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Volume 10 // Issue 10 // July 2021

PUBLISHER James R. Baker




EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andy Walgamott

This month’s patriotic cover photograph was created by painter David Wright (a premier artist of the American frontier) for our lead feature, The Patriot’s Call. All the superb weapons and accoutrements pictured in the article – including the flag held on the cover by the three Patriots – will be up for auction next month at the Contemporary Longrifle Association show in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit to see all the amazing original creations up for bid. Or better yet, attend the show. With 400 tables, you are sure to find a treasure to bring home. (DAVID WRIGHT)

OFFICE MANAGER / COPY EDITOR Katie Aumann LEAD CONTRIBUTOR Frank Jardim CONTRIBUTORS Jason Brooks, Scott Haugen, Phil Massaro, Mike Nesbitt, Paul Pawela, Nick Perna, Troy Rodakowski SALES MANAGER Paul Yarnold ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Jim Klark, Kelley Miller, Mike Smith


DESIGNER Lesley-Anne Slisko-Cooper

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @AmShootingJourn


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American Shooting Journal // July 2021





The Revolutionary War’s Battle of Oriskany comes alive in the annual colonial-era recreations of Contemporary Longrifle Association artisans as our Frank Jardim imagines how pieces they’ve handcrafted – a .54-caliber flintlock, powder horn and bag, belt axe and a flag – might have been used in the August 1777 skirmish between regiments of New York’s Tryon County Militia and Tory, British-allied native, and German mercenary forces.



MORE THAN A MATCH For retired special forces operator and Purple Heart recipient Bryan Sikes, “lessons learned” at Precision Rifle Series competitions have had applications for his sniper training program. He shares keen insights from the firing line.


FIREWORKS ON THE 4TH Why have fireworks become synonymous with Independence Day celebrations? What is it about the colorful bursts of light and sound that scream, quite literally, freedom? We have the answer!


LAW ENFORCEMENT SPOTLIGHT: MS-13 MEMBER MEETS HIS MATCH Maybe it was a Texas cop’s time as a Marine Corps boxer, but Officer Ann Marie Carrizales wasn’t about to throw in the towel when she was shot in the face by a member of “America’s most dangerous gang.” Nick Perna shares her story.

36 65



SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING: ‘ALWAYS BE THE UNCOMMON MAN’ Legendary bladesmith, black belt and hand-to-hand combat instructor Ernest Emerson gave an inspiring speech at the 2021 Blade Show in Atlanta and our Paul Pawela was there for it, as the cool kids like to say these days. He shares Emerson’s words of wisdom. THE VERSATILE 10MM While the development of the 10mm has roots in military and law enforcement needs for a round that combined the attributes of the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP, it’s also proven worthy for self-defense – as well as hunting, argues our Jason Brooks. BULLET BULLETIN: RIMFIRE RIFLE PROJECTILES: FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW Sometimes modern .17 and .22 bullet designs work best and other times it’s “classic loads from yesteryear.” Our professor of projectiles Phil Massaro helps match ammo with your job, whether it be plinking, hunting or even, yes, self-defense.


102 HUNTING THE DROUGHT With extraordinarily hot, dry conditions gripping the West, Troy Rodakowski details how big game, upland bird and waterfowl hunters should adapt their tactics for the coming seasons. 115 ROADHUNTER: SUMMER GUN DOG TRAINING TIPS With fall coming up fast, it’s time to get your four-legged hunting partner in shape for bird seasons. Scott Haugen shares a workout plan from a noted gun dog trainer – and it might help you get in form too. 123 BLACK POWDER: CARSON’S OLD HAWKEN RIDES ANEW Inspired by frontiersman Kit Carson’s famed rifle and with a stock blank that spoke to him, our Mike Nesbitt and a buddy set out to build and shoot a replica .54-caliber Hawken.

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 © 2021 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021





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American Shooting Journal // July 2021


Gun Show Calendar Competition Calendar Precision Rifle Series Calendar, Recent Match Results News: NRA Announces 150th Annual Meeting & Exhibits 19



C&E Gun Shows

Crossroads Of The West Gun Shows

Florida Gun Shows

RK Shows

Real Texas Gun Shows

July 10-11

Concord, N.C.

Cabarrus Arena & Event Center

July 17-18

Salem, Va.

Salem Civic Center

​July 24-25

Fayetteville, N.C.

Crown Expo Center

July 9-11

Phoenix, Ariz.

Arizona State Fairgrounds

July 17-18

Ontario, Calif.

Ontario Convention Center

July 24-25

Reno, Nev.

Reno Convention Center

July 31-August 1

Prescott Valley, Ariz.

Findlay Toyota Center

July 10-11

Orlando, Fla.

Central Florida Fairgrounds

July 17-18

Miami, Fla.

Miami-Dade Fairgrounds

July 24-25

Palmetto, Fla.

Bradenton Convention Center

July 3-4

East Ridge, Tenn.

Camp Jordan Arena

July 10-11

Jackson, Tenn.

Jackson Fairgrounds Park

July 10-11

Gainesville, Ga.

Salon El Imperial

July 10-11

Springfield, Mo.

Ozark Empire Fairgrounds

July 17-18

Leburn, Ky.

Knott County Sportsplex

July 17-18

Saint Charles, Mo.

The Family Arena

July 17-18

Gray, Tenn.

Appalachian Fairgrounds

July 17-18

Columbus, Ga.

Columbus (Ironworks) Convention Center

July 3-4

Belton, Texas

Bell County Expo Center

July 17-18

Brenham, Texas

Brenham Fire Department Training Center

July 30-August 1

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Norris Penrose Event Center

July 10-11

Centralia, Wash.

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds

Tanner Gun Shows

Wes Knodel Gun Shows

Note: Covid-19 restrictions were easing at press time, but always confirm events before attending. To have your event highlighted here, send an email to 21



July 10

July 11

July 17-18

July 8-11

July 17-18

July 29-August 1

July 16-18

July 17-18

July 30-August 1

LPDA PTO San Antonio, Texas

2021 Bay State Games PPP PTO Woburn, Mass.

2021 Oregon State Championship Bend, Ore. Maine State Championship Hampden, Maine

July 16-18

July 31-August 1

Free State Championship De Soto, Kan.

2021 Oregon Open Sectional Championship Keno, Ore.

July 10-11

July 17-18

July 31-August 1

July 24-25

July 31-August 1

Glock’s on the Brazos II College Station, Texas

Virginia Ballistic Challenge III Bluefield, Va.

Coeur d’Alene Glock Classic II Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Great Lakes Regional Classic XVII Brighton, Mich.

July 17-18

July 24-25

July 10-11

July 16-18

July 23-25

July 10-11

July 17-18

July 28-31

July 9-11

July 24-25

July 30-August 1

Buckeye State Ballistic Challenge XVIII Marietta, Ohio

Idaho State Shoot Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

2021 MI Sectional Dorr, Mich.

July 23-24

July 10-11

2021 Great Plains Section Championship Canton, S.D.

2021 Hornady Area 3 Championship Alda, Neb.

2021 Mile High Showdown Simla, Colo.

Scarborough Fish & Game Annual GSSF Match III Scarborough, Maine

2021 Alaska USPSA Section Championship Chugiak, Alaska

Team Shooting Stars July 2021 PTO Carrollton, Texas

New Hampshire State Championship Gilford, N.H.

2021 Pennsylvania State IDPA Championship Hunlock Creek, Penn.

Northwestern Regional Classic XXVI Port Townsend, Wash.

Pacific Coast Challenge XV Albany, Ore.

Missouri State Championship Festus, Mo. Montana State Finals Big Timber, Mont.

Hoosier Daddy Classic Sturgis, Mich.

PA State Shoot Mill Hall, Pa. Western US Championship Las Vegas, Nev.

2021 Georgia State Championship Dawsonville, Ga.

Note: Covid-19 restrictions were easing at press time, but always confirm events before attending. 23


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

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1st Place MORGUN KING Open Div. 168.000/100.000


RECENT RESULTS (continued) 2nd Place MIKE ANDERSON Open Div. 149.000/88.690 3rd Place PAUL DALLIN Open Div. 148.000/88.095 4th Place RUSTY ULMER Open Div. 147.000/87.500 5th Place DERRYK HOVEY Open Div. 146.000/86.905

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1st Place ALLISON ZANE Open Div. 157.000/100.000 2nd Place DAVID PRESTON Open Div. 154.000/98.089 3rd Place PATRICK YOUNGS Open Div. 148.000/94.268 4th Place AARON HIPP Open Div. 144.000/91.720 5th Place DAN CHATTIN Open Div. 143.000/91.083 KEITH BAKER Open Div. 143.000/91.083

Punisher Positional Conway Springs, Kansas June 26, 2021

1st Place KAHL HARMON Open Div. 193.000/100.000

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American Shooting Journal // July 2021


For Bryan Sikes, ‘lessons learned’ at Precision Rifle Series competitions have had applications for special ops sniper training program. PHOTOS BY BRYAN SIKES

B Bryan Sikes, a retired special operations sniper with multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan, has been involved with the Precision Rifle Series since 2012.

ryan Sikes has been heavily involved in the Precision Rifle Series since 2012, when his Army unit, 7th Special Forces Group, relocated to Florida. Sikes, a special operations sniper with multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and a Purple Heart recipient, was finishing up his team time and transitioning into a sniper school instructor position. “At that time, we were looking to improve, advance and modernize our sniper program,” explains Sikes. “A couple of us sought out ways in which to do that and laid the groundwork for what would be a total revamp of our program, due largely in part to the Precision Rifle Series. It was the PRS that helped us push the limits of not only our weapon systems, but also our focus and mental tenacity under stress. A difficult trait to train, but anyone who has been to these PRS matches 29

“It was the PRS that helped us push the limits of not only our weapon systems, but also our focus and mental tenacity under stress,” says Sikes. “Few things induce more trainable stress scenarios than being on the clock for a stage and competing against some of the best precision rifle shooters in the world.”

knows the level of difficulty that is now common and how important it is to be able to maintain a high level of focus for every shot. Few things induce more trainable stress scenarios than being on the clock for a stage and competing against some of the best precision rifle shooters in the world.” He continues, “We took a lot of our ‘lessons learned’ from shooting and competing in these matches and applied them to our sniper program. Since then, I can unquestionably say that the PRS has greatly improved the capabilities of our special operations snipers across the board. On the selfish side, it was always fun attending these matches, getting to know the community, and not having to come up with a training plan; we just showed up to these matches and drank from a fire hose.” Now retired from special operations, Sikes is an avid PRS competitor, shooting in around 10 to 12 matches a year. He shoots in the open division, running rifles from GA Precision (where he also now works, building rifles and “training hungry shooters across the country,” he says). See sidebar for a full list of Sikes’ equipment. “I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the shooting community. It’s the 30

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

collective of people that really make competitive shooting what it is,” says Sikes. He adds, “I’m proud to say that I’ve made friends that have since become brothers while attending PRS events. Like brothers, the competitive spirit is always there. We still want to beat one another on our best days and there is no shortage of grief handed back when we don’t. Nothing like doing something at a match that your best friends can give you a hard time about for all of eternity.”

“At this level of competition, it seems like the most visceral memories are the mistakes I’ve made at this match or that. Mistakes that sear into your brain in the hopes that you learn from them and come back better the next time around. Like I said, shooting matches is the best training there is; if you want to get good at shooting matches, then shoot matches.”  Editor’s note: For more on the Precision Rifle Series, visit

BRYAN SIKES’ RIFLE & GEAR • GA Precision rifles, typically chambered in 6mm GT • Manners stocks • Bartlein barrels • Bushnell Elite Tactical glass • RCBS reloading equipment • Hornady components • Armageddon Gear shooting bags and products

“At this point, I almost kind of wish I had an excuse when I missed, but it’s just not the case,” jokes Sikes of his stellar equipment lineup. “All me and mine to lose.”

Independence Day fireworks over National Mall. (SHUTTERSTOCK / LAURA LYNN)


After pandemic canceled 2020’s meetings and exhibits, gun owners will flock to Houston in September.


he National Rifle Association announced that its 150th Annual Meeting & Exhibits will be held in Houston September 3 through 5, 2021. The bigger-than-ever exhibit hall will feature more than 800 exhibitors and acres of the latest guns, knives, optics, ammo and accessories available. The NRA is excited to host its 150th anniversary celebration in Texas this fall. This event is a much-needed and anticipated gathering for tens of thousands of dues-paying members and millions of gun owners after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 convention. Patriots will gather to enjoy this

family-friendly event featuring the most spectacular displays of every imaginable firearm on the market. NRA members can also book the hunt of a lifetime, purchase shooting and hunting accessories, view priceless gun collections and see celebrities walking the aisles.

In addition to the exhibition floor – don’t forget to visit American Shooting Journal at booth #2407! – NRA members will enjoy the camaraderie of other freedom-loving members as they attend the many events, receptions and demonstrations happening throughout the weekend. Some of the highly anticipated events include the Women’s Leadership Forum, the NRA Foundation’s Annual National Firearms Law Seminar, and of course the Annual Meeting of Members.  Editor’s note: For a full list of exhibitors and events, as well as more information, visit 33

The Patrio


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

iot’s Call The Revolutionary War’s Battle of Oriskany comes alive in the annual recreations of artisans, author. STORY BY FRANK JARDIM PHOTOS BY DAVID WRIGHT


General Herkimer at Oriskany, by Frederick Coffay Yohn, 1901. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that marching their troops into an ambush was the failure of the leaders of the Tryon County Militia. However, the courage and determination of Gen. Herkimer after the trap was sprung was inspiring. Shot from his horse and unable to walk, he did his best to direct the Patriot defense against withering attacks throughout the six-hour battle. It occurred in August 1777 east of Syracuse in what became central New York state.

nown as the CLA, the Contemporary Longrifle Association celebrates its 25th anniversary this August. This broadly inclusive organization was started by artists and scholars to promote and support the study and preservation of all the artisanal skills and crafts employed in early America, from making a flintlock Kentucky longrifle from a plank of wood and bar of iron, to the almost lost precolonial decorative art of Native American porcupine quill and moose-hair embroidery. CLA members are an amazingly diverse and talented group of artists who keep the skills of the past alive in their unique creations. Some are high art, and some are humbly utilitarian, but all of them are made as they were over two centuries ago. Each year, the CLA ( hosts their annual meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, and sponsors a huge show where member artists gather to exhibit and sell their work. Generous members also donate their art to be auctioned at the show to raise money to support the organization. Selecting my favorite pieces from this year’s auction, I used my historical imagination to place them into a period-correct setting. My chosen context was the American Revolution, and specifically the Battle of Oriskany. Fought in the early stages of what history recalls as the Saratoga Campaign, Oriskany saw the most savage fighting of the war and the highest percentage of patriot losses. It was hard to look at this bloodbath as anything other than a disaster, but when the decisions and deeds of men and the acts of God were all weighed in the scales of history, it became clear that without Oriskany there probably would not have been a patriot upset victory at Saratoga to impress King Louis XVI of France. It convinced him to ally his powerful nation with the American cause, and with no Franco-American alliance, we’d probably all be drinking warm beer and singing “God Save the Queen” at sports games. 37

THE BATTLE OF Oriskany was fought in New York’s Mohawk Valley, whose settlers were largely of German and Dutch ethnicity. Their collective memory shared no love of their own recent monarchs, and not considering themselves Englishmen, they had no ancestral loyalty to the English crown. They sided heavily with the cause of the American patriots and they drove out their Loyalist, or Tory, neighbors. The Tories took refuge in Canada, organized their own Loyalist military units and schemed to convince the tribes of the powerful Iroquois Confederation to maintain their allegiance to Britain. Ultimately, only the Oneida sided with the colonies. The first two years of rebellion against British rule were tumultuous if not disheartening for

New York patriots. The invasion of Canada was a disastrous failure that precipitated a massive British counterattack only narrowly derailed by a miracle naval delaying action on the Great Lakes and the arrival of winter. Warm weather in 1777 brought a renewed and more sophisticated British invasion orchestrated by General John Burgoyne with the strategic objective of isolating New England (a hotbed of rebellion) from the other colonies by controlling the Hudson River. To do that, Burgoyne needed to control all the forts overlooking it, from the Canadian border to Albany. He committed most of his forces to a southward invasion along the Hudson supported by a secondary invasion into the Mohawk Valley from the west. Facing a two-pronged attack, the rebels would have to split their

forces. For most of the summer, it looked like Burgoyne’s plans were working perfectly. Fort Ticonderoga was captured (without a fight) on July 5, and his western invasion force, consisting mostly of Loyalist volunteer units heavily supported by Mohawk, Seneca and Cayuga allies, surrounded and laid siege to Continental Army forces at Fort Stanwix on August 3. Fort Stanwix guarded the strategic portage between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. At that spot, a boat traveling on the Mohawk River from Albany could be easily carried overland (up to 6 miles) and put down in Wood Creek to make its way by water 1,500 miles through the Great Lakes into Canada and arrive on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Of course it worked the other way too, which is why the patriots couldn’t afford to

Battle of Oriskany, by John Reuben Chapin, 1857. This engraving depicts the savage hand-to-hand combat in the woods as Loyalist forces and their Native American allies repeatedly stormed the surrounded Patriot militia and their Oneida tribal allies in the forest.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

New York was a strategic resource for the Patriot cause and British General Burgoyne was determined to sever it from the New England colonies by controlling the Hudson River from Canada to Albany. He sent a secondary force to attack the Mohawk Valley from the west to force the Patriots to split their forces between two fronts. Today’s Syracuse sits where Onondaga appears on the map. (GUY JOHNSON)

lose Fort Stanwix. Their problem, as Burgoyne had predicted, was that they didn’t have enough Continental Army troops to fight off both prongs of the British attack. Out of necessity, a great many military missions fell upon the local militia. On July 17, 1777, Tryon County Militia commander Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer ordered the numerous local Committees of Safety to call to arms all men still available to defend against the western invasion. On August 4, they began a 50-mile march to Fort Stanwix to break through the British siege lines with supplies for the fort garrison. My narrative begins on August 6, when the patriot force was 8 miles from the fort.

THE PATRIOT’S CALL In the cool of the morning, Harmen van der Berg marched along single-file near the end of Colonel Jacob Klock’s 2nd Regiment of the Tryon County Militia. In front of him were 150 of his neighbors, relatives and friends, and a score of Oneida warriors. Marching behind him were his brothers-inlaw Carl and Johan Bauer, their sons Franz, Christian and Michael, and then around 40 more white settlers and perhaps a dozen Indians. In front

of the 2nd Regiment, at the head of the column, were another 200 militiamen of the 1st Regiment under Colonel Ebenezer Cox and about 30 more Oneida including Chief Thomas Spencer and his brother. Behind the 2nd Regiment marched the officers and men of the 4th Regiment, with the 3rd Regiment and 15 wagonloads of supplies at the rear of the column. In total, 800 militia and maybe 100 Oneida Indians made up their

column. Deploying a force of this size meant virtually stripping their communities of arms and men aged 16 to 60. Harmen, like many other white settlers, feared they were leaving home and hearth defenseless, but some, like Harmen’s three teenage nephews, were in high spirits to run the scheming traitor Tories and their Indian proxies out for good. For 2 miles, the column threaded its way through the forest on the untended military road that looked more like a path. Abruptly, it sloped steeply downward, descended 50 feet to the bottom of a ravine, then leveled off in a boggy flat where cut logs formed a corduroy road running over a small creek. It was shady here. The high ground behind them now blocked the shafts of sun that previously filtered down on them through the dense maple, birch and beech forest. Recognizing the landmarks, Harmen knew that even at a leisurely walk, they were less than two hours from the fort. It seemed strange they had yet to encounter any enemy pickets guarding the most practical route of attack. As his regiment’s advance again moved them into the patchwork of light breaking through the canopy of branches, Harmen was momentarily terrified by the glint of

Fort Stanwix on the eve of the siege was a substantial position that controlled access to the Mohawk River, the water route to Albany. The Patriots could not let it fall. (GUY JOHNSON) 39

Restored Fort Stanwix today, open to the public, near Rome, New York. (FRANK JARDIM)

sunlight off bright iron in the forest only 30 paces to his left. Within a step, he recovered from the hair-raising rush of the shock. “Our flank guard,” he concluded. The underbrush was thick and seemingly unbroken here and he was glad Corporal Schmidt hadn’t detailed him to the exhausting task of screening the column’s flanks. When he turned his eyes forward again, there was the devil himself, Herr Schmidt, standing on the left side of the road looking up and down the column with his usual scowl. Before Harmen’s eyes, the corporal collapsed to the ground simultaneous to the boom of a firelock from the woods to his left. The shot was followed almost instantly by another, and another, and then scores more all along the column in a ragged volley that felled several Tryon County men in the span of a single step. Harmen saw at least eight men ahead of him struck by balls, and within seconds, that many more fell again under the concentrated fire from trees all along the left side of the path. Parallel to the gunfire, the forest path erupted with the voices of men. The painful cries and screams of the wounded were overlapped by guttural shouts, shrill shrieks and calls to “Gott im Himmel!” of apparently unharmed men surprised and in mortal terror. Men froze up, halting the column in the deadly fusillade. Some militiamen instinctively fired back into the now 40

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

smoky forest where the powder flashes first appeared. Others crouched on the road attempting to use the heavy underbrush for concealment. A few rushed to aid the injured. Indian war whoops joined the rising din and the dark silhouettes of barely clothed men with feathered heads appeared standing among the cover of the trees, backlit against the white smoke as they stood charging their guns and ramming home their next ball. Harmen did not freeze. In one fluid motion, he spun in place to face the ambush while cocking, shouldering, sighting down his longrifle’s barrel at the center of a faceless shadow’s chest, squeezing off a shot, and lowering the rifle again to finish his turn facing the rear of the column. Before he refocused his attention to the urgent concerns behind him, he saw his shadow man immediately draw in his limbs like a frightened turtle, become amorphous and begin to fall away into the smoke. The situation Harmen found behind was worse. Another dozen men lay in heaps around the path and his brother in-law Carl sat on the ground, swearing most profanely and clutching his belly. Carl drew up his knees, blood rapidly staining the midriff of his shirt and leaking between his fingers. His son Franz knelt next to him trying to pull Carl’s hands away to check the wound. Their muskets lay on the ground. Johan and his two boys were still on their feet. Young Christian stood splayfooted

on the road, fully upright but rocking backward under the recoil of his musket fired wildly towards the woods. His eyes were closed. Johan and brother Michael were in a half-crouch, their weapons shouldered and carefully taking aim. They too had spotted the silhouetted Indians and squeezed off their shots before dropping to their knees to reload. Harmen knelt too, but not to reload. Instead he jerked Johan’s shoulder to get his attention. The man’s head whipped around to look at Harmen. There was fear in Johan’s face, but not panic. “Make for those trees, Johan!” Harmen yelled to be heard over the cacophony of battle, pointing to the right side of the path that as yet appeared quiet. “They’ll slaughter us here.” Then Harmen turned toward Carl, who sat just behind them, and locked his arm through the wounded man’s. Seeing this, Franz perceived the intent and did the same, but before they stood, Harmen pointed the muzzle of his rifle at the two muskets lying on the ground. Franz’s musket was at his feet but his father’s had landed yards behind them when he fell wounded. As Franz unlocked his left arm from his father’s to stretch out on his hands and knees to reach the musket, the thunder of a massed volley resounded up the path from the head of the column, followed almost immediately

by war whoops from what Harmen guessed to be scores of attacking Indians. To him, it was the sound of disaster. When faced with an enemy armed with guns, it was common for the Indians to overrun them while they reloaded. A more urgent concern for Harmen was the steady fire from their left flank pouring into the path since the ambush was sprung. THEY WERE A minute into the fight before the militia officers, sergeants and corporals could be heard shouting orders to rally their men. Harmen glanced behind them and saw his lieutenant briefly while Franz retrieved his father’s musket. The officer was standing courageously with his sword held high calling to the men to form a line when a ball tore through his chest. He stood coughing up blood for a moment, dropped his sword, fell to

his knees and then over sideways into the brush. Most of the militia were crouching along the path to conceal themselves from the enemy. Harmen realized this would be their undoing. Lacking standing targets, the Indians fired low into the concealing bushes and undergrowth. The lowest shots got swallowed up in the wet ground. The ones aimed a little higher ricocheted off the path, sometimes wounding men, or re-wounding the supine injured. Blowing bits of leaf and branch onto the path, the deadliest shots cut up the brush at just the right height to hit an unlucky crouching man in the body or head. This is exactly what happened to Michael as he ducked again to reload. The ball hit him in the crown of his broad-brimmed hat and came out the back of his neck. Michael was dead before his body met the path. In God’s mercy, neither his

brother, cousin or father saw Michael killed, despite being within a stride of him. Johan and Christian were shooting and Franz was taking up his wounded father’s arm with his left arm and struggling to clamp a pair of 9-pound muskets against his side with his right. As Harmen and Franz rose to a bent-kneed crouch and began to force their way through the underbrush, Harmen finally saw that their column was under attack from both flanks. The right side of the path, especially toward the front of their regiment, hung heavy with smoke, penetrated by muzzle flashes and Indian warriors rushing out to attack the militia with tomahawks, knives and clubs. Suddenly, a trio of shots boomed from the woods just to their left and balls clipped the brush around them. Twenty yards ahead, at the start of

ARTISTS AND ART HARMEN’S BAG AND HORN SET BY LAWRENCE FIORILLO (TOP) AND TODD HAMBRICK (BOTTOM) Lawrence Fiorillo’s hunting pouch is made of vegetabletanned cowhide and measures 7½ inches wide by 8½ inches deep. It has an inner pocket and is fully welted with a 1½-inch gusset. The leather for this bag was aged to reflect long years of use, and was given protective coats of pure neatsfoot oil, followed by a final application of beeswax and bear grease. Fiorillo also made the rig’s aged brass powder measure, which accommodates about 65 grains. Todd Hambrick made the striking powder horn, tastefully aged and featuring an engrailed edge, scrimshaw and a row of robust brass tacks around the bottom edge. Accompanying it are vent pick and pan brush for the critical 42

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Harmen’s Powder Horn and Bag made by Lawrence Fiorillo and Todd Hambrick were critical accoutrements to carry powder, ball, patches and all the tools needed to keep a flintlock maintained in the field. They will be auctioned at the Contemporary Longrifle Association show in Lexington next month.

Harmen’s .54-caliber longrifle built by Paul Bigham in the classic colonial style of Pennsylvania and Virginia gunsmiths. Its large caliber packed a punch almost as potent as a military musket, but with vastly greater accuracy and range. It is part of the Patriot’s Call grouping that inspired this issue’s story.

cleaning required to keep a black powder flintlock functioning in the field. Lawrence Fiorillo: 845-346-5840; Todd Hambrick: 540-330-3174; HARMEN’S REVOLUTIONARY WAR ERA .54-CALIBER LONGRIFLE BY PAUL BIGHAM When the call to fight for the freedom we all treasure came, patriots with rifles answered. This .54-caliber, traditional maplestocked Revolutionary War-era rifle was built from a Jim Kibler (kiblerslongrifles .com) Colonial American Longrifle Rifle Kit. The final fit and finish were provided by noted CLA gunsmith Paul Bigham of Cuba, Missouri. The rifle used a Jim Chambers Flintlock ( Siler lock and Rice Muzzleloading Barrel Company ( match-grade barrel. Bigham expertly finished the wood, and added just enough carving and metal engraving to suggest the rifle’s owner might have been a freeholder whose agricultural labors allowed him a little surplus income to afford some embellishments to the weapon he relied upon for hunting and defense. The engraved silver compass rose inlay on the cheek piece was a popular style of ornamentation and also commemorates the 25th anniversary of the CLA. Paul Bigham: 618-980-5530;

Fort Stanwix field-made Continental Flag by Paul Fennewald, which is held by three reenactors for the cover image.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

FORT STANWIX CONTINENTAL FLAG BY PAUL FENNEWALD This homemade Continental flag is modeled after the Stars and Stripes attributed to Philadelphia upholsterer and

flag maker Betsy Ross. It employs the simpler-to-make five-pointed star, rather than the six-pointed Star of David, recognized as her contribution to the design. Ross was called upon to make a naval flag as authorized on June 17, 1777 by the Continental Congress as such: “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” Significantly, the star pattern was not specified. Ross made flags for 50 years, and oral history from family members who worked with her after the war stated she told them she used the circular star pattern popularly attributed to her. There is historical evidence that the Betsy Ross flag also saw use on the battlefield during the Revolution. It was one of many designs in use throughout the war, since the Continental Congress didn’t decide on a specific pattern until the war was over. Patriot leaders were largely on their own when it came to flags and Paul Fennewald’s piece represents one made on the frontier from materials on hand, the stars cut using the fold and single-snip method credited to Ross. The garrison of Fort Stanwix, receiving news of Congress’ action to adopt the Stars and Stripes and wanting to fly it over the fort during the siege, fashioned their own and hoisted it up the flagpole the day the siege began. For 21 days, the fort was subject to regular harassing fire from the enemy. Accordingly, Fennewald distressed his flag’s hand-dyed cotton homespun fabric with bullet holes and powder burns. While the historical record is too incomplete and contradictory to state with complete confidence that the Betsy Ross Stars and Stripes flew over Fort Stanwix during the siege (which would make it the first time the flag was flown in battle), it has not been conclusively disproven. In addition, by

the forest’s large trees, he glimpsed a Seneca warrior nearly concealed by a large maple trunk raising his ramrod to reload. Harmen dived, taking Carl and Franz to ground with him. Mostly hidden in the brush and scrub trees, Harmen reached over for the muskets in Franz’s arms. The boy handed him one silently. Harmen cocked it and raised his head above the leafy branches to aim, but his target was gone. Instead, a handful of Oneida allies were rushing the woods with muskets and tomahawks. One was felled by a ball but the others continued their charge, screaming fiercely. They were steps away from the trees when a white man in a green military coat exposed himself to fire a rifle at them. Harmen aimed and shot, hitting him squarely in the body and causing him to spin and fall backward into the trees. The Oneida either didn’t notice or didn’t care. They hurled themselves on the enemy hidden in the woods with a merciless fury. Harmen ducked down again, handed the empty musket back to Franz and quickly reloaded his rifle. Their circumstances called for speed more than accuracy, so he poured powder in the barrel directly from his

horn and didn’t waste time patching his ball. He put an extra ball in his cheek for his following shot. Franz reloaded the musket with unsteady hands. Daring a peek at the woodline, Harmen guessed the Oneida warriors had carried the immediate fight, for the Indians were gesturing with their hands and calling to their comrades and Harmen to follow them into the forest. Now with some cover in the trees, Harmen turned his attention back to the path to shoot at the Indians when they exposed themselves, and Franz was able to tend to his father’s injury. Rather than mortally penetrating him front to back, the shot had gouged a half-inch-deep bloody channel six inches long and nearly a finger’s width across the front of Carl’s belly. It was painful, but survivable. Carl recovered his sensibilities enough to remove his shirt and help cut it into bandages, instructing Franz how to bind the wound. SECONDS SEEMED LIKE minutes, and minutes hours, as the ambush turned into a series of brutal hand-to-hand personal combats with groups of Cayuga and Seneca Indians seasoned with a smattering of Tories

attacking the patriot militia and their Oneida allies. Harmen heard fighting in the forest behind him too, both directly to his rear and to the right. Many Oneida had already fought their way into these woods and were driving back the left wing of the ambush and rallying their warriors to this spot. In the thick of the fray along the path, Harmen spotted two mounted Indians, the lead rider armed with a rifle and the one behind with a brace of pistols. They boldly charged some Cayuga warriors who infiltrated the brush intent on running down a withdrawing militiaman. The mounted Indians shot down two of the Cayuga, and the third disappeared in the brush. The militiaman reached the woodline as the mounted Indians calmly reloaded on their walking horses. He recognized the lead rider as Hanyery, a very prosperous Oneida farmer and war chief from Oriska, and the pistolwielder behind him was his wife! Harmen wondered how the men from the 1st, 4th and 3rd Regiments had come through the initial minutes of the ambush. On and around the part of the path he could see, the 2nd Regiment was scattered, with no apparent command. When an individual militiaman fired, the Indians

Harmen’s belt axe, by Mel Hankla, served the frontiersman as a tool and weapon.

British, and thus colonial, tradition, land-based military installations flew the same national standards as navy ships. Paul Fennewald: pfennewald@ 46

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

HARMEN’S HAND-FORGED BELT AXE BY MEL HANKLA This finely crafted hand-forged wrought iron belt axe is from the workshop of Mel Hankla, a noted historian, author, artist, lecturer and a leading authority on the Kentucky frontier, well known for meticulous attention to detail. The head is 4¾ inches by 2½ inches with a neat hammer poll. The body of the axe

is wrought iron, and the cutting edge is forged of a high-carbon steel tine from an old horse-drawn hay rake. The same tine material was also used to face the hammer poll. The forge welding on this piece is finely done. The early patterned head has Hankla’s touch marks. The haft is just over a foot long. The curly maple has been stained with aqua fortis and heat blushed, and an authentic linseed oil finish sets off the silver wire inlay in the haft. Mel Hankla: 270-566-3370;

Left: The combined Tory, British-allied Indian and German Jaeger mercenary force set up a deadly three-sided (south, west and north) ambush, 6 miles east of Fort Stanwix, on the Patriots’ line of march. The trap was sprung too soon and most of the trailing 3rd Regiment escaped and retreated, leaving the 1st, 2nd and 4th Regiments to fend for themselves. Right: Within the first 30 minutes of battle, the surviving Patriots had formed a defensive perimeter in the forest. Surrounded, they held out against repeated, savage attacks for another five and a half hours.

often raced out to club, stab and chop him down while he reloaded. Then they grabbed up the victim’s gun and horn to continue their attack. Between his quickly aimed shots at the Cayuga, who were no farther than 50 yards away, Harmen reloaded with his back protected by the trunk of a large maple and called out as loudly as he could for Johan and Christian to come to him. They did not respond. When loading his 10th round, or perhaps his 25th, he saw their commander, General Herkimer, wounded in the leg and unable to

walk, being carried by two militiamen to some higher ground deeper in the woods. Harmen found hope in the growing number of survivors from the small bands of militia making fighting withdrawals that were gradually gathering in the woods to form a defendable perimeter around General Herkimer. He prayed that Johan and Christian would appear among the militiamen falling into fighting positions to his left and right. Unable to check his fears that they might lay wounded and helpless on the march

route, Harmen decided he must return to that killing ground to check for them. The Iroquois tribes that allied themselves with the British had a long record of torturing and murdering their captives. Harmen was about to crawl forward when the volume of incoming gunfire suddenly increased and four Cayuga warriors emerged from the brush at a run on his left front. The warriors were so close, so quickly, that the maple tree trunk blocked the swing of Harmen’s rifle. As the forend bumped off the bark, he swore, and in the next

Franz Bauer’s trophy from the battle, the Tory officer’s pistol – a masterpiece crafted by Jim Turpin.

TORY OFFICER EARLY AMERICAN PISTOL BY JAMES TURPIN James Turpin, a seasoned artist with 48

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

40 years of experience and one of the best makers working today, succeeded in creating a truly exquisite fine gentleman’s pistol, which could be considered either English or American. Starting with a blank of Missouri Ozark walnut, Turpin shaped a graceful stock and married it to a swamped .50-caliber smoothbore barrel. The real challenge was hand-forging the pistol’s beautifully figured Damascus

steel furniture. Fitted with a Chamber’s small Siler lock, which was modified to resemble a London import lock, the pistol is further adorned with graceful silver wire inlay. The gun’s wrist, appropriately enough, sports an engraved German silver cartouche that commemorates the CLA’s 25th anniversary. James Turpin: 913-541-1677;

moment sensed an attack on his right. His rifle was only halfway back to the target when an Indian kicked down the muzzle and raised his hooked war club high. Harmen released the rifle and thrust up his arms to deflect a lethal blow to his head. He saw in the eyes of the warrior standing above him an expression of villainous glee, the round ball of the club, as big as a 12-pound solid shot, hovering over his feathered head momentarily and then beginning the deadly downstroke that would conclude on his face. A musket boomed and the Indian’s right cheekbone and eye exploded outward, leaving a gaping hole. Harmen could briefly see the inside of his skull before his remaining features were completely obscured by white smoke. Harmen sprung to his feet, reached for his belt axe and dashed into the perimeter past Franz, who was just handing off his empty musket to his father and taking up a freshly loaded one. Two of the Cayuga were among the trees with them. The nearest was already furiously stabbing an old militiaman in the stomach with one hand and trying to wrench his musket away with the other. Harmen recognized the mortally wounded old man as Herr Mueller, a cooper from German

Flats he had done business with. Swinging with all his might, Harmen buried his axe at the base of the Indian’s neck. It sunk deep with a crunch and the collapsing body almost pulled it from his grip. As he yanked hard on the handle to free the blade from the bone, he glanced up in time to see a musket butt splintered over the head of another Cayuga lunging to stab him. That Indian staggered, and fell face first into the soil at his feet. If he was killed or just stunned by the terrific blow, Harmen never knew. Herr Mueller, lying on his side propped on one elbow, struggling against death on ground soaked red with his blood, shot the prostrate Indian through both lungs with his musket as his final earthly deed. THE SURPRISE ATTACK repulsed, Harmen rushed back to his self-assigned post to contest further Indian attempts to cross the path. In the relative calm, he became aware of the voice of General Herkimer, shouting orders and encouragement to them. Militia that Harmen did not know swiftly emerged from the woods inside the perimeter and took up fighting positions where Herr Mueller had died holding the line. They said they were from the 4th Regiment, had

suffered heavily in the ambush, and were then encircled and attacked from the rear by Mohawks who cut them off from the 3rd Regiment at the tail of the column. One of them had seen the Indians sweeping the road, killing and scalping some wounded and dragging others off as captives. What’s more, among the whites fighting with the Indians, they recognized some of their Tory former neighbors. Before they could say more, a sergeant Harmen didn’t recognize interrupted. Harmen, Franz and Carl, now partially mobile thanks to a half canteen of rum, were needed to reinforce the east side of the perimeter where the Seneca and greencoated Tories were expected to attack. The short walk to the east flank revealed their defensive perimeter was perilously small, 200 yards long at most, and not as deep as it was long. But it was fairly packed with men on this side at least. If the remaining militia and Oneida were evenly spread, and most likely they were not, Harmen guessed there might be 400 of them, with plenty of big trees for cover. They were still 50 feet from the perimeter, and Harmen was still calculating their odds, when the Seneca began their screaming war cries mixed with a flurry of gun shots and crashed into the east flank. The Indians charged

Johan Bauer’s fighting knife, made from the broken tip of the sword he carried in the French and Indian War, forged by bladesmith and instructor Joe Seabolt.

JOHAN BAUER FIGHTING KNIFE FROM A BROKEN SWORD BY JOE SEABOLT Nothing was wasted on the American frontier. Swords and small swords were common with militia officers and it was not uncommon for a sword to be broken in use. The remains of such a quality piece of steel would be quickly salvaged and reworked. For this recreation, Joe Seabolt 50

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

had to first recreate the quality sword blade-work of a master bladesmith. This blade shows the double fullers and precise ricasso and choil work of a quality sword, and represents the remnant of a broken blade and damaged handle from a hard fight. The guard is an adaptation of a small sword guard combined with a frontier-style elk antler handle replacing its broken predecessor.

The blade has been shortened from the “break,” but the saber-ground cutting edge is carefully maintained. This blade is made from 1084 high-carbon steel with wrought iron for the furniture. The overall length is 12½ inches. The result is a finely balanced, elegant and deadly knife for the rigors of close combat. Joe Seabolt: 513-728-0483;

through the front line, leaping over the stooping militiamen to attack them from behind. For the men on the line, there was time for a single shot. Caught in a deadly hand-to-hand brawl, they could not reload. Harmen and Franz, with Carl reloading, managed to get off five shots between them, thinning the Seneca warriors and shifting the odds in their favor, before they were forced to join the fray. Harmen handed his empty rifle to Carl and rushed into the melee, swinging his belt axe. During the reckless close combat, Harmen chanced to see Franz smashing in a Seneca warrior’s skull with a captured war club. They seemed to be giving as good as they got, when the booming gunfire dramatically increased, hitting a number of Seneca from behind, and doing more to break their attack than the militia had thus far. With the Seneca surprised from

While not mentioned in author Frank Jardim’s story in these pages, this magnificent hand-forged knife and porcupine-quilled neck sheath (left) by Frank and Lally House will also be up for auction at the CLA’s annual meeting and fundraiser, as will Franz Bauer’s bag and horn (right) by Matt Fennewald and Jeff Bottiger.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

behind, the militia got the upper hand and drove them off with musket fire. Harmen counted a dozen Seneca dead among the trees, including a war chief. The fighting continued until the early afternoon, interrupted for an hour by a heavy rainstorm that the militia used to build up their defenses with fallen timber. Harmen checked his bag to discover he was low on ammunition. Of the three score .54-caliber bullets he’d cast for this misadventure, he had only 14 left, and barely enough powder in his horn for 10. The attacks resumed when the rain stopped, but they didn’t break the defenders’ will to resist. Indians, Tory volunteers, Canadian militia and German Jaeger riflemen in their black cocked hats, arrayed against them and demonstrated repeatedly that they could fight their way into the militia’s defensive ring, but could not take it in

the hand-to-hand close combat that followed. And then, in their last assault, it looked like they might. AS THE LOYALIST forces pushed their way into the perimeter, Harmen sensed this would be a fight to the death. The Loyalists attacked with aggression and viciousness that equaled the worst Indian savagery. The remnants of the Tryon County Militia matched them in kind. Carl, wounded twice more, beat a man down with a stone before he was knocked to the ground. A Tory officer raised a pistol to shoot Carl in the head, but Franz would have none of it. He leapt on the greencoated gentleman’s back, spoiling his aim, knocking off his hat and dragging him to the ground. Someone else cut the gentleman’s throat from behind as he tried to get up. Harmen was expecting his own


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demise when he heard the rumble of distant cannon fire as he lay facedown and bloody trying to shake a Seneca warrior off his back while wiggling out of the path of a Tory’s sword thrusts. He managed to twist the Tory’s boot and throw him off balance. When the man fell, Harmen rolled the Indian off. As he got on his feet, he saw the Indian running away. Harmen recovered his axe and rejoined the fight, but soon perceived the attack was faltering. The Indians were withdrawing and the remaining Tories, now outnumbered, were being killed at a rate they found disagreeable. Soon they too had quit the field. As quiet settled over their little battlefield, they could hear the sound of more cannon fire from the direction of Fort Stanwix. The scouts sent out by General Herkimer reported no enemy in sight but on the road west back to Oriska, they found many dead and scalped 3rd Regiment men. The absence of the 3rd Regiment from the ravine battle led the scouts to conclude the unit fled the fight with the slowest being run down, killed and scalped by the Indians. Rather than risk running into an Indian force on the road, the general ordered they withdraw northward through the forest toward the Mohawk River. They gathered the wounded they could find and made good their escape, thanking God for His mercy. Unable to walk, Carl was carried out on litter improvised from two muskets and hunting shirts. Unexpected joy came to Harmen, Franz and Carl on discovering Christian alive. It was tempered by heartbreaking news of his father Johan’s death holding off a group of Indians so Christian could escape. After ordering him to run, Johan unsheathed his old fighting knife and charged into the Indians, shouting damnations at them in German. Christian tearfully confirmed his father went down under a storm of tomahawk blows. The urgency of their withdrawal and the need to help their wounded allowed no time to dwell on the day’s punishing events. It also forced them to leave their dead on the field. Harmen, his relations, and what was left of the Tryon County Militia made it back to their homes 54

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

in the following days, but close to half of their force was killed, wounded or missing when roll was taken. Anyone captured by the Indians had to be presumed murdered. They had fought bravely, if not as wisely as they could have, but that didn’t diminish the sting of having failed in their urgent mission to relieve the besieged fort, despite having paid such a painful price in lives. Harmen had lost two of his in-laws but felt himself blessed to be alive to hold his wife and baby. Many families lost all their men and it was all the harder to know their bodies lay in the open to be ravaged by beasts. As the weeks passed, the Mohawk Valley got no respite from the ravages of war. Indians and Loyalists raided their settlements almost with impunity, looting and burning farms and villages and murdering families. A robust militia might have warded off those attacks. Most of the Continental Army troops in the region had their hands full with the British Army’s advance southward toward Albany. Though the prospects for the patriot cause in New York looked increasingly grim, Harmen held to his faith in it. As days turned to weeks, with no report about a British capture of Fort Stanwix, his hope was nourished. Then, on August 24, news arrived that the siege was over and combined forces of the English crown that had invaded the western Mohawk Valley were in full retreat. For the larger patriot cause, this meant the Continental Army was now free to concentrate on stopping the British advancing from the north. For Harmen, it also meant a chance to properly bury his kin. Franz insisted on going too, even though it was a risky trek upriver. THE TRIP TO the battlefield was an unspeakable horror. A vast open grave stinking of corruption, it was the stuff of nightmares. With perseverance, they succeeded in recovering the remains of Johan and Michael. As Harmen wrapped the remnants of their mortal coils, young Franz searched for, and found, his uncle Johan’s fighting knife. It was fashioned from a sword he used in the French and Indian War. Franz knew Christian would want it. Franz

also found the fine pistol dropped by the Tory officer he’d fought and stuck it in his belt as a personal trophy. When the job was done, and Harmen and Franz, Johan and Michael, were back at their canoe, they somehow found themselves rowing upstream. Nothing was said between them, but there was silent agreement that they should complete the journey they started on August 4 and see the fort so many had sacrificed so much for. The fort was impressively refurbished since Harmen’s last visit in 1774, and above it flew what he assumed was the new American flag he had recently read about. Outside, General Benedict Arnold’s Continental Army relief force was encamped. Learning who they were, the sentries presented them to Fort Stanwix’s sergeant of the guard. The sergeant escorted them into the fort, where an officer questioned them briefly about their observations during their journey. After the interview, the sergeant led them over to the flagpole on their way out of the fort. “I noticed you couldn’t take your eyes off the stars and stripes,” he said. “Would you like to see the one that flew overhead during the siege?” “That’s not it?” Franz asked in surprise. “No, lad,” the sergeant replied. “That silk beauty is the new one General Arnold brought us.” Reaching inside his haversack, he withdrew a much smaller, rather crudely sewn twin of the flag on the pole. It was cut and burned in places from shot and shell, and he handled it reverently like a believer would handle Jesus’ burial shroud. “This is the very one we made ourselves that waved over us in our time of peril. It helped us keep our courage. I just exchanged her for the new one this morn. But she’s special to me … special to a lot of us who were here. I think maybe she might be special to you too, so I’m showin’ ya.” Franz and Harmen reached out to gently, respectfully touch the battle scars on the roughly sewn pieces of cloth that symbolized the new free nation they had fought for, and felt a bond with it. 

Independence Day fireworks over National Mall. (SHUTTERSTOCK / LAURA LYNN)

Fireworks On The 4th W

hen fireworks fill the air every year on July 4 – and oftentimes in the days leading up to it, thanks to some overzealous early celebrators – have you ever stopped to wonder why? Why have fireworks become synonymous with Independence Day celebrations? What is it about the colorful bursts of light and sound that scream, quite literally, freedom? The history of July 4 fireworks dates back to American independence itself. On July 4, 1776, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, establishing its freedom from British rule. The first official Independence Day would be held one year later on July 4, 1777. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “Yesterday the 4th of July, being the anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstrations of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colors of the United States and streamers displayed.” Each ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies and revelry continued all day and into the night, culminating with a grand fireworks display. Other cities held their own celebrations that year, marking the occasion with parades, speeches and, of course, fireworks. Over the years, Independence Day festivities became more widespread, and the firework displays got bigger and better as cannon- and gunfire were phased out. Finally, in 1870, Congress established Independence Day as an official holiday. And the rest, as they say, is history. We at American Shooting Journal would like to wish all Americans a Happy Independence Day!  57


A dashcam video image shows Officer Ann Marie Carrizales (center) as her partners tend to her injuries after she was shot in the face by an MS-13 gang member – who she then pursued in her vehicle.

Officer Carrizales speaks with the press after the ordeal. She received a Law Enforcement Purple Heart, among other awards, for her bravery.


Shot in the face by gangster, pugilistic officer still able to initiate pursuit, describe suspect for an arrest. STORY BY NICK PERNA

e never truly know ourselves until we have been involved in situations involving extreme duress. Who we really are in those times, as opposed to what we think we are, are often very different. I am talking specifically about those moments where one faces one’s own possible death. Not by disease or natural causes, but by some rapidly developing event that, depending on your actions, may result in the end of your life. Few have experienced this. The closest most folks will come are motor vehicle accidents. For military and law enforcement personnel, there is a higher probability of “seeing the elephant” than for their civilian counterparts. That being said, there are no guarantees that a soldier, sailor, marine, airman, police officer, deputy or agent may ever find themselves in one of these life or death


situations. These events, luckily, are few and far between and it’s generally a matter of luck (or lack thereof) that dictates when someone may find themselves in that type of situation. As a combat veteran and a 20-plusyear cop, I have been in a few of these situations. I sometimes refer to them as “brown pants moments” since, given the body’s autonomic response to almost getting your ticket punched, that particular color of pants would be preferable. In those moments where life has almost turned to death, when the veneer we wear during everyday life around others is peeled back, I have, in retrospect, learned a lot about myself. There are things I like about myself in those moments, and things I do not. What is more important than all of that is how we conduct ourselves in those moments. Do we lay down and accept our fate or do we stand up and fight? Most will never know that answer. ONE OFFICER WHO conducted herself exceptionally in a near-death event is

Officer Ann Marie Carrizales of the Stafford, Texas, Police Department. She is a US Marine Corps veteran who became the first female to represent the corps as an amateur boxer. In 1999, she became the US Women’s National Champion in her weight division. Carrizales began working for Stafford PD in 2010. Her day of reckoning was on October 26, 2013. She conducted a traffic stop on what turned out to be a group of MS-13 gang members. For anyone not familiar with MS-13, it is a hyper-violent gang with no love for law enforcement. Often referred to as “America’s most dangerous gang,” MS-13 has its roots in Central America, expanded to California, and is now present in almost every state. Officer Carrizales approached the vehicle and contacted the driver. As she was engaging him in conversation, the front seat passenger drew a handgun he had concealed on his person. He fired at Officer Carrizales, striking her in the chest and face. At this point, it would be expected 61

that any normal person would get behind cover, call for backup and wait for medical aid to arrive. Not so for Officer Carrizales. The former Devil Dog was used to being in fights from her time as a boxer. She reacted as a fighter would: She drew her service weapon and returned fire. The suspect vehicle fled. She was not done, though. Despite her injuries, she returned to her police vehicle and initiated a pursuit of the suspects! While giving chase, she calmly advised dispatch that she was shot in the face. She also had the presence of mind to put out clear, concise descriptions of the suspects. The pursuit continued for over 20 miles, where the shooter was apprehended by officers from a neighboring jurisdiction. Officer Carrizales recovered. She received the Law Enforcement Purple Heart, Congressional Badge of Bravery, and many other awards. She is now an instructor and teaches cops how to survive these deadly-force encounters and how to deal with the aftermath. Officer Carrizales acted the way we all hope we would act when facing a life-threatening situation. Her bravery coupled with her professional demeanor set the standard for others to emulate.  Editor’s note: Author Nick Perna is a sergeant with the Redwood City Police Department in northern California. He previously served as a paratrooper in the US Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also has a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. He is a frequent contributor to multiple print and online forums on topics related to law enforcement, firearms, tactics and veterans issues.


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American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Self-Defense TRAINING


Backdropped by a projection of the American flag, legendary knifemaker Ernest Emerson gave an inspiring speech recently at the 2021 Blade Show in Atlanta.

Words of wisdom from black belt, hand-to-hand combat instructor and bladesmith Ernest Emerson. STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL PAWELA

n the 2003 movie Secondhand Lions, a young boy played by Haley Joel Osment goes to stay with his two great-uncles for the summer. Although living modestly on a farm, it is rumored that the uncles, played by Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, are extremely wealthy and all the family members want their fortune. The backstory is that Hub McCann (Duvall) was a legendary warrior for the French Foreign Legion for decades and was in many battles and wars. He


fell in love with a princess, married her, and fought off a powerful sheik in order to keep her. Unfortunately, she and their child died in childbirth. Hub tells his nephew this story, and gives him a speech that he’s titled “What Every Boy Needs to Know About Being a Man.” The speech goes like this: “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most: That people are basically good. That courage, honor and virtue mean everything. That power and money, money and power, mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this: That love, true love, never dies.”

I HAD THE honor and privilege to hear a similar lecture by a real-life American legend, Ernest Emerson, at the 2021 Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia. For those who don’t know who this American treasure is, Emerson is the founder and owner of Emerson Knives, Inc. and is considered “The Father of Tactical Knives,” as he has designed the most iconic and well-known combat knives in history. Emerson Knives have been issued to and used by the most elite counterterrorist teams in the world, including SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and the British Special Air Service, to name a few. 65

SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING Amongst Emerson’s many achievements, he is a lifelong student of all deadly combat skills and has been bestowed with the title of Masterat-Arms. He is inducted into the prestigious Black Belt Hall of Fame and is a member of the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Emerson is a tierone hand-to-hand combat and edgedweapon instructor who has taught all branches of covert special operations and counterterrorist teams. Emerson also serves as an expert witness for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in deadly force encounters, he has appeared on TV and radio too many times to count, and has been a technical expert on numerous award-winning movies. And that is not the half of this great man’s career, but for now it will have to suffice. HIS SPEECH AT the Blade Show should be given to every red-blooded American boy who is about to become a man. I


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

In addition to books on self-defense and survival, Emerson also offers DVDs on knife fighting.

give you “Be the Uncommon Man” by Ernest Emerson: “You are responsible for everything that happens to you – everything! If you can make negative things happen in your life, then you can make positive things happen in your life! Personal responsibility is your greatest responsibility. “Self-discipline is the foundation for the strength of character; true selfconfidence and self-esteem is gained by seeking out the struggle against adversity – never by avoiding it. “How do you know what your all is if you have never been pushed to your limits? If you never pushed yourself past those limits? “Humans need adversity to grow stronger. ‘If something is necessary, do it every day. If it isn’t, don’t do it at all’ – Dan Gable (one of the greatest college wrestlers of all time and the winningest college wrestling coach of all time!). “Always be honest with yourself and

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SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING be true to yourself and true to others. You can never be honest with others if you can’t be honest with yourself. “Brutal honest self-evaluation is the foundation for becoming a better person. You can never improve yourself if you can’t admit or identify where you need improvement. “Face your own worst enemy. The greatest opponent we will ever face is ourselves, for that opponent knows all our weaknesses and that gives him a strategic advantage. “Never blame anyone else or the system for your shortcomings or failures. If you do, then you will never be able to change the things in your life that will affect you in a positive way. “Never practice easy; embrace the suck! “True self-confidence can only be gained through self-discipline. Be willing to accept sacrifice and suffering as the wages you must pay for accomplishment. Make discipline a habit.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

in your behavior or character; strive for impeccability. “We used to be a society and a country based on the ideas of selfsufficient, rugged individualism – today that is called toxic masculinity. “The uncommon man is a man of honesty, personal responsibility, selfdiscipline and moral integrity. “Never become civilized and always be the uncommon man!”

Author Paul Pawela (left) and Emerson.

“Moral integrity means always do the right thing no matter what the consequences; moral strength, like physical strength, is lost when not exercised on a regular basis. “Impeccability, what is that? It’s a state where no one can find any faults

I HOPE AND pray to the Creator that I am alive the day I can give this very speech to my grandsons. If not, may it forever be immortalized in the pages of American Shooting Journal. God bless America and all of its sons! And that’s my two cents!  Editor’s notes: For more on Ernest Emerson, contact info@emersonknives .com. Author Paul Pawela is a nationally recognized firearms and self-defense expert.

Custom Guns

“El Diablo 2” When you are looking for something special in a revolver, semiauto or single-shot handgun, look no further than GARY REEDER CUSTOM GUNS. Reeder Custom Guns has been building full-custom guns for 40 years with 70 different series of full-custom guns, like the El Diablo 2 shown here. Full-custom and built the way you want and in the cartridge of your choosing. For the finest in custom guns, it is always Gary Reeder Custom Guns. Check our website or call 928-527-4100. 10- to 12-month delivery in most cases.



There’s more to Gary Reeder Custom Guns than just 70 firearms series – holsters, knives too, even a sponsored fall hunt. PHOTOS BY GARY REEDER CUSTOM GUNS


n the early 1980s, Gary Reeder was a rock ‘n’ roll radio DJ by day, doing custom gun work on the side in his Tennessee garage. After some initial success, he was able to retire from radio, taking the plunge into the custom gun business full-time. Since then, he has turned his small garage-based shop into a full-fledged operation based in Flagstaff, Arizona, with 3,000 square feet of space, two full machine shops and six experienced machinists. Reeder Custom Guns now offers 70 series of full-custom guns, including cowboy guns, 1911s, small- and medium-game hunting handguns, and large dangerous-game handguns. But their products “run the gamut from full-custom guns to semi-custom guns to custom holsters and custom-made knives,” says Reeder. “We build custom guns the way the customer wants,” he explains. “We have our own revolver frames, cylinders and barrels, plus our own 1911 frames and slides, so we are a full manufacturer

and can build most any handgun the customer desires.” Since no two customers are alike, Reeder Custom Guns offers a wide range of options and services to suit each individual’s needs. “Our clients are as varied as our guns are,” says Reeder. “Many like the full custom work and many don’t shoot

A few of Gary Reeder Custom Guns’ unique custom handguns include (top to bottom) The Hellcat, Magnum Carry and The Ultimate 9mm. 73

FEatured Company SPOTLIGHT

Customers range from handgun hunters to those who want to display their firearms. Here are three more custom models, the Coyote Classic, The Outlaw and Improved #6.

the guns as much as they like to display them. Others shoot them every chance they get. Others want a good strong custom gun built for rough use in harsh climates. These folks don’t feel the need for any engraving or special features.” As busy as Reeder is with the custom gun business, he is also an avid hunter and sponsors hunts all over the world, often bringing clients with him. “Recently we just returned from my 15th African hunt, taking a top two SCI Cape buffalo. I had 10 friends along with me,” says Reeder. “We have also featured our HHC, which stands for 74

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Handgun Hunter’s Challenge, every October for over 15 years. This hunt is in the foothills of Tennessee and normally we have 50 to 60 hunters there from all over the world. I normally bring 35 to 40 custom guns and put them on display and let the guys handle them and even hunt with them if they like. This keeps the clients excited about new guns, new calibers and any other new products we have come up with over the last year.” The past year has been difficult for custom gun builders due to parts shortages, says Reeder, which has

resulted in a backlog. But he hopes that this shortage will ease up soon “to let us premiere a few new guns that are currently on the drawing board.” If you’re looking for a custom handgun, give Gary Reeder Custom Guns a call to find out what they can do for you. Says Reeder, “I answer the phones myself and can usually help a prospective client with the info they need.”  Editor’s note: For more information, visit or call 928527-4100. 75



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K- and AR-patterned rifles have fundamentally revolutionized the long gun. They are versatile, rugged, reliable, high-power, low-recoil, easyto-maintain platforms that are endlessly customizable. It is easy to see why this platform fills the hands of police, military and civilians worldwide. Yet the platforms’ transition to shotguns has been a rocky one. Most have been more finicky than a vegan cat when it comes to ammo, limited to a steady magnum slug diet. JTS spent three-plus years in development to introduce their shotguns, bringing a robust solution to the problem. A four-position, on-the-fly-adjustable gas system expanded shell selection and overall reliability, while maintaining the recoil management and ease of maintenance. The JTS AK’s improved magwell design made it as easy to load as any AR. The JTS AR-style shotgun is a true AR design unlike its competition, which is a Remington 1100 in an AR-style body. With the unique four-position gas system and


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

improved magwells, JTS shotguns are all designed to take Rem chokes and come equipped with sights and Picatinny rails. During the most recent panic, a horde of defensive shotgun companies sprang into being, but none have been able to match JTS for quality, reliability and price. Located just outside of Houston, in Katy, Texas, the company’s secret relies on complete control. “Maintaining control over every step in the process, from design to production to support, sets us apart,” remarked EVP/COO David Ostrosky. JTS shotguns have become extremely popular as home defense guns and range toys. But the company sees a much greater vision for the shotguns. Mike Reilly, national sales manager, explained, “These are cool guns, real head-turners on the range. But their applications go far beyond the needs of paper-punchers and doomsday preppers.” JTS has recently partnered with world-renowned hunter Brad Clay of Final Descent. Pistol grip shotguns are the

norm for those engaging horizontal and below targets. It is why combat shotguns and turkey guns share a common profile. The JTS AKs and ARs are perfectly designed for blind and stand hunting. Deer, bear, turkey and, of course, hog hunters will love these platforms. The shotguns can be easily equipped with red dots, giving hunters a fast, reliable and effective platform. JTS asks the question, “Why would you bring less gun?” It is easy to see why the company is optimistic that 3-gunners, law enforcement and others will soon be taking a hard look at these guns. A reliable platform that shares the increasingly familiar order of arms of an AR seems like a ready-made solution. Beyond these tactical firearms, JTS will be introducing an adjustable over/under and a line of inertia-style hunting shotguns. With every gun, JTS brings Texas pride and a love of freedom, family and firearms. For more information, visit

The Versat

While the development of the 10mm has roots in military and law enforcement needs, it’s also proven worthy for self-defense, as well as hunting. “Those who choose to pursue deer, hogs, antelope, javelina, black bears and mountain lions with a handgun can carry the 10mm with confidence,” writes author Jason Brooks.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

atile 10mm First developed to combine the attributes of the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP, this round is now one of the best handgun hunting cartridges made for semiautomatics.



andgun shooters know that two of the most popular calibers are the 9mm Luger (Parabellum) and the .45 ACP. The latter is slow but makes a big hole, while the faster 9mm tends to lose energy quickly once it hits the target but shoots fast and flat. In a perfect world, a gunmaker would bridge these two rounds to make a fast and hard-hitting bullet. It is this very idea that led Lieutenant Colonel John “Jeff” Cooper to come up with what we now know as the 10mm Auto. 81

Back in 1983, the search began by looking at the speed of the 9mm Luger and the energy of the .45 ACP. The idea was that if a round could shoot fast, which means flatter trajectory, and could hit hard, then it would fit the military’s need, as well as that of law enforcement and civilian use for self-defense. The 10mm was created by taking a .30 Remington rifle case and cutting it down to .992 inch and opening the mouth large enough to seat the 10mm (.400-inch) bullet. Overall length is 1.240 inches up to an acceptable 1.260 inches. The round shoots 180-grain bullets very well, but loads are available for lighter and faster projectiles down to 135 grains, which shoot nearly 400 feet per second faster than the 115-grain bullet out of a 9mm. It is also loaded with 200-grain powerhouses that shoot around 300 fps faster than the 230-grain .45 ACP. It seems that Lt. Col. Cooper was onto something when the 10mm was developed. FIRST CALLED THE 10mm Super, the cartridge never really shined. This could be because there was already a 10mm Super on the market so a name change had to be made; this set back the rise to fame, as shooters didn’t know what the 10mm was all about. In 1989, the FBI decided to issue the 10mm to their agents. This occurred after the shootout in Miami, Florida, in which five FBI agents were injured and A comparison of 9mm, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, 10mm, .45 ACP and .44 Magnum cartridges.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

two were killed when they attempted to arrest two bank robbers. The agents were armed with .357 Magnums and .38 Specials, both revolvers. After the incident the FBI realized they needed more firepower in their issued sidearms, both in ammo capacity and in bullet performance. Through testing, and like Lt. Col. Cooper, they decided the 10mm fit their needs. But there was one reason why the military and even the civilian world never really accepted the 10mm and that was felt recoil. A fast and heavy round means there will be a bit of push back when you pull the trigger. Smaller-framed agents couldn’t handle the recoil of the 10mm. When it comes to law enforcement, it is more important to hit your target with a light-shooting bullet than miss with a heavy one. For personal defense, a lot of times just producing a handgun will stop the encounter and then the loud bang could thwart the criminal. But for law enforcement, where each round has to be accounted for, it is imperative that the intended target is hit. Because of this, the FBI decided to go with another new round on the market, very similar to the 10mm, the .40 Smith & Wesson (S&W). The .40 S&W was built on the 10mm case and bullet, using the same 10mm projectile but in a shorter case that held less powder, shot slower and therefore had less recoil. Most law enforcement departments today use the .40 S&W. Once again the 10mm loses its

popularity before it really begins, but it doesn’t disappear completely. The 10mm Auto is a straightwalled cartridge that lends itself well to semiauto handguns. With faster velocities and harder-hitting bullets than the two most popular handgun rounds for self-defense, it took hunting guides and backcountry users to help this round shine. Some outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters, guides and hikers who ventured into grizzly bear country, would carry the light and fast .357 Magnum. Others would choose “hand cannons” such as the .500 Smith & Wesson, but most chose the .44 Magnum. All of these come in revolvers, which means limited ammo and slower followup shots, especially in single-action configurations while using one hand. Then gun manufacturers such as Kimber Arms, which teamed up with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, started making the 10mm in the infamous 1911 model. A TRIED-AND-TRUE DESIGN, the 1911 has been relied upon by the U.S. military in every war since World War I, until our armed forces switched to the faster 9mm Luger from the slow .45 ACP. So when it came time for Kimber and RMEF to come up with a handgun that would protect you in grizzly country, as well as function under stress with a time- and battle-tested platform, it only made sense they used the 1911. When it came to cartridges,

“With faster velocities and harder-hitting bullets than the two most popular handgun rounds for selfdefense, it took hunting guides and backcountry users to help this round shine,” writes Brooks, whose Kimber Camp Guard 10mm – a collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, thus the organization’s logo on the grip – appears below.

it is no surprise that they chose the 10mm Auto. It has less recoil than the .44 Magnum, though it has near energy performance and hits harder than the .357 Magnum. Kimber came up with the 1911 Camp Guard, which sports a brushed silver frame, eight-round magazine and wood grips that are engraved with the RMEF logo and does the ever-overshadowed 10mm justice for the backcountry. The Glock model 20 holds 15 rounds, nearly double that of the Kimber, and is often the choice of hunting guides. It is easy to use, nearly failsafe in harsh conditions and holds a lot of ammo. For the hunter, this extra ammo capacity is a bit much and adds weight to the handgun that is not needed. Of course you could not put all 15 rounds in the magazine but that goes against all training and recommendations, since the Glock model 20’s key selling point is that it does hold all that ammo. For those who venture into bear country, they know the dangers are real. In the last 20 years there have been 60 fatal bruin attacks with 30 of those coming from grizzlies and a surprising 28 from black bears. Two were from polar bears and if you are attacked by a polar bear, then you have other concerns besides which handgun you are carrying, such 84

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

as frostbite in July. The 10mm hits hard enough to sting a grizzly and make it run away. A fatal shot would likely be at extremely close range and not necessarily instant unless hit in the head at the right angle. But stopping the attack is the end goal, not necessarily killing the grizzly on sight. But for black bears and other big game, the 10mm would do the job just fine, again at close ranges. THE 10MM IS truly a semiautomatic handgun for the hunter. Those who choose to pursue deer, hogs, antelope, javelina, black bears and mountain lions with a handgun can carry the 10mm with confidence. For years the .357 Magnum was a popular choice and it always will be, but the 10mm ammunition manufacturers are marketing bullets for the hunter as well. Hornady came out with a line of ammo last year known as Handgun Hunter. The bullet used in this line of ammunition is designed to hit hard and then expand faster than a traditional hollowpoint bullet. This is achieved by using a copper alloy that has a 95-percent weight retention and then the open cavity is filled with an elastomer material. When the bullet makes impact, the elastomer compresses, which pushes outward and causes the bullet to expand faster.

Thanks to this technology in bullet designs like this, a handgun is a viable tool for hunting. Other manufacturers such as Federal make lines of hunting-specific ammunition in the 10mm, including a 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw that leaves the muzzle at 1,275 fps. This round is perfect for deersized game, especially for hunters who use a tree stand where shots will be close and not rushed. For defending yourself in grizzly country, Federal also loads the 200-grain Swift A-Frame, which shoots 1,175 fps from the muzzle and at 100 yards is still traveling 1,020 fps. For a semiauto handgun, that is pretty fast and very hard-hitting with a 200-grain bullet. The 10mm Auto is a good option for self-defense, either in the city or in the backcountry. It has been around for nearly 40 years, first developed to combine the attributes of the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP, and is now one of the best handgun hunting cartridges made for semiautomatic firearms. When you need a lot of firepower and you need it now, the 10mm is one of the best options. Maybe it took so long to become popular because it is so versatile and each niche shooter couldn’t believe it would fit their needs, when in reality it fits them all. 



Rimfire projectiles come in different shapes and sizes, and are of varying constructions.


Sometimes modern .17 and .22 designs work best and others it’s ‘classic loads from yesteryear.’ STORY BY PHIL MASSARO • PHOTOS BY MASSARO MEDIA GROUP


still have the first rifle I ever owned: a Ruger Model 77/22 bolt-action rimfire chambered for the unequalled .22 Long Rifle cartridge. That rifle was a gift from my father – Ol’ Grumpy Pants – for Christmas in 1985, and to this day remains the only .22 LR that I own. The rimfire rifle is built like the

Ruger Model 77 centerfire rifles, with the exception of the detachable rotary magazine. Fine iron sights, a full-size stock, a decent trigger and the ability to mount a proper scope all add up to not just a great choice for small game and plinking, but one of the best training tools for a hunter preparing for safari. The lack of recoil, the wonderful accuracy and the similarities to a big game rifle make this one of my favorite rifles of all time.

I’ve spent over 35 years with that rifle, experimenting with all sorts of different types of ammunition for the little gun, and it definitely has opinions when it comes to accuracy. Thousands of rounds have been sent down that barrel, with varying degrees of success; I’ve done my best to keep notes on what ammo the rifle likes best. Remington Thunderbolts rank high on the list, despite the simple 40-grain waxed lead bullet, in the classic roundnose conformation. 89

Bullet Bulletin

Author Phil Massaro’s 1985-vintage Ruger 77/22; it remains his favorite rimfire rifle.

THESE EXPERIENCES BEHIND the Ruger’s trigger got me thinking about the evolution of rimfire rifle bullets, and how they have enjoyed nearly as radical an evolution as the centerfire cartridges have. Rimfire cartridges are well over a century and a half old, yet remain an extremely popular choice for small game hunters, target shooters and tin can assassins alike. In comparison to their larger centerfire counterparts, they are economical and much, much easier on the ears and shoulder. The rimfires are still a fantastic means of teaching marksmanship to a new shooter of any age, without the risk of developing a flinch from recoil and report. Let’s take a look at the wide selection of rimfire projectiles among the differing cartridges, and highlight their benefits and weaknesses. The original projectiles used in the .22 Short, .22 Long, .22 Extra Long and .22 Long Rifle of the late 19th century 90

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

were very similar to those Remington Thunderbolts my rifle likes so much: a simple lead bullet, roundnosed and lubricated with wax. The wax helps to reduce fouling in the bore, and I’m pretty sure we are all aware of the pleasures and pitfalls associated with the lead projectile.

But in spite of recent efforts to ban the use of lead projectiles, lead remains both an affordable and effective metal for small bore projectiles at relatively low muzzle velocities. For the original rimfire cartridges – those developed in the late 1800s – whose muzzle velocities have a hard time breaking the sound barrier, these lead bullets work just fine, in both trajectory and terminal performance. But if you increase the velocities a bit, the issue of lead fouling in the barrel becomes a reality. Whereas the centerfire cartridges benefit greatly from encasing the traditional lead bullet in a jacket of copper (a harder material than lead), as the copper jacket slows expansion and greatly reduces lead fouling, the rimfire cartridges are a bit different. The centerfire cartridges are often called upon to deliver deep penetration on large game animals with thick hides and heavy bones, but the rimfire cartridges are predominately reserved for small game species, predators and varmints, all of which are thin-skinned and susceptible to hydraulic shock. So plating the lead bullet rather than using a traditional copper jacket is a perfect method to minimize lead fouling yet maintain frangibility, which is an important factor to a quick, humane kill. The famous CCI Stinger is a classic example of a copper-plated lead bullet. Many rimfire ammunition

Remington Thunderbolts are a classic design – a wax-coated 40-grain lead nose bullet at 1,250 feet per second – and are wonderfully accurate in the author’s Ruger rifle. 91

Bullet Bulletin

While a simple lead hollowpoint design, these Lapua match-grade cartridges are held to extremely stringent tolerances. The CCI Stinger: a lighter copper-plated bullet loaded in a case just a bit longer than the standard .22 LR, which gives a bump in velocity. (CCI AMMUNITION)

Hornady’s 20-grain .17-caliber V-Max bullet is a polymertipped boattail with a very thin jacket for rapid expansion. (HORNADY)

The CCI GamePoint in .17 HMR is a jacketed hollowpoint, which helps take advantage of the cartridge’s velocity. (CCI AMMUNITION)


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

manufacturers will use hollowpoint bullets to initiate expansion. Some examples of hollowpoint rimfire bullets loaded in .22 Long Rifle ammunition include Remington Viper; CCI MaxiMag, Velocitor and the aforementioned Stinger; Speer Gold Dot; and Federal Premium Hunter Match. WHILE THE .22 Long Rifle is probably the most popular of all of the rimfire cartridges, there are many choices, and almost all are considerably faster. The .17 HMR, the .17 WSM and the .22 WMR all offer a significant velocity increase over the .22 LR, and they sport the bullets designed to best serve that velocity. A quick glance at the .17 HMR ammunition lineup will see the prolific use of the polymer-tipped spitzer bullets; these have a much better ballistic coefficient than do the traditional roundnosed lead designs, and that polymer tip acts as a wedge to initiate expansion upon impact. These bullets are jacketed, though the jackets are extremely thin in order to remain as frangible as possible. Hornady’s lead-free NTX and lead core V-Max (loaded in not only Hornady’s ammo, but in both Federal



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Bullet Bulletin Hornady’s .17 WSM 20-grain V-Max load gives excellent accuracy and devastating terminal ballistics. (HORNADY)

The .17 HMR can also work well with the hollowpoint spitzer bullets, like the 20-grain XTP load shown here. (HORNADY)

The .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) is well suited to handle the sleek, polymer-tipped bullets. (HORNADY)

Winchester’s Super X .22 Long Rifle load is a perfect example of the copper-plated hollowpoint bullet.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

and CCI ammunition, as well as in Remington’s and Winchester’s offerings), CCI’s Varmint Tip, and Browning’s PolyTip all fit into this category. Jacketed hollowpoints like the famous Speer TNT and VNT, CCI’s GamePoint, and Hornady’s XTP all blend the benefits of a jacketed bullet – read: much less fouling – and a hollowpoint meplat for rapid expansion. And there is even a 20-grain full metal jacket load from CCI for those who are serious about fur. The .17 Winchester Super Magnum ramps up the velocity by about 500 feet per second over the .17 HMR, and is probably the perfect platform for those sleek polymer-tipped bullets. While it isn’t nearly as popular as the .17 HMR – and the ammunition selections verify that – the .17 WSM is a screamin’ demon, and the projectiles are fully capable of creating the red mist out to 300 yards. I used this little gem a few years back on a prairie dog shoot on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and fell for it hard. Pushing a 20-grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps, any prairie dog inside of 100 yards was vaporized, and shots out to 325 and even 350 were not off the menu. It’s wonderfully accurate, and those light bullets – bullet weight selection runs from 15 to 25 grains – at that high velocity damned near disintegrate upon 95

Bullet Bulletin

The American Eagle .17 WSM load uses a 20-grain tipped varmint bullet; the author had no problem taking prairie dogs out to 300 yards with it.

impact. This is another case where the Hornady V-Max is called on by both Hornady and Winchester. The classic .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire has been a favorite of hunters since its release in 1959. Driving a 40-grain bullet to a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps – nearly 800 fps faster than the .22 LR – it is the chosen cartridge for those hunters who prefer a rimfire rifle but want more than the .22 Long Rifle has to offer. Federal loads the 30-grain Speer TNT at a speed of 2,200 fps, which is enough to deliver all the hydraulic shock you’d want in a varmint or predator cartridge. It will quickly and neatly dispatch woodchucks and rock chucks, yet should be frangible enough not to exit on the furbearers. The Speer TNT Green is a 30-grain lead-free alternative

Aguila’s Silver Eagle .22 WMR softpoint load is a good choice for moderate ranges, and will handle coyotes and foxes on downward.

The CCI 22-Mag V-Max load uses a 40-grain polymer-tipped V-Max bullet, and is as potent terminally as it is accurate.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021


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Bullet Bulletin for those who either prefer unleaded ammo or are required by law to use it. Once again, Hornady’s V-Max is a popular choice, as it improves the BC value when compared to the roundnosed bullets and opens wonderfully. There are simple choices, like the CCI 35-grain jacketed softpoint and the Aguila 40-grain jacketed softpoint. There are full metal jacket offerings – again, with the fur hunter in mind – and CCI makes a 46-grain polymer-coated segmented bullet for maximum frangibility in their Maxi-Mag line. LASTLY, AND PERHAPS most interestingly, there have been developments in using a rimfire cartridge as a defensive tool. Hornady’s Critical Defense line includes a 45-grain FTX (Flex Tip eXpanding) load designed to leave the barrel of a snubnose revolver at 1,000 fps, with low-flash propellants and nickel-plated cases. Federal has released a 29-grain nickel-plated lead core bullet in .22 LR in their Punch line, which is engineered to give a muzzle velocity of 1,070 fps from a 2-inch barrel (1,650 fps from a 24-inch barreled rifle).

Hornady’s Critical Defense .22 WMR load uses a 45-grain FTX bullet for optimum penetration and expansion.

While you may not think of a rimfire cartridge as a man-stopper, I know some shooters who are highly sensitive to both recoil and report, and I’ll be the first to agree that a small rimfire handgun is better than no handgun at all. Though ammunition is scarce right now (this, too, shall pass) you can experiment with the varying

configurations to see what brand/ weight/shape your rifle or handgun shoots best. Sometimes you’ll find it’s a modern design that works best in your gun or, as I found in my old Ruger, one of the classic loads from yesteryear may be hard to beat. As always, do your best to tailor the ammo to the job at hand and you’ll be a happy shooter. 

Federal’s Punch uses a longer case than the standard .22 LR, and the 29-grain nickel-plated bullet is pushed at a higher muzzle velocity.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

HUNTING THE DROUGHT With extraordinarily hot, dry conditions gripping the West, here's how big game, upland bird and waterfowl hunters should adapt their fall tactics. STORY AND PHOTOS BY TROY RODAKOWSKI


he smell of rain. That moment when dry earth, dust and plant life come together to mix with long-awaited water, filling our nostrils full of the aroma of life. Water is a necessity for healthy life and it’s very much lacking in the western U.S. The Pacific Northwest and California in particular are substantially behind on rainfall, with 2020-21 being one of the driest, if not the driest, on record, depending on location. This weather pattern has been particularly tough on wildlife. Nesting habitat for waterfowl and upland birds has been limited by lack of moisture and numerous wildfires in 2020. Fresh browse for ungulate populations has dried up earlier than normal, which in turn limits health, fat stores and antler growth. Additionally, it also causes animals to migrate further in search of water sources. With reduced high-quality forage and feed, mammals and birds will lack proper nutrition going into winter.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Windmills that generate electricity or help draw water from wells will be working overtime this fall.

Nesting success for birds will decrease as cover and food supplies will be affected by lack of water, and mortality in broods will rise due to lack of healthy cover and feed throughout the nesting grounds. According to Mikal Cline, upland game bird coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Dry years make it harder to find the food resources to prepare for the rigors of egg laying, nesting and incubation. Hatch needs to be timed with insect abundance, which is directly related to water on the landscape. There’s a reason why broods gravitate toward wet meadows, riparian areas and other habitats with ‘green groceries’: That’s where you can find bugs. Insects mean protein, which provides what fast-growing chicks need to grow feathers and mass.” That being said, we now have all the ingredients for a subpar nesting season and lower than normal survival rates on game birds across much

Upland birds will likely be a bit tougher to find due to this year’s extreme drought conditions. 103

of the western U.S. Conditions in California are especially dire, with most reservoirs barely half-full compared to their normal water levels. The federal government has cut water allocations by 75 percent to farmers and cities. On the California/Oregon border, there is not enough water for both endangered fish and agricultural crops. Statewide precipitation totals for March and April ranked as the driest on record for Idaho, second driest for Oregon, third driest for Montana, and fourth driest for Washington since 1895. Locations that normally only go a few weeks without rain went more than two months without a drop this past spring. In the mountains, more precipitation also fell as rain rather than snow last winter, resulting in a very low snowpack, particularly in Oregon’s southern Cascades and California’s Sierra Nevada. Most locations reported well below 50

percent of normal. The quarterly outlook for precipitation throughout most of the western U.S. is forecast to be 50 to 60 percent below normal with no reprieve in sight. This, of course, equates to very high fire danger once again for 2021. Around 80 percent of Oregon and 46 percent of Washington are now in severe drought as of June.


How does one find success during drought conditions and high fire danger? Simply work harder at finding places to hunt that mammals and birds will gravitate to. Looking for places with good amounts of quality forage and water is the main ingredient for success. However, remember to try and not block wildlife from using watering holes. Animals will need these places to survive and hunting near them is OK, but not over them, if that makes sense.

Use your discretion when setting up. “There, of course, are other habitatrelated consequences to drought, and this is not an exhaustive list,” adds Cline. “First, birds will concentrate at available water sources, making them vulnerable to predation and disease. Second is the loss of cover, which also exposes upland game birds visually to predators. Last, the potential for wildfire increases, which can cause direct mortality in upland game birds unable to escape the path of fire.” Of course, the same holds true for ungulates. Extensive scouting is necessary to find ideal locations to put a tree stand or ground blind. During seasons with plentiful water there are more options available to hunters. This is where onX Maps, Google Earth and other digital scouting tools can be very helpful. Less nutrition means less antler growth and reduced stores of body fat Big game animals will be found near watering holes that have not dried up. This buck was harvested a couple seasons back near water.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

for animals during drought conditions. Hunters should keep in mind their quarry will be even more concentrated in desirable locations by fall. Again, water will be at a premium and focusing efforts around available sources will get you close to where you need to be come hunting season. Trail cameras are excellent tools for finding frequently used travel routes, feeding and bedding areas. Cameras will give you a heads up for patterning movements of the animals you are after, giving an advantage when timing your hunts. One of my favorite strategies in very dry years is to find underground springs or seeps. Many of these natural springs are marked on maps and will produce water even during a drought.


Drought conditions have left vast expanses of rangeland and forest throughout the West as dry as a tinder box.

Ungulates will seek locations with good cover and water during the dry seasons. This mule deer was seen moving through thick cover near a creek.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Tracking game will be difficult due to the dry conditions. Hunters will have their skills tested by the dry terrain. Being able to tell the difference between a fresh track and an older print will take some very close examination and some veteran experience. Finding places for stands or blinds and being able to wait out moving game will increase a hunter’s odds during dry conditions. Moving around in the dry grass, leaves and underbrush is very difficult with the amount of noise created prior to the first rains of fall. Patience and location will be key to most big game hunters’ success this coming season. “The increase in hunter participation resulting from new hunters, returning hunters and regular hunters spending more time in the field because of the pandemic will cause success rates, preference points and areas of use to be anomalous for the next few years,” according to Chris Yee, an ODFW district biologist in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley. “Hunters should be cautious when viewing the recent hunting harvest statistics and preference point summaries.” For upland birds, the brood sizes will likely be compromised this coming season and most quail, chukar, grouse and pheasants will be located near good water sources with adjacent cover. I like to use small groups of hunters with two or three dogs and 107

Dried-up water holes will cause animals to move.

Firefighters will likely be hard at it once again this season.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

take advantage of cover near water sources when searching for good coveys of birds. Working the dogs into the wind toward the cover will produce some good points and/or flushes. Waterfowl nesting grounds are being compromised this season with the extreme lack of moisture. No matter where you decide to pursue your birds this fall, water, food and cover will be key to your success. Manmade ponds that are floodable will be at a premium for most waterfowlers during the 2021-22 season. Club leases, private property and public access to refuges are all great choices for hunters who are lucky enough to find openings or draw permits. No matter when or where you choose to hunt this fall, be patient, scout, prepare and keep in mind we are experiencing some very difficult conditions that may last for several years. Try to use your best judgment when making a plan to pursue your game and be aware of the situations that you may encounter in the field. Good luck!  109

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n 2001, Mike Lafrenz was looking to replace a small six-pulley hoist that he had used for over 20 years. After an extensive search – “it’s hard to imagine how, not long ago, online shopping just wasn’t a ‘thing,’” he recalls – Lafrenz was finding nothing but shoddy products. “So, into the rabbit hole,” he says. “My first prototype was the parts from two four-pulley hoists pinned together to make a six-to-one. The thing was huge! And the bundle of rope? Wow. My quest for small-diameter rope took me to Oregon kite surfers, then I had to downsize everything else to match this tiny line. Like most stories, I never dreamed of selling these things. Just

Mike and Rhonda Lafrenz, owners of Pocket Ox.

Pocket Ox hoists are force multipliers and their small size bely the power to help backcountry and other hunters hang much larger game than they otherwise would be able to. But uses go far beyond that, with applications for everything from technical rescues to yarding dirt bikes out of bad places, and a home in the survival kits of hikers and others.

make a couple for my buddies and that’s it.” Of course, Lafrenz’s creation, dubbed the Pocket Ox, quickly found a following and he opened for business from his Idaho home. “We are just one of your neighbors with a busy basement,” he explains. “I hate to call it a ‘hobby business,’ but that’s what my accountant seems to imply. We are small. Most every kit is made to order, as there are a few options and accessories.” Pocket Ox offers the smallest, most powerful “in your pack, not in the truck” manual hoists. Products are designed for endeavors, both recreational and professional, “where the size and weight of every item needs to be justified,” says Lafrenz. “Our tools are for packsaddles, snow machines, and hunters’ fanny packs that I swear get heavier every season. I know there’s at least a couple in Alaska bush planes.” There are three sizes of hoist kits

to choose from. The 16-pulley Pocket Ox Bull mini-hoist is the largest production model, weighing 24 ounces. The Bull provides a mechanical advantage of 16:1 and is rated for 2,000 pounds (static load). This is the recommended size for ATV and snowmobile recovery, technical rescue, multi-person expeditions and hunters wishing to hang whole elk or moose. The 12-pulley Pocket Ox Cow mini-hoist is the midsize offering, weighing 20 ounces. The Cow provides a mechanical advantage of 12:1 and is rated for 1,500 pounds (static load). This is the recommended size for those on safari abroad, dirt/snow bike selfrescue, saddlebags, wilderness guides and trail crews, and backcountry or urban survival. For hunters, the Cow is ideal for manipulating elk-sized game on the ground or hanging elk halves, deer and hog-sized game. The eight-pulley Pocket Ox Calf mini-hoist is the smallest of the trio, 111


Models include the (left to right) 16-pulley Bull mini-hoist, the company’s largest production model which weighs 24 ounces and is rated for 2,000 pounds (static load); the 12-pulley Cow mini-hoist, which weighs 20 ounces and is rated for 1,500 pounds; and the eight-pulley Calf, weighing just a pound and capable of 1,000 pounds.

weighing 16 ounces. The Calf provides a mechanical advantage of 8:1 and is rated for 1,000 pounds (static load). The Calf is recommended for the solo archer, paddling and cycling sports, hiking, climbing, caving, smokejumpers, aviation and military survival, drop camps, and multi-day treks pursuing deer-sized game or hanging elk quarters. “We make one hoist that we don’t really advertise,” adds Lafrenz. “It’s built with the same components but with 20 sheaves (10 in each block) and 250 feet of haul line. It barely fits in a Pringles can. Too big for anybody’s daypack. Still perfect stuffed in a floatplane or a rafting guide’s box. We call it the ‘Team,’ and at 20:1, it is amazing. Even a chubby guy can usually pull him/herself off the ground. Deduct about 4 percent for friction and multiply that by 20. You can really generate some power.” Pocket Ox products have gained popularity around the country, mostly from word-of-mouth. “People talk,” says Lafrenz. “Especially in Montana. When we send a hoist to some town I’ve barely heard of, in about 18 months, we’ll make one or two sales to the same zip code.”  Editor’s note: For more information, visit Pocket Ox’s orange gripbraid next to a similar length of Paracord; the former weighs 10 ounces less and takes up 28 fewer cubic inches of space.

“You can really generate some power” with the largely unadvertised Team pulley, says Lafrenz. It features 20 sheaves and 250 feet of line, and while too big for a backpack, it’s a handy addition to gear boxes.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

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Hunting dogs need continual mental and physical stimulation, and changing workout locations, as well as training dummies, is a good place to start. Here, author Scott Haugen took one of his pudelpointers to the beach for a saltwater workout with a goose dummy.


With fall coming up fast, here’s how to get your four-legged hunting partner in shape for bird seasons. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN


s we continue pushing through a global pandemic, many of us have discovered that not all things stemming from this disaster have been bad. For instance, last year marked a national high in gun dog sales. That means more people across the country are looking to hunt for their food, and they’ve invested in a canine companion to help. But just because you bought a dog

doesn’t mean hunting success will be automatic. The fact that you have invested in a hunting dog shows you’ve made the commitment to change the next 12 or so years of your life. It means you’re devoted to year-round training and changing your lifestyle. Whether you’re a new gun dog owner or a veteran, you have two months to get that dog in shape, as hunting season is fast approaching. Summer conditioning and reinforcement training are key to building a productive and healthy hunting dog and you want to take advantage of every moment.

During the summer months I work my pudelpointers, Echo and Kona, in a range of habitats, at least twice a day. My objective is to condition and train them in a variety of landscapes so they’re dialed in come hunting season. I work hard to keep them in top physical condition, and the change of habitat and ever-increasing demands I place on them keeps both dogs mentally sharp, too. HIT THE ROAD Jess Spradley, owner of Cabin Creek Gun Dogs ( 115


Noted gun dog trainer Jess Spradley of Cabin Creek Gun Dogs trains and tests dogs throughout the West, and for him, there is no offseason. There shouldn’t be for hunters and their dogs, either.

in Lakeview, Oregon, is one of the country’s most noted and respected gun dog trainers, as well as a dedicated upland bird hunter. He trains dogs for hunters throughout the West, his area of expertise. “This is the time of year I start roading my dogs,” shares Spradley. “There are a couple ways to road dogs, and for hunters the most efficient is getting on a secluded logging road or remote country road with no traffic and drive an ATV or ride a mountain bike, and let your dogs range in front of you. If you have fast dogs, you can even drive your truck while they run, just be careful not to get too close.” More hunters are using electric bikes for this type of training, largely because they’re quiet and it makes it easy to communicate with a dog. Spradley emphasizes the goal of road running is to let your dogs run loose, at their own pace. “To be beneficial for your dogs, you want to reach 6 to 10 mph; if they want to go faster, that’s great. I like running them up a gentle incline, too, as that builds great strength in their back ends,” he says. 116

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Another way to condition your dog when running roads is to tether it to a quad or bike on a long lead, and let it pull you. Here, you control the amount of resistance. Spradley even roads dogs in front of his horse, which not only gets the horse in shape, but also gets the dogs used to being around it, as he does a lot of chukar hunting from horseback. “With a 20-foot rope, I let the dog run in front, and control both it and the speed of the horse together. It’s a great workout and both animals love it,” he says. Be sure to give your dog water during these roading sessions, but not too much. “I give them water every 15 minutes,” shares Spradley. “A goal of this training is to condition them to perform without constantly needing water, so if they ask for it every few minutes, keep working them and make them wait; this will pay off come hunting season.” LET ’EM RUN! I love running my dogs in hills, mountains and expansive fields

because it gets them in shape, toughens their feet and engages their minds. Hardwoods, creek bottoms, big timber, steep hills, sagebrush flats and even snow at high elevations this time of year are all good workout settings. “If I’m on an old logging road I’ll often let my dogs run in the woods or sagebrush,” points out Spradley. “Here, they go at their own speed, running, jumping and exploring. Let ’em go as fast as they want, and if you have two dogs that’s even better, as they push one another and feed off each other’s energy. This is great for endurance training and all the sights, smells and sounds they come across really stimulates the mind. The more settings you can do this in, the better.” Through time, I’ve learned to let my dogs be the judge of their speed and duration when free-running. “I want to build up to an hour of free-running by hunting season, but if you hit that 30- to 45-minute mark, that’s still a great way to maintain cardio and muscle-building work for your dog,” Spradley points out. “Do that every day and your dog will be in excellent hunting shape.”


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ROAD HUNTER In the spring I shed hunt with my pudelpointers and during these freeruns I’ll often take deer and elk antlers for them to pack around. Carrying a shed antler gets them used to navigating brushy terrain, and a heavy elk shed will build neck, jaw and body strength. Oftentimes they’ll even find sheds on their own, from both this year and prior years, while on free-runs. “Remember, hunting dogs are very smart, and they get bored doing the same thing in the same places each and every day,” confirms Spradley. “They’re like a teenager and their mind and body needs stimulation and continual change in order to optimize their happiness and performance levels, so free-run in as many different places as you can.” HEAD FOR THE WATER If I had one setting in which to condition my dogs during these summer months, it would be water. Nothing gets a dog in better shape than swimming, and Spradley agrees. “Long swims work every muscle in a dog, even its toes and tail, and the more water situations you can get them in, the better. Lots of folks swim their dogs 30 to 40 minutes (when the water is warm) while they paddle alongside in a canoe or kayak, even

Swimming is one of the best things you can do to keep your dog in shape, and now is the time to develop a regular routine


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Some dogs are great at finding and retrieving elk sheds, but it might take some training to get them used to carrying the heavy, cumbersome package at ground level through the woods.

a paddle board. It’s one of the best, low-impact workouts a dog can have. If you can’t swim them, get them to do long-distance water retrieves, up to 100 yards or more,” Spradley says. I spend a lot of time swimming my dogs in deep lakes, open ponds, small ponds with edges laden with reeds, grass, rushes, downed trees and thick weeds, as well as in creeks. I also get them in the open ocean, bays and estuaries. I’ll mix up the bumpers and training dummies I offer in all of these habitats in order to motivate the dogs

and keep going. The greater variety of water and physical barriers they encounter when training, the better prepared they’ll be to meet challenges that arise when retrieving birds come hunting season. I often split my daily workout sessions into two 45-minute blocks; one in the morning and one in the evening, seven days a week. On hot days I’ll run them hard for 30 minutes early in the morning, before breakfast, then let them rest two hours after eating, followed by another 30-minute workout in water. “If you can devote 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night, that’s better than nothing this time of year,” Spradley says. “But I’d rather go twice a day for 30 to 45 minutes, and work them hard.” In every scenario I’m also training my dogs to obey verbal commands and hand signals. The teaching aspect of dog training never stops, even when conditioning, and instilling basic commands is important for effective learning to be accomplished. “My commands never vary,” concludes Spradley. “No matter where I am, I’m teaching my dogs the same commands under all conditions. No matter what distractions there are, you want your dog to obey your commands

ROAD HUNTER at all times, and this is developed through consistent communication during conditioning training, even family walks in the evenings. If they do one thing wrong, it needs to be corrected immediately. Conditioning sessions are the time to train your dog and get them to do what you want.” With summer upon us, now is the time to get your dog in hunting shape. Be sure to feed your dog a healthy diet and maintain its overall health. Routinely check its teeth and gums, toenails and pads, and when training in fields, cover every inch of its body, including the ears and eyes, looking for grass seeds. You’ve already made the commitment of investing in a dog, now it’s up to you to make it the best hunting partner possible. 

Spradley works with one of his pudelpointers on water entry. Working in shallow water is a good place to start a dog that’s young or reluctant to enter the water.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

Editor’s note: Check out Scott Haugen’s series of short puppy training videos at Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.


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Author Mike Nesbitt’s .54-caliber “Ol’ Carson” was fashioned after what’s believed to have been Kit Carson’s final Hawken. It’s shown with its pouch and a buffalo horn.

Inspired by a frontiersman's famed rifle and with a stock blank that spoke to him, a muzzleloader and his buddy set out to build and shoot a replica. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT


fter wanting one for several years, I finally got a rifle similar to Kit Carson’s Hawken, which is said to be the last rifle Carson ever got. At least it was the last Hawken that he got, built by Sam Hawken rather late in his remarkable gunmaking career. Shortly before his death, Carson gave the rifle to the Montezuma Masonic Lodge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it is still on display. This particular rifle is very fascinating because it is still in almostnew condition and it is outstanding in more ways than that. While it can’t be assumed that all Hawken rifles were like this one in finish, one can see that the barrel shows evidence of being blued rather than

browned. In addition, several of the metal pieces are color casehardened, such as the lock plate plus the breech plug and tang. While it might seem that this was a rather deluxe Hawken rifle, in those times all Hawken rifles were considered rather deluxe; that’s why they were more expensive than most guns found on the frontier. The extra expense was for the ruggedness of the Hawken rifles, which added greatly to their dependability. THE RIFLE’S FINISH, plus the overall configuration of Carson’s Hawken, made me want one like it. There are some custom makers today who will build copies of the Carson Hawken on order, but mine had to be built closer to home. One of the parts for my gun was the maple stock blank that I got at an auction at the Washington Historical

Gunmakers Fair a few years ago. This stock blank, already cut for a halfstock rifle, came from the shop of Ted Fellowes, a well-known muzzleloading gunmaker, after Fellowes had passed away. It isn’t a spectacularly pretty piece of wood – rather plain, actually – but when I got it, the thought came to me to use it for the wood on a rifle like the Carson Hawken. A barrel for my version of the Carson Hawken was ordered from Charles Burton in Morehead, Kentucky. Burton is the barrel-maker I like to recommend these days because he has built more than one outstanding rifle barrel for me. This one, like the barrel on the Carson Hawken, measures just 31½ inches, and I asked for it in .54 caliber with .012-inch-deep flat bottom grooves, rifled with a 1-in-60-inch rate of twist. Also stipulated was the fitting 123

BLACK POWDER Allen Cunniff, the maker of this Carson Hawken, on the trail.

for the breech plug with a ¾-16 thread. Burton’s barrel-making business, Flintlock Construction, Inc., can be reached at flintlockcalb50@hotmail .com or 606-780-7709. Other parts were ordered to get all of the necessary pieces, including the lock and triggers from R.E. Davis (, as well as the slanted hook breech because the Carson Hawken was a very late S. Hawken rifle. Other smaller pieces were collected as well, from sources such as Track of the Wolf (

WITH ALL OF the parts at hand, the assembly of the rifle was started in 124

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

my friend Allen Cunniff’s shop. The only guidance Allen really had were some pictures of the original Carson Hawken, which did show that rifle in detail. Several of the steel parts for this rifle needed color casehardening and Allen quickly separated those parts so they could be sent to C. Sharps Arms ( in Big Timber, Montana. At C. Sharps Arms, Pat Dulin gave those pieces his best attention, using a technique for the finish known as pack-hardening, which is very attractive. To go along with the color casehardened hardware, the barrel and under-rib on this rifle were blued. Allen has a good bluing tank, but the

barrel on my Carson Hawken was his first bluing job. It turned out very well. The bluing “agent” was the Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser, simply boiled in water to give the barrel a good rust blue. Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser is available from Track of the Wolf. The stock finishing was left for me to do and that was the only work I did on this gun. Allen had the stock all prepared, including applying the coat of stain, then I took it and gave it several coats of Tru-Oil – seven or eight coats, just to make sure the job was complete. Finally, it was returned to Allen for the final assembly.



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The Hawken’s left side, showing details of the lock bolt escutcheon and cheekpiece.


a nice package that could almost be described as “small,” at least for an authentic Hawken. It weighs a trim 9 pounds and its overall length is just 48½ inches long. Its size makes it a handy rifle for carrying and I’m likely to do just that. For sighting in, a powder charge of just 55 grains of GOEX FFg was used – that’s about 1 grain per caliber – under the .526-inch round ball, wrapped in a .020-inch lubed patch from Bridgers Best. The target was a small bull’s-eye

Note the color casehardening on the lock.


American Shooting Journal // July 2021

on yellow paper, which was posted at just 25 yards. Shots were hitting to the right, although they were grouping very nicely. One hit with a hammer on a brass drift moved the rear sight to the left and the shooting continued. I was very pleased with the rifle and that ended my sighting-in session.

The very next shots were fired in a match with the Paul Bunyan Club. Those were the first shots fired with this rifle while standing. When shooting from the bench, my shots had gone just slightly low, but when shooting offhand they were going a bit high. I can’t explain why that happened, it just did, and it goes right along with getting to know this rifle better. You might be glad that I don’t intend to talk too much about that match because my shooting with this new rifle delighted me. The course

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Nesbitt fires a shot on the trail with his new gun – a hit in more ways than one.

of fire included 15 shots on paper targets and all of my shots scored, and generally scored rather well. There were five more shots on novelty targets, which included two shots on a steel “rabbit” at 35 or 40 yards, plus three more shots on Peeps, the colorful little marshmallow Easter candies, hanging from strings at 12 or 15 yards. My only miss was at one of those Peeps and that was my last shot. I could talk more about this match because I placed third and my prize for such doin’s was a pound of GOEX powder. It was certainly the historical elements about this gun that helped me pick a name for it. That name wasn’t decided upon right away; actually, the thought of naming this rifle didn’t really come to mind until after it did so well in that match, with the pound of powder to its credit. The name, as you might guess, is “Ol’ Carson.” Maybe you’ll hear about this rifle again. 

c 128

American Shooting Journal // July 2021

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