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SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 8 // Issue 8 // May 2019 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andy Walgamott OFFICE MANAGER / COPY EDITOR Katie Aumann LEAD CONTRIBUTOR Frank Jardim CONTRIBUTORS Brittany Boddington, Jim Dickson, Eric Ebbinghaus, Chris Frenchak, Scott Haugen, Phil Massaro, Mike Nesbitt, Dave Workman SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Jake Weipert

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ON THE COVER For cover guy Dave Workman, spring represents not only a great time of year to consider buying a new rifle but allows plenty of time to get comfortable with it before fall hunting seasons arrive. (DAVE WORKMAN)

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @AmShootingJourn


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

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




With their new bolt-action, James Purdey and Sons’ aimed to blend the traditional look of a “Best Quality” hunting gun with the accuracy of “a state-of-the-art sniper rifle,” and high-end British firearm connoisseur Jim Dickson believes the London company has hit the mark.











Whether you plan to take up hunting, long-range shooting or just have a bunch of fun at the range, your optics must be mounted and dialed in correctly for you to hit the target. Chris Frenchak walks us through the steps.





With a new offering from Sturm, Ruger and autumn’s hunts not that far off, longtime gun writer Dave Workman shares five good reasons why now’s the time to get into the market for a new big game rifle.

If you could pin Phil Massaro down before he left on an African safari and told him he could only bring ammunition loaded with one particular projectile for bull elephant, Cape buffalo, even plains game, Phil says he would pick this bullet.

The northeast corner of the Cowboy State offers a cornucopia of game, one family of hunters has found over the years. Join along as Scott Haugen and his brood chase mule deer, whitetails, turkeys and more in this high, lonesome corner of the American West. When Brittany Boddington opened her She Hunts Skills Camp for women, it was only a matter of time before her students would want to put their newfound hunting knowledge to the test. If you’re looking to improve your shooting abilities, helping farmers and other landowners out by targeting prairie dogs will fill the bill. Eric Ebbinghaus gets you set up for success!

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


American Shooting Journal // May 2019



BLACK POWDER: SHORT-BARRELLED HUNTING RIFLE A LONG TIME IN THE MAKING There are a few different Model 1874 Sharps being made these days by C. Sharps Arms, but one member of the family doesn’t get all that much love. It would the runt of the bunch, the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle, which takes after a pair of 1800s’ ancestors, and it has found a place in our Mike Nesbitt’s heart.

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Graham Brothers Rifleworks: Yankee Hill Machine launches new source for top-line bolt rifle parts Huber Concepts: The thinking behind their triggers



American Shooting Journal // May 2019

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The quality is in the details, when it comes to the bolt-action rifles made by James Purdey and Sons, a fine gun manufacturer based in London.

Elegance. Quality. Lethality. Purdey’s latest bolt-action rifle features the company’s handcrafted excellence. Story by Jim Dickson • Photos by James Purdey and Sons


est Quality British bolt-action rifles have always been known for their exquisite workmanship and total reliability in the hunting field in remote continents far from a gunsmith. Accuracy was always up to the highest standards of the day but it was all about hunting accuracy in the field, for these guns were built for hunters who took them to the far flung corners of the world after exotic game.

Today’s shooters are more and more obsessed with subminute-ofangle groups and the world-famous London gunmakers James Purdey and Sons has risen to the challenge. After three years of development work they have come out with a totally new method of making an accurate boltaction rifle that looks like a traditional

Best Quality bolt-action hunting gun, but shoots like a state-of-the-art sniper rifle. Since the wood stock’s swelling and contracting is a major cause of accuracy variations, they bedded the barreled action in a titanium chassis and then fitted that into the stock. Nothing the wood does can affect the

barreled action now. It can dry out in the Kalahari Desert or swell in the monsoon rains all it wants. The metal parts of that rifle won’t budge and the accuracy will be totally unaffected. Titanium was chosen because of its strength and light weight. Aluminum was not strong enough and steel was too heavy. Purdey was not about to go to a solution that required a heavy rifle. The titanium is not visible when the rifle is assembled and it also ensures consistent barrel harmonics and provides a totally free floating barrel. Another factor that affects accuracy 29

Purdey aimed to create an ”accurate bolt-action rifle that looks like a traditional Best Quality bolt-action hunting gun, but shoots like a state-of-the-art sniper rifle,” writes author Jim Dickson, a connoisseur of high-end British firearms.

is the slop in the actions. The new rifle is a square bridge 98 Magnum Mauser action manufactured by Purdey that is precision-machined to half one thousandth of an inch, then hand-fitted and finished. There is no slop in these actions to affect accuracy. Like all 98 Mausers, it is a controlled-feed action so you never have a cartridge going anywhere but in the chamber. A very comforting thing when in a tight spot. The barrels are precision-made to the highest tolerances, hand lapped, and London blued. The barrels have a fast twist rate for bullets that are long Two bolt models are available, with the Classic chambered for calibers from .243 up to .375 H&H, and the Safari from there up to .458 Lott, along with others upon special request.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

and heavy for their caliber, as these are the best performing bullets on game. For example, the twist rate is 1 in 8 inches for 6.5mm, 1 in 8½ inches for 7mm, 1 in 10 inches for .30 caliber, 1 in 12 inches for .375, and 1 in 14 inches for .416 Rigby. Twist rates are matched to the cartridge, something not every maker does. The square bridge 98 Magnum Mauser actions will accommodate cartridges with an overall cartridge length up to 3.835 inches. The threeposition safety enables the cartridges to be cycled out of the action while

the gun is on safe. Swing-off scope mounts are standard. Trigger pulls are to the highest standards, as is everything else. The term “Best Quality” gun means just that. The best that can be made at any price. A GLANCE AT the rifle shows the elegant beauty that the best London gunmakers have always put in their sporting bolt-action rifles. Fit and finish inside and out is something to write home about and the gun handles perfectly. Of course it can be stocked to your individual measurements, just like a Purdey double rifle or double shotgun. Having a gun stocked to fit you is a genuine lifesaver in an emergency because it will unerringly point right where you are looking when there is no time for sights; just cheek the gun and fire. Ideally you would use the long-range rifle for long shots and have your faithful gun bearer pass you a big double rifle for close-range work. Sadly those days are gone for most of us, and like the infantryman in wartime, you end up doing everything with the gun you have in hand.

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1) Barrel shaping prior to laying the ribs – papering the barrels. 2) Barrel shaping prior to laying the ribs. 3 and 4) Chambering a rare hexagonal smallbore rifle barrel.

Having the gun stocked to your measurements is just good sense, as you will find that a fitted gun is far easier to shoot accurately. When you shoot a gun quickly that is properly stocked to fit you, man and gun become one at the instant of firing in a mystical zen-like experience unparalleled in shooting. You fired the shot. Not the gun. It is merely an extension of your body at that instant and not a separate piece. This is one of the greatest pleasures in shooting game and it comes only with a gun stocked to fit you that is fired instinctively and unerringly at the game you just bagged. So how does this new innovation shoot? One of the first rifles was a .300 Winchester Magnum. When they took it out to the range it shot ¼-inch groups at 100 yards, 1½-inch groups at 300 yards, and 3-inch groups at 600 32

American Shooting Journal // May 2019

yards. Now you don’t see that every day. Purdey guarantees every one of these guns will shoot subminute-ofangle groups with the ammo they provide and a test target proving the accuracy of that individual gun accompanies each rifle. The best part is that this gun will consistently deliver this accuracy in all weather conditions you may encounter in hunting. THERE ARE TWO versions. The Classic is for the common calibers and comes with swing-off scope mounts, with express sights as an option. Superior-grade wood is standard and exhibition-grade wood optional. Standard calibers are .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, .270 Winchester, 7mm-08, 7x57 Mauser (.275), 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .3006 Springfield, .300 Winchester

Magnum, and .375 H&H. Other calibers are available on request. The Safari Rifle is made with express sights standard and has quick detachable swing-off scope mounts. Exhibition-grade wood is standard and it is made in calibers .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, and .458 Lott with special chamberings on request. When Purdey says exhibition-grade wood, they mean it. They only buy 30 or 40 stock blanks for this out of every 2,000 examined. Whichever version and whatever caliber you choose, it is guaranteed to deliver subminute-of-angle groups while maintaining the external appearance of the classic British Best Quality sporting bolt-action rifle. There is nothing to detract from the beauty of the fine hand-checkered and finished Turkish walnut stock. All guns come with Purdey’s famous rose and scroll engraving. They are beautiful to look

6 1



1) Measuring stock bend. 2) Marking the center line. 3) Drawing the butt shape on to stock blank. 4) Working on a sidelock papering the bridal. 5) Measuring the length from pull to toe. 6) Filing a profile on barrels. 7) Brazing on the loop.



American Shooting Journal // May 2019



These are definitely not your average rifles, what with price tags from $39,000 to $65,000, but that reflects their handcrafted excellence that makes them “worth every penny,” writes Dickson.

at, as functional art should be. Like all Best Quality guns, these jewels are expensive, at around 30,000 British pounds sterling for the Classic (about $39,000 USD) and 50,000 pounds for the Safari (about $65,000 USD). That’s still far less than a handmade double rifle or shotgun from a Best Quality London maker and you are getting what you pay for. It takes men of the highest hand skill level in the world hundreds of hours to make a gun like this and men like that don’t work for minimum wage. For the serious hunter and gun lover, having the finest that money can buy is worth every penny. This gun really delivers in the field and when you consider the costs of transcontinental hunts, it seems quite foolish to stake everything on less than the best. The early explorers that opened up darkest Africa used Best Quality guns for their dependability. No gunsmiths up the Lualaba River, you know. Dangerous 36

American Shooting Journal // May 2019

game hunters have used them because a rifle malfunction at a critical time can mean a grisly death in a hurry. How much is your life worth? It has often been said that anyone who appreciates guns and the finer things in life owes it to himself and his descendents to own at least one Best Quality firearm. These are among the highest examples of functional art that exists and the pleasure of hunting with a gun like this is unmatched in the shooting sports. When you buy from Purdey, you are buying from the gunmaker with the royal warrant as gunmaker to the monarch, a title they have held since Queen Victoria. They made guns for her and every English monarch since. Because England is a nation of shotgunners, just as the United States is a nation of riflemen, Purdey is best known for their classic side-by-side 12-bore game guns. They have an equally good reputation for building hunting rifles, both double barreled and bolt action. The firm is an old, established one dating back to 1814 when James Purdey set up his shop. In 1877 it became James Purdey and Sons in recognition of his sons, and in 1883 they relocated to their present location on South Audley Street. As is fitting for the most famous of the British Best Quality gunmakers, they are extremely protective of their reputation for making Best Quality guns and are determined that nothing less than the finest that human hands can make ever leaves the premises with the Purdey name on it. You are in good hands there. They can be reached at 

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Author Dave Workman says spring is the best time to make a new rifle purchase because it gives you plenty of time over the coming months to take it afield and get familiar with it. (DAVE WORKMAN)


With a new offering from Sturm, Ruger and autumn’s hunts not all that far off, here are five good reasons to get into the market for a new big game gun now. STORY BY DAVE WORKMAN


ot long ago, Sturm, Ruger reintroduced one of the company’s most popular rifles in recent memory, the Hawkeye Alaskan, chambered in three slamming calibers that are known for their stopping power. It’s a superb rifle, especially for conditions one is likely to encounter in the fall, when if it’s not raining,

sleeting or snowing, it’s probably getting ready to – am I right? Hitting the scale at 8 pounds (unloaded, without scope), the Hawkeye Alaskan is chambered for the .375 Ruger, the .338 Winchester Magnum or the .300 Winchester Magnum. Either/or, you’ve got a potent load for anything on four legs. This rifle features a Hogue

OverMolded synthetic stock with a nonslip, cobblestone-type texture that allows a firm grip even in a downpour. The Hogue stock is impervious to changing weather conditions, which is common during any autumn hunting season. It is fitted with sling swivel studs and a good recoil pad. With an overall length of 42 inches, the Hawkeye Alaskan features an LC6 39

The new Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan is chambered in .375 Ruger, .338 Winchester Magnum or .300 Winchester Magnum. (STURM, RUGER)

Ruger’s 10-22 Competition Rifle from the Custom Shop is a “keeper,” says Workman, though Washington shooters should know it falls under Initiative 1639’s “semiautomatic assault rifle” definition. (STURM, RUGER)

trigger three-position safety (which I prefer on any centerfire bolt-action rifle) and integral scope mounts. It’s based on the Ruger Guide Gun platform, and has a solid-steel hinged floorplate and a nonrotating Mausertype controlled round feed extractor. IF YOU THINK this is just a sales pitch for a good Ruger, think again. Ruger’s timing on the reintroduction of this rifle may have been no accident. Springtime is the best time to be purchasing a new rifle for fall’s hunting seasons and there are five good reasons why. First and foremost, this is kind of the “off season” for gun shops and sporting goods stores, so it is likely that you can find the rifle model you’re looking for in stock. If not, it shouldn’t take too long to order one up before the long Memorial Day Weekend. Wait until late summer or early autumn and you just might be out of luck to get what you want because chances are, 50 other people are looking for the same rifle. Secondly, buying a rifle now gives you a little more time to pair it up with a good scope, yet another item that procrastinators often find themselves rushing around to find at the last minute. Properly mounting a scope is no simple undertaking, and it’s a bad idea to be hasty about this process. I once helped a young lady zero 40

American Shooting Journal // May 2019

a new rifle that came with a factorymounted scope and much to my surprise, the scope had not been installed so the crosshairs were lined up vertically and horizontally, but tilted to one side. No wonder she couldn’t produce a good group! A quick loosening of the rings to rotate the scope, retightening and voilà, within five rounds that .270 Winchester-caliber rifle was dead-on at 100 yards, shooting off a backpack as a rest. A third good reason is that buying a rifle now affords one a very long, warm summer for not just sighting in a rifle, but for packing it around on weekend jaunts, including scouting trips. Those lazy summer evenings also provide lots of lingering light at the range to sample different loads in your new rifle, whether factory ammunition or something from your own loading bench. If you are a handloader, you will have the summer to work up loads that perform best for your intended purpose. This will allow time to experiment with different bullet weights, perhaps different propellants and get that rifle down to shooting minute-of-angle groups from a cold barrel. Lastly, a spring purchase puts you ahead of the pack in terms of familiarizing yourself with the rifle.

Get used to working the safety so it becomes a reflex. Learn the bolt throw and get used to the trigger letoff. The more familiar you are with your rifle, the more likely you and the gun will become a team in the fall. NOT ONLY HAS Ruger revived a popular rifle model in plenty of time for hunters to grab one up for this coming fall’s activities, SIG Sauer reported – just in time for inclusion here – two new additions to its popular premium-grade Elite Hunting ammunition family. SIG is now offering a load in .243 Winchester and another in .30-06 Springfield. The .243 Winchester is topped with an 80-grain Copper Game projectile, which seems a bit light for what I would recommend for deersized game. But this pill goes out of the muzzle at a reported 3,425 feet per second with 2,084 foot-pounds of energy, and that’s guaranteed to ruin some game animal’s day. That’s a round that seems perfect for coyotes, antelope, mountain goats and similarsized game, and I’ve heard of smaller deer being taken with similar loads. The ’06 is certainly more potent, pushing a 150-grain projectile out of the muzzle at a reported 2,920 fps, with 2,841 foot-pounds of energy. Goodbye, bucks and even bull caribou or elk, with the right bullet 41

placement. Sheep, you’re history. Goats, say a prayer. SIG Sauer’s ammo is already on sale.

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WE MENTIONED STURM, Ruger earlier. Well, the company has also introduced another variation of its popular 10/22 from the Custom Shop. It’s the Competition Rifle, and from what we’ve seen, it’s a keeper. The down side for any Washington state readers is that, thanks to Initiative 1639 passed last fall by seriously misguided urban voters, the Ruger 10/22 in all of its configurations now falls within the definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle,” a gun that Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told me during an interview a couple of months ago doesn’t really exist. But now that it has been defined by statute, the gun control crowd may try to ban these guns with some future multi-milliondollar initiative. That said, the Custom Shop Competition Rifle is quite a package. It naturally comes with Ruger’s superb 10-round rotary magazine, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It has a CNC-machined heat-treated and stress-relieved 6061-T6511 aluminum receiver with a 30 MOA Picatinny rail on top. Inside is a CNC-machined match bolt that has been heat-treated and nitrided, and the rifle features a dual bedding system to guarantee that the action is securely bedded to the stock. The bolt handle is oversized for easy charging. And about that stock; it’s brown laminate with sling swivel studs, a fully adjustable synthetic cheek rest that may be moved vertically and horizontally. The 16 1/8-inch stainless steel bull barrel is free floating and features black Cerakote accents. It is threaded with a ½-inch-by-28-thread pattern to allow muzzle brakes or other popular accessories. Finally, it’s got Ruger’s popular BX Trigger that is smooth with a crisp letoff. Ruger ships this rifle with a hard case, cleaning cloth, challenge coin and decal. 

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HOW TO PROPERLY ZERO A RIFLE SCOPE Whether you plan to take up hunting, long-range shooting or just have fun at the range, your optics must be mounted and dialed in correctly to hit the target. STORY BY CHRIS FRENCHAK • ARTICLE COURTESY OF GUNBACKER.COM


ifle scopes have reached a point where they are more popular than ever before. They are used by hunters, tactical shooters, and even people looking for a rapid-use homedefense optic, and especially tactical rifle enthusiasts looking to find the perfect optic for their AR-15. With optics becoming more and more popular, it’s important to know how to zero a rifle scope. There are many, many different

kinds of scopes out there. This guide is designed as a general guide for zeroing a rifle optic. Some scopes may require very specific instructions on how to zero them. Whenever in doubt, refer to your scope’s actual instruction manual. Most scopes will fall into this guide when it comes to zeroing an optic, but there may be small detail changes. This includes particular ranges, or particular loads the rifle scope is supposed to be using.

INSTALLING YOUR RIFLE SCOPE While this isn’t a guide on how to install a scope, it is incredibly important that your scope is installed correctly. If the scope is not correctly installed it can be impossible to zero. Depending on the scope rings or mount setup, the installation may be slightly different for each scope. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. For a typical variable magnification scope, the use of scope ring or a single-piece mount is most often

Accuracy is the name of the game with optics and shooting, and it all starts with properly mounting your rifle’s scope and getting it on target. (SHUTTERSTOCK) 45

Knowing where your rifle is shooting at X yards makes for more successful and ethical shots on game animals and more steel rung in target competitions or just having fun at the range. (GUNBACKER.COM)

required. Any mounted scope rail needs to be tightened to the receiver and Loctite should be applied. The scope rings or mount should be mounted to the rifle and it must be secure. The scope mounting system needs to be tightened down until it doesn’t move if the mount uses traditional screws. Traditional screws will most often require the use of substances like Loctite to make sure the scope rings or scope mount does not become loose from recoil when firing a rifle. If the mount or rings utilize a QD mount, it needs to be locked tight and fit the scope rail appropriately. The scope should be positioned to ensure that the scope has correct eye relief. Correct eye relief should be listed in the instruction manual. For holographic scopes, the eye relief will not matter as much as it will when installing a scope for a rimfire rifle. The reticle of the scope should be positioned so the scope is level. The vertical crosshair should be perfectly up and down. This will ensure the scope is perfectly level. SELECTING THE RIGHT AMMUNITION When you zero a scope to a rifle, you are also zeroing it to a specific type 46

American Shooting Journal // May 2019

of ammunition. This is called a load, and factors that change a load include overall length, bullet weight, velocity, and projectile type. Once a scope is zeroed to a certain load of ammunition, this load will be the most precise for that scope. Other loads of the same caliber may cause slight variations in accuracy. These variations are typically small and only make a significant difference at long range, or when measuring groups with precision devices. For hunters and precision target shooters with variable scopes it is best to choose one type of ammo and stick with it while hunting or target shooting. For scopes like red dots, these variations between ammunition will hardly ever create a noticeable variation in accuracy. SELECTING THE RIGHT TARGET You can zero a rifle with almost any target. The easiest targets to use are targets that are designed for bull’s-eye shooting and are divided into grids. These grid boxes are most commonly a square inch. This allows the shooter to easily adjust the scope based on how many inches it is away from the bull’s-eye. These targets are very common and easy to find in sporting goods or gun

stores. When hanging the target, it is a good idea to use a larger piece of material behind the target. This material is best often left blank and allows for shooters to see if they are hitting off target. Simple pieces of cardboard work well as backing for a target. DISTANCE & SETUP Once your target is established, back up to roughly half the distance you plan on shooting the rifle at. At half the standard range, a shooter can easily adjust their rifle on target before moving back to their normal firing range. From here you’ll set up your shooting position. The most precise and accurate method is using a bench rest and a sled or a gun vise to secure the weapon. This takes the human element out of zeroing the scope and stabilizes it as close to perfect as possible. Alternatively, a shooter can set up behind a rifle in the prone position, with sandbags or a bipod to aid in stabilizing the rifle. Regardless of your method of shooting, stabilization is the most important factor. To correctly zero a rifle and scope, shooters need a stable platform to shoot from. 47

BEGIN THE ZEROING PROCESS Once a shooter is in position, they begin the zeroing process. For bolt actions, single shots, and AR-style rifles, the shooter can remove the bolt, and separate the action and look down the barrel. Shooters then adjust the weapon until the barrel is in relative line with the target. The shooter can gaze through the barrel, and then the scope. If the scope is significantly off of the target, the view between the barrel and scope will be significantly different. Other rifle designs are more difficult to remove the actions and impossible to look through the barrel. For these rifles, shooters can utilize a laser bore sight. This device fits into the chamber of the weapon and sends a laser directly down the barrel. A shooter can adjust the scope until the reticle covers the laser on the target. This method can be used with any rifle, and is a very effective way to aid in zeroing an optic. This helps the shooter reduce the time and ammunition needed to zero an optic.

These devices are quite affordable, and easy to both find and use. PREPPING FOR RANGE HOT Once a shooter has gotten their reticle as close as possible to being on target, it is time to go hot. When zeroing a rifle scope the best practice is to take the necessary time to do it correctly. Apply the fundamentals to each and every shot taken. Load and fire three rounds without making adjustments, or moving the target or rifle. Once the three shots are fired, unload the rifle, and ensure the action is opened. Once this is done, move on down range to the target. Inspect the target. Your three shots are your “group.” This group should share some relatively similar characteristics. These three shots should all be in one general area of a target. For example, the three shots may not be right on top of each other, but are all left and low of the bull’s-eye. If the three shots are randomly placed both



American Shooting Journal // May 2019


high and low or both left and right, or any variation of this, there is an external issue. This issue can be connected to fundamental skill issues, the method your scope is attached to the rifle, the method the weapon is stabilized, or an overt and odd ammunition issue. If this is the case, the shooter needs to reevaluate their rifle, ammunition, scope and skills. FINE-TUNING THE ADJUSTMENTS If the group is routine, the shooter should measure, and then apply those measurements to their rifle scope turrets. Turrets are different from scope to scope and turrets feature different adjustment measurements per click. Turrets adjust the reticle up and down and left to right; this allows the scope to be aligned to where the rifle is shooting. This measurement will correspond to distance moved on the target. Repeat the process of shooting three rounds and adjusting the scope


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until it is striking the bull’s-eye of the target. Once this is complete, place a new target on the target holder and shoot three more shots to confirm the zero. Once the shooter confirms his or her zero, they should move to the range they expect to be shooting at. Once at this range, the shooter should clean their bore at least one time. Shooters should ensure the weapon is clear and then run a boresnake or punch rod with brush through the barrel to clean it. THE FINAL ZERO The shooter should then shoot three shots and observe where it strikes on the target. When safe to do so, they should repeat the process of zeroing their rifle by making adjustments, and firing. The process is repeated until the rifle is zeroed at this range. A shooter can then call it a day, pack it up and go home. Alternatively, they can move the target or themselves back even further and zero the rifle to ensure it is accurate at ranges beyond what the shooter expects. This is optional, but can be very handy in unplanned situations. FINAL THOUGHTS Zeroing a rifle to a scope is an absolute necessity. The more time a shooter takes and applies the fundamentals, the more precise their scope will be. Every step should be done appropriately, from setting the scope on the rifle, to securing the rifle into a stable firing position. Skipping any step, or being lazy about it, will result in frustration at best, or a poorly zeroed rifle at worst. Shooters should take their time, be safe, and always double check their zeroes.  Editor’s note: Chris Frenchak is a firearms enthusiast and gun collector. He has a number of guns, including an AR-10 and M&P 9mm, that he shoots regularly. He is a firearms hobbyist and has been adding to his firearms collection for over 20 years. He is also the lead editor at GunBacker. 50

American Shooting Journal // May 2019

Custom Guns

“the OUTLAW” GARY REEDER CUSTOM GUNS is proud to announce the continuation of one of our most popular revolvers, our OUTLAW. This beauty is built on the customers Ruger Vaquero and is full custom from the ground up. New Bisley style Gunfighter Grip with Sorrel grips. The frame and hammer are color cased and the cylinder, barrel and gripframe are finished in our deluxe Black Chromex. The gun has our Positive Performance Package and is guaranteed accurate. It is super smooth and fits the hand perfectly. The front sight can be either a red, green or white bead. One of our most popular custom revolvers is our OUTLAW. The OUTLAW - $1995 on your Vaquero • 8 to 10 Month Delivery. 740-221-4155 3i Holsters has been crafting hand- scratch up your holster? No problem, made custom Kydex holsters for the we will get you hooked up with a past five years. We take great pride in new one asap! our work and attention to detail is a Our holsters have adjustable, must, on every single holster we send passive retention around the trigger out of our shop. We call them custom guard, that can be loosened or tightbecause they are just that! These are ened based on your personal prefernot cookie cutter holsters cranked out ence. Your pistol will “click” into place on a machine—they are each handwith no fear of it falling out. Your crafted with the user in mind. weapon needs to be exactly where you We guarantee our holsters for expect it to be, when you need it. life. Wreck your motorcycle and You dream it, we build it.




ithin the firearms industry, the name Yankee Hill Machine is almost unavoidable when it comes to quality, affordable, American-made modern sporting rifles, components and accessories. For over 65 years YHM has proven itself as one of the leading developers of suppressor technology and modern sporting rifle accessories that will stand the test of time without breaking the bank. Now, having established themselves in that market, YHM is branching out with a new division, one that focuses on a premier product line and a particular customer. Enter Graham Brothers Rifleworks, the premier product line for the precision marksman. This new brand will focus on top-of-the-line accessories and equipment designed for competition and long-distance shooting, primarily for bolt-action rifles. The MARC Sport chassis system is the brand’s initial release. When developing this new superior chassis system, not only were accuracy and weight considered, but ergonomics, durability, adaptability and comfort were as well. Graham Brothers is currently in development of both supporting and stand-alone products for the precision shooting sports. With the experience learned through the success of YHM, Graham Brothers Rifleworks has established itself as a premier choice for the precision marksman. Available for Remington and Savage platforms in both short and long actions, the MARC Sport can be optioned with either an A2 or

Focusing on "top-of-the-line accessories and equipment designed for competition and long-distance shooting, primarily for bolt-action rifle," Graham Brothers Rifleworks' initial offering is the MARC Sport chassis system.

carbine stock adapter. The chassis features “V” bedding for improved accuracy and will accommodate recoil lugs up to 3/8 inch thick. An integrated thumb rest allows for multiple grip positions for maximum comfort and precision. All chassis accept AICS-style magazines and feature an ambidextrous magazine release lever. The chassis can also be complemented by two other accessories engineered to work specifically with the chassis. The first and most notable is a handguard that extends the mounting surface of

the chassis forward by 7.5 inches. It features M-Lok accessory mounting, Q.D. sling swivel points at front and rear locations, and is cleared to allow for large objective scopes. The second accessory is an Arca-Swiss rail that accepts a wide array of adapters and accessories made to the RRS standard. All the major chassis components are constructed of 6061-T6 aluminum and finished with a Type III Class 2 hardcoat anodize.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit 53

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Layke Tactical - LT10 Caliber: .308/7.62x51mm Barrel length: 18 inches Overall length: 36 to 39 inches Weight: 8.4 pounds Magazine capacity: 5 to 25+1 Stock: Composite MSRP: $1,599 to $2,000

CDNN Sports Walther Creed 9mm The Walther Creed 9mm is one of the best pistol buys in the U.S. Features include a precocked double-action trigger system, bobbed hammer that ensures a no-snag draw, abrasion-resistant Tenifer coating, ambidextrous magazine release, low-profile steel three-dot sights, and front and rear cocking serrations on the slide. Two 16-round magazines finish off this amazing pistol that goes for only $249.99.

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

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

STANDARD .32KEITH 125 GR. .380 95 GR. 9MM 115 GR. 9MM 125 GR. .38 148 GR. .38 158 GR. .40 180 GR. .45ACP 200 GR. .45ACP 230 GR. .45LC 255 GR.

RNFP/500 RNFP/500 TC/500 RNFP/500 RNFP/500 RNFP/500 RNFP/500 RNFP/900 RNFP/500 RNFP/100

SWC/500 RN/500 RN/500 RN/500 DEWC/600 SWC/600 RNFP/500 SWC/500 RN/500 SWC/500

! S E C I R P R E W O NEW L GAS-CHECK .38 .357 .41 .44 .44 .44 .45LC .45LC .458 .500

! S E C I R P R E W O NEW L This is a good cross reference of the bullets we offer. We have about 144 set of molds with new molds coming. Sixteen employees working 10 hr. a day shifts 4 days a week with 9 casters, 6 auto lubers, and 12 star lubers gas checking every day. We have bullets made with five different alloys that we order in 40,000 - 60,000 lbs at a time a mixed per our set alloys. Prices subject to change without notice.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

158 GR. 180 GR. 230 GR. 240 GR. 240 GR. 305 GR. 260 GR. 325 GR. 430 GR. 440 GR.

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




The Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid, with its signature tip.

African safari hunter on having to choose just one bullet for continent’s game: ‘It would most definitely be the Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid.’ STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO


he bull elephant was in musth – that was immediately clear – as his temporal glands were weeping down the side of his head. The night previous, he had destroyed the maize field that the village was counting on to survive the winter, rolling around

like a drunken teenager and ruining their efforts. We got on him early, and we got in close – 16 long paces to be exact – as my professional hunter advised me to take the bull in the heart. I eased the forend of the Heym Express into the sticks, and focused hard on that front sight; in spite of the

short distance, you don’t want to botch a shot on a bull elephant. The .404 Jeffery spoke, and I saw the dust fly on the bull’s hide. He took a half-dozen steps backward, and nearly went down as his rear end bounced off the ground. Upon recovering himself, he started forward, but a second 400-grain .404 59

bullet bulletin put him down for good. I’ll never forget the sheer enormity of the creature – this was a bull from western Zimbabwe, near Hwange Park, and they have the same build as the huge Botswana bulls; in fact they are one and the same, as they migrate from eastern Botswana to western Zimbabwe. His ivory wasn’t huge, but that was no matter. I was honored to

have taken such a magnificent animal, and to see that all that meat went to the village to help them through the lean months. I noticed, upon investigation, that both bullets had passed through the huge body and exited, and was very impressed with that level of penetration.

I HAD HANDLOADED my ammunition for

The 400-grain Woodleigh Hydro in the .404 Jeffery.

this safari, a two-part venture stopping first in South Africa for plains game, and then onto Zimbabwe for a nontrophy elephant, but I chose something a bit different than the classic softpoint and solid combination: I chose the Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid. The bullet with the long name was the result of many years of scientific testing, in order to finally resolve the question of softpoint or solid. For decades, hunters in pursuit of thick-skinned game – animals like elephant, rhino, hippo, Cape buffalo and even giraffe – have relied on “solids,” those bullets with no exposed lead core, designed not to expand in an effort to give maximum straightline penetration. Our early softpoint bullets, which were (and some still are) a simple lead core with a copper jacket around it, opened too fast when used against thick hide and heavy bone,

Hydros for the .450/.400 3-inch; this bullet makes a good cartridge even better.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019



• •



High Tensile Nickel-Alloy Cylinder

• Less wear on ejector pin • Can be color coded for ID/branding

• • • •

2 x pressure rating (over 70k PSI) Higher tensile strength and elasticity Corrosion resistant Reloadable using S3 Reload dies


5.56 MM




bullet bulletin

Federal Cape-Shok ammo for the .375 H&H Magnum, with 300-grain Woodleigh Hydro bullets.

sometimes giving poor penetration. The solid bullets, while they would give excellent penetration, produced caliber-sized wound channels with very little blood. Older African professional hunters would insist on solids only for elephant, buffalo and hippo, and I can see the wisdom of that choice. As the premium softpoints came onto the market, the PHs came


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

around to accept their use, for buffalo anyway. The usual regimen was to use a softpoint for the first shot, and follow up with solids, should you need to shoot a buffalo running away, and need to penetrate the entire body. By the time I began hunting buffalo, bullets like the Swift A-Frame, Barnes X, and of course the Nosler Partition had shown some of the professionals

that the solids may not be needed, for buffalo at least. Elephant and hippo, as well as what few rhino were left to hunt, definitely called for solids. Two bullets for the same rifle don’t always hit at the same point of impact, and the problem continued. Woodleigh’s Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid – the Hydro, for short – does the job of both softpoint

The Hydro also comes in a 525-grain bullet for the mighty .505 Gibbs, a combination worthy of any hunting anywhere.

The monometal lead-free construction makes the Woodleigh Hydro longer than its lead-core counterpart of the same weight.

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bullet bulletin

Federal’s Woodleigh Hydro load in .416 Remington, fully capable of hunting the entire world’s game animals.

and solid, and does it well. Made of a specialized copper alloy, which gives structural integrity, yet gives the breech pressures of softer copper bullets, the Woodleigh Hydro uses a small cup at the nose, which serves to keep the bullet in a straight line through water-rich tissue and bone alike. The cup creates a cavitation bubble, clearing the way for itself throughout the vital organs, and destroying all that blood-rich tissue. The shape of the bullet keeps the center of gravity where it needs to be to avoid tumbling upon impact, and Woodleigh has put bands on

The author with a Zimbabwean bull elephant, taken cleanly with the .404 Jeffery and Woodleigh Hydros out of his Heym Express.

the shank of the bullet to engage the rifling and reduce friction and fouling. I’ve found that this design results in a very accurate bullet. The nose design

works similar to a wadcutter; it cuts a caliber-sized hole in the hide and flesh that doesn’t seal up like the impact of a round-nose solid can, and this

Despite the huge body size, the Woodleigh Hydro passed completely through the body at 16 paces.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

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bullet bulletin

The Heym Express in .404 Jeffery, when loaded with 400-grain Woodleigh Hydros, is an excellent all-around big game choice.

guarantees increased blood loss and a quicker death.

I’VE USED THE Woodleigh Hydro on

a good number of different game species, from the common plains game animals like impala, reedbuck, warthog and wildebeest, and have also used them for dangerous game like Cape buffalo and the aforementioned elephant bull, and they’ve all been quick and humane kills. Upon autopsy, there was a cylinder of bloodshot tissue between 8 and 12 inches in diameter along the bullet’s path; I’ve found the larger the animal, the larger the cylinder of destruction. No matter what, the bullet earned my respect for The author’s Winchester Model 70 Safari Express in .416 Remington Magnum prints the Federal Cape-Shok load into sub-MOA groups.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

the quick kills, but I would offer this piece of advice: Make absolutely sure there is not another animal standing behind your intended target. I have yet to be able to recover a Hydro; they’ve all passed cleanly through, no matter the size of the animal or the distance. The cupped meplat can be a challenge in some rifles; I’ve seen where certain makes won’t feed them well, as they seem to get caught up on the feed ramp. However, my Heym Express feeds them just fine. In order to combat this issue, Woodleigh has installed a hemispherical plastic cap on the meplat of the bullet. This greatly aids in the smooth feeding of this bullet, and the cap comes off upon

impact so it doesn’t affect the terminal performance of the bullet. Woodleigh sells this bullet as a component part for those who reload their ammunition, but for those who prefer factory loads, Federal loads this bullet in their Cape-Shok ammunition line. The Federal line includes the 9.3x62mm Mauser, the 9.3x74R, .370 Sako Magnum (all at 286 grains), .375 Holland & Holland Magnum (300 grains), .416 Rigby and .416 Remington (400 grains), .458 Winchester Magnum and .458 Lott (500 grains), .470 Nitro Express (500 grains) and .500 Nitro Express (570 grains). Woodleigh’s component line stretches much wider; the Hydro is available in calibers from 7mm up to .585 inch for the .577 Nitro Express, giving the option of using these excellent projectiles in your favorite medium rifle. For those who want to use a .30 caliber for large bears, the Woodleigh Hydro might be the best answer to that question. I happen to be able to call Geoff McDonald – the owner of Woodleigh bullets – a friend; he and his team spend an extraordinary amount of time testing their bullets, not just in laboratory situations, but in the real world. The Woodleigh team, including McDonald and Graeme Wright, are well-versed in classic safari rifles and calibers, and are experienced African hunters. While these gentlemen are responsible for the origins of the Woodleigh Bullet Company, the Hydro is the brainchild of John Marozzi, an Australian metallurgist who had an incredible vision for a new bullet based on a tool used to make perfectly concentric holes down the center of brass rods. Trust me, McDonald & Co. put that bullet through highly rigorous testing before putting their name on it. I’ve used many different projectiles on African safaris, and there are many good choices out there for hunters of all different species, but if I were forced to use just one bullet for everything, it would most definitely be the Woodleigh Hydrostatically Stabilized Solid. 

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3iHOLSTERS With the 3i Holsters Kydex tourniquet carrier you can carry vertical, horizontal or upside down – your tourniquet is safe and will maintain its retention. It can be held with 2-inch duty attachment or Malice Straps. Available in OD green, coyote tan, black, and black basket weave. »

HANDGUN GRIPS Now that summer is here, update your holster with lightweight material. Check out Handgun Grips’ selection of Techna Clip, which attach to a variety of pistols and revolvers, eliminating the need for a holster. Handgun Grips also stocks a variety of leather holsters made by Don Hume and nylon holsters made by Ace Case. »

COVERT CARRIER Carry a small-framed, compact semiautomatic pistol, with no holster, case or pouch. IWB carry made easy. » 69

BULLARD LEATHER A new addition to Bullard Leather holsters is the thumb break snap, designed to be used by most of the company’s holsters. The back is reinforced leather to keep from breaking down, and the strap can even be made with exotic leather. The holster pictured is a Combat Holster for a Glock 19/23/32 with the thumb break snap. »

CONCEAL & PROTECT The SmartCarry women’s holster was designed with women in mind! Sweat-proof and virtually invisible, carrying concealed has never been more comfortable! Made in the USA and sold only at »

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

STICKY HOLSTERS The Sticky Belt Slider is an elastic magazine carrier that slides onto a belt and uses the accessory slot to carry an extra magazine, knife, or tourniquet. The accessory slot also has the company’s “Sticky” material for added retention. It is open ended so a variety of different sized items can be carried. »

AHOLSTER COMPANY Aholster Company specializes in Kydex concealment holsters. The Pocket holster is one of their top sellers and is used by civilians and law enforcement for an everyday practical way to carry a backup weapon, as well as in some situations a primary. It is available in right- or left-handed carry and made with .060-inch Kydex. » 70 American Shooting Journal // May 2017

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It all started about 15 years ago. I had a small gun shop (shack) on main street along with a couple other ventures. Business was doing good and I started to notice a certain pattern that I just could not ignore. Many of my customers would come in looking for a good option to carry a back up weapon and the choices were slim at best. The holsters that were available did not have the options that we were all looking for. The thought had crossed my mind to design and sell something myself, but I already had enough to do with the responsibilities of running my businesses. Shortly thereafter, I set out using my customers input and my own experiences to design a solution to this problem. I soon realized how valuable my customers’ input could be when looking for solutions. After many attempts and design tweaks, we all agreed that the aholster pocket solved the missing pieces that were needed for the perfect pocket carry solution. If you are looking for a holster to pocket carry your weapon, look no further than Aholster Company. 71



Manufacturer details the thinking that goes into his Staged-Break triggers. PHOTO BY HUBER CONCEPTS


hen it comes to upgrading your rifle to attain the utmost accuracy, many expert shooters say you should start with the trigger. No matter how true your aim or steady your hand, there are a number of environmental and physical factors (including sympathetic muscles, heartbeat and respiration) outside your control that will affect your shot performance, and heavy triggers tend to make aim even more difficult. All this is to say, upgrading to a quality trigger is imperative. That’s where Huber Concepts and their Staged-Break triggers come in. The company employs the latest computer technologies, ergonomics, mathematics, advanced manufacturing methods and motion physics to develop faster lock times, lower energy to actuate and shorter travels. The result is better shot management for tighter shot groups, and improved self-confidence and discipline at longer ranges. Indeed, their Remington 700 Two Stage Trigger is particularly popular with precision rifle shooters. Here, company owner John Huber explains some of the science behind the Staged-Break trigger. “Staged-Break triggers should not be compared to traditional one- or two-stage triggers or brands (Jewell, Timney, Jackson, etc.). Huber ball bearing triggers, where form follows function, are more mathematical and tactile than just mechanical. The difference is our higher order

mathematics and vector geometry. Subjective perceptions and learned behaviors compound inconsistencies in form. For example, the M60 tank – sight slaved to gun; the M1 Abrams – gun slaved to sight with better ballistic solutions possible, and no ‘Kentucky windage.’ “I believe there are broad misconceptions of shot management in timing, staging and trigger break weights. The action of firing a rifle with accuracy requires the operator to apply pressure to the trigger over time and distance without influencing the alignment of the sight picture on target at the moment of break. Trigger time (practice) improves shot sensing and exposes discipline deficiencies. “As I see it, the dominant eye is used to sight the rifle and the brain processes information of factors without physical motions. Rifle platform support should be trained to eye dominance rather than handed preference (left- or right-hand hold). The human hand functions as a unit and may not be equal in dexterity or coordination left to right. In pulling a single-stage trigger, the hand will equal all forces acting and adjust grip to finger pressure as opposing forces. Changing or shuddering the grip at the same moment of break will throw the shot off target. “Also, in pulling single-stage triggers from 0 pressure to as low as 1 pound, there is still lost time and distance, resulting in a shot that is late on target. The anticipation of break is not based in timing and only

The Staged-Break trigger from Huber.

a guess at millisecond increments and thousandths of an inch. “A slack first stage is insufficient to properly preload break grip prior to the shot but can shorten ‘wall’-to-break distance and time. First stage weight is approximately ¾ pound to 1 pound with travel 1/16 to 3/16 inches. Second stage short from wall to break at 2-plus pounds, versus the distance from front of static trigger to break. “Weights are subtractive, so that actually pulling trigger from 1 pound to 2 pounds is 1 pound break weight. Results experienced or reported beyond 2,000 yards, when shot management based in time, keeps the attention on target and minimizes ergonomic, sympathetic, involuntary energies and motions at the moment of the shot. “I believe that Huber Staged-Break Trigger is a tool and timer for you, the shooter: “Preload your break grip prior to the break. “Close tactile presentation to the break in time and distance. “Stage weights at 30 to 50 percent ratio for nominal tactile sensation and differentiation.”  Editor’s note: For more information, visit 73

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Author Scott Haugen and his father, Jerry, on their first father-son pronghorn hunt. Jerry is all smiles over this Wyoming buck.

The northeast corner of the Cowboy State offers a cornucopia of game, one family of hunters has found. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN


pproaching the last fat pine tree at the edge of a timbered ridge, I slowly eased the rifle barrel around the trunk, praying the mule deer buck wouldn’t bust me. Though the deer stood statue-still, staring my direction, it didn’t move. Carefully I slid the tip of my finger onto the trigger of the .300 Magnum while simultaneously centering the buck in the scope. As I looked at his glorious rack, I couldn’t help but flashback to when I’d first laid eyes on this buck, two weeks

prior. I was on a pronghorn hunt then, with good friend Guy Howell, operator of Center of the Nation Outfitters (, 307-896-2405) in Wyoming. Guy assured me he’d keep an eye out for this muley until I returned for the start of the deer season, two weeks later. The perfect five-by-five rack with two matching drop tines made this muley something worth coming back for. I took a nice pronghorn with Guy on that first hunt on his family’s fabulous ranch in the northeast corner of the Cowboy State. Now I was about to close the deal on that prized, double drop-tine mule deer – but it almost

didn’t happen. Between my visits, the buck had gotten his rack tangled in orange baling twine. The stress from the incident sent him into hiding, and Guy didn’t see him for over a week. Then he showed up, right where he’d spent the summer and early fall. But this time he had a big ball of twine on the left side of his rack. Not sure if the drop tine on that side had been broken off or not, there was only one way to find out. Centering the apex of my Trijicon AccuPoint scope on the buck’s shoulder, it dropped the moment the Remington 180-grain Swift Scirocco hit the mark. Approaching the buck, it had 79

ROAD HUNTER The Haugen family enjoyed turkey hunting together in northeast Wyoming, where Merriam’s turkeys abound.

a striking cape, something I’d failed to notice due to the unique rack it carried. When we cut away the mass of twine, a feeling of happiness consumed me, as a perfectly matching drop tine appeared. Little did I know that those two hunts, taken over the course of two weeks, would lead to many more thrills with the Howells.


invited my whole family to come visit. Arriving at the Howells’ ranch, one that comprises nearly 40,000 contiguous acres, my two sons, Braxton and Kazden, were greeted by the four Howell girls. No, hunting wasn’t on their minds, but rather horseback riding. Not only did all the Howells compete in rodeo events yearround, but they also have a roping and riding school at the ranch, and teach people from around the country how to ride, rope and handle horses. This was the highlight of my boys’ entire trip. The next morning found the entire family stealthing through the woods, trying to get my wife, Tiffany, her first Merriam’s turkey. Working a wooded ridge, we’d stop, call and


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

listen. Braxton worked the box call, and even got some gobbles. As we worked down the side of the ridge, Tiffany caught movement through the brush. We stopped, hunkered together in the open, held still and called. The bird moved our way and Tiffany made a perfect shot at 42 yards, dropping the tom. The best part, the boys were right next to Mom the whole time. A couple hours later I tagged my first turkey using a crossbow. Wyoming is one of the few Western states that allows the use of a crossbow, making for a fun, unique hunt. After our turkey hunts, the boys went back to the ranch for more horseback riding, then we were off to the prairie dog towns of Montana, on the ranch where Guy grew up. Guy’s mom, Nelly, is widowed, has been for several years, yet still runs this 10,000-acre ranch just across the border from where Guy now lives. She handles and moves cattle, horses and pigs, alone. No electricity, no TV, no neighbors, no cell phone; just Nelly, the land, her animals and God’s wisdom. The prairie dog town we hunted in Montana stretched for nearly 10 miles; another we hunted spanned 7 miles. In

big towns like this, you can shoot all day in the same place. It made for some fun shooting, and much-needed varmint control. One afternoon, while the kids all played in the barnyard, Guy and I broke free and had an enjoyable spot-and-stalk hog hunt in the hills. Over the years some of Nelly’s hogs escaped and took up life in secluded draws and ravines. Here the feral hogs thrive, and are both a joy to hunt and a pleasure to eat. Our last morning of the trip was spent back on the Wyoming ranch, where another horseback riding adventure awaited the kids. Braxton and Kazden didn’t want the experience to end, and neither did I. No TV, no computer. Sticks, rocks, horses, dogs, cats and the vastness of the American West. What more does a child need? What more could a parent want, especially one who strives to bring up their kids with the outdoors being the center of their world?

LEAVING THE HOWELL ranch wasn’t easy, but we knew we’d be back, and I already had two fall trips booked with Guy. In early October I’d return to the Howells, this time with my dad, Jerry Haugen. It was

The author and Center of the Nation owner, Guy Howell, have shared many great hunts together, including this one for whitetail deer.

ROAD HUNTER our first pronghorn hunt together. With tags tough to draw in many states, this part of Wyoming usually has leftovers available, and that’s exactly how Dad

and I were able to hunt together. After looking over several nice pronghorn bucks, Dad finally found what he wanted. The heavy-horned buck

was fending off an onslaught of satellite bucks, all eager to steal a member of his harem. After more than a mile of walking and crawling, we finally reached

This part of Wyoming is known for producing pronghorns with unique horns, including this one taken by the author.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

ROAD HUNTER a shooting position. The grass was tall, the antelope were many and the crosswind was screaming. Not easy circumstances to shoot under, but then again, Dad is one of the best shots I know. Figuring the wind, and waiting for the buck to clear his does, Dad made a perfect shot. After taking care of Dad’s buck, my hunt began. In this place, nontypical horn growth on pronghorns is common, and after blowing stalks on two unique bucks, we finally found another special pronghorn to go after. After four hours, I was in shooting position, and finally the buck stood, offering a shot. As he looked my way, there was no question he was the buck I wanted – one horn growing normal, the other jutting out at a 90-degree angle. As he picked his way through the sage, he hit an opening and the .270 barked; the buck didn’t go far.

FALL WASN’T OVER. I went back after

Thanksgiving, hoping for a shot at the 190-class mule deer Guy had been seeing. But a two-day storm drove that buck from his badlands hideaway the day before I arrived in camp. Though we saw several good mule deer, nothing topped the double drop-tine buck from the year before. So we turned our attention to whitetails. Never had I seen so many whitetails as here, and some big bucks, too. For two days we searched for the 165-inch, 10-point Guy had seen, but we couldn’t find it. A big nontypical also gave us the slip. But when a nice 10-point stepped out of the timber and started chasing does, we knew he was worth a closer look. Moving through tall, yellow grass, we made our way to a fence. The rangefinder read 235 yards, and the same .300 I’d taken the droptine buck with a year prior was still shooting straight. Standing over that whitetail,

Haugen has hunted many parts of Wyoming, for multiple big game species, and considers this double drop-tine mule deer one of his most memorable experiences of all.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

I could gaze over the ranch and see where I’d taken the drop-tine muley. I could see where Dad and I shared some wonderful pronghorn moments, and I could see where Tiffany, the boys and I enjoyed our most memorable turkey hunt ever. Montana was visible to the north, South Dakota to the east. I truly did feel like I was at the center of the nation. Will I return to this wonderful place? You bet, as long as they’ll keep having me. Above all else, I yearn to return with my family and hopefully make this a destination they want to come back to year after year. This is a place you want to make a part of your child’s life experience, a place to hunt, a place where people matter.  Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a fulltime TV host and author. Learn more at, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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American Shooting Journal // May 2019

she hunts

FROM SHE HUNTS TO SHE HARVESTS Skills camp attendees experience taking their first game animals. STORY BY BRITTANY BODDINGTON


’ve had the pleasure of watching quite a few ladies come through my women’s hunting skills camp, She Hunts, since our first one back in spring 2017. Recently I had several ladies arrive with zero hunting experience but who left feeling like real hunters, as they took their first animals with us. My friend Kristen had never pulled the trigger on a firearm before attending the camp. Her husband is a big bowhunter, but she never caught the bug. Yet she attended in hopes of gaining some understanding into his

passion for the sport. I started Kristen out on a Kimber .22 that my grandfather left me. He probably started my dad off shooting with the very same gun and my dad taught me on it, so it seemed fitting. After she got the feel for the trigger and the bolt action I moved her up to a 7mm-08 MG Arms rifle that we use for the camp and she was nailing the target every shot. So she proceeded to join the rest of the women as they began with sighting in their rifles, shooting fun targets and then moving up to shooting long range with a .300 Win. Mag. That

gun was also an MG Arms rifle, but it was the Banshee style, which is heavy and made for the range. It doesn’t kick very much for a .300 due to the weight and the muzzle brake, and Kristen didn’t seem to mind the recoil at all.

THIS GROUP OF LADIES bonded fast; they

all seemed to be one solid group by the end of the first day. The participants were cheering each other on and supporting one another on the range and in hunting. Several of the women came with the intent of harvesting an animal but were

She Hunts cofounder Brittany Boddington (center, kneeling) brought together another wave of aspiring hunters for her skills camp. (ANTHONY JANSSEN/GREG WETZEL) 87

she hunts

Julie couldn’t harvest a ram at the Texas game ranch but this newbie managed to score a boar. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

happy to let some less experienced hunters ride along and learn from watching them stalk their quarry. Another one of our ladies, Julie, was on the fence when she arrived about actually hunting. She wanted the information about hunting in order to make her final decision on whether or not she would become a hunter. By day two she had her heart set on a specific management black Hawaiian ram to be her first animal and was working her booty off to get it. I told Julie in one of the seminars not to take a shot unless she was comfortable with it and not to succumb to pressure to shoot if she didn’t feel that she could make an ethical shot. Julie hesitated on the trigger a few times, but for her first hunt I would much rather she hesitate and lose the opportunity than have to deal with the aftermath of a wounded animal. Her quest carried on for the duration of the camp, but the ram got wise to

she hunts

Boddington’s friend Kristen managed to fill the freezer herself by scoring a bison after attending the author’s skills camp. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

the game and gave her the slip. She opted to hunt a wild boar instead on the last day since the ranch was teeming with them. It was an easier species to find than the specific ram that she was looking for. Julie made a clean, one-shot kill and was over the moon with excitement. Her guide Shane was so impressed that he pulled me aside to tell me how much she had grown as a hunter over the course of the four days. Shane said that Julie went from laughing and joking in the vehicle to quiet and concentrated on spotting an animal. Her target acquisition was far faster on the last day than on the first. He was thrilled and she left talking about planning her next hunt with her family.


understood the idea behind hunting and feeds her family wild game as much as possible. But she’s never had the urge to pull the trigger herself. By day four of the camp’s five, she was asking questions like, “If I were to hunt


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

an animal, which would have the most and best meat for the money?” She wanted to know that if she decided to hunt a species, that it would be high quality and yield a quantity of meat to bring home to her family. Kristen talked to Texas-based Recordbuck Ranch’s ( manager Chuck and he suggested a bison. It is the biggest and best meat for the price range she wanted to spend.

Chuck also reminded Kristen that the kill zone on a bison is huge, which is good for a new shooter. I wasn’t worried about her shooting. By then she had shot a .22 rifle, .223 in an AR platform, .300 Win. Mag, .270 Win., 7mm-08, and Krieghoff 12- and 20-gauge shotguns, plus an open-sight .30-06 Krieghoff classic double-barrel rifle. Kristen had shot all of them accurately. I was more surprised to hear that a new shooter was going to jump into the deep end with a big and potentially dangerous animal, but we were assured that the guide would carry a backup rifle. In the end I decided to join her on the hunt. My husband Brad and I followed Kristen and her guide Glenn Allen as they stalked up on a herd of feeding bison. He got her on the sticks with his .375 H&H several times, but the buffalo wouldn’t turn broadside. We had agreed that her first shot should be the best possible angle that they could get, so they kept creeping forward. They were careful not to spook the bison until she had a clear shoulder shot at about 50 yards. Kristen hit the absolute center of the shoulder, breaking it instantly. The bison spun around and she got another shot into the opposing shoulder, and the bison rolled to its side and died. It was incredibly quick and I looked to Kristen, half expecting tears. She had a look of surprise and relief. Kristen took a moment to take in the brevity of the situation and then commented on how thankful she was that the animal had passed away so quickly and how wonderful it would be to take this meat home to her family. I sent Kristen’s husband a message: “It’s official; she hunts.”  Editor’s note: For more on She Hunts camps, go to shehuntsskillscamp .com. Los Angeles native Brittany Boddington is a Phoenix-based hunter, journalist and adventurer. For more, go to or facebook. com/brittanyboddington.


VARMINT CONTROL BUILDS LONG-RANGE SKILLS If you’re looking to improve your shooting abilities, helping farmers and others out by targeting prairie dogs fills the bill.



frequently find myself dreaming about connecting with spectacularly long shots. Not like a solid 100-yard kill shot at a whitetail, mule deer or elk resting at the fork in a tree, but long, legendary shots that immediately become the fodder for modern lore. I’m talking about ridiculous “struggle to see with the naked eye” far at a target so small you struggle to keep it located in your optic. The shots you make that are so

Even though this prairie dog has been alerted to the author’s presence, he provides a sufficient target for one quick shot before he heads back into the tunnel.

A T/C Dimension in .204 Ruger wearing a Leupold VX-II 3-9x is a formidable recipe for prairie dog hunting, The rifle’s accuracy is aided by 40-grain V-Max handloads and the quality optic helps reduce eye fatigue. 93

impossible your company will cheer, stand, high-five and dance in disbelief as you revel in your victory. Shots like that don’t come very often. Sure, we see videos and hear stories of guys taking down an elk at 700 yards, or a standing shot on a whitetail at 400. Both are fantastic shots, but they’re irregular, rare and not shots we get to practice frequently before that time arises. Am I right? If we are ethical hunters doing our part, then practice at different ranges under varying conditions is a regular part of our preseason preparation. When that time comes, however, we pray for one shot and hope it hits true. Shooting at a target, a bucket or a watermelon is nice practice, just no substitute for the real thing. What if I told you that such shots can be had not only routinely, but free

of charge if you’re willing to provide the ammo, pay for gas and take a little bit of initiative by doing the leg work? What if I said you could add four legs, fur and the thrill of a hunt to your practice? And that your practice would be a valuable public service for ranchers and row-crop farmers alike? Interested yet? I thought so. Welcome to the wonderful world of prairie dog hunting, where the tag quota is infinity, the shots commonly vary from 10 to 500 (or more) yards, and the only thing limiting your success is your level of enthusiasm and a potential ammo shortage. MANY YEARS AGO as a high school student in the rich, thick hardwoods of the Midwest, I heard a hunting buddy mention the proposal of varmint hunting out West, with no tag limit

A once rich field of grass, this area inside city limits has been devastated by an overabundance of prairie dogs and little vegetation is still alive.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

and all the shooting we could handle. Due in part to the restricted visibility at the distance our locale offered, the thought seemed almost too good to be true. We saw glimpses of wildlife all the time, but the range was shorter and the animals were skittish unless you were a farmer on a tractor. Prairie dogs are an interesting creature. At first glance they are cute and cuddly little critters. For all intents and purposes, if you were to come across a prairie dog town for the first time you might marvel at not only the intricate structures of their tunnels and mounds, but the way the community will vocalize to warn each other of potential danger. The giant wild hamsters of the plains are an interesting bunch, for sure. Because of speedy reproduction and shrinking habitat, prairie dogs quickly overpopulate and overrun a town so heavily that the grasslands they occupy become no more than a dust bowl, destroying both grazing land for themselves and the cattle, deer, antelope and other livestock they so frequently share territory with. This changes the status of the local prairie


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dog population from cute and cuddly to destructive pestilence in a hurry. As with any wild game, hunters are the best and most effective conservationists. When populations are managed by lowering the numbers of colonies, it means fewer mouths to feed, less disease, less impact on other local wildlife species and even a meal for coyotes and many birds of prey. From an ethics standpoint, we’ve learned in time too that a well-placed shot from a .223 Remington, .204 Ruger and even a .17 HMR (inside of 150 yards) and .22 WMR right between the shoulders of a standing prairie dog proves to be a faster and more ethical dispatch than the landowner trying to manage numbers by using poison, flooding or other means of extermination. THE PROCESS OF HUNTING prairie dogs is fairly simple and straightforward: Find a town. Gain permission from the landowner. Set up shop and get busy. But the actual execution of a


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

plan to hunt prairie dogs can be surprisingly more difficult than the shooter may hope. Their target’s vision is excellent, and although seemingly stupid at first, due to their collective intelligence they become fast learners. Often a “better safe than sorry” approach is adopted and they drop into their tunnels, only occasionally peeking their heads out to scan the terrain for imminent danger. An educated prairie dog town with skeptical eyes numbering in the hundreds or even thousands can be one of the most difficult quarries many hunters will experience in their predatory days. Which is why the actual art of hunting and stalking and not just walking in as an exterminator can be so valuable. We’ve learned to employ similar tactics as we do when hunting antelope, mule deer or any other free-ranging game for that matter. Find cover, stay out of sight as much as possible, and choose your shots wisely. Fewer shots mean less noise, which means more time undetected. If your state allows hunting

with suppressors, I highly recommend it. It is also for this reason that we have included in our tactics the habit of setting up a little further away, with better concealment, shooting prone from a bipod or solid shooting rest, or, my personal favorite, using an elevated 360-degree shooting table, as pictured in this article. Newcomers to the challenge will want to be sure to prepare accordingly based on the country they are hunting in. Take it seriously. Just like any of your big game hunts, you want the most bang for your buck. If you’re hunting the High Plains like we do, that means dry air, hot sun and wind, which in turn translates to potential dehydration, sunburn and dust. The less miserable you are, the more fruitful you’ll be, with better memories too. Use the appropriate tools. You’ll be spending all day or several hours at the very least looking through the glass on your rifle. Eye fatigue can be a factor even with decent midrange optics. The same goes for rangefinding gear and spotting scopes. Set yourself

up for success and your experience will be more enjoyable from the start. Finally, make sure your rifle is suitable for the task at hand. While this is a different type of hunting, it’s still hunting. And we are still responsible to ensure our tools kill quickly and humanely. Will a .30-06 work? Sure, but that’s obnoxious and expensive. Even the .22-250 Remington might be a little overkill, although very effective. If you can afford it, do it. My longest prairie dog kill to date was taken at 520 yards and the second at 480. Both with a witness and both with a Remington R-15 in .223 propelling 50-grain Hornady V-Max projectiles along at roughly 3,250 feet per second. Your rifle doesn’t have to be custom shop or overpriced for you to be proficient and effective. Just accurate and reliable. ANOTHER IMPORTANT FACTOR, as with any method of hunting, is knowing the local laws. Some states allow for the hunter to essentially operate as a “private contractor” for

Choosing a sturdy and portable shooting bench like this one helps give the shooter a stable rest with the ability to change targets quickly.

the landowner doing pest removal, which means you can operate as a guest or “employee” (a written contract may be a wise choice in this instance) of the landowner. Others will require a small game stamp to even pull a trigger in the state, but no specific individual tag for the varmints. Regardless, if there are regulations, know them.

If you are terrible at research, ask around or call the state’s conservation department or department of wildlife and they’ll help straighten your path. Most of all, be creative when it comes to hunting prairie dogs. The odds are that if you can dream it, you can accomplish it. Finding available land can be a daunting task,


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but possible if you’re willing to be adventurous and even a little brave. Find a town in the boonies overrun with the suckers and walk into the local diner declaring your intentions. I can almost guarantee someone will know someone who knows someone with an infestation. Churches, coffee shops, bars and legion halls are also great places to begin the process of zeroing in on the varmints. The trigger time will help you become seasoned, disciplined and confident when the moment comes to punch your tag on the bigger fourlegged game. Remember, practice may not mean perfect, but it does mean permanent. So take advantage of the chance to practice conservation, do a landowner a favor, and hone your skills on a formidable opponent. I absolutely guarantee you’ll giggle and fist-pump the first time you connect at distance. Hunting the fourlegged dirt dwellers has become one of my favorite pastimes, as well as one of the most fun to boot. Happy shooting, everyone. 





American Shooting Journal // May 2019

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SHORT-BARRELLED HUNTING RIFLE A LONG TIME IN THE MAKING Author Mike Nesbitt’s C. Sharps Arms Carbine Hunter’s Rifle in .40-70 Straight Sharp with the added tang sight.

C. Sharps Arms’ Carbine Hunter’s Rifle takes after 1800s’ sporting, military models. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT


mong the Model 1874 Sharps rifles made currently by C. Sharps Arms Company, the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle seems to get the least attention. That really isn’t fair because the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle is one of the Sharps versions that is most often found on the “guns in stock gallery.” But there is more to it than just that, because the rifle is a very shootable Sharps. Today’s version of the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle is actually a combination of two rifles from the Sharps history. The Hunter’s Rifle was introduced by Sharps in 1875 and it was available in all of the Sharps cartridges at that time. Barrel lengths on it ranged from 26 to 32 inches but other options remained few because the original Hunter’s Rifle was introduced as an economy model. When the Sharps company made their move to Bridgeport in 1876, the Hunter’s Rifle was kept in the lineup, but it is a rare version of the 1874 Sharps and this model saw a total production of just under 600 guns. Even rarer is the old Sharps Model

1874 carbine, which was made in both military and commercial styles. The military version had a barrel band about the forearm, while the commercial version had the forearm held on with the two typical screws from the bottom. Chamberings were more restrictive in the carbines and all of the carbines made at Hartford were chambered for the .50-70 cartridge, while the majority of carbines made at Bridgeport used the .45-70 cartridge, but .40-70 and .50-70 were also available. Barrel lengths for the military carbines were generally 22 inches but the commercial carbines most often carried a 25-inch barrel. About 450 of the ’74 carbines were made. While the Hunter’s Rifle and the civilian carbines are rather similar, there is one very specific difference. The Hunter’s had front sights that were dovetailed to the barrels, the same as the Sharps Sporting Rifles. The carbines, both military and civilian versions, had front sights that were brazed directly to the barrels. TODAY’S VERSION OF the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle is a combination of the old Hunter’s Rifles and the civilian carbines. In C. Sharps’ current catalog this is shown as the “1874 Carbine Hunter’s Rifle.” It is offered with the barrel lengths of a carbine – 22, 24, and

26 inches – but with the dovetailed front sight of the Hunter’s Rifle. Other barrel characteristics follow the carbine barrels, with the short flats on both sides of the barrels just ahead of the action and the “bulge” in the barrels at the breech. What this combination produces is a very handy hunting rifle, ready to be packed by hand in the timber or carried in a saddle scabbard. At the very beginning of the gun’s description in the catalog there is a list of the cartridges it can be made in. That list begins with the .38-55 and ends with the .50-70, including only the .40-65, .40-70 Sharps Straight and the .45-70 in between. Those are the cartridges that can do their best in 26-inch or shorter barrel lengths and chambering one of these light rifles for larger cartridges could make the guns rather uncomfortable to shoot. However, if you desire a Carbine Hunter’s Rifle chambered for another cartridge, such as the .40-50 for example, don’t hesitate to ask. I could be easily tempted to request one chambered for my favorite .44-77. My own is chambered for the .4070 SS and it has the 26-inch barrel. It is simply standard and has none of the other options, such as the Hartford-style cast German silver nose cap on the forearm. (If I should ever 103

BLACK POWDER get another Carbine Hunter’s Rifle, I will order that silver nose cap. In my opinion it really adds to the looks of the gun.) The general shape of the forearm includes a Schnabel at the tip, although on my rifle that Schnabel was removed after delivery to give the gun more of an appearance like the old Hunter’s Rifles. All Carbine Hunter’s come standard with the military style of buttstock and buttplate. This follows along with the way the original carbines and Hunter’s Rifles were fitted. And this model of the 1874 rifles is not particularly a lightweight gun; my .40-70 SS with the 26-inch barrel and fitted with the Distant Thunder tang sight weighs almost 10 pounds.

A black powder enthusiast takes a seated shot with a .40-70 and X-sticks.


American Shooting Journal // May 2019

NOW SOME TALK about the shooting, at least the shooting I’ve done with mine. As already mentioned, mine is in .4070 SS caliber. My favorite load for this rifle includes a 330-grain paper patch

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These paper patch bullets for the .40-70 SS duplicate original loads.

bullet over 65 grains of Olde Eynsford 1½ F powder. That duplicates the old .40-70 SS loading and it would do very well as a deer or medium game riflecartridge combination, although I have

Here’s the author’s pumpkin that will never be the same …

yet to do any hunting with it. That said, not all of my shots have been aimed at paper targets. Yes, some of my shooting was done right after Halloween so I had a pumpkin to

punch. That pumpkin was set out at 60 yards and properly punched with a couple of the paper-patched bullets just to see what their effect might be. To say those shots were effective is

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American Shooting Journal // May 2019

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BLACK POWDER putting things mildly and, as you might guess, that pumpkin will never be the same again. Another load that I like and probably use a bit more than the paper patch load uses a 370-grain bullet from Saeco’s #640 mold over 60 grains of the Olde Eynsford 1½ F powder. This loading shoots very well and the 370-grain bullets were used to get this rifle sighted-in with the new Distant Thunder sporting tang sight. For target use, the 370-grain bullets have performed the best, making tighter groups. Two of my friends have Carbine Hunter’s Rifles as well and both of them selected .50-70s, perhaps mainly with hunting in mind. Ashley Garman ordered his .50-70 just three days after shooting one of my Sharps in that legendary caliber and he specifically wanted a hunting rifle that would fit a saddle scabbard because he does a lot of hunting from

horseback. Bob DeLisle also picked the .50-70 and both of those shooters enjoy using their rifles with paperpatched loads, duplicating the old .50-70 sporting loads. I’ve shot beside Bob in some of our short-range black powder cartridge matches and I can quickly testify on how well he does with his .50-70, most often competing with the open sights on the barrel. It’s getting rather hard to mention shooting with a .50-70 without mentioning Bob. Let me conclude my description of the Carbine Hunter’s Rifle and the comparison of today’s version with the originals by saying that the old Sharps Company introduced the Hunter’s Rifle as a model that was less expensive than the other Model 1874s. Today’s C. Sharps Arms Company does likewise because theirs is the least expensive of all of their Model 1874 rifles. It is currently




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American Shooting Journal // May 2019

A fine group fired with the 370-grain Saeco bullets.

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