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VETERANS Month SPECIAL ISSUE

Novembers Ago

Warfighter Outfitters

Remembering The Battle Of Dak To

Recovering Warriors, One Fishing, Hunting Trip At A Time GUN REVIEW

Smoothbores Galore! 10 Classic Shotguns Browning Cynergy CX

Ithaca Gun Company Rising From The Ashes

Uberti 1876 In .50-95 ALSO INSIDE

Bird Hunting Prospects 2017 Pyramyd Airgun Cup

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American Shooting Journal // November 2017


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A MERIC A N

SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 7 // Issue 2 // November 2017 PUBLISHER

James R. Baker ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Dick Openshaw

GENERAL MANAGER

John Rusnak

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Andy Walgamott EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Craig Hodgkins

LEAD CONTRIBUTOR

Larry Case

CONTRIBUTORS

Chris Cocoles, Scott Haugen, Frank Jardim, Mike Nesbitt, Oleg Volk SALES MANAGER

Katie Higgins

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER

Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS

Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Kelly Baker

OFFICE MANAGER/ ACCOUNTING

Audra Higgins

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Katie Sauro

INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER

Lois Sanborn

WEBMASTER / INBOUND MARKETING

Jon Hines

DISTRIBUTION

Gary Bickford, Barry Johnston, Tony Sorrentino ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

ads@americanshootingjournal.com

ON THE COVER Sgt. Ian Rivera-Aponte, a U.S. Army Reserve sniper and infantryman stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the 100th Infantry Battalion, participates in a promotional photo shoot for Army Reserve recruiting. (U.S. ARMY RESERVE)

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

MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S. Ste. 190 • Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com


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CONTENTS FEATURES

VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • August 2017

56

PYRAMYD SCHEME

(OLEG VOLK)

The third annual Pyramyd Air Cup brought together a large field of cooperative and enthusiastic competitors for a weekend of high-caliber fun. Writer and photographer Oleg Volk was on hand to capture all the action. 43

BUILDING A BETTER ITHACA The “new” Ithaca Gun Company is making every effort to put quality back in the name, so writer Frank Jardim spent some time with owner Dave Dlubak to learn his plan for going “back to the future” with the legendary firearms brand.

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ROAD HUNTER: MARSHES, FIELDS PRIMED FOR HUNTS Looking for some fun hunts this fall that won’t break the

10 CLASSIC SHOTGUNS If there’s one thing writer Larry Case knows (there may be other things as well), it is shotguns, from the classics to the most up to date, so we asked him to compile a Top Ten list of smoothbores that have stood the test of time.

ON THE RECOVERY TRAIL Disabled veteran Brett Miller has found a purpose taking his fellow warriors hunting and fishing via his Oregon-based nonprofit, Warfighter Outfitters. Chris Cocoles sat down with Miller to hear how his journey from a severe injury in Iraq and years of treatment led to a passion to help others.

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bank? Our man afield, Scott Haugen, advises all interested parties to hit the road and start chasing waterfowl and upland birds, as plenty of opportunities await across the country.

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A SHOTGUN FOR ALL SEASONS According to the aforementioned Mr. Case, who spent the better part of a day test-driving the new Cynergy CX from Browning, this “crossover” over-and-under shotgun is truly better than the sum of its parts.

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 © 2017 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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CONTENTS

105

REMEMBERING DAK TO In November of 1967, as part of a month-long search-and-destroy operation, the 173rd Airborne Brigade fought for several days in the thick jungles of the South Vietnamese central highlands to take Hill 875. Also Inside 141 153

Black Powder: .50-95 1876 Winchester by Uberti Company Spotlight: Guntap.com

DEPARTMENTS 17 19 21 22 29

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Editor’s Note Competition Calendar Gun Show Calendar Christmas Gift Guide Industry News

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

Members of the 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, stand amidst defoliated trees atop Hill 875 during a Vietnam War battle that took place 50 years ago this month. (US ARMY)


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EDITOR’S NOTE

I

’ve used this space previously to write about the ten official federal holidays recognized here in the United States, so there’s no need to go down that road again other than to mention that Memorial Day and Veterans Day are occasionally, if not often, confused. Veterans Day recognizes all who have honorably served in the military, and Memorial Day honors those who have given their lives in doing so. And while this is absolutely true, these two – more than any other pair of holidays – remain inexorably linked. I was reminded of that this past month while we were preparing the piece remembering the November 1967 Battle of Dak To in what was then known as South Vietnam. While watching several documentary videos, including one of a reunion of members of the 173rd Airborne, I was struck by how often the men referred to their comrades who did not make it through the battle. So while Veterans Day recognizes the contributions of all current and former members of our military, the veterans themselves often do not compartmentalize their memories in that way, and rightfully so. I was particularly impressed by memories of one soldier

in particular, Sgt. Kenneth Buys, as more than one veteran mentioned him by name. It reminded me of what Ernie Pyle, the honored World War II correspondent killed in action in 1945 in the Pacific Theater, had written of another beloved soldier in another war. Pyle’s piece on Capt. Henry T. Waskow, a company commander in the 36th Division who lost his life on the front lines of the Italian Campaign in January 1944, is a moving classic. After fighting through the battle of Dak To, Sgt. Buys was killed in March 1968 while protecting his men from sniper fire. For his heroic action, he was awarded the Bronze Star. As it turns out, Kenny Buys was a native of Southern California, and I discovered that he was laid to rest in a cemetery not far from my home. So on my first opportunity, I visited his grave to pay my respects for his service and sacrifice. We will always need both a Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but my prayer is that future reunions will include more comrades in arms, and that those in attendance will have fewer stories to tell of those who were unable to join them because they paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. -Craig Hodgkins

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY

COMPETITION C A L E N D A R

Bill Rabbitt won the PCP Gunslynger Shoot-Off during this past August’s third annual Pyramyd Air Cup (see page 56), a competition for airgun shooters, with his trusty Benjamin Armada .22. (OLEG VOLK)

November 3-5

November 8-12

November 11-13

2017 Georgia State Championship Covington, Ga.

Western States Single Stack Championship 2017 Mesa, Ariz.

Missouri State USPSA Multigun Championship Newburg, Mo.

November 8-12

November 10-12

November 17-18

Dominion Defense 2017 USPSA Championship Match Lexington Park, Md.

2017 South Florida Section Custom Gun Classic Punta Gorda, Fla.

Area 59 Championship Rosenburg, Texas

November 4-5

November 17-19

November 18-19

Ancient City Classic IV St. Augustine, Fla.

GLOCK Annual Shoot XXIV & Gunny Challenge XIII Talladega, Ala.

GLOCK West Coast Challenge II – Autumn Azusa, Calif.

November 18

November 18-19

November 25-26

ZOC Ranch OK/AR Border Wars XCI Monroe, Okla.

Shootout at Tejon, South Pacific Regionals Lebec, Calif.

Gobble ‘til You Wobble Shootouts 1&2 Mount Vernon, Mo.

November 11

November 11

November 17

Holiday Havoc 2017 – Tier 2 Evansville, Ind.

LRSA IDPA Classifier Valdosta, Ga.

NCRR IDPA Club Match Chesapeake, Va.

November 11

November 12

IDPA Tier 1 Boylston, Mass.

Volusia County Gun & Hunt Club New Smyrna Beach, Fla. americanshootingjournal.com 19


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R&K Gun Shows

November 11-12 November 11-12 November 18-19 November 18-19 November 18-19 November 24-26 November 25-26 November 25-26 November 25-26

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Bob Bowers Civic Center

Tanner Gun Shows

November 21-22

Loveland, Colo.

Larimer County Fairgrounds

Wes Knodel Gun Shows

November 11-12 November 18-19

Centralia, Wash. Portland, Ore.

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Portland EXPO Center

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

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NEWS

VIVA VALKYRIE!

Federal Premium is convinced they have a winner with the long-range .224-caliber Valkyrie cartridge. (VISTA)

A brand-new MSR 15 cartridge from Federal Premium pushes the accuracy envelope to extreme distances. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS

F

ederal Premium has drawn from its 95 years of ammunition manufacturing excellence to develop an all-new cartridge that transforms the MSR 15 platform, unleashes shooters’ long-range potential and shatters the boundaries

of ballistic performance. The 224 Valkyrie provides extremely flat trajectories and match accuracy beyond 1,300 yards. The cartridge offers significantly less wind drift and drop than other loads in its class, as well as less than half the recoil of cartridges with comparable ballistics. Loaded in an unmatched array of highperformance projectiles, 224 Valkyrie

is the new choice for both long-range target shooters and hunters. The 224 Valkyrie takes the long-range precision and ballistic performance of the MSR 15 platform to unheard of heights. The results recorded by Federal Premium engineers during the cartridge’s extensive development and testing process speak for themselves. The 224 Valkyrie provides extremely flat trajectories, supersonic velocities at as far as 1,300 yards downrange, and match-grade accuracy. americanshootingjournal.com 29


NEWS It offers dramatically improved trajectories over all other MSR 15 cartridges, including the 22 Nosler, .223 Rem. and 6.5 Grendel – with roughly half the recoil of larger cartridges offering comparable ballistics, such as the 6.5 Creedmoor.

The 224 Valkyrie 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing and the 224 Valkyrie 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint. (VISTA)

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LOADED WITH A SELECTION of highperformance projectiles, the 224 Valkyrie is the new first choice of longrange target shooters and hunters looking to extend the reach of their favorite MSR 15. Plus, even though the new 224 Valkyrie was designed for gas-driven MSR 15 actions, it’s also extremely effective from bolt guns. All of this is great news for shooters who’ve longed for practical, economical and exceptionally reliable 1,000-plus-yard performance. The 224 Valkyrie is based on a .30 Rem./6.8 SPC case necked down to .224 caliber. This gives it similar geometry to the 22 Nosler – although the Valkyrie’s ingenious blend of case capacity and ample ogive space, coupled with a highly efficient, heavy-for-caliber .224 projectile, produces downrange exploits the 22 Nosler can’t touch. It offers up to 127.88 inches less drop and 68.76 inches less wind drift at 1,000 yards than the .223 Rem. and other short-action calibers like the 22 Nosler and 6.5 Grendel. Plus, its ballistics are comparable to much larger, harder-kicking calibers like the 6.5 Creedmoor – with as little as half the felt recoil. To say the 224 Valkyrie is fast, even at long ranges, is an understatement. Testing conducted by Federal Premium engineers confirms its highspeed capabilities. For example, the 224 Valkyrie 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing produces leaves the muzzle at 2,700 feet per second; it maintains a blistering 1,950 fps pace at 500 yards and 1,268 fps when crossing the 1,000-yard line. In fact, it remains supersonic out to 1,300 yards. Velocities are based on 24-inch test barrels with a one-in-seven twist. “Along with its ballistic benefits,


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NEWS the 224 Valkyrie also lowers the financial barrier of entry into shooting 1,000 yards for fun and competition,” said Federal Premium development engineer Jacob Burns. “Shooters can use the widely available and popular MSR 15 platform with high-performance yet economical ammunition that costs less than traditional long-range rounds like the 6.5 Creedmoor.” FEDERAL’S NEW 224 VALKYRIE cartridge will be initially available in four of its proven product lines, offering serious options for competitors, long-range target shooters and hunters pursuing varmints up to deer-sized game. 224 VALKYRIE 90-GRAIN GOLD MEDAL SIERRA MATCHKING Extract the full long-range potential from 224 Valkyrie with the 90-grain Sierra MatchKing. The bullet design has been shot to win more matches

The 224 Valkyrie 100-grain Fusion MSR (top) and the 224 Valkyrie 75-grain American Eagle TMJ. (VISTA)

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NEWS than any other, thanks to a uniform jacket that ensures consistent, longrange accuracy, and a sleek boat-tail that maximizes ballistic coefficient. 224 VALKYRIE 60-GRAIN NOSLER BALLISTIC TIP VARMINT The 224 Valkyrie is built to defeat wind drift and drop, and the 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint maximizes these built-in ballistics with a sleek, thin-jacket, polymer-tipped bullet. Its explosive expansion provides a violent energy release on impact for quick kills on varmints and predators.

similar ballistics. 224 VALKYRIE 75-GRAIN AMERICAN EAGLE TMJ Train like never before with 224 Valkyrie and American Eagle rifle. The loads feature Federal brass, cleanburning powder, consistent primers and accurate 75-grain TMJ bullets. They’re the ultimate range ammunition for the ultimate MSR 15 cartridge. The easiest way to capitalize on the new cartridge is purchase a firearm from one of the many gun makers quickly jumping on the 224 Valkyrie

A closer look at the 75-grain American Eagle TMJ load. (VISTA)

224 VALKYRIE 100-GRAIN FUSION MSR Virtually every component in Fusion MSR is optimized for peak ballistic performance in modern sporting rifles. New 100-grain 224 Valkyrie extends range even further, offering devastating accuracy and terminal performance on medium game – with half the recoil of cartridges with

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bandwagon. You can also purchase a new upper and use with your existing lower. A gunsmith or other person trained in the art of building MSRs can also make the necessary modiďŹ cations using a barrel chambered in 224 Valkyrie, 224 Valkyrie headspace gauge, plus a 6.8 SPC bolt head and 6.8 SPC magazine. Consumers can expect to see widespread availability of new guns, uppers and barrels as the cartridge gains traction in the marketplace. Again, it is recommended that shooters who decide to go the modiďŹ cation route enlist gun-building expertise to complete the transformation. Shooters can expect full technical speciďŹ cations for the new round once it is approved by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Institute (SAAMI) in January at the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. At that time, information such as chamber speciďŹ cations and cartridge pressure standards, including SAAMIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s maximum average pressure (MAP), proof pressure range and barrel length/twist recommendations will be communicated. Cartridge and chamber dimensions, drawings and diagrams will also be available soon after SAAMI makes the cartridge official. Reloading data will be available in spring of 2018, when SAAMI releases its load-building speciďŹ cations. However, reloading die sets will be available from RCBS, and other ammo-building components will also be offered by several popular brands. Ultimately, Federal Premiumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 224 Valkyrie will unleash a new era of 1,000-yard-plus accuracy and performance for gas-driven MSR 15s and short-action bolt guns, without the hefty recoil and price tag of larger caliber options. Thanks to the continuation of Federal Premiumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 95-year commitment to excellence, shooters can expect bestin-class ballistics, supersonic ďŹ&#x201A;ight past 1,300 yards (GM224VLK1) and extreme long-range accuracy from this exciting new cartridge. And with the full array of high-performance projectiles available, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poised to deliver on virtually every shooterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs. Â?


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We Honor Our Veterans

American Shooting Journal, along with our advertisers, honor all the brave men and women and the sacrifices they’ve made in serving the country we are so proud to live in. Thank you for your service.

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BUILDING A BETTER

ITHACA

The ‘new’ Ithaca Gun Company is making every effort to put quality back in the name. STORY BY FRANK JARDIM PHOTOS BY ITHACA GUN COMPANY

I

n 2007, Dave Dlubak, an Ohio glass-recycling magnate, bought the remains of the Ithaca Gun Company, previously one of America’s greatest shotgun manufacturers, with a history going back to the 19th century. There wasn’t much left of the company at that point, which was no fault ult of the seller who bought the historic oric trademark, designs, and miscellaneous ellaneous parts at a bankruptcy auction in hopes of reviving it. The damage wass already done by that time. Back in late 1980s, Ithaca was rm, and acquired by a private equity firm, the company’s reputation for quality ally became tarnished as it gradually der slipped into financial ruin under shflow crushing debt. Generating cashflow was an urgent priority for the corporate any leadership at that time, and many ficed. workers felt quality was sacrificed. Stop me if you have heard this story before. ered the But when Dave Dlubak entered Ithaca story, he brought more than on, that just money. He brought passion, critical element for greatness that ave or corporations rarely, if ever, have ebuilt the recognize. He took over and rebuilt company from the ground up with the intent to put quality back in the he brand he had grown up with, insisting, ng, “We will not cut corners.” In my opinion, he’s done what he set out to do. THE “NEW” ITHACA GUN COMPANY n the demonstrated it was firmly on high road with their flagship product ge Model release, the classic 1937 vintage 37 pump shotgun. Rather than n try to make it cheaper in a race to the he bottom

shelf of the mass market, they focused on manufacturing it in better ways that reduced cost but maintained a high level of quality on par with the guns made in the company’s heyday. From a manufacturing sense, the perfect product is one that does exactly what it is supposed to do, for as long as it is supposed to, at the smallest cost. Where the consumer runs into trouble is when a manufacturer skews the balance of those objectives. You’ve

Dave Dlubak and daughter Mary Dlubak Pino are working hard to restore the Ithaca Gun Company to its historical prominence in the industry.

experienced the downside of this every time you’ve looked at a product with a recognizable name and said to yourself, “Boy, they don’t make them like they used to.” Some companies would privately argue, “Why should we? Building products that survive through multiple generations make it harder to sell new products to the next generation of consumers.” You won’t say that about the Ithaca’s current Model 37 shotguns.   


An Ithaca craftsman works on the action of a shotgun (left) and a barrel. The company is located in north-central Ohio.

With the reintroduction of the Model 37 shotgun, Dlubak did more than just restore Ithaca’s reputation for quality. In many ways, the new guns

are actually better than the originals. This is all the more impressive because Dlubak had no previous experience in precision metal machining, or

gun making. He researched the best manner to make high-quality guns to exacting tolerances and set up shop in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where a pool of skilled labor has remained idled from a decades-long decline of the automotive industry. Advances in CNC machining equipment allowed the many complex parts of a Model 37s to be made more easily and accurately than ever before, but the entire fabrication process had to be updated for the new tools.  The Model 37’s 1½- to 2-pound receiver now starts out as a solid 8-pound block of steel and every cut and hole has to be planned, programmed and executed in order with as few fixture changes as possible. Every time a part is moved from one fixture to another for a machining operation, the possibility for error creeps in. The great advantage of modern CNC machining centers is they are so versatile in the types of cutting operations they can perform. They allow the part to be worked into shape with fewer fixture changes, and that means more accurate parts. EACH METAL PART OF THE Model 37, with the exception of the springs

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gun review

Ithaca 1911s look and feel like custom-built guns of the type you would expect from Wilson or Les Bear.

and screws, is made in-house to maintain tight quality control over the manufacturing process from start to finish. Even the buttstocks and forends are carved in-house in a special CNC woodshop run by Dave’s oldest son, who graduated from college with a degree in engineering. The company offers its shotguns in three different grades of American black walnut with laser-cut checkering designs as well as an all-

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American Shooting Journal // November 2017

weather black synthetic stock. At a customer’s request, the Ithaca custom shop can make a stock from any wood of the customer’s choosing, as well as proportion the length, drop and comb specifically to fit them. Unlike many contemporary gun makers, Ithaca does not use metal injection molding to make its smaller parts. MIM is a very efficient process that uses powdered metal mixed with a binder forced into a heated mold to


americanshootingjournal.com 47


gun review

Among Ithaca’s shotgun products are the Model 37 Featherlight in 20 gauge (top) and Deerslayer 3 rifled slug gun.

make parts of quality and strength close to, but not quite as good as, those cut from solid steel on precision machines. Some famous name brands use the MIM process and the Ithaca engineering team experimented with it but wasn’t satisfied with the tolerances. Today, just like a century ago, every shaped part of the Model 37 is machined from solid steel, only more precisely thanks to the new CNC machining centers.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2017

When it came to making barrels, Dlubak broke with tradition to ensure that his new Ithaca shotguns would have the best, straightest barrels possible. Traditionally, all the parts attached to a barrel were silver soldered in place using jigs to hold them together while they were fluxed, heated red hot, and soldered. This traditional method works well but occasionally the soldered joints gave out, and the intense, localized heat

of soldering can easily warp the barrel. Obviously, a warped barrel won’t shoot as true as a straight one, so the new Ithaca barrels are cut from an oversized 17/8-inch-diameter barrel blank, specially bored by one of the most respected barrel shops in the industry. The oversize blank allows the attachment lugs, sight mounts, ribs, etc., to be machined directly into the barrel so that no soldering is needed. The company’s new Deerslayer II


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Ithaca has expanded production into the tactical realm; this is the company’s Guardian, a short-action platform rifle.

and III rifled slug guns also illustrate that the progressive thinking that made Ithaca famous a century ago is back. When you first examine them, you notice right away that the typical mounting bridge from the front of the magazine to the bottom of the barrel is missing. That’s because the Deerslayers were designed like rifles to get maximum accuracy from saboted slugs. The barrels are actually permanently fixed to the receiver and free-floated. Ithaca claims they will shoot 4-inch groups at 200 yards. Both shotguns come standard

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with 3-inch chambers, Monte-Carlo stocks, 4- to 6-pound triggers and sling swivel mounts. The main difference between the Deerslayer II and III is the former has a 24-inch barrel with fiber optic rifle sights (though it is drilled and tapped for scope mounts), while the III has a 26-inch barrel (fluted to save weight and add rigidity) and comes with a Weaver scope base installed. UNDER DLUBAK’S GUIDANCE, Ithaca turned their high-precision manufacturing equipment and the skill sets their

production team refined in the upgrading of the Model 37 shotgun line and branched out into three new product lines: 1911 pistols, precision long range rifles and fragmenting/ expanding projectiles. Ithaca 1911s look and feel like custom-built guns of the type you would expect from Wilson or Les Bear. The fit is tight and the operation very smooth, thanks to the close tolerances maintained in the machining operations and the extra time spent hand-lapping and stoning the parts at the factory. Like the Model


americanshootingjournal.com 51


A left-side view of Ithaca’s short-action platform tactical rifle, the Protector.

37, 1911 parts are cut from solid steel and almost every part is made inhouse. The barrels are rifled off-site using an electro-chemical machining process that leaves their bore extremely smooth. That means less time spent breaking the barrel in on the range and more accurate shooting right out of the box. I examined Ithaca’s new Guardian and Protector bolt-action rifles at the most recent NRA show and found them reminiscent of SAKO designs. They both came in traditional hunting and tactical configurations in a short- and long-action platform,

respectively. The bolts operated very smoothly and are cut from a single bar of steel rather than welded components. To maintain the tightest possible tolerances, the bolt raceway through the receiver is cut using the wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) process rather than broached. The receivers are mated to competition barrels and triggers and fitted to the stocks of the customer’s choice. Ithaca’s objective was to create long-range precision rifles that would shoot a ½-inch group or better at 100 yards. Their largest rifle, the

Savior, is rugged and massive, but surprisingly light, thanks to its aluminum stock. It is chambered in .338 Lapua and available only in a tactical configuration. Its military applications are obvious. All of these rifles are fed from removable box magazines and have a Picatinny mounting rail machined directly into the receiver. THE MOST UNEXPECTED addition to the Ithaca line that I discovered was their .45 ACP and 9mm IEP and IFP projectiles. Those two acronyms stand for Ithaca Expanding Projectile and

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TARGETS

Ithaca Fragmenting Projectile. The two varieties look very similar to the eye. They are both turned from solid copper with a deep hollowpoint cavity and four cuts evenly spaced around the ogive. On impact, the sides of the bullet petal outwards like a lethal dogwood blossom along those machined cuts. The bullet ends up over twice its original diameter and retains its full weight.   The IFP fragmenting bullet, however, has small cuts around the diameter near the bottom of the vertical cuts that cause the four “petals” to break off in the target. This bullet thus creates five separate wound channels. Machining bullets from solid rod stock isn’t anything new, but it’s never been particularly cheap. Precision has its price, but thanks to the heavy investment Ithaca made in highly efficient CNC machine tools, they can make these bullets at reasonable cost of around $2 each retail. At present, you must handload them yourself, but in the future, Ithaca is hoping to partner with an ammunition manufacturer to offer the projectiles in finished ammunition. IT’S REFRESHING TO ONCE AGAIN see an American company striving to make the best products American workers can produce. The “new” Ithaca gives off the vibe of a custom manufacturer in the wide array of options they offer their customers. When the factory makes a production run of parts, most are used to make popular models for shipment to their retail distributors, and the rest of the parts they keep on hand to build guns to customer specifications. Other than the difference in cost of the selected options, there’s no additional charge for having your gun made to order. The company is set up to do it, and they do it promptly. In addition, Ithaca has a dedicated custom shop for metal finishing, engraving, carving and metal and wood inlays (including precious metals). This kind of work naturally takes longer, but you can’t rush art. Contact them at (877) 648-4222 or visit their website at ithacagun.com to learn more. 


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PYRAMYD SCHEME The third annual Pyramyd Air Cup brought together a large field of cooperative and enthusiastic competitors for a weekend of high-caliber fun. STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

T

he third annual Pyramyd Air Cup event was recently hosted at Tusco Rifle Club in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Pyramyd, the world’s largest airgun retailer, is located in Solon, a suburb of Cleveland. The cup is one of the two largest events of its kind in the United States, even though it is capped at 104 participants. The shooters, who represented every level from national champions of previous years to teen novices, came from all over the country to compete, and included representatives from 26 states and Puerto Rico. Airgun competitions are quite similar to other firearm competitions ... except for a few noticeable details. The pace is more leisurely, the distances are much shorter, the equipment and the shooting positions are far more varied and

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The third annual Pyramyd Air Cup featured a crowded field – literally. (PYRAMYD)

individually customized, and, unsurprisingly, there is very little noise. At the same time, the attention to safety, the “weaponizing” of math to predict pellet drop and wind drift, the friendly and well-natured camaraderie in abundance are all reminiscent of long-range rifle competitions. THE DAY PRIOR TO THE main event, early arrivals spent time verifying their scopes or trying out new guns brought out by Pyramyd Air. The sheer variety of airguns is often a shock to traditional firearms shooters, as the relatively recent popularity of the platform combined with less government regulation than on firearms has led to a tremendous variety of designs. Writer Tamara Keel used the term “Cambrian explosion” to describe the exponential development and availability of selfloading pistols produced between 1890 and 1915, and that same dynamic seems to be happening in the airgun world right now. In addition to the large variety of stock models available, many shooters also choose to customize their guns with hand-carved stocks, wind indicators, pellet holders, and add distance markers and drop tables to the parallax knobs of their scopes. 58

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

Bill Rabbitt won the PCP Gunslynger Shoot-Off with his trusty Benjamin Armada .22. Pyramyd Cup Competitors represented 26 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.


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Just the parallax adjustment wheels, knob and spirals came in over 25 iterations. Quite a few of these one-off parts are created on 3D printers. The designs brought out this year for “show and tell” by Pyramyd included a .50-caliber gun capable of firing roundball, 336-grain conical bullets and even arrows. At the demo range, Pyramyd hosted a short-range rat-killing contest with Czech .177 PCP iron-sighted rifles provided by them.

This competitor used a bullpup-style airgun utilizing some 3D printed parts.

THE EVENT, AS I MENTIONED, is quieter than any firearm competition. Since integral sound suppressors for airguns are legal with no ATF paperwork or the $200 excise tax, it appeared as if twoCompetitors spent a good deal of time checking and dialing their scopes throughout the event.

Here’s a Crossman Marauder .22 mounted on a monopod.

Some competitors even created custom airguns, such as this one shown here.

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American Shooting Journal // November 2017


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This lefty shooter takes aim with his Galahad Bullpup.

thirds of the competing shooters had them installed. Of the rest, very few used muzzle brakes, so even earplugs are largely unnecessary. Most of the competitors use .177- and .22-caliber guns, and those are also fairly quiet

when compared to other airguns. In general, the main equipment categories are manually cocked models (“springers”) and precharged pneumatic (PCP) guns with built-in or swappable air tanks. Springers

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American Shooting Journal // November 2017

require greater endurance, as the air compression is done with a lever. They also require greater concentration and control when fired, as the spring or the pneumatic piston disturbs the aim, much like an open


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In addition to all of the bullpups and custom airguns, there were also more traditional rifle “shapes” in use, as well as some nontraditional grips.

bolt of a submachine gun would. Springers and PCP shooters compete in different categories to keep the playing field level. THE FIRST DAY BEGAN WITH field target competition, made up of small targets at various distances, conducted

under a time limit. It was readily apparent that airgun competitors are more than willing to assist or aid their “competition” with shared information and intelligence. There was even one shooter who held up an umbrella to shield fellow competitors from the direct sunlight and help

them aim. In addition, old and young shoot side by side. At least one father-daughter team took turns spotting each other’s hits. In addition, heavy, cannon-like guns shot alongside shoulder-stocked pistols, again made possible by the absence of crippling regulators that

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limit the gunpowder gun design. As the day progressed, the wind picked up, making trajectory estimation a requirement for accurate shooting. In the United Kingdom and many mainland European countries, airguns are popular because they are less restricted than â&#x20AC;&#x153;realâ&#x20AC;? guns. In the US, shooters seem to either shoot both bullets and pellets, or choose airguns because of the leisurely, more detail-focused approach. Moreover, while the deďŹ nition of â&#x20AC;&#x153;long rangeâ&#x20AC;? shooting for centerďŹ re riďŹ&#x201A;es begins around 500 yards and around 150 for rimďŹ re, airgun competitions seldom go beyond 60 yards, and often at just half that distance. The combination of reduced noise and limited restrictions on when practice is legal makes training greatly more accessible. As airguns are generally light and well-balanced with virtually no recoil, they are accessible to most shooters. Add in a low cost of entry, including match-quality pellets, and it makes perfect sense that the sport is experiencing a rise in popularity. At

One of more than a hundred competitor score sheets in process. You want to test your aim on tiny targets? The Pyramyd Cup has you covered.

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This .50-caliber Dragon Claw airgun shoots arrows, or “bolts.”

the same time, hitting tiny targets with lightweight projectiles susceptible to wind drift requires an almost OCD level of attention to detail.

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THE GUNSLYNGER SHOOT-OFF began that first afternoon across three categories: Open Piston, Freestyle PCP and Freestyle Piston. Conducted in relays,

it pitted shooters against each other on the clock, shooting tiny knockdown silhouettes at four distances. Most shooters used tables for support, but


americanshootingjournal.com 69


the diminutive target dimensions and the time pressure made effective marksmanship a challenge. Since the steel had to be knocked down and not just tagged, .22 pellets gave a slight advantage so long as the velocity remained high enough for a flat trajectory. This stage was the only place I saw an occasional strained or annoyed face as competitors dealt with jams, dropped pellets and other technical mishaps. The following morning, the field shooting competition resumed, and that afternoon, the final rounds of Gunslynger were completed. Since shooters with magazine-fed rifles were not allowed to load them ahead of the stage, nor to keep multiple swappable magazines on hand, those who practiced dexterous single loading generally made better time. Again, the goodwill towards others was very evident in the sincere cheering for the winners of each elimination stage. More than at any other event, the concentration on the experience rather than on the ranking was

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This Venturi air compressor helped pump up the competition.

These rats are lined up and ready for pinging.


americanshootingjournal.com 71


evident at every turn. That, in itself, may be a major reason for the rapid growth of the airgun popularity. Val Gamerman, the owner of Pyramyd Air, was happy to see the increase in the popularity of the event but wants to grow the numbers gradually to ensure the best organization possible. Since the launch of this competition, he and his staff have been learning on the fly as participation has increased year to year. In addition to the Pyramyd team, many airgun accessory vendors were on hand to offer substantial cash and equipment prizes for the winners. The event atmosphere reminded me of Appleseed rifle clinics, albeit without the historic pageantry. Some of the firing positions were similar to traditional riflecraft; others were made possible only by the unusual forms and balance of low-recoil airguns used. At least one vendor team – shooters from UTG – competed using their own optics. Watching one of them shoot the same rifle I use for practice and get much superior results was

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This Taipan in .22 caliber was another of several bullpup designs put to work at the competition.


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Competitor of all ages put themselves to the test.

humbling. In general, it was good to see a team of coworkers putting their own equipment to the test. The team members did well. In the end, 15 winners representing all disciplines and gun types stood at the podium. For a more detailed summary of the 2017 Pyramyd Air Cup and all final scores, visit pyramydaircup .com/2017-match-recap. 

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Prior to the event, all competitors spent time zeroing in their guns and scopes.


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ON THE RECOVERY TRAIL

DISABLED VET FINDS PURPOSE TAKING FELLOW WARRIORS HUNTING AND FISHING BY CHRIS COCOLES

T

he veteran that Brett Miller had taken on one of the fishing trips he leads for wounded warriors wasn’t exactly opening up about anything – not his experiences in combat or if he was even enjoying himself that day. Miller, himself a disabled veteran and founder of a Sisters, Oregonbased nonprofit, Warfighter Outfitters, understands that some of those recovering from a traumatic injury might not be willing to bare

For many wounded and/or disabled veterans, escaping to the outdoors has proven cathartic. An Oregon-based nonprofit, Warfighter Outfitters, took 2,000 on fishing trips free of charge last year. (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

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their soul right away, but this guy seemed content to not say anything. He’d been in trouble upon his return to civilian life and was in what’s known as Veteran’s Court when Miller signed over custody of the man and brought him along to fish in central Oregon, which he did without incident, but also without engaging in any conversation of any kind. “He just kept to himself and fished and was catching fish. A couple months went by and I asked him if he wanted to come to a fly fishing tournament with us.” Miller says. “We drove the whole way to New Mexico from Oregon – like 12 hours. Nothing. Didn’t say a word, not a peep. He was just a mannequin, a crash-test dummy.” Miller’s team finished second and took home a trophy, yet the man remained as stoic as ever, barely speaking on the entire drive to the Pacific Northwest. So whatever therapeutic value Miller’s efforts rubbed off on the man, he didn’t seem comfortable sharing them. A year went by before Miller heard from him again. “All of a sudden on social media, he hits me up and says thanks. ‘I bought a boat and now I’m taking guys fishing on it,’” Miller says. “You never know the impact of what one day or one trip will have.” It’s that kind of feel-good story that has given hope to Miller, who was lucky to survive a 2005 attack in Iraq that left him permanently disabled and questioning what value his life would have. It turns out there was quite a lot. Like so many of his comrades, he just had to find it again. THREE OF MILLER’S PASSIONS LEFT him fulfilled for most of his life. He was an accomplished firefighter, having logged 17 years of service around his Oregon home since his teen years. His other love back home was the outdoors, and his hometown of Sisters, a tiny community about 30 minutes northwest of Bend, was surrounded by some of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular hunting and fishing grounds. 80

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

Brett Miller (center) accepted his Wounded Warrior Project Courage Award in June in New York. He’s come a long ways since he essentially disappeared for over two years driving around the country seeking purpose in his life. (WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

But Miller was also dedicated to the military, having joined the Army National Guard in 1998 and getting the call to go to combat in Iraq in 2004. The life he once knew would soon change forever in one sudden burst. “There was a bomb that went off 6 feet from my (Humvee) door, and it made me blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and half-paralyzed on my left side,” Miller says. “I had a pretty bad traumatic brain injury with a brain bleed. That was the end of my military and firefighting career.” His wounds were so severe he spent three years in the hospital and two more in outpatient treatment before he could be released. Miller spent countless hours in a bedridden haze. His physical injuries were obviously major, but it became more

of a psychological chess match than anything else, not unlike so many others who’ve fought for the Stars and Stripes. “I think the physical standpoint is easier to deal with, because you know what’s wrong and there’s a way to fix it,” he says. “But the mental (side), a traumatic brain injury and the psychological impact, is a lot harder. You don’t have a litmus test to tell if you’re getting better or not.” As he had all the post traumatic stress symptoms, Miller was and is against including the word disorder in what’s commonly referred to as PTSD among wounded or disabled veterans. He calls his condition a “very normal reaction to a very abnormal situation.” With so much idle time in a hospital bed, it’s easy to think the


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Warfighter Outfitters sets up everything from fishing trips ...

worst. Everything Miller’s body allowed him to do in the past was no longer feasible. The long road to recovery was full of curves, switchbacks and potholes. “I kind of took it for granted that I

was going to be a drifter and nomad. It was a career of 17 years of fighting fire, that’s gone and I can’t do that anymore,” he says. “It’s the only thing I knew how to do and liked to do. And I can’t do military anymore; that’s done

and over. I thought I was going to be a mindless soul floating around life.” And like many disabled veterans, that’s exactly what Miller seemed to endure when he was finally released from the hospital. Miller says many

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... To waterfowl and big game hunting outings. (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

in his shoes will go on “hiatus into the wilderness and try to find themselves.” He was no different. An avid motorcyclist, Miller bought a toy hauler for his truck, loaded his bikes in and drove Forrest Gump-style back and

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forth from the Pacific to the Atlantic three different times over two years. After spending so much time in hospitals, he was through taking orders from anyone else. His new journey was one of self-discovery,

reflection and pondering the future. “I lived in RV parks, I’d hang out in shady hole-in-the-wall bars and have greasy-spoon meals and I would just go explore. Just completely away from the public,” says Miller, who


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essentially became incognito, rarely if ever keeping contact with friends or family back home. He’d befriend a fellow RV park patron, but most were retired and spent their time playing bridge or canasta. Card games weren’t going to cut it for Miller. He knew that hunting, fishing and the outdoors remained a passion and that they offered him a chance to find some peace. “I went on a couple (fishing and hunting) trips (with veterans) and saw the therapeutic and physical value of it and thought, ‘I want to do that.’” WHEN VETERANS COME HOME from combat, their physical and emotional scars are best shared with those who can relate best: other veterans. For Miller, his time tramping the American highways was needed but not how he wanted to ultimately function. His love for escaping whatever demons might have been lurking with a hunting rifle and fly rod turned out to be the remedy he’d been looking for. “And like most of these guys, you’re

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basically starting life over and have to clean the slate. So I thought, if there’s one thing I wanted to do with my second life, I’d probably want to be a guide/outfitter,” Miller says. Of course, such an ambitious goal can be expensive, but with a few other veterans who also wanted to pursue the dream, Miller sold his Harley around 2013 or so, and eventually Warfighter Outfitters was born and began to thrive, thanks to the hard work of those who came aboard as well as generous donors. Disabled veterans from all over the country – Miller’s group has also hosted participants from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom – have gone on excursions free of charge. There are plenty of viable options around the organization’s Oregon base for predator hunts, jet boat fishing trips for steelhead on the Deschutes River, and Miller says a few lucky wounded warriors will win a tag draw for bighorn sheep on the Deschutes and a special trip to Idaho’s Hells Canyon to hunt elk.

“Last year alone, just on fishing trips we got over 2,000 veterans out,” Miller says. “We have about $400,000 worth of equipment and we’re operating some of the most expensive trips for civilians that are completely free for veterans.” In June, Miller traveled to New York to accept the top honor from the Wounded Warrior Project, the George C. Lang Award for Courage, for his contributions toward helping his fellow soldiers who were injured on the battlefield. These days, nothing gets Miller more excited than the camaraderie he feels when everyone gets together. “It gets to the point where every day, I can almost clock it depending on the conversation; people will really start talking about the nitty gritty and the things that are bugging them and how to deal with family or relationships,” Miller says. “But on that drive to the event, by the time we hit the boat ramp, all these strangers you’d swear are now complete best friends and have been all their lives.”


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It might not be the end-all “cure” for those troubled by their battlefield injuries, but it’s a positive step in the right direction. Miller can cite multiple cases of success from the downtrodden and depressed who have hitched a ride to a river or a duck blind. Miller’s former commanding officer turned to the bottle after his return and nearly lost everything. But after bonding on a trip with Miller, the officer finally sought the help he was looking for and is now thriving in Montana as an outdoors writer and marathon runner. Whenever a wife, girlfriend, parent or friend calls or emails Miller thanking him for giving a disabled or wounded veteran a reason to be happy and optimistic, Miller feels like he’s helping others figure out a purpose in life he once couldn’t seem to find. “I definitely know it’s affirmation that we’re doing the right thing,” he says. “You really don’t know how bad you’ve got it until someone else in the boat or truck has got it 10 times worse. It gives you a little more

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“I have wives, mothers and other family members calling or dropping me an email saying, ‘Hey, you took my son or husband out last week, and he will not shut up about how much of a good time he’s had,’” Miller says. “I definitely know it’s affirmation that we’re doing the right thing.” (WARFIGHTER OUTFITTERS)

clarity and perspective. Maybe things aren’t so bad. ‘This guy’s missing both legs and he’s wading in a middle of a river swinging a fly for steelhead.’ And then that person who sees that and experiences it, he then becomes more of a caregiver mode of, ‘I want to help.’”

“The biggest thing I’ve found is I’ve learned more about my own recovery helping others than I have being part of a recovery process.”  Editor’s note: For more info and to donate, go to warfighteroutfitters.org and like at facebook.com/warfighteroutfitters.


americanshootingjournal.com 89


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American Ame A meeric m riican an a nS Sho Sh Shooting h oting Journal // // November Nove ov vembe mbe m mb be b er 2017 2017 017 17


ROAD HUNTER

MARSHES, FIELDS PRIMED FOR HUNTS Looking to get in on some fun wingshooting this fall without breaking the bank? Hit the road and start chasing waterfowl, pheasants, quail and more – plenty of opportunities await! STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN

W

hile November is a time when many deer and elk hunters take to the woods, it’s also one of the best months for upland bird hunting and waterfowling throughout the country. With so many places to go and so many species to pursue, here are some tips to help get you started. WATERFOWL POPULATIONS ARE once again very solid, according to a U.S. Fish &

Wildlife Service report released in August. Surveys of breeding ducks occur during late spring and are conducted in traditional areas in the U.S. and Canada. This year, an estimated total population of 47.3 million breeding ducks was observed, which is 34 percent above the 1995-2016 longterm average. In other words, if you’re an avid duck hunter, look for another great season ahead. If you’re new to waterfowling, there’s no time like the present to jump in and start

learning the ropes. Last spring I drove from my home in Oregon to Saskatchewan, Canada, where I hunted snow geese for a week. During my drive through prime breeding grounds, I was in awe of the number of ducks I was seeing, especially shovelers, gadwall and blue-winged teal. I found it interesting, but not surprising, that when this year’s waterfowl survey numbers were released, shoveler numbers were up 10 percent, gadwall 13 percent and bluewinged teal 18 percent over last year.

Wherever you plan on goose hunting this season, pay attention to storms and weather patterns, as these can impact bird movement. Here, a flock of Aleutian cacklers dump into decoys in northern California.

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ROAD HUNTER Mallard numbers remain solid, and while pintail counts were up 10 percent over last year, they are still 27 percent below their long-term average. Some states have gone to a limit of one pintail a day, so know the rules and regulations where you plan on hunting. Scaup are also declining, but most duck species are seeing long-term growth that should keep hunters very optimistic throughout the country. Of course, habitat is the primary factor that impacts waterfowl populations across the years and decades, and hunters should remain cognizant of this and remember how vital it is to maintain landscapes and nesting habitat. The challenge in waterfowl hunting comes with timing. Last year in the Pacific Flyway, where I do most of my hunting, the season projection was good. But when storms up north finally started pushing birds down, we had major freezing in my hunting area, a rarity for the valleys I hunt. As a result, the birds had nowhere to stop and rest or feed, so they flew right on by. The result was poor hunting, despite bird populations being very good. Duck numbers, food availability, weather, bird distribution, and more impact where waterfowl will be, when. Monitoring storms to the north and tracking your local weather forecast and conditions are key in timing your hunt and, thus, optimizing success. Chat with fish and wildlife personnel in the area you plan on hunting, as they are a great resource for up-to-date information such as bird numbers, habitat condition and details of recent hunting pressure. Fellow hunters are also a good source of information in learning about current hunting conditions and more. LAST WINTER WAS ONE OF the worst the country has seen in years, and you can bet pockets of upland game birds suffered. In one area I scouted for valley quail last summer, I saw two broods. In this same place the past several summers, scouting missions have revealed between 100 and 200 94

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

Once again, duck numbers are high across all of North America. Look for good hunting this season if storms cooperate and prime habitat remains in good shape. Here, the author’s father, 76-year-old Jerry Haugen, is all smiles over this nice limit of puddle ducks.


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ROAD HUNTER birds. The area was hit hard by wet snow and freezing rain, and the birds suffered – greatly. I’ll have to find a new place to quail hunt this season. But no matter what subspecies of upland bird you’re after, make some phone calls to learn all you can about their populations. If you have a couple days to scout prior to the hunt, that’s even better, but at this stage in the season, that might not be possible. Another option is to call regional biologists and inquire as to what the latest population census data may be. See if they have any insights as to population densities, ratios of adult to juvenile birds and habitat quality. In parts of the Southwest, flooding could have altered riverbed habitat that may take many years to recover. From the Rockies to the Cascades, several feet of snow took a toll on some quail, pheasant and sharptail populations. A wet spring throughout this region also claimed many chicks; rain is the number one killer of upland birds during their first 10 days. In places along the valley floors and Coast Ranges, where California and mountain quail, and blue and ruffed grouse live, some drainages were hit hard by wet, heavy snows and freezing rain. When scouting or on the hunt, use binoculars and even spotting scopes. Covering ground with your eyes, looking for sentinel birds, will save a

As with many upland birds throughout the West, chukars got hit hard in some areas by last winter’s onslaught, but did great in others. A quick call to regional biologists will help you decide where to begin your hunt.

THE UPLAND BIRD BIBLE Noted photographer and author, Gary Kramer, hit a home run with his latest book, Game Birds: A Celebration of North American Upland Birds. Not only are the photos jaw-dropping, but the information on each species is concise, detailed and highly educational. From the natural history of each species to where they can be found, their seasonal behavior, diet, conservation status, and more, the details captured in this book are like no other. Whether you’re a longtime wingshooter or a beginner looking to go on your first upland hunt, Game Birds is your guide. From Alaska’s ptarmigan to Arizona’s desert quail, from prized ringneck pheasant to chukar, Kramer covers it all. Priced at only $65.00, the 12-inch-by-9¼-inch hardcover book contains 384 stunning color photos and 26 range maps spread throughout 256 pages. Learn more at garykramer.net. 98

American Shooting Journal // November 2017


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ROAD HUNTER lot of legwork, for you and your dog. As fall progresses and seeds and fruits ripen, quail may gravitate to those food sources, so keep a watchful eye. WITH PRIME UPLAND SEASON UPON us, here are some noteworthy, species-specific tips. If hunting prized Mearn’s quail in the desert Southwest, know that they like a range of habitats. From wooded mountain slopes rich in bunchgrass to grassy canyons offering shade, Mearn’s thrive on seeds and insects. They also like rocky draws and will dig beneath trees and tall cover in search of bulbs. Tall grass is a primary habitat in which they can be found scurrying around the edges for food. Gambel’s quail thrive amid various thorny types of vegetation throughout their range. They will consume a mix of seeds, grasses and berries. In areas where fruits grow, multiple coveys may congregate. Gambel’s quail also consume herbaceous tissues, cacti, shrubs, tree buds and leaves. Mountain quail and blue grouse are considered about the most challenging duo of all to hunt, because of where they live. Both birds abound in big, rugged country dominated by Douglas firs or pines, and brush. Logging and wildfires create optimal mountain habitat for both of these blue bombers. Fireweed, Scotch broom, salal thickets and briars attract family units of mountain quail, while the edges of older fir and pine forests attract blue grouse. The later in the season it gets, the higher in elevation blue grouse move and their diet shifts largely to fir needles. Valley quail and ruffed grouse are found near brushy creek and river bottoms, often near running water. They feed on a wide range of plants, consuming leaves and seeds. Valley quail prefer open areas for feeding, with nearby escape cover and trees to roost in. Their ability to adapt explains why valley quail are among the country’s most prolific upland birds, occupying habitats from rainforests to high desert sage. 100

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

Last season the author and his dog Echo came away with opening day limits of ducks, pheasants and valley quail. This year, overall, things are looking all right for bird hunters throughout North America.

Bobwhite quail and pheasants are very dependent on specific habitats. If where you hunt these birds in was hammered by last winter’s wrath, do some homework before heading afield. Some populations were wiped out, others untouched. If these birds survived winter and made it through the wet spring, their numbers could be exceptional. Sharptail grouse often overlap with Hungarian partridge near farmland habitats, and both can be found in grassy plains habitat. The Dakotas and eastern Montana are good places to search for this fun upland double. The theme of this winter’s bird season should be, “do your homework.”

Just because an area has produced for years doesn’t mean it will do the same this season. Research the habitat, bird populations and, in the case of waterfowl, migratory conditions, then plan your hunts accordingly. By doing some simple homework, not only will it save you time in the field, but it will paint a clear picture of where to hunt, and where to avoid.  Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is host of The Hunt, on Netflix, and co-author of the popular book, Cooking Game Birds. For signed copies, send a check for $20.00 to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com.


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The 173rd and their Huey escorts move through the Central Highlands of Vietnam. (Inset) Page 1 of the official “after action” report for Dak To. (US ARMY)

REMEMBERING DAK TO Fifty years ago this month, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) fought in close quarters and uphill through deep foliage to take Hill 875 in what became known as the Battle of Dak To.

COMPILED BY THE EDITOR

T

he 173rd Airborne Brigade had already seen action before moving inland to South Vietnam’s Central Highlands in early November of 1967. This support included a

role in Operation Junction City in the spring, as well as a search-anddestroy (S&D) mission in the vicinity of Tuy Ho on the south-central coast. The 173rd was assigned to Dak To after intelligence reports indicated that North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regiments had reinfiltrated the region

after the termination of Operation Greeley in late summer. Just before noon on November 6, “D” Company, under Capt. Thomas H. Baird, was moving up a trail to Hill 823 when one of the men spotted an NVA communications (“commo”) wire running alongside

Ernest “Learch” Birch (left in left image), who served as a rifleman and squad leader for the 1st Platoon of “D” Company, was one of many who survived Dak To, which saw members of the 173rd advance under fire (middle) and fight through the dense foliage (right) of Hill 875. (US ARMY) americanshootingjournal.com 105


the path. A white pith helmet was also located nearby, further confirming NVA presence. At approximately 1 p.m., the trail widened and the soldiers came across fresh bare footprints. Although the 173rd had been in existence since 1915, it was restructured in 1963 as an airborne infantry brigade combat team, and members of the unit became known as Sky Soldiers. In the heavily forested hills and steep valleys near Dak To, however, they would fight on foot. Nearby, as the “B” and “C” companies and the engineer platoon prepared to receive a battery on another knoll, “A” company’s recon squad moved out on S&D operations to clear the ridge to the west. Suddenly, moments after soldiers spied glimpses of NVA in the trees, they fell under heavy AK-47 fire, and the battle was officially on. Over the next three-plus weeks, the 173rd 106

American Shooting Journal // November 2017

The battle for Hill 875 made national headlines, from page one of the November 23, 1967 Chicago Tribune to the December 1 issue of Life magazine. (WIKIPEDIA)

would fight up and down the hill, with heavy fighting following on November 13, with B Company sustaining especially heavy casualties. The official “after action” report made special mention of the terrain where much of the fighting on the 13th and afterward had occurred. “The terrain … was thick bamboo and shrub brush with occasional

open spots where most of the casualties were taken. There were tall trees encircling the hilltop. Visibility was restricted to about 5 meters and firing was at point blank range.” Because of the nature of the fighting, no air or gunships could support in their usual manner, as the fighting was too close, and artillery and air could only help indirectly.


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Bell 204/205 helicopters (top left), better known as “Hueys,” inserted troops along and behind enemy lines, and provided fire support to ground troops and other transport helicopters. (Bottom left) On Thanksgiving Day 1967, members of the 173rd had the emotional task of loading the bodies of comrades killed in action on helicopters for a final trip home. (Right) This Sky Soldier readies his M60 in advance of the final assault on Hill 875. (US ARMY)

Fighting continued through Veterans Day and beyond, and by November 19, American troops had finally begun the official assault

on Hill 875. Sadly, this final push also resulted in one of the worst “friendly fire” incidents in Vietnam, when a Marine Corp fighter

bomber accidentally dropped a 500-pound bomb near the American perimeter, killing 42 men and injuring another 45.

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Boeing CH-47 Chinooks did much of the heavy lifting during the Vietnam War, and the helicopters are still in use today. (US ARMY)

By November 23, the 4th Battalion, which had remained engaged since the first discovery of the VCA commo wire, mounted a final assault on the hilltop of 875 alongside the 2nd Battalion. Reaching the crest, they discovered that the VCA had abandoned their

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positions. The hill had been secured. According to official reports, 376 U.S. troops had been killed or listed as missing-presumed dead and another 1,441 were wounded, in the fighting. For its combined actions during operations around Dak To, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was awarded the

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Presidential Unit Citation. Of the thirteen members of the 173rd to receive the Medal of Honor, three resulted from heroic actions in Dak To between November 12 and 20. These three are Private John Barnes, Major Charles Watters and PFC Carlos Lozada. 

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Here are the author’s Top 10 classic shotguns (from left to right): Mossberg 500, Ithaca Model 37, Winchester Model 59, Fox Sterlingworth, Remington Model 31, Remington Model 32, Remington 870, Browning Superposed, Winchester Model 12 and Browning A-5. Which guns would be in your personal Top 10?

10 CLASSIC SHOTGUNS FOR THE AGES These smoothbores have stood the test of time. STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE

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here is something about a stately old shotgun that lures us in and tempts us to pick it up, shoulder it and dream of where it’s been. Worn bluing and scarred walnut gives a hint of the days in a duck blind, grouse woods or a trap and skeet field. Most of those venerable shotguns started out in factories and on gun shop racks, and hunters and shooters across America chose the ones they thought were best. Eventually, the greatest guns stood out. Here are 10 shotguns that I believe must be considered among the classics.

The Browning Auto Five

BROWNING AUTO FIVE Many would consider John Moses

Browning a genius, a point to which the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the Browning .50-caliber machine gun and the Colt 1911 pistol can attest. Browning also designed the Automatic Five shotgun (four in the magazine, one in the chamber) in 1898 and first took his idea to Winchester, a company he had done business with on many other projects. Things did not work out at Winchester or Remington at the time, and Browning next landed at Fabrique National. Soon after, the Automatic Five shotgun was first made in Belgium in 1902 (hence the moniker “Belgium Browning”). Browning later secured an agreement with Remington in 1905, and the newly rebranded Remington Model 11 became the americanshootingjournal.com 115


Remington Model 31

first autoloading shotgun made in America. Many will tell you that the A5 is known for kicking like the proverbial mule. To some fans of the A5, it will always be known as the “Humpback” due to its trademark squared receiver. Most who shoot the A5 say that the gun shoulders very nicely and is quick to get on target. The big, broad receiver gives shooters an instant sighting plane, leading to the ease of aiming. John Browning reportedly said the A5 shotgun was his greatest achievement. Coming from a man with dozens of firearms to his name, including that little number called the Colt 1911, that says something. REMINGTON MODEL 31 Remington trotted out an elegant firearm in 1931 that many would consider a gold standard for pump shotguns. The reason for this was the intricate hand fitting of parts that contributed to the smooth action of this pump gun. The Model 31 appeared in August of that year and retailed for $48.50 (roughly $750 in today’s market). Remington aimed at pushing Winchester out of the pump shotgun market, and the company called upon a couple of inhouse gun designers, C.C. Loomis and John Pederson, to do it. Both men had learned from John Moses Browning. From the start, the Model 31 pump gun was known for a slick action achieved by hand-fit parts. This system was neither fast nor cheap. In the end, the wonderful, clocklike workings of the Model 31 may have been its downfall. By 1949, the Model 31 was off the market as gun makers sought out a faster and less expensive system. BROWNING SUPERPOSED Val Browning, son of John M. Browning, finished the work on his father’s last firearm. John Browning died while working on his revolutionary concept for a doublebarrel shotgun in 1926. The elder Browning decided to superimpose the barrels one on top of the other instead of 116

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Browning Superposed


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the traditional side by side, and this configuration became known as “superposed.” This elegant but moderately priced shotgun hit the market in 1931 with a retail price of $107.50. That was a lot of money back then, but a working man could afford one if he scrimped a little. Val Browning perfected his father’s design, and a few years later, the Superposed was equipped with a single selective trigger. While Superposed shotguns are not known for being light, the benefits of the revolutionary and durable design far outweighed any extra weight.

H. Fox Sterlingworth

H. FOX STERLINGWORTH Recent years have seen a renewed interest in reasonably priced American-made double guns. Shotgun lovers who do not wish to venture into the world of expensive British shotguns feel they can stay domestic and collect the odd Lefever, a Winchester Model 24, maybe an L. C. Smith or a Fox Sterlingworth. Ansley Herman Fox was well known in the shotgun world of the early 1900s. Known as a hotshot in the live pigeon and trapshooting scene, Fox went through a confusing series of gun manufacturing company ownerships in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1910, Fox was producing a gun he called the Sterlingworth, an entry-level Fox shotgun and the grade

most hunters chose. Like most American-made doubles of the day, the Fox Sterlingworth featured a box-lock action and the “lumpthrough” method of connecting the barrels. On a doublebarrel shotgun, the lump is the projection extending downward from the breech end of the barrels. In the lump-through method, a separate piece of machined steel is fitted and braised onto the barrels. This is a durable and completely satisfactory way to make a double-barrel shotgun. However, it was just not considered quite as elegant as other more complicated and expensive methods, as it usually resulted in a wider measurement across the breech. All classic Americanmade doubles were made this way. Most of these guns featured color case-hardened receivers, and this is usually the first place to show wear. The Sterlingworth was and still is known as a sturdy, dependable (and I think lovely) companion in the field.

Ithaca Model 37

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ITHACA MODEL 37 The Ithaca Model 37 pumpgun is something of a paradox.


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On one hand, it has been a nimble and lightweight sporting arm carried by thousands of sportsmen. On the other, this shotgun has been a warrior. Like Winchester’s Models 97 and 12 and the Remington 31, the Ithaca saw military service from World War II through Vietnam. If that was not enough, this dependable shotgun was adopted by many police departments in the US and abroad. Part of the Model 37’s appeal was the shotgun’s unique feature of loading and ejecting through the port at the bottom of the receiver, making it an ambidextrous firearm. Ithaca waited until a patent owned by Remington expired in the mid-1930s and borrowed from a design by John Pederson. Like others of that day, Ithaca sought a competitor for the Winchester Model 12. The company introduced the gun in 1937 in what may have been the worst climate possible for a new sporting arm. War was looming in Europe, and the country was still suffering in the Great Depression. Despite that, the Model 37 remains as the longest pump-action shotgun in production to date.

Winchester Model 12

WINCHESTER MODEL 12 It should come as no surprise that the basis for this iconic pump shotgun came from John Browning. Little-known Remington Model 32

Winchester engineer T. C. Johnson improved on Browning’s Model 1897 and gave the world the Model 12. Winchester produced this shotgun from 1912 through 1964 with more than 2 million being made. For many years, the Model 12 set the bar that all other pumpgun makers tried to reach. Oddly, when the first guns were produced in 1912, they were only available in 20 gauge. After a year in production, 12 and 16 gauges became available. A 28-gauge model was also produced later. This shotgun was the darling of thousands of hunters and trap and skeet shooters for many years. When it debuted in 1912, it was the first shotgun with an internal hammer and a streamlined receiver the American public had seen. The Model 12 also had hand-fitted machined steel internal parts, interchangeable barrels, nice walnut stocks and forearms and beautiful deep bluing. The Model 12 sold strongly until the introduction of the Remington Model 870 in 1961. By then, a new age of shotguns had begun. REMINGTON MODEL 32 Prophets are never appreciated in their own time. In many ways, the Remington Model 32 over-and-under shotgun 120

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was a herald of greater things to come. No doubt part of the incentive for this gun was to give the Browning Superposed some competition. Crawford C. Lewis was an engineer at Remington, and he brought the Model 32 to life. In 1932, O/U shotguns were not familiar to American shooters, and the country was still clawing its way out of the Great Depression. Loomis gave the country an overand-under that shooters could buy for $75, while the competing Browning Superposed was about $107. That was a huge factor in Depression-era America. The first machine-made O/U shotgun built in America, the Model 32 had a top-lock system and separated barrels, which allowed for better cooling and added heft and strength. The Model 32 was discontinued in 1944 with around 5,500 having been made. Soon after that, a group of Americans took the design of the Model 32 to the famous double-gun makers at Krieghoff in Germany. The company soon gave the world the Krieghoff 32, based upon Browning’s Model 32. WINCHESTER MODEL 59 SEMIAUTOMATIC Anyone who hunts birds knows what a blessing a lightweight shotgun can be. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, quail and grouse hunting was much more popular with American hunters. For wildfowlers, the Winchester Model 59 was a great option. Very little is heard about this shotgun today, despite the fact that it was so revolutionary. Not only did the Model

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Winchester Model 59 SemiAutomatic


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59 have an aluminum receiver to help with weight, but Winchester created the barrel by wrapping huge lengths of glass fiber (reportedly over 500 miles) around a thin steel liner. The fiber was then fused and bonded to the liner. The result was a semiauto shotgun that weighed less than 6 pounds. In addition, the Model 59 had some of the first screw-in chokes available. Eastern grouse hunters grabbed these guns up with abandon. Critics said the Model 59 kicked too hard, while others said the gun was too light on the muzzle, which made it very fast to point. Most of the hunters who liked the Model 59 just carried it and killed grouse. MOSSBERG 500 “More gun for the money,” Mossberg’s company slogan, pretty well affirms what O. F. Mossberg set out to do for his customers. A Swedish immigrant who found himself unemployed at age 53, Mossberg and his two sons, Iver and Harold, started a firearms company in 1919. Technical expertise and no-frills innovation carried the company into the early 1960s when Mossberg engineer Carl Benson developed the iconic Model 500 shotgun. Benson used ideas from the Model 31 Remington, which had roots in earlier J.M. Browning Remington shotguns. Early versions of the Model 500 had problems with the single-action bar sometimes bending and breaking. When the Remington patent on the twin-action bar expired in 1970, Mossberg added another bar to solve this problem (as

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Mossberg 500


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found in the Remington 870). Model 500 variants, including the 590 and the 590A1, have seen active service with the military and in several different branches, Special Forces included. Hunters have always liked the rugged dependability of the Mossberg 500, and the gun continues to be popular with more than 10 million sold. REMINGTON 870 History tells us that many of the European royal families in various countries were related. It is much the same in the classic shotgun world, especially with pump guns. John M. Browning designed the Remington Model 17, which influenced the Ithaca 37 and the Remington 31. Both of these shotguns swam in the gene pool of possibly the greatest pump shotgun ever made: the Remington 870. Introduced in 1961, the 870 rose from the ashes of the Model 31. Remington sought to deliver a strong, dependable, modern shotgun at a moderate price, and it’s what they did. The original Wingmaster version of the 870, while tough, was very aesthetically pleasing, having deep bluing and glossy walnut stocks. In 1987, Remington introduced the 870 Express line. These shotguns featured black matte finish on the metal and hardwood laminated wood or synthetic stocks and forearms. Sales increased with the Express and, in 2009, Remington sold its 10 millionth 870, making it the bestselling shotgun in history. 

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gun review

A SHOTGUN FOR ALL SEASONS The new Cynergy CX ‘crossover’ over-and-under from Browning is truly better than the sum of its parts. STORY BY LARRY CASE

W

e all know the old adage about “Beware the man with only one gun, because he probably knows how to use it,” or something like that. I can relate, because I can remember a time when I had exactly one shotgun, a battered Remington 870 that served me well. The true premise of that tired old saying is, of course, if a man has but one gun he will use it for everything. He doesn’t have the luxury or the worry of deciding which gun to pick for a particular task. From target shooting to grouse hunting or crows in the cornfield, you just grab that shotgun and sally forth. Browning may have been thinking about this when they created the Cynergy CX shotgun. In this day and age, is one over-and-under shotgun for sporting clays, trap, skeet, pheasants and even the odd woodcock even possible? Ah, grasshopper, consider the Cynergy CX. The Cynergy line of shotguns, which Browning released to us in 2017, has several models: a turkey shotgun, a target model and a composite stock model (the test gun that I put through its paces had a wooden stock). Let’s take a look at some of the features of your next favorite shotgun. THIS IS THE CROSSOVER GUN in the Cynergy line, with a 60/40 point of

West Virginia 4-H shooter Holly Waid had a chance to take the Browning Cynergy CX for a test drive. (LARRY CASE) americanshootingjournal.com 131


gun review

The new Browning Cynergy CX is considered the crossover gun in the Cynergy line. (BROWNING)

aim (60 percent of the pattern going just above your point of aim, 40 percent below it), ventilated top and side ribs, satin-finish grade I walnut stock, three Invector-Plus Midas Grade choke tubes included, ivory front and midbead sights. True over-and-under shotgun geeks will notice the Cynergy made a technological breakthrough with its MonoLock Hinge, making it possible to create an O/U shotgun with an ultralow-profile receiver. Browning’s description on this gun states “the design allows you and the

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gun to integrate and point as onetechnology and biology working in tandem.” Well, that may be a posh way of saying this gun is fast, points quickly and is quick to get on target. Every shooter I handed this gun to said this – every one. Let’s go back to that MonoLock Hinge thing again to determine exactly what it does and what it means. Well, the MonoLock Hinge design is the engineering behind the Cynergy’s low-profile receiver. The MonoLock Hinge is the integration of the monobloc (the metal on the

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Waid prepares to break some clays on a beautiful fall day at Powder Ridge Sporting Clays. (LARRY CASE)

(Left) The Browning Cynergy CX in composite gray. (Right) Another look at the Cynergy CX from Browning featuring the ventilated top and side ribs. (BROWNING)

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bottom of the receiver that will grab the hinge) and the hinge, and has up to 300 percent more surface area to pivot on than traditional trunnion-style hinges. Rectangular

locking pins provide extra strength and feature a wear-in relief that keeps the action tight. Jeweling on the receiver adds a nice touch for appearance, smoother function and


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improves durability. I am one who thinks a trigger on a shotgun is important, almost as important as on a rifle, and the Cynergy features the innovative Reverse Striker ignition system: a striker-based, mechanical trigger that offers the benefits of a crisp feel, reduced locktime and less overtravel than other O/U shotguns. Because inertia is not needed for the hammers to set, the design eliminates the possibility of the second barrel not firing. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW PRETTY or accurate a shotgun may be, because if it kicks you like the proverbial rented mule, you are not going to be a happy camper. Fortunately, the Inflex Technology recoil pad system on Cynergy line provides long travel recoil reduction for a massive 25 percent decrease in felt recoil on 12-gauge guns, and makes recoil virtually nonexistent on small gauge guns. A slick Parylene coating prevents the pad from snagging on clothing and allows the recoil pad to remain soft. Three pad lengths are available in ½-inch increments to provide length-of-pull adjustment to fit a wide variety of shooters. A ¼-inch spacer is included for customizing. I want an over-and-under shotgun to kick out empties and do it right now so I am not fumbling with them when I want to reload quickly. Impact ejectors on the Cynergy are aided by the punch of a secondary striker spring for more positive, reliable ejection of fired hulls from the chambers. Unfired shells are elevated for easy removal, and in my opinion, this is all good. One of the shooters that tried the Cynergy CX the day I brought it to the range is Holly Waid, a 4-H National Shooting Sports competitor who will be shooting in the 4-H National Shooting Championship next year. Holly is high school student from Greenbrier County, West Virginia, and a very dedicated shotgun shooter. After smashing several clays with the Cynergy CX, Holly declared it “very pretty,” and that it “comes up very quickly” and is “a very soft shooter.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 


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Jamison Brass & Ammunition makes ammo for the .50-95 with smokeless powder.

Our man with the black powder on his hands tests loads for the ‘new’ .50-95 1876 Winchester manufactured by Uberti. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT

O

ne big difference between the old and new .50-95-caliber rifles is that the original Winchesters from 1879 had a rate of twist in their barrels of one turn in 60 inches. That was for the very short 300- or 312-grain .50-caliber bullets. Today’s copies of those guns, namely the Uberti version of the old Winchester Model 1876, have barrels with one turn in 48 inches. That simply means the new .50-95s will perform with slightly heavier bullets.

When it was introduced, the .50-95 Winchester was the largest member in the line-up of cartridges for the repeating Model 1876. All of the cartridges chambered in the 1876 Winchester were considered short-range rounds when comparing them to the midrange and long range cartridges that were available only in single-shot rifles at that time. And the .50-95 was an express cartridge, shooting a rather lightweight bullet at a high velocity, listed at 1,556.8 feet per second, making it a powerful hunting rifle for thin-skinned game within, let’s say, 200 yards.

Mike Venturino included the .50-95 cartridge in Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West (2010), which is an excellent book. In the section on cartridge reloading, he gave the specs for loads with both Goex FFg powder and the fine Cartridge powder, which is no longer available. We might say that Mike wrote about the .50-95 almost a decade too soon, because there are now some important new “ingredients” that were not previously available. THE UBERTI 1876 IN .50-95 has a 28-inch barrel, the same length as their other 1876 calibers. Along with a different americanshootingjournal.com 141


BLACK ACK P POWDER OWDER Uberti’s version of the Model 1876 Winchester rifle with a 28inch barrel.

Wayne Miller snuggles down at the bench as our load testing began.

twist rate, the groove diameter of the barrels on the new guns is a touch wider than the old Winchesters. The rifle shot for this update had a barrel with a .514-inch groove diameter, and Mike said the original he shot with had a .509-inch groove diameter. These are simply little differences we should know about in advance of preparing any “special diet” for the newer .50-95. Another “new thing” that wasn’t available when Mike did his loading and shooting for his book with the .5095 was Jamison’s brass or ammunition. Jamison, now a division of Captech International (visit captechintl.com/ products), offers both new brass and loaded ammo for all of the Winchester Model 1876 calibers, which includes the .50-95. Jamison ammo uses a 350-grain lead bullet over just enough smokeless powder to give it an advertised velocity of 1,300 feet per second. That’s a bit of a “cowboy” load and, of course, it was the Cowboy Action shooters who made the old lever guns popular enough for this new ammo to be made. All of the loading and shooting done for this update was done with 142

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either Jamison’s loaded ammunition or new Jamison brass. The remaining ingredient that wasn’t available 10 years ago for use in the .50-95 was Goex’s Olde Eynsford powders. A decade ago Goex was offering cartridge powder, and Mike’s chapter on the .50-95 did show one load using it. And Olde Eynsford is available in four different grades for better fine-tuning of black powder loads. In the following information, two of the Olde Eynsford grades were used. LET’S FOCUS ON THE BULLETS we used. Wayne Miller did the casting and loading for these tests, and we were using Wayne’s rifle for the shooting. The handloads were topped off with the 350 cast bullets, with a 20:1 alloy, sized to .514 inch and lubed with SPG. Going along very well with the new Uberti’s one-in-48-inch rate of twist, a 350-grain bullet was used for all shooting. For shooters who want a good shooting bullet for the Uberti rifles in .50-95, I quickly recommend bullet number 51-350CL from Accurate


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BLACK POWDER A group fired with the loads using 85 grains of Olde Eynsford 1 1/2F powder.

Molds. That bullet has the proper nose shape and distance from the crimp groove for good feeding from

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the magazine in the lever-action .5095s. If you visit the Accurate Molds website (accuratemolds.com), youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll

see another bullet for the .50-95, number 51-350C. The only difference between those two bullets is that 51-


AMMO/RELOADING

COWBOY .25 .32 .38 .38 .38 .38-40 .44-40 .45LC .45LC .458

85 GR. 78 GR. 120 GR. 125 GR. 130 GR. 180 GR. 180 GR. 160 GR. 200 GR. 350 GR.

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SWC-HP/100 LBT-WFN/100 SWC-HP/100 SWC-HP/100 SWC/100 LBT-WFN/100 SWC-HP/100 LBT-LWN/100 LBT-LWN/40 LBT-WFN/100

$25.00 $28.00 $32.00 $38.00 $38.00 $47.00 $41.00 $47.00 $24.00 $61.00

This is a good cross reference of the bullets we offer. We have about 144 set of molds with new molds coming. Sixteen employees working 10 hr. a day shifts 4 days a week with 12 casters, 7 auto lubers, and 12 VWDUOXEHUVJDVFKHFNLQJHYHU\GD\:HKDYHEXOOHWVPDGHZLWK¿YHGLIferent alloys that we order in 40,000 - 60,000 lbs at a time a mixed per our set alloys. Prices subject to change without notice.

Phone Orders Taken Monday-Thursday 8am-5pm MST


BLACK POWDER

Bob DeLisle gives the .50-95 a try (the smoke in the background is from another shooter).

350CL is slightly longer with a larger lube groove, designed more with black powder shooters in mind.

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Loads with all powder charges used Jamison brass primed with Federal Large RiďŹ&#x201A;e Match primers. Powder

was always dropped into the primed cases through a 24-inch drop tube, and then topped with a .030-inch


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Cartridge OE 1 1/2F OE 2F Jamison

80 grains 85 grains 85 grains “Factory load”

Walters’ veggie wad. While that might sound rather formal, our shooting was actually informal, shooting across a

VELOCITY/EXTREME SPREAD 1,418/31 1,519/53 1,524/26 1,265/34

benchrest at only 50 yards. Our shooting quickly showed that the rifle’s front sight was too low

and, consequently, our groups went a bit high. For chronographing data, we fired only five shots per load, so our test results might show a rather narrow view. No loads with powder charges greater than 85.0 grains were used. Olde Eynsford has slightly less density than some other black powders. The 85-grain charges completely filled the .50-95 cases, right to the top, even when the drop tube was used. That gives a clear picture of the amount of compression for the powder because the .030-inch wad plus about .33 inch of bullet had to be seated below the mouth of the case. It is also interesting to note that the velocity difference between the 85 grains of OE 1 1/2F and the 2F was only 5 feet per second, in favor of the 2F. THE RIFLE WAS CLEANED after each set of five shots, so the shooting with each loading began with a clean barrel. This rifle was, basically, a “just out of the box” Uberti, using the sights which came on the gun as well as the trigger pull set at the factory. The trigger pull was on the stiff side, especially to a shooter who feels more at home with set triggers. We tried loads of 75 and 80 grains with both of the Olde Eynsford powders, but only the 85-grain charges are shown here. Those were simply the best and, therefore, they are what we recommend. In general, the loads with the 85-grain powder charges seemed to make the rifle almost come alive, and those are the loads that should interest hunters the most. It was the 80- and 85-grain loading that gave the best groups. At the same time, we discussed changes to the sights which should improve the rifle’s accuracy all the way around. With some improvement to the sights, combined with the 85 grains of powder loadings, the .50-95 certainly becomes a serious contender for putting meat on the table. 

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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

TUMBLING UPWARD

Guntap serves the handloading community with innovative cleaning technologies and more. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS

A

merican Shooting Journal: What kinds of services and products do you provide the handloading community? Ray Toofan: When I first started guntap.com, it was a website dedicated to handloaders and firearms owners. I provided a full-featured web portal allowing users to store their handloading data, target practice data, firearms information, and access to a library full of firearms and handloading manuals, books, literature, and more. The website membership was offered free of charge and required a substantial amount of resources to maintain, so it wasn’t a viable longterm solution. Shortly thereafter, I started the retail side of guntap.com, which initially sold once-fired military brass cartridges, along with gift items made from the brass cartridges. The company has since grown to a manufacturing, distribution, and retail business that sells Stainless Steel Tumbling Media and Brass Shine Powdered Detergent as part of its own product line, and is also a major distributor of the EEZOX Premium Gun Care line of products, which is the highest quality firearms cleaner, lubricant, and rust preventative on the market.

Guntap’s Stainless Steel Tumbling Media remains the company’s most popular product.

ASJ: Why did you choose to service this specific part of the firearms industry? RT: My goal of servicing the firearms industry, specifically the handloading americanshootingjournal.com 153


COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Guntap founder Ray Toofan

segment, was to bring efficiency and productivity through technological innovation to an industry that is typically slow to adapt to new processes. Although the initial guntap.com web portal no longer exists, the efficiency and productivity I have brought to handloaders is through the promotion of Stainless Steel Tumbling Media and our Brass Shine detergent. These two products are truly revolutionary when it comes to cleaning ďŹ red brass cartridges. The old means of cleaning brass cartridges involved using a vibratory tumbler with a treated crushed walnut or corncob media for 12 to 24 hours. Although the result was a brass cartridge with a mirror shine on the outside, the inside was black, and more often than not, filled with pieces of media that were stuck in the primer pockets and flash holes. In addition to the stuck media, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also the dust created by the process, and the need to purchase more media as the 154

American Shooting Journal // November 2017


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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT walnut or corncob disintegrated. The new way of cleaning brass involves using a rotary tumbler with our Stainless Steel Tumbling Media, a small amount of our proprietary Brass Shine detergent, and some water, tumbled for one to three hours. This wet tumbling process burnishes the outside and inside of the cartridges so they look practically brand new without having to deal with stuck media. The stainless steel media lasts virtually forever and the cleanup involves the disposal of some dirty water. An additional step of drying the cartridges is only needed for those who prefer the bright brass aesthetics of the clean cartridge. If not dried, then the cartridge will tarnish to a light brown, but it does not affect the brass in any way. ASJ: What are some of your most popular products and why?

Guntap’s Brass Shine Powder Detergent comes in 1-pound packages.

RT: Our most popular product is our Stainless Steel Tumbling Media. The reason for this is simple: word of mouth. Once handloaders tell – and in many cases show – their fellow hobbyists the results of cleaning with stainless steel media, the difference is night and day. My customers have told me time and time again that they have either donated or thrown away their vibratory tumbler in favor of the rotary tumbler with stainless steel media. This can be verified by the hundreds of positive reviews we’ve received of our products on Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces. The second most popular product is our Brass Shine Powdered Detergent. Some people will try using a homemade concoction of dish soap and a water softener as their detergent, and even though the results may look decent, the chemistry is all wrong. There are many ingredients in dish soap that are not appropriate for cleaning brass. The chemistry behind Brass Shine is well suited for cleaning brass and other metals, with the added benefit of a defoamer to keep the foaming to a minimum. I have businesses that purchase our detergent in bulk to speed up their cleaning processes, obtain a consistent result, and reduce their costs. ASJ: Do you have any new products that you’d like to tell our readers about? RT: One product that I’ve been anxious to release is a new version of our Brass Shine detergent that is in tablet form instead of the current powder form. Although the powder works great for all my customers, the tablets will simply add another level of efficiency by quickly dosing the same amount of detergent each and every time. This will especially benefit my higher volume customers that are cleaning thousands of cartridges in a single batch. Instead of scooping

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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT the powder ten times, they can pull out ten tablets and toss them into their tumbler in just a few seconds. Assuming everything goes smoothly with research and development of the tablets, I hope to have it released in early 2018. Another product that is still in an early research and development phase is a tarnish inhibitor for clean brass cartridges. The chemistry behind the product, as well as a quick and simple application, is slightly more complicated. My hope is that through enough testing, I’ll be able to release a product that will help to eliminate the need to dry brass cartridges and keep them looking as bright and shiny as when they first come out of the tumbler.

The chemistry behind Brass Shine detergent is well suited for cleaning brass and other metals.

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ASJ: Please tell our readers anything else they should know about your company. RT: I believe the primary reason guntap.com has been growing year after year since I founded the company in 2013 has to do with our emphasis on customer service. I believe that our customers should receive a high-quality, Americanmade product that performs as advertised each and every time. I regularly take calls and respond to emails from customers who have questions using our products to ensure they’re getting the best result possible. Because of this, customer returns of our products are exceedingly rare and only occur a few times a year. I also want everyone to know that I’m always interested in hearing new ideas from those in the handloading and firearms community. Being a small business, I have more flexibility in making improvements to our existing products, or introducing new products to the market. The most innovative ideas come from individuals and I want to incorporate as many of those ideas into our products to benefit the entire community. 


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Am 11-2017 web