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Prepping For Elk Arming For Bear Gun Reviews

Kahr’s S9 Semiauto Accurate, Reliable The M3 ‘Grease Gun’ Also Inside

1877 J.P. Lower Sharps North Fork Cup Point Solids



Taking Aim


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American Shooting Journal // September 2017


SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 6 // Issue 11 // September 2017 PUBLISHER


Dick Openshaw


John Rusnak



Craig Hodgkins



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ON THE COVER Outdoor Channel co-host, hunter, conservationist and corporate ambassador Eva Shockey has added “author” to her long list of personal credits with the recent publication of Taking Aim: Daring to Be Different, Happier and Healthier in the Great Outdoors. (THOMAS CARLSON)

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017 11


VOLUME 6 • ISSUE 12 • August 2017


KAHR CRAFT Kahr’s hot new S9 semi-auto offers accuracy and reliability, and Dave Workman, who knows more than a thing or two about these things, spent a good deal of time testing the brand new striker-fired, polymer-framed, seven-rounder pistol on behalf of readers such as you.


BIG GUNS FOR BIG BEARS In the Land of the Midnight Sun, those who traverse the Last Frontier must choose to carry or not carry to better prepare themselves for a chance meeting with a local bear. To help all of us do just that, we encouraged writer Larry Case to attend a training course in Wasilla, Alaska, and share what he saw.


TRIPLE K’S TRIPLE THREAT Many companies talk about quality and value, and some deliver on that promise. But Triple K has been doing both for a growing list of satisfied customers for nearly 60 years. Writer Frank Jardim is one of those happy folks, and he waxes lyrical about the veteran leather and magazine purveyors.


ROAD HUNTER: STICK AND STRING FOR ELK Writer Scott Haugen is a man with a mission, and that singular assignment is to help everyone he can to be a better and more responsible hunter. This month, our man in the woods puts down his rifle and picks up his bow to offer early-season elk advice.

109 RELOADING: HOME BREW Many of our writers have dabbled or dove headfirst into reloading their own ammunition, and Dave Workman is no exception. This month, we asked him to share his acquired wisdom on rolling his own .45 Colt and .45 ACP loads for precision and practice.




In Taking Aim, which reached bookstores and other retailers late last month, Eva Shockey (with A.J. Gregory) has crafted a delightfully brisk volume that is part personal coming-of-age story, part parental primer, part cautionary tale, and all her own. Our colleague and fellow editor Chris Cocoles shares an interesting Q&A with the first-time author, preceded by an excerpt from the book.

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.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017


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Triggercon Returns! Bullet Bulletin: North Fork Cup Point Solids Black Powder: The J.P. Lower Sharps Breachloader 143 Company Spotlight: TBA Suppressors 147 Company Spotlight: Ulticlip

DEPARTMENTS 17 19 21 25


Editor’s Note Competition Calendar Gun Show Calendar Industry News: SCTP National Clay Target Team Champs

American Shooting Journal // September 2017



American Shooting Journal // September 2017



do a good amount of reading across a broad spectrum of topics and genres, but in my chosen line of work, reading can be an occupational hazard. No matter how far up our names appear on the masthead, few editors have veto power over everything they are asked to read or, more specifically, to occasionally transform into something readable. Some of the items that cross our virtual desks – nothing from our regular writers, of course – can hurt the eyes, even after we have worked a round or two of our red-pencil magic. So you can imagine that it with a sense of divine relief when we come across something that contains some surprises; one that draws you in, or

feels like a conversation. As you may have guessed from this issue’s cover, I experienced some of these things while reading Eva Shockey’s book, Taking Aim. It’s not that I had low expectations for it; far from it. I knew that she has a unique perspective to share, and I also knew A.J. Gregory (the name with the “with” on the cover) by reputation. Gregory has helped a fair number of high-profile people to tell their stories in recent years, and I looked forward to seeing what the two could bring to the coffee table, so to speak. In short, Taking Aim is a leisurely and conversational read told in an engaging voice, and it rings true. Sure, you can occasionally guess how some of it will turn out, for we have

the benefit of knowing what she now does for a living. But since I mentioned surprises a moment ago, let me offer one small example. I felt that she conveyed both the wonder and the intense frustration of spending a week in a deer blind with nothing tangible to show for it. There are plenty of outdoor adventures, of course, but I also enjoyed getting to know her family through her eyes. But I’ll let you be the judge; check out the short book excerpt that begins on page 59 and see what you think. -Craig Hodgkins

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September 7-10

September 15-17

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2017 Walther Arms Area 4 Championship Tulsa, Okla.

2017 Iowa Section Championship Elkhart, Iowa

2017 Freedom Gunworks Mississippi Limited State Championship Biloxi, Miss.

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2017 Carolina Classic sponsored by The Blue Bullets Salisbury, N.C.

2017 Oregon Open Section Championship White City, Ore.

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Atlas Gunworks 2017 USPSA Area 7 Championship Harvard, Mass.

Eastern Lakes Sectionals North Tonawanda, N.Y.

September 10

September 23

2017 Wisconsin Section Match Muskego, Wis.

Greater Yellowstone Section Roundup, Mont.

September 9-10

September 9-10

Sept. 30-Oct. 1

Wahsatch Ballistic Challenge XV Salt Lake City, Utah

Twin Tiers Regional Classic III Pine City, N.Y.

Badger State Regional Classic XI Milwaukee, Wis.

Sept. 26-Oct. 1 2017 CZ-USA Iron Sight Nationals Washington, Utah

September 2-3

September 16

September 16-17

Sept. 30-Oct. 1

2017 Northern Regionals Pittsfield, Pa.

Connecticut State Championship Bethany, Conn.

Kentucky State Championship Williamstown, Ky.

Montana State Championship Lewistown, Mont.

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South Pacific Regional Gold Dust Fever XVIII Turlock, Calif.

Michigan State Championship Elsie, Mich.

Louisiana State Championship DeRidder, La.

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Arizona State Championship Globe, Ariz.

North Central Regionals Maple Plain, Minn.

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017


SHOOTING TO THE TOP The varsity shooting team from Jacksonville University tops all competitors to claim the SCTP National Clay Target Team Championship … again. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


he collegiate shooting world was forced to take notice when Jacksonville University’s varsity shooting team morphed into a national powerhouse in just its first several years. Now, the Florida college’s team has pulled off a real stunner, and the word “dynasty” is beginning to come to mind. The team, up against the most elite competitors in the U.S., simply dominated at the recent 2017 Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) National Clay Target Team Championships ( The 11-member squad took command in all divisions, earning the HOA (high overall) national championship event titles in trap, trap doubles, skeet, skeet doubles and sporting clays. The team was the runner up in handicap trap and won the HOA collegiate national title for a third year in a row. That makes JU an 18-time national event champion since the program’s origins as a club in 2009. It only gained full varsity shooting team status in 2012. Head coach and team founder David Dobson credited the team’s success to the uniqueness of its model, where students on the team have full input into how the organization is run. The team has its own executive committee, which meets weekly and is made up of 11 members, setting rules, regulations, policies, discipline and more. “We want team members to

The Jacksonville University teams take the podium following their impressive wins. (PHILLIP MILANO)

learn about running the business, responsibility, accountability, teamwork, etc.; hence we are a mentor program,” he said. “If they have some skin in the game, and they are empowered to make decisions about their program with guidance from me, then they will take much better ownership producing superior results, as has been the case since inception in 2009.” ACADEMICS ALWAYS COME FIRST, and Dobson stresses it above all else. GPA requirements are monitored regularly, there are mandatory study hall hours in the library for those who fall below standards, and fellow team members volunteer to tutor those in need. “What this means for the team members, and JU students in general,

is that we have created a culture in which the students are fully vested in the results, regardless of outcome, and this makes them better members of society because it forces them to be held accountable for the results of their efforts, both academically and athletically,” said Dobson. At the nationals event in July, more than 2,300 athletes representing 29 states faced more than one million clay targets during the eight days of competition at the Cardinal Shooting Center in trap, skeet and sporting clays. JU team member Matt DeBord took the individual HOA National Champion titles in handicap trap & trap doubles, while Brett Ollila took RU national champion in sporting clays. Parker Woodring took third in 23

NEWS sporting clays and Joe DeYoung took third in skeet. Members of the Jacksonville University sporting clays, skeet & Trap Team competing at the July 8-15 nationals in Marengo, Ohio, were Matt DeBord, D’Ayn Sayre, Cassidy Pinto, Megan Birtalan, Sean Hensley, Benji Felder, Joseph DeYoung, Parker Woodring, Joe Byron, Palmer Szavuly and Brett Ollila. JU shooters selected for the U.S. Olympic Training Camp, being held this August in Arkansas, include Hensley, Ron Palazzetti, Hunter Tracey, Sayre, Kalie Jones and DeBord. Dobson said he is “deeply grateful” to the Jacksonville Gun Club for its support of the team since its beginnings. There are some 350 universities and colleges with clay sports (shotgun sports) shooting programs across the country, and these programs boast some of the highest GPA composites in the


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

A member of the Jacksonville squad in action during the competition. (PHILLIP MILANO)

collegiate world. The shooting sports are now the fastest-growing element in collegiate club/varsity sports. Editor’s note: For more information

about the Jacksonville University varsity shooting team, contact David Dobson at For more information about SCTP and SSSF, visit Story courtesy of Jacksonville University.



American Shooting Journal // September 2017


The event formerly known as the Northwest Shooting Sports Expo drew another large crowd of industry insiders and outdoor enthusiasts to downtown Tacoma, Washington from July 27 to 30.


his year’s edition of newly-renamed Triggercon included both a range day and industry day open only to media and industry attendees, with the final two days reserved for firearms enthusiasts. The event showcased the newest, most innovative companies and products in the tactical firearms industry. And with several of these coordinating major product launches during the show, there

was a decided buzz in the hall. Companies exhibiting their popular wares included Trijicon, Springfield Armory, SIG Sauer, Rainier Defense, Faxon Firearms, Xtreme Bullets, Deadfoot Arms, Rise Armament, IWI, Crimson Trace, Vortex Optics, FN America, Christensen Arms, Armaspec, Freedom Munitions, CMC Triggers, Noveske, Frog Lube, and dozens of others. 27



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New from Kahr is the 9mm S9093 strikerfired pistol.

KAHR CRAFT Kahr’s hot new S9 semiauto offers accuracy and reliability. STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE WORKMAN


ccuracy and reliability – two qualities that should be expected of any semiauto pistol, and certainly something I’ve come to expect from any handgun with the Kahr brand etched in the slide. Kahr’s newest 9mm introduction, unveiled at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta earlier this year, accomplishes both of those tasks and then some. The new S9093 is a striker-fired polymer-framed sevenrounder with a tough, contrasting stainless-steel slide and locking

breech design. It has a three-dot sight setup, weighs 15.8 ounces and comes with two magazines. According to Kahr, the S9 series includes two different models, the S9093 with a 3.6-inch barrel and the other with a 4.0-inch barrel. The longer gun is the ST9093 with an eight-round capacity. Both versions feature a full-length recoil spring guide rod. Barrels are cut with conventional rifling cut on a 1:10-inch righthand twist, and they lock up tight with the slide to punch some very good groups using both FMJ and hollowpoint ammunition. Admittedly, I did not have as

much time with this pistol as I would have liked, but it was enough to give me a good read on what the S9 is capable of, and it was enough to make me happy. IT’S A PISTOL THAT can easily be carried concealed in just about any environment outside of a nudist colony. There are more compact pistols, but at some point you have to face reality that a defensive sidearm must be large enough to fit the hand comfortably and contain enough cartridges to make for an adequate defense if necessary. Kahr designed this pistol with an external extractor that can double 31

as a loaded chamber indicator. The trigger stroke is smooth, and I had no problem at all staying on target at 12 yards out to 25 yards. In a pinch, I would not hesitate to use this pistol to pop a rabbit in the head for food, or take on something bigger if the threat was imminent and unavoidable. Because this pistol features a molded accessory rail at the front end of the frame, one can mount a laser or light for night work. The handgun is small enough to be carried in a pocket holster or one of those “deep cover” rigs that somebody also calls a “tuckable.” I never called it that when I did the original design of what became “The Workman” from Mitch Rosen, and I still knock one out occasionally via my own cottage company. Likewise, the S9 will tuck rather nicely in an ankle rig and thanks to its light weight, it is not going to be a

The top recorded muzzle velocity in author Dave Workman’s evaluation was 1,184 feet per second, achieved with Black Hills 124-grain JHPs. The polymer grip frame is textured on both sides, front and rear for a solid hold, even in wet conditions.

Kahr designed the S9093 with three-dot sights. The rear is drift-adjustable.

Kahr supplies two seven-round magazines with the S9093. They feature polymer followers and bases.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Assuring positive ejection, Kahr designed the S9093 with an ample ejection port and external extractor.

drag for covert carry. To my delight, Kahr designers did not include a magazine disconnect, an observation that may cause some grief among some shooters who raise safety issues. My response to that is simple: The ultimate reliable safety for

any firearm is found between your ears. Never rely on some mechanical device to substitute for good sense. For my abbreviated test, I used three popular loads, the 124-grain Black Hills JHP, the 115-grain American Eagle Syntech TSJ and

Typical target produced by the S9 at 12 yards, moderately rapid fire. This one was produced using the Sig Sauer 115-grain FMJ load.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

the 115-grain Sig Sauer FMJ. All three are good rounds, with easily manageable recoil even in this lightweight pistol, and as one can see from the accompanying images, they go where the gun is aimed. I got the highest velocity from the Black Hills loads, averaging

This group was produced using American Eagle Syntech ammunition, which is primarily for range use. 35

Workman cut loose at 15 yards to blast this target to shreds.

1,146 feet per second. Trailing just slightly were the Sig FMJs at 1,137 fps and the Syntech came in third at 1,062 fps. My chronograph was set 20 inches ahead of the muzzle. I WAS FAVORABLY impressed with how


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Field stripping the Kahr S9 is pretty simple, and the components come apart easily for cleaning.

the slide cycled without too much strain, but I will say that loading those magazines by hand can put a strain on the thumb! With their polymer followers, ammunition comes up in line with the feed ramp and a short slide into the chamber.

I did not experience a single failure to feed or eject, and spent cases were tossed clear of the ejection port by several feet. Kahr supplies a clever little trigger lock with each pistol. It consists of two small contoured

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SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer: Model: Caliber: Action: Capacity: Barrel: Slide: Frame: Weight: Sights: Overall length: MSRP:

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pieces of plastic or polymer through which a small steel rod slides. It is then secured by a small padlock, which is supplied with the pistol. Two keys come with the lock. It may seem simple, but the design will almost certainly defeat prying little fingers. One thing I can’t figure out is the decision to put cocking serrations front and rear. With a pistol this size,


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

that seems a bit like overkill, but I’m willing to overlook it because the S9 is so reliable. Takedown is easy. After removing the magazine and making sure the chamber is clear, press the slide rearward until the slide stop lines up with a notch on the left side. Press the slide stop out to the left, press the trigger with the pistol pointed in a safe direction, and the

slide comes right off. Anybody who has ever cleaned a Kahr pistol knows how easy that is, especially with the advent of aerosol cleaners. A good spray followed by a quick brushing of the barrel and a good wipe with clean patches puts the pistol back at peak performance, and I’ve never seen one of these pistols that requires more than a few drops of oil 39

Kahr’s S9 series features a full-length recoil spring guide rod. Notice the front cocking serrations.

Kahr provides a simple trigger locking setup with each pistol. It works very well.

applied judiciously to assure trigger and slide lubrication. With an MSRP of $477.00, the Kahr S9 seems a very good choice


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

for anyone looking for a compact 9mm pistol that delivers a punch, carries effortlessly and fits even small hands. It’s an easy pistol to

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017


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This Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454 Casull, here in a Diamond D holster, is one of many effective firearms in bear country.



American Shooting Journal // September 2017

In the Land of the Midnight Sun, those who traverse the Last Frontier must choose to carry or not carry, and they must choose wisely. STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE




s I coast into what may be my sunset years, I have come to realize there are two kinds of people in this world. Some of us believe there are things out there that will hurt or kill you, and there are some who do not. A few of the things pretty high on my list include a summer lightning storm, a poisonous snake, a crazed terrorist and an 800-pound bear. People on the other side of the aisle from me on this topic seem even more convinced that nothing in the animal kingdom would really cause them any harm. I beg to dier. This summer, I spent a week with some folks from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), United States Geological Survey (USGS), Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), and others. The purpose of this visit was to attend a class with those who work in that wild, beautiful part of our country known as Alaska to better protect themselves with firearms, primarily against bears. The class was held at the Grouse Ridge gun range near Wasilla, Alaska, outside Anchorage. Alaska is popularly known as the Last Frontier, and deservedly so. It has a lot of wild country and, not coincidentally, a lot of bears. In all honesty, when people and bears meet up, it is not all sunshine and roses. The folks who created this class spend a good deal of time working in some of the most remote country on earth, and they know that a possible encounter with a black or brown bear is always part of the bargain. As I see it, it all comes down to this. Hunters, hikers, ďŹ shermen and 45

In Alaska, all roads lead to wilderness.

anyone who works or plays in bear country has a decision to make, and it is much more important than “paper or plastic.” Are you going to carry a firearm, or not? Alternative “bear deterrent” in the form of pepper spray is also widely available, and the controversy of which is most effective – bear spray or firearms – remains alive and well. The group of Alaskans that I spent time with this summer landed decidedly on the side of firearms over bear spray. Some carry both, but they definitely want a gun available. As usually occurs in the gun world, if we decide we need a gun for some task, the question always arises. Which gun is best? Here are a few notes based on what I saw and learned on the firing line at the bear defense class in Wasilla. “THE 12-GAUGE PUMP shotgun has been the choice of most people for bear defense in Alaska for some time,” said Steve Nelson of Anchorage. Nelson has been teaching bear defense classes since 1978, when a USGS coworker was severely mauled by a black bear. 46

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

If you visit the wilds of Alaska, odds are very good you will see a bear. 47

“There are many reasons for the shotgun’s popularity. Shotguns and shotgun ammo are widely available, are generally less expensive than rifles, have magazines capable of holding several rounds, and with slugs they will deliver a big, heavy projectile,” he said. The Remington 870 outnumbered other shotguns in this bear defense class, specifically a tactical version with ghost ring-type sights. This is a quickhandling shotgun that holds seven rounds and delivers the 870’s rock solid dependability. The Mosseberg Scorpion, built on Mossberg’s tried-and-true Model 500 action was also present, and this weapon has a lot of goodies to turn heads. An ATI-brand adjustable stock, along with sidesaddle ammo carrier, heat shield, and rails to install sights and other accessories could make this a very handy bear defense gun. Also seen on the firing line in this class were two shotguns in the Winchester Defender SXP line, one the Dark Earth model, the other the Marine Defender. A Benelli Nova

Shooters on the firing line of the bear defense class.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Sam Naramore, author Larry Case and bear defense instructor Steve Nelson on the shooting range.

pump gun was also used, and one thing is for sure: Benelli shooters are very loyal to this shotgun. EVEN THOUGH SMOOTHBORES came out ahead numerically on the firing line, alternate methods of bullet delivery were also well represented. “Shotguns are very popular for bear defense, but I am more of a rifle guy,” said Nelson.

He has hunted big game all over the world, and in Alaska for most of his adult life. He prefers big calibers for bear work. “Although I recommend anything .30-06 and up, I sometimes carry a .375 H&H or something in that category” he said. The Ruger Guide Gun in .375 Ruger got high marks from those in this class, as well as the Mossberg am a ame me m eric riiccan ans a nsssho n hoo h ho oo o ottin tiin ing gjo gj jou jo urn ur r al. co com o 49 4

Patriot in the same caliber. The CZ-USA turned a lot of students’ heads too, as it is capable of holding six rounds of .375 H&H, a definite advantage if you are going to face a bad-tempered grizzer bear. Many Alaskans who live and work in bear country sometimes want a handgun for ease of carry. There is always a trade-off, and the one involved with handguns is finding something powerful enough to take down big bears. Having said that, Alaskan guide Phil Shoemaker told us that he used a 9mm pistol to down a large brown bear in Alaska last summer. The bear charged him and the fishing party he was guiding in dense brush. Some would say this makes a case for using smaller handgun calibers for bear protection, but I would argue that few of us have the experience with brown bears that Phil Shoemaker has. He’s been guiding in these parts for more than 30 years, so unless you are Phil Shoemaker or his equivalent, I would

Alaska Project shotguns (left to right): Remington 870 Tac, Remington 870 Tactical, 870 Marine Magnum, Winchester SXP Defender, Winchester SXP Defender Marine and Remington Versamax.

Big bear medicine: Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan (left) and the Taurus Raging Bull, both in .454 Casull.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Rifles used in the class include: (front) CZ-USA Safari Magnum in .375 H&H, (middle) Mossberg Patriot in .375 Ruger and (rear) Ruger Guide Gun in .375 Ruger.




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Mike Harrington of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (left) and Sean Naramore of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources check out Federal Premium shotgun ammo.

go bigger than the 9mm. “Large” calibers usually means revolvers, and the most-carried weapon I saw was the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan model in .454 Casull. Now, there is no doubt that the .454 is a brute, but the point

is with this round is, if you are proficient enough to hit something with it, you may very well put it down. Some shooters may want to go down a notch to the .44 Magnum, and the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan model also comes in this

Nelson was on the nose with this Ruger Guide Gun in .375 Ruger.

Naramore counts hits. The gun is a Taurus Raging Bull in .454 Casull, and the holster is by Diamond D.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

caliber. The Taurus Raging Bull revolver in .454 was also on the firing line in this class. While the 6½-inch barrel model is a handful, it seemed to handle the .454 Casull rounds well. THE BEST AMMO in the world may not 53

bring down your aggressor, whether it is of the ursine family or human, but it will certainly help. For the shotgun, this class fired dozens of rounds of Federal Premium shotgun slugs, and I saw no problems with this ammo. They functioned every time. Some of the Alaskans in the class carry Brenneke slugs for confrontations with bears. A new star on the horizon for slugs is the DDupleks-USA Steelhead solid-steel shotgun slug. This slug should allow for maximum penetration, and the testing done at this class showed the slugs shot through heavy brush with no deflection. You will be hearing more about DDupleks-USA slugs. Hornady rifle ammo received major kudos at this class for the Dangerous Game Series ammunition in both .375 Ruger and .375 H&H. Federal Premium in the .454 Casull was used on the firing line, as well as a lot .45 Colt in the .454 guns. So what is the bottom line? OK, I know what you are thinking: Which gun of each type, shotgun, rifle, and handgun came out on top? I prefer to avoid comparisons like these because there are so many variables involved (including shooter’s preference), but since you are pressing me, here goes. For the shotgun, the Remington 870 Tactical model came in first with the Mossberg Scorpion way up in the running. The Ruger Guide Gun was first in the rifle category and the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan model got the blue ribbon for the handgun. So there it is. I hope you are happy. In conclusion, I will tell you something that most of you already know. There is a world of advice out there about what is gun is best for you for everything from shooting bad guys to prairie dogs. And when it is all over, and the plump lady has sung her song, the best gun for bear defense for you personally is the one you shoot the best, period. The people who believe in unicorns and Sasquatch – you know, the ones who think no bear would ever hurt you – may not agree with all this, but I certainly do.  54

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Winchester’s SXP Dark Earth Defender.

A Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Model in .454 Casull with a Diamond D Holster (left), and a Taurus Raging Bull in .454 Casull with a Galco Holster. 55

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017



EVA SHOCKEY’S NEW BOOK CHRONICLES A TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO ALASKA AFTER A BRUSH WITH DEATH Editor’s note: Eva Shockey had hunted in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before, an experience she would not soon forget. During a 2011 deer hunt on Atka Island. Shockey, her guide and another hunter were riding in an ATV over some treacherous terrain. While climbing a steep incline, the ATV suddenly thrust backward back down the hill, smashing into the other vehicle that was with them and then slipping off a cliff and falling 30 feet below. “I close my eyes, duck my head into my lap, and pray,” Shockey, 29, writes in her new book, Taking Aim, which was released late last month. Nobody was seriously injured, but it was the kind of harrowing incident that would shake even the heartiest adventurer like Shockey, whose TV hunts with her dad, Jim Shockey, have been chronicled throughout North America and beyond. Eva still gets a rush from hunting the globe, and she made a triumphant return to the Aleutians as described in the book. The following excerpt is reprinted from Taking Aim: Daring to Be Different, Happier, and Healthier in the Great Outdoors, copyright 2017 by Eva Shockey. It is published by Convergent, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. To order, go to



n spring 2013, I caught Dan Goodenow, my boss for about two years now, at just the right moment. He was in the process of booking hunts, and I noticed he had an opening in August – a reindeer hunt on the Aleutian Islands. “How about scheduling me in?” I offered with a sugary-sweet smile. “And here’s a great idea. How about we do something different and turn it into an all-girls hunting trip?” Dan’s stony face perked up. “Now, that’s a thought. But are you sure you want to go back there?” “Are you kidding? It’s time to finish what we started.” For this trip, I brought along my friend Rachelle, a tall blonde from West Virginia who can disarm anyone with her sweet and sincere personality. Her dad, an avid hunter, died of cancer when she was only 7, so she never got the chance to hunt with him. Rather, Rachelle started hunting when she met her husband, an outfitter, and she immediately fell in love with the lifestyle. I also invited Taylor, a young woman with an infectious personality and

Eva Shockey (far right) enjoyed a successful “all-girls hunting trip” on Umnak Island in the Aleutians, one of many adventures the TV personality shares in her new w book, Taking Aim. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)

gorgeous curly hair. I met her at a precision-shooting class years back. Though her dad was a client of ours and hunted all over the world, she was fairly new to the lifestyle. The three of us (arrived in) the village of Nikolski, population 18, on the island of Umnak, the third largest island in the Aleutian archipelago. From the start of the trip, the vibe was way different from that of my excursion two years earlier. There’s a 59

SHOOTERS SHELF stark contrast between hunting with an all-male crew and hunting with your girlfriends. Oh, we were just as serious and hard-core when we needed to be, but when we didn’t, there was a lot more laughing involved. Needless to say, the entire trip was a blast, even though we battled a nonstop wind that made the otherwise 40-somethingdegree weather feel freezing. A two-hour, bumpy-as-expected ride on two ATVs brought us to some gently sloping valleys and grassy rolling hills. I’ll admit, hopping back into the same type of ATV I had crashed in two years earlier brought about the beginnings of a panic attack. I had to talk myself down hysteria lane while we jostled along. It sure helped, though, that, while some of the hills were steep, they were moguls compared to the ones on Atka. When we made our way into reindeer territory, the scenic picture took my breath away. Broad valleys spread out in a blanket of lush ferns. Tall grass swayed rhythmically in the wind. In the distance, snow-capped mountains, one an active volcano, stood guard over the land below. And feeding on alpine moss and tall grass,

hundreds upon hundreds of reindeer gathered, their large, smooth, white antlers glinting in the summer sun. On foot, the three of us, along with the guide, crept quietly through the valley, crouched low. Rachelle hunted first. After crawling on hands and knees to get closer to the animals we’d seen, then glassing to find a bull, we noticed huge antlers in the distance, unmoving and low to the ground. Likely a napping bull, about 500 yards away. As we closed the distance to 200 yards, we saw that we were right. We inched even closer. Finally, the bull stood up. When he turned broadside, Rachelle took the shot, harvesting her first reindeer. Two days later, Taylor and I harvested mature bulls within 100 yards of each other on a marshy hillside, with Rachelle there to share the excitement. Our girls’ expedition ended on a high note. For the first time, I discovered the unique camaraderie that can unfold with other women in an otherwise male-dominated field. This marked a turning point in my life. I wanted to proclaim to the world that it was great to be a female hunter, that we weren’t alone, and that there must be many others like us out there.

Eva’s dad Jim Shockey (right), one of the most respected hunters in the world, helped her realize that the wilderness of Alaska and other destinations was where she had to be. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Shockey doesn’t shy away from embarking on challenging hunts, and after her near-death experience the previous time she hunted in Alaska, she vowed to go back and do it right. (MATT ZINIEL)

It’s amazing what happens when we face our fears head-on. Opportunities open up. Doors swing open. We find ourselves doing wonderful things that we would have missed had we submitted to our fears. I often think of those experiences in my life that never would have happened had I given up somewhere along the way. If the Atka accident had scared me enough to quit hunting back in 2011, I never would have traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, a year later, to the hunting expo where I met my future husband. I never would have seen the Northern Lights shining brightly above our campfire in the Yukon. I never would have ventured to New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, and France to hunt some of the most magnificent animals on earth. I never would have embraced the possibilities that streamed under the surface of the unknown, waiting to push through and enter the realm of existence.  Editor’s note: Follow Eva Shockey ( on Twitter and Instagram (both @evashockey) and like at 61




e chatted with hunter Eva Shockey about her harrowing ATV accident during her previous trip to the Aleutians, how her famous hunting father Jim helped her back into the outdoor world and serving harvested moose at her wedding to hubbie and hockey player Tim Brent. Chris Cocoles You’ve had two rather memorable trips to the Aleutians but for different reasons and you talk at length in the book about your ATV accident. How did that brush with serious injury or even death affect you? Eva Shockey It was definitely one of those moments where I think it was a turning point; I could have gone two different directions very easily. I could have been scared of what happened, because it was the closest to death that I’ve ever experienced. It was shocking and scary and something that was caused by following my passions and doing something I loved, and it resulted in the experience of almost dying and falling off a cliff [laughs]. That was the time in my life when I had to stop and think, and I could have backed off from hunting and said, “You know what, maybe I’m not meant to do this and I could have easily died. I could go back to dancing and the things that are safe and in my comfort zone.” Or I could have said, “This is something I have to deal with and I need to be as careful as I possibly can and feel safe. But if I don’t follow the things I love, my life won’t be full. It won’t 62

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

This Yukon Territory moose was not only one of the most exciting hunts of Eva Shockey’s life, but she and her husband Tim Brent served some of this bull’s meat at their 2015 wedding. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)

have the meaning that it would have if I followed my passion and heart and do what I was meant to do.” The latter is what I ended up choosing. If I walked away that day and said, “OK, I’m going to go back and dance and move back to the city to do what I was doing before,” I would have always regretted it and what if I wouldn’t have kept hunting? And I’m so glad I did. CC Readers of the book will get a detailed description of what happened on that ATV. Can you give us a quick recap of what was going through your mind when this was happening? ES That whole day riding on that ATV, I just remember feeling a little bit uncomfortable, like something isn’t right here in my gut; I didn’t really know how to put it into words. I wasn’t really sure if it was me being cautious or if it was really something to be concerned about. The whole day I kept thinking, “I don’t feel comfortable with this but the guy who was driving must know what he’s doing. He’s been doing it for a long time.” And I remember going up that hill saying, “He’s got this. He’s got this. He can handle this.” And then the

second he slammed on the gas when we were losing traction, I realized that we were not in control. Then I was thinking, “He does not have this. He does not have this.” It was almost a guilty feeling that I knew this (would happen) from the moment we started. CC You called your mom (Louise) in tears right after you realized you were OK. But what role did she and your dad play in realizing you still wanted to continue chasing adventure in the outdoors? ES My dad was away and on a hunt somewhere himself. But when I got back home I did sit down with my dad, and it was a conversation when I had to choose to do what I wanted to do. My mom, not being a hunter and being protective of me, she was definitely on board with it if I would have walked away that day and stopped hunting; she would have been very happy with that. She would have had a lot less stress in her life [laughs]. But at the same time she supported whatever I chose. And my dad, just to make my mom’s life easier, he probably would have been fine with that too. He knew I was stubborn and a little strongheaded, and if he would have said that 63

SHOOTERS SHELF I should stop hunting or you should keep hunting, he knew I would have eventually held it over his head. He knows me well enough that I have to make my own decisions. But he walked me through the scenario, and it stuck with me that if I had walked away that day knowing that hunting was a big part of me and a part of what I love – it’s in my soul being out there. CC When you went back to the Aleutians for the reindeer hunt, were you hesitant at all about going back to an area where you suffered such a major scare and maybe had to get back on an ATV again? ES I don’t remember being apprehensive. I wanted to go back and felt like I need to go back and finish this hunt that I started the first time. Basically I just needed some closure. I never got to show myself that I can do this and I’m not scared of it. The only (nervous) feeling I remember having is it was the first time since I fell off the hill that I’d been back on that type of ATV. And I got back on the exact same (type of) vehicle that we rolled off, and that was a little bit nervewracking. Still to this day, if I’m on a hill, even in a truck or anything, and we’re going backwards and someone goes a little fast (I get a bit nervous). My husband’s used to this one hill on his parents’ driveway that you back up quite quickly down. And every time it happens my stomach just goes right into my throat, because I get that same feeling of falling down the mountain [laughs]. But I was just happy to be back (in the Aleutians). It reaffirmed that I made the right decision and didn’t walk away from it. CC I would guess you haven’t ridden a lot of backwards roller coasters since then? ES [Laughs] I’m definitely a little more cautious on steep hills or side hills. I’m sure there have been a million situations where I said, “I don’t feel comfortable with this,” and people are looking at me like, “Uh, this isn’t even anything really serious.” It’s been a little bit of an issue. 64

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

We drive Argos, and they are the most capable off-road vehicles of any. And I know there are a lot of times where I’m thinking, “Oh, this could flip.” And my dad will say, “We’re basically on flat ground” [laughs]. CC Tell me about the Alaskan hunting experience. It can be a magical place, right? ES It really is. It’s a place where the pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s kind of like the Yukon [Shockey, a Canadian, is from Vancouver Island in British Columbia]. You just don’t get the feeling of it until you’re there – when you’re smelling it and feeling the damp air and seeing the eagles fly by in front of your face. It’s just something where the hunt itself is cool and the animals are amazing. But I love the trip, because the minute you leave your front door until the minute you walk back through your front door, it’s an adventure. You’re kind of at the will of Mother Nature and it depends on what she feels like doing. And you really just can’t plan for a lot of it. The beauty up there is something that I can’t describe. I wish that everybody could get up there and see with their own eyes and smell it with their own noses. You can’t imagine it until you see it for yourself. When you’re in Alaska, there’s so much going on around you. You definitely don’t have to be a hunter to like it. CC Do you plan to or want to go back and hunt in Alaska again? ES I don’t have anything scheduled but I definitely want to. My husband has never been to Alaska and he’s a big hunter, but in the next few years we would love to get up there. Hopefully we’ll go hunting for moose or bear. I’ve always wanted to go to Kodiak Island and I’ve heard so wonderful things about it. There’s so many things that we want to do, so we’re going to have to make sure that one happens. CC You and Tim spent some time

“You just don’t get the feeling of it until you’re there – when you’re smelling it and feeling the damp air and seeing the eagles fly by in front of your face,” Shockey says of experiencing her hunt in Alaska. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)

in Russia (when he played in the country’s Kontinental Hockey League). Did you get to hunt there, and considering how much Russia is in the news these days, what was that experience like? ES I never got to hunt there. My dad’s hunted there a couple times while we lived there, but I was so busy and had a similar travel schedule. I would have liked to hunt there, but it was pretty cold and I kept thinking if really wanted to bear those elements [laughs]. (Living there) was an experience that we would never take back. I wouldn’t say we loved living there, per se, because it was so different from anything we were used to. But we loved the appreciation for what we have and how spoiled we are here in North America [Eva, Tim and Leni now live in North Carolina]. The Russian lifestyle is a lot different, but it really makes you stop and appreciate each other. We [Eva and Tim] were inside a lot and at first we were dating and then we were engaged. I said we were either going to get married after this or not be a couple, but it was an incredible thing for us to do as far as Tim’s job. It’s something that set us up for the future. We met a lot of cool people and we probably never would have done it after we had Leni. CC OK, I have to know about successfully hunting that moose in the Yukon Territory and serving it at yours and Tim’s wedding. ES It’s funny, because a lot of people 65

SHOOTERS SHELF have assumed and told us that our wedding must have had all hunters and it must have been really redneck/ country. But the truth is, Tim and I both love hunting, and my dad, obviously, loves hunting. But my husband’s family doesn’t hunt and he started hunting in his 20s. And I would say 90 percent of the people we grew up with are not hunters. So we only had one little table at our wedding of people who were hunters. We had a really small wedding and kept it to our close family and friends. So everyone else at our wedding had never eaten wild game, and for some it was a little bizarre and they were just kind of OK with eating moose I hunted at our wedding. Even my now motherin-law said, “I don’t know about this.” But it ended up being incredible. The caterer has a hunting show in England that’s field to table, so it’s incredible that we found him. The amount of appreciation that you feel for that


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Eva (here eight months pregnant with hers and Tim’s daughter Leni) hopes to get back to Alaska, and with Tim for what would be his first trip. “I’ve always wanted to go to Kodiak Island,” she says. “So we’re going to have to make that one happens.” (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)

animal, an animal that we worked so hard for and it was so much beyond just that we went hunting for it. You look at it and say how much that I appreciated this moose to feed all these

people at my wedding. And because moose are so huge we were able to eat it for the whole year. It really makes you thankful for being a hunter. It meant a lot to us. 



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riple K brand gun leather first appeared on the market in 1969. It quickly earned a reputation for quality and value pricing, and has maintained that reputation for the last 58 years while many competitors came and went. Company president Kurt Krasne represents the fourth generation to run this family

business that grew and evolved out of the military surplus store his greatgrandfather and grandfather began in 1946. They laid the foundation of success with a simple formula that is followed to this day. Krasne makes no secret of it either. He’ll look you in the eye and tell you, “Make the products your customers want of high quality and charge them a reasonable price because when a

Triple K’s leather Space Cowboy rig (shown here holding a scoped Ruger pistol) remains a popular item for the veteran manufacturer.

customer feels they’ve gotten more than their money’s worth, they keep coming back.” Quality products at reasonable prices resulting in repeat customers? Just call it the Triple K “Triple Threat.” In a world of plastic and nylon, Triple K is the market leader in leather accoutrements for the sportsman. They start with 95percent American vegetable-tanned 71

leather hides coming into the factory where they are inspected, laid out, die-cut on pneumatic presses, dyed, and sewn into holsters, belts, slings, saddlebags, cartridge belts, ammo pouches, shooting bags, rifle scabbards, handcuff cases, K-9 dog leashes, baton carriers and dozens of other products. They started making cowboy gun belts and holsters at the height of the Western genre’s popularity and gradually expanded the line to meet the needs of civilian sport shooters, police officers and concealed carry permit holders. They finish their leather in walnut oil (brown), tan, plain (natural), and black, and in plain surface, basket weave pattern or hand-carved floral. AS WELL KNOWN AS THEY ARE, Triple K’s leather goods were actually their second major product line. Kurt’s father, Jerry Krasne, actually began the company to manufacture magazines, and today they stock over 1,100 different types, from the rare to the common. There are quite a few for pistols in excess of a century old. Jerry also wrote The Triple K Encyclopedia & Reference Guide For Auto Loading Guns, now in its 16th edition, and the book remains a key reference guide for collectors. It is astonishing to realize that, while paging through the volume, Triple K makes magazines for virtually every pistol and rifle in it. With the exception of some military surplus, nearly all magazines are made in-house. Today, when the cost of an original magazine tops the $100 mark, it becomes a good candidate for reproduction. This year Triple K added three new models: Browning BDM 9mm pistol, TOZ-22 .22 LR Russian military training rifle and the X51 Unique .22LR bolt action rifle, each with an average retail of $44. When you look at the average of all their newly made magazines, it’s closer to $39 each. Recently, Kurt bought Vintage 72

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

The company’s No. 114 holster for a Colt 1911.

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Vintage Gun Grip products listed alphabetically, and the list continues to grow. EACH YEAR, TRIPLE K receives a request for some rare or odd-ball grip and begins the often exhausting pursuit of an original from which a silicon master mold is crafted to perfectly reproduce its details. The time and materials in the mold making alone will amount to hundreds of dollars. Then each set of grips is hand poured and finished, a process that takes about one hour. The customer’s cost averages about $34 a pair, and if you need screw hardware they make that too for between $5 and $16. The prices are low because Triple K isn’t looking to make back all their costs on the first casting. This is a value-oriented company, with a multi-generational outlook on profit. I don’t need to tell you that there aren’t too many businesses like that anymore. Some products, such as their No. 114 Cheyenne western holster for the classic Hollywood drop-style gun belt, have been in continuous production since the company began. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be updated. Triple K got so many requests for this cowboy holster style modeled to fit the 1911 pistol that they added one to the line, along with a double magazine pouch to slip over the standardwidth drop belt. Handgun hunters wanted a chest harness to securely and comfortably carry their heavy-scoped revolvers afield in front of them at the ready, but out of the way when riding, driving or moving through the terrain. Triple K listened, and developed the Big Thunder Torso Rig (No. 474) to meet that need. Along with it, they created a new holster for those massive scoped revolvers called the Space Cowboy (No. 485). So unique in design it has a science fiction quality to it, it secures the handgun in an open edged holster with a strong internal spring that is similar in functionality to an old-fashioned 74

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

A classic look for a classic pistol, Triple K’s No. 17 flap holster in Walnut sports a Colt logo.

ertical shoulder holster (like the vertical Bianchi X15), but backwards so the cope protrudes through the open scope art. A snap-in-place retaining strap part. onventionally conventionally mounted across the ammer ensures the gun won’t work hammer itss way out of the spring’s grip until ou want to draw it. The holster can you bee used on any gun belt, including heir cowboy drop belts. Triple K their so started offering their gun belts also ith .50 caliber cartridge loops with with he handgun hunter in mind. the To accommodate the new umi t d Hi Vi pistol i l sights i h that illuminated Hi-Viz are gaining in popularity among recreational shooters with older eyes, they designed the Hi-Viz Sight Holster (No. 754) with an elegantly sewn front channel to accommodate the somewhat bulky rear-mounted sight. Currently they make it for Ruger .22 autoloaders, Browning Buckmarks and the new S&W Victory, but more are on the way. Triple K doesn’t just look forward with leather product development. They make a 19th century-style Howda pistol holster (No. 1514)

that would be well received by any Indian elephant handler on safari, a flap holster (No. 17) for the M1903 and M1908 Colt pocket autoloader, and they’re about to introduce a reproduction of the U.S. military M6 shoulder holster (No. 251) that was a mainstay from WWII until the Beretta M9 replaced the M1911. They now have a license to use Colt’s logo and offer the latter two holsters, and others, embossed with it. TO MY ETERNAL AMAZEMENT, Triple K continues to make 75

innovative new and historic products for the old school, leather loving, shooter; products that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Worthy of note are their beautiful and huge Cavalry Saddlebags (No. 6034), Splinter Barrel Guard (No. 126) which is an internal spring-secured heat shield for double-barrel shotguns, a Turkey Fowl Shell Holder (No. 583) belt pouch for 3½-inch shells (or anything really); a universal Shotgun/ Rifle Sling (No. 285) perfect for your Sharps or any other long gun without sling swivel; lace on, padded cheek pieces (Nos. 15029-15031) for long guns in three different heights to adjust the comb to your tastes; and the Adjustable Rifle Scabbard (No. 117), which in this writer’s opinion, remains the finest and most versatile rifle scabbard on the planet. A quality rifle deserves a quality scabbard. Add the Convertible Scabbard Hood (No. 119) and you can turn it into a carrying case, too. For those who want an alligator skin holster for their M1911 or other


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

medium frame auto (and who in their heart of hearts doesn’t?) Triple K’s Lucky Gator (No. 777) is the best deal I have ever found. MSRP is $189, about half of the going rate for gator skin holsters, and it has a draw shield extension on the body side to help keep the hammer from getting caught up in your shirt. I’ve mentioned a lot of their more unique products, but what Triple K is probably best known for are their various, extremely practical and value-priced, well-designed holsters for use afield, in concealed carry or by law enforcement. A policeman friend of mine who used a Triple K holster described it as the holster for people who are willing to spend whatever was required for quality, but not one penny for a showy name. Most Triple K products are American made. All of their leather products and nearly all their magazines and grips are made in

The No. 754 Hi-Viz Sight Holster with an elegant sewn front channel accommodates the rear mounted sight. 77

their 43,000-square-foot factory in San Diego, California. However, Triple K doesn’t do their own plastic thermoforming, so they began importing quality Italian-made Ghost Tactical products to meet demands of their civilian and law enforcement customers. Widely used in Europe, these innovative holsters offer extreme durability and excellent retention and protection characteristics, but at a price point significantly lower than comparable American products. For example, their G4 Civilian is a slim minimalist concealment holster for large frame autos with an MSRP of $52. Though Krasne prefers to keep jobs in the U.S., the foreignmade products were the result of consumer demand, not his personal preference. In some cases the foreign-made products were unquestionably superior, as well as less expensive. This was the case with their ESP (Euro Security Product) extendable rigid batons. Triple K is the exclusive distributor


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

of this versatile tool that can be adapted with interchangeable heads to serve as a flashlight (No. 371), inspection mirror (No. 375), shovel (No. 349), axe (No. 346), crowbar (No. 348), bolt cutter (No. 857), and a few other things. Triple K also carries the ESP polycarbonate riot shield (No. 393 and No. 394) and based its unparalleled defensive characteristics to absorb the impact of everything from rocks to shotgun blasts. Check it out on YouTube. If Triple K imports it, it’s not for a quick buck and a bigger profit margin. It’s because the product is great and a great value. Another example of this is their textile handcuffs (Nos. 354 and 355), which are both easier to carry than zip tie cuffs and far more effective.  To find out more about their diverse product lines with sporting, selfdefense, police and survivalist applications, visit or give them a call at (619) 232-2066.

The No. 474 Big Thunder Torso Rig is another leather product that is in consistent demand. 79



American Shooting Journal // September 2017



Our man in the woods puts down his rifle and picks up his bow to offer early-season elk advice.



or many of us, this September could be one of the most challenging archery elk seasons in years. Severe winter weather throughout the Western states decimated elk herds in many areas. One place I hunt in Wyoming reported a 60-percent die-off. In another area across the border in Idaho, it’s believed that over 80 percent of the herd was lost. There are stories like this throughout the West, meaning elk hunters could have their

Most hunters working September’s rut focus on either end of daylight, but midday calling can be a very effective way to get elk talking, and bring an eager bull within bow range.

work cut out for them this season. In recent months I’ve spoken with biologists, wildlife officials and guides in multiple states, and many shared a common feeling that the die-off occurred in pockets. While elk in one drainage may have been decimated, those in the next may have gone unscathed. However, some areas were hit hard, on a large scale. One outfitter I was looking to hunt with in Idaho said there was such a big die-off that he cancelled all his hunts and doubts it will ever recover to what it was.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TIME to scout this summer, make some calls to regional biologists prior to heading afield. Learn all you can about winterkills and migrations as they pertain to your hunting area. Don’t just hunt an area because you’ve always hunted it, since the elk may not be there. If hunting resident elk, make certain the herds survived in the specific area you like to hunt. As I mentioned above, even if a herd survived 10 miles away from where you usually hunt, don’t assume the elk 83

ROAD HUNTER made it in your drainage. If you’re not finding elk in the usual places after the season opens, consider moving locations. Look for fresh rubs and wallows, and check trails for fresh tracks and droppings. If the signs are not there, move on, no matter how inconvenient it may be. It’s better to waste a day relocating to a new area than it is hunting in an area void of elk. If targeting migratory elk, find out how late the snowmelt occurred in the calving and summering grounds. In many areas, the snow was so deep until mid-July that the elk couldn’t reach their summer range. This could cause a shift in their annual movements, as they may have relocated to a different area than in year’s past. As with the resident elk scenario, if you’re hunting migratory elk and they’re nowhere to be seen, don’t rule out neighboring drainages, or changing hunting locations entirely. AS HUNTERS, WE SHOULD LEARN from the animals we pursue. They are the ones that dictate our next move, telling us when and where to go, and how to best close in for a shot. But this year, more than past years, truly observing and learning from the elk can make the difference in whether or not you fill a tag. If hunting in an area where winter die-off occurred but there are still elk around, watch and listen. Chances are the older, less healthy bulls didn’t make it through winter, making room for younger, more aggressive bulls to move in. If you had a high number of satellite bulls in your area last season, they could now all be competing for breeding rights. This leaves things wide-open for good hunters to wisely make their moves and take home meat. Don’t be afraid to create herd chatter in your calling. Mix things up and make your calls sound like a real elk herd rather than a single animal. Emulate a cow and calf 84

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Author Scott Haugen with a dandy Rocky Mountain elk that he called in from a great distance using only cow calls. He later called in a nice bull for his buddy, using a Montana Decoy product.

being separated, then a younger bull bugling to attract the cow. Another approach is to use short, crisp bugles facing one direction, and raspier bugles immediately after, while facing another direction. This creates a competitive situation, like what happens in the wild when

subordinate bulls fight for breeding rights. Get two satellite bulls offering challenges to one another, and the real thing might come charging in, so be ready. Over the decades of hunting elk in many places, one thing I’ve been an advocate of is hunting in the 85



American Shooting Journal // September 2017

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ROAD HUNTER middle of the day. The key to this method, however, is knowing when that situation is right in order for it to pay off. Then again, many times I’ve jump-started bugles and cow talk in the middle of the day when it was hot without a lick of wind blowing. Once, while filming an episode of our TV show, the elk were thick and active early in the morning, but by 10 a.m. the activity had died off. Temperatures were in the mid-70s, and everything had moved into the timber. We let things settle down, then around 1 p.m. moved to timber’s edge and I started cow calling. Instantly a cow answered back. I cut her off and she answered me again, as did another cow, more than 100 yards away from the first cow. When that happened, I let out a high-pitched, short bugle. Soon the whole herd was talking and two bulls started bugling – one in the herd I was targeting, and another on a ridge across the draw. For more than five minutes we communicated back and forth, and the valley was as alive with elk chatter as it was at daylight. A young bull came in bugling inside of 20 yards, but I passed on the shot knowing there were bigger bulls out there. A few hours later I filled a tag on a dandy bull, one I called out of another timber patch. IF WINTER KILLS even slightly impacted elk in your hunting area, this might be the year to implement decoys. Even if elk came out of winter unharmed, if you’ve never used decoys, consider them. Elk decoys can be an archery hunter’s best friend for multiple reasons. First, a decoy can capture the attention of elk. If a bull is curious and starts approaching to inspect your calls but doesn’t see the animal making the noise, it may not come any closer. But if that same animal approaches and sees a decoy in the distance, it might just keep coming. Second, a decoy distracts an approaching animal. As a wary elk 88

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Check rubs to see how fresh they are, and how many are in an area. If there’s only one rub, chances are a passing bull made it. Find multiple rubs together, and there’s likely a territorial bull nearby.

approaches a decoy, the focus is on the decoy, not the caller. This gives the hunter the perfect opportunity to make an accurate, confident shot. If hunting with a partner, have the shooter in front of the decoy. If you’re holding the decoy and your partner is shooting, let the terrain and the habitat dictate how far behind you’ll be. The idea is for the approaching elk to see you and walk by the shooter. The lay of the land and the density

of the surrounding foliage will reveal where you need to be in order for the elk to hear you calling and see your decoy as it approaches. Depending on the situation, the decoy might be 20 yards or 80 yards behind the shooter. Be sure the shooter has a cow call, so they can call and stop the bull for a shot, rather than just letting it pass by in hopes that it stops. If hunting alone, one option is to place the decoy 20 to 30 yards in front 89

ROAD HUNTER When you come across a wallow, study it. Figure out how many animals have been around it, and when it was last used.

front of you, at about a 90-degree angle to where you expect the bull to approach from. This can be done whether you’re hunting from the ground or a treestand. If using a decoy that is facing away from an approaching elk, like a Montana Decoy’s Elk Rump or Miss September (two of my favorites), you can place them near or behind you. I like these decoys as they create the illusion that the cow is moving away, which injects a sense of urgency in an approaching bull, enticing it to hurry and catch up. The RMEF Cow Elk and Eichler Elk are both great cow decoys to use in many situations, either alone or with a hunting partner. Montana Decoys are tough to beat, as they are lightweight and created from actual photos, making them exceptionally real looking. To learn more about set-ups for elk, visit One last word of advice: If you’re stalking an elk, or calling them to you, and the wind shifts to blow from your 90

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Stability and Accuracy


Enhanced Pistol Cheek Rest Kit with CAA saddle shown

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The BD-180 is unique because it can be installed between your existing A1, A2, and 3 pronged flash hider and the barrel, eliminating the need to buy an entirely new muzzle device. It can be used in place of or in conjunction with a crush washer for a secure connection and proper timing. At 1.35 inches in diameter and weighing in at a mere 2 ounces, it will fit inside most low profile or lightweight foreends without adding significant weight.

Picatinny Buffer Tube Adapter Our new Picatinny Buffer Tube Adapter is a great addition to your Sig MPX, Sig MCX, Sig P556XI, Rock River PDS, or any other pistol that utilizes a rear vertical picatinny rail. It gives a shooter the ability to add a cheek rest for greater stability or a stock for SBR conversions (federal tax stamp required).

The mounting method follows true STANAG (NATO Standardization Agreement) protocol using the two back angles and the top of the rail as the contact points. The result is perfect alignment with the centerline of the firearm. A feature that is not attainable with typical side clamping adapters. Another bonus is that there are no visible fasteners or holes on the top and sides of the adapter giving it a clean sleek look.

Before setting foot in your traditional elk hunting hotspot, check with local wildlife officials as to winter survival rates. Last winter saw a large die-off of many elk in many states and you don’t want to waste time hunting animals that aren’t there.

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direction toward the elk, back out. Elk have one of the best noses of any big game animal out there, and if they smell you, the gig is up. This elk season, pay close attention to what’s happening in your hunting area. Search closely for sign and carefully interpret what you see, or don’t see. Coming off a harsh winter like we had, herd dynamics could be much different than they were a year ago. Don’t be afraid to try something new in your elk hunting approach. Be it calling or introducing decoys, there’s a time and a place, and used together, they can turn your elk season into one you’ll always remember.  Editor’s note: For copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book, Bowhunting The West & Beyond, send a check for $20.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. Order his other books online at 93


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American Shooting Journal // April 2017


Author Phil Massaro poses with his big Australian water buffalo, taken with North Fork Cup Point Solids.


North Fork’s Cup Point Solid tackles the toughest targets. STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO


rofessional hunter Graham Williams and I were sneaking through the dry, yellow grass of Arnhemland, Australia, en route to my first serious encounter with a huge Asiatic water buffalo. We’d stalked several smaller bulls the evening before, but this gent was something special – old, humpbacked, huge, with thick worn horns that were caked with the pinkish-red soil that he had been rolling in. Using the paperbark trees as cover, we had the wind for sure, and he wasn’t aware of us until we were inside 20 yards. I quickly became

aware of the sheer size of this buffalo, and I was happy to be carrying a big-bore double rifle: a Heym Model 89B chambered in the venerable .470 Nitro Express, to be specific. I’d hunted with this relatively new double rifle before – in Mozambique, chambered in .450/400 3-inch NE – but the ammo we’d worked up for the Australian hunt was built around a very special bullet. Chris Sells, owner of Double Gun Imports and the sole importer and distributor of Heym rifles, had invited me along for this water buffalo hunt in the Northern Territory of Australia, and we had decided to put

The .470 Nitro Express makes an excellent buffalo rifle on any continent, and is made even better when loaded with a premium bullet like the Cup Point Solid. 97

bullet bulletin but a bullet that is guaranteed to give the necessary penetration to reach vital organs from any angle. A traditional solid will certainly give the penetration, but the wound channel tends to stay at caliber dimension. And even the premium softpoints can be challenged when the shot angles are less than ideal; passing through one ton of bovine – replete with tough bones and a paunch full of wet, compacted grass – will test the mettle of any bullet. Enter the North Fork Cup Point Solid.

The Heym Model 89B double rifle in .470 NE, loaded with 500-grain North Fork Cup Point Solids.

the North Fork Cup Point Solids to the test. Water buffalo are large, tough animals – considerably larger than any

African Cape buffalo – and have very thick hides. This calls for not only a considerable amount of horsepower,

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017

THE WESTERN OREGON-BASED company has designed this monolithic solid bullet with â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you guessed it â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a slight cup at the meplat, designed to offer just the slightest bit of expansion up front for additional tissue damage, yet all the deep penetration of a solid. The cup is less than caliber diameter, so even with the slight expansion, the bullet is not any larger than the bore diameter. As with any solid bullet, straight-line penetration is the ultimate goal, and the Cup Point Solid delivers exactly that. Built with the same set of small ridges along the shank that the famous North Fork softpoints have, these bullets are highly accurate, delivering the tight groups that make any dangerous game hunter smile. They regulate well in double riďŹ&#x201A;es as well, and our Heym 89B printed two shots â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one from each barrel â&#x20AC;&#x201C; exactly one inch apart at 50 yards. Though the meplat is relatively ďŹ&#x201A;at, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a riďŹ&#x201A;e with a good feed ramp and the proper geometry, feeding will not be an issue. North Fork produces its Cup Point Solid in calibers from 9.3mm (.366 inches) up through the big .50s, including the .500 Nitro Express, .500 Jeffery and .505 Gibbs, and throws in a choice for the .348 Winchester. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve loaded them for the .375 H&H Magnum, .416 Rigby and Remington Magnum, and .458 Lott â&#x20AC;&#x201C; comprising a good selection of the most popular repeating riďŹ&#x201A;es for African and 99

bullet bulletin

A buffalo hunter’s kit: Heym 89B double rifle, Leica binoculars and North Fork Cup Point Solids loaded in Hornady cases.

Alaskan dangerous game. They are also available for the classic British rimmed double rifle cartridges – many of which are gaining additional popularity in


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

the Ruger No. 1 single-shot rifle – like the 9.3x74R, .450/400 3-inch, the .450 3¼-inch, as well as the .470 Nitro and .500 Nitro. All the common bullet

weights are available – 300-grain .375inch, 400-grain slugs for the .40s, and 500-grain bullets for the .458-inch guns. But they also offer some on the

bullet bulletin A .416-inch 400-grain Cup Point Solid is capable of handling any game on earth.

The .375-inch 300-grain CPS is a perfect mate with the .375 H&H and its mild velocity, or the speedier .378 Weatherby Magnum.

lighter and heavier side: 350-grain .375s, 430-grain .416s, 380-grain .423s (for the .404 Jeffery) and 550-grain .458s. These are perfect for the bolt guns, but may not regulate well in the doubles. The North Fork 500-grain .474 bullets for the .470 Nitro flew very well, and we had them loaded to the factory spec velocity of 2,150 feet per second. When that big water


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

buffalo bull stood up and wheeled to turn, I gave him a right and a left from the Heym, both less-thanideal quartering-away shots from the right side, and he didn’t go far, stopping with his nose down and front shoulders buckling. A third at the root of his tail (as he was straight away) anchored him, and one final shot between the shoulder blades as

he lay on his side paid the insurance. He was indeed massive – Graham estimated him at 2,100 pounds or more – and worthy of a cartridge as powerful as the .470. The shots were close, between 20 and 25 yards, and in spite of the heavy muscles and bones, we couldn’t recover any of the projectiles. From the recovered slugs I have seen from other sources, 103


The cup is machined into the nose of the bullet, for minimal yet effective expansion.

The multiple ridges that North Fork machines into their bullets help keep pressures low and copper fouling to a minimum. Note the deep crimping groove as well.

weight retention is as close to 100 percent as you’ll get. The North Fork Cup Point Solid makes an excellent choice for the African heavyweights – including elephant, Cape buffalo and hippopotamus – and I wouldn’t hesitate to carry some of these as backup ammunition on an Alaskan grizzly bear hunt, especially if I were forced to dig a wounded bear out of the willow thickets. American bison would certainly warrant a bullet of this magnitude. The Cup Point Solid will mate up well with your favorite softpoint, or as the single choice on a hunt. Give them a try; I think you’ll like the performance.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit, and


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Reloading the .45 Colt and .45 ACP for precision and practice.

Author Dave Workman loads his own. From left, a .45 ACP with a 185-grain Nosler JHP, a 230-grain plated bullet and a .45 Colt with a 250-grain cast lead flatpoint.



ome years ago I had my fill of gun magazine articles that seemed to appear every other month or so that pitted the .45 ACP against the 9mm, or the .38 Special or some other cartridge. How many times can you read that stuff before ripping out pages to put in a birdcage? So I decided to take a different tack. I compared the .45 ACP to the .45 Colt doing a fair amount of work at the loading bench with a few select propellants, and came away with the realization that these old centurions can still get the job done.

As Bob Nosler, whose name is synonymous with metallic cartridge reloading, along with that of Steve Hornady and the late Vernon Speer, told me earlier this year at the National Rifle Association convention, “Reloading is a game of recipes.” You’re the chef. I should note that a major part of this is case preparation. I have washed brass in hot soapy water, allowed it to air dry and then run it through a tumbler to clean it up properly. Check brass for split case mouths or splits in the case body and toss that stuff. Clean your primer pockets. I use carbide dies, so I don’t need to lube the cases once they are clean and polished.

WHEN I WAS A TEEN, a mentor of mine killed a rather large black bear with a .45 ACP Model 1911. Another guy we hunted with carried an old Colt New Service revolver that was chambered for the .45 Colt. I took notice of that because even at that age, the notion of a big, rather slowmoving heavy piece of lead with the energy to knock down a grouchy black bear would certainly have the oomph to flatten a predator of the two-legged variety. Jump ahead some three-plus decades. After owning a few really good shooters on the 1911 platform from Springfield, Olympic Arms and Kimber, I acquired a couple of equally reliable Ruger New Vaquero 109

RELOADING single-action sixguns, one with a 7½-inch barrel and the other with a 4 5/8-inch tube. These are fine revolvers, smooth as proverbial silk in the action and even with “primitive” fixed sights, they shoot rather well, and better since I’ve worked up some “recipe” loads that deliver consistent results. I’d been cranking out countless rounds in .45 ACP, primarily 230-grain ball ammo that clocked around 800 to 825 feet per second with 5.3 grains of HP-38 or the Speer or Rainier Ballistics plated 230-grainer propelled by 6.0 grains of HP-38. I have one lighter load that became a favorite, the 185-grain Nosler JHP ahead of 6.2 grains of HP-38 that leaves the barrel of my Oly Arms Street Deuce custom at an average of 830 to 840 fps, depending upon which barrel I have installed (two came with the gun, a match-grade standard barrel with a bushing, and a bushingless bull barrel). Now it was the .45 Colt’s turn, and I was not disappointed. Hornady turns out a 255-grain lead bullet that, in my humble opinion, is simply terrific. Propelled by 6.9 grains of HP-38, that bullet sails across my chronograph screens consistently above 875 fps, and I get virtually the same performance with a cast lead 250-grain flatpoint. Show me the live target that is going to laugh that one off. I also tried Hornady’s 250-grain XTP hollowpoint over 7.0 grains of HP 38 and was a bit disappointed because the muzzle velocity dropped down to below 800 fps. Switching to a load I worked up using data in Hodgdon’s Annual Manual I settled on 8.5 grains of Hodgdon’s CFE Pistol powder (the maximum recommended load for that bullet in the Annual Manual is 8.8 grains of CFE), I’ve been delighted with the results, clocking just under 900 fps out of the 7½-inch gun and 50 to 75 fps less out of the shorter barrel 110

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Whether old or new, handguns in .45 caliber have become part of the American fabric. Workman has cooked up loads in .45 Colt for his sixgun, a Ruger New Vaquero with Ajax grips, and his Olympic Arms Street Deuce, a match-grade Model 1911 custom built by the late Richard Niemer.

Workman’s Colt Commanders can handle the loads he prefers, and they shoot accurately enough to hit a pop can at 25 yards consistently.

model, which was expected. THE BOTTOM LINE HERE is that these two cartridges – one introduced in 1873 as a black powder load and the other that became famous in the Government Model 1911 pistol from Colt – are in no danger of giving up the ghost. The handloader can sample various load combinations, find one or two that work very well, and they should stick with it. People using robust handguns such as

the Ruger Blackhawk or a sixgun from Freedom Arms can go hotter, and there is data in all the manuals specifically for ammunition used in these guns. Speer makes a 250-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet that is also an accurate projectile for the .45 Colt, and I’ve used that over 5.7 grains of Hodgdon’s Trail Boss, which is one of the most unusual propellants on the shelf because of its shape. I’d become accustomed to using spherical and


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Workman packs a sidearm even while upland bird hunting. On this trek he was packing his 4 5/8 -inch Ruger.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

extruded powders, and at my first look at Trail Boss, I think my mouth fell open. The stuff looks like little donuts, and it was initially introduced for use by Cowboy Action shooters using low-velocity lead bullets. However, it sure works in the field, and I can’t be disappointed with the results because it doesn’t recoil as much as my more robust loads. And there’s visible gunsmoke upon discharge, just like in the old movies! Trail Boss is a very lightweight powder, and 6 grains of the stuff can just about fill an empty .45 Colt (there is no such thing as a “.45 Long Colt”) case with just enough room for the bullet to be seated. In .45 Colt, I’ve used CFE Pistol, AutoComp, HP-38 and Titegroup, and strongly recommend using data from the Annual Manual or the loading manual from whichever company one buys his/her bullets.

RELOADING There is loading data in the Speer manual for Alliant 2400 behind their 250-grain LSWC bullet that produces velocities ranging from a reported 838 fps (13.4 grains) to 972 fps (15.4 grains). Ditto the .45 ACP, with which I’ve turned out 185-grain JHP and 230-grain FMJ loads for years using

the reliable HP-38, CFE Pistol, AutoComp and Titegroup. INDEED, LOADING MANUALS from the different bullet and powder makers will provide a variety of loads, and one should never substitute components. That is, if you’re loading for a 185-grain Nosler JHP using a

One look at the chronograph tells the story, with Workman’s 185-grain .45 ACP gliding across the screens in this instance at 838.2 feet per second.

Workman’s favorite .45 Colt load with a 250-grain lead pill zooms out of his 7½-inch Ruger single action at 876.2 fps.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017





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Who says the nearly 150-year-old .45 Colt is a slouch? Workman fired 10 shots at the number “7” on this target with his Ruger New Vaquero. That jagged three-round one-holer is actually a four-holer.


Western Shooting Journal // September 2017

specific powder, don’t use data for a 185-grain Speer Gold Dot JHP because the recommended powder charges are different. For example, Nosler lists a maximum load of 6.9 grains of SR7625 behind its 185-grainer, while the starting load suggested in the Speer manual for the 185-grain Gold Dot is 7.0 grains of SR 7625! Likewise, the two different manuals are vastly different in recommended maximum charges of such popular propellants as Bullseye, Power Pistol and Winchester 231. And, you get even different recommended loads when using 185-grain Sierra JHPs. As is evident from this text, I’ve settled on just a few of the powders available, and bullet weights for each caliber because they work for me. I have learned from experience that, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That applies dramatically to

RELOADING reloading ammunition. The important thing about metallic cartridge reloading is to stick to the published loading data, within the “starting” and “maximum” load range that is listed by the individual bullet maker. People who get creative at the loading bench sometimes wind up with damaged guns, if not pieces of their own anatomy. Take my word for it; the guys at Nosler, Speer, Hornady, Sierra, Rainier Ballistics and Barnes know what they’re doing and have invested a lot more time in loading research than you and me combined. I normally use CCI 300 standard large pistol primers for both .45-caliber rounds, regardless of which propellant I use, although Winchester large pistol primers will work as well. One final note on safety: Always approach maximum listed loads with caution and never exceed the maximum suggested loads. 

This long-barreled Ruger is a bit too big for concealed carry, but on the trail it is very comforting to have along, especially in bear country. 117


American Shooting Journal // September 2017


HOLDING LOWER IN HIGHER ESTEEM The hard-to-find but fun-to-shoot J.P. Lower version of the 1877 Sharps breechloader is available again. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT


P. Lower (pronounced like “flower”) was a prominent gunsmith in Denver, Colorado, during the late 1800s. He was also one of the Western dealers who ordered and sold a large number of Sharps rifles. He would often order them with modifications, and one of the best known of those “special order” Sharps was the Lower style of the 1877 rifle. Those were indeed special, but I’ll need to provide some background material to back up my last statement. The Model 1874 Sharps was a fine long-range rifle (and still is) as designed. However, in the 1870s, rules for long-range shooting competitions required a rifle that weighed no more than 10 pounds. The action on the Model ’74 was sturdy enough that barrels of lighter weight than desirable had to be used in order to keep the rifle’s weight under that limit. So, Sharps developed a rifle with a lighter action, and that became the Model of 1877. Metal in the actions was removed wherever it could be to reduce the weight, and most of the rather few Model 1877s made were configured as target rifles. THE MODEL 1877 SHARPS rifles are some of the rarest and most beautiful of the old Sharps breechloaders, and

less than 200 of the target versions were made. And, in a separate listing because they are so “different,” were the Model 1877 Lower/Sharps, the only sporting rifles made using the ’77 actions. These were certainly special rifles, but they were also on the plain side, although some owners most likely added features such as checkering or stocks made from something “fancier” than standard walnut. According to Frank Sellers, in his book on Sharps firearms, a total of only 75 of the Model 1877 Lower/ Sharps were made, and they were all shipped to J.P. Lower. Of those 75 original rifles, 45 of them were in .45-70 caliber, with either a 28-inch round barrel or a 30-inch octagon barrel. The other 30 rifles were in .40-70 caliber, with 29 of them being octagon-barreled rifles in .40-70 Sharps Straight, and the remaining rifle was a lonely roundbarreled gun chambered for the .40-70 Sharps Bottleneck. Fifteen of the rifles had round barrels, from the Sharps Business Rifles, and the other 60 were made with octagon barrels. Why all the history? Well, it all leads up to this: The real news about the Model 1877 Lower/Sharps rifles is that C. Sharps Arms is making them available as a standard model again. The company has had special target versions of the Model 1877 Sharps available for several years on a custom

The new Model 1877 Sharps Target Rifle by C. Sharps Arms. 119


The J.P. Lower-style 1877 Sharps, a lightweight sporting rifle.

rifle basis, but this year, with their most recent (Number 12) catalog, they are including both target- and Lowerstyle versions of the Model 1877 at standard prices. I will primarily focus on the latter, but a few words about the former are certainly in order. This version has a 30-inch tapered octagon barrel, a single trigger, and it is drilled and tapped on the tang for the 1877-style tang sight. These are stocked with straight-grained American walnut

with a pistol grip and a blackcheckered butt plate. The forearm has a Schnabel tip. The receiver group, which includes the lock plate and trigger guard, is color case-hardened and the barrels are blued. That’s the basic 1877 Target Rifle, but options are available. The original 1877 Target Rifles were generally offered only in .45-2.6-inch and .45-2.4-inch chamberings. Those were .45 caliber, of course, with either a 2.6- or

2.4-inch-long case. Today, we call those the long-range .45-90 and the .45-100 Sharps cartridges, but those titles can be a little deceiving because they were both loaded with 100-grain powder charges underneath their 550-grain paper-patched bullets. C. Sharps Arms does not specify calibers or chambering in their description of the 1877s in the new catalog. However, near the back there are a couple of pages dedicated to caliber and chambering availability

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017




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BLACK POWDER for all of their rifles, and the 1877 rifles can be made in a wide range of cartridge choices. The target rifle pictured, just to mention it, is a .44 caliber, which can be chambered for either of the Sharps bottleneck cartridges or the Remington .44-caliber straight cartridges. WITH THOSE SOMEWHAT GENERAL comments out of the way, now we’ll talk about the Lower-style 1877 Sharps rifles as made by C. Sharps Arms. As you might have already guessed, C. Sharps makes this handy rifle available with more options and more chamberings than what was originally made in the 1870s. They offer the Lower-style 1877 with barrels of 26, 28 or 30 inches in length. But there is no option on barrel weight. The Lower 1877 Sharps was a lightweight sporting rifle, and if a heavier rifle is wanted, just take another look at the 1874 models. Like other lightweight


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

Note the beautiful color case-hardening and the 500-grain paper-patched loads.

rifles, the most recommended calibers for this gun would be the .38-55, .4065, .40-70 Straight or Bottleneck, and the .45-70.

When selecting a caliber or chambering for a J.P. Lower-style 1877 Sharps, remember that this is not a buffalo gun. It was a lightweight

BLACK POWDER The 1877 action is much lighter than the ’74. Also note the holes through the block.

sporting rifle, and this new rendition weighs just 7½ pounds in .45-70 caliber with a 28-inch barrel. For comparison, I have a rather light Model 1874 by C. Sharps in .45-70 that weighs 9 pounds. The lighter action of the 1877 really makes a difference. Some of the first shots fired out of


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

this new rifle were with loads using 500-grain paper-patched bullets over full 70-grain loads of Olde Eynsford 2F powder. Those roared and stomped just like we’d expect, adding their “underline” to the notes about why the Army went to a carbine load for the

old .45-70 military cartridges. A little while later, some more comfortable loads using bullets from Lyman’s #457124 mold were tried. Those were much more pleasing to shoot, plus they grouped well at 50 yards with the open sight on the barrel. 125

BLACK POWDER On the ‘77s, the maker’s name and serial number are on the tang.

Bullets lighter than those from the Lyman mold, about 385 grains, were not tried. One reason for that is because C. Sharps Arms is using barrels in their .45-caliber rifles with

a rate of twist at one turn in 18 inches. The old standard rate of twist for the .45-70 was one turn in 22 inches. The faster rate of twist is intended for heavier bullets, let’s say 405 grains


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American Shooting Journal // September 2017

and up, more in tune with today’s black powder cartridge shooting. While shooting this new style of rifle, the shotgun-styled lock along with its delicate-looking hammer worked


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BLACK POWDER A comparison between a 12-pound ’74 and the 7.5-pound Lower/Sharps.

This five-shot group was fired from the bench at 50 yards with the new Lower/Sharps.

very nicely. And the single trigger was simply a pleasure to shoot, what with its very smooth and light trigger pull. If all guns had single triggers like these new Lower/Sharps rifles, there’d be no need for set triggers. I’ll simply suggest that they maintain the old Sharps reputation very well. These new versions of the old Sharps rifles are 100 percent American made, built by craftsmen at the C. Sharps Arms shop in Big Timber,

Montana. They are hand-fitted and hand-finished, and they show it. With so much individual attention being given to each rifle, prices are “up there” but still not in the neighborhood of truly custom-built rifles. The Model 1877 Target rifle begins at $2,590.00, and for the Lower-style 1877 Sharps, the starting price is $2,440.00. For more information, contact C. Sharps Arms at (406) 932-4353 or visit 






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This 1944 M3 “grease gun” was made by General Motors Guide Lamp division and bears British proof marks. (JOHN BOSIO)

Grease was the Word

The M3 ‘grease gun’ was a rude, crude, effective submachine gun that saw service from the Korean War through the late 1990s. STORY BY ROB REED


he M3 “grease gun” was one of the simplest, ugliest, and cheapest personal weapons ever fielded by the U.S. military. But, as one U.S. Marine combat veteran recalled, what this crude submachine gun lacked in looks, it more than made up for that with brutal effectiveness. “The first time I went to use my rifle, it went ‘click’, so I busted it over

a rock and picked up a dead Marine’s grease gun,” said USMC Korean War veteran Don Campbell. “I was lethal with the grease gun. It worked really well on the enemy.” Campbell made his remarks at a machine gun shoot after firing a grease gun for the first time since he served in combat over 60 years ago. The original M3 submachine gun was commissioned shortly before the U.S. entered World War II as a replacement for the Thompson

A member of the United Nations troops fires a submachine gun on Communist-led North Korean forces, during fighting in the streets of Seoul on September 20, 1950. Korea. (SIGNAL CORP/STRICKLAND AND ROMANOWSKI)

M1928 submachine gun. The Thompson, although a popular and effective weapon, was not well suited to the demands of wartime high-volume manufacturing. Thompson production called for skilled machinists to perform many complicated machine operations and required large quantities of highgrade steel. The result was a weapon that was expensive to manufacture and slow to produce. What was needed instead was 133

This close-up of a General Motors Guide Lamp M3 shows the recoil springs visible through the open ejection port. (NRA NATIONAL FIREARMS MUSEUM)

an SMG that could be turned out quickly, cheaply, and with the use of lower quality materials. U.S. Ordnance Corps requirements called for a weapon modeled after the German MP-40 and the even simpler British STEN gun. Both those SMGs used simple blowback operating systems, and were made largely from stamped sheet metal. George Hyde of the Inland Division of General Motors designed the prototype, which was selected for production in December 1942 as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal .45, M3. Unlike the Thompson, which features wood furniture and a finely machined forged steel receiver, the all-metal M3 uses mainly stamped and welded sheet metal components. The tubular receiver is two stamped pieces welded together, and even the trigger is stamped from sheet metal. The only machined parts are the 134

American Shooting Journal // September 2017

barrel, bolt, and firing mechanism. The one-piece telescoping wire stock can be removed and used as a cleaning rod, disassembly tool and, on the later M3A1 variant, as a magazine loader. THE GREASE GUN is a compact weapon with an overall length of 29.8 inches with the stock extended and 22.8 inches with the stock collapsed. The barrel is 8 inches long. The 8.15-pound empty weight of the gun is brought up to 10.25 pounds once a loaded magazine of 30 .45 ACP rounds is inserted. The M3 is blowback operated and fires from an open bolt. An external cocking handle is used to retract the bolt. The weapon fires fully automatic only at a listed cyclic rate of 450 rounds per minute. The ejection port cover doubles as a safety by locking the bolt in place when closed. The 30-round box

magazine is a double-column, singlefeed design based on the STEN. Personal accounts from WWII indicate the weapon was initially greeted with skepticism by many troops who were used to the more refined Thompson and the finely made M-1 Garand. The tubular sheet-metal design led to the nicknames “grease gun” and “cake decorator,” after two common implements of the day. The grease gun’s attributes became evident in use: The weapon’s simple construction and operation made field maintenance straightforward. The gun’s relatively slow cyclic rate allowed skilled shooters to easily fire short bursts, or even single shots, to help ensure that more of the 230-grain .45 ACP rounds found the enemy. The design was simplified even more with the M3A1 modification. The cocking handle, which had a tendency to break in use, was



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removed and instead a hole was drilled in the bolt. To load the gun the soldier simply inserted his finger in the hole and pulled the bolt back by hand. This model also included several other small improvements. With the stock closed the grease gun is more compact than the Thompson. The ejection port cover acts as a safety so that, at least in theory, the gun can be carried with the magazine inserted, bolt retracted, and the cover closed. In practice, the gun was still known to fire if dropped and the ejection port cover was knocked open by the impact. “I had an accidental discharge with my gun,” Campbell recalled. “I missed the members of my squad by 8 or 10 feet. After that they issued an order that I could only carry the grease gun when I was in front of the main line of resistance.” I’VE HAD A CHANCE to fire the M3A1 grease gun on two separate occasions. At first glance the weapon’s appearance is off-putting.


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

The metal is roughly finished and the welds can best be described as “functional.” The stamped-sheet metal trigger seems especially cheap. Overall, the gun reminded me of vintage stamped tin toys from the same era. However, when I picked it up, I was surprised by the heft. Although the body is stamped sheet metal, the bolt is machined from a solid chunk of steel, and makes up a significant portion of the total weight. The fixed sights are a simple rear peep and front post. They are supposedly regulated at 100 yards, which I believe is optimistic for the .45 ACP cartridge. I found the M3A1 to be simple to operate. The ejection port cover is easy to manipulate and, while it seems weird to insert your finger in a hole in the bolt to cock the weapon, it does work. The magazine well is generous and the magazine locks in easily. There is no selector, so if the dust cover is open, the weapon is ready to fire.

USMC Korean War vet Don Campbell discusses using the grease gun in combat. (ROB REED)

The gun’s slow 450 rounds-perminute cyclic rate makes it easy to fire short two- or three-round bursts or even single shots. In fact, I found it harder to make myself hold down the trigger to fire long bursts than to fire short bursts. I did find that




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longer bursts tended to go up and to the right, but since it was so easy to double-tap or triple-tap the target with short bursts, I didn’t see this as much of a problem. The slow rate of fire gives it a distinctive “feel” as it chugs along and it seemed as easy to use and accurate as any of the SMGs of that era. By the end of WWII, more than 600,000 M3 and 15,000 M3A1 SMGs had been produced by GM’s Guide Lamp division. An additional 33,000 M3A1s were manufactured by the Ithaca Gun Company for use during the Korean War. Besides use by the U.S. military, the grease gun was provided to allies as military assistance. The weapon saw active combat service in the Greek Civil War, Korean War, and Vietnam War, among other conflicts. The grease gun was used by the U.S. as a personal weapon for armor crewman as late as the 1990s and is still in service in some parts of the world. Not a bad record for weapon that began as a wartime expedient. 


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

What the gun lacked in looks, it more than made up for with brutal effectiveness. (JOHN BOSIO) 139

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Model: “Regulator” Rimfire Silencer Caliber: .22LR, .22WMR, 17M2, 17HMR, 17 5.7FNH Length: 6.5 inches ameter: 1 iinch Diameter: Mount: Direct Thread - ½ x 28 Weight: 5.5 ozs Sound reduction: Approx. dB Overall: 115.1 dB (including First Round Pop), Approx dB Reduction: 38 – 42 dB Materials: Titanium and Stainless Steel Finish: Type C High Temp Cerakote In Graphite Black MSRP: $499.00 00

YANKEE HILL MACHINE Model: Turbo Caliber: .223 Length: 6.5 inches Diameter: 1.56 inches Mount: Quick detach (mount included) Weight: 13.5 ounces Decibel: 134 decibels Materials: 17-4 PH stainless steel; Inconel 718 blast baffle Finish: High Heat Cerakote MSRP: $489.00 More info:

GEMTECH H Model: SHIELD Caliber: 5.56MM Length: 7.0 inches Diameter: 1.5 inches Mount: Quickmount Weight: 16.3 ounces Sound reduction: 32dB Materials: Titanium and Inconel Finish: High Temperature Black Cerakote MSRP: $995.00 141


American Shooting Journal // September 2017



For more than twenty years, TBA Suppressors have offered shooters a lifetime guarantee of precision and accuracy.


recision, accuracy, and a lifetime guarantee: three qualities imbued in all of TBA Suppressors’ products. But unfortunately, that’s not the case with all firearms manufacturers, and that is specifically why Todd Brueckmann launched TBA back in 1996. Brueckmann had recently had a suppressor installed on his MK II. When he got it back from the manufacturer, “the bullets keyholed, and there were severe accuracy issues due to this,” he says. Unhappy with the way the firearm was performing, he sent it back to the manufacturer for repairs. Same problem, same result. “We sent it back two times over the course of nine months in an attempt to have them repair it, which they failed at miserably,” Brueckmann recalls. After such a frustrating experience, he decided to start his own suppressor manufacturing operation. “I knew we could make a better product with a lot smoother transaction,” he says. Brueckmann had a background in racecar chassis engineering and fabrication, so it was a seamless evolution to the firearms industry. TBA Suppressors is now celebrating more than 20 years of creating quality products and offering outstanding service. American Shooting Journal spoke with Brueckmann to find out more.

TBA offers a variety of integral and screw-on suppressors for calibers from .22 rimfire to .44 Magnum. (TBA SUPPRESSORS)

AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL: How has the business changed over the past two decades? TODD BRUECKMANN: We started out in a one-bay, 1,500-square-foot rental with one mill and one lathe. We now have a 6,000-square-foot climate controlled building in a private location with a private 250-yard shooting range. We have CNC lathes with live tooling, as well as CNC mills, in addition to four lathes and three manual machines, which we mainly leave set up for tasking the various products in our product line, as well as the abundance of repairs we do on other manufacturers’ silencers. ASJ: What makes TBA stand out from the competition?

TB: TBA has been in business since 1996 and we stand behind our products. There are thousands of our integrals in the hands of individuals, law enforcement and game departments. As our product line has grown and become more userfriendly, we will still service our older models and the majority of the larger companies will not service theirs. ASJ: What is your specialty? TB: Our specialty mainly lies in our integral line of suppressors, ranging from .22 rimfire to .44 magnum on a production basis, and we also build centerfire platforms on an as-needed basis. We have a Larson Davis LXT sound meter and we are constantly testing our products against our 143

Company SPOTLIGHT competitors to make sure we stay in the lead. ASJ: Do you have any new products our readers should know about? TB: Our newest products are the Sicario MK IV, Tempest 22Lr screwon suppressor, and the MP15 SD, which is an integral .22 silencer built on a M&P 15-22 rile. The Sicario is a patent-pending two-piece integral that can be adapted to any .22lr platform that has ½ x 28 threaded barrel with our “Sic” adapter. This is the only one of its kind and dispels the myth of an integral being dedicated to its host firearm. The Sicario can be disassembled with the magazine and installed on another rifle or pistol with the adapter in 30 seconds. And yes, even though we agree that an 8-inch silencer is overkill for most rimfire .22s, it sure is quiet at 113db sound signature on


American Shooting Journal // September 2017

a Walther p22. The Tempest is our newest rimfire screw on silencer that weighs 3.7 ounces and has an overall sound reduction of 117db and by far is the coolest looking .22 silencer available. It has a built-in muzzle brake and a multi-fluted tube, which makes the aesthetics impossible not to love. The MP15 SD is our new integral built on the M&P 15-22 and is a twopiece silencer that comes apart in 15 seconds with the provided ¼ hex key. Remove the front cap and the tube pulls straight off, exposing the barrel and a core that’s pinned on at 16.1 inches so that it’ll not have to be registered as an SR. It has an overall sound signature of 115.8db, which makes it intoxicating to shoot!  To learn more about TBA Suppressors and its products, visit

A close-up of a TBA suppressor barrel. (TBA SUPPRESSORS) 145


American Shooting Journal // September 2017



A holster clip from a company that continues to do well while doing plenty of good. PHOTOS BY ULTICLIP


hen Randall Darby was searching for an option that would allow him to carry his firearm in a holster, while providing the utmost concealment and retention at the same time, he discovered that no such product existed. So Darby came up with the Ulticlip, a clamp-like design that securely clips holsters on clothing and bags, while still remaining concealed. American Shooting Journal recently caught up with Darby to learn his story and to find out more about the Ulticlip design. AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL: How did you create the unique design of the Ulticlip? RANDALL DARBY: I am a Christian missionary living overseas. I have a concealed carry permit in the country where I live. There were no options that would allow me to carry my ďŹ rearm in a holster while providing great concealment and retention. The holsters I own are great, but the problem I had was with the holster clips. I realized there was a need for a better holster clip design. As far as the unique design, I have to say that God literally gave me the idea. ASJ: A growing number of holster companies seem to be embracing the Ulticlip. How does it compare to regular clips? RD: Traditional clips rely on a secondary item like a belt in order to provide retention. Ulticlip does not

Randall Darby developed the Ulticlip because he felt there was a need for a better holster clip design in the marketplace.

require a belt or any other secondary item to provide secure retention. Ulticlipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design allows it to clamp directly to clothing and provides a level of retention not found with traditional clips. The clamping design also makes it more versatile than the traditional clips. Ulticlip can be securely clamped on backpacks, purses, and on boots or clothing. Traditional holster clips do not conceal well because it is generally clipped over a belt. Ulticlip can be clamped directly to your pants, allowing a belt to cover it, making it more discreet and concealable than the traditional clips.

ASJ: There are multiple uses for the Ulticlip, beyond guns. Can you tell us about some of them? RD: Ulticlip has numerous applications due to the versatility it provides. Aside from being used to carry firearms, our second largest market is with the knife industry. A knife sheath with an Ulticlip can be clamped virtually anywhere. We have also seen Ulticlip used with flashlights, tourniquets, magazine carriers, handcuffs, fishing pliers and kydex wallets. There is also interest in incorporating Ulticlip into bags and backpacks. We now have a police department 147

Company SPOTLIGHT that is using Ulticlip for the body cameras that the officers wear. They tested it in the field and found that it was the best solution for attaching the body cameras to officers so that the camera does not come off when they are apprehending a suspect.

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let its size fool you, an Ulticlip can be used with a holster or a knife sheath.

ASJ: Are any new products coming out that you can share with us? RD: We are currently prototyping a new design called the Ulticlip XL. The XL model will be a new addition to our product line. It will not replace the clips we are currently producing. We expect to release it at the NRA show this April. The XL is designed to allow for IWB, OWB and beltless carry. We showed the prototype to a select group of people during SHOT Show, and it was well received. Representatives from various holster companies are excited and commented that the Ulticlip XL will offer options that

:HEXLOGSUHFLVLRQULĂ HVWRSUHFLVHVWDQGDUGV providing uncompromised accuracy whether they are for competition, hunting, law enforcement, our military or just exercising your QG$PHQGPHQW5LJKWV We have now added Titanium versions of the Pierce Round actions to our Action line-up. Titanium is very strong and comes in at about 42% the weight of steel and has a high strength to weight ratio of 1.5+. We only use the best 6Al-4V known as Grade 5 Titanium.

Looking for the ultimate in Lightweight and Precision... The Pierce Titanium Action can get the job done. Ultra light and Ultra strong, this Action should please everyone looking to build that OLJKWZHLJKWULĂ H

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American Shooting Journal // September 2017

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Company SPOTLIGHT have not been available before. ASJ: Is there anything else our readers should know about your company or your product? RD: Ulticlip is focused on providing quality carry solutions, and we are made in the United States. We want to provide better options for whatever people carry, and how they choose to carry it. But exceeding our desire to produce quality carry solutions is our desire to make a difference in this world. We believe that real change starts in the heart of man. The heart and vision of Ulticlip is to help and empower people so that they can help others. For this reason, Ulticlip gives a portion of its profit from each clip sold to faith-based charities in the United States and around the world. For more information, visit

Ulticlip’s design allows it to clamp directly to clothing and provides a level of retention not found with traditional clips.

Savage MKII/93 Pro Varmint Stock, Heavy Bottom Metal & Aluminum Trigger Guard, One Piece Scope Base, 1” Action Screws ORDER DESK: 208-660-9974 150

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017

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