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VictoryTM Charging Handle – AR15 The Armaspec VictoryTM Ambidextrous charging handle designed for the 5.56/.223 rifle or pistol. With curved handles for hands free charging, integrated vents ports to route captured gas downward away from the face, and center force charging to reduce shaft twisting. Made from 7075-T6 aluminum and hard black anodized. Patents Pending.

$65.99

Curved Handles for Hands Free Charging | Ambidextrous Design Integrated Gas Vents | Center Force ChargingTM | FITS 5.56/.223 7075-T6 Aluminum | Made in U.S.A | Lifetime Warranty

www.armaspec.com


p fl d ( i t 1 i i a


The Xtreme Defender is based on the popular Xtreme Penetrator product line. The XD ammunition has an optimized nose flute, total weight, and velocity to achieve a penetration depth up to 18 inches* with a permanent wound cavity (PWC) that is just simply enormous; no other expanding hollowpoint comes close to achieving anywhere near this diameter and volume. Not only is the PWC over 100% larger than any other expanding bullet, expansion is achieved despite being shot through barriers. The solid copper body ensures that wallboard, sheet metal, and automotive glass will have no effect on the PWC.

5730 Bottom Rd. Sparta, Illinois 62286

*Falling within FBI guidelines This round offers: A permanent Wound Cavity (PWC) that is 2 times greater than any expanding bullet reduced recoil. CNC machined from solid copper to overcome barriers to penetration Radial flutes that force the hydraulic energy inward to build pressure Minimal surface area to increase the force at the point of contact and sharp cutting edges that defeat barriers.

Call us: (618) 965-2109 www.underwoodammo.com


A MERIC A N

SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 9 // Issue 2 // November 2019 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andy Walgamott OFFICE MANAGER / COPY EDITOR Katie Aumann LEAD CONTRIBUTOR Frank Jardim CONTRIBUTORS Jim Dickson, Lawrence E. Hatter, Scott Haugen, Phil Massaro, Mike Nesbitt SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Jim Klark, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS Celina Martin, Leslie-Anne Slisko-Cooper DESIGNER INTERN Jacob Culver PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker WEBMASTER / INBOUND MARKETING Jon Hines INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@americanshootingjournal.com

ON THE COVER With the slogan “Confidence with every shot” in mind, cover subject Bartt Brenton and his company, Brenton USA, are making superb AR-platform rifles for big game hunters.

Website: AmericanShootingJournal.com Facebook: Facebook.com/AmericanShootingJournal Twitter: @AmShootingJourn

MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S. Ste. 190 • Tukwila, WA 98168 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


CONTENTS

VOLUME 9 • ISSUE 2

FEATURES

40

57 BULLET BULLETIN: TSX PASSES THE TEST Available in many calibers, Barnes’ all-copper bullet just might be the “all-around solution for your big game needs” that you’re seeking. Phil Massaro profiles this modern hunting projectile that’s as adept at bringing down dangerous game in Africa as whitetails in the Appalachians. 67 FROM RUSSIA WITH LEAD With Barnaul ammunition now available in the United States, courtesy of MKS Supply, Jim Dickson dives into the history of this longtime supplier of Soviet and Russian armies and what bullets are now available through the Ohiobased firearms marketer. 73 WESTERN STATES BRACE FOR ASSAULT ON BEAR HUNTING Three environmental groups are trying to ban bear baiting in Idaho and Wyoming via federal lawsuit, but state wildlife managers and author/ bruin guide Lawrence Hatter are fighting it. Find out why this battle matters to all hunters. 93 ROAD HUNTER: PACIFIC FLYWAY SOUTH – MY WATERFOWLING ROOTS Scott Haugen has been in the West Coast waterfowl marshes and fields since he was 4 years old, and hunting ducks and geese since he turned 12. He looks back on a career that began where it also did for his father and his oldest son, central Oregon, and has taken him to many birdy bays and blinds throughout the Northwest and well beyond.

(BRENTON)

BRENTON HUNTING RIFLES:

‘PERFORMANCE THAT WON’T LET YOU DOWN’

With ARs making inroads among those who pursue big game, Bartt Brenton has channeled his long histories in hunting and engineering into a company specializing in making superb rifles for bagging deer and other large critters.

85 PRAIRIE DOGS A PLENTIFUL, CHALLENGING TARGET Inhabiting a wide swath of the Great Plains, these little burrowers cause havoc for ranchers and farmers, but they better beware because Jim Dickson’s on the prowl. He has a primer for how to hunt prairie dogs. 101 BLACK POWDER: GOING LONG WITH THE GREAT BASIN SHOOTERS There was plenty of sharp shooting on display this fall when black powder enthusiast Mike Nesbitt and his longtime shooting partner joined a group of Oregon marksmen for their club’s annual mid- and long-range matches.

AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Ave South Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2019 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


CONTENTS

25

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE company spotlights 115 Kirkpatrick Leather: Holsters Made Right

DEPARTMENTS 19 Competition Calendar 23 Gun Show Calendar

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


Because every great shot... Begins at the trigger! www.elftactical.com Straight shoe included with every trigger!


PRIMER

COMPETITION C A L E N D A R

November 2-3

November 9

November 9

November 24

2019 New Mexico IDPA Blue Line ProAm Rio Rancho, N.M. idpa.com

PCAS Monthly Match Deer Lodge, Mont.

November 15-17

November 6-10

November 15-17

Desert Classic Area 2 Championship Mesa, Ariz.

November 7-9

“LOCAP” Nationals Single Stack & Revolver Frostproof, Fla.

December 8

Factory Gun Classic Odessa, Fla.

November 8-10

December 7-8

Glock Showdown in Savannah II Savannah, Ga.

Pile O’ Bones Shootout Regina, Sask.

Glock West Coast Challenge IV Azusa, Calif. Remember the Alamo Ballistic Challenge XXIV San Antonio, Texas

December 30

December 28-29

Warmer Winter Pastures New Years Shoot-Out II Green Cove Springs, Fla.

November 2

December 5-16

Warmer Winter Pastures New Years Shoot-Out I Green Cove Springs, Fla.

2019 Cypress Air Pistol Fall Match Cypress, Texas usashooting.org

South Florida Section Hi Cap Championship Punta Gorda, Fla.

November 16-17

November 30

cmsaevents.com

Area 59 Championship 2019 Rosenberg, Texas

November 2-3

Duel in the Desert XIII Tucson, Ariz. gssfonline.com

IDPA Cedar Ridge San Antonio, Texas

November 3-5

“LOCAP” Nationals Production & L10 Divisions Frostproof, Fla.

uspsa.org

CCSC Monthly IDPA Match Edgemoor, S.C.

November 16-17

Winter Air Gun, Part 1 Olympic Trials Colorado Springs, Colo.

Team Shooting Stars PTO Carrollton, Texas

americanshootingjournal.com 19


PRS RESOURCE GUIDE Bolt Gun Series November 1

Blue Ridge Ranch PRS Match

Benge, Washington

November 2

Frontline Defense Road to Redemption

Warrenton, North Carolina

November 15

PRS Finale

Finger, Tennessee

For more information visit www.precisionrifleseries.com

PARTS, ACCESSORIES & GEAR

See us on page 79

See us on page 20

See us on page 21

americanshootingjournal.com 21


THE REAL TEXAS

GUN SHOW GUNS | AMMO | KNIVES | BUY | SELL | TRADE | LOOK

GONZALES, ORANGE, HARKER HEIGHTS, BELTON, BRENHAM, TAYLOR, PORT ARTHUR and N. HOUSTON, TEXAS! CHECK OUT OUR WESITE FOR DATES AND LOCATIONS Aubrey Sanders Jr. -Promoter

www.TheRealTexasGunShow.com

P.O. Box 300545 Arlington,Tx 76007 (713)724-8881

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


BROUGHT TO YOU BY

PRIMER

GUNSHOW C A L E N D A R

C&E Gun Shows

November 2-3

Concord, N.C.

Cabarrus Arena & Events Center

November 2-3

Lebanon, Tenn.

Winston County Expo Center

November 2-3

Springfield, Ohio

Clark County Fairgrounds

November 9-10

Harrisonburg, Va.

Rockingham County Fairgrounds

November 9-10

Hickory, N.C.

Hickory Metro Convention Center

November 16-17

Sharonville, Ohio

Sharonville Convention Center

November 16-17

Woodstock, Va.

Shenandoah County Fairground

November 23-24

Dayton, Ohio

Montgomery County Event Center

November 30-Dec. 1

Bowling Green, Ohio

Wood County Fairgrounds

November 30-Dec. 1

Fayetteville, N.C.

Crown Expo Center

November 1-2

Logan, Utah

Cache County Fairgrounds

November 2-3

Tucson, Ariz.

Pima County Fairgrounds

November 2-3

San Bernardino, Calif.

National Orange Show Event Center

November 9-10

Tulare, Calif.

Tulare International

November 16-17

Daly City, Calif.

Cow Palace

November 16-17

Sandy, Utah

Mountain America Expo

November 23-24

Mesa, Ariz.

Centennial Hall

November 30-Dec. 1

Costa Mesa, Calif.

OC Fair and Event Center

November 2-3

Miami, Fla.

The Fair Expo Center

November 9-10

Lakeland, Fla.

Sun ‘n Fun Expo Campus

November 23-24

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Ocean Center

November 30-Dec. 1

Orlando, Fla.

Central Florida Fairgrounds

November 2-3

Little Rock, Ark.

Little Rock State Fairgrounds

November 2-3

Marietta, Ga.

Cobb Co. Civic Center

November 8-10

Joplin, Mo.

Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center

November 9-10

Jackson, Tenn.

Jackson Fairgrounds Park

November 16-17

Somerset, Ky.

The Center for Rural Development

November 16-17

Wichita, Kan.

Century II Expo Hall

November 23-24

Cartersville, Ga.

Clarence Brown Conference Center

November 23-24

Gray, Tenn.

Appalachian Fairgrounds

November 30-Dec. 1

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Gwinnett County Fairgrounds

November 30-Dec. 1

Hutchinson, Kan.

Kansas State Fairgrounds

November 2-3

Port Arthur, Texas

Bowers Civic Center

November 16-17

Belton, Texas

Bell County Expo Center

November 23-24

Houston, Texas

VFW

Tanner Gun Shows

November 2-3

Denver, Colo.

Denver Mart

Wes Knodel Gun Shows

November 2-3

Albany, Ore.

Linn County Fair and Expo Center

November 2-3

Spokane, Wash.

Spokane County Fair and Expo Center

November 9-10

Centralia, Wash.

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds

November 16-17

Portland, Ore.

Portland Expo Center

Crossroads Of The West Gun Shows

Florida Gun Shows R&K Gun Shows

Real Texas Gun Shows

To have your event highlighted here, send an email to kaumann@media-inc.com.

americanshootingjournal.com 23


CYLINDER STOVES Enjoy all-night wood heat, a flat cooking surface, hot water for a shower and even an oven for baking with a Cylinder Stove. Built in the mountains of central Utah, Cylinder Stoves are crafted by hunting and camping folk who know what is expected of a good camp stove. cylinderstoves.com

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 1112

CDNN SPORTS, INC. Now available from CDNN Sports is the DPMS AR-15 Upper M4 16-inch chromelined barrel with extended quad rail with an MSRP of $189.99. Specifications and features include: • Barrel length: 16-inch M4 DPMS marked chrome-lined barrel; • Barrel thread pitch: ½x28; • Chamber: 5.56 NATO; • Twist rate: 1:9 inches; • Gas system: Carbine length direct impingement with A2 front sight gas block and bayonet lug; • Muzzle device: A2 Flash Hider; • Handguard: 11.75-inch anodized aluminum quad rail with T-markings. cdnnsports.com

MICHLITCH COMPANY Newly developed by Michlitch Company, the Brisket and Roast Rub is excellent for grilling, pan-frying or roasting. Rub the spice blend on both sides of a brisket, roast or steak before cooking. Buy at retail online. Commercial bulk pricing is also available on their products. Call (509) 624-1490 for pricing. spokanespice.com

1311

ALFORD DESIGNS LIMITED, LLC Alford Designs Limited offers handcrafted fashionable leather concealed carry purses, made in the USA. They offer a variety of styles and sizes of handcrafted purses, bags, wristlets, matching leather earrings and accessories, as well as a selection of men’s briefcases and satchels. Pictured are two purse styles: Item 1311 is 12 by 9 by 3 inches and Item 1112 is 10.5 by 9 by 3 inches. Both models have a 1-inch cut-resistant strap, inside holster, and both are available in a variety of textured leathers. Shop early for best selection! Find Alford Designs Limited online at etsy.com/shop/AlfordDesignsLTD or at their own website. paulaalford.com

AMERICAN REBEL American Rebel’s Black Smoke Safes represent the strength and rugged independence that America was built upon. It is constructed of pressure-formed American-made 11-gauge steel, three times stronger than 14-gauge steel used in most China-built containers. The door uses 11-gauge inner steel and a multi-layer 7/16-inch edge reinforcement – six times stronger than imported safes. There are six different sizes to choose from, from home safes to 50-gun safes. americanrebel.com

BARNAUL Barnaul offers a wide range of ammunition. From small to large game, to sport shooting and personal protection, Barnaul has the right ammunition for your application. You can find this premium Russian-made ammunition at your local firearms dealer, or many online firearms websites. barnaulammo.com

TIPPMANN ARMORY Just in time for the 2019 hunting season, the Tippmann Rolling Block comes in .357 Mag., .44 Mag. and .45-70. Whether you’re an experienced hunter or training the youngsters, the Tippmann Rolling Block is sure to provide some awesome memories on opening morning. Give them a call at (800) 671-1498. tippmannarmory.com americanshootingjournal.com 25


HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE PICKETT’S MILL ARMORY

CUSTOM METAL PRODUCTS

Pickett’s Mill Armory provides high-quality yet affordable AR-15 components. They focus their efforts on producing American-made complete upper receivers in 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout, .223 Wylde, 6.5 Grendel and more. Complete upper prices start at $199.99. pmarmory.com

Custom Metal Products has you covered for high-performance AR500 steel targets, sized just right for .22-caliber fun. CMP Steel Targets are reactive moving targets to keep the shooting challenging for the beginner or expert. Get the classic .22 Dueling Tree, the .22 Tactical Torso, or the .22 Texas Star, available now! custommetalprod.com

V-LINE IND.

TAP RACK HOLSTERS Tap Rack Holsters IWB offers function and form with safety and comfort as two principles in their line of handmade holsters. They mold to your specifications for a correct fit. No buckets here. Holsters feature adjustable retention, a 550 corded loop for securing to a belt or belt loop, semiclosed bottom that can be left open for threaded barrels on request, different body shield heights in low, medium and high upon request, and nonbinding smooth edges with no sharp points in their designs for comfort. Different colors and patterns available upon request. taprackholsters.com

V-Line Ind. introduces the “Brute” quick-access security case. The Brute is the perfect solution for keeping handguns and valuables safe and out of reach of the wrong hands. It is constructed of rugged 10-gauge steel with an overlapping lid, making it virtually pry-proof when bolted down to a solid surface. The Brute is nicely finished in a durable tactical black powder coating. Features include heavy-duty 10-gauge all-steel construction; sleek custom anti-pry clamshell design; heavy 12-gauge handle with anti-pry lock protection; oversized solid-steel lock block and dead bolt; break-free 360-degree rotation clutch knob; reliable quick access mechanical push button lock; and more. The Brute measures 12.5 by 9.5 by 3.6 inches, weighs 21 pounds, and is California DOJ approved. vlineind.com

EXQUISITEKNIVES.COM

PROLIX

The Xtreme Defender has an optimized nose flute, total weight and velocity to achieve a penetration depth up to 18 inches (falling within FBI guidelines) with a permanent wound cavity that is simply enormous. No other expanding hollowpoint comes close to achieving anywhere near this diameter and volume. underwoodammo.com American Shooting Journal // November 2019

The Seal 1 Complete Tactical Gun Care Kit includes: • 4-ounce container of their multipurpose CLP Plus Gun Care Paste; • 4-ounce container of their multipurpose CLP Plus Gun Care Liquid; • Seal 1 CLP Plus Pre-Saturated EZ-Cloth; • 12-inch by 12-inch square microfiber cloth; • Double-ended nylon utility brush; and • Two 6-inch hardwood cotton swabs. seal1.com

Exquisiteknives.com grew out of ABS Mastersmith Dave Ellis’s love of all things edged. Dave is personally involved in most aspects of the custom knife industry and has established relationships with top makers, dealers and collectors worldwide. Knife pictured is from the three-brother team from Argentina, CAS. Choose Exquisiteknives.com for the finest in custom knives. exquisiteknives.com

UNDERWOOD AMMO

26

SEAL 1

PrOlix will get a new look for the holidays and a new easy-to-handle 16-ounce size with their three-way adjustable nozzle Pro Trigger Sprayer! PrOlix made no changes to their great formula, even with their gun-oil and grease replacer, Xtra-T Lube. prolixlubricant.com

aksportingjournal.com | MAY 2017

ALASKA SPORTING JOURNAL

26


HOLIDAY

SKYLINE TOOLWORKS LLC The Woodman’s Pal is an iconic land management tool with a long, storied history dating back to 1941. Whether you are clearing brush, blazing trails or building blinds in the woods or trimming, digging and planting in your backyard garden, the Woodman’s Pal is a versatile tool for every outdoorsman. clipdraw.com

GIFT GUIDE

EAR PHONE CONNECTION Keep the situational awareness; minimize the loud background noise. The NR Noise Reduction Lapel Microphone features noise-reduction technology, “easy-grip” Push-to-Talk (PTT) and your choice of coiled, short tube or new tubeless earpiece. To top it off, the kit is upgraded with the NAB Sound-Blocking Ear Tip for clear audio and all-day comfort. earphoneconnect.com

BEYER BARRELS Beyer Barrels offers Standard 10/22, Takedown 10/22 and AR Rimfire barrels, from rifle to pistol length. Crafted from 7075 aluminum, Beyer’s premium aluminum alloy barrels are precisely machined, highly accurate, and weigh only 13 to 18 ounces, using Chromalloy steel liners. Manufactured in the USA by Clint Beyer, USCG Chief Engineer, retired. Go Beyer, and let your barrel “speak for itself.” beyerbarrels.com

RANGESTORE.NET Inspired by Team Steel Target Paint shooter Heather Martin, the clear Range Box Sampler provides a safe and dry environment to store ammunition or other range gear with confidence. Six cans of Steel Target Paint, a Can-Gun, and a Plastic “Target Zone” Stencil are included in the box. rangestore.net

WHITE OAK ARMAMENT Introducing the new TR M-Lok Handguard from White Oak Armament. The handguard is available in 12.6-inch and 14.6-inch lengths, octagonal with full-length top Picatinny rail, M-Lok sides and bottom. Two key goals in designing the rail were: 1) to ensure a stable, free-float handguard with minimal flex when pressure is applied; and 2) to make a rail that will work with virtually any gas block. whiteoakarmament.com/ 1tr-handguard.html

KIRKPATRICK LEATHER With the Rifle Shell Holder from Kirkpatrick Leather, rifle shotshell reloads will be close at hand for your next hunting trip. Constructed of premium 8-ounce saddle leather, the rifle shell holder is offered for a wide array of rifles. Choose from plain with laser-engraved name for $105 or plain with laser-engraved logo for $115. kirkpatrickleather.com

SIERRAPAPA, INC. AMERICAN REBEL American Rebel backpacks are made from the absolute best materials available, focusing on quality, functionality and style that conveys the spirit of the Second Amendment. They feature a proprietary Protection Pocket, plus a concealed compartment. The Freedom Pack has a designated compartment that fits American Rebel’s optional 2A ballistic shield. americanrebel.com 28

American Shooting Journal // November 2019

Fans of the popular CX4 Storm from Beretta looking to improve the performance of their carbine will be delighted to know that SierraPapa specializes in upgrade replacement parts for this particular piece. Available upgrades include a machined aluminum trigger housing, stainless steel hammer/aluminum trigger/spring kit, and steel guide rod kits. Enjoy smoother operation, improved reliability, and a heightened level of enjoyment on the range. Let SierraPapa take your CX4 Storm to the next level. sierrapapacx4.com


HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE

RTD ARMS The RTD RT-M .458 SOCOM is a lightweight heavy hitter, featuring all the same precision machine components that make RTD one of the most dependable families of firearms on the market today. Available in many custom configurations and colors to fit your needs. Whether for hog hunting, target, law enforcement or just big-bore fun, RTD has you covered. rtdarms.com

AMMO INC.

PITBULL TACTICAL Made in the USA, the new second generation Universal Mag Carrier accepts any magazine from a 9mm single stack up to .45 ACP double stack. Built for concealment, the Universal Mag Carrier can be comfortably worn inside or outside the waistband, rounds forward or backward. No screws or adjustments necessary. Ready to go out of the box, the Universal Mag Carrier will dynamically adjust to whatever magazine you put it in while maintaining a low profile. pitbulltactical.com

Night OPS allows you to visually track your projectile as it travels, and the frangible JHP transfers 100 percent of its energy into your target with devastating effect. Designed for law enforcement and personal defense, Night OPS jacketed hollowpoint frangible rounds are the ultimate defense. ammoinc.comÂ

GPO-USA The GPO Passion 8x32 ED binoculars bring brilliant, crisp, clear, colorful images through the optical system using high-grade ED optical glass, premium BAK-4 phase corrected prisms, and GPObright high-transmission lens coatings. They are waterproof, fogproof and are backed with GPO, USA’s Spectacular Lifetime Warranty, adding a lifetime of security to the purchase, at no added cost, ever. MSRP: $429.99 gpo-usa.com 30

DIP INC. DIP Inc. manufactures aluminum and steel accessories such as scope rails, bolt knobs, extended magazine catches, magazine wells and trigger springs to replace OEM plastic parts for numerous brands of rimfire rifles and pistols such as the CZ 457MTR (shown), Tikka T1X, Savage B22, Anschutz 54/64 action rifles, Marlin XT, 60 and 795, SAKO Quad, Steyr Xephyr II, and a host of others. diproductsinc.com

American Shooting Journal // November 2019


HANDCRAFTED IN THE USA Leather Conceal Carry Bags & Purses

Shop for a variety of pieces online at our Etsy shop or on our Website!

PO Box 3273, Lynchburg, VA 24503 434-386-7854

AlfordDesignsLimited@gmail.com | www.Etsy.com/shop/AlfordDesignsLTD | www.PaulaAlford.com

americanshootingjournal.com 31


HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE

ULTIMAK UltiMAK is known as an AK accessories company, but they’ve also come out with the world’s most practical optic mount for the famous M1 Garand. It sits low enough to co-witness iron sights and to allow a perfect cheekweld. Perfect stability! ultimak.com

ELFTMANN TACTICAL

The ELF 700 Precision Rifle Trigger is the pinnacle of dropin trigger systems for the Remington 700 and clone precision rifles. Easily adjustable from 2 to 64 ounces, proprietary sealed bearings, curved and straight adjustable shoes included. One hundred percent drop safe, zero creep/take-up, optional internal bolt release. MSRP of $296. elftactical.com

BALLISTOL For more than 100 years, consumers have trusted Ballistol to lubricate, penetrate, clean, protect and preserve their firearms, leather gear, wood, metal surfaces and more. Ballistol cleans and removes all types of bore fouling. Cleaning with Ballistol will save you time, minimize the need for brushing, and also form a protective film on your firearm. Due to its slight alkalinity, Ballistol neutralizes and dissolves black powder and corrosive ammo residue. In addition, Ballistol will beautify gunstocks, and prevent them from drying out. As a lubricant, Ballistol will never gum up or harden. With an astonishingly wide range of applications, this environmentally friendly multipurpose oil has become an essential tool for shooters, hunters, fishermen and handymen all over the world. ballistol.com

ATHLON OPTICS Serious shooters want serious gear! The Athlon Optics Midas TAC 5-25x56 gives those diehard enthusiasts premium features without breaking the bank. HD glass, a precision zero stop and being built on a 34mm tube ensure that this scope will work for any rifleman. A scope built to last a lifetime, backed by a lifetime warranty. $849.99 Perfect for hunters and target shooters alike, the Athlon Optics Talos 20-60x80 spotting scope delivers excellent light transmission due to silver coated K9 glass prisms and fully multicoated lenses. Use with the included tabletop tripod, or any standard ¼-inchby-20 accessory. Covered by a lifetime warranty. $149.99 athlonoptics.com 32

American Shooting Journal // November 2019

CARIBOU GEAR OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT COMPANY Caribou Gear is the manufacturer of the world’s finest patented meat care products. Their bags contain innovative, species-specific packaging and advanced fabric, with unique features such as light-reflective attachments for easy night viewing and lock loops that can close and lock, which is great when sending your game meat to public coolers. To top this off, they are reusable for years of service. caribougear.com 


americanshootingjournal.com 33


HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE

DEFIANCE MACHINE The Defiance Tenacity action, built in Montana, features a 20 MOA scope rail and pinned recoil lug and starts at an $885 retail price tag. The Tenacity is built from the same certified prehardened steels and to the same tolerances as Defiance Machine’s Deviant and Rebel models. You won’t give up any quality with the Tenacity, just the ability to customize. Utilizing new technology to keep the number of operations to a minimum, Defiance tweaked the design and limited the number of options in order to keep the price in reach of any shooter looking for a custom rifle action. The Tenacity has become the go-to, no-frills precision rifle action. defiancemachine.com

34

American Shooting Journal // November 2019

DRY VAPOR CLEANER Used in the field, this system has become a go-to option for weapons cleaning and is used by shooting sports and hunting enthusiasts, all branches of the military, National Guard and law enforcement throughout the United States. When lives are at stake, DVC is the chosen system to ensure well-cleaned weapons. The DVC-169 provides 190 PSI for about seven to 10 minutes, then requires a short two-minute recharge. It is foot pedal-actuated, which allows both hands to be free for manipulating items being cleaned. dryvaporcleaner.com


AR15

Safety Harbor Firearms

TM

KES Kompact Entry Stock MP5k

®

Pistol Brace ready or Buttstock - your choice. Sig MPX/MCX/Rattler

Made from 6061 aluminum & 01 tool steel Aluminum parts are hard coat type III anodized, steel is nitrided The Tailhook Brace is a product of Gear Head Works, purchased separately

SafetyHarborFirearms.com

KES Stocks made from 6061 Aluminum & 01 Drill Rod - Aluminum parts are Type III Hardcoat Anodized - steel parts are Nitrided

SafetyHarborFirearms.com


HOLIDAY

GIFT GUIDE LYMAN PRODUCTS With Pachmayr’s history in the industry, they thought it was only right to produce a line of knives that ran parallel with their other products. This new line consists of six knives, the Dominator, Grunt, Grappler, Griffin, Snare and Blacktail, and they cover a wide spectrum of functions. Whether you are looking for a tactical utility knife or an everyday carry option, you should have no trouble finding a Pachmayr knife that is right for you. Each knife has its own unique features to ensure something for everyone, because after all, everyone needs a knife. pachmayr.com

AMERICAN DERRINGER American Derringer is proud to specialize in the highest-quality derringer firearms. Each of their guns are completely made here in the USA by highly experienced craftspeople. The derringer has long stood as the ultimate full-power concealable firearm. Available in every caliber, from .22 to .45-70/.410, and in every imaginable style, an American Derringer offers a small size and weight with a big bore and the safety of a single-action-only firearm. The derringer can be easily carried in a purse or pocket without special clothing. American Derringer also offers a special line of customized derringers to reflect your personal preferences and needs. amderringer.com

36

American Shooting Journal // November 2019

SHOOTINGCLASSES.COM

ShootingClasses.com was developed to support firearms instructors. Their program allows instructors to focus on training, rather than the time-consuming, everyday requirements of running a business. Additionally, ShootingClasses.com helps bring students to an instructor’s classes by means of a simple search process. Students can find and review local instructors who teach classes ranging from basic concealed carry to high-level advanced courses. shootingclasses.com


americanshootingjournal.com 37


STORY BY FRANK JARDIM PHOTOS BY BRENTON USA INC.

W

hen Bartt Brenton, founder of Brenton USA Inc., was born, there was exactly one company making exactly one model of semiautomatic AR-15 rifle for sale to the general public. It was a weird-looking gun in 1963 – basically a semiauto clone of the U.S. military’s new service rifle (which would soon be designated the M16). Its black finish and plastic stocks didn’t have a lot of appeal with sportsmen and hunters of the time. Its poor initial combat performance didn’t help its popularity on the civilian market either. Today, dozens of domestic manufacturers and hundreds of small-time builders offer AR-platform long guns. There’s no arguing the popularity of the AR-15, or that it justly wears the mantle “America’s Rifle.” Nearly all of the currently manufactured AR-type long guns, as well as the pistol variants, share a tactical character we can trace back to the AR-15’s military heritage. But one company is dedicated solely to the business of creating highperformance hunting rifles on the platform. Surely others will follow, but they’ll have a lot of catching up to do. I had a chance to talk with Bartt Brenton about Brenton USA’s role in forcing the AR platform to climb up from the primordial ooze of its tactical prehistory, take its first tentative dryland steps toward becoming a hunting arm, and then evolve to its perfected form, the likes of which Karamojo Bell would surely appreciate. Frank Jardim What does an AR hunter get from a Brenton rifle he can’t get from another brand of AR? Bartt Brenton First, let me clarify that AR hunter is a misnomer. There are no AR hunters really. There are just hunters. When advancing technology offers us a way to hunt more ethically and successfully, we’re going to embrace it. Brenton USA rifles give you everything you should have for an efficient, successful hunt and dispense

‘PERFORMANCE THAT WON’T LET (HUNTERS) DOWN’ With AR-style rifles making inroads among sportsmen, Bartt Brenton and company are perfecting the craft.


with all the extraneous, legacymilitary features you don’t want. We made technical improvements and refinements that I’ll explain in detail, but you can’t see those from the outside, so let me save that for later and talk about first impressions. When a hunter picks up and shoulders our gun, they know it was made for them. It feels like a hunting rifle should. In fact, we trademarked the name RealFeel to describe it. The hunter feels it in the rifle’s perfect balance, neither butt- or muzzle-heavy, the shape of the front handguard, which is modeled after a traditional bolt-action stock, the solid connection between the upper and lower receiver and the texturing on all the exterior surfaces so they can keep better hold of it in all weather conditions. Then they notice our larger controls. We call them HuntSize. They’re designed to be easier to find and operate with gloved hands. The rear take-down pin has a large knob on it. The magazine release is taller, grooved and dished, so your gloved fingertip can naturally center itself on it. The charging handle is bigger. The bolt release is not only bigger, but we added a tail on the bottom you can press down to use as a bolt hold-open too. We got rid of the old Mil-Spec hinged trigger guard and replaced it with an extra-large trigger guard that’s integral with the forged lower.

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Bartt Brenton has channeled his long histories in hunting and engineering into a company that specializes in making AR-platform rifles for pursuing deer and other big game.

FJ It looks like you took away a lot more than the old Army winter trigger guard. BB If you don’t need it to hunt, it’s gone to reduce weight. Look at all the other AR-platform guns out there. They are all more alike than different. Whether they are basic black or pink Muddy-Girl camo, you look under the anodizing or Cerokoting and you find a military/tactical rifle with features ill-suited or useless to the modern hunter. On a Brenton, you won’t find a flash hider, front-sight base, bayonet lug, or grenade launcher mounting recess on the barrel, and you won’t find a forward assist. We don’t use an aluminum handguard reduced to


Brenton rifles feature “HuntSize” controls such as an oversized charging handle for gloved hands, as well as a longer-than-Mil-Spec rail and a suppressor.

Swiss cheese with M-Lok slots either. Aluminum makes too much noise if struck. Other than a bipod, tripod, light or sling, there’s very little a hunter wants to mount on his handguard. FJ I admit I have never taken a game animal with the bayonet. BB And in 40 years hunting I’ve never needed a 40mm grenade launcher, either. FJ Why did it take nearly half a century for the AR to properly get its hunt on? BB There’s two big reasons: A lack of adequate chamberings for anything other than varmint shooting, and America’s hunting traditions that favored lever and bolt actions over semiautos. Even now, the two most popular calibers for AR platforms

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are 5.56mm NATO and .300 AAC Blackout. Both of them were designed for military/tactical use, not hunting. Now .223 Remington is useful for varmints, but varmint hunters are only a portion of the hunting world – like benchrest shooters are in the targetshooting world. By far, the majority of American hunters pursue large game animals, from deer on up. The .223 is a poor choice for large game. Likewise, the .300 AAC Blackout is a close-range caliber meant for twolegged varmints. The heavy .30-caliber bullet loses velocity fast. Yes, you can kill a deer with it if you stay within its range limits, but why would you want to make things hard for yourself if you don’t have to? These calibers shouldn’t be any ethical hunter’s first choice for large game. We like to chamber our rifles in calibers that meet the threshold of 1,000 foot-pounds of energy and 1,800-foot-per-second velocity at the point of impact. That’s the uniformly accepted performance requirement for a quick, single-shot, humane kill on large game. The game changer for

the AR that allowed it to come into its own as a versatile hunter was the development of new cartridges that could meet the humane-kill threshold at practical hunting ranges. These new calibers started emerging around 2003 and were almost totally obscured in the wild gun-buying binges during the Obama administration. But hunters noticed them and started putting them to good use. The latest National Shooting Sports Foundation report says that 30 percent of American hunters now use an AR-platform for some type of hunting. FJ What are those calibers and what aspect of hunting did they impact? BB The most common are the .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .224 Valkyrie, .22 Nosler for varmints and the 6.5 Grendel (LBC), 6.8 SPC II, .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster for large game. They made the AR into the “modern hunting rifle,” and that’s what we call our guns now. It’s more specific and descriptive than modern sporting rifle. For deer and any other large game up to nearly 300 yards, the .450 Bushmaster (BM) is perfect. It uses a straight-walled case too, which is important because several states (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa at present) now allow hunters to use straight-walled case rifles in their formerly shotgun-only hunting zones near densely populated areas. Why would you use a shotgun slug when


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“It is the combined effort and talent of some extraordinary guys,” says Brenton of the craftsmanship that goes into the entire gun, from lower assemblies and receivers to barrels and magazines.

you could use a softer-shooting rifle that will put the shots within a 2-inch circle at 200 yards and still hit the target like a locomotive? A .450 BM with a .275-grain Barnes solid bullet will stop a grizzly. Our 18-inch barrel Stalker Carbon Hunter is becoming a popular guide gun. Say goodbye to the .45-70 lever-action carbine in that role. When it comes to putting big bullets on target fast in a dangerous situation, the semiauto can’t be beat. The guide’s job isn’t just finding game for the client; in certain situations, he has to keep them alive too. The .450 BM can take any North American game. It’s the whitetail deer round of the Midwest where hunters typically shoot less than 300 yards. For recoil-sensitive shooters, the

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straight-walled .350 Legend is a good big-game option when shots are under 200 yards. It’s basically a really long 9mm case with a 170-to 180-grain bullet. It shoots well but the power really falls away beyond 190 yards. This mild-recoiling caliber was created so recoil sensitive hunters could exploit those newly classified straightwalled-cartridge hunting zones. For big game at ranges beyond 250 to 275 yards, we have the 6.8 SPC II and 6.5 Grendel. The 6.8 SPCII is a 300-yard cartridge all day long. Its fatter bullet has a lower ballistic coefficient than the 6.5 Grendel so it moves a little slower and doesn’t get out as far. If the animal is under 300 yards, and you do your part in putting the bullet where it needs to go, it’s a

clean, one-shot kill whether it’s deer, hog, elk or bear. This round earned a reputation as a hog hammer and is really popular when hunting wild pigs. The 6.5 Grendel (LBC) is to the AR rifle world what .308 Winchester is to the bolt-action world. We have killed bull elk with the 6.5 Grendel beyond 400 yards, but it is a 400yard cartridge all day long. Its higher velocity fights the wind better than the 6.8 and lets it get farther out with more energy. Finally, you have the varmint hunting rounds like .204 Ruger that’s perfect for long shots at small, thinskinned animals like prairie dogs, woodchucks and fox. For medium and larger varmints, like coyote, the new .22 Nosler, .224 Valkyrie or the ever-faithful .223 Remington are all excellent choices. You might have noticed that I’m a little conservative when I talk about the ranges of these cartridges. That’s because it’s every hunter’s responsibility to stay within their capabilities as a marksman and stay within the ballistic capabilities of the cartridge they’re shooting. That’s a big part of being an ethical hunter. Our rifles won’t hold you or your ammunition back, but your own skill and judgement will. A 6.5 Grendel will kill reliably beyond 400 yards, but don’t take that shot if you aren’t sure you can make it. People who take chancy long-range shots and wound animals disgrace us all. FJ I concur. I also noticed that all of the long-range big game rounds are less than .30 caliber. BB Yes, and that’s all you really need. W.M.D. Bell didn’t kill a thousand elephants with a big-bore rifle. He used a 7x57mm Mauser and showed that shot placement was more important than caliber or power as long as the bullet had adequate velocity and energy to effectively penetrate the animal’s vitals. All of the jacketed-bullet ammo manufactures agree that it takes 1,000 foot-pounds of energy and 1,800 feet per second


americanshootingjournal.com 45


of velocity on impact for modern jacketed bullets to effectively expand and transfer their energy to the animal. The total energy transferred to the animal’s vital organs only needs to be adequate to instantly, and humanely, kill it. At slower velocity, the bullet won’t mushroom properly and transfers less energy, which is another reason you should be thoughtful about longer-range shots. The reason the new AR chamberings are successful should be obvious. More power was never a substitute for good shot placement. I’m sure to start an argument with this, but the power of .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Magnum, .264 Winchester and the like are just unnecessary for most hunting applications. They’re overkill. They can deliver heavier bullets with more energy at greater distances than the new AR chamberings, but to what effect and at what cost? The recoil of these big cartridges in bolt actions is usually brutal, which discourages practice and can lead to involuntary flinch that spoils your shot. Everybody shoots better when they’re not afraid to pull the trigger. You can shoot 6.5 Grendel better and longer than you can shoot a .30-06. FJ Getting back to the technical details of Brenton USA rifles, what have you done inside that makes them unique? BB Most people think of the Mil-Spec AR as a totally customizable platform they can modify by swapping out parts at will. We do not. Mil-Spec is holding the platform back from what it could be. Each Brenton rifle is built to our “HuntSpec” standard so it can be the best tool for the job. If you want to customize it and swap out handguards, barrels, bolt-carriergroups (BCG), springs, trigger groups or whatever, get one of the typical AR Tinkertoys out there and have at it. That’s not what you do to an expertly built rifle with a $2,300 MSRP. A Brenton delivers what you pay for – performance that won’t let you down. Let’s start with accuracy. We

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The Ranger Carbon Hunter and Stalker Carbon Hunter come in 18- and 22-inch barrel lengths and are available in a range of calibers from .204 Ruger out to .450 Bushmaster. They’re built to the company’s “HuntSpec” guidelines.

guarantee MOA accuracy with quality ammo and optics using hunting-weight bullets from our Ranger Carbon Hunter and Stalker Carbon Hunter rifle in both their 22-inch and 18-inch barrel lengths. We can do that because we know through experimentation what works, and it might surprise you to know that it doesn’t have much of anything to do with an 11-degree crown, 5R rifling or stainless steel. That’s hype. The barrel is a critical component of accuracy, but you’re not going to get the most out of it with a comparatively sloppy Mil-Spec bolt lock-up. This is just one area where Brenton USA’s HuntSpec raises the bar. We use the highest quality, strongest, most reliable bolts and barrel extensions available and install them on our barrels with painstaking care to maintain exacting perpendicularity and concentricity tolerances. A Brenton’s performance-grade barrel is made using time-tested chrome-moly steel, button rifled with six-groove Enfield rifling and then black nitride treated inside and out to Rockwell 68 for extreme

wear resistance and a high level of protection from rust that you’d never get from a phosphated or blued finish. What’s really important for an accurate barrel is the selection of the right rifling twist to stabilize the bullet, the barrel’s weight and its profile. Our barrels have a unique profile we chose to provide the weight and rigidity for repeatable accuracy and good balance. Our barrels aren’t rebated to save weight. They are a true .750-inch diameter with a raised boss for the gas block .875 inch in diameter. The transitions from that larger gas block boss to the rest of the barrel are made with radiused shoulders rather than square ones to improve barrel harmonics. This does affect accuracy. Our barrels are free floating inside the handguard. We mount them to our uppers with our patent-pending barrel nut torqued well beyond Mil-Spec, which adds to the systemic precision. As I hope I’ve already established, real hunters don’t take 1,000-yard shots and MOA accuracy at hunting distances is what we are after.


Our muzzles come threaded and suppressor-ready, with a smartlooking thread protector installed. FJ Does the suppressor have a negative effect on accuracy? BB Just the opposite actually. The gun will likely shoot even better with one. Sometimes you get a little more velocity and a little more accuracy. As a hunter, I embrace suppressor use and recommend GSL Technology Inc. (GSLTechnology.com). These cans are designed by Greg Latka. He makes the best hunting can on the market – always a little smaller, lighter and quieter. Since I value my hearing, I don’t embrace muzzle brakes on any hunting rifles. You aren’t gaining anything by directing all that blast and noise back into your blind or stand. FJ What are some other aspects of Brenton HuntSpec? BB In some cases, it’s a physical tolerance but in others it’s materials

“If you have our rifle, we give you the confidence you need when it comes time to take the shot,” Brenton boasts of his wares. AR-style rifles are making inroads amongst hunters.

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or design. For example, our bolt carrier group has a nickel-boron exterior finish for greater lubricity, wear and corrosion resistance than a Mil-Spec BCG. Another example of HuntSpec is our proprietary barrel nut designed to solidly support our free-float handguard made of carbon-fiber reinforced fiberglass. Our handguard has a distinctly sporting look and provides excellent thermal insulation, light weight and strength. Our handguard’s upper sides are angled 45 degrees to a peak along the top edge where ventilating slots are cut on both sides. Maybe those slots look familiar. It so happens they are just the right geometry to accept some popular aftermarket accessory mounts. In states that allow night hunting, I mount a Surefire light there where it’s not blocking my optics. We permanently mount a section of standard rail on the bottom of the handguard at the front and rear to

attach a bipod or tripod. To make it easier to get your optics mounted where you need them, our HuntSpec upper receiver’s rail has two more slots than the Mil-Spec standard, one at the front and one at the rear. That’s rail space a hunter can use. FJ This textured camo finish isn’t Uncle Sam’s anodizing. Is it some kind of hydro-dipping? BB We’ll never make a black rifle. A Brenton USA comes in four unique HuntSpec Marblekote camouflage patterns that are chemically resistant to DEET insect repellants and most solvents. They are applied with hydrodipping, which is quite durable by itself, but our process doesn’t end there. The texturing is applied after the hydro-dipping and provides additional protection to the camo finish. We use a Nylotek 10G additive, which contains tiny plastic balls in suspension. It goes on clear because the balls are too small to be seen, but you can feel them.


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FJ I notice you changed the magazine to appeal to handloaders. BB The popular poly Mil-Spec magazines are too tight from front to back to allow for the long seating of bullets to an optimum accuracy depth where the ogive is just short of the barrel’s lands. Mil-Spec allowed up to 2.255 inches. Our Long Load magazines are 2.310 +/-.002 inch inside front to back. For maximum reliability and velocity, load them short. You want the bullet to jump to the rifling. If you want precision, you load them almost touching the lands. By using hardened stainless steel, we could make the magazine body thinner and still exceed the strength of old aluminum Mil-Spec magazines. We ship them with a removable five-round LimitBlock under the anti-tilt follower. If you remove the block, you can load seven rounds in the .450 BM, 15 rounds in the 6.5 Grendel, 16 in the 6.8 SPC II, .22 Nosler or .224 Valkyrie and 18 in the .223 Remington. FJ I’m almost afraid to ask, but do you sell complete uppers for the person who wants to do his own thing when it comes to buttstock configuration? BB Actually, we do, but that’s as far as we’re willing to break it down. If we sold components individually, I wouldn’t expect one home builder in 1,000 to have the skill to put them together so they function optimally and meet our standard of excellence. Then you’d have people on the internet writing that they bought a Brenton this or that and it was crap. We’ve worked too hard to build our reputation to risk it for a few more dollars. If you just buy an upper, you lose out on the advantages of a complete rifle built by our craftsmen. For example, our upper and lower will fit tightly, without wiggle, but not so tight that proper function of the action is impaired. We figured out a better way to do this, which isn’t subject to rapid wear. It’s called ReceiverLock and we have a patent pending. Another big advantage is our excellent single-stage triggers. The Mil-Spec trigger was

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reliable but never helped anybody be a better marksman. We applied HuntSpec to it and came up with a smooth and crisp single-stage trigger that’s perfect for hunting. Our BT-1 trigger comes standard on our Ranger Carbon Hunters. It’s an adjustable trigger, and you can set it anywhere between 3.5 and 6.5 pounds. It’s a drop-in unit, and we do actually sell those separately, too. Just like the accuracy and function of the uppers, our triggers are all inspected and tested before they leave our shop. FJ You were an engineer at the world’s largest superconducting cyclotron laboratory located on the campus of Michigan State University for 31 years before you got into gun making. I had to look that up to find out what it was and am still not entirely sure it doesn’t involve shrinking full-size objects to doll-house scale. With your science and engineering background, was gun making much of a challenge? BB Every quality endeavor is a challenge. Gun making at our level is too. I say “our” because I don’t want you to think that the Brenton USA you see today was all me. I’m just not that arrogant. It is the combined effort and talent of some extraordinary guys. I’m the front man and senior engineer, but I’m just part of the team. You don’t get our kind of quality and innovation from just one mind. The one thing we all have in common is we are passionate about ethical hunting. One of our favorite slogans is “Confidence with every shot.” That’s our goal for our customers. Hunting time is limited, opportunities are few and competition is fierce. That is why we created our hunting rifles, specifically designed for today’s hunter by today’s hunter. When you are out there hunting in the woods or plains or mountains, in the heat or cold, rain, sun or snow, if you have our rifle, we give you the confidence you need when it comes time to take the shot.  Editor’s note: For more information on Brenton USA rifles and stocking dealers near you, visit BrentonUSA.com.


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h

e came back to camp looking like a different man. Where he had left that morning – the third after the buffalo – appearing dejected, disgruntled and nearly defeated, he seemed to walk with the vigor of a man half his age. “Got him, buddy. Not just a buffalo, but him.” Three days prior, my pal Dr. Mike McNulty settled the crosshairs of his rifle on the shoulder of a Zimbabwean Cape buffalo, and something had gone awry: the shot went too far forward, hitting nothing vital. After an agonizing couple of days tracking,

Mike and his PH Adam Goosen had no choice but to call it off; the buffalo had stopped bleeding and his tracks had been so muddled by other buffalo that not even the excellent trackers could read the sign. This morning, a hard-bossed buffalo had been sighted, and though the shot was long for the .505 Gibbs, Dr. Mike put three shots into the animal’s vitals. Upon recovery, they saw the swollen wound channel through the brisket from three mornings prior; McNulty had done the impossible and shot the same buffalo twice. That initial wound channel certainly had the penetration, but lacked the

proper placement. The following three, taken at 150 and 200 yards due to the terrain, worked perfectly, anchoring the big bull. The bullet used? The classic Barnes TSX.

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in southern Africa and show your professional hunter that you’ve brought Barnes TSX bullets for your softpoint choice and you’d be hard-pressed to find an unhappy face. The same can be said for North American guides; few among them would disapprove of the use of a Barnes for truly big game. If you’ve been reading this series of articles, you should be rather familiar americanshootingjournal.com 57


bullet bulletin Big game hunters love the copper bullet for its ability to hold together on thick-skinned animals. The .470 NE as loaded by Choice Ammunition is an excellent cartridge for nearly any species.

with the fact that I’m a bullet geek. I find them fascinating, as they are truly the only part of the equation that touches the game animal, and the technology has come very far in the last 150 years. During the research for my first book (Gun Digest’s Shooter’s Guide to Reloading), I had the privilege of discussing the evolution of Barnes

bullets with none other than Randy Brooks, designer of the original Barnes X bullet. Mr. Brooks was glassing for Alaskan brown bear when he had the inspiration to remove the lead core altogether, resulting in a projectile of homogenous copper alloy. While we both agreed that the original design either shot wonderfully in a particular

Dr. Michael McNulty with his hard-earned Cape buffalo bull, taken with a Heym Express .505 Gibbs and 525-grain Barnes TSX bullets.

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barrel (none of them were mine) or wouldn’t shoot well at all in a particular barrel (all of them were mine), it was the terminal performance that opened Mr. Brooks’ eyes, as he was looking to eliminate any possibility of jacket and core separation. To paraphrase our conversation, Mr. Brooks’ concept was that if there weren’t two components to try and keep together, there wouldn’t be anything to separate, and he was right. A scored hollowpoint would open into four petals upon impact, and the homogenous metal would retain nearly all of its weight, at least in the high 90th percentile. I had issues with excessive copper fouling with those original Xs, in addition to accuracy problems. Upon a bit of a revamp – bands were cut into the shank of the bullet to reduce bearing surface and therefore fouling – the accuracy issue seemed to have gone away. So much so that I have found the Barnes TSX (or Triple Shock X) to be among the most accurate hunting bullets. Being a lead-free copper alloy, the


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bullet bulletin Barnes X bullet will be longer than its lead-core counterpart of the same weight. This does change a couple of things, namely the bullet’s center of gravity and the weight of bullet that can be stabilized by a particular twist rate. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just part and parcel of the monometal design. What you get in the end is a bullet that will give excellent penetration. I’ve heard a report or two stating that the bullet didn’t open as desired, but I haven’t

experienced that with the TSX. Mike McNulty got classic performance from a field cannon of a rifle that started out at a relatively low velocity (I’d figure the impact velocity of those shots to be between 1,700 and 1,800 feet per second), and the Barnes TSX is equally capable of handling the impact velocities of the fastest magnums as well. McNulty also redeemed himself on a great bushbuck ram a couple days later, showing that the big Heym .505 and a Barnes TSX can

take plains game as well. WHILE THE TSX is certainly a great choice for the big cartridges and big animals, they are equally at home in the common deer cartridges, as well as the varmint cartridges. Load a 50-grain TSX in a .22-250 Remington or a .223 Remington and you’ve got a perfectly viable deer rifle. Sit a 130- or 140-grain TSX atop the .270 Winchester case and there’s no question that you’ve got an elk rifle. The lighter weights will enhance the versatility of the bigger cases; the 185-grain .338-inch-diameter bullet will make a .338 Winchester Magnum a deer gun, and the 235-grain .375-inch-diameter bullet will let you use your .375 H&H safari rifle across North America.

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The .30-caliber 180-grain Barnes TSX, shown in profile, in section, and as recovered from ballistic gelatin. McNulty’s “inside-straight” buffalo bull.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


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bullet bulletin Federal’s 180-grain Barnes TSX .300 Winchester Magnum load, a wonderful allaround choice for a big game hunter.

Though the TSX is certainly available as a component bullet, it is included in Federal’s lineup of factory ammunition.

The author handloaded McNulty’s ammunition for the safari, and it was plenty accurate. The Barnes TSX also works well for plains game; this old bushbuck ram went down quickly.

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What about that copper fouling? Does that pose an issue with the TSX bullet? I’m happy to report that the amount of fouling associated with the TSX is a helluva lot lower than the original Barnes X; I do believe I lost a significant amount of brain cells using the ammonia-based copper fouling cleaners in the house, and I don’t have to clean any more than usual with this bullet. The majority of the TSX bullets are of flat base design, but within sane hunting ranges that poses no real handicap. If it’s a high ballistic coefficient you’re after, Barnes offers both the TTSX – with a polymer tip to enhance BC values – and the even


bullet bulletin Three expanded 525-grain TSXs, recovered from McNulty’s buffalo bull. Weight retention was 96 to 98 percent.

A box of Barnes TSX component bullets is a welcome sight on the reloading bench. Barnes VOR-TX ammunition features the TSX bullet, and is available in a number of different cartridges.

sleeker LRX (specifically designed for long-range work). As the bullet diameter and weight increases, it seems that differences between the monometals and their leaded counterparts diminishes; my .404 Jeffery, .416 Remington and .470 Nitro Express all handle the standard bullet weight in a monometal (400 grains for the .404 and .416, and 500 grains for the .470) without issue. Barnes offers the TSX for all the popular Nitro Express calibers, from 9.3mm and .375 – including the effective 350-grain .375-inch TSX – up to the behemoth .577-inch diameter. The TSX is certainly available in component form, but is also available in loaded ammunition. Federal loads a wide selection of small to medium cartridges with the TSX, and Barnes offers loaded ammunition as well. Boutique ammo companies like Choice Ammunition loads the TSX – they have a great .470 NE load – so unless you have a truly obscure cartridge, odds are you can get your hands on TSX ammunition. California requires leadfree ammunition, so it makes sense that the Barnes TSX is a popular choice there, but if you are looking for an all-around solution for your big game needs, give the Barnes TSX a try; you may find it checks all the boxes.  64

American Shooting Journal // November 2019


americanshootingjournal.com 65


FROM RUSSIA WITH LEAD MKS Supply brings longtime Soviet-Russian ammunition supplier Barnaul’s bullets to the United States. STORY BY JIM DICKSON • PHOTOS BY MKS SUPPLY

W

e can be thankful that MKS Supply is now importing the worldfamous Barnaul line of ammunition. Barnaul makes ammunition to the highest standards possible. They have 2-inch-diameter test barrels made in the Czech Republic to assess their ammunition with and they expect all their ammo to group inside half an inch at 100 yards. You never have to worry about the ammunition being to blame if your group size is over half an inch at 100 yards. Obviously there are few guns capable of delivering the accuracy that this ammo is capable of. That’s the difference between a normal gun and a giant factory test barrel setup. Barnaul ammunition is also some of the least expensive around due to the colossal size of the compay’s immense factory in Siberia and their use of steel cases, which cut cost but not quality. Nowhere else can you find ammunition of such high quality at such a low price. Each round is individually inspected as it goes through the line for uniformity and concentricity. Every primer is checked for proper seating. Barnaul is very meticulous about quality control and employs every possible inspection. They operate more like Germans in this

A display board at the Barnaul factory showing all the types of ammunition made there.

manner than Russians or Americans. Precision is the byword. Precision at all costs. Nothing less than perfect is acceptable. They are determined to be the world’s best ammunition manufacturers. They certainly hold records for quantities made. In World War II, they made 1.8 billion rounds of ammo. After the war, they became one of the main ammunition manufacturers in the Soviet Union, supplying a majority of all the cartridges produced in the country.

Even today, the factory is huge, with 4 acres under one roof and 5,000 employees. They stand at the ready for the next time Russia requires another billion or two cartridges in short order. In the meantime, they are dedicated to providing for the needs of the American shooter in the spirit of capitalism that has swept Russia since the fall of communism. Their fanatical drive for perfection has now been turned to supplying the highest quality ammunition for the American shooter. americanshootingjournal.com 67


Firing Barnaul ammo at the range.

A bin full of cartridge cases at the Barnaul factory.

D

BY USING STEEL-CASED ammunition,

they are able to make their ammunition at a lower price point than their American competitors. The steel cases have a polymer coating, which is slicker than brass and prevents corrosion. This coating will not get sticky in a hot barrel that has been firing full-auto in a Russian army rifle, so you know that there will never be any problems in your semiautos. After all, the Russian government has never fielded ammo that didn’t stand up to the rigors of combat. Even if they were not coated, the steel in the cases is so much softer than the steel in gun barrels that it cannot possibly harm the gun. I have been using steel cases from around the world for many decades now and I have never had a problem with anyone’s make of steel case ammunition. All this is important because it enables you to buy enough ammunition to practice and to become and stay a good shot. Remember, there are only three ways to learn to shoot. Shooting. Shooting. And more shooting. That means a lot of ammo, and heaven help you if you shoot an expensive caliber like 7mm Magnum.

AS MOST AMERICANS are not up on the fine details of Russian history, it behooves us to examine Barnaul’s past. 68

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Their plant was founded as Arsenal P in Saint Petersburg in 19th century Tsarist Russia, where it had the honor of being the first factory to produce the then-new 7.62x54R ammo for the Mosin-Nagant rifle in 1891. This cartridge is still in use after 128 years because it is still a perfectly designed cartridge for modern machineguns and rifles. Every rimless cartridge has had instances of the extractor tearing through the rim, but that doesn’t happen with rimmed cases. Because they headspace on the rim, they hold their headspace long after worn-out machinegun barrels chambered for rimless cartridges have lost their headspace and had to be pulled from the gun. That’s important to a

Ammo undergoes hand-inspection at the factory.

machine gunner facing a bunch of angry enemy soldiers running towards him with those sharp pointy things on the ends of their rifles. After the communist revolution, the factory was split up, with the ammunition-making equipment moved to Podolsk, where it was renamed Arsenal 17. With Germany’s invasion of the USSR in 1941, every factory possible was moved as far east as it could be put to escape the Nazi armies. Arsenal 17’s equipment was taken by train to Barnaul in Siberia, where the heavy equipment was moved by hand and set up on location to begin manufacture of ammunition, even as buildings to house it went up around them.


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Five hundred teenagers were drafted to work there in 1942. During this time, the incredible dedication of the workers to their factory and its quality first began to appear – a dedication that continues unabated to this day. They earned every medal open to them and consistently fulfilled their shift tasks by numbers that reached 700 percent and even 1,180 percent. These numbers were accomplished in the harsh Siberian conditions, which made them even more remarkable. Today there is a museum in the city of Barnaul commemorating their sacrifices and achievements made under the worst conditions imaginable. After the war Barnaul remained a key supplier of ammunition to the Soviet military and also expanded into the production of other products. The wartime dedication of their workers has continued unabated and has made the Barnaul name synonymous with dependability and quality in Russia.

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Kara Brown-Boesenberg and Charlie Brown of MKS Supply, the American importer of Barnaul ammunition, at the Barnaul Museum.

TODAY, MKS SUPPLY in Dayton, Ohio, imports Barnaul ammunition in the following calibers and loads: • .223 Remington in FMJBT 55-grain, FMJBT 62-grain, HPBT 55-grain, HPBT 62-grain, SPBT in

55-grain, SPBT in 62-grain; • .30-06 Springfield in FMJBT 168-grain, SPBT 168-grain; • .308 Winchester in FMJ 145-grain, FMJBT 168-grain, HPBT 150-grain, SP 140-grain, SPBT 168-grain; • .380 Auto FMJ 94-grain; • S&W 165-grain; • Auto FMJ 230-grain; • 5.45x39 FMJBT 60-grain, HPBT 55-grain, SPBT 55-grain; • 7.62x39 FMJ 123-grain, HP 123-grain, SP 123-grain; • 7.62x54R FMJ 148-grain, FMJ 174-grain, FMJBT 185-grain, SPBT 203-grain; • 9mm Luger FMJ 115-grain, HP 145-grain (German Lugers like this ammo); • and 9mm Makarov FMJ 94-grain, HP 94-grain. That’s 30 different types of ammo, the quality and low price of which makes it a lifesaver to the American shooter. We can look forward to more offerings from them in the future. 


americanshootingjournal.com 71


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Western States Brace For Assault On Bear Hunting Enviros seek to ban baiting with federal lawsuit, but wildlife managers and the author are fighting back. STORY AND PHOTOS BY LAWRENCE E. HATTER

A

fter several years of threats, three environmental groups – Wild Earth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch – have filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service in an attempt to end bear baiting in Wyoming and Idaho. This lawsuit follows an all-toofamiliar pattern in recent years as animal rights groups, seeking to circumvent state wildlife management policies, have targeted the United States District Court system in an attempt to cut state game management off at the knees. Now, under the guise of grizzly bear protection, these extremist groups are looking to drastically change the landscape once more. In recent memory, this method of attack was employed with devastating efficiency during the reintroduction of wolves to the Pacific Northwest and the coinciding population explosion. State wildlife managers, hoping to reduce the effects of the newfound apex predators on faltering ungulate populations, were met time and time again with erroneous lawsuits. Environmental groups had

Environmental groups argue baiting for black bears threatens grizzlies, but the practice isn't allowed in the federally designated recovery area for the species. Grizzly bears were delisted in Idaho and Wyoming in 2018 following their successful recovery and are now spreading out. americanshootingjournal.com 73


armed only with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Stanford and absolutely no biological background whatsoever, was able to dictate the future of game management in the West.

Baiting allows bear hunters to be more selective about the animal they take.

exposed a glitch in our judicial system allowing one judge, who possesses absolutely no background in wildlife management, to effectively govern all major wildlife decisions in a region. CASE IN POINT, in 2018 the Fish and Wildlife Service ruled, after nearly a half-century of protection, that grizzly bears were fully recovered, thus lifting protections provided them under the Environmental Protection Act. This prompted Idaho and Wyoming to institute an extremely conservative hunting season aimed at assisting in the control of burgeoning grizzly populations, in Wyoming especially. As many as 32 problem grizzlies

According to author Lawrence Hatter, only one grizzly has been mistakenly killed over bait in an Idaho national forest in the past two decades.

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are euthanized every year in Western states, as an unchecked population with little fear of humans ravages stock, harasses farmers and, in some instances, threatens and even kills high-mountain elk hunters. The logic was simple: Let hunters take some of the bears that taxpayers are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to manage already. The first grizzly hunt in decades was scheduled to commence last fall, when U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen abruptly halted it in its tracks. Regardless of an overwhelming amount of data proving the grizzly’s full recovery, and despite the pleas of Idaho and Wyoming, one judge

EMBOLDENED BY 2018’S victory, the environmental groups are after our hunting rights once more using the grizzly as their ruse. The newest lawsuit, filed in June, argues that black bear baiting poses a serious threat to long-term survival of grizzlies and, as such, should be terminated immediately. This despite the fact that the Fish and Wildlife Service had declared grizzlies recovered. Not to mention that Idaho and Wyoming have already ended the practice of baiting in areas designated by the federal government for grizzly recovery. In the last 20 years, only one documented grizzly has been mistakenly harvested over a black bear bait on Forest Service land, that being in Idaho’s Kelly Creek in 2007. With that in mind, let’s not forget that several dozen problem grizzlies are euthanized annually due to overpopulation and conflict with humans. Obviously, the great bear’s growing population is more of a detriment to itself than black bear


Northwest states offer bruin hunters advice on how to tell black and grizzly bears apart, including the shape of their faces, size of their ears, presence of a hump on their back and other distinguishing characteristics.

baiting has or will ever begin to be. This begs the question, what are these extremist groups really after? The answer is simple. They are after the rights of all hunters nationwide and they will use any high-profile pawn capable of generating large cash flows

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to accomplish their goals. FACED WITH THE loss of an important management tool, as well as essential revenue stream, Idaho is drawing a line in the sand. “We do not believe that

environmental groups or the federal government should have any say in how Idaho manages its wildlife,” said state Department of Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever at a recent public meeting. After carefully weighing their legal options, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has formally requested the federal court allow them to join the lawsuit as interveners. Idaho is committed to standing with sportsmen and the state’s right to manage game the best way they see fit. Currently Wyoming is still mulling its legal options, but the state Game and Fish Department has already gone on record as saying they believe bear baiting is an essential tool in black bear management, and it provides a much-needed hunting opportunity as well. This, coupled with Wyoming’s long history of disdain for federal government interference in their game management polices, as well as the sting of last year’s defeat of the first grizzly season in U.S. district court, makes it a solid bet they’ll come down


on the same side of the line as Idaho. The ramifications of this decision are far-reaching and have the potential to change the outlook of game management in the West indefinitely. Without bear baiting, black bear populations will go unchecked, further threatening elk herds, which are already on unstable ground in the Bitterroot and Yellowstone regions. It will also have a severe trickledown effect on rural communities, whose local businesses depend on bear baiting. “I’ll lose all I’ve worked for my entire life overnight,” Chad Bohn, owner of York Outfitters, located in Idaho’s Selway region, somberly stated. Currently there is no timetable for when a decision will be made. The plaintiffs – the three animal rights organizations – are currently “judge shopping” for the most extreme judge they can unearth from a long list of Clinton- and Obama-era appointees to the federal bench. With an unlimited amount of time and resources to exhaust, we may not see

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The author contends the fight over baiting is part of a larger campaign to curtail hunting.

a verdict in this case for six months to two years. This issue is the perfect example of how all sportsmen must band together, regardless of how they prefer to hunt or fish. We have a common enemy that is already mobilized and extremely well-funded. Their intentions are to completely change our way of life and the land we

hold dear. If we’re not able to stand our ground on bear hunting and similar issues, then the extremist environmental groups will keep grasping for more until there’s nothing left to take.  Editor’s note: Author Lawrence Hatter has been an Idaho hunting guide for 20-plus years and is an outdoor writer.


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BROUGHT TO YOU BY

PRAIRIE DOGS A PLENTIFUL, CHALLENGING TARGET

Inhabitating a wide swath of the Great Plains, these little burrowers can cause havoc for ranchers, farmers.

STORY BY JIM DICKSON

p

rairie dogs are the bane of cattlemen and horsemen, as livestock stepping in one of their holes can break a leg. They aren’t too popular with farmers either as they much prefer planted crops to their original diet of the bunchgrass of the Great Plains. They are particularly fond of grains and alfalfa, but that doesn’t mean the pasture is safe, for it has been estimated that 32 prairie dogs eat as much as one sheep and 256 of the little 15-inch-long critters eat as much as a cow. That may not sound like much, but these

animals are fast breeders, having four to eight pups to a litter. Texas once boasted a prairie dog town 250 miles long and 100 miles wide and hosted a population of 400 million prairie dogs. Needless to say, that was not a stretch of land you wanted to homestead on. On average you can count on 25 prairie dogs to the acre in one of their towns. With the coming of the white man, who exterminated many of their natural enemies and began cultivating the land – growing delicious prairie dog food in super abundance – their numbers began to skyrocket. By

1900 they had destroyed millions of acres of grassland. Irrigation ditches were being drained by their constant burrowing. Financial losses to farmers and ranchers were staggering. It was amazing how fast they could take over. A pair was released on Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island about that time and within 10 years there were thousands. A town meeting was called and the population was engaged in an extermination campaign that eventually totally destroyed the introduced species. The losses to farmers and ranchers

Along with winter blizzards, flooding and other natural hazards, prairie dogs are among the banes of America’s Great Plains for farmers and ranchers. (CRAIG BIHRLE, NORTH DAKOTA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT)

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and we can cure the plague today with antibiotics. Cooking the game will kill any organisms found in it. Obviously if you find one horribly diseased you would leave it where it lies and find another area to hunt, but I doubt that you will ever encounter this.

Prairie dogs live in underground towns with numerous entry and exit holes, a concern for those who graze livestock on the range. The species also prefers some crops farmers grow to native forage. (ALEX DEMAS, USGS)

was so severe that it was impacting food prices and the U.S. Biological Survey in Washington, D.C. began assisting them in an eradication program done largely with poison and the fumigation of their burrows. Anything that warrants that sort of collective unified response constitutes a serious varmint problem. The campaign was so successful that it almost led to the extinction of the black-footed ferret, which prey on prairie dogs. Those methods are unacceptable with the public today. With the prairie dog population recovering, the job of keeping them in check has fallen to the varmint hunter. WITH YOUR TARGET being a 2-pound animal, the .22 LR is popular, but one of the best cartridges is the .223 and it is in prairie dog hunting that AR-15-style rifles find their perfect niche. Due to the fact that you can easily shoot 200 or more a day in a large prairie dog town I strongly recommend against more expensive calibers, unless you have money to burn. While a .220 Swift may technically be a better choice than a .223, it is not significantly better to justify the wildly higher price of the ammunition. I do not believe in paying a lot more money for just a little more performance. It’s going to have to deliver a lot more performance like the .577 3-inch Nitro Express does on big game before I am going to shell out more bucks for a cartridge. The more 86

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you shoot the more this becomes a factor, and I shoot a lot. Since you are shooting over flat, open ground, the ranges can get long fast. Knowing the exact range is important with such a tiny target, so I use a Bushnell Trophy rangefinder in situations like this. A good telescopic sight is a great help since you are basically a long-range sniper with a tiny target. Fine crosshairs or a German three-post reticle that do not hide the game behind them are important. A good pair of 7x50 binoculars will be a great help in scanning for your quarry at the longer ranges. If you are willing to jump through the National Firearms Act hoops to own a silencer, this is a great place to employ it. These animals have keen ears and the louder the gunshot, the longer they will hide in their burrows. Prairie dogs are a member of the squirrel family and they taste like squirrels, but they are bigger with more meat on them. Some people are afraid to touch them because the animals can carry the plague, but the Black Death will exterminate a colony so quickly that your odds of contracting it from them are much less than imagined. The fleas and ticks on prairie dogs are what really spreads the disease and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the most likely avenues of transmission are “touching or skinning infected animals.” Even if you somehow got the plague this is not the Middle Ages

A FASCINATING SOCIAL animal, prairie dogs were thought by idealistic early explorers to have an interspecies friendship with burrowing owls and rattlesnakes also found in their burrows. Wrong. Rattlesnakes go into the hole to eat the young. If the adults see this, they will all get together and close up the hole so the snake cannot get out and will die. They have no way to save the young, but they do have a way to kill the snake and they use it. Burrowing owls may stake out an abandoned prairie dog hole, but if a prairie dog finds it, it will eat the owl’s young. Obviously this is not an animal version of the three musketeers. The Native Americans called the little animal wishtonwish, an approximation of its whistle. The French gave it the name prairie dog; it A shooter takes aim with a Ruger No. 1 Single Shot in .204 at a prairie dog in South Dakota. Other popular cartridges include high-velocity, flat-shooting rounds in .22-250 Remington, .220 Swift, .222 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum and .223 Remington. (DAVE WORKMAN)


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Our understanding of prairie dogs and their place in the Great Plains has grown, and one subspecies was briefly considered for federal listing, but in most places there are few restrictions on shooting the prolific species. (HEATHER BERG)

was also known as the barking squirrel and petit chien. It is preyed on by black-footed ferrets, badgers, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and any other carnivore that has a chance to catch one. Badgers can not squeeze down burrow holes, but they have no problem enlarging them to fit. It’s amazing just how fast a badger can dig. The prairie dog hole is about 4½ inches in diameter and goes down about 15 feet before turning horizontal for another 9 feet. The grass-lined nests branch off the main tunnel and are about 9 inches high and 11 inches wide. The young are born in late May or early June and are full grown by the fall. They inhabit a broad arc of the Great Plains, from central Montana to northeastern Arizona east of the Rockies and west of moister farmed lands, and Eastern farmers and livestock producers can be glad that it is not a local that’s bedeviling them. HUNTING PRAIRIE DOGS is complicated because scientists 88

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studying the way they communicate have found that they have the largest vocabulary of any species found so far. They can tell each other that not only is a man walking in their area but also the color of his jacket. The “great apes,” so beloved by evolutionists, are positively languagechallenged in comparison. The animals will sit on their mounds at the entrance to their burrows or peep over the top. Typically, these mounds are about a foot high and 3 or 4 feet wide. The height gives them a vantage point to see over the grass and also keeps out rain water that might flow in. Not all burrows will be inhabited. When one sounds the alarm call others will repeat it, offering more opportunities for a shot. Once they duck down into their holes, they will only stay a little while before popping up to check if the coast is clear. While they can be stalked there is seldom any cover and crawling on the ground in their vicinity is to be discouraged because, again, they are preyed on by rattlesnakes. A bite on the nose is a very bad thing.

Since they retreat to their cool burrows in the heat of the day, the best time to hunt them is in the morning or the evening. They post sentries like an army unit and at the first alarm will head for their holes. Here they will often pause for a look at what caused the alarm to be sounded and that is when you can pick one off fairly easily. Conceal yourself as best you can on the open plains and stay still. They will soon pop up to look around. Hold your fire until they climb up on top of their mounds for a better look. Unless you already have access to a good area you may find the normal problems of finding a spot to hunt. There are many guided hunts available today and some are very luxurious. As with any guide, get a long list of references and check out each one. Do it by phone, where there is much to be read in the tone of voice of who you are talking too. In today’s litigious world many are afraid to put a criticism on paper lest they be sued. Whether you go guided or knock on doors, just remember to bring plenty of ammo. 


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HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM BY DARRELL HOLLAND

T

he engine of the Super Cub sputtered a bit as the pilot leaned the fuel mixture in preparation for a smooth landing on Indian Head Lake in northern Alberta. The leaves had started to blush with color and a heavy frost was still visible in the shaded meadows surrounding the lake. The beavers had been working overtime, as numerous dams and ponds were present on the southern end of the lake. Josh Williams, age 50, was hardly a newcomer to fly-in hunts, yet he braced his feet against the floor and tightened his jaw as his guide and pilot Pat Murphy touched the floatplane down within 100 yards of shore. Revving the prop, Pat turned the plane 90 degrees, and eased the Cub into shallower water alongside a makeshift dock. This would be Josh’s third trip to Alberta in search of a trophy mule deer. The 10-day hunt should allow enough time to locate, stalk and harvest a trophy animal. Previous trips had been unsuccessful; good deer were spotted, but a shot was out of the question. Josh hoped to end his streak of bad luck and score on a nice buck. He and Pat quickly unloaded the plane and prepared to settle in for the night. If weather reports were accurate, they could look forward to cold temperatures and a possible snow flurry the following week. Pat knew the area quite well because he flew numerous fishermen into the lake during the spring. During these trips, he had spotted what appeared to be several nice bucks in the next drainage to the east. He felt confident that he could get Josh within shooting distance since the terrain offered great stalking opportunities. The rock outcroppings and quaky patches were ideal habitat for mule deer, especially big bucks. The familiar incessant buzzing of the alarm brought both men out of a deep sleep. Josh shifted in his sleeping bag and started to reflect on the hunt. Doubts and regret crept into his mind. It had been a hard eight days of hiking, glassing and scouring thousands of acres in search of a trophy buck. Had he been foolish passing on a nice 28-inch buck the day before? The buck had a good spread, but the mass was not there. He had not come to Alberta a third time to shoot a second-rate buck. Today would be the ninth day of hunting; maybe today his luck would change. He pushed the tent flap aside and was greeted by 4 inches of new snow. For once the weather report had been accurate.

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With lunches packed and a thermos of hot coffee between them, the two men headed for a series of rocky outcroppings where they had seen deer earlier in the week. With the change in the weather, Pat hoped the deer would be out feeding at first light. The extreme cold and powdery snow made for quiet walking. The two hunters removed their daypacks and settled in for a few hours of glassing from the rim. “They must be bedded down tight,” Pat commented. “Must be,” Josh replied. “Where could they be hiding?” he asked. Pat suggested they wait for the sun to break over the mountain and warm things up. “Maybe that will get the deer moving? If not, we’ll hunt that patch of dark timber to our left.” Suddenly a slight reflection caught Josh’s attention. He had glassed that same patch of timber minutes earlier and did not remember seeing anything. He checked the focus on his binoculars and stared intently into the black timber. The sun’s rays were penetrating the deep shadows as he caught movement. The movement soon materialized into a huge buck with deep forks and tremendous mass. Josh was looking at the buck of a lifetime. “Pat, I’ve got one, and he’s a dandy,” whispered Josh. “Look just to the left of the big windfall in that dark patch of timber. He’s on the right-hand side.” Don’t waste any time, Josh, Pat thought, nail him before he gets away. The 10½-pound rifle felt as light as a feather as Josh adjusted his pack for a rest. He’d been glassing for almost an hour, but his heart was pounding harder now than it had been after the steep climb to the rim. He was having a hard time keeping the reticle steady on the bedded buck. Snowflakes were landing on the eyepiece lens. Josh raised his head and tried blowing them away, but his hot breath fogged the lens. “Damn it,” he whispered. Pat turned to see Josh trying to wipe away the fog with his glove. He knew from experience that he needed to calm his client. “Be cool,” he whispered. “Take your time, don’t blow it ...” By now the buck had honed in on the hunters’ location. With ears forward and muscles tensed, a split second was all that was required to make his escape. Josh finally cleared a dime-sized area in the lens from which to see. Exhaling and steadying for the shot, he focused the crosshairs just behind the buck’s shoulder. “Squeeze the trigger; squeeze the trigger,” he said to himself. Josh had learned this lesson the hard way years ago when he flinched on a big bull in the Selway. He was determined not

to make that mistake again. A Boone and Crockett buck was a mere 200 yards away. In a heartbeat it would be over and the trophy buck he longed for would be his. He felt the trigger break, but a slight hesitation and an “audible click” interrupted the customary rifle report. The adult adjectives flowed freely and a fumbled cycling of the bolt prevented a second round from being chambered before the buck sprang from his bed and vanished in the timber. Sound familiar? You bet it does! Every year hundreds of hunters take to the field unprepared for the task at hand. They spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a dream hunt only to have it end in failure. Are you going to be the next member to join this growing fraternity? In over 30 years of hunting around the world, I’ve been quite fortunate to have never experienced a rifle failure. I’ve had modest scope failures (fogging) but it didn’t result in a missed or wounded animal. Can a hunter have 30 years of good luck? Or is there a method, a way of eliminating mechanical failures when we go afield in pursuit of big game? Let’s take a look at what foiled our unlucky hunter. The slight hesitation and “audible click” was a failure to fire, resulting from none other than poor rifle maintenance, a sticky or gummed-up firing pin and spring no doubt being responsible for our trophy buck living another day. Firing Pin Assemblies These simple mechanisms can cause a majority of our problems. Firing pins should be a minimum of .050 to a maximum .065 inch of protrusion from the bolt face. The pin tip should be hemispherical in shape. The firing pin body and spring should be free of grease and oil. Eliminate the WD-40 and 3-In-One oil from your cleaning supplies. These two magnets for dust and dirt have been responsible for countless failures in the field. In their stead, try a dry film lubricant. I prefer a dry molybdenum disulfide spray. It will never become sticky or gum up under harsh conditions. Trigger Mechanisms Many do-it-yourselfers spray oils and magic love potions into their trigger groups in a feeble attempt to reduce those horrendous factory triggers and to offer some resistance to rust. Keep in mind that rusty trigger parts (sears and triggers) are few and far between. These parts are usually machined from high


carbon or tool steels and heat-treated to a Rockwell of 60-plus on the “C” scale. Due to this hardness, rust is not really a concern warranting oiling of the trigger mechanism. Oftentimes the sear and trigger are plated or hard chromed to slicken sear surfaces. This plating also inhibits corrosion. Under no circumstances should one attempt to oil or grease the trigger for improved performance. Oils and greases simply attract dirt and dust and over time will ultimately result in a mechanical failure that seems directly proportionate to the size and quality of the horned trophy hunted. Remington 700 and Browning A-Bolttype triggers are what we call enclosed trigger mechanisms. If not maintained, they account for many mechanical failures in the field. The Model 98 and Winchester Model 70, on the other hand, have what we refer to as an exposed trigger group. The Mauser design has been field-tested under the worst possible conditions; wind, rain, sleet, snow and freezing Eastern Front conditions have little effect on this proven design. While these triggers may not be as light and crisp as the 700 series of triggers, they are less prone to problems if you are slack in your maintenance regimen. Cleaning and Maintenance With the advent of stainless steel rifles and hypnotic Madison Avenue advertising, we have brainwashed the “Stainless Generation” into believing that a maintenance-free rifle has finally arrived, liberating them from the tiresome cleaning chores of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth! Every rifle, regardless of its metallurgical makeup, needs to be given a little TLC from time to time. This involves removing the barreled action from the stock, cleaning the barrel, and lubing the cocking cam and locking lugs. All the aforementioned details can be accomplished by anyone who can screw a nut on a bolt. Believe it or not, barrel cleaning is quite a detailed procedure and we will save it for a future article. Let’s remain focused on the action, bolt and trigger for now. Virtually every small hamlet or village has an auto parts house or Walmart close by. These outlets can easily provide the specialized products required to keep your “shootin’ iron” in good working condition. An aerosol can of Carburetor Choke cleaner will remove the gum and sludge that can accumulate in the trigger and firing pin assemblies. The combination of toluene and acetone quickly dissolves the most stubborn build-up of 3-In-One oil, WD-40 and dust, rendering the aforementioned parts squeaky clean. Use this product to clean your trigger group at least once a year.

Our next item to purchase is a can of dry molybdenum disulfide spray. This dry film lubricant is great for the firing pin assembly and acts as a corrosion preventative as well. It is best applied to a clean surface. I like to warm the parts to be coated using a hair drier until they are warm to the touch. I then spray a uniform coating over the pin assembly and inside the bolt body. A can of MD spray should last the average hunter/ shooter several years. Cocking Cams and Locking Lugs These are two of the most overlooked areas for maintenance by most shooters. They are the only areas we apply a generous amount of grease and anti-seize compound without fear of causing a mechanical failure. The locking seats in the receiver and the locking lugs should mate well in a good rifle. We’ve all heard of lapping the lugs for better contact. When we increase the contact area between the lugs and the locking seats in the receiver, we need an anti-seize compound to prevent galling. This galling occurs when the two surfaces are dry and under pressure, either from tight headspace or firing pin spring tension on the bolt. A thin film of anti-seize compound on the backside of the locking lugs prevents this galling from occurring. Grease does not work as well and should not be used as a substitute, unless it’s an emergency. Cocking cams require sticky, high-pressure grease to keep them in working order. Again, galling occurs when these surfaces are dry and excessive spring pressure/tension is present in the cocking stroke on our bolt-action rifle. It is a good idea to have the cocking cam and cocking piece polished as well (smoother surfaces work better) These modifications, along with a little cam grease, will eliminate galling and hard cocking. I’ve seen galling so severe that the shooter was bending the bolt handle trying to cock the rifle. Holland’s Shooter Supply offers a nice kit containing cam grease and anti-seize compound. These round sealed tins will last the hunter for years and fit nicely in your cleaning box. Action Screws and Scope Mounts We often hear complaints of loose action screws and wobbly scope mounts. Really? Being aware of your rifle’s scope mounts and action screws seems elementary to some, but every year we hear tales of woe how a loose scope mount cost the hunter a buck of a lifetime! Get into the habit of checking the rifle prior to going to the range for zero confirmation. This simple check can save a lot of grief, as well as ammunition. Action screws should be torqued uni-

formly. On pillar-bedded rifles, 50 to 55 inch-pounds is best. On aluminum bedding blocks, as seen in Remington, Winchester and Weatherby rifles, 60 to 65 inch-pounds is best. Always tighten the front and rear screws the same. On three-screw guns, like the Winchester Model 70 and Ruger 77, tighten the front and rear screws the same and just snug the middle screw. Overtightening the middle screw can affect the bedding and accuracy of the rifle. Make sure the action screws, when properly tightened, do not interfere with the closing of the bolt. If you feel a slight hesitation, or if the bolt fails to close, it is an indicator that the front guard screw is protruding into the locking recess, which will prevent the bolt from closing completely. This can be disastrous to accuracy. Filing or grinding the screw shorter will remedy the problem. Getting a Perfect Zero Confirming our rifle’s zero should go without saying, yet countless hunters go afield with the confidence that their rifle is dead on without actually confirming their zero. How many of you have heard the following: “Hells bells, why, I sighted the rifle in last season and never fired a shot. It’s gotta be zeroed. Besides, these new shells are expensive and I’ve only a half box left!” Sounds like a caption to a Far Side cartoon. I can’t wait to hear the stories at the end of the season. Without exception, you should confirm your zero prior to hunting. Should you stumble or fall, check your zero. What are the odds of the maid fessing up to the rifle clattering to the floor when she is cleaning the closet? It doesn’t take much of a bump to move our point of impact several inches at 100 yards. On a recent trip to Africa, I confirmed zero twice in as many days and was damn glad on the second time, since the rifle’s point of impact had indeed changed. Failure to do so would have resulted in a 6-inch error at 200 yards. Knowing that you have confirmed a perfect zero gives you confidence in your rifle. Failure to do so can result in a long march back to camp. Each and every time we remove the barreled action from the stock we should check the rifle’s zero. Anytime we tamper with scope mounts or screws, confirm zero. Slip, stumble or fall with the rifle, confirm zero. In closing, I’d like to leave you with a final thought. Know your limitations! If you are not comfortable with shots over 400 yards, stalk and get closer. It is better to pass on a difficult or iffy shot; wounding or losing an animal is a poor way to end the season. Until next time. Note: The author runs hollandguns.com. americanshootingjournal.com 91


ROAD HUNTER

MY WATERFOWLING ROOTS

A Northwest duck and goose hunter looks back on a career that began where it also did for his dad, son. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN

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’ve been waterfowl hunting with my dad since I was 4 years old. I didn’t actually hunt until I was 12, but I helped set up and take down hundreds of homemade goose decoys in the field on Saturday mornings before then. I remember helping Dad and Grandpa cut decoys out of plywood and paint them. My job was to paint the bodies all black; it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t have to be. At an early age, while hunting near our home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, deafening sounds of dusky Canada geese dropping into the decoys by the thousands was

imprinted on me. I couldn’t wait until the day I got to hunt. My first waterfowl hunt was at Oregon’s famed Summer Lake. Many generations of waterfowl hunters throughout the West have experienced their first waterfowl hunt at this wetland complex in the south-central part of the state. On that hunt, Dad, Grandpa and I got our limits of ducks on opening day, and I shot my first honker. As a Christmas gift, my parents had that goose mounted for me, and today it hangs on my office wall. Every time I look at that bird, I recall my first waterfowl hunt, back in 1976.

I enjoyed many great hunts with Dad during my grade school and middle school years, but once that driver’s license came, my waterfowling adventures reached new heights. Hunting with friends, we traveled to the coast where pursuing diving ducks was a new and exciting experience. The more friends you make in the world of waterfowl hunting, the more opportunities present themselves. Soon I was investing in layout blinds and lifesize goose decoys to be used in fields and marshes I’d never before hunted. In years to come, college demanded much of my time, and upon getting

Author Scott Haugen (right), his 12-year-old son Braxton, and father Jerry Haugen on Braxton’s first duck hunt at Summer Lake, Oregon. Three generations of Haugens experienced their first duck hunt here, beginning in 1952, with Jerry as a 12-year-old boy.

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ROAD HUNTER married right after graduation, my wife Tiffany and I moved to Alaska’s Arctic, where we were school teachers in two small Inupiat Eskimo villages. Here we subsistence hunted for prized king and common eiders, and traveled to parts of the world in pursuit of other waterfowl. When we started our family, we moved back home to where we grew up, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. IT WAS BACK in Oregon where Tiffany and I experienced some great waterfowl hunts. When our oldest son, Braxton, turned 12, it was time for his first duck hunt. Dad, Braxton and I headed to Summer Lake, where I experienced my first duck hunt at age 12, and my dad embarked upon his first duck hunt at age 12, back in 1952. In 2012, three generations of the family were back hunting Summer Lake. We limited out in less than an hour, on what was one of the most special hunts of my life. Growing up, we never had cackling Canada geese around. Today, it’s nothing to find 10,000 birds working a single field. This influx of what the local farmers refer to as “pesky geese” has led to some incredible hunts. Many

For some, there’s no greater waterfowling experience than to be out there, just you and your canine hunting companion.

times we’ve left the fields with limits, and very happy dogs. Last season cacklers poured into the valley, and with new friends I’d met, we experienced the best cack’ hunting of my life. Multiple times we had over 5,000 birds funneling into our Dave Smith Decoy spread, the sound so deafening we had to scream to hear one another’s voices. A few seasons ago on the opener, friends and I were in eastern Oregon, very near the Idaho border. It was hot and water levels were extremely low. The usual potholes were dry, forcing us

When massive flocks of cacklers commit to the decoys, it makes all your time and effort worth it.

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to rivers that resembled small creeks. Jump shooting tiny pockets of the river tucked into thick willow patches, we managed limits of ducks each day of opening weekend. Jump shooting a limit of ducks was something I’d not done for years, and it led me to reflect on many waterfowling hunts I’d experienced over the years. LATE ONE NOVEMBER in 1978, we stuffed frozen dirt clods into 300 white paper bags to create a spread of snow goose decoys; four of us limited out. Today, lifelike shell decoys and full-body


ROAD HUNTER replicas that look real are what we use. Necessary or not, advancing with the changes that have come to the world of waterfowl hunting over the decades is all part of the fun. One place we hunt has nice concrete pit blinds that protect us from the wind; the lids easily pivot for quick shooting in all directions, and there are even little shelves to put gear on. Years ago we built blinds from chicken wire and corn stalks and our heaters were metal five-gallon buckets filled with briquets. Today, hand warmers, foot warmers, heated vests and small propane heaters keep us warm. Growing up, my friends and I each had one shotgun. It worked for ducks, geese, grouse, quail, doves, pigeons, turkeys and more. Today’s specialized shotguns, loads and chokes have taken effective waterfowl shooting to a new level. Recently one early spring day, Dad and I chatted about our options for an upcoming duck season, and found

ourselves reminiscing about seasons past. About then I got a phone call from a buddy, and the next thing we knew we were planning a spring snow goose hunt in Saskatchewan. A few weeks later, Dad, myself, three of our buddies, and my two dogs, Echo and Kona, loaded into two trucks to make the two-day drive north, where we experienced incredible hunts for snows and blues; we even got our share of prized Ross’s geese. On the drive to Canada, we planned next season’s duck and goose hunting adventures, and even made some calls to farmers back home in hopes of securing new places to hunt. On the return from our snow goose hunt, we relived the memories of that priceless four-day adventure, where the dogs retrieved more geese in a day than they had the entire season prior. The earth-shattering sounds of 50,000 snow geese dumping into the decoys was something Dad and I never thought we’d experience together, and it was a

For over 60 years, Jerry has reveled in waterfowl hunting around the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

5 NORTHWEST DIY HOTSPOTS When it comes to waterfowl hunting in the Pacific Northwest, there are many options, including these five: 1. SUMMER LAKE, OREGON Many generations of waterfowl hunters from around the Pacific Northwest grew up hunting Summer Lake, in central Oregon’s high desert region. Early season duck and goose hunting can be very good, with snow goose and Canada goose hunting getting better as the season progresses, until freeze-up. Camping is available; check-in is required. 2. HUMBOLDT BAY, CALIFORNIA Ducks and geese galore, and great public access for your motorized duck boats. Black brant are a draw here, as are sea ducks, divers and Aleutian Canada geese. When the Aleutians are hammering the farmland late in the season, access is a challenge, but Pacific Outfitters (pacificoutfitters.com) can take care of you, and their rates are very reasonable. 3. COLUMBIA RIVER, WASHINGTON AND OREGON Big water and lots of birds, with loads of access opportunities along the Washington and Oregon borders. Perhaps the best river in the region to secure an array of divers and puddle ducks, and the Canada goose hunting can be great. Decoying both puddlers and divers along the protected edges can be exceptional. When storms kick up, be careful; this is big water. 4. SNAKE RIVER, OREGON AND IDAHO Early in the season, the hunting for resident ducks can be good, but late-season migratory hunts can be exceptional. Mallards, wigeon and wood ducks abound, along with divers. This is rough water, and a motorized boat is a must. 5. KLAMATH BASIN, OREGON AND CALIFORNIA Several hunt areas lie within the Klamath Basin. Opening weekend waterfowl hunts in both the California and Oregon portions of Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, and the Tule Lake NWR, are authorized through a draw permit only. Applications are accepted Aug. 1-31. Throughout the season, other areas require check-in, while some are on your own. There are marshes and grasslands you can walk through, while other places you’ll need a boat. You can learn more at fws.gov/refuge/Tule_Lake/visit/visitor_ activities/hunting/waterfowl.html.

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The Haugens have shared many great waterfowl hunts over the generations, with Jerry and Braxton joined by Tiffany Haugen, the author’s wife, for this mixed bag.

hunt we’ll never forget. As a hunter ages and can’t pound the deer and elk hills like they used to, there’s always waterfowl hunting to turn to. For Dad and I, this is what keeps us going. Waterfowl hunting in the many places and ways it can be carried out is something Dad looks forward to every season. It’s what motivates him to be outdoors and carry on the tradition of hunting, which he’s known since childhood. For Dad and I, there will be another hunting season to share. We’ll travel where we need to in search of birds. We’ll meet fellow hunters and make new friends along the journey. The best part, no matter how good the actual hunting, is that we’ll always come away with memories of time spent together, doing what we love.  Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott and Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook, Cooking Game Birds, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com.

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BLACK POWDER

GOING LONG WITH THE GREAT BASIN SHOOTERS

There was plenty of sharp shooting on display when the author, his buddy join Oregon marksmen for their club match. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT

t

he Great Basin Sharpshooters are located east of Bend, Oregon, and after seeing a description of the shooting matches they put on, my partner Allen Cunniff and I just had to give their doin’s a good try. Specifically, we entered into their 2019 Oregon Territorial annual long- and midrange matches, where they shoot the former competition on a Saturday and the latter on the following day. The long-range match has targets at 700, 800, 900 and 1,000 yards, while the midrange match has similar targets at 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards. All targets are buffalo-shaped gongs and at those distances they can be a real challenge, particularly with the iron-sighted Sharps rifles most of the shooters use. I have only had one previous experience with 1,000-yard shooting and that was with my good old .44-90 Sharps. So, as you might guess, that .44-90 went along with me, as did a supply of long-range loads for that gun. In addition, I took my very favorite heavy .44-77 Sharps, the rifle I call “Hannah.” I expected the .44-77 to really shine in the midrange match, but I also tried it on the long-range targets. Allen had a similar set of Sharps rifles with him. For his long-range shooting, Allen used a .45-110 Sharps, which he really hasn’t used

The logo for the Great Basin Sharpshooters.

enough yet to know well. And for his midrange shooting, he was using his favorite .45-70, a rifle he knows very well. Knowing that .45-70 very well made the difference for him in the midrange match. FOR MYSELF, I needed to know if my shots with the .44-77 could reach the 1,000-yard target with the midrange sight that is on the rifle. That sight is certainly tall enough for shots at 800 yards, such as at the buffalo target at the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match. But the added 200 yards from 800 to 1,000 can require a lot more sight elevation. So, on the day before the match, we fired a lot of sightingin shots and made notes on our sight settings. I quickly found that my .44-

77 could easily reach 1,000 yards with the midrange sight, and the trusty .4490 was forgotten about, making the .44-77 the only rifle I used. While practicing with the .44-77, which was loaded with 405-grain bullets from a Brooks mold and sitting on top of 72 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F powder, I was making repeated hits on the full-size buffalo at 1,000 yards. That was very pleasing, but while shooting at that same target for score, things were different. Mainly the wind was different and I didn’t do my job in keeping up the windage. A look at what the other shooters are using is always interesting. I do believe that everyone there, except for Allen and me, were using either .4570s or .45-90s. Skip Steinmetz, an old

The “crowd” for the long-range portion of the club’s annual Oregon Territorial Match. americanshootingjournal.com 101


BLACK POWDER Author Mike Nesbitt’s .44-77 Sharps, “Hannah,” had never been fired at 1,000 yards.

friend from my first 1,000-yard match, used a heavy rifle that really caught my eye. That was a Shiloh Sharps that he had expertly rebarreled by Pat Dulin at C. Sharps Arms. The new barrel is a heavy No. 3 size, about 32 inches long. That rifle is in .45-90 caliber and when I asked how much it weighs, Skip told me it was close to 20 pounds. Skip’s son Dan Steinmetz also uses a .45-90, but his rifle is a custom rebarreled Remington rolling block. I remember that rifle from a few years ago when Dan used it to win the 1,000-yard match that I shot in. Dan and Skip do all the long-range shooting they can, whether the targets are gongs, paper bull’s-eyes or silhouettes. Practice pays and that really shows. ALL SHOOTING WAS done from the sitting position while using crosssticks to support the rifles’ barrels. And all shooters were on the line at the same time. The first shooter, the person on the left, would fire while all others were watching for their hit or miss. Then the next shooter would

Skip Steinmetz with his 20-pound Sharps in .45-90.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019

Dan Steinmetz sitting behind his rolling block in .45-90.

fire, and so on. That worked out rather well, although doing that in relays can have advantages too. If there had been more shooters, I think relays would have been the way to do it. Our first target was the buffalo at 700 yards. We would fire two sighter shots, after a fouling shot if you wanted to shoot one, and then 10 more shots for score on the target. The two sighter shots were also on the scorecard but they were not counted as part of the shooters’ scores. I missed my two sighter shots, as well as my first three shots for score. The wind was teasing me! Then I caught on and made six hits with my next seven shots. Dan, on the other hand, took the lead early by getting hits with all 12 of his shots, both sighters and 10 for score. But the winner of this long-range match was Butch Eastman, one of the Great Basin Sharpshooters, and he was using a .45-70. I don’t know what his loads were. That’s just another example of how hard it is to beat a good man with a .45-70. Hats off to Butch!

THE NEXT DAY brought with it the midrange match, but also some dramatically different weather. We woke up to snow and ice on the ground on Saturday morning but didn’t expect it to continue. After all, this was in September. But the snow and the cold did continue. In order to shorten the match just a little, those in charge decided to make the midrange competition seven shots for score per target, instead of 10. That was good news to all of us. Some of the shooters used a different rifle for their midrange shooting. Allen switched from his .45-110 to his favorite ’74 Sharps in .45-70. Dan used a highwall, I believe in .45-70 too. Skip stayed with his .4590. I stuck with my .44-77, which was the rifle I intended to shoot on the midrange targets to begin with. Our first target was a reduced-size buffalo gong at 300 yards and I felt a little more comfortable with my sight settings. In fact, I hit with both sighter shots and then hit the target five out of the seven times. That’s no record,


BLACK POWDER

Winners: Dan Steinmetz (midrange), Butch Eastman (long range) and Skip Steinmetz (also midrange).

for sure, but I was pleased. It shouldn’t be any surprise that my eyes aren’t quite as young as they were 50 years ago. I’ll admit that I had a little trouble seeing some of the targets, which were black buffalo-shaped gongs

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with large white dots painted on their sides. The target that looked like it had the largest white center was the 500yard buffalo and I hit that one with both sighter shots and then with all seven shots for score. That was my best

run and I’m sure it was because I could see it the best. Others had even better runs with their shooting. Both Skip and Dan ended the midrange match with perfect scores, 28 hits out of 28 shots,


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BLACK POWDER and they were both awarded with firstplace prizes. Butch Eastman missed just one shot and he told me that was because he just got careless and let one shot go too soon. Chris Steinmetz, the only woman shooting in these matches, and Allen both had 25 hits each, but the tie was broken in favor of Allen because he had the most hits at the longer distance. THE DOIN’S WITH the Great Basin Sharpshooters (greatbasinsharpshooters.com) are certainly worth goin’ to and if you decide to, let them know by sending them an email. That is necessary so they can send you the combination to the gate on the west end of the range. They have a large variety of matches, from air rifles up to the Billy Dixon shoot, and from very close range to 1,200 yards. Allen and I both figure we’ll have to give their 1,000-yard match another, and maybe better, try. 

Allen Cunniff accepts a trophy for third place in the midrange competition from match-manager Brownie.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


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TRIPLE K MFG. CO.

The #671 Crossdraw Concealed Carry Holster is for gun owners who prefer a dedicated crossdraw-style carry. Open top allows for easy draw and a leather stiffener assures easy reholstering. Adjustable tension screw ensures proper gun retention. Made in USA by Triple K Mfg. Retail: $53. Available for a variety of revolvers and semiautomatic pistols in tan color.

www.triplek.com

DARA HOLSTERS

Dara Holsters’ patented Curved Clip is designed to mimic the curve of the waistline, offering 100-percent clip-to-belt contact while carrying, keeping the gun and holster close to the body at all times. Concealed carry has never been so easy.

www.daraholsters.com/iwb-holsters-1

BULLARD LEATHER

The Defender holster is a combat holster with an attached magazine holder. The holster has a slight 10-degree forward cant and is designed to be worn in the 2 to 3 o’clock position on the hip. The sweat shield is included. The holster fully covers the barrel of your gun and has an open muzzle.

www.bullardleather.com

CLIPDRAW

Everyday carry made simple. Comfortable and discreet concealed carry without a holster. American-made, fits for all handguns.

www.clipdraw.com

COVERT CARRIER

Covert Carrier, Inc. has added SIG 238 and SIG 938 grips to their line. The G-10 grips can be purchased as a set or single right- or left-handed options. Visit their website or call (702) 245-6302 for more info.

www.covertcarrier.com


The Original Clipdraw® & Trigger Sheath™

FOR HOLSTER-LESS CONCEALED CARRY AMERICAN MADE SINCE 1995 800-869-7501

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019

BRASS MASTER ULTRA VIBE CASE CLEANERS

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No one can dry wood as well as Mother Nature. Here in Las Vegas, we have many summer days with triple digit temperatures and single digit humidity – ideal conditions conducive to drying wood, and perfect for gunstock blanks. Currently, we have about 30,000 gunstock blanks in various stages of drying, including: •English walnut •Black walnut •Claro walnut

S R’ R E L LE UMMB THTU

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GRIPS GALLERY

EZR SPORT Shockwave Gauntlets fit on all “shockwave-style” grips, with no movement or rotation of any kind when installed properly. The gauntlets will not tear during installation, do not rotate, will not lift or peel off – and can be removed if so desired with no damage to the original grips! www.ezrsport.com

HOGUE INC. Hogue’s Beavertail HandAll Grip Sleeves feature models specifically designed for today’s polymer-framed handguns. They engage with the textures and contours of the firearm frame to stay firmly in place over the lifespan of the grip. Six colors available. www.hogueinc.com

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

RIGS MADE RIGHT

Big Jake, a replica of the rig John Wayne used in many of his movies, is one of Kirkpatrick Leather’s most popular products.

From holsters for movie heroes and champion SASS shooters to those who carry concealed or need a custom job, Kirkpatrick Leather’s filled the bill for decades.

PHOTOS BY KIRKPATRICK LEATHER

W

ith nearly 70 years as a family-owned and -operated business, Kirkpatrick Leather has quite a rich history in the industry. “In 1945, when our dad Joe Kirkpatrick returned from World War II, where he served as a medic with the 36th Reconnaissance Unit, he found a job through a government training program and was trained in leather work at Chaney & Sons,” explains company vice president Rachel Kirkpatrick. “In 1950, he opened his own leathercraft company in his

hometown of Gainesville, Texas, where he manufactured a variety of items, including purse- and wallet-making kits for Tandy Leather. In 1960, he moved to Cisco, Texas, and began a boot company called Cisco Boots.” After resigning as president of Cisco Boots a few years later, Joe moved to Laredo, where Kirkpatrick Leather flourished, focusing solely on holsters and gunbelts. As time passed, his children eventually took over daily operations – and then complete ownership – of the company. As VP, Rachel handles marketing and The LH04 Champion rig.

customer service for the company, while her brothers, Mike and Jason, oversee production and design. The Kirkpatricks take great pride in following in their father’s footsteps, continuing to create quality handcrafted leather holsters and rigs. Their products are made up of two different lines: Old West rigs and concealment holsters and accessories. “Our most popular rigs would have to be the 1920 Big Jake and the LH04 Champion Rig (formerly called Long Hunter),” says Rachel. “The Big Jake is a replica of the rig John Wayne used in many of his movies. I think it is so popular because there are so many John Wayne fans.” She adds, “The LH04 Champion rig was designed by Mike Kirkpatrick for Single Action Shooting Society seventime World Champion Jim Finch, aka Longhunter. The competitive features make this one of our most popular rigs amongst our SASS member customers. Over the years we have made some modifications and now have the LH04, LH05 and LH09 versions.” In the concealment line, popular products include the model No. 2145 Compact Undercover and 86S-Bikini Single Mag Pouch. “The 2145 is a nice americanshootingjournal.com 115


The appendix-carry inside-the-waistband holster was crafted for a customer and then added to the permanent product line.

pancake-style holster with a sweat/ shirt guard available for a wide array of handguns,” says Rachel. The company continues to add to its arsenal, even taking customer requests into consideration when creating new products. “A couple months ago, a local customer asked us to make him an appendix-carry inside-the-waistband holster for a SIG P365 with a Lima laser,” says Rachel. “Mike was able to make the holster for him and we have added the item to our line.” Since its foundation, Kirkpatrick Leather has provided a variety of quality rigs at reasonable prices to a satisfied customer base, and the Kirkpatrick children are continuing that family tradition indeed.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit kirkpatrickleather.com.

The Compact Undercover and 86S Bikini Single Mag Pouch are best-sellers in the concealment line.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019


Taking You Where Tires Can’t Go!

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American Shooting Journal // November 2019

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