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A MERIC A N

SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 8 // Issue 10 // July 2019 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andy Walgamott OFFICE MANAGER / COPY EDITOR Katie Aumann LEAD CONTRIBUTOR Frank Jardim CONTRIBUTORS Robert Brantley, Jim Dickson, Scott Haugen, Phil Massaro, Mike Nesbitt, Paul Pawela SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold DESIGNERS Celina Martin, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker, McKenna Boulet WEBMASTER / INBOUND MARKETING Jon Hines INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn

Emphasis on Quality Accent on Innovation

ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@americanshootingjournal.com

ON THE COVER

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

A North Carolina boy stepping into a man’s shoes in a time of looming revolution is the setting for the “Saga of the Longknife,” artisans’ recreation of late 1700s weapons, clothing and accoutrements that will star at the Contemporary Longrifle Association’s upcoming annual meeting. (PAUL FENNEWALD)

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

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


CONTENTS

VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 10

FEATURES

24

47

ALL HAIL THE KING! There’s long-range shooting, and then there’s the King of 2 Miles. This three-day match held in early summer in northern New Mexico separates the men from the boys as teams vie to win the title of KO2M. Last year’s winner Robert Brantley has the story of this unique contest!

55

TRAINING WITH A DELTA FORCE LEGEND Pat McNamara’s Tactical Application of Practical Shooting, or TAPS, Course is demanding, as well as fulfilling. Our Paul Pawela joins a session with grizzled veterans, as well as a woman who runs her own ranch.

91

GUN REVIEWS: NEW OFFERINGS FROM CHIAPPA FIREARMS AND CHARLES DALY A uniquely colored special issue .357, an AK-platform .22 LR plinker and a new coach-style shotgun highlight new guns from these two companies. Doing double duty this issue, Frank Jardim has the details.

103 ROAD HUNTER: HOT SHOOTING ON TAP AT COLD BAY Situated on a peninsula between the bitter Bering Sea and the stormy North Pacific is Cold Bay, Alaska, home to one of the earliest waterfowl hunts in all of North America, and for one of our continent’s tastiest birds: brant. Scott Haugen heads north to get after these geese, as well as the region’s plentiful ducks. (PAUL FENNEWALD)

SAGA OF THE LONGKNIFE

In a time of looming war, a young boy is thrust into a man’s shoes in colonial North Carolina, but to protect his family and their farm the lad is carrying a .40-caliber rifle his stepfather had custom made for his size, as well as his late dad’s tomahawk. That’s the reimagined setting Frank Jardim weaves for the “Saga of the Longknife,” artisans’ collection of period-piece weapons, clothing and accoutrements that will be the stars of the show at the upcoming Contemporary Longrifle Association annual meeting in Lexington, Kentucky.

111 THE CALL OF COYOTE HUNTING By helping keep this predator’s rising numbers in check, you’ll also be protecting game and farm animals, plus pets from their depredations. Jim Dickson shares some of the rifles and tactics that should lead you to successfully bag more of these wily furbearers.

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

12

American Shooting Journal // July 2019


CONTENTS

73

119 BLACK POWDER: THE MODEL 1873 RIDES AGAIN Yes, Winchester’s reissue of this classic carbine turned the head of Mike Nesbitt, but it wasn’t until it came out in .44-40 that it truly captured his attention. After putting a few rounds through it, our black powder shooter shares his thoughts.

Company SPOTLIGHTS 85

97

Black Hills Ammunition: Going strong with 30-plus years of success in government, consumer markets Little Crow Gunworks: Plenty to caw about, including their World’s Finest Trimmer

(HORNADY)

BULLET BULLETIN:

BONDED AND ENSURED TO PUT DOWN GAME After feedback from the field, Hornady took another stab at its DGX, giving it a

bonded core, creating a bullet that “is both sound and stout, and represents a great value for any hunter,” reports our Phil Massaro.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

DEPARTMENTS

17 Competition Calendar 21 Gun Show Calendar


PRIMER

COMPETITION C A L E N D A R

July 7

July 19-21

July 13-14

July 27

Bay State Games Sport Pistol Finals Woburn, Mass. idpa.com

Washington State Championship Match Renton, Wash.

July 19-21

2019 USA Shooting PPP Nationals Colorado Springs, Colo.

July 12-13

2019 Wyoming Sectional Championship Casper, Wy.

July 19-21

Eastern Lakes Section Championship Rush, N.Y.

2019 Western PA Section Championship Clairton, Pa.

July 20-21

July 27-28

2019 Minnesota Section Championship Forest Lake, Minn.

July 13-14

July 20-21

July 13-14

July 27-28

Rocky Mountain Regional Classic XXV Greeley, Colo.

July 20-21

Sunflower State Classic VII Wellington, Kan. Pacific Coast Challenge XIII Albany, Ore.

July 27-28

Great Lakes Regional Classic XV Brighton, Mich.

July 5

July 13-14

July 5-6

July 13-14

Texas State Championship Glen Rose, Texas Idaho State Championship Shoot Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

July 6

Nebraska State Shoot Lincoln, Neb.

July 6-7

NH State Championship Gilford, N.H.

July 11-13

Rose City IDPA Championship 2019 Tyler, Texas

July 12-14 usashooting.org

MPLS Rifle Club July Smallbore 3-Position Foley, Minn.

July 19-21

Buckeye State Ballistic Challenge XVII Marietta, Ohio

cmsaevents.com

July 27

July 12-14

Scarborough Fish & Game Annual GSSF Match II Scarborough, Maine gssfonline.com

MPLS Rifle Club July Smallbore Prone St. Francis, Minn.

Bighorn Classic/Western Colorado Sectional Championship Grand Junction, Colo.

NW01 2019 Northwest Challenge Puyallup, Wash. uspsa.org

2019 USA Shooting PPP Nationals Anniston, Ala.

Missouri State Championship Festus, Mo. Mid-West Regionals Edinburgh, Ind.

July 14

NC State Championship Williamston, N.C.

July 24-27

CMSA Lakota Western US Championship Las Vegas, Nev.

July 20

2019 Iowa State IDPA Championship Elkhart, Iowa

2019 Pennsylvania State IDPA Championship Hunlock Creek, Pa.

americanshootingjournal.com 17


PRS RESOURCE GUIDE Bolt Gun Series July 12 July 13 July 20 July 27 August 2 August 10 August 16 August 23 August 24 September 7 September 13 September 14 September 21

Canadian Sharpshooters Classic Hornady PRC Wisconsin Barrel Maker Classic New England Parma Precision Rifle Rumble MPS Summer Shootout Defy the Distance Lights Out 2019 Big Dog Steel Fall Challenge Meaford Long Range Steel Challenge Federal Gold Medal Match Open Range Shooters Retreat Pigg River Precision H.A.M

Hanna, Alberta Coalville, Utah Cascade, Wisconsin Dalton, New Hampshire Parma, Idaho Blakley, Georgia Three Forks, Montana Ninnekah, Oklahoma Kimbolton, Ohio Meaford, Ontario Carbon Hill, Alabama Ramona, Oklahoma Rocky Mount, Virginia

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PARTS, ACCESSORIES & GEAR

See us on page 49

See us on page 18

See us on page 19

americanshootingjournal.com 19


THE REAL TEXAS

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

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019


BROUGHT TO YOU BY

PRIMER

GUNSHOW C A L E N D A R

C&E Gun Shows

July 6-7

Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina State Fairgrounds

July 20-21

Fayetteville, N.C.

Crown Expo Center

July 20-21

Salem, Va.

Salem Civic Center

July 27-28

Concord, N.C.

Cabarrus Arena & Events Center

July 20-21

Phoenix, Ariz.

AZ State Fairgrounds

July 27-28

Reno, Nev.

Reno Convention Center

July 6-7

Orlando, Fla.

Central Florida Fairgrounds

July 13-14

Palmetto, Fla.

Bradenton Area Convention Center

July 20-21

Miami, Fla.

The Fair Expo Center

July 27-28

Lakeland, Fla.

Sun ’n Fun Expo Campus

July 6-7

East Ridge, Tenn.

Camp Jordan Arena

July 6-7

Overland Park, Kan.

Overland Park Convention Center

July 13-14

Wichita, Kan.

Century II Expo Hall

July 13-14

Jackson, Tenn.

Jackson Fairgrounds Park

July 19-21

Joplin, Mo.

Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center

July 20-21

Somerset, Ky.

The Center for Rural Development

July 26-28

St. Louis, Mo.

Orlando Gardens

July 27-28

Tulsa, Okla.

Expo Square – Exchange Center

Real Texas Gun Shows

July 13-14

Brenham, Texas

Brenham Fireman’s Training Center

July 20-21

Gonzales, Texas

J.B. Wells Park

Tanner Gun Shows

July 20-21

Denver, Colo.

Denver Mart

Wes Knodel Gun Shows

July 6-7

Centralia, Wash.

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds

July 20-21

Spokane, Wash.

Spokane County Fair & Expo

Crossroads Of The West Gun Shows Florida Gun Shows

R&K Gun Shows

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

americanshootingjournal.com 21


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americanshootingjournal.com 23


Kai Fennewald portrays what 12-year-old “Wilbur Bowling,” son of late 1700s central North Carolina settlers, might have looked like. (PAUL FENNEWALD)


the SAGA of the

LONGKNIFE

For the Contemporary Longrifle Association’s fundraiser, eight artisans recreated Colonial-era weapons, clothing and accoutrements, and this might be those items’ backstory. Story by Frank Jardim • Photos by David Wright

T

welve-year-old Wilbur Bowling had a smile on his face as he emerged from the forest that fringed his family’s 25-acre farm on a cold March afternoon. He felt like a man. He looked like one too, at least in the opinion of Ruthie and Mary, his younger half-sisters. They were especially impressed with the stag-handled hunting knife he’d traded John Colby’s wife for in exchange for his squirrel hunting services while her husband and oldest son were gone with the militia. Wilbur thought it was really his wellworn, homespun-wool blanket coat that made him look seasoned. In truth, the blanket it was made from was rather worn before his mother cut and sewed the best sections into a garment for him. She said he was growing so fast it would be wasteful to make him a coat from new cloth, and that the cost of wool was too high with no more imports from England. Likewise, his feet were growing too fast to warrant the expense of new shoes. He wore Indian moccasins. Indians were not common in this part of the county, but white Indian traders passing through sometimes stopped by their farm to buy or trade for a jug or two of their corn whisky. He’d watched with fascination as his father and five hired slaves built the small log building for their distillery five years earlier, not understanding at the time what a lodestone it would become. According to his mother, it was a profitable side venture before the war, and a moderately profitable one now. If not for that distillery, his present manly image would have to suffer him wearing his father’s old shoes, which were absurdly big for him.

He passionately objected to wearing Father’s “snowshoes” when his mother first suggested it, but she would not give ground and he had to wrap his feet in sacks until the whisky-moccasin barter option presented itself. On top of his moccasins, Wilbur wore supple but durable brain-tanned deer hide leggings that their slave Joshua had made for his father and him to protect their calves from the thorny underbrush and copperheads while

hunting. At Father’s instruction, Joshua made a pair for himself and their other slaves, Phillip and Will, to wear when they were cutting trees for firewood in the forest. The latter two slaves were field hands his father brought with him from Virginia when he first came to North Carolina. Joshua was purchased from a neighbor three years prior. What Wilbur hadn’t already learned about dressing, salting and smoking from his mother and father, he learned from watching Joshua. Now he knew the means to render any creature from farm, river or forest, in a manner it would stay fit to eat for months. However, tonight the Bowlings were eating fresh meat, thanks to his marksmanship and hunting prowess. Two huge rabbits hung tied to the muzzle of Wilbur’s rifle. He carried the gun over his shoulder like a militiaman so the success of his hunt wouldn’t go unnoticed. He knew his father would be proud of him. He would probably say, “Why, those look more like mules than hares, boy!” Wartime in the North Carolina backcountry brought with it americanshootingjournal.com 25


Custom scaled .40-caliber longrifle with 34-inch barrel and built by Josh Wrightsman.

the weight of a somber and anxious spirit. The absence of his father’s good humor, and the way he could use it to cheer a heart, or calm one, was one of the many things he sorely missed when Father was away serving in the militia. He was glad to have him home again. THE BOWLING FAMILY’S life, and Wilbur guessed everyone’s life in the 13 American colonies, had turned upside down in the last nine months. Much had changed since the spring of 1775, when British soldiers trying to seize the arms and powder of the Massachusetts militia were met with armed resistance at Lexington and Concord. As he walked toward home across their bare corn fields, Wilbur recalled the day in early May of ’75 when he and his father first learned of the armed clashes in Massachusetts from a wagon driver they passed on the road to the county seat at Salisbury. By then, the news was more than a month old. Wilbur was confused about why the British soldiers who fought to protect them from the Indians and their papist French allies were now shooting at colonial militia. He asked dozens of questions, which his father patiently answered after pondering them over silences so lengthy, he sometimes thought his father had forgotten him. That spring, his father decided to plant no tobacco. That led to a terse exchange with his mother. She was business-minded, and Father credited a good share of their family’s prosperity to her. Tobacco was their most profitable crop. She didn’t want to let it go, but Father convinced her. He said, “A good many people of this colony are Whigs who’ve decided they won’t bow to a government an ocean away that treats them like subjects rather than citizens. The 26

American Shooting Journal // July 2019

Provincial Congress they formed wants the Royal Governor to go back to England. Do you think the crown is going to just let us go our own way? Why would they do that when there are probably just as many Tories in this colony who think the Provincial Congress is treasonous and want to see John Harvey hanged? Remember in ’71 how Governor Tyron marched a thousand militia troops here and shot down the Regulators? Remember how he hanged Captain Ben Merrill and five more of our neighbors for supporting the Regulator revolt? In the eyes of Governor Tyron, the real crime those men were guilty of was challenging the corrupt royal tax collectors and judges that do the bidding of the big landowners. What’s happened in New England shows the scourge of war is already on us and God knows when and how it will end. You and the children can’t eat tobacco.” Corn it was to be, and events before the fall harvest proved Father right. The royal governor dissolved the North Carolina general assembly elected by the people. The patriot Ethan Allen, leading Vermont militia, attacked the British garrison at Fort Ticonderoga on the Canadian border and captured it. A second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, voted to raise a Continental Army to follow their orders and put a big Virginia planter and French and Indian War hero named George Washington in command of it. Combined New England militias fought a pitched battle with British regulars outside Boston at Bunker Hill and left more than a thousand Redcoats dead or wounded on the field. That September of 1775, word reached the Bowlings, and the other dispersed farmers of Rowan County, that their Provisional Congress had authorized the formation of 35 militia

companies and able-bodied men from 16 to 60 years old must present themselves for duty if they were not otherwise pledged to military service with the colony. Father joined the 1st Rowan County Militia as a rifleman. Rowan County’s western edge faded into wilderness and the call to muster drew in not just the farmers and tradesmen from the settlements, but the rugged and unruly men from over the mountains who trapped and hunted for skins and lived cheek-to-jowl with the unpredictable and dangerous Cherokee. To the east, the pacifist Moravians, wherever their true loyalties may lie, refused to serve. Likewise for the dyedin-the-wool Tories. The Moravians stayed in their communities but a good share of the Tories slipped away to the west and south. They sought to stir up the Cherokee against the Patriots and to form up Loyalist fighting units of their own in South Carolina. AT THAT TIME, the prospect that his father would be called off to war had filled Wilbur with dread. He was 11½ years old then, the oldest male child. The thought of taking on his father’s duties was overwhelming and frightening. He’d wondered, how could he manage a farm, a distillery and their three slaves, and keep them and his mother and younger sisters fed and protected? When, almost in tears, he confessed these fears to his parents, he was surprised by their beaming smiles. As long as he lived, he would never forget the embraces, and the exchange of words that followed. Revisiting them in his mind helped to bolster his spirits in the face of challenges. “Wilbur,” his father said, both hands on his shoulders and looking him in the eyes, “You are not in this alone. I am flattered that you believe I actually do all those things on my own, but


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Simeon England’s hand-forged, hammer-polled tomahawk based on originals from the 1800s.

truth be told, your mother was doing quite well as a widow before I came along and married her. Though you aren’t my blood, I consider you my son and I have endeavored to teach you the things you need to know by example.” “But, Father, I don’t even know how to hunt!” Wilbur blurted out, revealing the depths of his lack of confidence. “Yes, you do,” his father replied. “You’ve hunted with me hundreds of times. What you don’t know how to do yet is shoot, and that is one of the easiest parts of hunting.” With that, his father presented him with his old bedroll blanket, rolled loosely around some long, slender object and tied with three thin strips of red wool stroud that he recognized as the scraps from the new capes Mother had sewn for herself and his half-sisters. Mother had already used one of those scraps to make him a decorative band for the crown of the hat she’d bought him in Bethabara at the store the Moravians set up to sell to the “outsiders” who didn’t share their strange faith. But this roll wasn’t another hat. It was heavy in his hands and inside he found a beautiful new rifle scaled down to his stature. The extravagance of the gift left him speechless. “I had a gunsmith in Salisbury make it for you,” Father said. “You have always admired my rifle so I had the gunsmith model yours after it. It’s part tidewater Virginia gentleman and part frontier over-mountain man. It shoots a 70-to-the-pound ball that you can use on small quarry or deer.” Then he 28

American Shooting Journal // July 2019

paused for several seconds and finally added, “And if you must, God forbid, any Indian or man bent on doing the family harm.” “Thank you, Father,” was all Wilbur could manage, still partially stunned by the surprise. The rifle surely cost Father as much as his own and he must have commissioned it during their trip to the county seat when they learned of the fights at Lexington and Concord. The furniture was iron instead of brass, but it was well sculpted and engraved with a hinged patch box, a setting western sun on top of the buttplate, and just enough carving on the stock to make it elegant without seeming like something too fine to be used for food or fighting. A boy too small to handle man’s rifle usually had to wait until he grew up enough to do so. To have a rifle made to fit the boy was a rare thing. Wilbur raised it to his shoulder and pressed his cheek on the buttstock’s carved rest. The rifle fit him well, and being three-quarters the length and weight of Father’s .54-caliber, he had no trouble holding the muzzle up to aim. “That’s not all, Wilbur,” his father added. “Your mother has something from your late father for you too.” The rifle came as a surprise, but this was a shock. Wilbur had few memories of his real father. His mother told him his name was Andrew Townsend and he married her in Wilmington in 1763 and took her west to the North Carolina frontier to settle on this farm, but

died of fever before Wilbur was two years old. Other than to say he was kind to them, his mother never spoke of him, and the man standing over Wilbur now was the only father he had ever known. To actually touch something that was connected to his real father was akin to seeing a ghost. Wilbur was impressed and perplexed when his mother handed him a light, slim and finely made tomahawk with a long, slender handle. The handle’s remarkable grain figuring had evenly spaced bands of light and dark. The metal was cleanly filed and polished with no hammer marks on the perfectly proportioned head. As he turned it in his hands, he noticed a temper line at the edge! The smith who made it gave it a hard steel bit so it would hold its sharpness. Like the rifle, it was a perfect size for him. “How did he get it?” Wilbur asked, captured by the unexpected link to his distant past. “He told me he killed the Cherokee warrior who had it and took it as a trophy,” his mother answered. “Andrew Townsend had a reputation as a capable Indian fighter.” “The handle is so slim, it doesn’t look strong enough for chopping wood,” Wilbur observed. “It’s not for chopping wood, boy,” his father interjected. “It’s for fighting. You need to keep that on you all the time. If you have your rifle with you, and you have to put it down because you need both hands to work, it can be hard to keep an eye on it so that a


A custom fur-felt hat, hunting knife and sheath, shot pouch made with groundhog, deer and cow hide, and a powder horn complete the Saga of the Longknife ensemble.

person bent of mischief doesn’t get hold of it when you’re distracted. You can’t be as trusting of people you meet now that we are at war, not even of our own slaves. I’m not saying this will happen with Joshua, Phillip and Will, but slaves have revolted and murdered their masters in times more certain and peaceful than ours. Keep that tomahawk in your belt and don’t pull it out lest you mean to use it. And if you have to use it, hit them as hard as you can and keep hitting them so that if you don’t kill them outright, they’ll know you’re full of fight and no easy target.” THAT SEPTEMBER AND October, Wilbur’s father taught him how to shoot, cast lead balls from the mold with the recovered projectiles, maintain the rifle’s barrel, lock and stock with judicious cleaning after firing, and how to keep it always ready and reliable outdoors so it would fire when he needed it. From Joshua, the slave entrusted to operate their distillery and the smoke30

American Shooting Journal // July 2019

house, Wilbur got some scraps of groundhog, deer and cowhide left over from those tanned at Father’s direction for use by the family or the slaves. With these pieces, and some direction from Joshua, he cut and sewed himself a shot pouch of his own, which his father dubbed “the Bag-Of-The-ThreeBeasts.” When Wilbur countered with, “I already named it the Hunting-BagOf-The-Boy-Without-A-Shilling,” his father let loose one of his familiar peals of laughter. Joshua had a mind for making and fixing things, and Father had him fashion a small powder horn for Wilbur that wouldn’t weigh the boy down like a ship-of-the-line’s anchor. In the colonies, and especially the backcountry, rifles were of large caliber and a resupply of powder often uncertain. For a peaceful mind, a man wanted a big horn to hold 2 pounds or more of gunpowder. Never having made a powder horn prior, Joshua accidentally drilled the spout too deep and punctured the side

of the cow horn. Father was not angry with him. It was a common failing and worth correcting in light of the fine carving work Joshua had already done on the spout neck. Joshua nipped a small piece of brass from his shoe buckle with a chisel and hammered it flat to patch the hole. Then, to distract from his error, he engraved the body of the horn with unexpected artistic skill, using the tip of a carving knife. Wilbur thought it distinctive, like his hunting bag, and was delighted to have it. As Wilbur approached the low log huts where the slaves lived, he half expected Joshua to be there splitting wood, but he was not. Phillip told him that Master Bowling had given Joshua leave to visit his wife Annie on their neighbor’s farm. It had been his father’s intention to buy Annie last summer, but the frugality imposed by war delayed those plans, much to Joshua’s disappointment. When the comforting and familiar sight of their two-room log house came into view, smoke drifting up


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from its stone chimney, Wilbur began to wonder when his father would be called away to war again. The first time he’d been nervous, even though there’d been ample time to prepare their farm and distillery for winter. When Father and the rest of the men of the Rowan County Militia marched off in late October, just over four months earlier, their families hugged them goodbye and pleaded to God for their safe return. In January, the prayers of the Bowling family, and all of their neighbors save one, were answered. A single Patriot had been killed, and 14 wounded, chasing down and fighting Loyalist miitia over a hundred miles of South Carolina backcountry. The culmination of the campaign was a long march through a 30-hour snow storm that reached a depth in places over a man’s knee. In three engagements with Loyalist units, the Patriots laid 64 Tories in their graves, captured 280, and broke their organized resistance in the backcountry. Then they marched home. The second time Father left, Wilbur was only worried for him. In late February of 1776, the 1st Rowan

County Militia was called to muster again and marched all the way to the east shore to challenge a Loyalist force of 1,800 men raised by the ousted Royal Governor. To the surprise of everyone in Rowan County, they were back in the time it took to march the 350-mile round-trip. The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge was over before they arrived. Father said the stories that the men who were in the action told him seemed like something from the English Civil War. The Patriot force on the scene at the time numbered 1,100 men armed with muskets and rifles. The Loyalists, largely Scottish Highlanders, chose to attack, armed mainly with broadswords and pikes. “Perhaps they mistook our men for Roundheads,” Father joked. “When it was over, we had a man dead and another wounded, while the foolish bravado of the Loyalists cost them 30 dead, 20 wounded and the capture of 850 more.” Wilbur heard a lot of stories about the South Carolina campaigns from the victorious militiamen in January of ’76 and came to appreciate his father’s talent for telling a great story without

reducing it to fiction. It was clear North Carolina’s patriots had done well so far, but it was also obvious that their opposition was light, and the British Army, or even a substantial, well-organized and capably led Loyalist force, had yet to challenge them. Last night, Father pointed this out again to temper Wilbur’s expectations of easy victory and prepare him for hardships he feared lay ahead should the enemy carry the fight to their doorstep. For now, though, Wilbur was nearly at his doorstep and he chose not to dwell on troubles to come. He and Father had hunted together almost daily last fall and in the month between his service with the militia. Since Father’s return from the long Moore’s Creek march the day before, he was too weary to join him in the woods. Wilbur left him resting by the hearth and went out confidently on his own. Now, as he opened the latch on their iron-strapped door, the wild giggling of his sisters assured him Father was awake. As the hinges squeaked the news of his arrival, a familiar voice called out, “My son, the over-mountain man, returns!”

The Saga of the Longknife Collection

Matthew Fennewald’s “Wilbur” carving, featuring a mix of inspirations and wood types, and outfitted with the elements from the collection.

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Wilbur Bowling’s fictional story was inspired by the real-life Saga of the Longknife art collection, comprised of a fully functional rifle, powder horn, knife and sheath, shot pouch, tomahawk, hat, and the supporting wooden sculpture, clad in coat, leggings and moccasins. Representing thousands of hours of work, Saga of the Longknife is the collaborative creation of eight uniquely talented artists of the Contemporary Longrifle Association (CLA). You can imagine your own backstory for these one-ofa-kind, authentically styled, handmade creations. Since the collection is up for auction, you can even own it! On August 17, buyers will bid in person, by phone and online for Saga of the Longknife, and many other original pieces from contemporary artists, in Lexington, Kentucky, at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the CLA.


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Auction proceeds are used to preserve and expand the study and practice of early American artisanal methods through scholarships awarded by the Contemporary Longrifle Foundation (CLF). Traditional skills such as longrifle-building, leatherwork, hornmaking, blacksmithing, and knifemaking are among the many areas of study artists can pursue.

It’s All About Generational Traditions

The long-bladed steel swords that the early colonial settlers in North America armed themselves with made a distinct impression on the native Indians who began to refer to all colonials as Longknives. The term stayed in use for generations, long after firearms largely replaced edged

weapons. Artist Matt Fennewald based the Saga of the Longknife collection on a generational theme. His goal was to draw focus on the importance of passing on, from father to son, the traditions and skills of what today many involved in the practice of early (sometimes called primitive) American history-based shooting sports, artisanal work and reenacting refer to as the Longrifle Culture. However, in using that jargon, we run the risk of underestimating the full magnitude of this generational knowledge transfer’s importance. The anxiety parents feel today about the life-or-death consequences of failing to teach their child to cross a street safely was magnified a hundred times for colonial parents, who had to teach their children, and especially their boys, what amounts to basic, and

then advanced long-term, survival skills to allow them to literally live off the land indefinitely. Today’s Navy Seals aren’t even trained to do that! Colonial frontier parents taught their kids to use guns and other weapons for hunting and fighting, how to make and maintain fire, dress game, tan leather, fish, trap, preserve food, find edible plants, grow food, how to avoid dying from exposure, how to make a shelter in the wilderness, how to cross a river, animal husbandry, etc. In addition to that, many of them also taught their kids to read, write and do arithmetic. They also did it over a span of about two centuries of our history. That’s an impressive accomplishment. It makes the gradual decline in hunting sports we’ve seen in the last few generations really look like just plain laziness on our part.

The ART and ARTISTS The Sculpture ‘Wilbur’ by Matthew Fennewald

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atthew Fennewald anchored the Saga of the Longknife collection on this folk art carving of a boy frontiersman. Inspired partly by Indian and slave carvings, the latter drawing from their African traditions, the figure is made of a mix of common colonial woods including walnut, pecan and cherry, toned with wax, tar and shellac, and hand-rubbed. He also made the leggings and the split-rearseam, hooded blanket-coat. The coat is made of authentic handspun wool fabric. On the frontier at the time of the Revolution, the blanket-coat was as common as Carhartt work coats are today. They were nearly always made on the frontier, and often within the family of the user for frugality and because manufactured goods were at times very scarce. Clothing was typically among the colonial American’s most valuable possessions.

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Matthew Fennewald


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Thread spinning, fabric weaving and sewing were critical skills for colonial girls to learn. Fennewald is a traditional artist who resides with his wife and two boys and a daughter in the foothills of the Ozarks in central Missouri, where they try to embrace an early American frontier lifestyle, homesteading a small plot of land, gardening, hunting, trapping and homeschooling. Early on, he discovered a love for history and the artisans who recreate it. Studying art in college, followed by a short stint in the world of art conservation, and then an apprenticeship through the Missouri Folk Arts Council, he finetuned his technique and skill set. He is best known for his mixed-media folk art pieces, antiqued hunting bags and powder horns, and reproduction of 18th and 19th century Native American material culture goods. His son Kai is on the cover of this issue. Contact him at m.fennewald@ hotmail.com.

Details from “Wilbur.”

‘The Boy’s Rifle’ by Josh Wrightsman

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he extraordinary scaled-down longrifle was conceived and built by artist-gunsmith Josh Wrightsman, based on original, fullsize Virginia guns, but with handforged iron furniture more typical of guns made by backcountry gunsmiths. Purpose-built youth guns were a rarity in the 1700s. In the era when guns were made by hand, they represented a substantial financial investment on the part of the buyer, and many original guns are found in odd calibers today because worn-out barrels were commonly re-rifled for the sake of economy when they lost their accuracy due to wear. In a one-gun family, as

Details (this page and next) from “The Boy’s Rifle.” Josh Wrightsman

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most colonial American families were, their primary need was a rifle big and powerful enough for fighting Indians and Frenchmen and hunting large game. Wrightsman’s challenge was to scale the gun so that an 11-year-old could handle it, but keep it large enough that an adult would still enjoy shooting it. It was built around a 34-inch Rice, B-weight barrel in .40 caliber, fitted with an excellent Queen Anne lock built by expert lock maker Jim Chambers, and stocked in walnut. The restrained decorative engraving and carving on metal and wood sprang from Wrightsman’s own historically tempered aesthetic sensibilities. He also hand-forged the iron furniture. The fully functional finished rifle is as handy as a carbine for a full grown man, but ideally suited to a youth or female shooter looking for a period-correct rifle to participate in shooting sports or Colonial/ Revolutionary War living history programs. Wrightsman is from central Indiana and works mainly as a maker of flintlock guns and knives. Specializing in hand-forged iron parts (including locks) for his unique style of rifles, he also creates highly sought-after knives and axes. To make his finished wares appear as close as possible to original vintage pieces, he uses the same tools, working methods and materials used by the original makers. Contact him at wrightsmanflintlocks.wordpress.com.

‘The War Tomahawk’ by Simeon England

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Simeon England

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he hand-forged, hammer-polled tomahawk was based on original 18th century examples. A tomahawk of this size was meant for fighting, but one of this quality would likely have an owner of some prestige. Unlike the more common, and much less expensive, blacksmith-forged primitive tomahawk heads, which were covered in black scale and hammer dents from forging on the anvil, this tomahawk is finely finished to an even, smooth polish. This was actually achieved with the grinding wheel and hand file and represented the craft of a higher class of metalworker called a whitesmith. The blacksmith generally did his crude metal shaping with heat and a hammer. The whitesmith shaped metal with lathes, files and simple hand-driven grinding and burnishing tools. Many whitesmiths worked in highly specialized areas like the fabrication of door locks, hinges and gun parts. A master gunsmith possessed the skills of the blacksmith and whitesmith combined. The head of this tomahawk is hand-forged from mild steel. To give it a more durable cutting edge, a high-carbon steel bit was forge-welded on. This was done by heating both pieces of metal white-hot, overlapping the ends, and beating them together with a hammer against the anvil. Once cooled, the


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head was ready to use or for further refinement by whitesmithing. The tomahawk’s slender handle is made from a remarkable piece of patterned curly ash, stained with nitric acid to bring out the grain. Simeon England’s main interest as an artist is life in the backwoods and frontier from the late Colonial to the early Revolutionary War period (1760-1780). He loves to live history and does so as an artist by using documented historical methods to make his guns, knives, tomahawks and other 18th century accoutrements authentically. When he’s not doing that, you’ll likely find him visiting the sites that history was actually made on, or roaming the woods wearing reproductions of the same clothing and kit he emulates in his work. The experiential insights he’s gained this way have helped him expand his understanding of the era far beyond what he could through museum and archival research alone. Contact him at simeonengland@gmail.com.

Detail of “The War Tomahawk.”

The ‘Bag-Of-Three-Beasts’ Shot Pouch by Eric Ewing

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very man armed with a flintlock needed a bag of some sort to carry the sundry accoutrements needed to service the piece. This exceptional shot pouch and strap was assembled using a wide array of skins, including bark-tanned and alum-tanned groundhog, brain-tanned deer, and vegetabletanned cowhide. The well-aged patina is artificial, achieved with techniques perfected by Eric Ewing through extensive experimentation. Ewing is a leatherworking artist and writer residing in New York’s Hudson Valley. He graduated from The School of Visual Arts in NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, and that background has led him to approach creating contemporary hunting pouches and other accoutrements as an art form, The “Bag-Of-Threeas well as a traditional craft. He Beasts” shot pouch. uses professional and home-tanned leathers, mixed with antique textiles and hardware, to make unique and functional hunting pouches with a diverse following, from folk-art collectors to muzzleloader shooters. His work earned several ribbons at Dixon’s Gunmakers Fair in Kempton, Pennsylvania, two Madison Grant Awards and was featured in several magazines. Eric Ewing Contact him at ericewing1746@gmail.com. Detail of “The Frontier Hat.”

‘The Frontier Hat’ by Michael Agee

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he round-crowned, broad-brimmed, black, fur-felt hat was the quintessential headwear of the colonial frontiersman. There were more stylish hats, but cocked and tri-corner hats didn’t provide as much protection from sun and rain. Prior to 1820, nearly all hats were blocked round (rather than in an oval). That forces the crown to distort more in order to conform to the wearer’s head shape, which, in turn, affects the form of the brim. The same hat could look very different on different shaped heads, providing more individuality than you might expect. Michael Agee made a custom, latheturned, round block for this hat, hand-stitched the linen lining, and stamped it with a period-style maker’s mark. Adding a hatband of red wool stroud (a fabric commonly imported from England from the 1840s to the Revolution), represented a flourish of personality applied by the purchaser.

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Michael Agee

Agee is a world-traveled, lifelong native of middle Tennessee, where he lives with his wife Kasi and their children Caleb and Calli. When he wasn’t serving in Afghanistan or working his day job as a high school teacher, he spent most of his free time recreating 18th and 19th century objects, including canoes, boots, shoes, leather items, hats, trunks, and even a wagon. Agee says of himself, “I specialize “The Frontier Hat.” in brain-tanned buckskin clothing and fur-felt hats, but make whatever comes to mind. I love 18th century material culture. Sometimes I get obsessed with something until I figure out how to make it. I find it very rewarding, but as soon as it is done, I move on to a different project. I go on ‘making rampages’ during summer break, but don’t have much time during the school year. My son Caleb likes to help, so his name is on the period-style label I stamp into the hats.” Contact him at michael.agee1780@yahoo.com.

‘Indian Pucker Toe Moccasins’ by Alec Fourman

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occasins were not the exclusive footwear of the Indian on the American frontier. Though not as durable as the conventional, heavy leather-soled boots and shoes preferred by the longknives, the moccasin was lightweight, cheap, and didn’t require the skills or specialized tools of the cobbler to make. The pucker-toe style moccasin seen here was among the simplest to make, consisting mainly of a single piece of leather wrapped around the whole foot, sewn across the top and gathered at the heel. Alec Fourman utilized braintanned, smoked and aged deerskin to make them. Deer was a tougher hide, better suited to footwear. Tanning animal hides and working with the leather produced to make footwear, tack, bags, etc., was normally a man’s work in the white settlements. By contrast, Indian women usually made Alec Fourman moccasins for their tribes and for trade with settlers. Fourman resides in Mount Vernon, Kentucky. A U.S. Army veteran, he served two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has devoted his past 16 years to preserving and mastering the vanishing traditional crafts of the 18th Century Eastern Woodland Indian tribes, whose interaction with white settlers shaped the Colonial era. He is best known for the attention to detail shown in his thoroughly researched and extensive work in the weaving technique known as open-face or oblique, finger weaving. This unique and beautiful method was too laborintensive for colonial settlers to copy and was nearly lost to history, but for artists like Fourman. His other foci include brain-tanning hides, porcupinequill decorative embroidery, and making flintlock arms. Contact him at alec.fourman@gmail.com.

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Details from “Indian Pucker Toe Moccasins.”


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‘The Common Man’s Fancy Powder Horn’ by Tad Frei

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hite cow horn was the starting point for making a powder horn before extensive hunting of the Eastern buffalo made that beast’s black horn available to horners. A small horn like this could have been made for a boy, but more likely served a frontiersman to carry his priming powder or perhaps a city gentleman for an occasional hunt or charging a pistol. This horn’s artistic embellishments set it apart from the majority of utilitarian accoutrements used in colonial America. The fitted pine base plug speaks to a concern for compactness and simplicity, but the elaborate spout carving reveals the maker’s desire to show off his skill. Scrimshaw, normally applied by the owner, was a means of personalization and sometimes an artistic expression in itself. Tad Frei is a social studies teacher with a lifelong interest in early American history. He began making powder horns about five years ago and what started out as a simple project quickly became a passion.

“The Common Man’s Faincy Powder Horn.”

Tad Frei

“When I started, I wanted to recreate museum-quality originals with elaborate carving and engraving,” Frei says, “but I became more drawn towards the common folk art style as time went on. To me, folk art just has a certain character that professionally made pieces lack. I’ve always been fascinated by original accoutrements because they feel like tangible links to the past. They all have a story to tell through their character and patina. My favorite part about working with a historical art form is the chance to create that story.” Contact him at tadfrei@yahoo.com.

‘Hunting Knife and Sheath’ by Todd Daggett

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or frontier blacksmiths, old leaf-springs were a source of high-quality steel for knife-making. This knife is hand-forged with hammer and anvil from an antique buckboard wagon seat spring and stamped with the maker’s mark. The genuine antler handle is fitted with a cast pewter bolster. To make the knife rugged for hard use, the handle is both pinned through the tang, and the tail of the tang peened over an iron washer at the heel of the handle. The deep, protective sleeve-type sheath is made from scraps of hide stitched with deer sinew and re-enforced at the blade’s tip with three brass tacks (actual antique tacks, in fact) to protect the stitches from getting cut from the inside. It has the look of a primitive, rather than professionally made, piece that shows the practicality you would expect from a settler or hunter. Todd Daggett lives a relatively quiet life with his lovely wife and four wonderful children in northern Illinois. His interest in primitive skills, hunting and trapping started at an early age. It didn’t take long for these interests to move him toward knife-making. Daggett built his own all-masonry coal forge on his property and uses only hand tools. “I prefer to use hand tools on the knives I make,” he says. “It’s just more meaningful that way.” Contact him at Todd Daggett daggett1655@gmail.com. 

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“Hunting Knife and Sheath.”

Editor’s note: For more on the auction and how to bid by phone or online, call the CLA office at (540) 886-6189 and visit contemporarylongriflefoundation.org.


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ALL HAIL THE

KIING! Author Robert Brantley takes aim during last year’s King of 2 Miles, held at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Targets begin at 1,550 yards and range out to 3,250 yards, 2 miles, thus the competition’s name.

Three-day long-range shooting match in New Mexico tests those who would target the throne of the King of 2 Miles.

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veryone who has gotten into long-range shooting knows what it’s like to keep going farther in distance. We all remember that magical moment when you pull the trigger, wait, watch the bullet impact the target, wait again, and the sound returns back to you. There is nothing like pushing the envelope once you’ve got your basics down.

STORY BY ROBERT BRANTLEY • PHOTOS © SNIPER’S HIDE

Playing at extreme ranges is nothing new, but now competitions are really taking notice and popping up across the nation and the world! You will see them in various forms, but the one that is thought of as the “Super Bowl” of Extreme Long Range (ELR) is the King of 2 Miles competition held at the renowned NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. KO2M is a three-day match

featuring some of the world’s best ELR shooters, who specialize in disciplines such as precision rifle, high power, “across the course” and .50-caliber benchrest shooting. This year’s match, to be held June 29 through July 1, will include around 80 participants. The match setup is as follows: Five targets on two courses of fire. Shooters get three rounds per target, except for the first target where they get five. americanshootingjournal.com 47


Brantley (right) and teammates Andrew Shaver (left) and Tom Manners of the Manners Composite Stocks squad took first place in 2018’s KO2M. Only one person shoots, while the others judge the wind and spot shots.

The match starts off with a cold-bore round. It’s just you and your rifle laying down looking across a canyon and you’re 1,550 yards away from your first target! It’s now go time with no alibis! If you make an impact on the first target within the allotted round count and time, it will unlock the chance to engage the next target that spans another 1,300 yards farther at various angles. Target distances on the qualifying run go from 1,550 to 2,700 yards. It’s a hit-to-advance eliminationtype match. If you don’t impact the target within your allotted rounds, you are done with the match. The scores are to reward first-round hits and getting on target as quickly as possible. If you get three attempts, the yardage has always been the point total by attempt. So if the target is 1,500 yards away, the first shot is worth 1,500 x 3 for 4,500 points. The second shot is worth 1,500 x 2 for 3,000 points, and the final shot is worth 1,500 x 1. On top of that, all of this has to happen within a seven-minute par time as well. That seven minutes is for all 16 rounds, including a bonus sub48

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MOA cold-bore target attempt that is used to start your time. This is a very unforgiving format, but one that encourages you to have your ducks in a row rather than the “walk them in” method.

AFTER THE FIRST two days of qualifying, organizers take the top 10 shooters and put them in their own mini-match under the same format, except the ranges span from 2,700 to 3,520 yards (2 miles). This is the final round used to determine the winner and the placement for the competitors. The only difference here is you are allowed to use rounds allotted for future targets to “buy in” to impact a target. For example, you have a total of 15 rounds to attempt going five-for-five at the three ELR targets. If you miss all five shots, you can keep pulling from the 15 rounds until you get a hit on that target. If you impact on the sixth shot, you won’t get points for that because it wasn’t in the allotted round count, but you are able to proceed to the next target with five attempts given

to you, granted that you have enough rounds to complete the course of fire. You can’t hold an event like this just anywhere. It takes a few resources to host these competitors and certain features make it more manageable and entertaining. First off, you’re shooting off an elevated firing line so that mirage can be kept to a minimum. Second, you’re shooting at a target just off a cliff face or some sort of terrain feature that shows you a lot of your misses. Third, you are at an elevation suitable for ELR shooting. The firing line is roughly 6,600 feet above sea level, if I remember correctly. Combined, these make for a great time to stretch out your rifle under a competition format. Calling hits and misses at extreme long range can be difficult under good conditions and the KO2M crew has that covered as well. A high-tech camera system that wirelessly gives live video feedback to many monitors with multiple viewers makes calling hits and misses a breeze. If you hear the bell ring, then you know someone just hit the target.


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Shaver and the author prepare for the big finale at last year’s event.

AT LAST YEAR’S event, my team at

Manners Composite Stocks took first place out of more than 60 shooters. Each competitor gets to assemble a three-man team, including a wind coach and spotter. One reads wind changes and the other assists with where the shots went. Together with my teammates Tom Manners and Andrew Shaver, we hit more targets than any previous winner and had a phenomenal run. We only missed one shot on the qualifying run. Everything else was first-round impacts with all the follow-up. As my team’s shooter, the challenge for me was doing something out of my level of experience. I have played with ELR by cartridge, meaning stretching smaller rounds past their normal capabilities, but never had the means to do it with these types of rifles and cartridges. I took the same mindset and applied it to this: Don’t overthink anything, just look at it the same, and let the larger, more efficient rounds do the work. This is an event that attracts riflemen spanning multiple disciplines and that’s what makes it so attractive to me. Every time I have attended, I

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have learned something new because I was interacting with people outside my normal circle. You will find teams from various countries competing at the highest levels, from F-Class, Benchrest and ELR, among many others, and some from my discipline, which is practical precision rifle. It’s very cool to see guys who do well within their realm change up their style and gear to compete under a standardized set

After his team topped more than 60 others, Brantley could rightfully claim the throne and crown as the King of 2 Miles.

of rules with cartridges and weapons that allow for repeated impacts at extended distances. The list of gear used is enormous, as everyone does something a bit different and has their own strategy. The King of 2 Mile match is a fun learning experience and I intend to do it again. We are working on new rifles to have ready before the match. It is exciting to blend your normal match


gear with much larger components and go dent some primers with the best ELR shooters on the planet. Drawing shooters from different backgrounds and strategies and with industry support backing them to drive the sport makes for an interesting climate for long-range precision. I have been very fortunate to get support from many of my favorite companies in the industry, including GA Precision, Bartlein Barrels, RCBS Reloading, Hornady, and Bushnell Optics, to name a few. I really enjoy going out to represent all of the companies and see what we can do. This year we are going to use the same gear with a slightly different cartridge we designed. I’m taking the same scope on the same mount and going to a BAT ES action screwed to a Bartlein Barrel by GA Precision. We plan on launching Cutting Edge Bullets under predictions based off the Hornady 4DOF solver. Trigger Tech sent me an awesome trigger with a crown engraved on it, so I suppose that would be a great bang switch for the platform. I can’t wait to see next year’s competitors and see how the format will go. I think we will see a few more PRS shooters enter the game and I think they will do well. The style will align well with an easy transition – just a bit more recoil and longer time of flights. If you want some excitement, there are ELR matches popping up across the country and it’s getting much more popular. No, you don’t have to go crazy, as many think. Start stretching out your gear to find your limitations and learn things that will let you go farther. It’s such a blast to fire your rifle and wait a while for a bullet to impact a target. It doesn’t get much better than that for me. Getting out with shooters and conditions will show you your errors and how to improve. After all, that’s the golden rule in precision rifle – knocking out any variables you may have and trying to achieve perfect consistency. Be sure to check out American Shooting Journal’s August issue to find out the results of this year’s King of 2 Miles competition.  52

American Shooting Journal // July 2019


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TRAINING WITH EX-DELTA FORCE LEGEND PAT MCNAMARA

Pat McNamara, a 22-year Army and 13-year Delta Force veteran, leads his intense two-day Tactical Application of Practical Shooting Course at a Palm Beach, Florida, ranch.

His Tactical Application of Practical Shooting Course is demanding, but fulfilling.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL PAWELA

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s this article is being written, the nation is both in celebration and mourning in honor of Memorial Day, as we pay tribute to those who served and paid the ultimate price. American Shooting Journal proudly supports the military and the men and women who serve this great country, as well as those who have served in the past and are now passing on their knowledge, training and experience. In the shooting world, there are many professionals to train with and learn from, but one cadre of folks is at the very highest pinnacle. These warriors come from the greatest combat university in the world, better known as the Combat americanshootingjournal.com 55


TAPS attendees included shooters from a variety of skilled backgrounds.

Applications Group, formerly known as the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, or Delta Force! Delta Force operators are considered the best combat marksmen in the world. In head-to-head shooting competitions, Delta has outshot every counterterrorism force worldwide. Surgical shooting is their stock in

McNamara’s words to live by are emblazoned on his T-shirt.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

trade, and Delta Force operators train long, hard hours, shooting in every conceivable position. Here is a brief overview of what a Delta Force operator goes through. After a stringent physical fitness test and grueling land navigation course that weeds out a large percentage of the class (and the selection is all people at the top of their professions), the operator candidate then goes to Operator Training Course (OTC). There, the operator is retrained in a variety of weapons for weeks, eight to 10 hours a day, systematically teaching the operator target identification techniques for target acquisition cycle. Operators shoot thousands of rounds a day in a variety of drills, from transition drills to malfunction drills to reload drills, ad nauseum. They are then introduced to a “shooting house,” where range work and teamwork come together. Operators spend eight hours a day here, sitting as hostages while their fellow mates blow doors and make entries, shooting precision groups on targets that are mere inches from their teammates. This is the raison

d’être of why Delta Force members are so great at what they do. WHAT MAKES A Delta Force operator larger than life? They are predominately conservative, religious men who put God, country and family first. This is the same measure of a man that describes Pat McNamara, a leader in every aspect of life. A 22year veteran of the Army, McNamara spent each one of those years in Special Operations, the last 13 years of which were with Delta Force. He retired as a troop squadron sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank a noncommissioned officer can attain. Recently I had the honor and privilege of attending one of McNamara’s intense two-day Tactical Application of Practical Shooting classes held at Nail Ranch in Palm Beach, Florida. As expected from a professional of McNamara’s caliber, his class included the following: • Lecture on proper weapons handling and safety; • Refresher on marksmanship fundamentals and shot placement grouping exercises; • A diagnostic course of fire;


Deb Sullivan was the only woman in the class, but definitely proved her mettle.

Attendees went through a variety of drills, from marksmanship fundamentals to grouping exercises to target discrimination.

• Grouping exercises with both pistol and rifle; • Target discrimination; • Proper use of barricades; • Close-quarters battle techniques; • Movement; and • Immediate action drills. McNamara started out by making some pretty sound impressions to the class, one of which was, “There are a lot of gun owners out there, but just because you have a gun does not mean you’re not armed.” He further pointed out to the largely civilian class that “civilians have an equal duty (as law enforcement) to protect and serve as well … to protect ourselves and our loved ones and serve our communities as responsible, trained gun handlers.” “We have to be our own first responders. We cannot rely on law enforcement, fire, EMS to be there at a moment’s notice,” McNamara said. “We need to be trained, and we need to be able to take care of our families, our loved ones and ourselves … in first aid, in basic survival and in protecting ourselves. Now, that can be via conflict resolution, going fisticuffs or by being lethal!” McNamara believes in performance-based training versus outcome-based training. The difference, he said, is that outcomebased training is “how many, how much and how fast.” It can be simply defined as execution with consideration of the consequence of “will I succeed, or will I fail?” “But performance-based training asks, ‘How well?’” explained McNamara. “Where is my home and how can I make incremental improvements to the structure of my home?” SINCE A LARGE focus of the class was on the rifle, I paid particular attention to what McNamara recommended as far as a good rifle system. While he hesitated to recommend one rifle manufacturer over another, it is very clear he likes Bravo Company Manufacturing (as do other former Delta operators Larry Vickers and Tom Spooner, which says volumes

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019


McNamara shoots a rifle for a demonstration. McNamara demonstrates a drill for the attendees.

about that rifle company). McNamara recommended the AR-platform barrel to be in either 14.5 or 16 inches, because he likes distance in shooting. As far as triggers, McNamara likes a good two-stage trigger (a Geissele SSA is what he runs). For optics, the hands-down favorite amongst the ExDelta alumni is Aimpoint in the T-2 60

American Shooting Journal // July 2019

series, but the Aimpoint Comp M5 is also getting great reviews from all the ex-Delta alums. On a tactical light system, McNamara prefers his at the 3 o’clock position using a SureFire Scout Light, once again very popular with the graduates of Delta University. Other items that are absolutely necessary according to McNamara

are a good set of back-up iron sights like Scalarworks Peak sights. Another essential piece of equipment is a good two-point sling because it stabilizes the shooting platform and keeps the rifle close to the body or back. McNamara has his own version of a two-point sling for sale, but another option is the Blue Force gear


americanshootingjournal.com 61


sling adopted by the United States Marine Corps and designed by fellow operator Vickers. As far as pistols go, McNamara said they “should be ergonomically correct for your size and weight and should feel like an extension of your body. It should also be comfortable to conceal.” The class he was teaching had a variety of different handguns made up mostly of Glocks, Sigs and 1911s.

McNamara looks on as a class participant shoots at a target.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

ANOTHER MAJOR EMPHASIS of the class was on marksmanship fundamentals. McNamara stated that sight alignment and trigger control are the most important two. He covered in thorough detail the proper stance, grip, presentation, trigger control and follow-through. McNamara stated that there can never be enough of the basics, and to this day, he continues to learn new things each time he practices. “Everything starts with a single shot,” he said. “Marksmanship should be practiced one round at a time. (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) forces us to concentrate on the fundamentals. These fundamentals should be engraved into our hard drives and we must be able to perform these specific skills intuitively. There are facets that must be felt and performed at a subconscious level – loading, precombat check, safety manipulation, building a position, achieving a natural point of aim, sight alignment, trigger control, feeling the metal-onmetal imperfections in the trigger group, calling your shot, seeing how far the sights rises, seeing where the sight settles, follow-through, realigning the sights, and resetting the trigger. Marksmanship should be practiced in near slow motion.” One cannot move on to tactical shooting until marksmanship fundamentals are sound, because tactical shooting is about target discrimination and proper bullet placement. McNamara put his class through a variety of demanding shooting drills with a tempo hard to describe, other than that is his norm and his bailiwick in which he does his business.


americanshootingjournal.com 63


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AS ONE WOULD imagine, the class was filled with well-trained men coming from a variety of skilled shooting backgrounds, including an officer from the Army’s Special Forces, law enforcement officers and competitive shooters. There was one exception, however. A seasoned shooter, the owner of her own ranch and a mother to three grown women, Deb Sullivan was holding her own in that class and was at the very top of the shooting against her male classmate peers. I asked her why she decided to come to the Pat McNamara class and her thoughts about it. Sullivan stated that she lives alone on her ranch and she alone takes care of all her animals. She knows she must protect and defend not only herself, but her property as well and everything on it. She admitted it was difficult to keep up with the men in the class, but it did not impede her in any way, as she made up her mind that she was going to get through the task that was demanded of her. When asked her impressions of McNamara’s class, she had this to say: “My father always said buy the best and learn from the very best. There are no people on earth better with guns than Delta Force members. I appreciated Pat explaining things I did not understand and he took the time and had the patience with me to make the things right that I needed to get right. The fact that Pat treated me no different than the men, I respected that immensely.” Pat McNamara is truly exceptional in all he does and teaches; he is the living embodiment of pushing yourself to being the very best that one can be. His thoughts on selfpreservation are truly top-notch, and he’s turned them into an outstanding, must-read book titled Sentinel: Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail. I can’t recommend his training enough! Go to tmacsinc.com for more information. 


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BONDED AND ENSURED FOR BIG GAME After feedback from the field, Hornady took another stab at its DGX and gave it a bonded core, creating a bullet that ‘is both sound and stout, and represents a great value for any hunter.’

The Hornady DGX Bonded, shown here at 400 grains and in .423-inch diameter for the classic .404 Jeffery.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO

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nless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have noticed the number of Hornady bullets that have been released over the last decade or so. The ELD-X, the ELD Match, the pair of the DGS (Dangerous Game Solid) and DGX (Dangerous Game eXpanding), and the all-new A-Tip match bullet are just a few. Regarding cartridge development and revitalization, Hornady has been

instrumental in the development of both the 6.5 and 6mm Creedmoor, and both the 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC. On the other end of the spectrum, the company has been responsible for providing quality American ammunition for the .450/.400 3-inch NE, the 9.3x74mmR, the .404 Jeffery and the .450 NE. But not all of the Hornady bullet designs were a hit. Their time-tested InterLock cup-and-core bullet has

proved itself as a sound design, especially if of proper sectional density. In an effort to improve the InterLock, Hornady released the DGX bullet, meant to pair with the DGS nonexpanding bullet, but things didn’t exactly work out as planned. Reports came back from the African game fields of premature expansion and premature bullet breakup, of shallow wound channels and a lack of penetration. My own experimentation americanshootingjournal.com 73


bullet bulletin showed that the Hornady DGX loads were certainly accurate, but I have enough trusted friends in the safari industry who came away with a negative experience that I didn’t have the fortitude to test them on dangerous game myself. This posed a bit of a dilemma for me, as one of my favorite rifles ever – my Heym Model 89B double

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

rifle, chambered in .470 NE – was regulated with Hornady ammunition, specifically with the 500-grain DGX load. There I was with a double rifle that shot its regulatory load extremely well, yet I had that niggling thought in the back of my mind that the bullets were not exactly up to the task of taking thick-skinned dangerous game. What to do? Well, luckily, I can

handload my own ammunition, and so I reverse-engineered the Hornady load to allow me to use those premium bullets that I had good faith in. But at the same time, I heard that Hornady had not only heard the complaints from its customers, but had reacted and responded with a solid answer: the DGX Bonded bullet. PERHAPS BONDED CORE bullets deserve a bit of explanation, as the technique has certainly caught on, and bonding has proven to be a sound method of producing a reliable blend of both expansion and penetration. When a cup-and-core bullet impacts hide, flesh and bone, the exposed lead core at the nose expands and – if everything goes just right – results in that perfect mushroom configuration, destroying vital tissue along the way. Should the copper jacket be too thin, or should the impact velocity be too high, the bullet can disintegrate; that is, the jacket and core will separate and penetration will be poor. This phenomenon is exactly why John Nosler set out to build a better mousetrap, and why different manufacturers have tried all sorts of methods to slow down that rapid expansion. Hornady used a cannelure to lock the jacket to the core – hence the InterLock name – and while it certainly made a difference, it wasn’t the end of the road. The original DGX design was just a bit too frangible for dangerous game work; the shoulder bones of a Cape buffalo are very tough, and bring in a healthy adrenaline level, ship-lapped ribs and thick hide and you’ve got a candidate for a premium bullet, if ever there was one. Yet you’ll want a bullet that will open reliably on thin-skinned game, as well; lions, bears, leopards and eland are dangerous and/or bigbodied and require a bullet that will reliably expand. The Hornady DGX Bonded fits that bill perfectly, as its lead core is chemically bonded to the copper/steel jacket. The jacket of the DGX Bonded


bullet bulletin

The bonded core design will help make the most of the already excellent .375 H&H Magnum, giving excellent penetration and expansion.

is .098-inch-thick copper-clad steel, designed to be tough enough to penetrate from any angle. The meplat is flat, which is not a good choice for long-range work, but inside of 200 yards it poses no problem. I personally love the way a flat-point or round-nose

bullet affects game animals, as I can see the animal shudder upon impact. To guarantee expansion at the front of the bullet, the nose of the jacket is serrated just enough to get things started. The core is bonded to hold the whole package together, and as the

The John Rigby-designed .450 3Âź-inch is well-served by the 480-grain Hornady DGX Bonded; its shape and weight should work well in vintage double rifles.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

profile of the DGX Bonded is identical to the DGS, you have a classic pair of projectiles. I have found that the DGX Bonded and DGS print to the same point of impact, so if you need solid (nonexpanding) bullets as backup for buffalo, or for elephant or hippo, you


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americanshootingjournal.com 77


bullet bulletin The .450 3¼-inch Nitro Express, shown with 480-grain DGX Bonded. The .450 is an excellent cartridge, and will kill even better with modern bullets.

won’t see a huge point of impact shift. Field reports are indicating that recovered bullets are expanding to twice the size of the caliber, and weight retention is running in the low 90 percent range, with the penetration

that professional hunters appreciate. Hornady offers the DGX Bonded in many dangerous game calibers, at common weights. Included in the component bullet line is the .300-grain .375-inch, the 400-grain .410-inch for

the .450/.400 3-inch NE, the 400-grain .416-inch, the 400-grain .423-inch for the .404 Jeffery (my Heym Express loves this bullet over a suitable charge of Reloder 15), the 480- and 500-grain .458-inch diameter for the .450 NE and

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019


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The Hornady DGX Bonded, shown in cutaway, with the copper-clad steel jacket shown. (HORNADY)

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

A 500-grain .458-inch DGX Bonded shown after upset. (HORNADY)

the various .458s, the 500-grain .474inch for the .470 NE (which my Heym 89B double rifle loves), the 525-grain .505-inch bullet for the .505 Gibbs and the 570-grain .510-inch bullet for the .500 Jeffery and the .500 NE. All are available in 50-count boxes. Loaded ammunition is available in 9.3x74R, .375 H&H, .375 Ruger, .450/400 NE 3-inch, .404 Jeffery, .416 Remington Magnum, .416 Ruger, .416 Rigby, .500/.416 NE, .450 Rigby, .450 NE, .458 Winchester Magnum, .458 Lott, .470 NE and .500 NE. Dangerous game hunting is a niche market to begin with – though it is one I am certainly passionate about – and there are enough good choices available that a hunter could spend a decade or more testing the various makes and models and still not hit them all. I use many different brands and types, but here’s what I like about the Hornady line: It is consistent, it is effective, it is available and it is


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bullet bulletin affordable. Street prices vary from $70 per box of 20 for the .375s up to $160 per box of 20 for the big Nitro Express cartridges; believe it or not, this is on the affordable end of the spectrum. Give the Hornady DGX Bonded a whirl; I truly believe you’ll be a happy customer. The design is both sound and stout, and represents a great value for any hunter. 

The DGX Bonded shown both in cross section and upset. You can see how the thick jacket slows expansion. (HORNADY)

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BLACK HILLS AMMO GOING STRONG With 30-plus years of success in government, consumer markets, ‘customers know they can count on our ammunition.’ PHOTOS BY BLACK HILLS AMMUNITION

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oy meets girl. Boy and girl share a love of shooting, hunting and all things gun. Boy and girl take this enthusiasm and run with it, helping to launch – and eventually run – a successful ammunition company. Not your typical love story, that’s for sure. But that’s what makes Jeff and Kristi Hoffman’s story so great. We’ll let Jeff Hoffman take it from here … I GREW UP hunting, shooting and reloading. My father and grandfather taught me to shoot and I fell in love with it. I had my first rifle at around age 7, and my first pistol at 12. I spent my youth toting a Winchester Model 74 .22 rifle all over the area around Fort Pierre, South Dakota, as I grew up. My grandfather had a carton of .22 shells on his gun cabinet. His rule was I could have as much as I wanted, but I needed to leave 75 cents for every 50-round box of CCI Mini-Mags I took, so that he could buy a new box when that one ran dry. The system worked well. In high school I met Kristi. Now my expenses were ammo, plus gas for my pickup truck to pick her up at her dad’s farm. I didn’t have much money, so a common date was to show up with a full carton of .22s so we could shoot prairie dogs on her family farm. We later went to the same college. She studied accounting and I studied criminal justice. After college I was hired by the Rapid City Police

Jeff and Kristi Hoffman.

Department. We moved here and in 1980 we were married. Despite making the princely sum of $4.67 per hour, plus working a second job, in addition to wages from Kristi’s full-time job, things were pretty tight financially. I was on the department’s pistol team and was buying a case of ammo every paycheck from the department rangemaster, who reloaded ammunition as a way for him to help make ends meet. I was his best customer, buying reloads for $60 to

$70 per case of 1,000 rounds. One day he asked if I thought he could make a living making ammunition full-time. I said no. He didn’t listen and started Black Hills Shooter’s Supply. He hired me immediately to help load ammunition. That was my third job, in addition to being a cop and working hotel security, all at the same time. As I loaded ammunition on a Dillon 1000, one of the three loaders the company owned, I realized I had been wrong. There was a considerable americanshootingjournal.com 85


COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Black Hills’ HoneyBadger line of fluted solid copper projectile ammunition, available in .45 ACP and 9mm among others, is very popular.

market for ammunition. I would ship the ammunition each night and no matter how much we loaded, it always went out just as fast. Kristi would come down in the evenings after working at her full-time job and load the primer tubes to start the next day’s production at Black Hills Shooter’s Supply, while I prepared ammunition to ship. She also saw the potential. THE COMPANY WAS growing and as is common with new companies, it needed additional cash. Tom, the owner, offered to let us buy a share of the company. I dismissed the thought, as I loved

The 5.56mm 77-grain Sierra MatchKing is the commercial version of the MK262 that Black Hills produces for the government.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

being a cop, and really didn’t have the confidence to jump into business. Kristi nudged a little, saying, “I wish you’d consider Tom’s offer.” I explained I knew nothing about business. She said, “You know a lot about guns, reloading and ammunition, and I know business. We need to do something because what we are doing now is not working.” She was right. Our weekly budget for food was $20. We ate a lot of macaroni and peanut butter. We ate beef only because her dad and mom had a farm and would bring us beef when they would butcher. I agreed to think about the business offer. After much contemplation, we

decided to give it a try. We went to every bank in town, trying to get a loan. We needed $12,000 to buy in. We were so green that we did not really grasp the concept of collateral. We just knew it was a good idea and that we were good for it and the bank should loan us the money. We were politely shown the door with each attempt. Nobody would loan the money. I then asked my dad if he would loan us the money. He said no. He wouldn’t loan us the money, but he would co-sign for us. That was an even better deal because then we would have a bank loan to establish credit. My dad at that time was a trucker. For collateral, he put up his truck. He mortgaged his truck so we could follow a crazy idea that we “knew” would work. The banker thought it was nuts, I could read it on him, but he had good collateral, the title to my dad’s truck. That was a great motivator for us. I had read that the Vikings would sometimes burn their ships when invading a country so that all their men knew there was no turning back. That was that moment for us, when we burned our ships. We could not fail. Failure would mean the banker got the truck. There were many times in the years after that that we should have failed but didn’t because we were too committed, too stubborn, and probably mostly because God looked down and saw that despite our weaknesses and mistakes, we were really trying, and gave us a hand at the moments when we really needed it.


americanshootingjournal.com 87


COMPANY SPOTLIGHT Kristi and I left Black Hills Shooter’s Supply in 1988 and started Black Hills Ammunition Inc. In 1996, we won our first military contract, making ammunition for the Army Marksmanship Unit. Other military contracts followed and by 1999, we had marksmanship unit contracts for the Navy and Marines. In 1999, the Navy asked us to do development for operational ammunition. That became the very successful MK262. After that we developed quite a few other specialty rounds for the military. Development and production of military ammunition has grown to be our primary market, and we are proud to support our country’s warriors in defending our country and way of life. WE SPECIALIZE IN accuracy, quality and good service. We realized early on that trying to sell the cheapest ammunition was a tough way to make a living. There is always someone cheaper because they have a manufacturing advantage, or because they are on their way out of business and maybe don’t know it yet. Our market is folks who want or need the best, at a fair price. That is probably why we have been so successful with the military. They might buy on bid, but they have high standards. Lives depend on their choices. They are looking for the best value, which generally is not the same thing as the lowest price. Our 5.56 77-grain is the commercial

The 5.56mm 77-grain is now available in a polymer-tipped version for a higher ballistic coefficient.

version of the MK262 we produce for the government. Same performance, in a commercial box. It has been very popular. We sell probably more types of .223 and 5.56mm ammunition than anyone else. Similarly, our .308 match ammunition is very popular and 6.5 Creedmoor is really selling well. Our HoneyBadger line of fluted solid copper projectile ammunition is very popular. It provides performance equal or superior to the best hollow points but with better uniformity of performance and better barrier capability.

Our customers know they can count on our ammunition. We take great pain to make our ammo the best it can be. We are an “assembly” plant; that is, we do not make any of our own component parts. That means we are free to buy the best components from all sources and combine them into great ammunition. The best powders, cases, primers and projectiles. We have many industry friends who supply us great components. Despite some of them being “competitors” because they may also make ammunition, they are proud to be a part of our success. We take the best components, develop great loads with them, assemble them with care, and hand-inspect every round we produce. We ship dealerdirect; minimum order is one case. We pay all freight to 48 states and we guarantee customer satisfaction. At Black Hills Ammunition, we are big enough to make some of the best ammunition available anywhere, yet small enough to care about every customer.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit black-hills.com.

The 77-grain MK262 produced for the Navy.

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gun review

Chiappa Nebula Special Edition .357 Magnum Revolver

NEW GUNS FROM CHIAPPA FIREARMS AND CHARLES DALY Uniquely colored special issue .357, AK-platform .22 LR plinker, coach shotgun highlight companies’ 2019 offerings. STORY BY FRANK JARDIM PHOTOS BY THE MANUFACTURERS

F

rom the innovative team at Chiappa Firearms and Charles Daly come four new firearms that should get your attention for their quality, performance, engineering, value and their good looks.

CHIAPPA NEBULA SPECIAL EDITION .357 MAGNUM REVOLVER

For a limited time, Chiappa is making their revolutionary, low-barrel-axis, double-action Rhino revolver with a unique mixed color PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) finish and blue-hued, medium-sized, laminated wood grips. The PVD finish is applied in a vacuum chamber in gaseous form and creates

a coating harder and more corrosionresistant than electroplated nickel with high temperature resistance, good impact strength, and excellent abrasionresistance. In addition to being durable, it is strikingly beautiful. Now the world’s most advanced and shootable combat/ competition .357 Magnum revolver is also a work of art. Available only with a 6-inch barrel and for a limited time. (MSRP $1,509)

Chiappa RAK-22

CHIAPPA RAK-22 (22LR) KALASHNIKOV STYLE RIFLE

You see lots of .22 LR ARs around, thanks to drop-in adapters and dedicated upper receivers, but you don’t see much in this popular plinking caliber in the AK platform. Mossberg, GSG and Armscorp took a stab at it, but none of them got the lines of the americanshootingjournal.com 91


gun review

Chiappa RAK-9

legendary assault rifle right. Those guns had a toy-like quality and failed to capture any of the original gun’s feel and historic ambiance. However, AK enthusiasts need lament no more. The RAK-22 is the .22 LR semiauto fun-rifle you’ve been waiting for. Before they made boldly modern guns, Chiappa Firearms earned their great reputation making historic replica firearms and this Kalashnikov clone lives up to expectations, with the minor exception of its shorter, 10-round magazine body. The RAK-22 succeeds where others fail because Chiappa stayed true to the gun’s dimensional aesthetic, materials, sights and controls. It’s built like a real, stamped sheet metal and riveted AKM. It fieldstrips like one too. Operationally, it’s actually a simple blowback. The gas system is just for looks. The rifle has a 17.25-inch barrel, is 34.25 inches long and weighs 6.6 pounds. It ships with two 10-round magazines and comes in the traditional, military-type wood stock with a synthetic pistol grip, sling swivels and cleaning rod. (MSRP $655)

CHIAPPA RAK-9 (9MM) KALASHNIKOV STYLE RIFLE

Charles Daly Coach Gun

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This new 9mm rifle uses the same platform as the RAK-22 but with a heavier blowback action to handle 9mm. It ships with two 10-round proprietary magazines of the same style used on the RAK-22LR. However, it was designed to accept Beretta 92 or Glock-style magazines using a Magazine Interface Plate ($15) that fills the standard AK magazine-sized hole in the bottom of the receiver and accepts either a Beretta 92 or Glock Magazine Adapter ($27 each). Rather than traditional wood, it

Berretta or Glock magazine adapter

comes stocked in a modern, tactical, thumbhole-style, black polymer, ATI Fiberforce AK-47 stock. (MSRP $719)

CHARLES DALY COACH GUN

The coach-gun model of Charles Daly’s Classic side-by-side 500-series shotgun is attracting the attention of cowboy action shooters, first with its appearance and then with its features. Like the other 500-series guns, wood and metal fit and finish is excellent and it has a singleselective trigger. The 20-inch barreledcoach model has versatility built into it. It comes in 12- or 20-gauge with 3-inch chambers to handle heavier shot loads and is threaded for flush-mounting Rem Choke screw-in chokes. The oil-finished walnut stock is checkered on the grips and equipped with a thick, soft, rubber buttpad to tame recoil. The barrels are blued and the receiver is nitride-coated left in the white. Sling-swivel studs are mounted on the buttstock and the front is mounted with two screws. The sight is a traditional brass bead. At 37.5 inches overall length and 5.5 pounds for the 12-gauge (5.3 pounds for the 20-gauge), these are quick handling and light guns. They are equipped with a sliding thumb safety on the top of the wrist, behind the release lever, that resets to safe whenever the action is opened. Opening the action also resets the triggers. (MSRP $917)  Editor’s note: For more info on these products, visit chiappafirearms.com and charlesdaly.com.


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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

IN FIGHTING TRIM, AND THEN SOME There’s plenty to caw about at Little Crow Gunworks, especially their ‘World’s Finest Trimmer.’ PHOTOS BY LITTLE CROW GUNWORKS, LLC

A

fter 20 years working as a journeyman gunsmith around the country, Dale Hegstrom had the opportunity to buy out the assets of a custom rifle shop that he had been a partner in. Thus, in 2007, Little Crow Gunworks, LLC was established. “The country’s economy was at its worst since the Great Depression, but the new age of long-range rifle shooting was about to boom,” he says. “The tools of the long-range rifleman were quickly evolving, fueled by military snipers putting them to practical use in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have been involved with precision shooting and rifle work most of my life, and thanks to a few of my loyal customers who were on the cutting edge, the effective range of our rifles more than doubled because we have catered to providing exactly what they desired.” Little Crow Gunworks specializes in what Hegstrom likes to call “hybrid hunting rifles” – those that are light, ergonomic and practical to hunt with, but capable of banging steel at very long ranges. “About the time we established our business, the 6.5 Creedmoor was conceived by Dennis DeMille, Dave Emory (Hornady), and Dave Kiff (Pacific Tool and Gauge),” says Hegstrom. “The 6.5 Creedmoor was a game-changer; previously, shooting long-range was really only practical

The World’s Finest Trimmer from Little Crow Gunworks.

to handloaders who could tweak their ammo for ultra-accuracy. I will never forget the day I took a freshly built Creedmoor to the range and fired five shots and shot a bughole-size group at 100 yards. Five more shots proved it was not a fluke. I stapled a target up at 200 yards and the groups barely doubled.” He continues, “Many of our customers do not have time to handload, but now they can buy ammo that will hold MOA out to 1,000 yards. At the present, there are over a dozen cartridges with similar pedigrees to the 6.5 Creedmoor that a customer can choose for long-range shooting without handloading.” But for those folks who do enjoy handloading and reloading, Little Crow Gunworks has you covered with their World’s Finest Trimmer (WFT), which Hegstrom invented back in 2010. “I was shooting F class and had a couple of prairie dog hunting trips planned for that summer,” he recalls.

“The only problem was I didn’t have time to trim the thousands of rounds I needed with my busy schedule. At that time, the standard for trimming brass was basically a hand-cranked mini lathe. There were motorized selfcontained units available, but I couldn’t afford one with my young family and business. Originally I was going to build a trimmer that I could use on my lathe, but as I thought about the cutter I was going to use, I realized I could power my contraption with a cordless drill. With a blueprint in my head, I turned out the first WFT in a couple of hours.” The first time Hegstrom trimmed a case with this new design, he was amazed how easily it cut and even more impressed with how accurately it trimmed. That afternoon as he trimmed all the brass he needed, he decided to manufacture his little invention. “We had never mass-produced a product before; luckily, a lot of good people helped me along the way,” says americanshootingjournal.com 97


COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

As his employees make trimmers, owner Dale Hegstrom is free to follow his passion, building “hybrid hunting rifles.”

Hegstrom. “The name, WFT, was a play on words or letters to help people remember its name. Sales were slow in the beginning, as we worked on our production capabilities, but that

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all changed as seemingly overnight, the country was in an ammunition shortage and people got back into handloading. We realized that we needed an e-commerce website so we

could do business 24/7 and because customers were reluctant to give their credit card out to a stranger on the phone. We also sold optics and barrels on the website and we started manufacturing other gunsmithing and reloading tools that I designed for my own use before the WFT.” Little Crow Gunworks manufactures three different WFTs – the Original, the WFT2, and the Big Boy WFT, as well as two dozen other products. “Most of the production is carried out by employees that take just as much pride in their work as me, so I am free to do what I am passionate about – building custom rifles,” says Hegstrom. “Our company mantra is, ‘We are in the recreational business. If our customer is not satisfied with their experience, they will probably never come back because they really don’t need us.’”  Editor’s note: For more information, visit littlecrowgunworks.com.


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AR Parts, Guns & Accessories americanshootingjournal.com 101


ROAD HUNTER

HOT SHOOTING AT COLD BAY

Southwest Alaska town a great jumping-off point to hunt tasty black brant, other waterfowl. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN

N

ow is the time to start thinking about this season’s waterfowl hunting opportunities. When it comes to hunting in Alaska, minds typically turn to big game. But did you know the state has the earliest waterfowl opener in the country that allows the taking of puddle ducks, black brant and geese? It’s true. And it kicks off on September 1. I’ve been fortunate to hunt ducks and geese in many places throughout Alaska, and some of the best action I’ve experienced is at Izembek Lagoon in Cold Bay, near the end of the Alaska Peninsula. I’ve hunted here in early September for puddle ducks, cacklers and brant, and in November for brant

and prized sea ducks. On hunts like this, hiring a guide is the best option. Even Alaskan residents hire a guide when on this hunt, because it’s virtually impossible to have your own decoy spread, layout boat and motor boat to get you to where you need to hunt. Enter Jeff Wasley of Four Flyways Outfitters (fourflyways.com, 608385-4580). Wasley is the best, most passionate waterfowl hunter I’ve hunted with. He’s knowledgeable, dedicated, and when operating in these big waters, safety is his number one concern. I’ve hunted with Wasley multiple times, both in Cold Bay and for prized king eiders and sea ducks on Saint Paul Island.

LAST FALL MY DAD, Jerry Haugen, and

I hunted the September opener with Wasley on Izembek Lagoon and had the best waterfowling hunt of our lives. The day we arrived we’d planned on taking it easy. But when Wasley picked us up at the Cold Bay airport, he informed us the brant decoys and two-man layout boat were loaded and ready to go. “We have a perfect tide this afternoon, and I want to get you guys into this one place because there are more brant here than I’ve ever seen this time of year,” Wasley shared. I love hunting brant, as they decoy unlike any goose I’ve seen. They’re also my favorite eating of all waterfowl. Soon, we had three strings of brant decoys out, and Dad

The water can get rough in this part of Alaska between the North Pacific and Bering Sea, meaning quality equipment is a must. Here, guide Jeff Wasley heads across Izembek Lagoon to get a black brant hunter into position for the afternoon flight.

americanshootingjournal.com 103


ROAD HUNTER and I were lying side by side in the roomy two-man layout boat. Once the tide shifted, wave after wave of brant started moving. The horizon was black with flocks, and the sound was deafening as they approached. Shooting our three-bird-each limit happened quickly – too quickly. Before we knew it, we were back at camp, feasting on fresh grilled brant for dinner. “This is incredible, the best eating birds I’ve ever had,” smiled my dad, a waterfowl hunter of over 65 years. The following morning, the tide was right to hit the shoreline. Hopping into Wasley’s boat, we headed across the lagoon, coming to a secluded creek mouth about 7 miles from where we’d launched. Here we set out duck, brant and Canada goose decoys. A biologist joined us that day, and in only a few hours we all had our limits: eight ducks, six Canada geese and three brant apiece. That’s a lot of action, and some great eating meat. The next day we had a change of pace, and headed out for some silver salmon fishing in remote streams. Catching a five-coho limit was easy, Black brant decoy aggressively, making them one of the world’s most enjoyable geese to hunt.

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Happy hunters just in from a sea duck and emperor goose hunt on Cold Bay show off their colorful harvest.

and fun. Later that day we hiked a small, crystal-clear stream and caught and released numerous Dolly Varden on soft beads. We saw our share of brown bears on this trip, as well as more than 100 walruses that had hauled out onto a sandy island. That day culminated with more limits of ducks, geese and brant, all of which

aggressively dumped into the decoys. It was the best waterfowl hunting Dad and I had ever experienced, and perhaps the most “Alaskan” adventure we could ask for.

DURING A PREVIOUS NOVEMBER hunt, some friends and I joined Wasley. “Just stay low, and when you see a flock coming, get on that call,” were the final words of


ROAD HUNTER advice from Wasley as he fired up the boat motor and sped away, leaving me in a one-man layout boat surrounded by brant decoys on Izembek Lagoon. Loading my gun, I could hear brant calling, and when I looked up, there they were. Less than 150 yards out was a string of birds headed right at me. As they got closer to the decoys, they started to veer wide. That’s when I got on the call. Instantly the flock of over 30 brant turned, cupped their wings and sailed into the decoys. Three shots, three brant down. In less than a minute of hunting I’d limited out. Fast, yes, maybe too fast. But it was my third day of brant hunting with Wasley, and I’d just secured a possession limit of these fat-rich, tasty birds. Quickly I got on the radio to Wasley, telling him to bring out another hunter in our group to take my spot. Soon our party of five was done. Plucking birds and enjoying some great eating meat

prepared on the grill that evening, we relived the wonderful week of brant hunting we’d just experienced. “Until you see it for yourself, it’s hard to envision what brant hunting on Izembek Lagoon is truly like,” shared Wasley. “And so many geese are wintering here now, it makes the hunting exceptional all the way into December.” Playing the tides, maximizing the timing when the brant feed on plentiful eel grass, is the key to success, and Wasley is as dialed-in as it gets. “Mornings can be great, and afternoon tide changes seem to always see brant flocking into the lagoon,” Wasley continued. “But the birds aren’t always in the same spot from day to day, as their feeding areas and flight paths can change.”

A COUPLE MORNINGS OF our five-day hunt with Wasley, our group couldn’t make it across the lagoon due to extreme winds. On those non-brant-hunting mornings

there was plenty to do. We hunted prized sea ducks, including common eider, in Cold Bay, on the Pacific Ocean side of the Alaska Peninsula. In addition to common eider, we targeted long-tail ducks, harlequin ducks, scoter and red-breasted merganser. I’d already had some dandy long-tails and harlequins from previous hunts in Alaska, as well as all three subspecies of scoter. Wasley knew I wanted a redbreasted merganser in the worst way, and that’s when he took me to the point of an island early one morning. The wind was howling, and at first light, red-breasted mergansers started flying overhead by the hundreds. I’d never seen so many mergansers in my life. It was all pass shooting on the point, just like Wasley said. Though it took me a few birds to find a perfectly plumed drake for the wall, it finally happened, and I was thrilled. “You’d be surprised how many hunters come here in search of these Author Scott Haugen and his father Jerry Haugen are all smiles over this sunny day September limit of black brant taken on Alaska’s Izembek Lagoon.

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ROAD HUNTER ducks,” Wasley said, when I handed him the mounter drake as he picked me up in the boat. “They’re about the latest duck to get fully feathered, and there aren’t many places to hunt them at this stage in the game.” That afternoon the winds picked up, and there was no way to get out hunting. So, rather than sit around camp, we hit secluded bays in search of glass floats. Having broken free from fishing nets in Asia many decades ago, these floats often wash up on the beaches around Cold Bay and Izembek Lagoon. We went out that afternoon and found over 500 of the prized glass balls. We also hunted

willow ptarmigan in valleys protected from the wind. But it was the undulating strings of black brant – flock after flock spread across miles of water – that we all yearned to see. And see it we did. Thousands of brant were observed on every hunt, and filling limits was not difficult. When limits were secured, sitting in the layout boat, eyes peeking over the lip of the hull, watching these grand birds land in the decoys was as exciting as pulling the trigger. Brant respond aggressively to proper decoy spreads, and the five dozen we used did the job. A bonus was watching strikingly colored, rare Steller’s eiders

Haugen (left) and Wasley, owner of Four Flyways Outfitters, with a morning limit of eight puddle ducks, six cacklers and three black brant each, taken on the lagoon. This is the earliest duck, goose and brant opener in the country, and the action can be sizzling.

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land in the decoys, something that was worth the price of admission alone. If looking to experience what’s considered the best black brant hunting on the planet, it’s waiting for you on Alaska’s Izembek Lagoon. Whether you’re a novice waterfowler or a veteran who has hunted the world, you’ll soon find out there’s simply no place like it.  Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s best-selling book, Hunting the Alaskan High Arctic, visit scotthaugen. com. Scott is the host of The Hunt, on Amazon Prime. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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BROUGHT TO YOU BY

THE CALL OF COYOTE HUNTING By helping keep the rising predator’s numbers in check, you’ll also be protecting game and farm animals, plus pets from their depredations.

Penelope Norton, wife of Ron Norton, owner of Inland Mfg., which makes the Mil-Spec M1911A1 and M1 carbine, with a coyote she shot at 125 yards. She used a .223 Savage with a Leatherwood Hilux scope and Barnaul ammunition. (PENELOPE NORTON)

STORY AND PHOTOS BY JIM DICKSON

T

he coyote is actually a small wolf. Its larger relative, the timber wolf, was what kept its numbers in check in the old days. The Louisiana red wolf is considered by some authorities to be a coyote and timber wolf cross. The coydog is a cross between a dog and a coyote, while the coywolf is a cross between the coyote and the wolf. These are bigger, stronger, and potentially more dangerous. The elimination of its number one enemy, the timber wolf, and the network of roads and bridges man built enabled the coyote to quickly expand its range dramatically. Wolves will not tolerate the competition from coyotes and will quickly kill them. No wolves means more coyotes. Cougars will also kill coyotes and are a lot better neighbors than wolves. Encouraging the return of mountain lions would help matters at a far lower price than reintroducing wolves. I’ve lived around both, and while I enjoy having a mountain lion around, I will kill a wolf on sight. Coyote attacks on humans are relatively rare, with only two known fatalities: 3-year-old Kelly Keen in Glendale, California in 1981 and 19-year-old Taylor Mitchell in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2009.

They do pose a major threat to pets and livestock wherever they are found, and no prey-sized small children should be left alone outside in areas they inhabit, as they have been known to attack small children. As a result of these depredations, the coyote is often

hunted, many times out of necessity instead of choice. IT IS IMPORTANT to know how to tell a coyote from a dog when hunting. The coyote has sharp, pointed ears that never droop or fold over like americanshootingjournal.com 111


back at the turn of the previous century when it was legal to shoot a chicken thief. Why was this legal? Because back then, chickens were all some families had to eat and the families’ survival was often at stake. Sheep farmers, meanwhile, have resorted to dressing in white and lying down with their flocks at night, rising up to shoot the coyotes when they begin closing in on the flock looking for dinner.

Semiauto CETME with night vision scope for night work and a scoutscope-equipped semiauto G3 make for effective 24-hour work on coyotes, as well as wild hogs. The 7.62 NATO cartridge comes in handy on big pigs.

those of some dogs, and it has a very sharp, narrow, long and pointed nose. That long, narrow snout is perfectly designed for sticking down holes to grab its prey when the coyote is digging out ground squirrels and such from their burrows. Its tail is bushy like a fox, not a dog. Coyote tracks are more oval and compact with less prominent claw marks than a dog’s. The tracks also tend to go in more of a straight line than a dog’s. Like wolves, coyotes have a definite range and may follow a long route, only showing up in one area once every several days. They hunt equally well day and night. During the day they avoid human habitation, but at night they will even come up on porches after pets. When hunting coyotes, the most common method is to call them in with a call or electronic recording. Coyote howls and rabbit calls are the most popular call sounds. The hunter should be sitting perfectly still and well camouflaged, just like a turkey hunter would be. Blinds are not

necessary. Deer hunting tree stands work well if an electronic caller is placed on the ground. Locations along game trails will see coyote traffic, especially in the early morning and late evening. If coming by a vehicle that drops you off and keeps on its way, the coyotes will ignore the vehicle. If you have to park, make sure that you are parked at least a quarter mile from where you intend to hunt, as they will take notice of the vehicle and depart. In both cases, hunt into the wind because these are canines and they depend on their noses to tell them of danger. That’s you. In places where it is legal, night vision and thermal vision devices are used, as is spotlighting. These devices can be extremely effective and well worth their cost when dealing with both coyotes and wild hogs. Some farmers will stake out their chicken coops waiting for coyotes, just like they once did for chicken thieves

COYOTES ARE OMNIVEROUS and they also eat carrion. If they have killed some of your livestock or it has just died, they will come to the carcass like vultures. Even a deer gut pile will draw them. Staking out the bait like a big game hunter works well. A tree stand overlooking the bait makes the setup perfect. Sure as buzzards, they will come. If you are calling them to you, you can often end up in scenarios where you are in cover and unable to see them until they are within easy pistol or shotgun range. It is infuriating to be looking right at a yodeling coyote but be unable to see him to shoot because of the brush. As it does not take much cover to hide a coyote, you probably won’t be taking any shots over 100 yards. Since these are canines, they often run in packs and you will need a good semiauto so none get away. Anyone wishing to be sporting about coyote hunting obviously does not have livestock, pets or small children that are important to them in the area. Coyotes are a major destroyer of all types of game animals, especially the young, and that includes deer fawns. Forget about all the balance of

A pre-ban folding-stock 5.56 Norinco semiauto AK47 with 2¾X Burris Gunsite Scout Scope with German three-post reticle. This gun fired minute-of-angle groups right out of the box. It makes a fine coyote rifle.

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This Ruger .44 magnum semiauto was the author’s wife’s choice for everything. It makes short work of coyotes. The fasthandling M1 carbine is a perfect rifle for taking out a whole pack of coyotes quickly with instinct shooting.

nature talk and just look at the facts: the population of game birds and mammals plummet when coyotes are introduced. They are not native to most of their current range. The coyote is a newcomer and an invasive species disrupting local game populations. I have seen them reduce a flock of over 200 wild turkeys to less than 10 birds. I have watched the ruffed grouse population drop just as dramatically. The effect of coyotes on deer herds is very dramatic, as they are most efficient at getting fawns and a pack can bring down an adult deer. It is so bad in Georgia that hunting clubs that lease deer hunting land keep Georgia’s ace coyote trapper, Marty Adams, busy. Known as “Mr. Coyote,” Marty is the best coyote trapper in the business and those being hurt by coyotes are constantly calling on him. COYOTES ARE SMALL, with adults weighing from 15 to 45 pounds and standing around 2 feet high at the

Three proven coyote killers: The .45 Colt SAA, the Luger, and the M1911A1.

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shoulder. The chest vitals represent about a 6-inch circle. Buckshot and most any rifle cartridge work fine. Premium bullets like Nosler that do not blow up spoil less of the valuable pelts than cheap bullets. This is a fine place for the fast-handling little .30-caliber M1 carbine or the various 5.56mm assault rifles. If you have a pistol-caliber semiauto like the old .44 magnum Ruger carbine, it will work splendidly. Of course you can also use your regular semiauto deer hunting rifles, getting in important practice before deer season. A semiauto scout rifle comes into its own when coyote hunting, as you are going to be doing some fast shooting to make sure you get all of them. Just be sure that your scout scope has a German three-post reticle because crosshairs blur during aimed rapidfire and aimed rapidfire is the semiauto scout rifle’s reason for being. Instinct shooting with an M1 carbine or other rifle is a sure-fire

method of getting them all, if you are well practiced in the old Army “Quick Kill” instinct shooting method. On my farm deep in the north Georgia mountains, I normally use a pistol, as there is nothing out of pistol range for me there. The M1911A1, .45 Colt SAA, and a Luger pistol all perform perfectly for me. THERE ARE OTHER methods of hunting coyotes as well. Those hunting over vast fields can glass the area with their binoculars and take some extremely long-range shots at coyotes, just as they do at deer during deer season. Out west, the desert areas often have extremely high jackrabbit, rodent and bird populations. A coyote’s smorgasbord. In winter when there is a blanket of snow to highlight the coyotes, hunters will drive fourwheel-drive vehicles through the desert with one man driving and the other watching for any suspicious shape. The vehicle is repeatedly stopped to check these out and eventually one of them is found to

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have a pointy set of ears and a nose to match. Now it’s shooting time. Others hunt from a base camp in known coyote territory and set out with overnight camping gear, glassing the ridges as they look for tracks and listen for the noisy calls of the coyote. Once they have located the coyotes, they camp for the night and then await them at first light. Most of these shots are long range. The hunters quietly glass the area at first light, waiting and hoping to shoot one as they start their morning prowl. A classic Western method of hunting is running coyotes with horses. It requires a recent unfrozen heavy snowfall of a foot or more to show tracks and slow the coyote but not the horses. An unfenced area suitable for horses to run without cliffs, gulleys, big rocks, high mountains, etc., is essential. The riders fan out at break of day within easy hollering distance until one locates fresh tracks. The pursuit begins. Once the coyote realizes he is being stalked, he begins to run and the horses alternate between a mild

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gallop and trot until the coyote is worn down in the snow, whereupon he is dispatched with a pistol or a rifle. That is, providing he doesn’t get away. Disappearing in the rocks or a den is old hat to these coyotes and they frequently make good on their escape. A more efficient variation of this is chasing the coyote with greyhounds or wolfhounds with the hunters following on horseback. Wolfhounds will dispatch the coyotes themselves quickly and easily. After all, they were bred to kill wolves, which are much larger than coyotes. Coyotes are sometimes run down with snowmobiles and shot. Hunting them from planes and helicopters, where legal, has also been done. Picking them off from the air may not be sporting, but killing coyotes is usually dead-serious work instead of sport. COYOTES BREED AROUND Valentine’s Day, February 14, and 63 days later have pups around Income Tax Day. Decoy dogs are sometimes used then. The cur goes out and the

coyote parents attack it. The decoy dog then runs back to its owner, who shoots the coyotes pursuing his dog. There are three types of coyotes out there at all times. The territorial adults, this year’s pups, and adolescents looking to establish their own territory. When coyotes have pups, they are constantly hunting day and night and this is when they pose the greatest threat to pets and livestock. For those of you worried about running out of coyotes, just remember that they breed fast. Kill one and another will take its place in a month or two. You have to kill at least 90 percent of the coyotes in a given area to make an impact on the population, and even that won’t last long if the hunting pressure is let up. Like wild hogs, the coyote is an invasive species that is determined to stay, and breeds fast enough to do it. Its natural enemy in nature is the full-size wolf and the wolf presents even more problems than coyotes. You hunt coyotes in order to protect game animals, livestock, small children and pets. 


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Winchester’s new version of the 1873 carbine in .44-40 with ammunition.

THE MODEL 1873 RIDES AGAIN

Winchester’s reissue of classic carbine draws a second glance with .44-40 chambering. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT

W

inchester introduced

their .44 WCF, better known these days as the .44-40, in 1873. That, of course, was in the Model 1873 rifle, which became the cowboy’s favorite. That rifle in .44-40, as well as the other calibers that were introduced later, remained in production and in the

catalogs until 1920 or so. The Model 1892 Winchester did not “replace” the older ’73 and those two rifles were made side by side for almost 30 years. Many shooters prefer the Model ’73 and those shooters were highly pleased to see Winchester

bring it back again. The new versions of Winchester’s Model 1873 are made by Miroku in Japan. And, while this new rifle is certainly a Model 1873, with the togglelink action and the brass “up and down” cartridge elevator, it does include some very minor changes. We must recognize some of the newer ideas as americanshootingjournal.com 119


BLACK POWDER

This carbine has an authentic 20-inch barrel.

“better ways of doing it.” When the new Winchester Model 1873 was announced, I didn’t pay very much attention to it. That was because they were only offering it in .357 Magnum and, to me, that “didn’t fit my pistol.” Maybe that’s what the cowboy action shooters like, but I wanted the ’73 chambered for an original black powder cartridge and nothing is more original than the old .44-40. Then the .44-40 was added as an available caliber choice and the carbine was also added to the growing list of versions for the new Winchester ’73s. IN GENERAL, THE NEW Winchester Model 1873 carbine is just like the old version that a cowboy might have gotten back in the 1880s, with good but plain wood for the stocks and the rifle’s receiver blued like the barrel and other parts. On the butt of the stock is a standard carbinestyle butt plate. Length of pull measures 12¾ inches and the overall appearance of this carbine, to my eyes, looks very good. Under the barrel is the full-length tubular magazine that, if it is like my old Model 1892, holds 10 cartridges. I can’t say if the new internal parts are compatible with the older guns. There is a new safety feature that does not make any changes to the rifle’s profile. On the top of the receiver at the back of the dust-cover guide, there is a “new” screw that holds a vertical pin. That pin engages what appears to be a firing pin block inside the narrow round “bolt” that extends out the back of the receiver, which we recognize as the part of the bolt that cocks the hammer 120

American Shooting Journal // July 2019

A “period-style” cartridge box for the .44-40s by Buffalo Arms Co.

when the action is opened. This prevents the firing pin from being able to fire a cartridge unless the action is completely closed. Not a bad new safety feature at all. The barrel on the .44-40 carbine is rifled with six grooves. I’m guessing the groove diameter of the bore is .429 inch, with that guess based on some very good shooting with bullets sized to .429 inch. I had absolutely no problems in chambering loaded rounds, which would be encountered if the bullets were too large. And I will also guess that it features the old and authentic 1:36-inch twist rate. The rifling does appear to make just over half a complete turn in the 20-inch barrel. While those details about the barrel are not being checked, the performance of that barrel was certainly tested. ONLY BLACK POWDER HANDLOADS were used for the shooting. The breakdown of those loads starts with the nickelplated cases from Starline. Bullets were

cast with my old mould from Lyman, the #427098, using a 25:1 lead:tin alloy as supplied by Buffalo Arms Company. Those bullets weigh 210 grains, or 205 grains with the hollow-point. As previously mentioned, those bullets were sized to .429-inch diameter, and lubed with BPC from C. Sharps Arms. All loads were primed with CCI’s #300 standard large pistol primers. Most of the cartridges were loaded with 35 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F powder, both with hollow-point and solid-nose bullets. But 10 of the cartridges were loaded with 35 grains of Olde Eynsford 3F powder, just to see if any real difference could be seen. The loads with the 3F powder had their primers blackened for easy identification. And, for the 3F loads, only the 205-grain hollow-point bullets were used. Shooting with this .44-40 carbine began at 50 yards, shooting fiveshot groups while chronographing the loads. Results from the


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BLACK POWDER

Author Mike Nesbitt grins while holding the carbine and the target with the five-shot group.

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American Shooting Journal // July 2019

chronographing included a little bit of a surprise. The loads with the 35 grains of 3F Olde Eynsford were fired first and they averaged 1,282 feet per second out of the carbine’s 20-inch barrel. The small sample of velocities had an extreme spread of only 20 feet per second. Then some loads with the 2F grade of Olde Eynsford were tried and they had an average velocity higher than the loads with the 3F. Not much higher, only 8 feet per second for the averages, but even so, it was higher, with an average of 1,290 fps. And the highest velocity recorded was fired with the 2F powder, as was the lowest velocity. The few shots fired with the 2F powder had an extreme spread of 33 feet per second from the slowest to the fastest speed recorded. Only five rounds were fired with each powder and that is far too few to be used for making any definite conclusions.


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Even so, the results do suggest that the Olde Eynsford 3F powder will give more consistent performance in the .44-40 with a carbine-length barrel. The .44-40 is regarded as a short-range cartridge and with that in mind, I posted a target at just 25 yards and fired five shots for a group while using the standard carbine rear sight that the gun comes equipped with. Those five shots were taken with ammo loaded with the 35 grains of 3F powder. And they grouped extremely well, all going through one jagged hole just below the X-ring, scoring in the 10 and 9 rings. If this .44-40 can group like that at 25 yards, it will group almost that well at 50 yards or even longer distances. In my opinion, Winchester made a real good move by bringing back the Model 1873 carrying the Winchester name. They do tend to market toward the cowboy action shooters, so the .357 and .45 Colt are more commonly encountered chamberings, but the .44-40 is certainly on the list. Several versions are made, including rifles, short rifles, carbines and trapper carbines. The carbines have a suggested retail price of $1,299.99. These rifles are sold wherever Winchesters are on the sales rack, but if I was looking for one, the first place I’d look is at Buffalo Arms Company (buffaloarms.com). 

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