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SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 6 // Issue 10 // July 2017 PUBLISHER


Dick Openshaw


John Rusnak



Craig Hodgkins


Brad Fitzpatrick CONTRIBUTORS

Steven Paul Barlow, Larry Case, Mike Dickerson, Scott Haugen, Frank Jardim, Mike Nesbitt, Rob Reed, Rick Ross, Bob Shell, Oleg Volk, Dave Workman SALES MANAGER

Katie Higgins

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Mamie Griffin, Garn Kennedy, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER

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Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

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Lois Sanborn


Jon Hines


Gary Bickford, Barry Johnston, Tony Sorrentino ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

ON THE COVER Actor and gun enthusiast Michael Rooker is taking cinemas by storm this summer with his star turn in the blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017


MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S. Ste. 190 • Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 • 11


VOLUME 6 • ISSUE 10 • jULY 2017


LIBERTY AND FREEDOM Despite more than two centuries of conflict and strife, the United States remains a beacon of liberty and freedom around the globe. Since 1886, our Lady of Liberty has stood in New York Harbor as a visible symbol of that freedom, and this stunning image captures her view of distant shores.


DESTINATION NAMIBIA Stable, friendly, and with plenty of game, Namibia has become the most popular hunting destination in Africa – and there may never be a better time for a safari there than right now. Writer Brad Fitzpatrick takes us along for an impressive tour.


ROAD HUNTER: 8 GREAT SUMMER SCOUTING TIPS Big game seasons may not begin until fall, but preparing for them should be a year-round activity. Columnist Scott Haugen is the veteran of several decades of hunting preparation, and shares what to be doing now to make the most of upcoming hunts.



Although he donned blue skin for his most recent role as Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, it is actor Michael Rooker’s bluecollar work ethic that continues to put him on red carpets in Tinseltown. (MARVEL/DISNEY)

GALACTIC GUN GUY From his earliest roles to his recent stardom on screens large and small, actor Michael Rooker – perhaps this generation’s ultimate anti-hero – has remained a favorite of directors, fans and fellow cast members by staying true to himself.

REMEMBERING ELMER KEITH – WITH A BANG! A devoted group of shooters gathers in the Pacific Northwest each year to honor the “father” of long-range handgunning, and our man Dave Workman – a friend of the late Mr. Keith – was right there among them with his big-bore revolver.

101 BEHIND THE BADGE: HOT ON THE TRAIL Columnist Steven Paul Barlow has a nose for a good story, in this case, bloodhounds, which lead the pack of police K-9s when it comes to finding fugitives and lost parties.

129 KNIFING THROUGH At a low point in his life, writer Rick Ross was without a wife or his favorite knife. Fortunately, he found solace in a brand-new blade from Zero Tolerance, the 0801TI.

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 // July 2017

Stability and Accuracy


Enhanced Pistol Cheek Rest Kit with CAA saddle shown

AR/AK Pistol Cheekrest Kits Our Pistol Cheek Rest Kits are a Hybrid design combining our Standard or Enhanced Buffer Tube Covers and the Command Arms SST1 or the Mission First Tactical Evolv Stock Saddle. The two are joined together using a specially designed adapter and mounting hardware. The result is a rock solid, ergonomic, cheek weld that provides stability for accurate, repeatable, shooting and a proper sight line for your favorite optics or sights. Our kits come pre-assembled in house with new, easy to follow, instructions on the inside flap of the new header card. Instructional videos are also available on our website.

BD-180 Blast Deflector Kits An inexpensive and easy to install upgrade for short barreled rifle and AR Pistol applications. It redirects high pressure concussion, flame, and hot muzzle gasses forward away from the shooter and bystanders.

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.

CONTENTS Also Inside 137 Black Powder: Flints 149 Reloading: Hodgdon’s Enduron Powder, Part III 167 Company Spotlight: Velocity Triggers 169 Company Spotlight: AT3 Tactical LEOS red dot sight 173 Company Spotlight: Safety Harbor Firearms 174 Company Spotlight: Kick-EEZ

AN OLD HANDGUN FOR YOUNG SHOOTERS When Frank Jardim wanted to find a handgun for his young son that was truly kid-sized, he traveled back in time – well, at least chose an Uberti reproduction of a Colt cap-and-ball pistol. How well did it work out for Junior? Frank shares!

DEPARTMENTS 17 19 21 23 25


Editor’s Note Competition Calendar Gun Show Calendar Top Shots Industry News: Jessie Duff-Harrison’s High Score; New Products From Mossberg, MTM and Stealth Cam

This Uberti reproduction of a Colt 1862 Pocket Police can be a perfect fit for a young shooter learning the shooting disciplines. (FRANK JARDIM)


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t’s easy to get a bit jaded about our holidays here in the United States. If we are honest, many of them have simply become excuses to take time off from work, or to travel and recreate when and where we want. But each of our ten currently recognized federal holidays originally began as a way to remember or celebrate an event or person that means – or should mean – something special to us as Americans. In 1870, the U.S. Congress passed the first federal holiday bill, and there were only four: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Looking down the list, it doesn’t take much thought to surmise about the origins of a few. New Year’s Day, for example, is a time for us to look back on the previous year, and to ponder what the next installment may bring.

And, for folks like me who were born on December 31, it also means I rarely have to work on the day after my birthday. Others recognize the unique contributions of a specific person, such as the explorer Christopher Columbus or George Washington, whose February birthday is now combined in some states with Abraham Lincoln’s into President’s Day. Washington’s Birthday remains the official federal holiday of record, however, so I guess being the Father of our Country counts for something. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1986, but it took until 2000 for all states to officially recognize, although not all do it by name. Labor Day was added to the federal calendar in 1894 after several states had set aside days recognizing the contributions the American work force

has made to the development and growth of our country. Memorial Day and Veterans Day are occasionally confused. Veterans Day recognizes all who have honorably served in the military, and Memorial Day honors those who have given their lives in doing so. That, of course, leaves us with Independence Day, the holiday that falls in this calendar month. Some consider this the most important of the holidays because without it, we would not have the freedom to celebrate all of the others. So the next time you gather with friends, fire up the barbecue or take a long weekend, remember the origins of the holiday you are celebrating, and be thankful that you live in a country where you have the freedom and liberty to do so. -Craig Hodgkins 17


American Shooting Journal // July 2017


July 7-8

July 14-16

Free State Championship De Soto, Kan.

2017 Western Pennsylvania Section Championship Jefferson Hills, Pa.

July 7-8 2017 New Mexico Sectional Championship Fort Bliss, Texas

July 13-16 2017 Safariland FAS & Furious Fairbanks, Alaska

July 14-16 2017 USIPSC Nationals Frostproof, Fla.

July 21-22 Columbia Cascade Section Championship Dundee, Ore.

July 22 2017 CK Arms Mississippi Open State Championship Biloxi, Miss. Kalani Laker (left), Keith Garcia and the other members of the Cobalt Kinetics shooting team have continued their competition success since appearing in our December 2016 issue. (COBALT KINETICS)

July 8-9

July 15-16

July 29-30

Empire State Regional Classic XX Fulton, N.Y.

The Sunflower State Classic V Wellington, Kan.

Great Lakes Regional Classic XIII Brighton, Mich.

July 8-9

July 22-23

July 29-30

The Ouachita Regional Challenge VII Monroe, La.

Buckeye State Ballistic Challenge XVI Marietta, Ohio

Pacific Coast Challenge XI Albany, Ore.

July 8

July 11

July 26-29

Nebraska State Shoot Lincoln, Neb.

South Dakota State Championship Spearfish, S.D.

Lakota Western U.S. Championship Las Vegas, Nev.

July 8

July 22-23

New Hampshire State Championship Gilford, N.H.

4th Annual Celebration of the Cowboy Shootout Glen Rose, Texas

July 15

July 15-16

July 22

2017 NC Mountaineer Classic State Match – Tier 2 Boone, N.C.

Pennsylvania State Championship – Tier 3 Hunlock Creek, Pa.

2017 Iowa State IDPA Championship – Tier 2 Elkhart, Iowa 19

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Crossroads Of The West Gun Shows

July 8-9 July 15-16 July 22-23

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Tallahassee, Fla. Palmetto, Fla. Miami, Fla. Daytona, Fla. Jacksonville, Fla.

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July 8-9 July 8-9 July 8-9 July 15-16 July 15-16 July 15-16 July 15-16 July 22-23 July 22-23 July 29-30 July 29-30

East Ridge, Tenn. Tulsa, Okla. Topeka, Kan. Somerset, Ky. Columbus, Ga. Jackson, Tenn. Wichita, Kan. Joplin, Mo. Germantown, Tenn. Tulsa, Okla. Marietta, Ga.

Camp Jordan Arena Tulsa Fairgrounds, Center Park Hall Kansas Expocentre The Center For Rural Development Columbus Convention/Trade Center Jackson Fairgrounds Park Century II Expo Hall Joplin Convention/Trade Center Agricenter International Tulsa Fairgrounds, Exchange Center Cobb County Civic Center

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July 8-9 July 15-16

Centralia, Wash. Spokane, Wash.

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Spokane County Fair & Expo

C&E Gun Shows

July 8-9 July 22-23 July 29-30

Concord, N.C. Salem, Va. Fayetteville, N.C.

Cabarrus Arena & Events Center Salem Civic Center Crown Expo Center

Real Texas Gun Shows Tanner Gun Shows

July 8-9 July 29-30

Tomball, Texas Taylor, Texas

Tomball V.F.W. Williamson County Expo Center

July 15-16

Denver, Colo.

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Jessie Harrison-Duff shot a personal best to take the Ladies Open title at last month’s 2017 Georgia Steel Challenge Championship.

PEACH OF A GEORGIA SCORE, AND MORE Jessie Harrison-Duff earns another Ladies Open title with a personal best last month. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


aurus USA team captain and American Shooting Journal January cover shooter Jessie HarrisonDuff wrapped up another successful competition at the 2017 Georgia Steel Challenge Championship. She walked away with a first-place finish in the Ladies Open with a score of 90.03 – her personal-best match score. Competing at the Strongpoint

Shooting Complex in Waverly Hall, Georgia, last month, Harrison-Duff’s packed schedule found her competing in the Ladies Open, Single Stack, .22 Open and Pistol Caliber Carbine classes. She took on the difficult matches, which included eight official Steel Challenge stages, and came out on top with a first-place finish in the Ladies Open, third in the overall Single Stack, second in the Lady .22 Open and

eighth overall and a ninth overall finish in the Pistol Caliber Carbine. “I was excited to shoot a personal-best match score at the GA Steel Championships and simply honored that Taurus can share in this victory with me,” stated Harrison-Duff. Her next challenge is in Frostproof, Florida on July 14-16 as she takes on the competition at the US IPSC Nationals. 29


Mossberg introduces FLEX conversion kits for their Mossberg 500, Maverick 88 pump-action shotguns.


ouldn’t everyone want a gun that is flexible, versatile and virtually limitless for fit, style and application? That’s the way that Mossberg described their groundbreaking FLEX series of modular shotguns and accessories a few years ago. With the innovative system of TLS (tool-less locking system) connectors and FLEX accessories (stocks, recoil pads and forends), 500 FLEX and 590 FLEX shotguns

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NEWS could easily be converted in seconds from a rugged tactical platform to a foul-weather hunting gun – without the need for tools. Now Mossberg is set on revolutionizing the modular shotgun concept again with the introduction of FLEX conversion kits for your Mossberg 500 and Maverick 88 pump-action shotguns in 12- and 20-gauge options. Three conversion kits are available for each gauge, with all required hardware included. The flexibility and versatility of the FLEX System, designed to give shotgunners an easy and quick way to adapt their shotgun to a variety of shooting applications, can now be added to existing 500/88 pumpactions with your choice of the following kits in 12 and 20 gauge: STOCK AND FOREND ADAPTER KITS These include the FLEX TLS stock and forend adapters only, but


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

provide the option to switch to FLEX accessory stocks, recoil pads and forends. STOCK ADAPTER WITH FLEX PISTOL GRIP KIT These include the FLEX TLS stock adapter and Mossberg’s FLEX Pistol Grip with convenient sling swivel stud and black matte finish. You can easily convert your 500/88 to a Mossberg Cruiser platform for home-defense applications. STOCK ADAPTER KIT This includes the FLEX TLS stock adapter only, and will allow your 500/88 to accept FLEX stocks and pistol grip for LOP (lengthof-pull) customization or ease of converting your hunting shotgun to tactical platform. With 16 FLEX accessory

components and Mossberg’s extensive line of 500 accessory barrels (compatible with Maverick 88 shotguns as well), the options for your pump-action shotgun are endless. FLEX System accessories include three recoil pads (¾, 1¼ and 1½ inches thick); four synthetic forends (three standard and one tactical tri-rail); and nine stock options. Choose from standard fulllength stocks with 12½-, 13½- and 14¼-inch LOPs; pistol grip; sixposition adjustable tactical stock; and four-position adjustable, dualcomb hunting stock. Forends and stocks feature black matte, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity or Realtree MAX-4 finishes. MSRP for these kits range from $42 to $70. For more information, visit

NEWS MTM Case-Gard introduces a new adjustable high-low benchrest-style adjustable shooting table.


ince 1968, MTM has continued to design and produce products for the shooting enthusiast. From ammo boxes and gun rests to clay target throwers, MTM offers a huge variety of products essential to the sportsman. One of their newest products is an ultra-adjustable benchrest-style shooting table for left- and right-handed shooters. The High-Low shooting table can adjust to stand 55 inches tall at the highest setting or 18 inches at the lowest. The table is stabilized with three legs and footings that wedge into the ground. The High-Low shooting table was designed for field use or uneven ground, as well as angled areas such as a hillside. The roomy

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NEWS 17-by-33-inch table surface is large enough to hold a rifle or handgun rest, ammo and tools. The comfortable, lightweight, portable stand is produced with a ridged, engineering-grade polypropylene top that is available in a dark earth color. MSRP for the table is $139.99 For more information, please visit

‌ and to a low of 18 inches.

Stealth Cam unleashes Ultra HD 4K Video with 30-megapixel resolution.


tealth Cam continues their innovative ways in the trail camera market by shipping the ďŹ rst trail camera featuring 30-megapixel resolution and Ultra HD, 4K Video technology. Stealth Cam is committed to producing products capable of providing the clearest images, and the DS4K has every feature to help deliver these expectations. It is loaded with premium features, which include dual image sensors for optimal day and night high-resolution images, 42 no-glo infrared emitters for 100-foot true invisible night-time illumination, split-second trigger speed, adjustable IR range, and many more. New for Stealth Cam, the DS4K also features a PIR combo mode, featuring the best of both worlds, with a high-resolution image followed by a HD video in the same triggering. The 30MP hi-resolution game camera has a 16:9-wide image ratio, manual shot capability and an SD card slot up to 64GB to house multiple images and videos when needed most. The DS4K uses matrix advanced blur reduction and retina low-light sensitivity, improving the quality of lowlight pictures. With this release, Stealth Cam delivers yet another product that will give users the most realistic images and videos available. To learn more about Stealth Cam products, please visit

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017





Galactic Gun Guy

According to several top critics, Michael Rooker (as Yondu Udonta) was the real star of this summer’s blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (MARVEL/DISNEY)

From early roles to recent stardom on screens big and small, Michael Rooker – today’s ultimate antihero – has become a favorite of directors, fans and fellow cast members by staying true to himself. STORY BY CRAIG HODGKINS


A few years ago, Michael Rooker was doing something he loves almost as much as performing: driving his four-wheel-drive truck across the wide-open spaces of New Mexico and Arizona. It was a dark, rainy night, the sort of atmospheric setting that has provided the backdrop for some of his most memorable character turns. But along this particular stretch of highway, the actor didn’t have mayhem, revenge or even survival on his mind. He was simply headed home. But for the man who has most recently mesmerized audiences with such nuanced and complicated characters as Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and Yondu Udonta in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, the word “simply” acquires a whole new layer of meaning. At one point on his journey westward, he’d gotten in close behind

a convoy of long-haul truckers so he could use them as oversized pace cars for his drive back to Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before the big-rig drivers noticed, a fact the actor knew right away. “I’m probably one of the only actors in Hollywood that still has a CB [citizen’s band radio],” Rooker, 62, told me with a laugh recently. “I was tailing ’em because they were hauling ass across these two states, and I was not going to let ’em leave me behind. I was tagging along, and they were like, ‘Hey, look at that. We still have that little four-wheeler behind us.’ And I hollered up, ‘You sure as hell do, boy. Just keep on rollin’.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, what’s your handle [nickname]?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t even have a handle, man.’ And he said ‘We’ve got your handle; we’re going to be calling you Tagalong from now on,’ and so it stuck.”

With the newly christened actor and his undersized vehicle now an official member of the procession, things got even more interesting. “Then they found out who I was,” Rooker added. “One guy recognized my voice, and he knew my cousins, the other Rookers, who used to work on trailers down in Florida and Alabama and Mississippi. He said, ‘I know you’re blah blah’s cousin, Michael Rooker, the actor.’ I said, ‘Yep, I sure as hell am.’ And so after that, we were talking and yakking all the way across these two states, and the time just flew. It was a great experience.” That chance encounter may provide everything you need to know about Michael Rooker’s approach to his life and career. Like those truckers he fell in with so easily, he is committed to the long haul, and no matter what the job entails, he keeps moving forward and always delivers 41

Rooker’s turn as the mercurial Merle Dixon in AMC’s The Walking Dead won him a whole new legion of fans. (AMC)

the goods. Perhaps more importantly, even in the most solitary of environments, whether along a lonely highway or in a darkened movie theater, Rooker always finds a way to connect with people. ONE OF HIS EARLIEST road trips took a 13-year-old Rooker from his birthplace of Jasper, Alabama, to Chicago, where his mother moved him and his siblings following her divorce. But instead of sending him spiraling out of control with teenaged angst, the move seemed to cement a life focus that continues to drive him today. “I was meant to be this actor that I am,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. “Even growing up as a little hillbilly kid in Chicago in my neighborhood, Division and Ashland, which was not the nicest neighborhood when I was growing up, I always knew inside my heart that I was meant for something else. I 42

American Shooting Journal // July 2017

was not meant to be on the streets of Chicago. I was not meant to be in a gang. I was not meant to do drugs. I had that belief all through my life.” While seeking a way to express himself, Rooker discovered acting. “I got involved with some theater people and enjoyed what they did,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could probably do this.’ I ended up auditioning for a theater school [DePaul University’s Goodman School of Drama], got accepted and the rest is history.” From his earliest star turn as the title character in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Rooker has worked in productions of all sizes and budgets. In fact, audiences who know him only from his recent success may be surprised to learn that he had important roles in some of the most popular pictures of the ’80s and ’90s, including Eight Men Out, Mississippi Burning, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, JFK, Cliffhanger and Tombstone. That also means that he has acted

alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, from Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Tom Cruise to Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell (he recently worked with the latter two again in Guardians 2). In a town with a reputation for short-term memory loss for who’s on top and who’s not – sometimes on a week-to-week basis – Rooker just keeps moving forward. Those seeking a secret formula to his long-term success, however, will be disappointed. “You just keep working, dude,” he told me, “That’s all. In this business, there are always ups and downs. The last couple of years I’ve been on a pretty good high, starting with The Walking Dead. Getting involved with that series was like a gamble in the beginning. Who the hell knew that shooting zombies’ heads off would become a popular way of releasing stress, and being an escape from normal, everyday life? We always knew there were zombie fans out


When the camera is not rolling, Rooker is all fun and games. Here, he shares a lighter moment with Guardians director James Gunn. (MARVEL/DISNEY)

there, because I started out in horror, so all of us horror guys and gals always knew that it’s a popular area, ever since George Romero did his first movie [Night of the Living Dead, 1964], but we didn’t know whether or not society had caught up with us. Apparently society has caught up with our sick minds, and they are into it as well.” ON THE WALKING DEAD, Merle Dixon may have carried a 1911, an M16 and two knives, but Rooker’s had several other roles where the prop man placed a gun in his hand every day. “That was from the beginning,” he said. “You know; here’s yours and here’s yours and here’s yours, back in 44

American Shooting Journal // July 2017

the day when they didn’t even give you training. Nowadays we’re much more attuned to like making sure everybody’s properly instructed on the handling and the safety of these firearms that we’re using on set.” But unlike many of today’s actors portraying gun-toting characters, Rooker doesn’t need much instruction. He already knows a thing or three about firearms. “I kept getting these roles where I had to handle weapons,” he said. “(But) I was a little ahead of the game since I knew how to shoot already. I really got into Tombstone and the armor. It was Western-style, singleshot shooting, and I ended up really enjoying the old-style Colt singleaction pistols. We went shooting

every day; we trained every day to get ready for our scenes. I walked away from the movie after it was over and wanted to continue shooting.” The armorer on that picture was none other than Thell Reed, who was dubbed “The Fastest Gun Alive” when he was still a teen. Even if you have never heard of Reed (and that would be a pity), you may recall a famous photograph of 1960s fastdraw experts Ray Chapman, Eldon Carl, Jeff Cooper and Jack Weaver pointing their gun barrels directly at the camera. If you know the photo, that’s Thell Reed standing (and pointing) dead center. Not only was Reed important to Rooker’s skill development on Tombstone, the two still work 45

No matter what his role may be, Rooker has an undeniable presence on the screen. (DISNEY/MARVEL)

together. “Thell is my sensei, my teacher, and my first gun coach,” he said. “We hung out together and shot together before the movie, during the movie


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

and after the movie. And we still talk and communicate and shoot together. We actors learn different things on all these movies that we do, and this is one thing that I learned

from Tombstone that I’ve actually kept up, and have actually improved upon the way I was back then.” EVEN WITH HIS FREE TIME



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Rooker’s Guardians costar Chris Pratt calls the frequent screen villain “one of the good ones.” (MARVEL/DISNEY)

increasingly limited, Rooker still finds the opportunity to get some shots downrange. In fact, the actor’s house is nearly a home on the range, since it is just a couple of minutes from the Angeles Shooting Range


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

north of Los Angeles. Rooker even owns stock in the popular training and practice destination, one of the biggest shooting facilities in L.A. County. He also trains with his friend, competition shooter

Taran Butler, whenever he has the chance. But no matter where or when he shoots, he keeps his practice “routine” less than routine. “I like to shoot different styles,” he said. “I like long distance; I like

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short pistol work. I like shooting little targets, so I shoot far distances because the target gets smaller as you go out. But if I don’t have a long range to do that, I’ll shoot the 6-inch targets, the little poppers. I shoot those about a hundred yards out with my pistol.” “If I’m short in or really close, I’ll find a Michael Rooker action figure and I’ll bring it out and shoot his hands off and stuff like that – just silly stuff. One of my favorite things to do at the range is just bring out a big load of used cans and toss them out there all over the place and just go at it shooting the cans, plinking. I’m basically a plinker.” Rooker also enjoys shooting smoothbores and guns with bit more firepower. “I’ve got a couple Benellis that I’ve been shooting lately,” he said, “and I have my M1 that I really love to shoot with. I like shooting shotguns and doing skeet; sporting clays is really a lot of fun. I like to rationalize the fact that I’m going to the range because

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I’ve got to make sure that I keep my skills sharp for the next movie.” An obvious question from gun enthusiasts may be how Rooker’s “fun-loving, gun-loving” ways fit into an industry town with a reputation of being (ahem) less than supportive of Second Amendment rights. “I think it’s very obvious that everybody knows (about my love of guns and shooting),” he explained. “I don’t preach it, and I don’t go around spewing my political agendas. I just like to shoot. I see it as a sport.” “There are all sorts of people in this business of Hollywood and acting,” he added. “I think we’ve learned from early on, that if you’re a professional actor, you don’t tell somebody else what to do. You gotta let people do their own thing. I really don’t worry about it.” The acceptance he receives has much to do with the affable star’s personality and attitude. His Guardians costar, Chris Pratt, has said, “Rooker has a very unique voice. Not only the way he talks,

but what he has to say. There’s not many gun-loving, country-boy ninjas in Hollywood. He’s one of the good ones.” IT IS ALWAYS BENEFICIAL to be held in high esteem by your coworkers. But in an era where social media and live events such as Comic-Con have forever altered the connection between audiences and performers, an actor can’t afford to forget about the people who buy the tickets and hover their thumbs over the television remote either. Fortunately, Rooker excels at establishing and nurturing relationships with his legion of fans. “It’s a positive,” he said about his burgeoning “meet and greet” responsibilities. “(It) used to be a quirky thing that actors would do from a B-list movie – going to a horror convention or a little sci-fi convention and doing autographs and taking pictures and stuff like that for the fans. Now it’s become a major deal … The market is

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saturated with Comic-Cons. It’s a great opportunity for the fans to meet actors that are going there specifically to meet them. It should be a great experience for both parties, for the actor as well as for the fan. I tend to have a good time doing it, and I think everybody that comes to my table and meets me, or comes to my Q&As or the photo ops or whatever we are doing on that day are hopefully having a good time.” In this increasingly participatory age, fans often do more than just line up for a photo or a signature. “People come dressed as Yondu,” he said. “The cosplays are big. Some people have their own idea of what they want to do when they meet you. They have some questions that have been in their mind for the last few days on the way over to the event, and [he laughs] sometimes you just blow their minds a little bit when they don’t expect to get the answer they’re thinking they’re


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Despite the growth of blue screens and CGI special effects, Rooker always remembers that an actor’s one job is his or her take on the script. (DISNEY/MARVEL) 53

going to get, or sometimes they get all nervous and they don’t even remember the question.” Some of his Walking Dead fans were credited with extending and expanding his role from a minor to a major one. Three different fan clubs joined in a Twitter campaign specifically designed to get Rooker’s Merle Dixon more screen time on the runaway AMC hit. Rooker experienced a similar situation this summer, when his role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 grew exponentially over the original release, leading a number of critics to proclaim him the real star of the picture. Legend says that when William Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet, the Bard of Avon had to kill off Mercutio midway through the proceedings because he was threatening to take over the play. If the Guardians franchise continues for several more installments, conspiracy theorists of the cinematic variety may be saying the same thing about – spoiler alert! – Rooker’s


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Yondu in the not-too-distant future. DESPITE HIS GIFT FOR winning over the general public in person, it is on the screen that Rooker truly shines, often in “villain” roles that a lesser actor may struggle to make anything more than a two-dimensional cliché. Rooker, on the other hand, always finds a way to make his character the most interesting one in any scene, and he does that by not “acting” like a villain at all. “I don’t approach a role by saying I’ll be unsavory or unlikable,” he said. “I think all the roles I’ve done have been very passionate people who go to absolute extremes to make their points.” It also helps that Rooker has performed not just on the stage and on film, but as a voice actor, where performers aren’t able to lean on any visual props or crutches. “That’s where it starts,” he said, “(with) your interpretation. Your take on the script is not your take on the

action, or your take on the (special effects). That’s not even your job. Your job is your take on the script. That’s it. How you choose how you’re going to say it … is all up to you. I, in particular, don’t necessarily choose how I’m going to say something. I like to keep it open and sincere and honest, and so whatever happens on the day on the set in the moment is what happens.” And what is happening next for Rooker? “I’ve got a movie that’s in the can that’s called Team Bolden,” he told me, “and it’s about the birthing of jazz. It’s a period piece, a very cool piece. I’m (also) working with developing a project from American gothic writer Flannery O’Conner called A Good Man is Hard to Find. My buddy has had the rights to that for a long time. It’s early on. We’re getting money, getting investors and going to make it, so that’s always fun. It’s not a big studio movie, so it’s going to be our own movie. It’ll be one of those things, like a labor am a ame meeric m rriiiccan ans a nssshoo n hoo h ho oo o ottin tiin ing gjjjo gjo our u al. urn co com o 55 5

of love. Then I’m also looking into projects that people are coming to me with. My payday has increased, and I always look for something that’s going to be beneficial in that regard and also be challenging for me as an artist.” WHEN I MENTIONED THAT we seem to be living in the age of the anti-hero, Rooker let out another a huge laugh. “We’re in the Rooker Age, then,” he said, “because I’m your quintessential anti-hero. When you think about it, that really ends up being my forte.” “I’m one of these 35-year overnight successes,” he adds. “Me and my friends talk about it and laugh about it. They’ve been – and I’ve been – working for a long time in this business. Actors, you know, what we really do in between gigs is we work at working. I just keep going; I just keep working, and work to get to work. Sometimes it’s a big movie; sometimes it’s a little movie. Right


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

now, the big ones are still coming down the chute. If it gets on my plate and I like it and it looks good, I’ll do it, you know?” These days, it’s more likely that he’ll do projects as a featured performer than as a “tag-along.” “It’s like when you’re driving down the highway,” he concludes. “I would much prefer to drive than to fly. Like (when) we were hauling ass with those truckers. They would just go on and on and on and on and on and on. There’s no stopping for a milkshake, stopping for a snack. I bring my snacks and my drinks all with me in a cooler. And if

The busy actor still finds some free time to get some shots downrange. (MICHAEL ROOKER)

I need a snack or a drink, I get it and I move on down the road. If I have to stop for a break, I’ll stop for a break, and then I’ll hop back on the highway and keep going. I’m a four-wheeling kind of driver. I can keep up with the best of them.” 




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Namibia is one of the few countries that still offers the true African experience – hunting wild game in vast landscapes where you’ll never know what’s around the next turn in the trail.



Stable, friendly, and with plenty of game, Namibia has become the most popular hunting destination in Africa – and there may never be a better time for a safari than right now. STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICK

They say that you never forget your first morning on safari, Th aand n that is certainly true for me. The light of a dying, popping p op campfire was replaced by the tangerine glow of first light filtering through the limbs of a flat-topped acacia

The author on safari in Namibia’s Kalahari Basin with Bijorn LeRoux of Mafuba Safaris. (Top left) Namibia is twice the size of the state of Texas and is one of the least-populated countries in the world. There’s plenty of space for wildlife, and that makes it one of the best hunting destinations in Africa. (Bottom left) The author with a mountain zebra taken in Namibia’s Etosha Conservancy. Local communities receive meat and financial resources from hunting, and that has helped preserve and protect wildlife in that young country.

as my guide Bijorn LeRoux and his tracker Jeremiah loaded the Toyota. We were hunting Namibia’s Kalahari Basin, a vast sea of sand that, although referred to as a desert, is actually an oasis for wildlife. Fields of winter-dry yellow grass stretched across the plains, and thick forests of thorn trees were decorated with the pendant nests of sociable weavers that filled the air with chirps and shrieks. I suppose, like most hunters who had never been to Africa, that the whole continent is sunbaked 62

American Shooting Journal // July 2017

and scorching hot, but on that winter morning the desert was quite cold – so much so that a thin layer of ice crystalized on the edges of a pool of water at the edge of the lawn. “Are you ready to go hunting?” Bijorn asked. Of course I was. I had spent something like 20 hours on airline flights traveling around the world for this, and so with the Toyota humming in the morning light I slid my rifle into the back of the truck and climbed in the pickup

with Bijorn and Jeremiah. Our camp was situated within several hundred thousand acres of prime African wilderness, and Namibia’s intensive conservation efforts made this one of the best areas in the world for big game hunting. But the game here is wild and is well-adapted to the rough Kalahari wilderness, so despite the fact that there were more than 20 big game species on the ranch we were hunting, finding them in this maze of thorn and grass would be no easy task – as I was about to learn.

NAMIBIA IS A YOUNG NATION. In March of 2017, the country celebrated its 27th year of independence, and in that short time it has become a premier destination for safari hunting. Twice the size of the state of Texas and with a population that hovers around two million people, Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world, and with so much wild country there are still plenty of wide-open areas that are ideal for hunting operations. The nation’s leaders have always

understood that well-managed, conservation-minded hunting could provide a benefit for the local people and wildlife, and that fact is even outlined in the country’s constitution. Namibia helped pioneer the idea of communal conservancies, a system that places ownership of the wildlife in the hands of the local communities so they are incentivized to care for and protect their natural resources. Because the meat and financial profits from foreign hunters benefit communities living in these

remote and wild areas, the people of Namibia have a major stake in game management – a very different system than the state-owned hunting concessions in other parts of Africa. The profits from the game that we harvested would benefit the people living in this remote area, and this system has not only helped local communities but it has also helped dramatically increase the health and numbers of game found in the country. “In Namibia we are doing the right thing, for the right reason, in 63

(Top left) The author with a 40-inch oryx taken in Namibia. Despite the abundance of game, prices here are still relatively low, making this an affordable hunting destination for your first safari. (Top right) There is a wide variety of game to hunt in Namibia. In this single herd are oryx, blue wildebeest and springbok – all great trophies if you can decide which one to pursue.

the right way, and have been doing so with great success,” says Danene van der Westhuysen, owner of Aru Game Lodges and the president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA). “Namibia

is at the forefront of conservation through sustainable use, and is the flagship to all other African countries with our community-based and custodian programs.” On our first morning on safari the

NAMIBIA HUNT PLANNER Here are some informative websites that will help your safari be a success:

Mafuba Safaris: Bijorn LeRoux, owner of Mafuba Safaris, has access to some of Namibia’s best big game areas. Additionally, the rates are reasonable and the accommodations are far better than most hunting camps in the United States

Gracy Travel: Before your hunt you’ll have a lot of questions – what flights should I book? What paperwork do I need when I arrive? What if a flight gets canceled? Should I buy medical evacuation insurance? The experts at Gracy have booked thousands of hunters to Africa and can help you with each step of the process.

Coppersmith Global Logistics: When your trophies are ready to be shipped home they’ll need to clear customs in the States. That can be a complicated process, and having someone like Coppersmith on your side makes the process much simpler. Plus, they’ll give you tags to attach to your trophies so there are no mix-ups in shipping.

Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA): NAPHA’s website offers a great deal of insight into Namibian hunting and offers a list of members with whom you can hunt. They also offer medals based on the size and age of the trophy you harvest.

African Sporting Creations: Aside from African artifacts and art, ASC offers a range of invaluable tools for the field. Their shooting sticks are outstanding and can be customized to your liking, and they sell Courteney boots – the go-to African hunting boot for many professionals. 64

American Shooting Journal // July 2017

cloudless sky stretched over miles of Kalahari grass that looked much as it did when the first European settlers arrived in the country. Bijorn, Jeremiah and I climbed on a kopje – a low rock formation jutting out of the otherwise flat plains – and began glassing for game. It didn’t take long to find the animals, either; to our left a large mixed herd of wildebeest and springbok fed in groups spread across the vast grass plains. Straight ahead, under the shelter of a grove of acacia trees, a half-dozen zebra with their striped backsides facing us. We were deciding which group of animals to pursue when a dust-colored oryx bull moved out from the thorn bush a quarter-mile away. Bijorn decided that we should try for the zebra, and we climbed down from the rocks and made a wide arc through the sandveldt. We walked single-file with Jeremiah in the front and Bijorn just behind him, trying to stay downwind of the herd while avoiding the outstretched arms of waita-bit thorn. It was a long, slow stalk. TEN MINUTES INTO THE HUNT, a wrinkled warthog boar crossed our path, his long mane and twitching tail just visible above the grass line. We froze, hoping that the boar wouldn’t see us, but he turned and blinked his narrow eyes twice before bounding away into the thorns. Luckily, he hadn’t spooked the other game, but soon we had another problem. The wildebeest herd had moved into position ahead of us, essentially 65

cutting off our path to the zebra. That required another change in tactics, swinging wide through the heavy thorn as we tried to close the gap on the zebra. After the better part of an hour we finally managed to get within range of the zebra herd, but the stallion was nowhere to be seen. Bijorn motioned me forward, flattening his hand to indicate that we should move quietly and slowly. Then, off to our right, the stallion appeared. Most African hunting is done from shooting sticks, and Bijorn stepped aside as he leveled the sticks for me to shoot. I leveled my rifle just as the zebra stepped out of the thorns into full view in the morning light and, with the sights of the .300 Magnum on his shoulder, touched off a round. The stallion turned and disappeared from view, and within 50 yards we found him stretched out in the grass. Namibian hunting is about more than killing game, as I soon learned. We took photos with the zebra and then set about cutting a path to get


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

the Toyota into position where we could load the 800-pound animal into the rear of the vehicle. We hauled the animal back to the meat shed where the skinners began removing the hide and butchering the meat, which would be provided to the local community 20 miles away. Nothing was wasted, and by noon hundreds of pounds of fresh meat was being cooled and processed for delivery to local schools and community centers. That safari produced a number of great trophies – a kudu bull that measured more than 54 inches around the curve of his walnutcolored horns, two oryx bulls, and a springbok that was one of the largest killed that season. But it also provided meat and financial assistance to the local communities. For that reason, Namibia’s safari industry is robust. The government and local people appreciate the revenue from hunters. This mutual relationship – one that benefits hunters, locals, and wildlife – is what makes Namibia such an outstanding hunting destination. In

Accommodations in Namibia are often world-class. This lodge in the Kalahari is one example of the excellent lodging that is available throughout the country – at very affordable rates. 67

Red hartebeest are adapted to live in this tough environment and they make great trophies and excellent table fare. But, like most herd animals, stalking them is a real challenge with so many wary eyes.

fact, the numbers of hunters traveling to this country has grown steadily over the past two decades and, over that same period, wildlife numbers have increased as well. BEFORE I COMPLETED THAT first hunt in Namibia, I was already

planning to return, which I have now done multiple times. There is simply no place on earth that offers the variety of game at affordable prices. In fact, you can often book a package hunt in Namibia that allows you to hunt four or five big game animals in a short period of time for less than

the cost of many single-species North American hunts. The game list in Namibia is extensive; the nation produces some of the best kudu, oryx, hartebeest and springbok to be found anywhere in Africa, and introduced species like black wildebeest, sable antelope, and


American Shooting Journal // July 2017 69

waterbuck are also thriving there. The Zambezi Strip (formerly the Caprivi Strip), which is far wetter than the rest of this desert nation, offers dangerous game hunting for species like buffalo, hippo and croc, and the country is home to a huge population of leopards. In addition, the vastness of this country means that this is true African hunting. Many Namibian hunting ranches encompass 50,000 to 100,000 acres, and there are still plenty of unfenced wilderness areas where you can hunt for days without ever encountering a fence or another hunter. Personal security is always a concern in Africa, and the situation in Namibia, thankfully, is stable and secure. Statistically speaking it’s one of the safest countries on the continent, and I have taken my family there multiple times and will do so again in the future – something I wouldn’t say about all of Africa’s hunting countries. Gun permits are easy to obtain and there are relatively few hassles, but

Namibia’s dangerous game like crocodiles and buffalo are largely relegated to the northern portions of the country. But that means this country offers the chance to pursue both affordable plains game and dangerous game in a single hunting destination.

it’s always a good idea to coordinate travel plans with an organization (see sidebar) that can help ensure that your paperwork is in order and coordinate travel plans. There’s a bit of extra cost, but it’s well worth the investment for the peace of mind these travel companies offer.

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Most Namibian hunting is based on a fee system that is comprised of daily rates and trophy fees. Daily rates are often lower here than in most other African countries – roughly $250 to $500 a day for plains game – and trophies fees range from $400 to $1,500 for common plains game species. Package hunts, as previously mentioned, are an easy way to set a price before the hunt begins. Additional costs will be airfare, tips to the guide and staff, preparation and shipping of hides (unless you have the taxidermy completed in Africa and have the finished mounts shipped home, which is also an option) and any side trips. Speaking of side trips, Namibia is a great place to spend a few days of down time before or after the hunt – you can travel to the coast and fish or spend a day whale watching, ride ATVs on the desert dunes, or view lions, elephants, rhino and more at the magnificent Etosha National Park. It’s often said that the “Golden Age” of safari has passed. I disagree. Namibia offers an opportunity for a safe, successful, affordable safari, so perhaps right now is the best time to book that hunt of your dreams. It will be an experience that you remember always, and the best part is that your safari will help provide much-needed revenue and meat for the people who live in this rugged and beautiful country. 


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The primary big game hunting season may begin in the fall, but preparing for it should be a year-round activity STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN

Velvet-covered antlers are the reason summer scouting will lead you to so many bucks and bulls. The author found this massive Columbian blacktail in while scouting on a hot day in August.

ell, that didn’t take long,” replied a buddy when I told him I filled my blacktail deer tag within the first hour of opening day. “Actually, it did,” I retorted with a smile. While the hunt itself took less than an hour, the preparation for it started in January, when I set out trail cameras and began looking for sheds. Shed hunting through March, I started scouting in May, and stepped up the scouting missions in early July. I also exercise and watch my diet throughout the year, which is all part of the hunt preparation process. So, in actuality, I had numerous hours into that buck before the season even opened. Like my buddy said, the hunt didn’t last long, but that was due to a dedicated preparation process. If you are interested in starting your preparation now so you can experience more successful hunts when the fall season opens, here are 10 steps you can take to get ready.


SCORCHER SCOUTING July and August are the two hottest months of the year, which is why they’re my favorite time to scout. I see more bucks and bulls during these months than all others combined, and it’s because they’re in velvet. Velvetcovered antlers are some of the fastest growing tissues on the planet, and the blood-rich racks are very sensitive to the touch. As a result, bucks and bulls often spend all day in the open, outside of the timber and thick brush. 75

ROAD HUNTER They don’t want to damage their rack, as it’s their status symbol, what they use as defense against predators and what they rely on to defend themselves in the rut. While most game is spotted in the first few hours of morning and the last few hours of evening this time of year, I also see a lot of mature bucks and bulls in the middle of the day. As the sun shifts on these scorching summer days, the animals that were bedded in shade can overheat as the sun hits them, and they get up to re-bed. While some may nibble for a few minutes, others get up, take a few steps into the shade and bed back down. I’ve located a lot of nice bucks and bulls between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the hottest summer days. SPOTTING SCOPE FOCUS A spotting scope is my most valuable scouting tool in summer. My spotting scope of choice is a Swarovski ATX with a 25-60 power eyepiece and the 95mm high-definition objective lens. I have the 85mm and 65mm lenses, too, but for summer scouting, where I want to cover ground with my eyes, not my feet, bigger is better. Another valuable scouting tool is an adaptor for my iPhone. Swarovski’s digiscoping adapter for my iPhone 6 slips onto the eyepiece of the spotting scope, and with a cordless, handheld remote purchased separately, crystalclear pictures can be captured. Through digiscoping, you can snap a photo of animals that are more than 1,000 yards away, which you then study more closely on your computer. Not only will you be able to count tines, you’ll get an idea of how big that buck or bull will be come hunting season, and you’ll know exactly where it lives. From there, it’s up to you to figure out how to best hunt for him.

truck. While walking can be effective, taking a mountain bike behind the gates will allow you to efficiently cover more ground. Don’t get in a hurry and spook deer or elk. The objective when scouting is still to locate animals without their knowing you’re around. Move quietly; anticipate where game will be, and sneak into a favorable vantage point for glassing. It’s not uncommon to see more bucks and bulls in one day of summer scouting behind locked gates than you’ll see during the entire hunting season. Escape the crowds, move wisely and in silence, and you’ll be impressed with the number of animals, and the caliber of bucks and bulls, that are out there.

MOUNTAIN BIKING Gated roads that allow non-motorized access are some of the best places to scout this time of year. This is because few hunters venture off the main roads, or even leave their

TRAIL CAMERAS When you can’t be in the woods, let trail cameras be your eyes and do the scouting for you. Search for game trails and promising habitat in the areas you’ll be hunting come


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

No matter what big game you’ll be hunting this fall, start reading all you can about them. The more you know about their behavior and how to hunt them, the greater your chance of success.

fall. From there, set out as many trail cameras as you can. Ever wish you could be in five places at once? With trail cameras you can. The more cameras you invest in, the more ground you can cover. What these handy tools reveal is of great value, ultimately saving you loads of time. INTERNET RESEARCH Hopping on the internet to research the terrain you’ll be hunting will allow you to accurately figure out where animals should be this time of year. Google Earth recently upgraded its image quality, making it a favorite tool of many hunters who are looking to learn more about the topography and habitat of an area. Monitor wildfires through websites such as Due to reduced logging throughout the West—one of the biggest detriments to deer and elk populations—fires are now a leading creator of prime habitats. Mark the fires and return in the fall, once rains 77

ROAD HUNTER Non-motorized-only access roads like this one are great avenues to big game. Traveling them on a mountain bike is quick, quiet and efficient.

have fallen, as deer and elk will go to them in search of green grass and sprouting vegetation.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017

READ UP Increasing your knowledge about the animals youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hunting is a great way to learn about their behavior and how to pursue them. There are some excellent books out there on hunting deer and elk throughout different parts of the country. Find these resources and learn from them, as thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re written, to share valued information. Figure out the region of the country, or state, in which youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be hunting and research the internet for books relating to hunting the deer or elk youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be pursuing. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going after pronghorn, bear or other big game, there are resources written on them that are sure to help. Even if you learn a few tips from reading one book, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth the investment. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no substitute for learning about wild game through personal observation, but reading what others have learned can be a close second. EXERCISE An estimated 80 percent of hunters in America are overweight. Not being able to reach the target animals is one of the biggest reasons tags go unďŹ lled. You can put in all the scouting time you want, but if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not in good enough shape to track and reach the animal, all your time and effort are for naught. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to be a marathon runner, power lifter or decorated athlete to be a successful hunter. If your weight is where it should be, your core is in good shape and your cardio is maintained, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve dramatically increased the odds of ďŹ lling a tag. A 30-minute core/weight workout ďŹ ve times a week, plus three days dedicated to cardio work, will perform wonders. Ten minutes on an Airdyne bike, three times a week, will amaze you; not only is this a great 79

ROAD HUNTER all-around body workout, but does wonders for your cardio, especially if you push yourself. Working your abs two days a week, in addition to your 30-minute weight workout, and cardio work, is a must. Stretching and yoga can be valuable additions. Round out the training with a healthy diet and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve just taken your ability to hunt more effectively to another level. TRACK WINTERKILLS This past winter was one of the harshest in many decades throughout parts of the West. Some deer and elk herds were hit so severely, and their loss so great, they may never recover. If you have a favorite place youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been hunting for years, or if looking to hunt a new area, call local biologists and ask them for a winterkills report. Some deer and elk herds suffered over 90 percent mortality in places. No matter how good of a hunter you are,


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Not only are spotting scopes one of the most valuable summer scouting tools out there, but put a cell phone on them and a whole new world opens up. 81


Trail cameras can be in the woods all day every day, for months on end, doing the scouting for you.

and how hard you work, you can’t take animals that aren’t there. This summer, do your homework, get that body in shape and learn all you can about the deer, elk and other big game you’ll be hunting. If you draw that prized, once-in-a-lifetime sheep tag, you want to be fully prepared for the hunt. If you want to try rattling in a whitetail or blacktail, scout now, to learn about buck-to-doe ratios, then make sure you know the basics of calling. There’s no such thing as being overprepared when it comes to hunting big game. These animals are smart and are masters at avoiding predators. The more you know about the animals you hunt, and the better shape you’re in, the greater the odds of putting the best free-range meat there is, on your dinner table the next time you hit the road.  Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s best selling book, Trophy Blacktails: The Science Of The Hunt, send $20 (free S&H), to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489 or order online at

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017


Elmer Keith… With a Bang!

This hardy group of handgunners gathered in early June southwest of Spokane for the 17th annual invitational Elmer Keith Memorial longrange handgun shoot to raise money for the NRA Foundation.

A devoted group of shooters gathers each year to honor the ‘father’ of long-range handgunning. STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE WORKMAN


Holding down on a target positioned 586 yards away and uphill, my index finger pressed ever so gently against the trigger of a Model 57 Smith & Wesson N-frame revolver until the hammer dropped and there was a roar and simultaneous muzzle flash. 87

The shoot was the brainchild of Will DeRuyter (left), shown with longtime event sponsor Donny Stride, proprietor at Rainier Ballistics in Fife, Washington.

Ed Parry shows off his “Hell, I Was There” T-shirt from the 2016 event …

Author Workman takes aim at one of the 130-yard targets. He finished 7th out of 27 shooters. At past events, he’s taken 2nd and 4th place spots.

Top scorer among the women was Debbie DiTunno. Like author Workman, she used a Model 57 S&W in .41 Magnum.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Overall winner Emmett Knott relaxed after the match. He used a .460 S&W to ace the field.

… While his brother, John, cuts loose with a Smith & Wesson in .45 Colt.

Ed Clow, official scorekeeper for the match, is also a veteran participant. He’s using a typical two-hand hold to clobber the target with an S&W Model 629 in .44 with a 4-inch barrel.

This year’s winner’s plate was complete with an image of the late Elmer Keith in the red bullseye.

The 210-grain Nosler JHP bullet, propelled by 20.0 grains of H110 powder seemed to take a long second to hit the ground a few yards in front of the 30-by-30-inch target, raising a little cloud of dust. No worry, it was just one of about 75 practice shots I fired in preparation for a 12-round “for score” string at the 2017 Elmer Keith Memorial long-range handgun shoot, a little soiree held annually for the past 17 years on private farmland southwest of Spokane. It’s an invitational affair, hosting anywhere from a couple of dozen shooters to as many as 50 men and women. Launched by Keith devotee Will DeRuyter as a way to raise money for the NRA Foundation, the Elmer Keith Memorial shoot includes prizes, and participants can bid on and buy stuff. One year I donated an original copy of the book Keith for auction, the original autobiography that, according to people who knew him, Elmer thoroughly disliked because it had apparently been, shall we say, “tinkered with,” presumably to fix some of the grammar. The book was rewritten later and published under its now-famous title, Hell, I Was There! It is a fascinating read and tells a life story in a way that can only be told by the extraordinary man who lived it. I’ve seen used copies for sale for up to $70 online. Participants pay a $50 entry fee, enjoy a potluck-style lunch and swap stories, loading data, anecdotes about the guns they are shooting, have shot, might want to shoot, never should have sold and wish they could own. FOR THE PAST 17 YEARS, according to veteran participant Ed Parry, this event has raised more than $85,000 for the foundation. This year, DeRuyter said the take was more than $6,500. Not bad for such a small enterprise. There is actually an account at the foundation in Keith’s name. It had been a long stretch since I had the chance to participate. On previous occasions, the western Washington rains seemed to follow

The target layout from 130 up to 586 yards. As can be seen by the dust cloud, those closer targets aren’t that easy to hit. The farthest target is a ball-buster.

The only place in Washington where you’re encouraged to shoot at a wolf. This facsimile was the 100-yard target.

me east, but despite a damp greeting on a couple of occasions, I did manage to eke out a decent finish on two of three visits. Long-range shooting with handguns contributed greatly to Keith’s fame and forever enshrined his name in the history of American firearms development. He is widely known as the “father” of the .44 Magnum, and he also was responsible for the .41 Magnum — my personal favorite big bore magnum — and in large part the .357 Magnum. He designed bullets, hunted from Alaska to Africa, was a cowboy, guide, packer, rancher and accomplished writer. Not bad for one lifetime! Keith was a legend long before he passed away in 1984, and he was the first recipient of the Outstanding American

Handgunner award in 1973. He and his late wife, Lorraine, rest together at the Salmon, Idaho, cemetery. His handgun exploits are the stuff that takes on mythical proportion with each retelling. He is known to have hit a mule deer at an estimated 600 yards, using a .44 Magnum. He shot caribou in Alaska with the .41 Magnum. His exploits have been written about, and his autobiography is almost required reading for anybody who ever launched a handgun bullet downrange at live game, steel ram or chicken, bowling pin, steel plate or some other target. THERE IS A PERSONAL backstory about this year’s shoot dating back to 2016. Planning to participate, shooting the same Model 57 S&W in .41 Magnum 89

that I’d used in the past, I put together components for loading — rather than reloading — cartridges for this enterprise. I decided to use brand new ammunition with all-new components: bullets from Nosler and Sierra, powder from Hodgdon and brass from Starline, a company that manufactures new cases for just about every handgun caliber on the landscape, from .32ACP to .500 S&W. The company also offers new brass for assorted rifle cartridges. According to Starline’s Hunter Pilant, when you start fresh, the brass is properly sized to your caliber. It doesn’t need sizing or trimming. The primer pockets are clean, as is the inside of the case. I obtained a couple hundred brand-new Starline .41 Magnum cases, and they were superbly uniform. Starline makes brass for a lot of people, and I have yet to hear a complaint about the stuff. Even now, the once-fired cases have cleaned up nicely, and so far, I haven’t had to


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Workman prepped for his 2017 return to the match from an 8-year-hiatus, by brewing his ammunition from scratch. He started off with brand-new Starline brass ame meric me ricans ric an hoo ans ho ootin ngjo gjourn urnal. urn al. com om 91 9

New brass does not have to be sized, and it glides through the loading process.

trim any of them. The 210-grain Nosler JHP performs really well in my 6-inch revolver. Some gun/cartridge combinations are like that. Nosler lists its most accurate load with H110 powder at 19.9 grains, but I went for an even 20.0 grains because of


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

The author is serious about ammunition. He loaded up more than 200 rounds using brand new sparkling Starline brass.

the distances at which I expected to be shooting. At the end of the day, I took 7th overall, which isn’t too shabby for a guy who hadn’t been to this event for eight years. THE COURSE OF FIRE IS A challenge. The nearest target this

year was a black steel wolf at 100 yards (makes you love shooting at an “endangered” species), a set of five steel targets at 130 yards, and a red-outlined square steel target at 146 yards. There was a white 12-inch steel plate at 180 yards, a 12x18-inch rectangle at 213 yards


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and, for those daring enough to try duplicating Keith’s mule deer shot, that white 30-by-30-inch square at 586 yards. While the wolf and the 130-yard targets are relatively easy to hit, considering the crosswinds and uphill shooting involved, those farther targets are no easy feat. People hit the hillside far more often than we heard the “clink” of bullet against steel. There are three beach-type recliners for shooters. You can’t use a rest, but you can fire two-handed with your arms resting between the knees. This actually makes for a pretty steady shooting position. While the participants may not be “big name” types, experience has demonstrated that this little band of Keith faithful is remarkably adept with their handguns. Amusingly, I got an email message from a guy in the Spokane area who said he was a longtime metallic silhouette shooter and he’d never heard of this event. Well, quipped


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Workman’s vintage Model 57 S&W in .41 Magnum made another trek to the farmland southwest from Spokane for the 17th annual Elmer Keith memorial shoot, with a hundred rounds of newly loaded ammunition.

several Keith participants, “I guess he wasn’t invited!” This year the event drew 27 shooters, including four women. Emmett Knott took high score, using a Smith & Wesson XVR in .460 S&W with an 8 3/8-inch barrel while the

top woman was Debbie DiTunno, also using a Model 57 S&W in .41 Magnum, with a 6-inch barrel. I’m already planning a return in 2018. Between now and then, there will be considerable time at the range and loading bench.  95


American Shooting Journal // July 2017


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American Shooting Journal // July 2017


Bloodhounds have a highly developed sense of smell. About an eighth of their brains and more than 50 percent of their nose structure is committed to olfaction.


Bloodhounds lead the pack of police K-9s when it comes to finding fugitives and lost parties. STORY AND PHOTOS BY STEVEN PAUL BARLOW


Bloodhounds might not be as prevalent as other breeds in police work, but they’re still the best when it comes to trailing.

ou might say they have a nose for police work. These officers – with names such as Copper, Jax, Lucy, Georgia, Blue and Old Duke – are of the four-legged variety. They are police bloodhounds. German shepherds and other breeds are more prevalent with police agencies these days and are used as patrol dogs. Many of them are crosstrained. Besides trailing and - when necessary - biting, they’re often trained to detect bombs or drugs. Police bloodhounds, by comparison, are trained to do just

one thing: find a specific person. But they do it better than any other canine breed. They might be called upon to find a lost child or elderly person with Alzheimer’s who has wandered away. They might also be put on the trail of a desperate criminal. Whatever the mission, bloodhounds can be a valuable asset to the agencies in which they serve. “It’s a matter of using the right tool for the job,” said Roger Titus, vice president and training administrator of the National Police Bloodhound Association (NPBA). “Our certification here is so simple, but I’ve yet to find a patrol dog that can do it. And I’ve seen some really 101


Bloodhound handlers with some agencies are lucky to have specially equipped vehicles to use. Many other officers, however, have to improvise with whatever they have to drive.

David Jackson of the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and his partner Lucy are ready for their trailing exercise during the National Police Bloodhound Association’s Spring Seminar.

The find. The bloodhound’s reward for finding the person at the end of the trail is some lovin’ and usually a treat. Bloodhounds aren’t trained to bite.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

good patrol dogs. When the midnight shift didn’t call a canine and you come to work in the morning, you’re looking at something six, eight, 10 hours old. The patrol dogs can’t touch it. That’s a bloodhound’s call.” I had been invited to attend the association’s spring seminar in McHenry, Maryland. There are 187 members from 40 states in the organization. At the seminar, dog handlers from across the country and Germany were in attendance. Most came to try to become certified as dog/handler teams. Others were there just for the extra training and to learn from and exchange Jason Conley of the Pomona, CA PD works a about information with officers from trail with his partner “Jax.” four months old with simple games of hide and seek. across the country. “And then as the dog grows, of course, you devise a program of AN AGENCY MIGHT HAVE A BLOODHOUND serious training with it,” Titus said. donated or it might purchase a In order for a bloodhound/ puppy from a training facility handler team to be certified by that specializes in bloodhounds. the NPBA, the dog has to have Bloodhounds can be expensive – completed six months of training, around $2,000 – and while there be at least 10 months old, and the might be some indicators if a puppy handler has to complete a 40-hour has a knack and temperament for the course at one of the association’s job, it’s always a gamble whether or semi-annual seminars. The not the dog will have what it takes. certification process includes actual Training starts when the pup is

Jason Conley of the Pomona (California) Police Department works a trail with his partner Jax.

trailing in the field. Each of us has a “cloud” of scent around us caused by bacteria feeding on the dead cells that we shed. Tracking isn’t really what a bloodhound does. It’s not following your footsteps or the scent of crushed vegetation that’s given off when someone or some animal walks through an area. A bloodhound hones in on the trail of that scent cloud a person is constantly creating. What’s amazing is how a

bloodhound can differentiate the scent of an individual it is tasked to find amid all of the other human scents in an area. Added to that are other complications, such as the exhaust from police vehicles at the scene or wind that might cause the scent to drift far from the route the person actually took. It might seem at times that a bloodhound is a psychic or a magician – seeming to know which way a person has gone and making that person who has disappeared suddenly appear again. And a bloodhound doesn’t need a lot of scent to establish the one it’s supposed to follow. Say a suspect flees a vehicle on foot. If the police need to preserve any trace evidence inside that vehicle, they don’t want a bloodhound climbing around inside it trying to pick up the scent. This is where a bloodhound handler has a trick up his or her own sleeve. By placing a sterile gauze pad on the car seat for a few seconds, enough scent will be transferred to that pad to allow the bloodhound to mentally file that scent and pick up the trail.

Getting the scent. Gary Hartman of the Mercer County (Pennsylvania) Sheriff’s Office, provides his partner Justice with the scent he’ll need to differentiate along the trail he’ll work.

Jesse Davis was a renowned and highly decorated bloodhound handler with the New York State Police. Now retired, he continues to work as a trainer with young dog handlers.

Come and get me Copper. Sarah Munday of the Fayette County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office and her partner Copper are in high gear along a scent trail in this training exercise. 103

BEHIND THE BADGE ANOTHER MYSTIFYING FEAT is when a bloodhound is allowed to sniff around a house, taking inventory of the scents of the people who live there. Then, it will sniff each family member and can pick out which scent – which family member – is missing. That’s the scent the dog will know to trail. I was able to follow some of these bloodhounds while they worked trails set for them for their certification trials. The trails were intentionally made to be challenging for the dogs. Sometimes the trail was hours old. Sometimes two people would take off through the woods and then suddenly separate and move off in different directions to test if the dog would follow the correct person. The trainers also took a set of twins and had them do the same thing – start off together and then suddenly separate. People from the same household or inmates from the same prison eating the same food and using the same soap and shampoo can make it more difficult for the bloodhound to differentiate the scents. On the day that I tagged along, the hounds seemed to have little difficulty no matter how difficult the trainers made it for them. The wind was blowing the scent around and by the end of the morning, numerous

Which way did he go? Sometimes in the swirling mix of many scents, a bloodhound will stop for a moment to figure exactly where to pick up the trail.

Some bloodhounds come untrained to police agencies, while others are acquired through skilled trainers.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

On the trail. Nose to the ground is how we think bloodhounds work. But sometimes the scent hovers above the ground and other times the scent drifts several feet away from where the person trailed actually stepped.

In the thick of things. Trailing a scent sometimes takes bloodhound and handler alike through rough terrain.

BEHIND THE BADGE people and dogs had been over the same terrain in the vacant state park where the exercises were conducted. But the dogs weren’t fooled. At times, a hound would stop and appear to think things over before making a loop of the area and then taking off upon finding the trail again. When the hound got close, it was obvious he knew it. He would become more excited, more animated and would pick up the pace until the handler, holding onto the dog’s long lead rope, would have to run to keep up. Sometimes the dog would lead the handler – and me – through thick brush, not because the person being sought had walked exactly that way, but because the scent had drifted into those areas. Each time a bloodhound found the end of the trail, the located person was plastered with exuberant, affectionate licks. As a reward, the


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

When will it be my turn? Although they seem very sedate, bloodhounds love to work and become very animated when they know they’ll soon be on the trail.


The Dan Wesson Valkyrie is a carry gun that incorporates many useful features any shooter can appreciate. It sports a lightweight aluminum officer frame with a recessed slide stop hole paired with ball cuts on the slide’s dust cover and carry cuts up front. The Valkyrie utilizes a rear tactical sight, which allows for one-handed racking, and comes with a snag-free front sight with self-illuminated vials. The rounded butt profile allows for greater shooting comfort as well as reduced printing while carrying concealed. Other features make the Valkyrie a standout include slim G10 grips and a medium solid black trigger, and a classic commander-style hammer with a durable black duty finish complete the look. The Dan Wesson Valkyrie is available in both 9mm and .45 ACP. For more information, visit 107

BEHIND THE BADGE bloodhound would receive a pet behind the ears and a dog biscuit or other tasty treat. At the facility where the dogs and handlers were staying (yes, the dogs stayed in the rooms with their handlers) there was a bulletin board with news clippings documenting heroic, lifesaving and crime-solving acts by bloodhounds and their handlers. These weren’t rare instances. Every handler I spoke to had tales to tell. It was quite humbling to be in their presence. I was not a dog handler during my days as a police officer. This chance to watch these talented animals and knowledgeable handlers work was an incredible experience and gave me a new appreciation for these highly skilled specialists and what they’re able to accomplish.  Editor’s note: To learn more, visit the National Police Bloodhound Association website at


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

A special bond develops between dog and handler over the long hours of training and hard work during the cases they’re assigned. Here Sarah Munday gets some affection from Copper. ame meeric m ric ri ica an ans nssh n hoo ootin oo tiin ingj gjjo gjo ourn urrrn nal. al com co om 110 109 09




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American Shooting Journal // July 2017


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An Old Handgun A father turns to a nineteenth century cap-andball pistol to provide his son with an old school introduction to handgun shooting


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

Comparison of 1849 and 1862 Colts (right) with a S&W K-frame.


The author’s son Franklin ready to shoot cap and ball.


The first handgun I ever shot was a target .22LR S&W Model 17 revolver with a 6-inch barrel and those hefty checkered target grips. I was a skinny 12-year-old, and the gun was much too big for me. It was only a K-frame, but that thick-walled long barrel got it almost to 40 ounces and it was every bit of 11 inches long. Though the recoil was negligible, it was a strenuous undertaking for me at that age to just hold it up, and it required both hands just to get a grip on those big stocks. I loved it,


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

but it was hard to shoot well. Today, as a publically professed grown-up, I find myself in the same position as those seasoned adult shooters who generously cultivated my youthful interests in firearms. In doing so, I’ve experienced what must surely be the same anxieties they did with me. Even though a youngster may passionately want to shoot a handgun, I ask myself, “Is this kid physically big and strong enough to handle a pistol safely?” Most of what adults would consider

medium-sized handguns are simply too big for youngsters with small hands and slim arms. My solution was to find a handgun that was kid-sized. Those little .22 LR and .25 ACP pocket pistols are actually perfectly scaled for little hands, but I believe they are a poor choice because they require a really tight (vise-like) grip to shoot without jamming, the slides are hard to pull back because of the heavy blowback recoil springs, and the safety discipline of any autoloader requires the additional steps of removing the magazine and checking the chamber. The aforementioned heavy recoil spring will probably make it impossible for a kid to pull back the slide and check the chamber. I know many fullgrown women who can’t. Therefore, in my opinion, autoloaders for kids are out. THE REVOLVER LOOKED TO BE a better choice. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many small ones made anymore. You can still buy the J-framed S&W Kit guns in .22LR. The current Model 317 has an aluminum frame and weighs less than 12 ounces. It will set you back about $700 new. Used Harrington & Richardson .22LR revolvers still show up, and they can often be had for less than $200 in nice shape. For youthful novices who you suspect might enjoy an Old West historical flavor to their shooting experience (just about all boys), replicas of the Colt’s Patent Firearms black powder, cap-and-ball, pocket revolvers are perfectly proportioned in grip size and weight. The fiveshot .32-caliber Colt Pocket Pistol, commonly called the Model 1849, is the smallest and lightest at 9 inches long (with the usual 4-inch barrel) and 25 ounces. There are lighter versions of this pistol, but they sacrifice the integral loading lever to save weight, and that makes them just too awkward to load, even for adults. This compact and mild recoiling pistol was so popular, Colt sold nearly

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Charging the cylinder with FFFG black powder.

Adding the round ball.

336,000 before production ceased in 1873. In my opinion, an even better cap and ball choice is the graceful Colt New Model Police Pocket Pistol of Navy Caliber or Model 1862 Pocket Police. It is a five-shot .36-caliber, measuring 113/4 inches long (with the usual 61/2-inch barrel) and weighing only 261/2 ounces, 11/2 ounces more than the shorter Model 1849. This pistol resembles a miniature 1860 Army of Civil War fame, except that it also has a fluted cylinder to save weight. The longer barrel and sight radius make it easier to shoot accurately, but the main advantage is the longer loading lever, of improved creeping design, makes it easier to load than the 1849. Though this pistol can be charged to pack quite a punch, reduced powder charges produce minimal recoil for comfortable shooting. Reproductions of the 1849 and 1862 Colts have been in production by one Italian gun maker or another (and sometimes a few at once) for at least 20 years. New guns are available from several distributers at retail prices from $350 to $375. Dixie Gun Works (DixieGunWorks. com) in Union City, Tennessee, currently has the exceptionally nice Uberti-made ( 1862 on sale for $325. 116

American Shooting Journal // July 2017

In many states, black powder firearms can be shipped directly to the buyer. If you live in one of these, online price-comparison shopping makes good sense. You don’t need a local FFL dealer and you don’t need to pay for a transfer on a pistol you order from out of state. Just find the best deal from a quality maker. I’ve notice the online competition for new cap-and-ball revolver sales is so fierce, it’s hard to find a genuine bargain on a used pistol at a gun show. MY NINE-YEAR-OLD SON and I spent a recent morning in the backyard exploring the merits of our Uberti reproduction 1862 Pocket Police. The revolver was beautifully made, with European walnut stocks, a color casehardened steel frame and brass backstrap. He’s excited to try it, partly because he knows that it’s a man’s pistol, despite its small size. I’ve explained that Colt wanted a powerful handgun in a compact lightweight package for ease of carry and concealment, particularly for city police officers. In addition, the Model 1862 was the last of its kind. It was the final cap-andball pistol Colt produced before changing over to the manufacture of cartridge firearms after the Civil War. Around 47,000 were made by

Seating the roundball with the long loading lever is easy.

Capping the nipples.

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A one-handed hold isn’t too hard.

Some manly recoil for a kid.

1872. It was so well balanced and easy to carry, many were used for protection well into the cartridge era and made their way with the wagon trains west to adventure. A historic firearm, even a historic replica, has a romantic appeal that modern firearms can rarely approach, and I believe that adds to the quality of the shooting experience for youngsters. In the case of this little Colt and my son, there was definitely a Cowboys & Indians thing going on in his head. From a practical standpoint, firing a cap-and-ball pistol requires the shooter to develop discipline that will help him or her as they mature in the shooting sports. To make the guns shoot, there are, frankly, a lot of steps you need to go through, and in this case, that’s a good thing. All the effort drives home the point that, in order for the pistol to function reliably and safely, every step must be completed correctly, and every technique executed consistently,


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

while the shooter continuously observes its mechanical state. Because you basically hand-craft every shot, you become inclined to aim and shoot carefully to make each one of them count. FOR THE UNINITIATED, HERE are the process details, to be executed while always keeping the barrel pointed in a safe direction. After taking the pistol from storage, you need to clear the nipples and chambers of oil that might contaminate the powder or caps before you load for the first time. A pipe cleaner and cleaning patch works well. You can also fire off a cap from each nipple to burn it out, but this always seemed like a waste of caps to me. In preparation for loading, first position the hammer at half cock so the cylinder can be rotated. (Always check for loads or caps that still in the cylinder. Accidentally loading powder over a full chamber will make a mess.) Don’t worry about 119

overcharging the pistol. You can’t do that with FFFG black powder because the chamber capacity represents the maximum load. If my son double-charged a chamber, it would have just overflowed. No great danger, only wasted powder. I made him a special reducedcharge powder measure with a 9mm cartridge case that threw 13.5 grains. The maximum load for this pistol is 20 grains. To load the cylinder, charge the first empty chamber with FFFG black powder, drop a ball in the chamber mouth, and seat it firmly over the powder with the loading lever. Properly sized balls (.378 diameter) are slightly oversized, and a thin ring of lead will be shaved from them as they are seated, indicating a good seal. I like Hornady swaged pure lead round balls because they are perfectly round and can thus be loaded any way. By contrast, cast round balls have a sprue that should always be oriented up during loading. When all chambers are loaded


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

with powder and ball, the pistol is turned on its left side, pointing downward, and a Remington No. 10 percussion cap gently but firmly seated on each nipple with your fingers. Small fingers are ideally suited for this (I always use my fingers rather than a capper, because I know I can’t accidentally detonate a cap with my thumbnail). By the way, cap sizes vary from brand to brand and even within the same brand and type. Beware of caps that are too long or tight on the nipple because they often won’t seat fully, which can cause a misfire on the first try as the hammer drives then down. After capping, Crisco is smeared into the front of each cylinder as extra insurance against the blast from the firing chamber flashing over and igniting the adjoining chambers in a chain fire. I’ve never seen it happen, and it shouldn’t with a properly sized bullet, but why take chances? The Crisco also lubricates the gun and keeps the fouling soft. Once the revolver is loaded, the hammer

Watching the action to keep it clear of cap debris. 121

MAKE YOUR OWN PERCUSSION CAPS The #11 Percussion Cap Maker from lets you make your own caps from old aluminum cans. I like that these caps are soft and easily fit nipples of varying size. The tool is a two-piece die used to form the cap bodies, which are primed with the same PRIME-ALL repriming compound the company sells for their .22LR rimfire reloading kit. The die is very simple to use. Use scissors to carefully cut up thin aluminum cans into strips about ¾ inch wide and any length. Push the strip through the slot in the side of the die. One light blow from a rubber mallet cuts a circle of aluminum from the strip and forms it into a rather rough looking but completely

effective, cap body that that shakes out of the top part of the die. Put a 2-by6 across your lap, and you can form thousands of them while watching TV. The PRIME-ALL compound is a mixit-yourself combination of four powered chemicals you measure out with the dipper provided. Secure your newly formed caps upright on the back of a strip of 2-inch masking tape and fill each one with the compound. Add a drop of acetone or alcohol as directed to liquefy the compound and settle it in the bottom of the cap. Allow 24 hours for them to thoroughly dry and harden, and your home-made caps are ready to use.

should be set on one of the safety pins between chambers until ready to shoot. The firing ritual itself requires the pistol be pointed skyward while cocking to allow the blasted remains of the exploded percussion

cap to fall free of the action. If you don’t do this, they will eventually fall into the hammer channel and cause aggravating misfires, each one requiring a 30-second delay while you wait to determine if the misfire is actually a hang fire. This

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American Shooting Journal // July 2017

#11 Percussion Cap Maker layout.

Close-up of the finished caps.

is where constant observation of the operation of the action pays off. Paying attention to where those exploded caps are going, and that the unfired caps haven’t fallen off, will insure trouble-free shooting. As with all single-actions, the 123


1849 and 1862 Colt compared in kid hands.

S&W K-Frame and 1862 Colt Compared in kid hands.

long hammer fall requires shooter follow through each time the trigger is pulled. Fortunately, this pistol had a simply beautiful, crisp, light trigger. My son started with a two-hand hold and bullseye targets but quickly moved on to tin cans at fifty feet using one hand. Each round delivered a gratifying boom, some noticeable but manageable recoil, a small cloud of white smoke and, most of the time, a can dancing around and jumping in the air downrange. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s his payoff for all that loading and shooting discipline: making the tin can dance, and a habit of safety that comes from honing his sense of firearms situational awareness. Â?



American Shooting Journal // July 2017





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American A Am Ame meric ican Sho ic ican Shooting ho h hooti ooting ott ng oti g Jou J Jo Journal o rrna na na all // // July Ju ull 20 uly 2 2017 017 17 7

The Zero Tolerance 0801TI

KNIFING THROUGH L Life can be difficult, and sometimes you just need something to hold on to … like a good blade. STORY AND PHOTOS BY RICK ROSS

Life has its ups and downs. Rain, flat tires … and divorce are just a few of the downs. A good knife is definitely one of the ups, and it can get you through some of the tough times. So when I lost my favorite knife during a move following my divorce, I was devastated. My Zero Tolerance 0301 had been with me for many years. It had been, in fact, my 50th birthday present to myself. Anguish, remorse and regret were just a few of the emotions I experienced during the lull without my friend. But after an exhausting search, I fired the private detective, pulled the “Rick’s most wanted” posters from the post office walls, and filed the whole thing under “cold cases.” The knife was gone. Unfortunately, things only got worse. I contacted Zero Tolerance to purchase

a substitute, only to find out that my beloved had been discontinued. Is there a worse word for a collector to hear? More regret, more anguish, and, well, you get the idea. With all other options eliminated from the list, I decided to begin a search for a replacement. But where to start? Logically, I turned to the ZT website ( This was hard on me, as the photo of my 0301 was still posted there. The volume and range of knives was exhausting, but after a few days of scrolling and mulling over this one or that one, I “settled” on one that I thought might fill the empty gap in my life. It was shapely, lightweight and quite attractive. In short, I chose the 0801TI. The 0801TI showed up at my door a week later, sporting nice threads and

Originally a Todd Rexford design, the knife has been slightly modified in its current configuration. The Teflon-coated pocket clip is reversible and really grips. 129

a positive attitude. As soon as I held it in my hands, I knew I had made a good choice. It was light, but strong. The blade didn’t quite snap open the first few times, but it was new, and I had to figure out how it liked to be handled. As in all new relationships, you must take things slowly and get to know each other. These things take time. Before too long we were doing projects together, and reassuring each other about our future. Confidentially, I think this one will last. If I may be so bold, I will pass on the intimate details (not enough to make the 0801TI blush, I hope). The design was originally a Todd Rexford one, but has been modified with five cutouts in the 3-D-machined and a bead-blasted front scale. More machining provides and excellent in-hand feel, and it is quite comfortable to hold. First off, there is ZT’s KVT opening system with a flipper. It didn’t have the same snap as my 0301, but with a bit of practice we both felt comfortable. The familiar titanium frame lock is massive. The

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The frame lock is massive, and holds tightly until it is released.

knife locked up and stays that way until released. Closing the knife was the same as my old baby, and was easy. The Teflon-coated pocket clip is reversible and really holds on. The drop-point blade is made


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

from S35VN stainless steel with a stonewashed finish, which should hold its edge, and be chip resistant. With its 3.5-inch length, there is more than enough edge to get the job done, but as I’ve often said, size doesn’t

matter! It’s how you use it that counts. Over all, the 0801TI is perfect for me. The knife is so lightweight that when I walk around with it, it disappears in my pocket and I often forget it’s with me. It’s a keeper. 

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Firing his .54-caliber flintlock Hawken, the author shoots at a gong target on the trail.


To keep your flintlock operating at optimum capacity (and who doesn’t want that?), you must pay close attention to your flints. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT


imply put, we refer to a weapon as a flintlock if it uses a flint striking mechanism to ignite the powder. To make sure that everybody knows how a flintlock works, I’ll keep this very basic. Flint is harder than the face of the steel frizzen (that hinged, “L” shaped piece of steel on flintlock firearms). As the sharp flint scrapes along the face of the frizzen, it cuts or shaves away tiny white-hot pieces of steel. Those tiny pieces of hot steel are what we see as sparks. Those sparks don’t just fall into the priming pan;

they are directed into the pan faster than gravity can work (that’s why a flintlock will usually work very well upside down). Once those sparks are in the pan, they ignite the priming powder and the shot should go off. The first thing a flintlock shooter needs to do, other than buying a good flintlock, is to pick out some good flints. My first choice in flints are the black English models, and my favorite style of flint is what’s called a “fine” flint. I also spend a good deal of time picking through the pile of flints being offered for sale, getting the ones I think will work the very best. The “fine” flints are those that are

knapped (or chipped) with only one cutting edge. “Common” flints have two cutting edges, so when the first edge wears down you can turn the flint around and start fresh again. In

A black English flint. This is a “fine” flint with a single cutting edge. 137

BLACK POWDER my experience the fine flints seem to last longer, which makes the common flints less appealing. My favorites are the thin flints where the angle at the cutting edge is more acute than what is found on thicker flints. The thicker flints look like they should last longer by being stronger but they lose their sharpness quicker. In use, I’ve found the thinner flints outlast the thick flints, and the ease of keeping the thin flints sharp makes them very enjoyable. FLINTS ARE GENERALLY SOLD ACCORDING to size, most commonly in widths such as ½, 5/8 , or ¾ inches. You don’t want a flint that is any wider than the gun’s frizzen. Most flintlocks in general use today will appreciate a flint that is a bit longer than it is wide but individual guns will like specifically shaped flints. Issues can arrive if the flint is not sized correctly. A flint that is too long

Seen from the side, you can see how thin this flint is.

might still be usable, but it will hold the frizzen slightly open when the lock is on half cock. On the other hand, a

flint that is too short – either a new flint or one that is worn down – will not contact the frizzen in the best

The same flint is installed in the lock, with the bevel up.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017 139


Here the author is knapping (chipping) the flint to restore the sharp edge.

manner, and it can be so short that the front of the top jaw will contact the frizzen instead of the flint. The best

case scenario is to have a flint that is properly sized, both in width and length, for the lock it is being used in.

As a flint gets shorter from wear and knapping, I will loosen the jaws of the cock to move the flint forward, then tighten the jaws again. Doing so simply keeps the cutting edge of the flint striking approximately at the same place on the frizzen, and keeps the sparks cut by the flint headed in their proper direction, right into the pan. I’ve had no problem with having the back of the flint forward of the top jaw screw, although I do check the tightness of the screw more often when I’m shooting with a shortened flint. I’LL NOW COVER WHAT IS PROBABLY THE most common or most asked question about flintlocks from shooters who have little flintlock experience. That question is, “How do you get this thing to spark?” I’ve found that the answer or answers to that question not only need to be heard but they also need to be understood. At one recent event (or “doin’s”), I was walking along when a new flintlock shooter beckoned to me, inviting me to his camp. There he was with a brand-new trade gun and he asked me how to get the lock to spark. When I told him that the most important thing was to have a sharp


American Shooting Journal // July 2017 141


With the edge good and sharp, spark trails can be seen flying.

flint, he handed me the weapon. Upon inspecting the new gun I discovered that the flint was just about as sharp as a polished marble! Then I gave him

a demonstration on how to knap or sharpen a flint. First, I explained that a sharp flint was one that you don’t want to


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American Shooting Journal // July 2017

touch the edge of for fear of being cut. To try to put things quite simply, it needs to be very sharp! While I talked, I also took my flinter’s tool from my pouch and did some knapping on his gun’s flint. The way I like to do it is with my left index finger (I’m right-handed) just under the edge of the flint, then using the knapping edge of the flinter’s tool to chip small pieces of the flint’s edge away, leaving the sharpened edge slightly saw-toothed in appearance. When the finger under the flint’s edge is withdrawn, it should have the small flint chips resting on it. That allowed me to show the gun’s owner what had been chipped away. That flint was now pretty darn sharp and, just between you and me, I probably had never done quite so well in a flint sharpening demonstration. In fact, it was so nicely sharpened that I told the gun’s owner how when the lock was snapped, sparks would be visible falling all the way to the ground. He rolled his eyes as if saying, “Yeah, sure ..,” until I stood and, with the muzzle in a safe direction, snapped the lock. That gun had a lock with a very good reputation for being a good sparker and it didn’t let me



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AMMO/RELOADING down at all. Sparks were visible all the way to the ground. I should have put some money on the line, but you hate to take advantage of newbies. FLINT MAINTENANCE IS A CONSTANT thing, and the need for such maintenance, meaning knapping the edge and possibly repositioning of the flint in the jaws, can be different with each individual flint. When a gun’s owner doesn’t take any steps to keep the flint sparking well, his gun’s sparks and ignition will slow until it stops completely. One final thing that should be mentioned is the wrapping used to hold the flint in the jaws of the cock. Some shooters like to use lead for holding the flint, and it is historically true that many of the musket shooters in military or militia units used a flattened lead ball to secure their flints in the locks. I tried using lead a long time ago, and if my memory is still functioning I seem to recall that the top jaw screw had to be tightened with almost every shot because the thin lead wrapped around the flint kept getting flatter and flatter with no elasticity to help it keep its shape. Instead, I prefer to use a good flexible leather, something that will grip the flint quite well and won’t need constant adjustment. Flintlock shooting tools need to be mentioned too, even if only briefly. Flinter’s tools are available from several sources and some of the best, in my humble opinion, are those made by blacksmiths at their forges right at the rendezvous sites. Another good source for flinter’s tools is October Country. You’ve read about them here before and I recommend their products. There are really no secrets to shooting flintlocks, but good shooting begins with a good sharp flint. Keep those flints sharp, have the tools on hand to keep them sharp, and keep extra flints in your shooting pouch. 


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RE loading

The author shoots a Mauser in 8x57 with Enduron loads. These new powders bring out the best in these military-surplus rifles.

ENDURING ENDURON LOADS, PART III The author finishes his expanded series of tests using four of Hodgdon’s Enduron powders in a variety of popular to nontraditional loads. STORY AND PHOTOS BY BOB SHELL


his project using Hodgdon’s Enduron powders began in the March issue and continued in June. As promised, I’ve passed the results of all these tests along to you, and this month I’ll share my most recent findings. For those of you who haven’t seen the other columns, I’ll repeat just a few sentences to give you the idea of what I’m after. I have done a very large amount of testing with four powders from Hodgdon (Enduron 4451, 7977, 4166 and 4955) and there are a few things that I am looking for. With modern guns such as 7mm mags, velocity and accuracy are the criteria I am looking at. With a modern gun it doesn’t make sense to use a powder that does not give you the accuracy and power needed. You may be going after a large or dangerous animal, where using

inferior products just doesn’t make sense. Clean burning and copper fouling reduction are also desirable features. For those who reload military surplus rifles, especially using the loads tested here, I suggest you try these powders out. As I’ve written before, with loads for military rifles, I’m looking for good ballistics, meaning military velocities at safe pressures. Although I’m not attempting to increase velocity, it does happen, and if it is within the safe range, there is no problem. As with my previous Enduron tests, I did not do a lot of work with modern guns as that info is available at other sources and there are only so many hours in a day. So with that said (or re-said), on with the testing results!

located in the rear of the bolt, which is an uncommon feature. There is some military ammo available, but it seldom goes off. All of it that I have acquired ended up having the bullets pulled. Brass

THE 7.5X54 FRENCH MAS round was used during World War II, as it replaced the 8x50 Lebel. The bolt-action rifle is well made, though the locking lugs are

The 8x57 Commission rifle (which preceded the Mauser Model 98) takes a slightly smaller bullet (.318 as opposed to a .323). Shown is some of the ammo used in testing the Enduron powder in the rifle (from left): 198, 150, 170 and 125. 149

RELOADING is available from Privi and, of course, it takes standard 30-caliber bullets. If you can’t find the brass, then the 6.5x55 Swedish can be necked up and shortened. Power-wise, it is the equal of the .308, which makes it a very useful hunting round. These loads equal most .30-06 loads, which would indicate excess pressure. There are no obvious signs, but I strongly recommend starting at least 2 to 3 grains below what is listed and carefully working up. Upon closer inspection and work, I found that the cases were harder than normal to size, which can be an indication that the loads are too hot. That, along with the excess velocity, should give us pause. The primers were a little loose, but not enough to throw away. Measuring the cases shows some expansion, but since they were new it is merely an indication. However, along with the other signs, caution should be used. THE 7.5 X 55 SWISS is a good candidate for this powder and bullets. Case capacity is very close to the Russian, so the same loads were used. These are high quality rifles, though they are a straight-pull design. The earlier version came out known as the Model 89. It has a slightly shorter case, and loads are much lighter as the locking system isn’t as strong as the newer models. These loads are for the new models and shouldn’t be tried in the Model 89. With the top loads, work up carefully from below. The loads listed as hot are for information only and should not be used. I recommend that the hot loads be dropped at least 2 grains. All show signs of pressure and excess velocity. It was hot during testing which would be a factor but still dropping 2 grains would be a good idea. I hit the jackpot with the 150- and 165-grain loads using 4166. It is a top powder for these cases in regards to velocity and consistency. The 4451 is a great powder for the heavier bullets showing good results. Again, do not use the loads that are listed as warm or hot. It isn’t 150

American Shooting Journal // July 2017





46 grains 4166

150-grain FMJ



49 grains 4166

150-grain FMJ



45 grains 4166

165-grain Privi



46 grains 4166

180-grain Hornady



46 grains 4451

180-grain Hornady





45 grains 4166

150-grain FMJ



47 grains 4166

150-grain FMJ


real consistent

43 grains 4166

165-grain Privi BT



46 grains 4166

165-grain Privi BT



50 grains 4451

180-grain Sierra



53 grains 4451

180-grain Rem




52 grains 4955

180-grain Rem



52 grains 4451

200-grain Speer



48 grains 4451

200-grain Speer



50 grains 4451

220-grain Sierra


too hot





50 grains 4166

123-grain Hornady



50 grains 4451

150-grain Sierra


good load

50 grains 4551

150-grain Hornady



48 grains 4451

174-grain Hornady


mild high ES

49 grains 4451

174-grain Hornady RN



50 grains 4451

174-grain Hornady RN


real consistent





51 grains 4451

180-grain Speer RN


consistent, mild

53 grains 4451

180-grain Speer RN


nice load

52 grains 4451

200-grain Speer


good load

50 grains 4451

220-grain Sierra


very consistent


After World War l, German citizens were not allowed to own a military caliber, so some Mauser rifles (such as this one) were converted to 8.15x46. 

RELOADING necessary or safe, and the loads are listed for information only. As much as I like 4895 the 4166 is as good or better in a lot of loads. No pressure signs were observed in the good load listings. Keep in mind that a hot load only produces a small amount of extra velocity and can increase pressures to an unsafe level. It is not worth the risk, which applies to all of the rifles. THE 7.7 JAPANESE ARISAKA served during WWII and remains fairly common today. With that thought, I tried some 4451 in it. It takes the same diameter bullet as the .303 British and 7.65 Mauser rounds. With good loads and bullets it is close to the .30-06 in power and has a good enough bullet selection to make it versatile. If you want a heavier-thannormal bullet, Hawke makes them in 190- and 220-grain RN types. These powders seem to bring out the best in this round. Without much doubt, I can get a little more velocity but I don’t see the point in stressing an old rifle just to get a few feet per second more. These loads are already very adequate for most hunting situations. Note the difference in the 49- and 50-grain loads. They were done on different days but temperatures were similar, so I would consider 50 grains to be a max load, although there were no pressure signs. THE 7.62X54 RUSSIAN has been around since 1891, when it replaced the Berdan round. It has the advantage of a plentiful supply of rifles at very reasonable prices. Many countries used them and they are still used in some cases, so ammo and brass are easy to obtain. It has approximately the same power as a top-end .308 and is capable of good accuracy. It might not be a bad idea to slug the barrel, as I have seen some of these go from .308 to .316, so in order to get the best accuracy, use the correct diameter bullet. Factory ammo usually has a .310-diameter slug. I would not recommend increasing the top loads. 152

American Shooting Journal // July 2017





45 grains 4166

123-grain Lapua FMJ



45 grains 4166

123-grain soft point



43 grains 4166

150-grain Sierra


decent load

40 grains 4166

174-grain Hornady FMJ



40 grains 4166

180-grain Speer







50 grains 4166

123-grain Flex Tip



46 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



48 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



44 grains 4166

174-grain FMJ Hornady




44 grains 4166

174-grain Hornady RN



46 grains 4166

174-grain FMJ Hornady







47 grains 4166

125-grain Hornady



45 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



44 grains 4166

170-grain Hornady RN



50 grains 4451

198-grain Privi FMJ




THE .303 BRITISH is one of the most widely known military rounds, so the 4166 should be a good powder in it. The .303 debuted in 1888 with a compressed load of black powder and a 215-grain FMJ RN bullet. In a very few years, however, they went to Cordite and a lighter spitzer bullet. Today, the .303 is still widely used by collectors. THE 7.65 MAUSER is another fine round, and one of the earlier ones to use smokeless powder. It came out in 1889, and the 91 Mauser was an early rifle that used it. Later, the Model 1909 came out with it. The 1909 is a Model 98 Mauser and was considered one of the best Mausers ever made. It uses the same projectiles as the .303 British and the 7.7 Arisaka. The top loads with the 150- and 174-grain bullets are very consistent, but should not be exceeded. There was a big difference between the Hornady 174-grain RN and the FMJ. While that is a larger-than-normal spread between

bullets of the same weight, it reminds us to finalize a load with the exact bullet that will be used, such as a serious hunting load. You can also observe the difference that a grain or two of powder can make. That is why there are cautionary notes all through this piece. Before the Mauser 98 in 8x57, there was an older offering in a Commission rifle used by Germany from 1888 to 1898. It was not a Mauser rifle and there is a lot of differences between the two rifles. The older rifle has two locking lugs, plus a different extractor and ejector. They are not as strong as the Mauser but using the right ammo they work OK. They also had an oddlooking jacket around the barrel, which wasn’t a good idea. It would trap water between the barrel and jacket, which would cause rust. It has an odd clip, which is hard to get, and they were originally designed for a round nose bullet weighing about 230 grains. They also take a .318 diameter bullet as opposed to a .323. Note that the loads

RELOADING are lighter than the 8x57 Mauser. I swaged the bullets down from .323 to .318. In deference to the design the loads are mild and show a high ES, especially the 125- and 150-grain loads. They can be brought up a grain or two and still be safe. THE 8X57 MAUSER is one of the most common military rounds to premier in 1888 with the Commission rifle. The Model 88, however, doesn’t use a Mauser action and is inferior to the 98 action. It also uses a .318-diameter bullet, so if this data is used, start at least 10 pecent below the listed loads. I have a Commission rifle on hand and at a later date will develop some loads for it. In 1904, the Mauser went to the .323-diameter bullet, which is still used today. Components are plentiful and easy to get. In a Model 98, loads can be developed that will get the most out of this round. With top loads it is close to a .30-06 in power. These loads should not be used in a Commission rifle. These loads should be reduced from at least 10 to 15 percent for use in a Commission or other weaker rifle. GERMANY BROUGHT OUT THE 8.15X46 sometime between 1890 and 1900. It is that country’s version of the American .32-40 both in power and usage. It was popular for 200-yard matches because of its good accuracy and low recoil. Bullet diameter is usually .318, though slugging the bore might not be a bad idea. I have made ammo for several of them, including one that I owned. Cases are made from a .30-30 or .32-40 brass, and needs to be trimmed and sized. Some of the older guns were originally designed for black powder, and caution should be used. Some 98 Mausers were rebarreled to this round and can safely utilize modern-type loads. Due to the small case, power is limited and would be barely adequate for deer with the best loads at close range. It is, however, an enjoyable round to shoot due to its light recoil and good accuracy. For the Mauser, I had to dress down 154

American Shooting Journal // July 2017





52 grains 4166

125-grain Hornady



50 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady


real consistent

47 grains 4166

175-grain Privi



46 grains 4166

185-grain Remington


good load

44 grains 4166

198-grain FMJ



45 grains 4451

220-grain Sierra



THE 8.15X46 LOAD




32 grains 4166

125-grain Hornady



30 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



28 grains 4166

170-grain Hornady .318


nice load





52 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



51 grains 4451

170-grain Hornady RN


very mild

48 grains 4166

175-grain Privi


very consistent

45 grains 4166

175-grain Privi backwards 2,140


45 grains 4166

198-grain Privi FMJ








45 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady


mild; consistent

47 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady


nice load

45 grains 4166

175-grain Privi


very consistent

45 grains 4451

198-grain Privi – FMJ



the rim in order to make them fit. THE 8X50 LEBEL can benefit from mild loads, especially the Model 86 used in this test. It has a tubular magazine that prohibits using pointed bullets,

so I have loaded them backwards. However, you can’t use compressed loads with this method, as bullets go in crooked, so that is a limitation we have to live with. That applies to all of the rifles I have tried. A little shopping can

The 300 magnum has been around awhile, and the slower Enduron powders work well in it. The author didn’t do much with it as data is available elsewhere. The 7977 has great potential with heavy bullets in this caliber. 


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52 grains 4166

150-grain Hornady



50 grains 4166

175-grain Hornady


nice load

48 grains 4166

205-grain Speer


nice and warm





35 grains 4166

170 grain Speer


nice load


produce bullets from 125 to 220 grains, so almost everything is covered. THE 8X52 SIAMESE MAUSER came out in the 1920s to replace the older 8x50. A modified Mauser 98 was used for this round. Since it is a large rimmed round, the action had to be modified to accommodate this chambering. There are a couple of commercial ammo makers who will make the brass or sell loaded ammo, but you can also modify cases for the .45-70 or 8x56, which is what I did. Once you have the brass and dies, loading is typical and uses a standard 8mm bullet. Since this is a 98 action, good loads can be developed giving it adequate power for hunting. THE 8X56 STRAIGHT PULL came out to replace the older 8x50. Both use the model 95 straight pull rifle. For some reason, these use a .330-diameter bullet instead of the regular .323, and although that makes it more difficult to get bullets, they are available. Privi makes the brass, so with a set of dies you are in business. The round has enough power for most hunting, and the rifle is well made. Personally, I don’t care for straight pulls, but they function well and they give the owner an opportunity to build up their arms. Like some of the other military guns tested here, the velocities seem higher than normal. That may indicate excess pressure, but none showed up during testing. I’d

One surprise was the 7.62x39 doing well with a heavy bullet and 4166. In addition, the 30 Harrett also exceeded expectations. Since their powder capacity is virtually the same, the results are also similar, but the Herrett has a shorter barrel.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017






50 grains 4166

180-grain Speer



48 grains 4166

200-grain Hornady SP


surprisingly slow





58 grains 4166 60 grains 4451

180-grain Speer



200-grain Hornady



58 grains 4451

250-grain Hornady







38 grains 4166

200-grain Sierra



38 grains 4166

200-grain Sierra - 2nd test



THE .38-55

37 grains 4166

220-grain Hornady



36 grains 4166

235-grain Speer


nice load

35 grains 4166

245-grain cast



34 grains 4166

250-grain Hornady




American Shooting Journal // July 2017

strongly advise starting 2 to 3 grains below these loads and carefully work up. The barrel is short (18 inches), so velocity would drop some as a result. THE .32 SPECIAL CAME OUT AS a companion to the .30-30. It was designed to be usable with black powder, which was still common when the newer round was introduced. Unlike the .30-30, however, it never became very popular, though it will do well in hunting deer in the woods. There are not very many bullets suitable for it, though the 170 does just ďŹ ne. THE .358 WINCHESTER has been around since 1955. Rifles were manufactured for the round during a couple different time frames, but in spite of the fact that it is a terrific hunting round, it has never been real popular. For this test, I used a Browning lever rifle. It was bought


in 1977 and has harvested many deer through the years. Like the .35 Whalen, it is flexible with the ability to use .38-caliber handgun bullets at reduced velocities. I plan to resume testing of this round when I get a bolt-action rifle in this caliber, because it is a much better round than sales figures indicate. THE .35 WHALEN has been around and should do well with a couple of these powders. With good loads, the Whalen would be adequate for almost any large game. If you don’t like belted cases but want some serious punch, this might just be the round that you are looking for. For light loads, .357 bullets are just the ticket. It is an extremely flexible round, especially for the handloader. THE .38-55 IS AN OLDER ROUND originally loaded with black powder. Happily, there are now some modern guns with the strength to take advantage of the round. I have an H&R singleshot that allows the use of bullets not suitable for a lever gun and modern loads. The IMR 4166 may be on the slow side but will be interesting with heavier bullets. In modern guns, however, 4166 is a viable powder. If you have an older rifle, use lighter or black powder loads rather than these modern ones. 

Some of the military rounds used (from right): 7.65 Mauser, 30-06, 7.62x54, 8x50 Lebel, and the 303 British. If you reload for these rounds and don’t try IMR 4166 Enduron, you are missing out on some good ammo.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017


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American Shooting Journal // July 2017



Velocity city Triggers adds a Remington replacement to its repertoire.

The new Remington 700 replacement trigger from Velocity comes in a variety of colors.



ith more than 30 years of experience designing, manufact i and d manufacturing assembling triggers, Tom Vehr, owner and operator of Velocity Triggers, knows how to make a highquality product to upgrade your AR. Now, with the company’s latest offering, Vehr has branched out to improve upon the trigger used in the Remington 700 rifle. This new trigger is cost-effective and a top performer, and American Shooting Journal spoke with Vehr to find out more. AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL: Tell us about your Remington 700 trigger and how it improves upon the stock item. TOM VEHR: Our 700 replacement trigger is a complete modular unit that is easy to install. It is adjustable for pull weight, over-travel and creep. We set each trigger with a 3-pound pull weight before it leaves our shop, but it can be adjusted from 2 to 4 pounds. I also designed a unique feature into my version of the 700 trigger: the safety can be put on “safe” immediately

after being fired, before you work the bolt. This allows the shooter to safely h b a live round. The “stock” chamber triggers require the safety be in the “fire” position, until you have recocked the rifle. This is a great feature for all hunters, especially youth. ASJ: What makes Velocity’s AR triggers stand apart from competitors? TV: I started Velocity Trigger with the premise to make a great trigger in the USA that was affordable for the average shooter. We cut the hammer, trigger and disconnect from extremely strong tool steel with a wire EDM process that has very tight tolerances. We then treat the hammer and disconnect with Robar’s NP3 metal finish, which is very corrosion-resistant and reduces friction. The trigger is coated with diamond-like carbon coating (DLC). The DLC coating gives the trigger a combination of low friction and extremely hard surface that won’t wear. DLC is harder than chrome plating.

ASJ: How are you able to produce such high-quality products and sell the them for such an affordable price? TV: It isn’t easy to hold the costs down, but I have figured out a few processes that allow us to produce the parts very economically. Since we do all of our machining in-house, we are able to control a lot of our costs. We try to keep our outside costs to a minimum. We don’t have sales rep groups or a big advertising budget, so we pass that savings along to dealers and consumers. ASJ: Do you have any other new products you’d like to tell our readers about? TV: We are working on a new 3-Gun AR trigger now. We will have that ready later this fall. It will allow for faster acquisition of the trigger, which has shown to reduce times for shooters that use a conventional trigger design.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit 167


American Shooting Journal // July 2017



A look at AT3 Tactical’s new red dot sight COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


ike many shooting aficionados, Zac Plansky loves building his own AR-15 rifles. But in the process of finding the right parts and accessories for his guns, he was astonished by all the overpriced products on the market. So Plansky, armed with both the knowledge of the gun industry and an entrepreneurial spirit, decided to start his own company. “I started AT3 Tactical in 2013, with the goal of developing quality AR parts and accessories at prices anyone can afford,” he explained. “As we’ve grown, my wife, mother and brother have all become a part of the business. It’s great to work with family, and treat our customers like family as well.” AT3 Tactical makes and sells

The new LEOS Red Dot sight from AT3 Tactical.

uppers, lowers, sights, optics and myriad other components for the AR-15 rifle. A new product making waves in the industry right now Red Dot sight with is the LEOS R integrated las laser sight and riser. The accurate, versatile, reliable sight is accu and packed pack with features. “The LEOS (Laser Enabled Optic System) red dot sight because it is a is unique un qua quality red dot sight with features that are typically fea fo found at higher price points – red targeting po la laser, integrated riser mount, flip-up lens caps, m up to 50,000 hours of battery life, and more,” said bat Plan Plansky. According to product Acc literatur literature, the AT3 LEOS is ideal for home defense, tactical and d enforceme hunting, plinking, law enforcement,

competitive shooting, or any shooting scenario where magnification is not required. The sight is optimized for AR-style rifles, sporting and hunting rifles, shotguns, air rifles, and any other weapon with a Picatinny or Weaver mounting rail. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a novice gun builder, AT3 Tactical is willing to help. “We are experts in the AR-15 field, and we strive to educate our customers about the AR-15 rifle through our blog, the AT3 AR Academy,” explained Plansky. “In addition, we offer fast and free shipping and friendly customer support from people who know what they are talking about. There’s a reason we have so many happy customers: We stand behind our products!”  Editor’s note: For more information, visit

A closer look at the multi-coated front lens. 169


American Shooting Journal // July 2017 171


American Shooting Journal // July 2017



The folks at Safety Harbor Firearms understand a thing or two about firearm conversions, and offer multiple kits to hands-on fans of the big boom. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


here has always been a segment among fans of the shooting sports who prefer the big calibers and big guns. If you are one of those who like to hear the big boom in your (hopefully) muffled ears, and have the ready cash for .50-caliber ammo, then Safety Harbor Firearms (SHF) is for you. This company, based (logically enough) in Safety Harbor, Florida, is all about the big guns. They first started production in 2003, and currently specialize in .50-caliber upper conversions (SHTF50) for the AR-15 platform. They also have developed a reputation for offering great value for the money in a market segment that is known for being a bit “pricey.” For those who are less interested in a “do it yourself” project, they also offer complete .50-caliber rifle packages, which do require an FFL to purchase. They offer both a single-shot and a magazinefed upper, and the side-mounting magazine holds five rounds. Complete rifles are designated “R” for repeater and “S” for single-shot. Barrel lengths vary. For example, the .50 BMG upper comes with barrels in 18, 22 and 29 inches. SHF produces the Kompact Entry Stock system (KES), an innovative solution to an effective and efficient collapsible stock for AR15-based personal defense weapons. According to the company website, the KES is a pull-out stock built to fit on all standard-spec AR-15/M-16

In addition to their popular .50-caliber uppers and complete rifle packages, Safety Harbor Firearms also offers their Kompact Entry Stock system (KES) for the AR-15 platform (above) as well as the MPX (below). (SAFETY HARBOR FIREARMS)

lowers. It is entirely user installable and requires no gunsmithing. This set-up offers a length of pull that expands from 0 to 13.5 inches in seconds, and allows for easy sling mounting on either the left or right side of the gun. When collapsed, the KES does not interfere with the operation of the firearm.

The kit consists of the stock assembly, buffer, carrier and spring. SHF also offers KES AOW (Any Other Weapon) shotguns for the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500.  For more information about Safety Harbor Firearms, visit 173

A Kick-EEZ shooting pad.



An inspirational idea on a golf course more than 30 years ago jump-started Kick-EEZ, and the company’s shooting aids continue to make our shooting enjoyable. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


he Kick-EEZ Company was formed in the mid1980s by Willard Latimer, a World War II veteran who got the idea for his innovative shooting aid on – of all places – a golf course in Chehalis, Washington. On that day in 1985, Latimer was getting ready to tee it up, when a member of his foursome took a piece of Sorbothane – a spongy, polyurethane material – out of his pocket and wondered aloud about possible uses for it. Latimer had hunted all of his life, having learned it as a young boy alongside his grandfather, Samuel Latimer. He fell in love with the sport, and had already handed that love of the shooting sports down to his family. So his first reaction to the Sorbothane was “It sure would make a good gun pad!” IT WAS AN INSPIRED IDEA. Sorbothane is a proprietary visco-elastic polymer, which simply means that it displays the characteristics of both viscosity, which is a measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow, and elasticity, which gives material the ability to return to its original shape after forces are no longer applied to them.


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

A visco-elastic material with a high viscosity resists motion, and one with a high elasticity easily returns to form after stress. When these two characteristics are combined, as they are in Sorbothane, the material isolates vibration, dampens noise, and absorbs shock. In addition, Sorbothane has a low creep rate compared to other polymers (such as rubber, silicone or neoprene), and is very stable with a long fatigue life. In other words, Latimer’s gut reaction was absolutely correct. A gun pad made of Sorbothane would be an excellent shooting aid. In less than a year, Latimer formed a company, which he named Kick-EEZ. Today, the company offers a variety of quality shooting sport products, and is located in Woodland, Washington, near where Willard and his family reside. According to the company’s website, Kick-EEZ

remains a family affair. Willard is now retired but his daughter, Susan is the office manager; daughter Cheryl is the general manager and her husband, Dave, is the warehouse manager and technical support person (the one who can answer all your questions all the time); and his sons Steve and Bill are vice presidents.  For more information about Kick-EEZ products, visit For more information about other Sorbothane products, visit 175


American Shooting Journal // July 2017

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