, returning the point of impact to its original setting. Street pricing of the above Nitrex TR two scope starts at $697.49, with the glass-etched EBX ballistic reticle version R priced at $756.49.



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by Ron Spomer

know why the .308 is Americas favorite caliber.

Barrel cleaning. Yes, if you follow directions on bottles of todays (or yesterdays) miracle solvents all of which are guaranteed to render any barrel mirror shiny and squeaky clean in record time you will abrade said barrel to the diameter of at least .308 before you ever get it clean. At that point most folks say, Well, I always wanted a .30-06. and head to the medicine cabinet for a tube of analgesic ointment. Take my former .22-250 for example (its now a .243 and expanding). It has always shot under MOA, and Ive always babied its barrel, starting with the essential shoot-and-clean-for10-shots regimen while breaking it in. This took three years. Enlightenment is a painful thing. Back in the dark ages (1970s), before we all learned the critical nature of barrel cleanliness, we wasted our time working up handloads that shot .417-inch groups. Then we punched paper, popped prairie

Ron has tried nearly everything for getting his barrels clean. Some cleaned his teeth and floor better than the bore.
dogs, collapsed coyotes and dumped deer. Such ignorance. Now that were in the information age, critical cleaning has become not just a wet blanket, but a smelly, heavy, wet blanket dampening my shooting fun. Ill think, Gee, it would be fun to shoot some groups with that new NoslerCustom Competition bullet but that would dirty the barrel. Id just cleaned the filthy tube six months earlier, and doing so again could trigger flashbacks. The recurring nightmares had only recently stopped. I no longer awakened screaming, covered with sweat, right arm throbbing in remembered pain, my wife cowering in the closet. Life was good. Then I heard about Ultra Bore Coat, which is supposed to nearly eliminate jacket fouling and greatly reduce powder fouling. I was like a moth to flame. And then I read the product directions: The proper installation of Ultra Bore Coat involves first cleaning the bore down to bare, dry steel. Noooooo! And those Ultra Bore Coat guys were serious, so serious they added an extra page a page detailing how no one ever cleans a barrel correctly, and heres how to do it. It was the same stuff Id been
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0/"OX 'RANVILLE 76    WWWNEWULTRALIGHTCOM 32 www.riflemagazine.com

reading for years. The same technique Id been using. There had to be a better way. I gathered the sample solvents Id accumulated over the years, read their directions and right away learned something new and really important: They are written by discredited TV evangelists or speech writers for former congressmen. New Miracle Barrel Elixir (Fast, easy and thorough!) promised (see congressmen reference above) to remove carbon, powder, copper, lead, plastic wad residue and unsightly moles. Billy Bobs Best Bore Bomb boasted similar powers (see televangelist reference above) but added a high-tech plea: Precision engineered formula uses the very finest chemical technology backed by the always reassuring Lab tests prove . . . Bentleys Sophisticated Solvent appealed to the elitist. Top-ofthe-line gun cleaning product recommended for the finest firearms and perfectly safe for use with Purdeys, Westley Richards side-by-side box locks and pre-64 Winchesters. Do not attempt to open if you cant pronounce Thames. Easy-Quick Instant Crud Cutter aimed at professionals with no time to waste, emphasizing its ability to significantly cut cleaning time and provide optimal weapon performance with no compromises. Hoo-rah! Then there was the classic Barrel Potion Number Ni-eee-I-eeeine. Instructions: You hold your nose, you soak a patch, you push gunk out! The second verse was merely implied: I never knew that I would clean all night . . . You can guess what Green Clean emphasized: Green Clean bore solvent not only removes (see New Miracle Barrel Elixir above) but is odorless, nontoxic, nonhazardous, biodegradable and delicious on salads and broccoli.
(Continued on page 93)


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November-December 2009




by John Haviland
The message was chiseled on the wall long before the .356 came into being: Americans do not like larger than .30-caliber cartridges intended for close- to medium-range big game hunting. Today, the .348 Winchester makes all manner of big game hunters teary-eyed. But in its day, the .348 was more or less a flop, being chambered only in the Winchester Model 71 for 22 years. The .358 Winchester, .350 Remington Magnum, .35 Whelen and .375 Winchester lasted an even shorter time. From all reports, the new .338 Federal is not setting the world of sales on fire. Cartridges such as these can be wrapped in a pretty package of bone-breaking bullet energy, but the fact remains that Bubba wants speed when he shops for a rifle and cartridge. in Arizona. I have two Model 94s in .356, he replied, Ill sell you one. The Big Bore Model 94 .356 came in two versions. The Big Bore XTR model had nice checkering and a straight comb stock. The Big Bore my friend sold me is a standard carbine Angle-Eject with no checkering and a stock with a Monte Carlo comb and a straight grip. Some people complain the Monte Carlo comb is ugly and awkward to mount. I think it works fine and positions my eye right in line with the 2-7x scope on the carbine. I bought the rifle just before big game season opened last fall and hurried to load some .356 cases with Speer 220-grain flatnose bullets. Opening morning I sat beneath a tree, hoping a whitetail buck would wander past. That lasted half an hour. I walked along a swamp, stopping to look and glass ahead, then moved ahead 50 yards to look again. A deer snorted from the other side of a tall pile of logging slash. I slowly cocked the .356 and peeked around the pile of slash. A buck peered around the other

he .356 Winchester is a sad story of neglect that should be heeded by every ammunition and firearms company contemplating the introduction of a cartridge loosely defined as a brush cartridge or a rifle chambered for such a cartridge.

The .356 Winchester is essentially a rimmed .358 Winchester. However, the .356 must use flatnosed bullets in its tubular magazine.
The .356 Winchester was introduced in 1982 and is basically a rimmed .358 Winchester case for use in Winchesters Model 94 Big Bore lever actions. Response was so poor the .356 was discontinued in 1986. It made a brief return in 1988, but then was dropped for good a few years later. Marlin chambered the .356 in its Model 336 until 1987.
34 www.riflemagazine.com

Bullet choice is limited in the .356 due to its requirement for flatnosed bullets. Left to right: Hornady 158-grain XTP, Speer 180-grain flatpoint and Speer 220-grain flatpoint.
However, just try and find a rifle chambered in .348, .358 or .356 today. If you can find one, the price has gone through the roof. I had been looking around for a .356 for a couple of years and was lamenting the fact to a friend

This group was fired at 100 yards with Winchester 200-grain PowerPoint bullets.
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Table I
load (grains)

.356 Winchester Factory Loads

muzzle 100 200 yards 300 400 500

200 Winchester Super-X Power-Point: velocity (fps): energy (ft-lbs): trajectory (inches): 2,460 2,688 2,114 1,985 +3.2 1,797 1,434 0 1,517 1,022 -14.1 1,284 732 -43.4 1,113 550 -93.9

side. It ran straight away, but stopped at 70 yards and turned back to stare. The crosshairs wavered, then settled on the bucks chest. At the shot, he pivoted on his hind legs in a dash for cover along the swamp.

Table II

.356 Winchester Select Handloads

powder charge (grains) velocity (fps)

bullet (grains)

158 Hornady XTP FN 200 Hornady roundnose 200 SAECO FPGC 220 Speer flatnose 245 SAECO FPGC

H-322 H-4895 BL-C(2) W-748 IMR-4895

45.0 45.0 38.0 49.0 40.0

2,565 2,235 1,685 2,329 1,953

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

A wide blood trail led 40 yards to the buck piled up against a juniper. He had five points on one antler and six on the other, and I was pretty proud of it. The Speer bullet hit the

buck in the front of the brisket and went through the top of its heart and into the paunch. The wound looked no different than if the buck had been shot with a 100-grain bullet from a .243 Winchester. Perhaps if the shot had been at the hind end of the buck, the heavy bullet would have shown its worth to penetrate deeply. Lever-action rifles sell if they are light and handy. According to my fish scale, though, the .356 weighs 8 pounds with a Nikon 27x scope in aluminum rings. Few shooters will choose such a lever action when bolt-action rifles of about the same weight are available in magnum cartridges.

Winchester initially offered 200grain flatnose bullets with a muzzle velocity of 2,460 fps and 250-grain flatnose bullets at 2,160 fps for the .356. The 200-grain bullet is still listed in the Winchester catalog. That load clocked an average of 2,255 fps one day and 2,276 fps another day 9 feet in front of the muzzle of the 20-inch barrelled Model 94. Conley Precision Cartridge loads the .356 with Hornady 20036 www.riflemagazine.com Rifle 247

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A Winchester Model 94 .356 Winchester was used to shoot this whitetail buck offhand from about 70 yards. The Speer 220grain bullet hit the buck in the front of the chest, but instead of falling to the ground, the buck ran a short distance.
grain roundnose bullets at 2,460 fps and the Hornady 250-grain roundnose at 2,160 fps. However, the Speer and Hodgdon reloading manuals state Olin engineers who developed the .356 Winchester cautioned against loading the cartridge with roundnose bullets because the bullet tip could fire the primer of the cartridge in front of it in the magazine, due to the .356s heavy recoil. So I am not going to subject my rifle and unscarred face to the Conley loads to determine whether or not the Olin folks were correct in their warning. Winchester also still sells cases for handloading, although they cost a bit more than cases for more popular cartridges. One fellow on an Internet site wrote he made brass for his .356 by firing 7.62 NATO (.308 Winchester) military loads in his .356. The extractor groove of the two cartridges is completely different, and its a wonder the .308 cases did not
November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 37

Bushing Type Neck Sizing Dies

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split on firing. Extraction of rimless .308 cases is also suspect from an extractor set up for the rimmed .356 case. I did load a few of the Hornady 200-grain and 250-grain roundnose bullets and Speer 250-grain pointed bullets in the .356, intending to load one cartridge in the chamber and one in the magazine. The Hornady 200-grain bullets cycled fine through the Model 94 and grouped in slightly over 1.5 inches at 100 yards. But I could not seat the two, 250-grain bullets deeply enough in the case for a loaded length short enough for the cartridges to feed from the magazine. That leaves .356 shooters with few bullet choices. Flatnose bullets intended for handguns shoot great, with the Hornady 158-grain XTP FNs grouping in slightly over an inch at 100 yards. But those bullets are for targets and plinking. The Speer 180-grain flatpoint is an okay bullet in the .356, but such a lightweight bullet makes the .356 little, if any, better than a .30-30. The new Hornady 200-grain FTX with the soft plastic tip would be interesting in the .356. But, again, the whole idea of the .356 is additional bullet weight over what is available for .30-caliber cartridges. The Speer 220-grain flatnose is moving in that direction. With 49.0 grains of W-748 the Speer bullet

has a muzzle velocity of 2,329 fps from my Model 94. Three-shot groups run right at 1.50 inches at 100 yards. Cast bullets are the only path for more bullet weight in the .356. Looking through the Redding Reloading Equipment catalog, I saw a mould for the SAECO .35-caliber, 245-grain flatpoint gas check (FPGC) bullet. Patrick Ryan of Redding/SAECO, though, said the bullet was likely a bit long in the nose to cycle through the Model 94. Still, I went ahead with great hopes. With the case mouth crimped as far forward as possible in the bullets crimping groove, cartridge length was 2.60 inches. That length cartridge, alas, would not cycle through the Model 94s action. I started scratching my chin in contemplation. With the bullets seated with the top of the front driving band even with the case mouth, cartridges had a length of 2.535 inches. That length cartridge cycled slickly through the Model 94s action, but how to crimp? Editor Dave Scovill suggested removing the sizing button/primer punch stem from a .356 sizing die and running the cartridge necks into the neck sizing portion of the die to apply a taper crimp. That worked great. After firing four cartridges, the bullet in the last cartridge in magazine had not moved a bit. With 40.0 grains of IMR-4895 the SAECO bullet clocks 1,953 fps from the Model 94s muzzle, and groups are slightly smaller than 1.50 inches at 100 yards. The .356s ballistics are slightly below the older .358 Winchester, because the .356 has less case capacity due to its heavier case and its bullets being seated deeper to cycle through the Model 94 lever action. But the .356 still provides more than enough punch for any deer, black bear or elk in the timber. So Im keeping my .356. After all, Ive been searching for one R for years.
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Chiron Inc. PO Box 982 Portsmouth NH 03802

Summit - 15 oz. Summit XL - 12 oz.

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Lone Wolf (406) 892-9653



Stan Trzoniec

ccuracy can mean different things to different people, depending upon their shooting needs. When preparing for a varmint hunt, I like to see any commercial or handloaded ammunition come to rest on my 100-yard target in three-shot groups of around .5 inch from my sporter rifles. On the other hand, I have a friend who is happy with results that print minute-of-angle groups at the same distance. His reason he has reached a point in his maturing years where anything over 100 yards in the field is too much for him, so shorter distances are the norm. Big game hunters are satisfied with groups that print in the neighborhood of between 1.5 and 2.0 inches. Simply because of their size, a bull elk does not need or warrant the extra time at the bench finetuning handloads to the nth degree.

While weve seen both commercial and handloading techniques and equipment progress over the years to where its almost too easy to open a box of over-the-counter ammunition or tweak handloads to the point of near perfection, much has to do with the duty of the rifle as much as the ammunition. One of the forerunners in the field is Savage Arms in Westfield, Massachusetts. First, it was the AccuTrigger, a mechanism that allowed the adjusting of the trigger by the end user to ensure the accurate placement of the bullet. Now its the AccuStock. My request went in for the Model 16FCSS .243 Winchester. To me the Weather Warrior line of rifles makes complete sense for the all-year, all-weather and all-terrain hunter. With a stainless action and a synthetic stock, this is the ultimate take-anywhere rifle for those on the go. With a dozen and a half cartridge choices, from the .204 Ruger up to the .338 Winchester Magnum, with such notables to include the 6mm Norma BR, .250 Savage, 6.5x284 Norma,

The new Savage Model 16FCSS is shown with a Bushnell 3200 Elite scope in Warne rings.



Rifle 247



The quest for accuracy continues!

November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 41

.300 Savage and .300 WSM, there is hardly a void in the line and with more than half in a lefthanded action. Regardless of action length, all the rifles in the Weather Warrior series are basic on a synthetic stock. Black in color, smooth to the touch, the rifle is convenient to mount, thanks to a traditional 1312-inch length of pull. Overall, the design is one lifted from the classic school, as there is no high

comb, nor is there a cheekpiece. Im average in physical dimensions, and placing the Bushnell Elite 3200 scope in Warne medium rings positioned the reticle at eye level every time the rifle was brought to bear. For the record, Savage does supply the Weaver type two-piece bases as an addedvalue feature of the gun. There is an ample amount of checkering in a conservative point pattern on both the pistol grip and forearm, and if you didnt know the stock was synthetic, youd swear the diamonds were cut instead of molded in. The pistol grip has a tasteful sweep to it, which I found accommodating. To prevent wear and tear on the pistol grip itself, there is a cap installed with the Savage logo. Inletting is nearly perfect around the detachable magazine, barrel, tang and trigger guard. The detachable magazine feature is recent to Savage, but models are still available that incorporate the more time-honored floorplate, if desired. Pulling back on the lever at the front of the bottom metal drops the magazine into the shooters hand. With a straightline design and shooting these rifles over the past year or so, I never had any problems with feeding or extraction. Called the P.A.D. (Personal AntiRecoil Device), this newly designed recoil pad reduces recoil by as much as 45 percent over solid or ventilated pads. The P.A.D. feels like a big marshmallow but, according to company literature, upon shooting the pad actually expands against your shoulder, softening the felt recoil. So what does this have to do with accuracy? Pretty simple less flinching makes for better accuracy. Savage has recently redesigned the bolt release from its position on the right side of the receiver to the front of the trigger guard. You still have to pull the trigger back and push the bolt release

The Model 16FCSS features a three-position tang safety.

Savage has recently redesigned the bolt release.

Weaver-type bases are furnished; Trzoniec added Warne medium rings to cinch the Bushnell scope to the rifle.

The Savage bolt still has the rear gas ring and the twin locking lug system.

Like most rifles in the Savage lineup, this one has the adjustable AccuTrigger.
42 www.riflemagazine.com

Gone is the unsightly barrel nut, replaced by a streamlined version that is secured with a spanner wrench.
Rifle 247

Above, the heart of the AccuStock is the aluminum-bedding block that runs from the front swivel stud to the rear of the stock. Right, braced on the sides, this bedding block is slightly smaller than the action, so it springs out to hold the receiver tightly within the stock when tightened.
inward, but it makes a much easier way to remove the bolt for travel or maintenance. The bolt handle is swept to the rear slightly and has checkering on the upper side only. The bolt body has been left in its polished form with jewelling added as well as the laser-etched Savage logo. Up front, twin locking lugs are backed up with a set of gas-escape baffles that provide extra protection to the shooter in the unlikely event of a ruptured cartridge. Inside the recessed bolt face, you will find the extractor and plunger-type ejector (changed from a mechanical ejector in 1966). The three-position safety is tang-mounted. Pulling the safety lever to the rear locks the sear and bolt. Midposition allows the use of the bolt to unload the rifle while the sear (trigger) is still locked. All the way forward allows the gun to be fired. Barrel lengths are 22 or 24 inches depending upon caliber and come without open sights. Now for the fun stuff! First on the list is the AccuTrigger, a neat, adjustable trigger that Savage introduced just a few years back. One of the constant complaints that riflemakers have is the need for a user-adjustable trigger that can be tuned to his or her personal shooting needs without a
November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 43

big hassle or taking the rifle to a gunsmith. According to Savage, Even when adjusted to its lowest setting, the AccuTrigger is completely safe. A special tool is supplied for adjustments, but the action must be taken out of the stock to work on the trigger.

Usually I find the AccuTrigger satisfactory right out of the box, unless Im going small game or varmint hunting, then I adjust it. In this case, where Im dealing with the new AccuStock, the pull was lowered to 212 pounds with no discernible creep. It should

also be noted that recently Savage introduced the Target AccuTrigger on its Target Series, which allows the shooter to drop the pull down to a mere 6 ounces. Okay, weve got the weatherresistant stock, stainless-steel action, an adjustable trigger and a good recoil pad. So whats left? The big news this year from the folks at Savage is the introduction of what they call the AccuStock. Taking pillar and glass bedding a step further, this should bring accuracy to a new level.

Left, new this year is the Savage P.A.D. recoil pad. Above, Savage includes a pistol-grip cap on the synthetic stock, complete with its Indian logo.
stocked rifles. In addition, they have added a wedge to the spine that when tightened pulls the action down and inside the bedding cradle. The way it works is that both the bedding cradle and wedge are angled just in front of the recoil lug. When this front screw is tightened, it pulls down on the cradle while adding pressure against the recoil lug. According to Savage engineers, the barreled action actually moves back during recoil, then forward again until it stops from lack of inertia, which they discovered through high-speed photography. With just a recoil lug in the barrel, the barrel is still free to move up and down, but with this new

Savage calls it a three-dimensional bedding system.

Savage engineers have come up with a solution that combined with the right stock should enhance the accuracy potential of their factory produced rifles. Called AccuStock, they first add an aluminum spine to the synthetic stock from the front sling swivel stud to the rear guard screw. They call it a three-dimensional bedding system that, according to them, is not even found on todays after-market or custom-

Savage AccuStock Rifle Specifications

Type: bolt-action, centerfire rifle Caliber tested: .243 Winchester Capacity: 4 rounds Barrel length: 22 inches Overall length: 4134 inches Weight: 7 pounds Finish: stainless action Stock: synthetic AccuStock Sights: none; bases furnished for scope mounting Trigger: AccuTrigger, user adjustable Price: $755 Manufacturer: Savage Arms Westfield MA 01085 www.savagearms.com

system, it keeps the action from moving back and forth. Additionally, the bedding cradle works on the sides of the receiver to add to the three-dimensional effect, thus locking the action in place very securely. When tightening the two guard screws, the entire receiver is pulled down and into the cradle. To do this they made the cradle smaller than the receiver, so when it is pulled down, the cradle will flex outward, embracing the receiver to its final resting place down and inside the bedding cradle. The end result is a bedding system that holds the



Rifle 247

action from moving in any direction, either vertically or horizontally. Is this going to be a problem if the rifle has to be disassembled/ reassembled for cleaning or trigger adjustment? Not at all, but I found there is a little trick to the whole exercise. First, you have to remember that with the newer rifles with the bolt release on the trigger guard, you must take the gun apart and put it back together again with the bolt in the receiver closed and in the uncocked or fired position. There is more on this in the manual, but if you forget, its not really a big deal, but it can get frustrating in reassembling the rifle. To take the rifle apart, remove the front guard screw, then the rear one, which is partially hidden by the bolt release. Dont forget this screw or you will have a heck of a time parting the stock from the action! Now, remove the wedge screw and the action falls out of the stock. The only trick to the whole thing is trying to reassemble the rifle with the wedge. First, dont try to put the rifle together with the wedge at the

the three main stock screws, as this is an important part of owning this rifle. Accuracy depends on the shooter, the benchrest and the ammunition, of course, and unless you can take a gun with and without the AccuStock and jam it into a rigid rifle rest, there really is no way you can compare its effect. I know how Savage guns shoot, so with this I can only estimate the difference based on my ability and comparing notes of prior testing periods over the years. Therefore, I guess the bottom line should read, Is this gun really that accurate for a field rifle? Depending on how you look at it would be subjective to the shooter. Sure, I have rifles that are more accurate, but in all fairness, the accuracy obtained ran side by side with the mixing and matching of selected handloads. With factory ammunition, again testing of a half-dozen brands with the same bullet weight would surely prove this

Pressing the bolt release inward while pulling back on the trigger allows the bolt to follow out of the receiver for cleaning or maintenance.
bottom most part of the cradle. At this point the clearances between the wedge and the recoil lug are the tightest, and I tried (then had a friend try) to insert the action without success. The best way to do this is to make sure the wedge screw has been backed out enough to allow clearance between it and the recoil lug without both coming apart and by putting it back together again upside down, thus letting gravity help. This is easy to check, and if you can get the screw to allow the wedge to get to its highest point of its opposite angled counterpart without falling out, youre in. Once you have mated the stock with the action, refer to the manual for the proper amount of torque and the alternate tightening of

Trzoniec found the rifle comfortable to shoot offhand thanks to its finely tuned proportions and that excellent new recoil pad.

Below left, theres no room to reassemble when the wedge is at the bottom. Right, unscrew the wedge to its limits. This makes it easier to reassemble the rifle.



Rifle 247

Range Testing
load (grains) velocity (fps) group (inches)

80 Remington Pointed Soft Point 85 Cor-Bon DPX 100 Winchester Power-Point

3,128 3,224 2,849

1.00 1.25 1.00

Notes: All groups are three shots. Velocity clocked on an Oehler Chronotach at 100 yards.

For consistent accuracy regardless of the ammunition, this new Savage is hard to beat.
rifle as being accurate for a majority of hunters. Its always a topic of amusement around the campfire this thing about accuracy. Many will reflect about times past; you know around a decade back when you could shoot and shoot a rifle until you were blue in the face and still not get anywhere. Now, with the advent of scientific factory ammunition, accuracy seems not to be the problem anymore, and in fact, some hunters I know dont even handload today. So how do you define accuracy? Deer hunters are happy with a rifle that groups around 1.5 inches at the century mark; others want more, which is again very subjective. Well, for those looking for the cutting edge in a rifle right off the line, order this Savage with the AccuStock. While I did not do the usual hundreds of rounds to prove a point, I did enough shooting to justify my opinion that Savage has taken modern ammunition technology with the innovative ideas of its engineers and delivered a product worthy of a rifle capable of shooting one-inch groups right out of the box. While some of the commercial ammunition may have run over an inch, in the end, my average with shooting over 100 rounds of .243 ammuniR tion was 1.12 inches!

Mike Venturino
Photos by Yvonne Venturino

n discussing my burgeoning World War II rifle collection, many friends have asked, What one was best? Thats easy. The United States M1 Garand was the best overall battle rifle in that conflict. The answer is different when the question is, Which one do you like best? Without hesitation I say, The U.S. Model 1903-A3.

That response usually causes a puzzled look on the faces of knowledgeable riflemen. The reason is that 03-A3s are usually considered poor cousins to the standard U.S. Model 1903. Both are nicknamed Springfield, because the original design and initial manufacture were by the government-owned Springfield Armory. The U.S. Model 1903 was an exquisitely made military rifle, being far superior in fit and finish to most sporting rifles currently in production today. All metal parts were forged and/or machined from solid steel and initially given a beautiful blue finish. Likewise the walnut stock was well cut and well inletted to the barreled action. After World War I, the American military adopted Parkerizing as its standard metal finish for most weapons, but the manufacturing quality of Springfields remained very high. Conversely, the 03-A3s came about during a wartime crisis. The American military was expanding immensely and needed rifles as quickly as possible. There was no doubt in the military hierarchys collective minds that the standard battle rifle for U.S. troops was going to be the semiautomatic M1 Garand. The catch was that Springfield Armory and Winchester were just not going to have enough M1s for all soldiers and marines in time for the
48 www.riflemagazine.com

Except for the names Remington and Smith-Corona on their receivers, there are no visible differences in Model 03-A3s. They can, however, vary by the number of rifling grooves in their barrels.

Remingtons Battle Rifle

coming ground combat. Therefore the U.S. government signed a contract with Remington Arms Company a short time before hostilities began in December 1941. The plan was for Remington to use governmentowned machinery to produce Model 1903 rifles. And indeed that company did so to the tune of well over 300,000. But problems developed. The government machinery was worn and sometimes in disrepair; additionally manufacturing procedures had changed somewhat in the four decades since Springfield Armorys engineers had developed the 03. Remington requested and received permission for shortcuts and alterations to the basic 03 design. These at first were minor, and the result was officially designated the U.S. Model 1903 (Modified) while remaining marked simply Model 1903. One manufacturing stumbling block with the Model 1903 was its Model 1905 rear sight. It was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, capable of precise windage and elevation adjustment. It just wasnt such a great sight for a battle rifle. For instance, it was adjustable all the way to 2,800 yards. Military thinkers of 1905 envisioned entire battalions of troops adjusting their sights the same and then firing volleys at extreme range. Actual fighting didnt work out that way. Troops shot at what they could see. Therefore the government gave Remington permission to develop a new sight. It was a peep type, which by then American military thinkers had realized was much better for combat. Note that both M1 Carbines and M1 Garands had peep sights from the very beginning. The new Remington peep sight was elevation adjustable only to 800 yards, a much more realistic distance. It was also adjustable for windage, but
www.riflemagazine.com 49

Springfield 1903A3
rather crudely in that each click of the knob moved windage by a full four minutes of angle (MOA). Naturally the peep sight was moved back to the rear receiver bridge, whereas the original 1905 sight had been barrel mounted. Perhaps most importantly of all, it was made of stamped metal parts, requiring very little machining. In fact Remington prevailed on the government to allow many metal parts to be stamped from sheet steel instead of being machined from forged steel. These included the trigger guard, magazine floorplate, buttplate, barrel bands, etc. Remington estimated that these changes reduced labor time per rifle by 50 percent, increased rate of manufacture by a factor of three and reduced the amount of steel needed per rifle by an amazing 6.4 pounds. (Figures taken from The Springfield 1903 Rifles by Lt. Col. William S. Brophy.) The government approved of Remingtons revisions to the Model 1903 in May 1942 and designated the new version as U.S. Model 1903-A3, but rifles were only stamped 03-A3. So it can be seen that the 03-A3 didnt arrive as a full-blown, new idea but was actually a progression of changes. And even though we modern shooters also commonly call the Model 1903-A3 the Springfield, none were ever made at the Springfield Armory. It would be natural to wonder what happened between the 03 and 03-A3. Where were the 03A1s and 03-A2s? The 03-A1s are easy. Circa 1929 the U.S. Army decided the Model 1903 needed a pistol-grip stock. The markings

These four rifles represent the production of Springfields during World War II. From top: Model 1903 by Remington, Model 1903-A3 by Smith-Corona, Model 1903-A3 by Remington and Model 1903-A4 by Remington.
of the rifle were never changed. They stayed U.S. Model 1903, but any such rifle fitted with a pistol-grip stock instantly and officially became a U.S. Model 1903-A1. The Model 1903-A2s were stripped down barreled actions that were then modified and used as subcaliber training devices in artillery pieces. (Again this information was derived from Brophys above-mentioned book.) However, it should not be con-

By going to stamped parts such as the floorplate, 03-A3 Springfields could be produced much faster and at less expense.

U.S. Model 1903-A4 sniper rifles were still marked 03-A3 but with the stamping moved so it was upside down on the left side of the receiver. This has made counterfeiting the model very difficult.



Rifle 247

Above, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to Model 1903 production was making its Model 1905 sight. Right, this shows the Model 03-A3s fully adjustable rear peep sight.
Standard barrels were made by cuts were incorporated. Also in strued that all U.S. Model 1903pulling a broach through the March 1942, the U.S. government A3 rifles are exactly the same. bore. Early High Standard barrels determined that typewriters were Again the variations were caused made for Smith-Corona had six non-essential to the war effort by the wartime emergency. At grooves, but later ones were four and decreed that production of that time Remington used cut groove. All had broached-type such cease. Instead of letting a rifled barrels, wherein each rifling. Cut rifled or broach rifled, manufacturing entity such as the groove was individually made by two groove to six groove, all Smith-Corona Typewriter Coma hooked cutter being pulled Model 1903-A3 barrels were pany languish, the government through the bore. Multiple passes given a one-in-10-inch twist were needed to complete a rate. And of course, all were single groove. Therefore, The plan was for Remington to .30-06 caliber. the U.S. Armys Ordnance use government-owned machinery Department began testBarrels were not the only to produce Model 1903 rifles. ing barrels with only two source of variation in the grooves instead of four and Model 1903-A3. There were awarded it a contract to also prodetermined that accuracy was no less than three shapes of stocks. As said above, as early as duce Model 1903-A3 rifles late comparable with both types. In 1929, the U.S. Army decided it in 1942. (This was in addition to December 1942 they then gave preferred the pistol-grip design contracts for parts for other milipermission to barrel makers of stock, and indeed as with peep tary items ranging from pistols to using the cut-rifling method to sights, both M1 Carbines and M1 torpedoes.) Smith-Corona had no make either type of barrel. So Garands had such from the bemachinery for making rifle barRemington Model 1903-A3 rifles ginning. The government inrels, so the High Standard Manucan have two- or four-groove bartended that for the 03-A3 too, facturing Company furnished all rels, but both are cut rifled. its Model 1903-A3 barrels. Instead but Remington had a large quanAt this point lets back up a bit. of being cut rifled, these High tity of straight-grip stocks on During 1942 the government wasnt satisfied with Remingtons Left, a shooter at one of Thunder Ranchs Old Rifle Classes demonstrates production of rifles in regards to the proper way to fire an 03-A3. Note the thumb alongside the stocks quantity, even after all the shortwrist. Otherwise recoil may drive it into the shooters lip. Below, with the magazine cutoff engaged the 03-A3s bolt cannot be pulled rearward far enough to pick up cartridges from the magazine. It can then be loaded as a single shot.



Springfield 1903A3

Left, Mike has come to rely on Lyman mould 311299 for cast bullet shooting with his 03-A3s. Above, usually but not always, Mike relies on 150- to 155-grain bullets in factory loads and his handloads, because they duplicate the bullet weight of the M2 military load of World War II.
hand, so it was decided to allow their use on the revised Springfields. Then along the way a large batch of stocks was acquired that had an abbreviated pistol grip that has come to be known as the Scant-C stock. (The C-stock was the military term for the pistolgrip version.) Those were also allowed. That wasnt all. In January 1943 the government decided (rather

U.S. Model 1903-A3 .30-06

bullet (grains) powder charge (grains) velocity (fps) Remington variation (fps) group (inches) velocity (fps) Smith-Corona variation group (fps) (inches)

150 Speer FB spitzer 150 Speer BT spitzer* 150 Sierra FB spitzer 155 Hornady A-MAX 155 Sierra Palma HPBT

IMR-4895 Varget IMR-4064 Varget H-4350 RL-15 IMR-4064 IMR-4895

168 Nosler HPBT 150 Winchester Silvertip factory 150 Nosler Black Hills factory 150 Federal FMJ factory 150 Lake City FMJ 69 168 Hornady HPBT factory 195 Lyman 311299 cast 5744 average of 15 groups from Remington 03-A3: average of 15 groups from Smith-Corona 03-A3:

46.5 45.0 48.0 50.0 48.0 55.0 52.0 50.0 46.5


2,584 2,696 2,768 2,864 2,739 2,788 2,949 2,862 2,566 2,943 2,926 2,743 2,632 2,570 1,897

29 49 49 28 25 63 24 23 24 17 53 14 30 39 15

2.38 2.63 2.13 2.38 3.13 2.25 2.88 2.13 2.38 2.88 2.50 3.50 3.50 2.25 2.88 2.65

2,568 2,679 2,831 2,820 2,735 2,762 2,942 2,849 2,560 2,934 2,946 2,725 2,584 2,553 1,812

51 54 49 61 49 26 19 42 45 35 29 18 95 55 61

3.00 3.38 1.88 2.13 3.251 3.252 2.252 2.42 2.25 1.752 2.502 2.133 2.504 2.503 2.63 2.52

* Denotes the use of Lake City 63 National Match brass. Notes: All chronograph figures are for five shots over an Oehler Model 35P chronograph with start screen at approximately 6 feet. All group figures are for five shots fired at 100 yards, fliers included. All loads used Winchester Large Rifle (standard) primers in full-length brass sized in a Redding die, and all bullets seated in a Redding Competition die. Cast bullets poured of Linotype alloy, sized .310 inch, lubed with SPG and fitted with Lyman gas checks. Except where noted, all cases were Winchester headstamp.
1 Four shots in this group went into only 2.25 inches. 2 These loads should never be fired in M1 Garands. 3 These loads are specifically produced for M1 Garands. 4 This ammunition is U.S. military surplus purchased from the CMP.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data.



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late) that it needed a sniper rifle. Remington was instructed to build Model 1903-A3s in a sniper version. The only change to the metalwork was a bolt handle slightly altered to clear the scope, no front sight and the model marking rotated to the left side of the receiver so it would still show despite the scope mounts. However, the stock was to be only the C-stock with pistol grip. This was the Model 1903-A4, but here is a fascinating fact. Those rifles were still marked Model 03-A3, and to collectors continuing delight, because that marking was rotated to the side, a Model 1903-A4 is one of the hardest of all firearms to counterfeit. So as it turns out, U.S. Model 1903-A3 rifles (and 1903A4s) can be encountered with three types of stocks straight grip, Scant-C and C-type with full pistol grip. They may not have been shipped from the factory in such stocks, but considering battlefield repairs and later arsenal refurbishing, they could have ended up with any type. As a sniper rifle, the 03-A4s made almost no one happy. The scopes were simply civilian designed Weaver 330C types of 2.2x magnification, and they were mounted to the rifles in Redding mounts. Not only were both scope and mounting system considered frangible for military use, but the rifles five-round magazines then had to be loaded one cartridge at a time. Worst yet the United States Model 1903-A4 was about the only World War II sniper rifle on which there was no provision for iron sight shooting in case the scope became disabled. Remington was the only maker of 03A4s to the tune of slightly less than 30,000. By December 1943 the U.S. government decided that its rifle shortage was over. Enough M1 Garands were coming off the manufacturing lines that they were plentiful, especially since they were added to the Model 1903 Springfields with which the
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Springfield 1903A3
American military began the war, Model 1917s pulled from storage and the new Model 1903-A3s. So Remington and Smith-Corona were instructed to stop production of 03-A3s in February 1944. On January 4, 1944, Remington presented its one millionth Model 1903-A3 to Col. Frank J. Atwood, an official of the U.S. Ordnance Department. They made about 50,000 more in total. (Thats counting 03-A4s also.) Smith-Corona made about 236,000 Model 03-A3s, with its peak production being 23,000 in a single month. For the sake of comparison, the government Springfield Armorys peak month was January 1944. The employees built 122,001 M1 Garands in that single month.

There is a common misconception that the U.S. Model 1903-A3 came too late in the war to have seen much use in combat. In truth when they were sold as surplus in later years, some appeared brand new. But be sure, they did make it into the hands of fighting men. In one book I read of a soldier at the Anzio Beachhead (Italy) in early 1944 who was instructed to police up the

What happened between the 03 and 03-A3?

battlefield after a fight with Germans. From a fallen Wehrmacht soldier, he picked up a Springfield and was surprised to see it stamped Smith-Corona. In another book I encountered a photograph dated January 1945 that was taken in Burma. One soldier in it was firing what was obviously a U.S. Model 1903-A3. They are easy to spot because the peep

sight on the rear receiver bridge is prominent. In many U.S. Army infantry units, one man per platoon was issued a bolt-action Springfield to be used for grenade launching. This was prior to the needed accessories for grenade launching being perfected for the M1 Garand. Undoubtedly some of those Springfields were the new 03A3 version. Also I have read that on D-Day some American paratroopers were dropped into Normandy armed with Springfields. Every one I have read about dropped theirs in favor of a fastfiring M1 Garand as soon as possible. And of course, the sniper version 03-A4 was issued to select men in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. To return to the subject of the first paragraph: Why do I prefer the U.S. Model 1903-A3 to all other World War II rifles? Shootability is the reason. My rifle racks



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In Mikes experience, his 03-A3s will shoot cast bullets with equal precision to jacketed bullet loads. This group was fired with the Remington 03-A3.
currently hold regular U.S. Model 1903s, U.S. Model 1917s, M1 Garands, German K98ks and a semiautomatic K43, British No. 4 Mk1s, Russian Mosin-Nagant Model 91/30s and a semiautomatic SVT40, and Japanese Type 38 and Type 99 Arisakas. Considering only the iron-sight versions and not optic mounted sniper rifles, when I actually want to hit a target with one of the military rifles, I pick either the two-groove Remington 03-A3 or four-groove Smith-Corona 03A3. They are barrel dated 11-43 and 6-43, respectively. The primary reason is their peep sights. They are easily adjusted for distance, and as said above, the rear sight is windage adjustable, albeit with rather coarse four-MOA clicks. Also they are very easy rifles to get perfectly zeroed. In Brophys Springfield book, he details that five different heights of front sights were made for 03-A3s. They ranged from .477 inch tall to .537 inch in .015-inch increments. And then the peep sight is dovetailed to the rear receiver bridge so it can be drifted for perfect zeroing. Not having an assortment of sight blades when acquiring my Smith-Corona back in 2001, I simply ground down its front sight to zero it at 100 yards. In 2006 upon buying the RemingNovember-December 2009

This group was one of the best Mike fired for this article. It was with the Smith-Corona 03-A3.
ton, I was pleased to find that someone else had already done an admirable job with the sighting-in chore. None of the above should be taken to infer that 03-A3s are benchrest quality tack-drivers. However, they certainly deliver more than enough precision for their intended purpose. Despite being produced in a wartime

Mike considers groups like this as fairly typical of an unaltered 03-A3. This one was shot with the Remington.
emergency, their barrels are obviously of good quality as must also be the bedding of barreled action to stock. Whereas British .303s and Russian 7.62x54mms can be all over the map in regards to their barrels groove diameters, in my experience 03A3s are uniformly .308 inch. I find it not especially difficult to get my two grouping around two MOA with handloads using both cast and jacketed bullets. Also



the new genre of .30-06 loads intended specifically for M1 Garands do well in my 03-A3s. Speaking of all loads, sometimes a group will be a smidgen under 2 inches at 100 yards, and more often a flyer may make one more like 3 inches. Once in awhile groups will be larger than that. From my two 03-A3s, I can discern no difference between the number of grooves in their barrels in regard to good shooting with any type of bullet. Of course, the .30-06 factor is a contributing reason for my preference of 03-A3s. Compared to the .303 British, 7.62x54 Russian, 6.5 and 7.7 Japanese, it is a handloading joy. The only World War II rifle cartridge that I feel is its rival in the handloading aspect is the 8mm Mauser. But the .3006s available selection of bullets puts the 8mm Mauser in distant second place. The accompanying table contains three types of .3006 loads. Some are factory loads. Others containing Varget and Hodgdon H-4350 are some previously tested loads from these rifles. And third are some handloads assembled at random using powder charges drawn at random from various manuals. Note that the group averages including all fliers are close from both rifles. Another feature of 03-A3s that I like is one that probably meant absolutely nothing to the soldiers issued them (perhaps with the exception of snipers with 03A4s). That is the magazine cutoff device that also serves as the bolt release. It is a lever at the rear of the receivers left side. Flipped

upward, the rifle feeds cartridges from the magazine to the chamber. Flipped downward, rounds can be dropped on top of the magazine follower and fed into the chamber. In its middle position, the bolt can be withdrawn. The purpose of the magazine cutoff device must have stemmed from the minds of older ordnance officers. With the device engaged a full load of five rounds could be kept in the magazine and the rifle used as a single shot. Then in an instant the rifle could be turned into a repeater. Again, I must say it is doubtful if any World War II soldier used his 03-A3 as a single shot. Perhaps some 03-A4-armed sniper did.

Barrels were not the only source of variation in the Model 1903-A3.
The reason I like the cutoff device is not that I have a need for keeping a fully loaded magazine. Its that during load testing, I can just drop rounds into the action and chamber them. Try that with virtually any military Mauser 98 and you better have a cleaning rod handy to tap them back out of the chamber. They must be magazine-fed for the extractor to slip over the case head properly, and at least once in any range session with a Mauser 98, I forget to push the cartridge down into the magazine before running the bolt. Converse to my opinion about 03-A3s is my feeling about the U.S. Model 1903-A4. I have one of those (barrel dated 4-43) and must agree that it is a poor excuse for a sniper rifle. In my collection are original specimens of German, British, Japanese and Russian World War II sniper rifles. The only one I consider less effective than the 03-A4 is the Japanese Type 97, and it at least allows the option of using its iron sights. Thats the historical aspect. My shooters reason for not favoring the 03-A4 is simply beRifle 247

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Shooting at his home range for enjoyment, Mike usually picks the 03-A3s.
cause it is less accurate than my peep-sighted 03-A3s. That little Weaver 2.2x scope adds virtually nothing to the rifles shootability. The U.S. Model 1903-A3 was nothing more than a wartime substitute a fast and economical way to put rifles in troops hands. Evidence that the government itself wasnt enamoured of the model is the fact that relatively

quickly after hostilities ceased, they put 03-A3s up for sale as military surplus. According to Brophys book, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) first offered them for sale to NRA members in 1947. The price was $50 plus $1.85 shipping. By 1957 the price was reduced to $30 plus $2.85 shipping. Then in 1961 they must have really wanted to dump them because the price was only $10 plus $4.50 shipping. Nowadays, the DCM has evolved into the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program), and they have re-imported thousands of 03-A3s from countries we gave them to as military aid. Of course, twentyfirst century prices are vastly higher than mid-twentieth centurys. My Smith-Corona was a DCM rifle and my Remington is a more recent CMP purchase. Despite their 65-year age, in my opinion they remain fine rifles, and thats with the machine tool marks, mediocre finish and all. R

November-December 2009



John Haviland

hen I knocked off a prairie dog across a couple of dry coulees and out on the far side of a prairie flat, I used to think I was the unacknowledged offspring of Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody. But after conducting a shooting experiment with four different rifles and scopes from 300 to 500 yards, the fact is some good fortune with the wind is involved to hit such a small target at long distance. Then too, the right cartridge and scope and their correct application help create a lot of that luck.

A cartridge for prairie dogs, ground squirrels and marmots requires enough velocity to produce a flat trajectory and reduce wind drift but with a mild recoil, so we dont start quivering like a bowl of Jell-O after firing 20 rounds or so. Bullet drop is the least of our worries, because gravity is fixed and bullet drop can easily be compensated for as range increases. But wind speed and direction always fluctuate, and about the only time the wind stops on the prairie is to change direction. A look at the Sierra Bullets Infinity ballistics program shows additional bullet weight is one way to lessen bullet drift. For example, a 7mm magnum shooting a Hornady 162-grain A-MAX at 3,000 fps has a trajectory out to 500 yards similar to the .25-06 Remington shooting a 75-grain V-MAX at 3,700 fps. However, the 7mm bullets drift in a 15 mph wind is nearly half that of the .25-caliber bullet at 500 yards. However, the effects of recoil are cumulative. About 10 shots with a 7mm magnum are about all the fun most of us can endure. On a prairie dog shoot one summer, a fellow brought along a .338 Lapua Magnum. The .338s 300-grain bullets at 2,700 fps certainly shot flat and resisted the wind, but after five shots he put the rifle away. For me, shooting even a supposedly mild recoiling cartridge like the .25-06 more than 30 times during a day is painful. For my shooting experiment, I chose four cartridges that are fun to shoot during a day on the

Prairie dogs vary in size and provide only a small area to aim at, so rifles must be capable of shooting minute of angle.
58 www.riflemagazine.com Rifle 247

-Range mints
Haviland tests performance to 500 yards.
prairie: the .223 Remington, .22250 Remington, .220 Swift and .243 Winchester. These cartridges shoot precisely, and their recoil is like a pat on the back. I nearly dismissed the .223 as a cartridge with an insufficiently flat trajectory for shooting past 300 yards. However, the Sierra 69-grain hollowpoint boat-tail (HPBT) MatchKings changed my mind about the .223. My Savage Predator Hunter .223 has a onein-9-inch twist that will stabilize this sleek bullet, and with an average velocity of 3,022 fps the Sierra bullet dropped only 14 inches at 400 yards and 31 inches at 500 yards. The .223 load with 26.5 grains of Vihtavuori N540 powder also had an extreme velocity spread of only 37 fps. That low velocity spread is important because just 100 fps difference in the velocity of the Sierra 69-grain slug causes 4 inches of vertical dispersion at 500 yards. I should have kept that in mind when choosing loads for the .220 Swift. The .22-250 Remington is the classic long-range prairie dog
November-December 2009

subsequent trajectory from a computer program is difficult unless all the bullets land in one hole. The Sierra BlitzKing bullets shot nearly 3 inches flatter at 400 yards and 9 inches flatter at 500 yards than stated by the Sierra Bullets Infinity ballistics program. If the rifle was really sighted 2.5 inches high at 100 yards, it would be more in line with the trajectory stated by the computer program. Even then, the BlitzKings shot 7 inches flatter at 500 yards than the program figures. This all goes to prove a rifle must be shot at different ranges to determine its true trajectory. Bullets hitting 2.5 inches high at 100 yards is really a bit too high for shooting at 100 to 200 yards. After I had the .22-250 sighted in, a ground squirrel poked its head out of its burrow at 150 yards. Though I aimed a couple of inches low, I still shot over the top of it. The .220 Swift, chambered in the Winchester Model 70 Varmint, is the original rocket of varmint cartridges. The Combined Technology 55-grain Ballistic Silvertips could be driven somewhat faster than 3,706 fps in the Swift, but Im nursing the barrel of this rifle that was made in 1961.

cartridge. My Cooper Model 22 has a one-in-14-inch twist, so it was limited to shooting sharply pointed bullets weighing up to 55 grains. The Sierra 55-grain BlitzKing with 39.0 grains of Big Game powder had a muzzle speed of 3,566 fps. Extreme velocity spread was 20 fps. The rifle printed bullets at what looked like 2 inches above aim at 100 yards. Then again, determining exact bullet impact and

Wind on the open prairie is a constant problem, and figuring drift can give a varmint shooter fits.



trying to look through boiling water. A variable power scope is much more user friendly. It can be set on the low end for its wider field of view to find the varmint, then the magnification turned up for a closer view. Magnification can also be fine-tuned to cut through the mirage. I find myself setting a variable scope on about 12x to 14x and leaving it there as a compromise between a close view of the target and reduction in mirage distortion. Ive watched some expert riflemen shoot at prairie dogs over the years. However, not once did they hit a prairie dog at over 400 yards on the first shot. But they often made a hit with a second or third shot by noting the dust kicked up by the impact of their first bullet, then adjusting their aim accordingly.

A partner to spot bullet impact is an immense help in shooting at long range. The shooter can then adjust aiming accordingly.
The Swift had a rather wide extreme velocity spread of 121 fps with 44.3 grains of Hunter powder and the 55-grain Ballistic Silvertips. That wide swing in velocities showed up in vertical spread of the bullets at long range. At 400 yards a three-shot group measured 3.16 inches. All the dispersal was vertical. At 500 yards three bullets had a vertical spread of 3.5 inches. If the .220 load had a low extreme velocity spread, that vertical spread could have been about 1.5 inches less at 400 yards and 3 inches less at 500 yards. The Cooper Model 22 .243 Winchester shot a group of less than 2 inches at 400 yards, but in the wrong places on the prairie dog targets. This is a lesson that no matter how accurate a rifle, it matters little if the scope and operator are not in sync. cided my shooting would be more accurate if my scope was powerful enough to paste the crosshairs on individual fleas on a prairie dog or gopher at 500 yards. So I mounted a 36x scope on my .22-250. What a mistake. I spent a lot more time searching than shooting. Finding a gopher through the scopes narrow field of view required peering over the scope and aligning the barrel with the gopher. Keeping the rifle steady, I looked through the scope and slowly moved it in an everwidening circle to hopefully see the gopher. Once the day started to heat up, mirage raised its ugly head, and the view through the scope was like

Bullet drop can easily be compensated for as range increases.

Today scopes with aiming points on the bottom wire of the reticle for different distances improve the odds that first shot will be a hit. That is if a hunter takes the time to shoot at different dis-

During the long winters I think about shooting. One winter I de-

Long-Range Varmints
60 www.riflemagazine.com

A bench, like this Shooters Ridge, is necessary for a solid aim when shooting at long range. The weight of the shooter sitting on the bench adds stability.

Above left, a scope with a parallax adjustment provides a clearer view at long range. Center, adjusting elevation to compensate for bullet drop worked well on the Sightron scope that had only a duplex crosshair. Right, a rangefinder on the bench helps determine exact distance.
tances to determine the exact trajectory of his bullets and does a little ciphering to match the bullet drop to the reticles. The Sightron 4.5-14x 42mm scope on the Savage .223 has the Hunter Holdover Reticle (HHR). Aiming with the center crosshair at 300 yards, bullets hit 3 inches below aim. From the center crosshair to the first hash mark below covers 10 inches at 400 yards. Bullet drop at that distance is 14 inches. So to hit right on at 400 yards, aim must be just a smidgen high with that hash mark. At 500 yards the space is 27.5 inches between the center crosshair and the second hash mark. Bullet drop is 31 inches at that distance. Again, to hit right on at 500 yards, aim must be just a smidgen high with the second hash mark of the HHR. The Varmint Hunters reticle in

Prairie Dog Shooting Results

bullet (grains) powder charge (grains) velocity (fps) yards trajectory (inches) target (inches) group (inches) prairie dog hits

.223 Remington: 69 Sierra HPBT MatchKing VV-N54 26.5 3,022 100 300 400 500 100 300 400 500 100 300 400 500 100 300 400 500 +2.5 -3 -14 -31 +2.0 -1.5 -10 -21 +1.75 -2 -13 -24 +2.0 -3.5 -13.5 -29 1.08 3.30 4.00 2.52 2.60 4.25 3 0 2

.22-250 Remington: 55 Sierra BlitzKing Big Game 39.0 3,566 2.02 3.62 3.57 1.50 2.46 5.40 3 1 1

.220 Swift: 55 Ballistic Silvertip Hunter 44.3 3,706 2.02 3.16 4.08 3.71 7.40 8.48 3 2 1

.243 Winchester: 70 Nosler Ballistic Tip Big Game 45.0 3,450 2.15 3.33 8.50 3.42 1.49 10.00 3 0 0

Notes: The .223 Remington loads were fired in a 22-inch barreled Savage Predator Hunter with a Sightron 4.5-14x 42mm, HHR Reticle scope attached. The .22-250 Remington loads were fired in a Cooper Model 22 with a 24-inch barrel. It had a Sightron SII Big Sky 4-16x 42mm with a duplex reticle scope attached. The .220 Swift loads were fired in a 26-inch barreled Winchester Model 70 Varmint with a Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x 42mm, DOA Reticle scope attached. The .243 Winchester loads were fired in a Cooper Model 22 with a 24-inch barrel. It had a Leupold VX-III 4.5-14x 50mm, Varmint Hunters Reticle scope mounted.
Be Alert Publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in published load data.

November-December 2009



Long-Range Varmints

These three hits were made at 300 yards with a .243 Winchester shooting Nosler 70-grain Ballistic Tips. These three hits were made at 300 yards with a .220 Swift. The rifle tended to string shots vertically.
inches of the trajectory of the Nosler 70-grain Ballistic Tips at 3,450 fps from a .243 Winchester if it had been sighted in one inch high at 100 yards. But I could not leave well enough alone and sighted in the .243 for 2 inches high at 100 yards. That sight setting meant I had to aim low and split the difference between the hash marks to compensate for bullet drop at 400 and 500 yards. The Varmint Hunters reticle also contains 10 and 20 mph windage hold points at the ends of the 300-, 400- and 500-yard hold points. Dont forget if the scope is set on other than its intended magnification, for the reticle marks to span the correct distance, the space between the aiming points must be recalculated.

These three hits were made at 300 yards with a .223 Remington.
the Leupold VX-III 4.5-14x 50mm scope has similar hash marks along the bottom wire calibrated for bullet drop at 300, 400 and 500 yards. Those holding points would have come within a few

The effects of recoil are cumulative.

The Sightron SII Big Sky 4-16x 42mm scope on the .22-250 has only a plain duplex reticle. Holding the crosshair high and into the wind at no definite point hoping to offset bullet drop and drift is futile. Instead, I turned the adjustment knob to offset bullet drop. The Cooper Model 22 .22250 hit 10 inches below aim at 400 yards, and 20 clicks of the 18-

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Below, a .5 inch sight misalignment at 100 yards increases to 2 inches at 400 yards. This group was fired with a .22-250 Remington at 400 yards. Right, variations in velocity can cause vertical stinging at long distance. This group was fired at 400 yards with a .220 Swift.

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Far left, Sierra 55-grain bullets from the .22-250 Remington dropped this much at 500 yards. The reticle in the Sightron scope was clicked up to compensate for the drop, which allowed aiming right on. Left, using the second holdover point on the HHR reticle in the Sightron scope helped make two hits with the Savage .223 Remington at 500 yards.
500 yards, and 33 clicks raised bullet impact level with the prairie dog target. However, constant vertical (and windage) reticle adjustments will get hard to calculate when compensating for a shot at 300 yards, the next at over 500 yards, then back to 250 yards and then into outer space. I had a difficult enough time remembering at what distance the reticle was set when shooting at only 400 and 500 yards. After not too many shots, a time out is required to resight the rifle.

The hunting gods were kind, caring and compassionate the days I shot the four rifles, because the air was mostly calm. I first shot the rifles at targets to determine bullet trajectories and how well the rifles grouped at 300, 400 and 500 yards. Then I shot at prairie dog targets at those distances and noted the

inch vertical adjustments brought bullet impact right on. Bullet impact was 21 inches below aim at

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November-December 2009



The Sierra 69-grain bullet was used in the Savage .223 Remington.

The Sierra 55-grain BlitzKing was used in the Cooper Model 22 .22-250 Remington.

The Nosler 70-grain Ballistic Tip was used in the Cooper Model 22 .243 Winchester.

The Combined Technology 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip was used in the Winchester Model 70 .220 Swift.

number of hits and the size of the groups. With no dust to signal where bullets hit, I had to hope my hold on the prairie dog target was correct. The prairie dog target was on the large side at 9.5 inches tall

and 5.5 inches wide at the belly. Excluding the head, the target really measured about 5x6 inches. That meant at 500 yards the rifles would have to shoot within minute of angle, with no misjudgment of the range or wind. It was

accommodating of the painted prairie dog to sit unmoving while I fiddled with cartridges, figured which aiming point on the reticle to use and brought the rifle to bear. Hitting the prairie dog targets was easy at 300 yards. With the .223 and .22-250 Remingtons and .220 Swift I just put the center crosshair on the top middle of the targets. That balanced out the slight bullet drop, and the .223 and .220 plugged the targets right in the bread basket. The .22-250 grouped three bullets in 1.50 inches, but hit a bit to the left of center. The first hash mark of the Varmint Hunters reticle on the .243 was aimed at the bottom of the prairie dog. Three shots were a bit higher than intended but still right in there. At 400 yards inconsistencies started to show up in the sight settings, aiming point selection and loads. A rain storm had just passed when I started shooting at 400 yards. The air was calm where I sat, but blew slightly
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across the flat below. It was enough to drift the three .223 bullets 6 inches to the right. By the time I was ready to shoot the .22-250, the wind had stopped and fluffy seed balls from the cottonwood trees floated straight up in the air. I hurried up and shot. The slight left bullet impact of the .22-250 bullets at 300 yards increased at 400 yards, resulting in only one hit.

For the .22-250, I moved the Sightron reticle up 33 At 400 yards inconsistencies started clicks to make up for the The .220 Swift wore a 21 inches of bullet drop at Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x to show up in the sight settings. 500 yards. It was nice to 42mm scope with the Dead On Accurate (DOA) reticle. The use that one crosshair for all the somewhat below the prairie dog second aiming dot down from target, placed two bullets right in shooting, because of the unclutthe center crosshair covered 13.6 the middle of it. tered view and no confusing dots inches at 400 yards. That was the and protruding hash marks. Way At 500 yards the prairie dog tarright amount for the 13 inches the out there, one bullet hit the cenget looked more like the size of .220 bullets dropped at that dister of the prairie dog target, and a mouse through the scopes. The tance. Two bullets hit the prairie the two other bullets hit 4 inches prairie dog silhouette offered no dog, but the three-shot group had left. All three bullets had a vertidefinite aiming spot, like on a a 7-inch vertical string. That cal spread of less than 2 inches. target. spread may well have been the result of the high extreme spread The DOA reticle in the Bushnell The second hash mark on the of velocity with the .220 load. scope is designed for big game .223s Sightrons HHR compen-

The .243 bullets dropped 13.5 inches at 400 yards, but for some reason I used the second aiming point on the Varmint Hunters reticle. I knew that a 19-inch reticle rise was too much, but shot anyway. The three bullets landed right over the top of the prairie dogs head, but in a tight 1.49 inches. Subsequent shots, aiming with the second aiming point

sated for 27.5 inches of drop at 500 yards. That was pretty close to the 31 inches of drop for the .223s 69-grain bullets. With an aim a few inches high, two bullets hit the prairie dog target. The third bullet landed an inch to the left of the head close enough to make a prairie dog duck back into its burrow.



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hunting, and its holdover dots cover one minute of angle. That translates into a dot covering the entire width of the prairie dog target at 500 yards. Using the top of the dot meant a more precise aim. The third dot down on the DOA reticle compensated for 31 inches of drop at 500 yards. The .220 Swift bullets dropped 24 inches at that distance, so I placed the top of the third dot on the bottom of the prairie dog. The result was one hit, a second bullet just under its nose and the third bullet wide to the left 6 inches. The prairie dog target rippled in thick mirage by the time the .243 was up to bat. The target was much clearer with the Leupold scope set on 10x, but that would mean reconfiguring the distances between the aiming points, so the scope was left on 14x. The .243s 70-grain Ballistic Tips dropped 29 inches at 500 yards, and the third holdover point on the Varmint Hunters reticle covered 31 inches at that distance. I let fly with that point on the bottom of the target. The three bullets hit within 2 inches of the target, but left, left and low. When the shooting was finished, another storm front built up over the mountains to the west. The wind started blowing, and gusts bent the grass nearly flat. If I had still been shooting, 3 to 4 feet of windage correction would have been required to hit the prairie dog targets. Luck certainly helped with the wind. The right loads mated with the bullet drop compensating reticles in various scopes further helped. Now Im going to find some real prairie dogs and see if this paper work translates into R the real thing.
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November-December 2009



Controlled Round Versus Push Feed

Brian Pearce

While bolt-action rifles were around long before the Mauser Model 98, it was this rifle design that impacted, influenced and inspired many other designs. Many consider it timeless and the pinnacle of bolt actions. It featured controlled-round feed with a nonrotating claw extractor and blade ejector. It proved reliable, serving in many wars and on military target ranges, while hunters found strong favor with it when pursuing dangerous game wherein an action must be 100 percent reliable. The Model 98 has been manufactured in many countries, resulting in various degrees of quality and reliability, but the good ones are truly marvelous. As the U.S. sporting bolt-action rifle evolved in the twentieth century, major arms manufacturers such as Winchester, Remington, Savage, et al. departed from some features of the Model 98, discovering that it required considerably less machining to produce an action with a push-feed design. Some chose to replace the large extractor with a smaller rotating version, while the blade ejector was replaced with a plunger type, with most bolt faces becoming countersunk. The debate was on and continues to this day. Current U.S.-manufactured examples of the pushfeed system include the Remington Model 700, select Winchester Model 70s, Marlin Model X7, Savage Model 110 (and variations), Weatherby Mark V (Yes, it is currently manufactured in the U.S.A.), Nosler Model 48, Thompson/Center Arms
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he modern centerfire boltaction rifle is generally known for its simple, strong and rugged design, but variations are nearly countless with some being less than reliable. Rather than discussing design features such as round action, bolt lift, lock time, gas ports, bolt stops, triggers, overall quality, etc., lets focus on the hotly debated subject of controlled-round versus push-feed systems. Is one better or more reliable than the other in the field or at the range? I am not stuck in tradition, nor can I afford to be biased, so comments are based on observation and real life experiences shooting, repairing and hunting with bolt guns. And for the record, I use both types by choice.


Facing page, examples of push-feed bolt systems include (left to right): Remington Model 700, Savage Model 110 and Ruger Model 77R. Right, a controlled-round feed bolt typically features a blade ejector and nonrotating claw extractor, such as the Winchester Model 70 bolt on the left. The Remington Model 700 bolt (right) features a push-feed system, which usually features a rotating extractor and plunger ejector.

Icon and Smith & Wesson I-Bolt. It should be noted that the Ruger Model 77R, manufactured from 1968 through 1992, was also a push-feed action in spite of having a Mauser 98-type claw extractor. The Mauser Model 98 remains in production but is not manufactured on a large scale in this country. Again, with U.S.-manufactured bolt rifles offering controlled-round feed, this leaves us with select Winchester Model 70s, Kimber Model 84Ms and 8400s, Dakota Model 76s, Ruger Model 77 MKIIs (1985 to date) and Hawkeyes, along with a few smaller outfits. Most readers are probably familiar with the mechanical differences between controlled-round and push-feed actions, but with many new subscribers to Rifle magazine, lets take a brief look. On a typical controlled-round action, as the bolt is pushed forward, the bolt face strips or pushes a cartridge from the magazine, slipping the rim under the extractor, and the magazine follower pushes the cartridge upward. At this point the shooter has control over the cartridge as the bolt holds it. It may be pushed forward into the chamber or ejected by simply pulling the bolt back and letting the blade ejector kick the cartridge clear of the action. After firing a round, the bolt keeps control of the case as it is extracted from the chamber. If the bolt is pulled enthusiastically to the rear, the blade ejector will kick the case out of the action with

Note how this Winchester pre-64 Model 70 bolt holds the cartridge for controlled-round feeding.

This Remington Model 700 bolt pushes the cartridge into the chamber with the extractor popping over the cartridge rim only when the bolt closes.

November-December 2009



Bolt Actions
some velocity. Should the shooter choose to not eject the case, the bolt travel can be stopped short (before the case hits the ejector blade) and the case picked from the action by hand. Another controlled-round feature is the ability to allow the bolt face to take control of a round from the magazine but not chamber it, then eject it, and repeat the process until the gun is empty without ever chambering a round. It should be mentioned that some controlled-round actions will not allow a cartridge to be dropped directly into the chamber and the bolt closed (due to a nonbeveled extractor) but require it be inserted into the magazine, picked up by the bolt face then pushed into the chamber. This was a feature common with many military Mauser Model 98 actions (and others) that were used as the basis for sporting rifles built by gun manufacturers. On the other hand, most commercial controlled-feed actions, including the Mauser Model 98, Winchester Model 70, Ruger

Examples of popular U.S.-manufactured bolt-action rifles with the push-feed system include Remington Model 700, Savage Model 110 and Ruger Model 77R.
Model 77 MKII, Kimber 84M and 8400 and others, permit the cartridge to be dropped directly into the chamber and the bolt closed with the extractor popping over the rim. The bolt of a push-feed system likewise strips a cartridge from the magazine but does not grasp the case, rather it pushes it into the chamber. With a round in the chamber, as the bolt closes (bolt handle being pushed down), the extractor rotates and slips over the cartridge rim. Until the extractor is over the rim, the car-

Below, the Weatherby Mark V (top) and Vanguard feature push-feed systems. Right, examples of controlled-round feed actions include (top to bottom): FN Mauser 98, Winchester pre-64 Model 70 and Kimber Model 8400.


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Above, push-feed actions with rotating extractors and plunger ejectors have proven reliable if they are of proper design, as witnessed on many military semiautomatic rifles. Right, the AR-15 and M1A rifles feature push-feed systems that proved reliable during military service.
tridge is loose, i.e., cannot be house sporting cartridges; the true. For instance, I recall firing a controlled by the shooter or bolt. real issue is proper gas venting, fine British Mauser Model 98 .270 In pulling the fired case or live and that subject cannot be disWinchester. The rifle had been cartridge from the chamber, the cussed generally but must be disrecently rebarreled, but when the extractor pulls it out, while the cussed on individual action chamber was cut, the reamer had plunger ejector kicks it clear types. a burr, leaving a deep ring inside from the action as soon the chamber. After firas the bullet or case Readers are probably familiar with the ing the first round, the mouth clears the rebolt handle could only mechanical differences between ceiver ring. be lifted with tremen-

controlled-round and push-feed actions. dous effort, and when it Some claim that the was finally forced open, countersunk push-feed it left the case in the chamber. A Proponents of the controlledbolt face is stronger in the event steel rod was used to drive the round action claim that the beefy a cartridge ruptures, while concase out from the muzzle end, claw extractor pulls fired cases trolled-round folks point out that and only then was it discovered from the chamber with greater their system places the cartridge that the chamber was damaged strength and reliability. This is an in the chamber. Frankly, both as witnessed by the bulge in the interesting point and is partly systems are sufficiently strong to
Many consider the Mauser Model 98 a superb bolt-action design that features controlled-round feed. This one (manufactured by FN) is just taking control of the cartridge as it is stripped forward from the magazine. Cases/cartridges may be ejected by swiftly bringing the bolt to the rear and allowing the blade ejector to kick it from the action.

November-December 2009



Left, the Remington Model 700 strips a cartridge from the magazine and pushes it into the chamber. Above, the plunger ejector automatically kicks the case clear of the receiver when the case mouth or bullet nose clears the receiver.

Bolt Actions
center of the case. The claw extractor had literally torn a large chunk of the rim off the case trying to extract it. I am unaware of any conventional push-feed ro tating extractor exhibiting that kind of strength, as most will either slip over the rim, or some will break, leaving the case in the chamber. It should be emphasized that not all rotating-type extractors offer equal camming power or strength. With that said, in the event of a difficult-to-extract case, I do not expect an extractor to have the ability to tear the rim off. Generally hard extraction can be blamed on an overload, extreme heat, a

dirty chamber, defective case, oversized bullet or shooting with a too hot barrel after letting the cartridge cook in the chamber. Most rotating extractors will pull such cases with ease. To further support this statement, I will point out that many semiautomatic and fully automatic rifles in use by militaries around the world feature rotating extractors. They are often shot until barrels are nearly red hot, primers are blowing and in general the rifles are tortured and abused, but they just keep shucking cases at a high rate of speed. In sporting rifles a properly designed (and not all are) rotating extractor is very reliable, but so is the claw extractor. Proponents of the controlledround feed system often refer to the fact that they can control the cartridge at all times, which results in fewer jams and mishaps

and offers convenience. For example, it is extremely difficult to double feed a controlled-round action, wherein two cartridges are stripped from the magazine

Not all actions feed flawlessly. Some Ruger Model 77Rs would allow the cartridge to pop up too high, binding it against the receiver and the bolt face.
and are in front of the bolt. (If this does happen, there is probably a problem with the follower or other specific issues.) It is certainly convenient to extract a loaded cartridge or fired case from the chamber and have the option of taking it from the action, rather than having it thrown by a spring-loaded ejector. By contrast an inexperienced operator of a push-feed system can cause a double feed, which is human error and not a mechanical shortcoming. I have never had a push-feed rifle double feed, unless there was a faulty follower or magazine issue or where I deliberately made it occur.
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The push-feed Nosler Model 48 .300 WSM was used to take this Alaskan Dall sheep.
There is sometimes the belief that controlled-round actions are more reliable right out of the box, which is not necessarily true. A well-tuned control-type

A controlled-round feed Ruger Model 77 MKII .300 Winchester Magnum dropped this Canadian whitetail.
tioned as the action is worked. On the other hand, as some factories drive production quantity rather than quality, issues surface. For instance a local friend

action is a marvelous thing, as it feeds cartridges and ejects cases smoothly with a feel that an experienced shooter knows precisely where the cartridge is posi-

November-December 2009




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purchased a Winchester Model 70 Laredo (controlled round) .300 Winchester Magnum. He is a relatively green shooter with little mechanical understanding, but in his first 1,000-yard match, shooting prone, he fought feeding issues throughout the entire match. He was the only shooter using a controlled-round action and the only one having feeding issues. Knowing Model 70s as I do, its problems were minor and a good gunsmith could have had that rifle working like a Swiss watch in about an hour, but in its out-ofbox form, it was frustrating and unreliable. On the other hand, in firing dozens of the previously mentioned U.S.-manufactured controlled-round actions, they have generally proven reliable. Most push-type actions feed, extract and eject properly right out of the box, but they too certainly have exceptions. For instance some cartridges have repeatedly

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given select companies a challenge, as they release cases from the magazine early or delayed, either of which can result in a hang-up. The Ruger Model 77R (1968-1992) occasionally allowed the belted magnum case head to bounce up too high as the bolt stripped it from the magazine, effectively binding the cartridge between the bolt face and the top of the receiver. (This happens only with push-feed Model 77s and is not an issue with the current Model 77 MKII.) The push-feed Winchester Model 70 extractor was comparatively weak when compared to other systems but nonetheless generally worked well enough for the average deer hunter.

Some claim that the countersunk push-feed bolt face is stronger.

Both push- and control-feed systems have proven reliable, as long as they are of proper design and quality. Mail will no doubt come with questions to the effect of: Would you recommend using Model X to hunt dangerous game, or what is best for . . . ? Choose a proven, reliable action and test that individual gun to see if it will fail when the bolt is run or worked hard. Putting a cartridge in the gun and firing it from the bench is different than working an action hard in the field while a wounded grizzly is popping its teeth a few yards away in the willows. Fire enough cartridges to make certain there are no feeding or extraction issues or even slight hang-ups. If there are, have it looked at by a qualified gunsmith, or shop for a different rifle. The debate over control- versus push-feed actions appears to be ongoing. Certainly personal preference will play a large role in what an individual chooses but, regardless of the choice, make certain that the mechanical operation R is understood and mastered.
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he Cape buffalo, Sincerus caffir, Nyathi, Mbogo . . . whatever you call him, has long been regarded as the meanest of the mean when it comes to African hunting and not without reason. Stories of the buffalos toughness are legendary, but not imaginary, as any man who has spent much time hunting them will tell you. But how much is myth, legend and how much is fact? How much rifle do you really need to successfully and safely hunt one?
I have always found it easier to start with the facts that I have personally seen rather than stories I have heard and need to be verified or happened to great-grandfather and have been passed on by word of mouth. I have seen buffalo cows killed with a .22 Hornet. On one of the buffalo eradication hunts in western Zimbabwe, we had many local lads come to help out. This one had read that Karamoja Bell had used a .22 on buffalo, so he thought he would try a bit more powerful arm. Actually Bell used a .22 Savage High Power, which is a lot more rifle than a .22 Hornet, but back to the story. The buffalo were driven toward the waiting line of shooters by a helicopter, and our hero shot five buffs with his .22 Hornet. He killed two cows and left the follow-up of the wounded to us government types. (He had a farm to run, and the dirty work was our job.) I was charged and very nearly run over by the one bull he had put four bullets into. Yes, you can kill a buffalo with a .22 Hornet, but it is a stunt and requires that you are backed
76 www.riflemagazine.com

by a PH of considerable experience. You are also far more likely to wound and lose the animal (like we did with the other two buffalo wounded on that cull) than you are to kill it. On the other side of the equation, I was present on a night problem animal control operation when a buffalo was shot through both lungs with a .375 H&H. Standard government issue A-Square Solids were used. Seeing that the buff was departing at speed and before all interest changed to a different animal that was thinking of charging, I put two bullets from my Fabrique Nationale (F.N.) FAL 7.62 NATO into the retreating buff, putting one bullet into a lung and one into the liver. Since tracking and following up buffalo in the dark is neigh impossible, we returned at first light to recover the buff that had charged and follow-up the one that had run off. At about 9 A.M., 12 hours after he had been wounded, the buff caught up with us and charged from behind. Indeed, he had done the classic buffalo trick of legend and circled around to watch over his own spoor and then laid up in some thick bush by the Sengwa River. Fortunately he was pretty badly hurt and was slow getting up and starting his charge, giving us a few moments warning. Another .375 to the chest didnt phase him, but as he came in with his head hanging down, two bullets from the F.N. went in over his head, breaking his spine. When we dissected him, none of the others could believe that he had kept going so long with both lungs perforated (left one twice) and with a bullet lodged in his liver. Having learned something about buff on those eradication culls, I had a fair idea of buffalo toughness. Much has changed, though, in the 25 years since I participated in my first buffalo cull. Back then, softpoint development was still at state-of-the-art 1918 standard. I was given a choice of Kynoch

The Model 700 African Plains Rifle is chambered for a variety of cartridges suitable for plains game, including Cape buffalo.
2009 Ron Spomer photo

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20 09 C hub Eastm an p hoto

oto ph on ds u H G. 09 20

The Legendary Mbogo

November-December 2009

2009 Dave Scovill photo

This lineup of heavy hitters including (left to right): the .500 Jeffery, .470 Nitro, .404 Jeffery and .416 Rigby is shown with the .375 H&H for comparison.
Solids or Brenneke TUG softpoints neither an ideal bullet! The other regular officers faced the same quandary, and generally they fell into two categories: those who favored the .404, especially when used with the then current RWS solids. These featured a very thin jacket launched at over 2,300 fps (compared with the 2,150 fps of the Kynoch ammunition). These RWS solids

A .577 double is a respected stopping rifle.

double tap, almost never a single shot. As there was a war on, and people armed with AK-47s are a greater hazard than buff, using an F.N. for all hunting as well as self-defense made sense. I was initially too junior to be able to draw an F.N. which were in short supply, and we were issued unreliable G3s instead and soon settled on a 1940s vintage BRNO (now part of CZ) in 9.3x62

could be relied upon to tear open if bone was struck and functioned like a premium softpoint of today! They were pretty hopeless for elephant but perfect for buffalo. The others generally favored the issue F.N. FAL rifles in 7.62 and applied the bar-fighting rule to shooting buff: If hes worth hitting once, hes worth hitting twice! And they always fired a

I have always found it easier to start with the facts.

Buffalo Guns
78 www.riflemagazine.com Rifle 247

2009 G. Hudson photo

Left, modern bullet designs have improved the effectiveness of buffalo rifles. Above, some solids arent solid.
him to forget about a .375 when he started out on a buffalo culling operation in Mozambique in the early 1950s. Taylor said to use a .404, and that if he persisted with his .375, he would get charged and wouldnt necessarily be able to stop it. For the age when this advice was given (and heeded by Brian) it was good. Brian was a young hunter starting out, and despite Taylors overly lavish praise in print for the .375, he wasnt going to let a tyro get into a real fix with less than great advice if personally sought out. The softpoints of the 1950s (same as were generally available in the 1980s) were not up to reliably holding together for use on buffalo. If restricted to solids, the .375 isnt enough gun. Kenya had worked this out the hard way as well, and sent home too many sons of the rich in coffins after hunting trips had gone wrong. They introduced a law making .40 caliber the minimum for buffalo and elephant hunting. On the Zimbabwe PH proficiency exams, I have had several occasions to study exactly this. How long can a buff keep going with a bullet through the heart? If you use a .375 solid, the answer is about half an hour which is way, way too long if your life depends on it. How? Easy. A buffalos heart is almost the exact opposite of an elephants. Nick an elephants heart with any bullet and it tears open. A buffs heart doesnt actually tear open unless it is full of blood and about to pump out (i.e., beginning systolic phase). Then, a high-velocNovember-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 79

as a compromise rifle. Using the stripper clip loading feature, one could maintain a reasonable rate of fire for self-defense, and it packed just enough punch to reliably drop a buffalo bull without making use of a double tap. My old friend and mentor Brian Marsh commented that the great John Pondoro Taylor had told

ity bullet might cause enough hydrostatic shock to tear it open? (Note the word might .) No, a buffs heart is particularly tough, and the atria at the top is supported by cartilage. (I dont know of any other animal that has a heart bone. If you ever shoot a buff, ask the PH for it, as it makes for an interesting little memento.) Put a roundnosed solid through it, blood will leak out as the heart fills, but as the muscles constrict to pump the blood out, it seals the wound. Taylors experiences

The 9.3x62 (left) and 9.3x74R (right) are shown with the .30-06 for comparison.

2009 Chub Eastman photo

Left, this relatively new solid design failed to live up to expectations on buff. Above, Ganyana mainly used RWS TUGs on culling operations. They were marginal on frontal shots.

Buffalo Guns
(and my more limited ones) showed that holes over .40 caliber were too big to seal, and the buff would bleed out very quickly if you hit the heart with a solid of this size. However, that was back in the dark ages of ammunition manufacture. State-of-the-art softpoints were Winchester Silvertips and RWS TUGs. Most companies loaded plain softpoints with un-

bonded cores and gilding metal jackets. They tried to control bullet expansion by limiting the amount of lead exposed and putting in deep cannelures to lock the core in and make them suitable for large game . . . BS! They were great for elk, kudu and perhaps lion, but they were in no way, shape or form suitable for buffalo. I used the TUGs as the best of a bad option, and I got away with it. Art Alphin sent me some of his very early Dead Tough softpoints (circa 1987), and I was sold on bonded core premium softs! And the softpoint revolution has continued. Twenty years ago you had a choice of Swift A-Frame and

Norma Oryx in freely available bonded core softpoints along with a few from custom makers like A-Square (Dead Toughs) and Bitterroot. Barnes then burst on the scene with the X-Bullet, Nosler with the Partition Gold, Woodleigh started up, Winchester launched the Black Talon,

How long can a buff keep going with a bullet through the heart?
and competition did wonders for the hunter. The early Swift A-Frame showed fantastic terminal performance but exhibited minute-of-elephant accuracy to be charitable. The X-Bullet was fantastic out of the relatively high velocity rifles like the .375 pity you had to use an electronic bore cleaner every 10 rounds to get the copper out. Today, the newer Swifts are more than accurate enough for any hunting application out to 200 meters (about 218 yards), the Barnes TSX has solved most of the fouling problems, but other, newer players have emerged to keep them on their toes. The great Bear Claw bullets have gone from limited supply custom to available in factory ammunition. Speer launched its African Grand Slam, RWS its evolution bullet. Terminal performance is getting ever more reliable and accuracy ever better. Still the horror stories roll in. Every year, a friend or colleague has a close call from a buff. Some



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Buffalo Guns

over bar the photos and the scotch around the campfire that evening. Place that first bullet badly, however, and the day just got tatty. When the adrenaline is pumping and his fighting blood is up, then a buff may well live up to all his old reputation for toughness. A buffalo hyped on adrenaline is the animal equivalent of a crack cocaine-stoked human opponent. He doesnt care what happens, and he doesnt know when he is dead. He has spent a life time fighting, and if he has lived long enough to be mature and to breed, then he has fought and won many a battle against other equally determined buffalo that thought they had the right to breed and many a lion that thought a young bull on the fringe of the herd would make an easy dinner. Once he is in fighting mode, he knows his very survival depends on winning, and he is used to winning. That is where he is different from the other big herbivores that are too big for lion to regularly attack as adults. Their fights are for breeding rights only and are seldom to the death. A buffalo is just small enough to be regular lion fare, and to lose a fight for breeding rights means you get pushed to the fringe of the herd again or worse, off on your own to be first target for the next lion attack. How much stopping does an adrenaline-filled, angry buffalo take? Well, I have stopped five close-range charges (less than 10 paces): two with a 7.62 double tap to the spine and three with a 9.3 softpoint two into the spine under the chin and one through the nose into the brain. In all five cases the shot shut down the central nervous system. Body shots? I have no faith in them. I have seen a .505 Gibbs knock a buffalo back onto its haunches, the softpoint ripping a massive hole through the heart, only to have him pick himself up and come on. A friend had a similar though slightly more dramatic

Ganyana took this bull while testing new Norma 9.3 ammunition.
have been unprovoked attacks, invariably at very close range, and are simply cases of the PH getting too close to a sleeping buff in thick brush. When the noise of the PH approaching finally awakens the buff, the PH is already inside the attack zone (as opposed to the much larger flee zone), so the buffalo simply behaves like a buffalo and charges. Most of them, though, are the result of poor marksmanship for the first shot. Hit a buff reasonably well with the first shot using any reasonable cartridge firing any good premium softpoint, and the hunt is already



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illustration of the same toughness. On a citizen hunt, one man shot a buffalo bull with a .500 Jeffery. It dropped instantly to a high shoulder shot (spine broken). His partner Clive was a very experienced hunter and noticed a bull beyond the one being shot hunch up as well a shootthrough perhaps? Being the ethical hunter that he is, Clive left the others to do the back slapping and photo bit and wandered off to make sure about the second buffalo. He was carrying his .577 Nitro Express double. Sure enough he found a blood spoor near where he had seen the second buff disappear. He was just starting to follow when the buff reappeared in a charge. Clive hit him with a left and right to the chest, and the buff went down. Clive reloaded as the buff staggered back to its feet and slammed another two .577s into it. Again the buff went down and seemed to stay down, so Clive walked closer to check. To his amazement the buff bounced back onto its feet giving Clive just enough time to get his rifle across his chest to ward off the hook from the horns before he was sailing up through the air his .577 double neatly snapped in half and the buff moving around to finish the business. Fortunately for Clive the cumulative effect of so much lead through the heart and arteries was too much for the buff, and he collapsed before he could press home a final charge. Moral: If you hit the central nervous system, the buff will drop instantly. If you do not, he will run, and being a buff, he is likely to run toward you rather than away. So what constitutes an ideal buffalo rifle? Well, shot placement beats muzzle energy every time, and if you will use a modern premium softpoint, then any rifle from 9.3 up will do the job nicely. To the average American, this means a .375 H&H, although
(Continued on page 94)


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November-December 2009





by Jess Galan

n the current market for adult-grade airguns, PCP (precharged pneumatic) rifles have been the priciest of the lot. Their lofty price tags have generally placed them beyond the budget of many sport shooters.

Fortunately, that situation was corrected to a large extent with the introduction of the Crosmanmanufactured Benjamin Discovery PCP/CO 2 dual-fuel rifle in 2008. Following the success of the Discovery dual-fuel rifle, in 2009 Crosman introduced the superb Benjamin Marauder dualfuel rifle. Actually, comparing the new Marauder to the older Discovery is like comparing a sleek, high-performance sports car to a Volkswagen beetle. The new Benjamin Marauders dual-fuel power plant means this rifle can be powered by compressed air at a maximum working pressure of between 2,000 and 3,000 psi or by CO2 at relatively lower working pressures. Like the older Discovery model, the Marauders dual-fuel system allows shooters the better of two worlds in one rifle. Typically, sporting-class precharged pneumatic rifles are extremely potent performers, as their comparatively high working air pressures

The Marauder is a man-sized air rifle.

translate into sizzling pellet velocities. The Marauder, incidentally, can be had in a choice of .177 inch (4.5mm) or .22 inch (5.5mm) caliber. pressor, or from a bicycle-type hand pump available from Crosman. This air pump requires a bit of applied muscle in order to reach optimum working pressures, but the effort is not beyond the physical capability of most grownups of average build. The pump itself retails for $164.20 and is highly recommended. The pump incorporates an easily legible pressure gauge to keep track of the air input. In addition, the rifle itself also has a built-in pressure gauge in the bottom of the stock, directly ahead of the trigger guard. Normally, somewhere between 100 and 120 pump strokes is sufficient to reach a working pressure of approximately 2,100 psi. Excessive

The match-grade, two-stage trigger is fully adjustable. Tab ahead of the trigger is the manual safety.
When used in the PCP mode, the Marauder can be pressurized from a source of compressed air, such as a SCUBA tank or com-

Left, a screw-on cap covers the fill nipple. Below, the top of the receiver has an 11mm dovetail for scope installation.



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pumping could result in higher air pressures that could cause the rifles air valve to lock, as well as a possible burst air reservoir that could cause injuries to the user and persons nearby. Incidentally, the Marauder is supplied with a degassing tool to allow the shooter to reduce or completely vent out pressure from the rifles air/CO2 reservoir. The air pump sent by Crosman with the test rifle also came with a Universal CO2 Fill Adapter to enable pressurizing the rifle from a CO2 bottle. This component is quick and easy to use, greatly simplifying the task of pressurizing the rifle with CO2. Unscrewing the cap at the front of the rifles reservoir tube reveals the fill nipple, ready to accept the Fill Adapters quick disconnect socket. The Marauders power can also be regulated by the owner. This

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A pressure gauge clearly lets the shooter know the air or CO2 pressure level.
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Rifle 247


mined with available instrumentation. er holes are out of alignment. Smooth Kontoured rings.

The vast majority of PCP rifles come without sights, and the Marauder is no exception. These rifles are intended mostly for hunting and/or field target shooting, activities that basically require the use of telescopic sights. To that effect, the Marauder sports a receiver top with an 11mm dovetail to allow mounting a suitable scope base. I installed an old Tasco 4x 40mm glass with duplex reticle and found it a great combination for all my tests. The Marauder produced impressive accuracy at all distances, proving this is indeed a high-performance air rifle quite capable of taking small game at up to 50 yards or so with a well-placed pellet. The test rifle was .17 caliber. With a working air pressure of 2,100 psi, it was delivering a muzzle velocity hovering around 930 fps with a variety of .177inch sporting pellets averaging 8 grains apiece. Perhaps not surprisingly, Crosman Premier domed pellets printed the best groups. The .17-caliber Marauder is rated at a top muzzle velocity of 1,100 fps fully pressurized, while the .22-caliber models top velocity is given at up to 1,000 fps. Priced well below most other PCP rifles, the Benjamin Marauder is an outstanding value that allows using either compressed air or CO 2 gas to suit practically any recreational shooting activity. For further information and availability, visit Pyramyd Air online at: www.pyramydair.com. R
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(Continued from page 12) Moose, Woodland Caribou & Black Bear Hunts


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Mauser remains one of the most respected big game cartridges ever developed, albeit like any military cartridge, it was actually designed to shoot people.

In the long run, cutting the stock to fit and mounting a good, thick recoil absorbing pad is the best solution, even if you have to buy a new stock later when the hunter grows taller. All of Robertas stocks have been shortened about 1.2 inches. Also, thicker layers of hunting clothes jacket, shirt and long johns absorb recoil and increase the length of pull, so it pays to wear hunting clothes during practice or simulate the additional thickness with a folded bath towel over the shoulder. In the end, reaction to recoil is for the most part, subjective. To some its the 800-pound gorilla. To others its a non-issue, either because they have learned to ignore it, or they have taken steps to control and/or absorb it. Rifle weight is also an important issue. The more a rifle weighs in any given caliber, the less it recoils. A flyweight whacks you harder. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there has been a steady trend toward lighter rifles in the last few years, and these little munchkins chambered for a belted or beltless magnum, or even a .30-06, can slap you pretty hard. Its fairly difficult to convince the uninitiated they wont even notice recoil with game in the scope when they feel punchdrunk after a few rounds off the bench. So while a modern lightweight rifle may appear to be the ideal solution for a first rifle, it may not be, depending on the persons size and strength. There are some lessons to learn. At the age of 7 and small, less than 60 pounds, my first expe rience at shooting was with a single-shot, 12-gauge shotgun. My stepfather stood behind me; I assumed to be out of the line of fire. The shotgun went off and I went over backward, where he caught me just inches off the ground. I wouldnt admit that it hurt, so when he asked if I

One of the best ways to introduce the novice to recoil is to install a cushy recoil pad, and if necessary, cut the stock to fit. The Pachmayr Decelerator is always a good choice, along with LimbSaver and Remington Shooters Friend, the latter of which is advertised as reducing felt recoil by 70 percent. Another option is a slip-on pad, but they also increase length of pull, making it difficult to hold the rifle properly. Shoulder pads, like those from PAST, also work well, assuming they are adjusted properly and dont slide around.

Gentry Custom, L.L.C.

314 N. Hoffman - Belgrade, MT 59714 (406) 388-GUNS




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wanted to shoot again, I said, Yes. The second shot felt like it broke a bone. Kids are like that. They may not admit they are afraid of recoil. So take recoil seriously when folks have little or no experience. In time, the issue will likely take care of itself, assuming they have someone around to help in the early going. ***

9438 East Elmwood Mesa, AZ 85207 (480) 986-1805


The 45-120-3 4 A Guide to Reloading and Shooting the Mighty 45-120


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

Helical Bolt ! Fluting

Find us online at: www.getagripgunbooks.com Address your questions to the author Steve Carpenter Phone: 920-833-2282 E-Mail: shoot45120@centurytel.net

First Season is the premiere in The Mopani Collection, a series of wildlife films centered around hunting in the Omay hunting area of the Zambezi Valley during the 2008 season in Zimbabwe. The widescreen HD DVD features 1 hour and 35 minutes of original footage, including 13 elephant hunts, 6 hippo, 7 Cape buffalo and a remarkable leopard attack. Plains game includes a sable adventure and water buck. The First Season is produced by Martin Pieters (Martin Pieters Safaris) and Roy Aylward. While my hunt with a Winchester Model 86 .475 Turnbull for elephant, hippo and plains game is included on this DVD, the entire production is unique in the fact that there are no reenactments; what you see is how it happened. You will be spellbound when a bull elephant decides to turn the tables and a wounded leopard becomes the hunter. From a hunters perspective, one of the most fascinating aspects of the First Season is that the hunters reactions are firsthand, on the scene. There are no talking heads with a tale of the hunt hours or days after the fact, a reminder of the good ol days when Howard Hill hunted elephant with a bow and arrow without a teleprompter. The First Season is for anyone with a passion for hunting. Worldwide distribution: www.safari R press.com.
November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 89
Dale Hegstrom, Gunsmith 6593 113th Ave. NE, Suite C, Spicer MN 56288 Telephone: 320-796-0530 Email: littlecrowgunworks@clearwire.net


*Many Styles *Over 150 Chamberings

*Walnut *Hardwood Laminate *Fiberglass

*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)

*Mil-Spec Polymer Metal Finish (Excellent lubricity and corrosion protection) Long gun with scope mounts - $240) *Cerakote Metal Finish (Extreme corrosion protection and durability) Long gun with scope mounts - $275)

Let us e-mail or send you a color brochure!



by Clair Rees

he latest thing in firearm safes is a 10-gauge steel strongbox hidden under the mattress of your bed. BedBunker modular safes replace the box springs under twin-, queen- or king-size mattresses. Theyre designed to be compatible with most standard bed frames.

can level the safe. Optional adjustable casters are available for easy positioning. A fire-resistant sealing system is certified to provide 120 minutes of protection at temperatures up to 1,533 degrees Fahrenheit. Structural components are TIG (tungsten inert gas) welded and powder coated for protection from the elements. Depending on safe size, as many as 32 rifles and 70 handguns can be contained in the BedBunker safe. The fact that its hidden from view adds an important element of security. If intruders cant find the safe, they cant force it open. There are some caveats: The BedBunker replaces your box springs, so you may find yourself sleeping on a firmer surface. Also, these safes are more costly than many conventional, freestanding safes. The twin-sized BedBunker lists at $2,700, the queen version goes for $4,800, while the king-sized safe is priced at $5,200. If keeping your safe out of sight is important, the BedBunker may be for you. The safes are guaranteed for life. For more information, contact Heracles Research Corp., Dept. RI, PO Box 346, Spokane WA 99210; or visit the website: www.bedgunsafe.com.
Namibia-Zimbabwe South Africa-Mauritius Hunt Specials for 2010

The twin-sized safe measures 78x30x15 inches and weighs 1,500 pounds. It features 14 inch thick hinged-steel doors weighing 140 pounds. Custom sizes are available by special order. BedBunker safes are equipped with a Mul-T-Lock locking sys tem and a hydraulic, gas-assisted piston for easy opening. They also feature a maximum security hinge system and one inch diameter threaded legs that can be adjusted for height so you

>`}iU U,i>>L*Vi`U
4EL&AX  s#ELL   E-Mail: gharms@neb.rr.com

South African Plains Game: 7 species including Greater Kudu and Gemsbok 1x1 $4,800. Zimbabwe Plains Game: 2x1 for $5,350, 1x1 $6,100: Greater Kudu, Impala, Warthog, Zebra, Wildebeest, Steenbok, Duiker, Jackal & Baboon. Cape Buffalo: 10 days 1x1 $10,900 (Zimbabwe)
www.kellysafrica.com e-mail: kellyfactr@aol.com Ph & FAX (303) 646-3076 Cell 24/7 (303) 570-6950

Kellys Africa Pvt. Ltd.



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Scissor Stix

Thompson Center Arms Company

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

Im a longtime fan of Stoney Point Steady Stix. I own a number of these light, handy, collapsible bipods and have used them countless times for long-range shots at everything from deer and pronghorn to prairie dogs. The shock-corded legs fold into an easy-carrying package that fits on your belt and instantly deploys by simply giving the bipod a shake. The only problem with the Steady Stix bipod is that it offers no support as you walk or climb. I had knee replacement surgery some time ago and still get kind of wobbly on uneven ground. Until I have full use of my recalcitrant knee joint, a walking staff is a necessary aid. Thats where Stoney Points new Scissor Stix come in handy. The Scissor Stix is a lightweight monopod with a molded grip that comfortably fits your hand. In monopod mode, the 39 inch long Scissor Stix serves as a sturdy hiking staff. When youre ready to shoot, the staff quickly converts into a bipod, providing a steady shooting rest.

Exhibition Grade Gunstock Blanks

Limited Precision Stock Duplicating Belgian Blue, Slow Rust Blue, Parkerizing Paul & Sharon Dressel 509/966-9233 November-December 2009 www.riflemagazine.com 91


Thousands of Blanks Available Online!


'93-'96 MAUSER
Cock-on Opening Conversion
Cocking piece; Striker spring; Fully adjustable trigger included. Cast steel; Blued; Safety notch cut. Dayton Traister Trigger Co. 4778 N. Monkey Hill Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277

Call or write for Price List & info: 216 Rundell Loop Rd. - Delhi, LA 71232 Telephone (318) 878-1395

David Christman, Jr.

High Antimony (30%) Lead Alloy

Use safely ~ 700F in lieu of Antimony, 1167F

New Foundry Wheel Weight Alloy

3% Antimony 0.4% Tin 0.15% arsenical Lead

Call for Special Pricing

Bill Ferguson - tel: 520-458-5321 e-mail: bulletman1@cox.net website: www.theantimonyman.com

The Scissor Stix design features two half-round poles that connect just below the handle. To convert the unit into a bipod shooting rest, you simply flip open three locking levers located at the bottom of the bifurcated shaft. The twin halves of the staff then scissor apart, while the handle splits open to form a yoke for your rifles forend.

Talley Scope Rings



P.O. Box 369 Santee, SC 29142 803-854-5700


Are you a custom gunsmith? Ever tried bone char for casehardening or barrel bluing? 2 sizes of bone char available.
Now available in 4 lb. pails.
P.O. BOX 3247 - MELVINDALE, MI 48122 (313) 388-0060 ebonex@flash.net WWW.EBONEX.COM

Opening the locking levers on each leg allows the Scissor Stix staff to extend a full 60 inches, providing steady support for shooting from sitting, kneeling or standing positions. The Scissor Stix hiking staff/bipod is made of lightweight aluminum alloy. Price: $83.95. For more information, contact Stoney Point Products, Inc., Dept. R, 9200 Cody, Overland Park KS 66214; for consumer inquiries call: 1-800-423-3537; or visit online at: www.stoney R point.com.



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Straight Talk
(Continued from page 33)

ars 24 Yeience Exper

Anticipating a reaction against this namby-pamby wussy cleaner, Caustic Plutonium Chemical Soak took a threatening tack: Caution: Wear latex gloves and a full HazMat suit before reading these directions. Caustic Plutonium Chemical Soak will eat its way through any substance known to man. Timing is critical to prevent barrel etching. Be sure to have plenty of neutralizing agent on hand before beginning your 9.7second barrel cleaning. Do not use within 400 yards of a school or vegan restaurant. If acci dentally ingested, bend over and kiss . . . Regardless the brand, each directed users to push a soaked patch or two through the bore, followed by 5 to 10 strokes with a brass brush (natural cacti bristles for Green Clean), followed by a dry patch that is supposed to emerge squeaky clean. The problem is, it never does. Regardless which solvent I used, no matter how many soakings and scrubbings I gave that bore, no matter how mirror bright the deepest recesses of that barrel appeared through the Hawkeye borescope, another soaking and brushing would result in a filthy, black dry patch. I must have been doing something wrong. I must have missed a critical step. So I reread each bottles directions carefully, thoroughly, including the fine print. And there it was. On every bottle. The caveat, the out, the perfect escape clause: If the dry patch doesnt come out clean, repeat as necessary. Nooooo!

Old World Craftsmanship 21st Century Technology

Action Blueprinting .0003 Factory Rifle Accurizing Fluid Flushed Precision Chambering Pillar Bedding Trigger Jobs Answer Muzzle Brakes Dual Elliptical Bushed Custom Rifles Built 270 WSM 300 WSM 6.5 284 243 WSSM IMP 30-8mm Imp 35 6mm Ackley 338 Lapua Rogue 22 Dasher 30-BR 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

Contact: Jon Trammel 120 W. Walker, Breckenridge, TX 76424 (254) 559-3455 I trammel@texasisp.com

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*
Colo. Res. add 3% sales tax ($1.65) *Orders outside the U.S.: S&H is $13.00 Also available: 2006 Double Rifle Builders Symposium DVD (visit our website)

NEW!! 2nd Edition 30 more pages

Second Edition

Bunduki Publishing, 39384 WCR 19, Ft. Collins, CO 80524 www.BundukiPublishing.com Dealer inquires welcome.

From Canadas Arctic
Trophy Quality Game Great Location Fully Guided Quality Hunts
For centuries man has hunted the vast treeless habitat of the Central Canadian Barren Ground Caribou. You can now be a part of this ancient rite on the uninhabited frontier. We speak your language, take care of you, and know what you want! Arctic grizzly, muskox, wolf, wolverine, fishing and world-class caribou hunts. Booking for 2009 and 2010 hunts. Complete list of references available. Write:


Box 570 260 Big Clearing Rd. Roundup, MT 59072

John Witt, Gunsmith

Box 1294 W, Yellowknife, N.W.T., Canada X1A 2N9 TEL (867) 873-3212 FAX (867) 873-9008
E-Mail: info@arcticsafaris.ca
www.riflemagazine.com 93


CALL: 406-323-2431

November-December 2009

Buffalo Guns
(Continued from page 83)

there are countless other options to suit every taste. Is bigger better? Yes, but only once you reach .505 Gibbs/.500 Jeffery power levels. These two rounds are buffalo thumpers of note. With softpoint bullets they are noticeably more effective than anything smaller on heart/lung shots, but they still only annoy a buffalo if you put a bullet into the stomach; and no, they are not guaranteed to fold a charge if you miss the spine. They will almost certainly stop the charge at least momentarily, but even a center chest shot with either cannot be relied upon to end matters. Much as I love the .500 Jeffery, I simply cannot manage one, and as I can see little difference in terminal performance between my 9.3x62 and a .458 Lott on buffalo, I prefer to stick to the 9.3 and more accurate shot placeArctic Safaris.......................................................93 B&T Industries LLC.............................................91 Bald Eagle Precision Machine Co. .....................16 Bandera Gunleather ...........................................12 Barnes Bullets.....................................................19 Battenfeld Technologies .....................................20 Bellm TCs, Inc....................................................91 Billingsley & Brownell Rie Metalsmith ...............30 Black Hills Shooters Supply, Inc. ........................43 Blasier USA ........................................................35 Blues Brothers ....................................................33 BOG Gear, LLC/Hicks Production ......................95 Brockmans Custom Gunsmithing ......................20 Brown Company, E. Arthur .................................92 Bruno Shooters Supply.......................................65 Bucks County Stocks..........................................74 Bullet Metals / Bill Ferguson ...............................92 Bunduki Publishing .............................................93 Burris Company ............................................54, 96 Chiron, Inc. .........................................................38 Christman, David (gunmaker).............................92 CJ Weapons .......................................................33 Classic Barrel & Gun Works ...............................74 Classic Checkering .............................................86 Clearwater Custom Bullets .................................86 CNC Barrelworks ................................................37 Colorado Shooters Supply .................................26 Conetrol Scope Mounts ................................33, 91 Cooper Arms.......................................................81 Corbin Mfg. & Supply....................................56, 92 CTK Precision.....................................................16 D&B Supply ........................................................10 Dayton Traister Trigger Co. ................................92 Dem-Bart Checkering Tools, Inc.........................83 DNZ Products .....................................................56 Douglas Barrels, Inc. ..........................................17 Dressel, Paul and Sharon...................................91 DSC Arms, Inc. ...................................................18 Ebonex Corporation............................................92 Erhardt Custom Guns, Dennis............................83 Gentry Custom L.L.C. .........................................88 Get A Grip Gunbooks .........................................89 Gordan Harms ....................................................90 Graf & Sons, Inc. ................................................11 Green Mountrin Rie Barrel Co. .........................67 Grizzly Custom Guns LLC ..................................30

ment for everyday hunting. Of course, if you insist on living in the previous century and using solids, then the old advice still stands: Nothing under .40 caliber, and I have a nice 8-gauge double cartridge gun that might suit your requirements. (A 1,250-grain bullet and 8.5 drams of black powder is the regulation load, which served my great-grandfather very well for buff and lion hunting.)

take a siesta. I would send back to the truck for my double, not because I need the extra power but because two shots are always better than one, and also I load a solid in the left barrel. If the buff runs and I only have a poor angle shot, a solid will reach the chest cavity. If the buff charges and I fail to break the spine with my first shot (a soft), well, a solid will do as well as anything else for a second attempt. Bullet technology has taken us a whole leap forward in terms of effectiveness of our current rifles and cartridges, and one could very well make a case for reducing the minimum bullet diameter legal for use on buffalo, especially as those old colonial regulations were all drawn up before anybody had ever heard of a bonded core or an X-Bullet. Sadly, some hunters brains have been so rattled by recoil that they can no longer comprehend the change. R
Penrod Precision ................................................12 Pinaire Gunsmithing ...........................................89 Pioneer Research (Steiner) ................................57 Presliks Gunstocks ............................................87 Providence Tool, LLC .........................................74 Pyramyd Air ........................................................85 Quality Cartridge.................................................37 RB Outtters .......................................................26 RBCS c/o Federal Cartridge Company.................2 Redding-Hunter, Inc............................................83 RMS Custom Gunsmithing .................................74 Robinson Custom Guns, LLC .............................37 S & K Scope Mounts...........................................87 Savage Arms, Inc. ..............................................45 Schillinger & Associates, Inc...............................87 Schmidt & Bender...............................................37 Sheep River Hunting Camps ..............................36 Shilen Ries, Inc. ................................................91 Shooters Choice ................................................17 Shooters Ridge ..................................................53 Shotgun Sports ...................................................86 Signal Mountain Gun Works ...............................93 Sinclair International, Inc. ...................................12 Smith & Wesson .................................................21 Sonoran Desert Institute .....................................28 SouWester Outtting..........................................88 Spec-Tech Industries..........................................20 SSK Industries ....................................................28 Stiles Custom Guns ............................................67 Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc........................................5 Sunny Hill Enterprises, Inc..................................89 Swarovski Optik North America, Ltd. ..................31 Swift Bullet Company............................................7 Talley Manufacturing, Inc....................................92 Terrco, Inc...........................................................90 Thompson Cigar Co............................................23 Timney Mfg., Inc. ................................................74 Trophy Tools, Inc. ...............................................79 Vais Arms, Inc.....................................................89 Western Powders ...............................................66 Williams Firearms Co..........................................91 Williams Gun Sight Company .............................72 Wineland Walnut.................................................26 Wolfe Publishing Company...........................27, 29 Yavapai College..................................................17

A buffalo hyped on adrenaline is the animal equivalent of a crack cocaine-stoked human.

What if you do wound a buffalo and it disappears into the thick stuff? Do you then need a cannon? The answer is still no. Tactics outweigh muzzle energy also. Wait. Wait for the adrenaline to wear off and for the buff to stiffen up. Brew some coffee,
Hagstrom Gunsmithing .......................................37 Harbor Freight Tools...........................................39 Harris Engineering ..............................................36 Harry Lawson LLC ..............................................33 Haydons Shooters Supply, Russ ......................56 High Plains Reboring & Barrels LLC...................18 Hill Country Rie, Inc. .........................................88 Hollands Shooters Supply, Inc.............................8 Hornady Manufacturing Co.................................15 Huber Concepts..................................................62 James Calhoon Mfg............................................87 Jard, Inc. .............................................................93 Johnson Design Specialties................................18 Jon Trammels Gunsmithing ...............................93 Kellys Africa Pvt. Ltd. ...................................26, 90 Kimber of America ..............................................13 Lapham Outtters ...............................................16 LaPour Gunsmithing, Ed.....................................18 Leadheads Bullets ..............................................53 Levergun Leather Works ....................................82 Lilja Precision Rie Barrels, Inc. .........................64 Little Crow Gunworks, LLC .................................89 Lone Wolf Rie Stocks........................................38 Luxus Walnut ......................................................44 Lyman Products Corporation ..............................67 M & R Arms Specialties ......................................67 Marlin Firearms Company ....................................3 MBI Promotions, Inc. ..........................................36 McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Inc. ........................63 Meacham Tool & Hardware, Inc. ........................38 Midsouth Shooters Supply Co. ...........................25 Mitchells Mausers ..............................................75 MLV Enterprises .................................................87 MPI Stocks..........................................................86 Mr. Star Guy, Inc. / Vixen Optics .........................9 New England Custom Gun Service ....................29 New Ultra Light Arms, Inc. ..................................32 Nightforce USA ...................................................73 Northwest Custom Projectile ..............................22 Nosler Bullets......................................................47 Nu-Line Guns, Inc...............................................53 Numrich Gun Parts .............................................80 Olson Gunsmithing, Dennis E.............................20 Pacic Tool & Gauge, Inc. ..................................55 Parsons Scope Service......................................38




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