Wednesday, December 17, 2008

African Hunting

At some point in our lives we all dream of going to Africa for a once in a lifetime hunt. Unfortunately it has been too expensive for most of us to take that trek. However here is an outfit that will make it financually possible for that dream hunt. They are nice people and will do what ever they can to make it happen for you. You can contact them at the info provided below if you have any questions.

Tall Grass Safaris is a small new safari company based in South Africa and specializing in comfortable South African plains-game safari’s and tours as well as Zimbabwe dangerous game.

The business is currently steered by Dr. Peter Harris – a veteran of 26 years in the safari industry, his son Dirk, brother-in-law Tom and Frans Gresse, a friend of 30 years with great hunting and administrative skills.

The focus of Tall Grass Safaris would be to allow the serious hunter and the family man with kids the opportunity to get to know the South African environment , its people, cultures, traditions, food and wine while at the same time experiencing the fun of hunting in Africa. TG offers a balanced approach to the hunting experience allowing the client and his family/friends time to enjoy the experience while being put in areas where the is abundant game and scenic splendour. We offer exposure to the preparation of traditional SA meals such as koeksister, pofadder, malva , biltong, wine, and activities such as trophy prep & meats processing (biltong, skinning etc) as part of the fun.

We will be in the United States during January and February 2009 and where possible will meet with interested parties – an itinerary of places we intend to visit will be e-mailed to our newsletter subscribers and also posted on our website.

I have also attached a map of South Africa indicating our main hunting areas – if you’d like a little more information on each area – I’ll send it your way. (Think I’m gonna include it in our next newsletter.)

Please let me know if there is anything else.

Kind regards

Dirk Harris


+27 (0) 82 394 3280 – Dirk

+27 (0) 82 562 6951 – Tom

+27 (0) 82 566 7300 - Peter

+27 (0) 83 457 7892 - Frans

Fax: + 27 (0) 86 663 4932



Watch our video on YouTube!

Bob Shell

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weatherby Vanguard 30-06

Shooting the Vanguard with Sensgard Hearing

The Weatherby Vanguard

At my request I received a Weatherby Vanguard rifle in the 30-06 caliber which I consider the best all around caliber baring none. The Vanguard comes in a verity of calibers from the 204 to the 338 Win magnum so there is something for everyone. They offer it in the 300 Win & Weatherby mags as well as the 7mm Remington mag all which are proven hunting rounds. The 7 mm 08 and one of my all time favorites the 22-250 are also on the list. There are 120 caliber/model combinations from $399 to $931 advertised prices so you would have a hard time not finding something to suit your needs. They offer stainless versions, youth models, varmint and SUB MOA models. Of course some of them will go over the $399 price tag. You can hunt anything from groundhogs to large bear with the wide caliber selection. As an example the 338 is great for anything that walks in North America and much of Africa. Recently at a writers’ conference I shot one in the 257 Weatherby mag which while impressed me that caliber is somewhat specialized and factory ammo would be very pricey. I wanted a caliber for the average hunter to relate to. If I want a good long range antelope rifle the 257 would get serious consideration. A good friend of mine uses the 257 on antelope and really likes it as he has tagged a couple at 400 yards or so. I chose the 30-06 because of its effectiveness and ammo availability and pricing. With the cost of everything going up I want to show hunters a good low price rifle and a practical caliber for them to use. For a one rifle hunter the 30-06 is the best all around caliber in my view. At an advertised price of $399.00 it would be affordable to almost any one wanting to buy a quality rifle.

Bushnell camera mounted on Redfield scope

It came with the black synthetic stock which I consider more practical for hunting then wood. While wood looks better it is subject to the elements. It might swell during a rain storm which would change the -0- plus it can be scratched or broken during a fall. Without much doubt the synthetic stock helps keep the price down. The barrel is nicely blued but not shiny which is a plus. Any glint spotted by a deer will spook them to the next county. A factory target came with it showing a 3 shot group at 100 yards a little less then an inch. They used a 150 grain bullet but there were no other specifications. They are the only rifle in that price range that provides a target as far as I know. There is a lot of competition out there for low price rifles and any little thing that can be provided might give one brand a leg up on another. I have shot several brands and for the most part they are well made and provide good value for the dollar. It might be one feature that one has over another that might sway the buyer. A factory target is a novel and appreciated feature in my view as you know that you are getting an accurate rifle. There are no sights provided which isn’t a problem since everyone uses a scope these days. Not a big deal but I feel that they could provide scope bases with the rifle. The owners manual and trigger lock came with it as is the usual case. The barrel is 22” which is adequate for the 30-06 though the magnums should have a 24” for best results.

Trigger assembly on Vanguard

The bolt head has 2 large locking lugs with visible gas escape ports in the unlikely event of a case rupture. It gives you confidence that you are shooting a strong and safe rifle that has the ability to protect you in the event of an ammo mishap. That doesn’t mean that you go crazy on the loading bench. It has a plunger ejector and a good looking extractor. It has a magazine release enabling the shooter to drop ammo through the bottom. While some might like that feature I don’t consider it a big deal but that is my personal thought. It is a bit hard to open which is a plus because if it was easy it might dump your ammo out at an inopportune time. The safety is a two position type and the S & F are very prominently marked which is a very good feature. The trigger on my sample was a joy breaking like glass and set at 2 & ¾ lbs. Such a good trigger enables you to shoot good groups per the rifles ability. I did not attempt to adjust it as that wasn’t a necessary task. I took the rifle apart and didn’t see any tool or rough marks that would indicate poor quality control. Everything fit well and looked like it belonged there. The rifle weighs about 8 lbs before mounting the scope. For me that is a bit heavy for carrying as my running gear isn’t the best weighing 8 & 1/2 lbs with scope. For bench rest shooting and out of a blind that extra weight would come in handy. That is a good reason to buy an extra rifle. You need one for carrying weighing around 6 & ½ lbs and a heavier one for shooting out of a blind or bench rest shooting. Believe me 2 lbs makes a difference at least to me. At the Vanguard prices you can probably afford two. To look at all the available calibers and options just go to the Weatherby website.

TRI?CORS & 165 grain Sierras

The Weatherby brand has been around since 1945 and they wisely the brought out the Vanguard about 20 years ago. As a note I had one in wood about 10 years ago and it was a beauty. Some hunters just don’t have nor want to spend a lot of money on a fancy rifle. The Mark V and it variations have a lot of shine and glitz but that doesn’t appeal to a lot of hunters including me. I have shot them and if you like them then you can’t go wrong with one. They do shoot well and are chambered in cartridges that can take a T-Rex. The low cost quality rifle isn’t a new idea. Remington came out with the 721 and 722 many years ago and dollar for dollar they were one of the best. I have a couple and they are great shooters despite their plain looks. Who can forget the 788? Weatherby brought out their version and it is a worthwhile addition to any hunters’ rifle collection.

Factory target shot with 150 grain load

I mounted a Redfield 3 X 9 Tracker with Redfield bases and rings which I had on hand. Shooting it at a hundred yards revealed that it likes some bullets better then others. Anybody that has any experience shooting rifles has observed that phenomenon. It is very rare that a rifle will shoot everything the same which shows that you have to work up the load for your particular rifle. If you don’t reload then you might have to try several brands and types to get the desired results. The Remington 180’s were the most accurate grouping just under an inch on average. The 185 grain Tri/Cors and the 125’s were close seconds averaging just around an inch. Surprisingly the Sierra 165 grain Game Kings were the least accurate in this test averaging around 1 & ¾”. I shot quite a few loads and most went from about ¾” to 2” groups depending on load. The factory provides a target in this instance showing a good group with 150 grain bullets. There are so many bullets and loads out there for the 30-06 that I have no doubt those groups can be shrunk a little with this rifle with some load development. Without a doubt some commercial loads will do as well. Keep in mind most rifles including this one will outshoot their owners especially from a hunting position. Most of these groups are good enough to anchor an animal at 300 yards or so, keeping in mind that most animals are shot within 200 yards or less. Shooting this rifle off the bench was a pleasure because of the weight recoil was mild. The good trigger pull helped also. I did notice that you had to be careful how you put them in the magazine to get reliable feeding. They had to be put in just right or sometimes two would come out instead of one. With more load development I plan on checking that out some more in case I was doing something. I will take this rifle on future deer hunts where I don’t have to carry it very far as it is a quality product. For someone contemplating buying a low cost quality rifle I would suggest that you give this one serious consideration.

Bolt Head Showing Locking lugs

Bob Shell

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Trick Loads for Shotguns

Shooting black powder in the destert

Trick Loads for Shotguns

Making trick and unusual loads for shotguns isn’t as easy as it seems. There are several criteria that you have to keep in mind. First of all safety has to be observed as in all reloading. Shotguns have thinner barrels and breeches then rifles so they won’t take as much pressure. Shotguns in one respect have some versatility but there are limits. You won’t be able to make a load that would perform at 300 yards for a couple of reasons. Shot simply won’t carry that far effectively because it’s too light and spreads too far. Slugs would drop too much to warrant serious consideration for long distance shooting. Because of the diameter of the 12 gauge a slug would have to weigh several ounces and be launched at quite a bit of velocity to be effective at long range. Such a projectile would produce horrendous recoil and I for one wouldn’t do that to my shoulder. Then you have to decide what use the load will have if any. Is there something it can be used for or are you trying to impress your shooting buddies. The latter is ok as long as it is done in a safe and responsible way.

3 balls at 10 yards

I can remember talking to quite a few people who claimed that they got shot with rock salt at one time or another. They were usually doing something on a farmer’s land that they weren’t supposed to be doing. Anyway they claimed that it left some welts or penetrated in a couple of instances. I got curious because I never saw commercial rock salt loads for sale. I was told that the farmers dumped out the shot and substituted the rock salt before recrimping the shell. I doubt that for a couple of reasons. When a shotgun shell is made the powder charge is adjusted for the amount of shot loaded in order to give the best results. Rock salt is much lighter then shot so with a substitution the powder won’t burn correctly meaning the salt won’t have enough velocity to harm anyone. As with working up any load the powder charge has to be adjusted to the weight of the projectiles to get satisfactory results. The only way that I made it work ok was to use an Active brand shell because they have a lot of volume and put a cut down wad tightly against 15 grains of Red Dot or Bullseye. You may want to adjust the powder charge a bit to meet your needs. You can substitute any hull that doesn’t have inside wadding or use a 3 or 3 & ½’ casing. Pack the rock salt in tightly and use a good crimp and you should be in business. A good load will penetrate both sides of a cardboard box at 15 feet with the bigger pellets. I have done some pattern tests and at 5 yards it has a pretty dense pattern while at 10 yards it scatters quite a bit. Much past that it’s useless and at 25 yards forget it. Once you have them then you have to figure out what they are good for. I would not use them for home defense because they are not lethal in most cases. You can injure someone and possible discourage them from any wrongdoing but the problem is they will be back with their lawyer. If you put their eye out they will own everything you have in this litigious society where the rights of criminals are put above yours. If you have a neighborhood dog getting into your trash and you don’t want to kill him then this may be your answer. A dose of rock salt should discourage most animals from trespassing a second time.
The information in this article is for reading and entertainment purposes only. Do not attempt any of this yourself as serious injury can occur. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to do this type of experimenting. Since I have no control I can not be held liable for its use.

2 - 2 &1/2 & 2 & 2/4" shells

You can make shotgun blanks fairly easily. Most of the ones that I make have either black powder or a substitute. The load is from 50 to 60 grains of FFFG powder and a wad put over the powder to hold it in. You need a wad that fits tight enough to hold the powder in but excessive wadding isn’t needed or desired. I frequently cut a styrafoam wad and use it. Too much wadding will cause a projectile to be expelled from the barrel making it much more dangerous. You can substitute 20 to 25 grains of blank powder or about 40 grains of something such as Bullseye. You can experiment to obtain the noise level and performance that you want. You might need a tighter wad to enhance the powder burning and make enough noise. Smokeless powders generally require more confinement to burn properly. I have some old powder that was pulled from military rounds that was lying around. I filled up some regular 2 & ¾” cases to the top and crimped them as normal. Upon firing them I discovered that they made nice loud blanks. Since there is no projectile pressure wasn’t excessive but they are definitely outdoor use only as they are loud and powerful. I use the dies on my Mec 600 to load these shells as I do with all my shot shell loads. I push the crimp down inside the casing much as a roll crimp. You should never shoot a full power blank in an enclosed area as the noise is quite loud. Also they are pretty powerful and you should never fire a shotgun blank at anyone at close range. Doing that can seriously injure or even kill someone. Besides reenactments they can be used for signaling or perhaps scaring an unwanted animal away.

Nail load at 5 yards

A reduced recoil load would be effective as a house defense load. A slug that weighs an ounce shot out at 1000 feet per second would be an effective load because the reduced recoil would enable you to control your shots easier and would be less apt to over penetrate. Another advantage to reduced recoil loads is the lack of the intimidation factor which will encourage most folks to practice more. If a 45 Colt with a 250 grain bullet at 900 feet per second is a good defense load imagine what a 1 oz slug at 1000 feet per second will do. The slug is a 69 caliber projectile plus weighs twice as much as the 45. Shooting the Aguila slugs showed a practical house load with all the desired attributes of a defense load. The recoil was very mild and there isn’t over penetration which is a serious consideration in most neighborhoods. I shot a thick propane container that had about ¼” thick sides. The slug dented it about an inch but didn’t penetrate the side. I recovered one of the slugs and it had expanded quite a bit. I chronographed them at 950 fps. I also obtained some slugs that weigh 410 grains. After loading them with 18 X Red Dot they produced a similar size dent in the gas container. Like the Aguila it expanded quite a bit. Either slug should be a good house defense load where over penetration is a consideration. Another plus for the short Aguila slugs is you might be able to put more rounds in the magazine of your gun if they feed which they did ok in my Mossberg. Accuracy at 15 yards with either is more then adequate for defense purposes.

Rock salt at 5 yards

Aguila makes special shells that are shorter then normal and produce less recoil. They are 1 & ¾” long and come in slugs, buckshot and birdshot. They can be bought at Zanders that’s where I obtained my samples. Other loads that are offered on the specialized market include flares and flame throwers. The flares can be useful if you are out in the woods and are lost or injured it could help rescuers locate you. A boat stranded could also benefit from flares. Personally I can’t imagine going out in a decent size boat without a good shotgun and various types of ammo. I can’t imagine much use for a flamethrower shell that shoots flames out about 250 feet. It would be extremely hazardous to shoot such ammo in the desert where I live. The fire hazard would be way too high and I wouldn’t try them unless I knew it was entirely safe to do so. When buying some of these shells read carefully the hazard warning labels before using. Some of the specialty shells require an expensive hazmat fee and are not allowed in some areas. I strongly urge against anyone trying to make these types of shells as the chemicals can be extremely hazardous to your well being. Fooling around with incendiary and explosive shells might get you a Darwin award.

Components for bolo load

There are other loads that you can produce that may not be available from the various manufacturers. You can make a spreader load quite easily. Just take a thin piece of cardboard cut it to size and insert it in the middle of the shot load. You can do it with 2 pieces in a cross fashion and it will enhance the spreading of shot. It may be useful for shooting small game at close range of as a self defense load. The only problem with using any handloads for defensive purposes some jurisdictions may give you a hard time. They feel that if you concoct your own loads that you are willing to shoot some one with a more deadly load then the factory offers. While it sounds like nonsense it is a real concern for anyone interested in self defense law. Quite honestly a load of 6 shot will take care of 99% of any self defense situation you will encounter.

Business end of 12 gauge

For testing most of these loads I have a Mossberg that I bought some years ago for $18. The barrel looks like someone cut off the end with a wood saw and the rest looks rough. However after cleaning up and putting in a magazine spring it turned out to be a decent hunting gun. I later bought a barrel with the screw in chokes for doves etc which works well. Anyway the old barrel is perfect because the nails and various other items that I shot through it might scratch the inside. While not hurting the old barrel I wouldn’t think of doing it with the new barrel or one of my other shotguns.

Botton of brass case

One of the shells that I made up has some 1” finishing nails. I have a 2 piece wad and removed the red bottom piece to give the nails enough room. I packed them in tightly and it held 400 grains of them. I started with 18 X Red Dot and a Remington hull. Shooting at a target showed some individual nails plus a large hold at 5 yards. Past that they scatter a lot. It’s another load that doesn’t have much practical use. If you shot an intruder with that load you would probably have a difficult time explaining to the local District Attorney why you used such a load. In fact you might have some problem staying out of jail using that or another exotic load that you cooked up. You can shoot it at a paper target and have your buddies trying to guess what it was you shot. Other then that it is totally useless.

Good deer slugs 1 & 1/4 oz

Another unique load has paint balls as the projectiles. The ones that I bought fit inside the casing with very little side space which is perfect. The paint balls weigh 40 grains each. In a regular shell 3 will fit while the short Aguila shells will hold 1. I started out with 10 X 231 with a thin wad in both cases. They made little noise but the balls came apart before hitting a target. A couple of times I saw a blue mist about 10 to 15’ from the muzzle. I imagine that the powder produced too much shock for the balls. I tried shooting the paint balls with just primers but they busted inside the hulls and made a circle of paint about 5” in diameter at 6’ making an impressive spot on the target. I am sure glad that I am using a junk barrel as it had a pretty decent coat of paint inside.

Different wads for different loads

A catalog that I ran across advertised bolo loads. They have 2 round ball lead ends attached by a piece of wire. I though that I could duplicate that by getting some lead split shot sinkers and using a piece of thin wire to hold them together. The split shot was about the size of 00 buck and is held together with a wire about 1 foot long. Each finished projectile weighs 140 grains and I put 3 of them in a shell with 18 X Red Dot and a bottom piece of wad. Some of the bolo loads showed on the target that the wire held and others didn’t. Since they are not practical for anything that I can think of I probably won’t pursue them any further.

Paintballs at 3 yards

I wanted some ultra light loads so I put 10 X 231 and a thin wad behind 280 grains of shot. The load was a bit too light so will have to increase the powder a little until you get a satisfactory result with 12 grains being better. To properly crimp the shorties you need a special plate that can be used on a MEC loader. You can load short shells with it. The Aguila shells will need two of those plates to get a good crimp. Precision Reloading carry those items and many other shotgun accessories. Such a load could be used to dispatch pests at short range where excess noise and shot might be a problem. If you could find some #12 shot to load it would be a great short range rat load.

Good powder for shotguns

Wanting to try some multiple ball loads I obtained some Hornady 58 caliber round balls. After some research I put 27 X Blue Dot behind three of those balls each weighing 280 grains. I used a thin cardboard wad between the powder and balls. Upon shooting I found that the 27 grain load was too light with some being squib loads. I went up to 34 grains as I wanted to obtain about 1000 to 1100 feet per second with that load. Since the total payload weighs 840 grains that would be about all I wanted to avoid excessive recoil. In a strong shotgun they can be driven faster probably up to 1400 feet per second or so. Besides generating a lot of recoil it may strain some shotguns so keep that in mind when developing loads. They could be useful for self defense especially against a wild pig or mountain lion. I imagine that three balls launched at 11 to 1400 feet per second would discourage most attacks from the two and four legged predators. They may not have the necessary penetration to use on the big bears though testing would have to verify that. I didn’t have any large bears available for testing so I passed on that one. The 34 grain load worked better producing more consistent ammo and would make a good defense load for certain situations. After I got done putting all that ridicules stuff through the gun I cleaned it up with Bore Paste which always does a great job on old guns and tough clean assignments.
When experimenting with special loads for shotguns keep in mind that they aren’t as strong as a typical rifle. The barrels are thinner which while entirely adequate for normal loads aren’t suitable for loads at rifle pressures. Another thing that I encountered was a piece of a wad stayed in the barrel. Luckily I saw it before shooting something in back of it. If I missed the piece it may have produced a ring in the barrel.

Shotgun is good for self defense

The information in this article is for reading and entertainment purposes only. Do not attempt any of this yourself as serious injury can occur. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to do this type of experimenting. Since I have no control I can not be held liable for its use.

Special plate needed to load shorter then normal shells

Monday, October 13, 2008

German 8 MM Commission Rifle

Full length 8 X 57 Commission Rifle

The Commission Rifle
In 1886 France came out with possibly the most important development in small arms which was the first successful smokeless cartridge the 8mm Lebel. It made everything up to that time obsolete immediately. It shot a fairly small projectile at velocities that were not obtainable with black powder. They were shooting bullets at 2000 feet per second as opposed to 1400 or so with the black powder rifles of the day. That was revolutionary at that time. Another advantage is the ammo was lighter so a soldier could carry more. As much as they would of like to they couldn’t keep the secret of smokeless powder to themselves for long. In those days France, England and Germany were in competition and any development in weapon technology was eagerly sought by them. They had vast empires in those days and needed the best weapons to maintain the status quo. Another advantage to smokeless powder is it didn’t give away the shooter as black powder does. There were no longer vast clouds of smoke coming from the rifle. It is also easier to clean up after and doesn’t foul the bore like black powder does. Of course all of these advantages weren’t lost on the various militaries. So in a matter of a generation we went from muzzle loaders to smokeless repeaters.

Reciever of Commission Rifle

One of the earlier countries to bring out a smokeless round was Germany. They came out with their own 8mm rifle in 1888 known as the Commission Rifle. It was designed by a commission hence its name and was one of the earlier smokeless powder rifles. They took features from other guns plus a couple of their own. I imagine it was an interesting experience to be on that commission. Their case was a rimless design as opposed to the rimmed Lebel. A rimless design would be more desirable for feeding and use in machine guns and many bolt actions so it was a step forward. It came out with the J bullet which is 318 in diameter weighing 227 grain round nose also at around 2000 feet per second while the later S bullet has a 323 diameter. There are some Commission rifles that were re-rifled to the 323 diameter bore so it might be a good idea to slug the bore. You can shoot 318 diameter bullets in a 323 bore but they won’t be very accurate but the reverse isn’t true. The Commission rifle used a magazine with Mannlicher features while the bolt resembled the Mauser design with the two front locking lugs. The magazine needs a special clip in order to be a repeater. The clip is the same on both ends so it can’t be put in the wrong way which would be a desirable feature in combat. Since the clips are scarce now that they are long out of production I consider that and most other detachable clips a liability. For target shooting using it as a single shot is no big deal except in a few cases. The 7.35 Carcano, one example, is a real pain to load without a clip. It also has a hand guard around the barrel which in theory gave it more accuracy but was difficult to produce and install. It also collected water inducing rust on the barrel. It was a well made product for its time but isn’t as strong as the 98 Mauser which replaced it. We must remember that in 1888 smokeless powder was in its infancy and the gun makers didn’t fully understand the requirements for heat treating and other requirements for the higher pressure powder. The workmanship appears to be typical German meaning that it was good with few or no tool marks. The extractor and ejector look puny as compared to the Mausers of that period but I didn’t have any problems with my specimen which I shot 2 or 300 times during my tests. There is a release on the side of the receiver to remove the bolt which works well. The safety is a wing type located on the rear of the bolt and it works ok. The bolt handle doesn’t touch the receiver when closed which could have gave it some extra strength by providing extra lockup. You should not shoot the later military ammo in it as it’s loaded too hot for this weapon and it may be corrosive not to mention the .323 diameter bullet which was adopted in 1903. If you have shot American commercial 8mm ammo you will note that its loaded relatively weak. Probably one of the reasons is that if its shot in the Commission Rifle it won’t wreck it although I don’t recommend that practice since the factory ammo has a .323 diameter bullet. If nothing else accuracy may suffer. If you stumble across some original military ammo I wouldn’t shoot it as it would be too old and may have some collector value as well. As a note if you attempt to shoot old ammo and it doesn’t go off keep the bolt closed for at least 30 seconds. Failure to do that can cause a serious accident as if the bolt is partially opened and it goes off there is no support for the round and hot gasses among other things can become missiles. I have run across old ammo that didn’t go off for several seconds after firing so it is not a theory. I have also spoken with other people who have experienced the same action with old ammo. If you encounter such ammo dispose of it in a safe manner as its way too dangerous to shoot. In many cases the powder may be deteriorated and the ammo is very unstable. I usually pull the bullets for future use and dump the powder.

Bolt for Commission Rifle

The Commission rifle replaced the hard hitting 11 mm Mauser 71/84 rifle that was in service since 1871. For some reason a Mauser rifle wasn’t adopted by Germany again until the 98 Mauser, which is the most successful design of all time for bolt action rifles. I imagine Paul Mauser wasn’t happy about that but he went about his business making various Mauser rifles for many countries. Anyway the 88 saw service for some years and China among others purchased some and used them. Like many obsolete military weapons they were used for years after production ceased by secondary units. My rifle has an 1896 date on the receiver which is near the end of the production run. There was a carbine and rifle version of these with barrel lengths of 17.6 and 29.1” respectively. The Karabiner has a spoon type of bolt while the rifle carries the straight bolt handle. They were sporterized to some extent and rebarreled to various cartridges not exceeding the 8mm in length. Also pressures had to be confined to about 45,000 psi to be considered safe. Another 8 X 57 to be careful of is the model 93’s that were rebarreled to the 8. The 93 has 2 locking lugs as opposed to the 3 that the 98 has. I know that a lot of them have been shot with hot ammo with no consequences but I don’t recommend it. Actually I consider the 93 action superior to the Commission Rifle in strength and function but it’s no 98. Keep in mind that these rifles are over a century old and not getting any younger. Another attractive feature of the Commission rifle is its price. You can get a good specimen for a couple of C notes or less. They can be found at gunshows or online auctions such as or

Good bullets for reloading

Shooting the model 88 rifle is no big problem. The standard 8mm cases should be used and 318 diameter bullets are fairly common. They can be swaged down from 323 bullets without much effort. The swaging die that I use to reduce the diameter of the bullets comes from CH Die and it works with a standard press. The 318 loading dies are available from several makers and medium powders work the best. Common sense loads should be used as not only the action isn’t as strong as the 98 also it doesn’t have the ability to vent gas as well either. That’s a good reason to wear safety glasses and ear protection when shooting these old guns. Cases seldom rupture but you never know. If your gun has excess headspace or an enlarged chamber those conditions will enhance the possibility of a case rupture. That would be especially true if you are using heavy loads as they tend to aggravate an already bad situation. If in doubt about your rifles condition it’s never a bad idea to have it checked out by someone who is qualified to do so. The headspace and chamber dimensions can be checked out by a knowledgeable person with the right tools. It might be the best investment you made. As with all old guns there is a possibility that some basement gunsmith altered it in a manner that will render it unsafe to shoot. It’s better to find that out sooner rather then later. They have been rebarreled to similar length cartridges such as the 257 Roberts but you still have that pressure ceiling to work with and in my view there are better actions to work with. Your better off using it as an original and enjoying it as such. Unless you do the work yourself it isn’t economically feasible to convert a military rifle to a full sporter. The labor cost not to mention the materials will cost more then a commercial rifle. The commercial rifle would be stronger and safer especially if you use an action such as the model 88.

Good powder for reloading

Accuracy is good for a military rifle with the original sights. They are a flip up ladder type which is fairly good for the period. With good eyes and a bench rest groups at 50 yards can be smaller then 2” with five shots. The 100 yard groups can be 3 to 4” with good ammo and a good shooter. The trigger is a typical military which I am use to since I shoot so many of them. Of course a scope will shrink that somewhat though it might be somewhat costly to install one. I did work up some loads for this gun and I found that like most military rifles weren’t fussy about what it took. The rifling in my specimen is deep and sharp. Here are some loads that I used I would approach the top loads from a couple of grains below and work up carefully. Since myself and the publisher has no control over how this data is used we can not be held liable for its use. Some of the velocities I recorded were higher then expected however the 29” barrel would have something to do with that. Also I may have a fast rifle and yours may or may not record the same velocities. All bullets were sized to 318 in keeping with proper loading practices. The medium to medium slow powders work best with bullets weighing 150 grains or heavier. Cast bullets also work well in this rifle with a pinch of Unique or a similar powder. Standard large rifle primers are used in all of the loading data. Round nose bullets may be required for feeding if you have one of the clips and want to use it as a repeater. Velocities were recorded 10’ from the first screen using 7 shots. I did other loads but these are the most accurate. As with any loading data approach it with caution from below. The full loads should be reduced by 2-3 grains and carefully worked up. Since I have no control of methods employed by someone else I am not liable for its use.

Swaging die is good way to get 318 diameter bullets

10 X Herco 125 grain Hornady 1402 ok
47 X H 4895 150 grain Sierra 2722 consistent
50 X IMR 4350 150 grain Hornady 2418 mild
10 X Unique 165 grain cast 1414 accurate
45 X H 4895 170 grain Hornady 2671 deer load
10 X Unique 170 grain Hornady 1166 quiet
45 X H 4895 175 grain Sierra 2641 accurate
44 X H 4895 185 grain Remington 2532 good load
50 X AA 4350 185 grain Remington 2466 mild

Closeup of bolt head model 88 Commission rifle

All these loads are accurate with the 175 grain Sierra having a very slight edge at least in my rifle. It would be a competent if unusual rifle to take hunting though I would prefer the carbine for convenience sake. You would lose a little velocity but at the ranges to be used it wouldn’t matter much. Shooting these old guns is much more interesting then the new ones to me at least as you are shooting a part of history. Who knows where these guns were a hundred years ago or so. Were they in a trench fighting a war? Did they actually shoot anyone? What part did they play in history? Did my great grandfather use one? I don’t know but it’s nice to wonder.
Bob Shell

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Russian 7.62 Nagant Revolver

Typical Nagant Revolver

The Nagant Revolver
During the course of firearms development there were many strange and unusual designs submitted and used. That’s what makes this hobby so fascinating is the history of these sort of weapons. One of the stranger revolvers was the Russian Nagant. Everything was strange about it from the chambering to the 7 shot cylinder. One thing about military pistols of that period was that power apparently wasn’t a priority. Some of the contemporaries of that period like the Nagant lacked serious power such as the French 8 mm Lebel revolver and the 9 mm Jap. Apparently the sidearms of that period were more for decoration then actual combat. The 38 Colt brought out by the U.S. is another example of the underpowered side arms of that period. One advantage of this revolver over some of the others is that it’s cheap and plentiful like the Mosen Nagant rifles. It could be appealing to a beginning collector.

No flash gap when Nagant is fired

The original patent was brought out in 1879 by Emil Nagant a British citizen. The model 78 was adopted by Belgium in the 9 mm and the 83 by Sweden in the 7.5. Norway also adopted it in 9 mm then the 7.65 caliber. The model 83 was made in both double & single actions. The double actions were made for NCOs and officers while the single action was reserved for privates. The 7.5 Nagant cartridge was similar to the 32 S & W being a bit shorter and larger in diameter. A 32 S & W can be fired in it but the case will split full length. While probably not dangerous I would advise against the practice as accuracy will be nill and it may be hard to extract. Do not fire 32 H & R magnums in any Nagant as they have higher pressure and could be very dangerous providing they fit. Proper brass can be obtained from Buffalo Arms in Idaho. They make brass for many obsolete calibers and I have found their brass of high quality without exception.

Nagant ammo from 32-20 cases

The revolver that was brought out in 1895 for the Russians chambered for the 7.62 caliber. It was patented by Leon Nagant the brother of Emil. It was in general use until 1930 when the Tokarev was adopted. They were made and used as late as WWll for some units. There was a smaller model for police use as well as a 22 caliber training model that were available. The cartridge looks something like a blank with the bullet fully in the case. They came out in single and double action models. When cocked the cylinder moved forward making it airtight unlike most revolvers. The gas sealing idea was in use years before the Nagant came out with it however. Among others using it was the Lang and Parker Field percussion revolvers. Patents dating from 1852 and 1858 by Moore & Harris as well as Webley covered the gas seal principal so there is nothing new under the sun. Others tackled the problem but no one made the gas seal revolver in any quantities. While it is an interesting idea due to the low power of the round and complexity of the action there would be very little ballistic benefit to this round. With a 357 magnum or some other high power round the forward moving cylinder might have some merit if the technical problems could be resolved.

Bullets can be seated out in 32-20 cases

The Russian version is available at various places advertised in the Shotgun News. They are inexpensive and plentiful. Gunshows are another good source to pick up the Nagant as well as other odd ball guns. If you are looking for an odd gun to own and accuracy and power isn’t important then this could be your weapon. The sample that I have was made in 1944 according to the date on the barrel. It is somewhat crude looking showing tool marks on various parts of the frame. It is blued and the bluing is fairly decent looking. It is a double action but the trigger pull is so heavy in the double action mode I did all my shooting single action. A trip to the gunsmith may help with that problem but for various reasons I chose to leave as is. The single action pull is estimated at between 12 and 15 lbs somewhat heavy but workable. Since I don’t plan on using this revolver for any practical use the trigger is fine. Loading and unloading the Nagant is a slow operation again not a problem for a toy. You pull back the loading gate and drop in as with a conventional single action. To unload move the rod located beneath the barrel and knock them out one at a time. The rod rotates to line up with the chambers. I sure wouldn’t want to manipulate this gun in cold weather with stiff hands. It makes you wonder how much it was used during the Russian winters which are famous for being super cold. There was a swing out cylinder model made to alleviate this problem but they are not real common. The sights are very rudimentary and crude. There is a notch in the frame for the rear while the front has a blade sight that is dovetailed in. It looks like it could be adjustable for windage by tapping it one way or the other. Remember when moving the front sight that it is moved in the opposite direction that you want the bullet to hit. The barrel is 4 & ½” long and is slender. There are various markings on the frame including the date and serial number. There is a star on the hammer. The firing pin is attached to the hammer and is about ½” long. The ATF defines it as a curio and relic for legal purposes.

A closeup look at Fiocchi ammo

Ammo for this gun is available though pricey. Fiocchi makes factory ammo but sometimes it’s hard to find. Graf makes empty cases for the reloader and they are available from Huntington Die among others. Huntington also provides the loading dies. The 32-20 case can be used also but it is a bit short. SOG International also sells Nagant ammo made in the 1970’s in Russia. The situation is getting better for the reloader and non reloader alike. The best bullets are 32 caliber wad cutters or other lead bullets sized to 311 to 313 weighing from 85 to 90 grains. This gun is not a power house nor should a reloader attempt to make it one.

Undersize bullets produce poor accuracy and keyholing

Shooting the Nagant is an interesting experience. Due to the balance and trigger it takes some getting use to. Once you shoot it for a while it can be made to shoot pretty decently. Recoil is not a problem due to the low power of the cartridge. It would be a fairly decent small game gun if you could hit the target. I put it on sandbags at 10 yards at the local range. My best groups were 3” or so as the trigger was heavy and the sights weren’t the best. The groups were consistently 3 to 4” high and to the left with my reloads or the Russian ammo that I had. Probably someone with better eyes and hands could shrink the groups a little but I doubt by much. Recoil was mild but the muzzle jumped somewhat due to the light weight of the gun. Under no circumstances would I entertain the thought of shooting a deer size animal. It just doesn’t have enough steam to do the job. I doubt that it would anchor a coyote with any consistency. If you reload it can be pretty economical to shoot once you get the dies and cases. A pinch of powder and a lead bullet of the correct diameter and you are in business. I would strongly advise against trying to soup up the loads as the gun isn’t designed for hot ammo. Besides why try and make it something it isn’t. It’s a fun gun to shoot and let it be at that.

Fiocchi ammo is sometimes available

Reloading the Nagant round is fairly normal except that the bullet is seated down inside the case. Most of your powders such as Unique and Herco work well. Powders such as 231 can also be used to good effect. Slower burning pistol powders such as 2400 or WW 296 should not be used at all. A small amount wouldn’t burn cleanly and a larger amount may create excess pressure. If you use 32-20 cases the bullet can be seated out about ¼” or so depending on what type of slug is utilized. I would not attempt to shoot regular 32-20 ammo in it as may be too long and may be too hot in some instances. I ran across some references indicating that the correct bullet diameter was .295 which I found curious. Anyway I slugged the bore and it came out at .313 which would explain if a 295 or similar diameter bullets were used why accuracy would be poor. The openings in the front of the cylinder measured .330 to .331 which would do nothing for accuracy either. When I was loading some of the bullets in the Nagant cases I noticed that some of the bullets were slightly swaged down when going into the cases. That is another factor that would not help much with accuracy. Hornady makes a hollow base wad cutter which may help with the accuracy problems. In any event they are worth a try. A 32-20 115 grain bullet can also be utilized as long as the powder charge is adjusted downward. Anything heavier shouldn’t be used as velocity will drop quite a bit with safe loads. Hornady makes .310 diameter round balls if you want something to shoot that is different. There are a couple of jacketed bullets that can be used but I don’t see the advantage of that. Besides being more expensive they probably wouldn’t be as accurate. As with any loading data approach with caution. Since I have no control over methods or use of data I can assume no responsibility for its use.

Dies for reloading Nagant ammo

4 X Herco 2-47 grain balls 1058 Nagant case very consistent
4 X Herco 86 grain wad cutter 962 32-20 case very accurate
4 X Unique 77 grain round nose 1012 32-20 case accurate
3 X 231 48 grain round ball 709 32-20 case very mild
4 X Unique 90 grain swc 1052 32-20 case accurate
4 X Herco 77 grain round nose 1142 32-20 case good load
4 X Herco 86 grain wad cutter 1051 consistent
4 X Unique 90 grain Hornady hbwc 1003 backwards ok
4 X Unique 90 grain Hornady hbwc 988 forwards accurate
3 X Herco 115 grain round nose 785 fair
3 X Unique 118 grain flat point 948 low es
Russian Load 90 grain 1038 high es
Fiocchi 98 grain full metal jacket 669 mild

Russian Nagant ammo

Muzzle energy for an 86 grain bullet at 962 feet per second would be about 175 foot pounds. While that can be lethal it’s hardly earth shattering. Power wise it is between a 32 Smith & Wesson long and a 32 H & R magnum. However like any firearm it should be treated with respect at all times as it can kill someone. The loaded Russian ammo was 1.522” long while the Graf brass I loaded was 1.461” long. As a comparison the 32-20 ammo with a 118 grain lead bullet was 1.559” long and barely protruded beyond the cylinder. While they could possibly fire in some guns I wouldn’t recommend it. As a thought I loaded 4 X Unique in the 32-20 case with the 77 grain 313 diameter round nose seated just deep enough at 1.521” to allow the cylinder to rotate. The idea was an attempt to produce better accuracy as the bullet was closer to the rifling then the others. Also it allowed me to use the correct diameter bullet as opposed to the 308 slugs. The idea worked quite well. Hitting small targets at 15 yards was not much of a problem except for the sights. Paper targets show smaller groups with .313 diameter bullets especially the wad cutters. I had some groups that had 3 or 4 bullets touching at 10 yards with the rest from 1 to 3” away. That was measurably better then the Nagant factory or my Nagant ammo. With target sights and a better trigger I have little doubt that I could of done even better. Of course this ammo can be safely shot in a 32-20 revolver. Is it worth the trouble to get better accuracy out of the Nagant? You bet! One of the reasons to handload your own ammo is to improve accuracy. Another advantage in using 32-20 brass is that it’s cheap and plentiful. I also obtained some Hornady round balls to produce some novelty loads. They were .310 and .314 in diameter weighing 47 and 48 grains respectively. I put 2 -.310 diameter balls in the regular Nagant cases as they easily fit and 1- 314 diameter in a 32-20 case seated out. Another novel load I used was 80 grains of 7 & ½ shot in the full length Nagant case. Using 4 grains of 231 behind ½ of a 38 caliber styrafoam blank wad worked out real good. Holding the shot in was a Hornady 30 caliber gas check. It would kill a mouse at 15 feet away without blowing a hole in a wall. At 10 feet it made a nice round circle and had an even pattern. Loads like these just show what a person can do with a little imagination to broaden the use of a gun such as this. If you want a blank pistol then blanks can easily be made from 32-20 cases see Shotgun News 8/15/05 on how to make blanks. I used a round ball loaded light such as a gallery load. At 10 yards I was able to hit a soda can every time as long as I did my job. I tried the Hornady 90 grain hollow base wad cutter loaded backwards an old trick in 38 specials. While not the most accurate load it expanded well in catalogs and retained all its weight. If you were going to use the Nagant for a home defense load that along with the 2 ball load would be the best. During the test for this article I fired the gun over 500 times plus some shooting by other shooters and I had no misfires or other functional problems associated with the revolver. During the tests I did not clean the gun in any way just to see how it would function. Brass loss with all cases was nil because I didn’t try to make a magnum out of it. Such reloading practices would also extend the life of the gun. While not as smooth as a good quality revolver in will none the less give good service life given proper care.

Good bullets for Nagant 312 in diameter

The revolver can be disassembled fairly easily. A screw up front holds in the rod that when removed can be used to knocks out the empties. Actually when I shoot it I carry something else with me to knock out the empties which is more convenient. A ten penny nail is perfect. There is a shroud that turns enabling the cylinder pin to be removed thus taking out the cylinder. The cylinder can be removed for cleaning or replacement. There is a cylinder available for the 32 auto pistol cartridge. However I have had a hard time finding one with anyone who advertises them. SOG advertises the cylinders a well as a verity of other models including a sporter model. I suppose that would make the Nagant marginally more useful as 32 ammo is easy to get. The grips are made of a hard brown plastic and deeply checkered. They are fairly comfortable and would be easy to hold on to during bad weather. Since recoil is light the checkering won’t hurt your hands during shooting. Since it weighs only1lb and 12ozs its easy to carry. A holster comes with it that revolver has a small pouch for carrying ammo.

Bullet seated deep in case as a typical Nagant load

There are various markings on the gun. On the left side of the frame is the date below a circle with a triangle inside with an arrow pointing up. There are stars on the hammer and trigger. Right above the trigger guard is a star and some symbols. On the right side of the frame is the letters kb1 hbg , pa Russia and M1895 7.62 Nagant. The serial number is located just above the trigger guard on the right side of the frame. The left front of the frame sports some more numbers and some sort of a symbol. To be honest I don’t know what all the markings mean though some are obvious. I imagine that they are inspector and arsenal markings. There are index marks on the barrel and frame. There is a lanyard on the grip with some sort of markings. The front of the cylinder has some markings on it. If nothing else the gun is well marked and other specimens that I examined had similar markings.
All in all it’s not the most useful gun in the cupboard. However if a person wanted an inexpensive gun and reloaded this could be a winner for them. Would I use it for self defense? Only if I couldn’t get my hands on something else except a 25 or 32 auto. With a couple of the better loads I developed it just might do the job. If I just wanted to go out and have some fun plinking I would most certainly consider taking it along.

Bob Shell

A 7.62 Swedish Nagant

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The 7.35 Carcano Rifle

7.35 Carcano

The 7.35 Carcano

It’s probably considered one of the least if not the least desirable military firearm made in the 20’Th century. It was originally brought out in 1891 created by Salvatore Carcano and Col Parravicino and was made at the Torino arms factory in Turin. They were also made in other government arsenals and probably private ones as well. The basic design was in production for about 54 years and millions were made. The 6.5 version isn’t rated much better but at least it has a more or less standard bullet. Guess what! While it’s not in the Mauser or Springfield class it isn’t as bad as it given credit for. They do have 2 forward locking lugs giving them the strength to handle the cartridges they were designed for. I am sure that the metal and heat treatment used were the best available for that application. The military load is rated at 38,000 pounds per square inch and I don’t recommend going much over that even though the action will probably take it. The action is relatively simple and efficient. It cocks on opening and isn’t difficult to operate. The rifle is light and handy to carry at least to me. It gave good service for many years so it must have had something going for it. The safety is somewhat difficult and clumsy to use however. It’s pushed forward and up and takes some effort. In order to do this the bolt handle has to be held down to prevent it from opening. Engaging the safety also locks the bolt and would prevent the gun from firing in case of a blow to the rear of the bolt. There is one gas escape hole at the rear of the bolt. In case of a primer rupture you would probably be ok but I would prefer to forgo that pleasure. The action, however, is not a good one to gunsmith and due to the odd size of the case head there is limited options as far as caliber change. The magazine design would also preclude many cartridges from being utilized in a conversion. The military sight is very crude and non adjustable I guess you could use a file or build it up as the case may be. Mine shoots a little high at 50 yards but is relatively accurate. A peep sight would be a viable option if a scope wasn’t desired. If I were determined to take it hunting I would have a side mount installed with a 4 power scope. Due to the clip loading from the top you can’t mount a scope over the receiver unless it is a tip off mount. It’s not easy to scope but some determined gunsmiths have made some nice sporting rifles from them. They have a detachable type magazine, which is another undesirable feature in my view. Frequently they are sold without one so the owner has to look around for one. The Shotgun News advertises them as well as the Old Western Scrounger so they are available. To shoot it single shot the cartridge has to be inserted into the bolt head after the bolt is removed. It has to be snapped snugly in the bolt or it will come out when inserting the bolt into the action. That makes for a slow single shot rifle. To remove the bolt just hold back the trigger and pull the bolt out. Any other way it won’t chamber the round. If you were in a firefight this would not be the gun you would want without a clip. They are the beneficiaries of the supply and demand factor. They can be bought at gun shows for $40 to $60 in good shape, being much lower then the more desirable models. As a note some Mausers and 7.62 X 53 Russians can be bought for similar prices. Nice specimens are commanding higher prices sometimes as much as $200.00

Cartridge inserted in bolt head makes for slow loading

The 7.35 was brought out in 1938 to replace the 6.5 version. The thought at that time was that a larger then 6.5 caliber bullet was needed. The Japs also replaced their 6.5 with a larger caliber in their case used a larger case and a heavier bullet. In the Italians’ case I just don’t see an advantage. The 6.5 shot a 162 grain bullet at 22-2300 feet per second while the 7.35 shot a 128 grain at 2400 or so. The 128 doesn’t have near the sectional density of the 162. Given equal conditions the 162 grain slug would penetrate deeper then the 7.35 caliber a desirable feature in a military round. Two models of the model 38 were brought out. The folding bayonet model has a 17.1” barrel while the short rifle has a 21.1” barrel with a detachable bayonet. They are relatively short and handy to carry and use. In any event the timing was bad as Italy was getting involved in WW ll so they stuck with the 6.5 for supply reasons keeping in mind the 6.5 came out in 1891 so there was a lot on ammo around as well a rifles. Some 7.35 rifles were rebarreled to the 6.5 caliber. The Finns, however, used the 7.35 against Russia with good results. There have been Carcanos that were chambered for the 8 X 57 and used in Africa. Evidently 8mm Mauser ammo was easier to obtain to such a degree that they felt that it was to their advantage to use the more common 8 mm round. They were used in the African campaigns with good results. Since the 8mm Mauser round is loaded to a higher pressure then the Carcano perhaps the action isn’t so weak after all and underestimated.. The bolt face would have to be modified a bit to handle the larger diameter 8mm round. I have shot mine some with ok results. Factory strength ammo is ok but I would not load it a hot as my model 98 Mauser. I have seen them advertised in the Shotgun news. I have one and like the 7.35 if you load it single shot the bolt has to be removed and a cartridge snapped in and reinserted. The clip is a modified 6.5 Carcano and hard to find.

Military ammo in clip

Getting ammo for it is possible but unless you reload can be a challenge. Military ammo is drying up and isn’t always reliable. Norma made ammo for it for years but as far as I know quit a few years ago. Occasionally some can still be found but generally runs at least $40 for a box of 20 Years ago there was a company that full length swaged 308 brass down to the 7.35 case diameter. It worked ok but it was a lot thicker then normal brass so loads had to be backed off about 10 % or so. It took some serious force to body swage those cases. Bullets are also a problem as they mike in at .298-.300 and that is a unique diameter. Hornady makes soft points in 125 grain for the reloader after an absence of some years. Reloading dies are available from the big die makers such as RCBS and Lee. Occasionally a custom bullet maker will offer bullets but don’t hold your breath. Brass is easy enough to get. Just get 6.5 Mannlicher cases neck up size as normal and trim to length. Also you can neck up the 6.5 Carcano and load as normal. To neck up I use a taper die from RCBS as the necks are straighter that way. The bullets that I have been able to find weighed from 125 to 150 grains when they were available. The outfit that I bought mine from closed their doors so I was out of luck. I decided to get the equipment and make my own to avoid being at the mercy of someone else. Making the 298 diameter bullets wasn’t as hard as I thought. Also I can make any weight I want but anything heavier then a 180 isn’t practical. So now I have a choice from 60 to 180 grains not to mention cast bullets. Corbin bullet making equipment was used in making most of the bullets. Corbin also provided the cannelure tool. Keep in mind that almost any type of equipment can be bought but non standard dies cost a lot more. Since I like to make a rifle as flexible as possible making my bullets will help a lot. Also using your own bullets adds another dimension to your reloading. There is a satisfaction factor in making and using your own bullets. Do not use .308 diameter bullets as they can cause excessive pressure and loss of accuracy. In many cases they won’t chamber.

Closeup of 7.35 Carcano Bolt

What can the ammo be used for? In power it’s on the low side of the 300 Savage. That makes it viable for deer and smaller bear. Wild hogs and similar animals will also fall to this round given good ammo and proper shot placement. Over 100 yards it would certainly be better then a 30-30 or some other similar round. One of my customers that I load a 150 grain for uses it in Minnesota for white tails. He shoots they fall. He has taken several out to about 150 yards or so. Of course his rifle has been scoped and accuracy at 100 yards is around 1 “to 1 & ½ “for 3 shots at 100 yards. That is more then enough for a deer rifle at normal ranges. With lighter bullets it would make a fairly decent varmint round. Bullets can be 100 or 110 grains if desired for that purpose. Cast bullets could be used for small game that one wants to eat. If you manage to get a scope on one it should make a decent 200 yard or so deer gun. Like most guns it will out shoot its owner given it’s in good shape and good ammo is used. Twist is 1 in 10 so it can stabilize 180 grain bullets if desired. Bullets and ammo can be obtained at Due to different reloading conditions and methods I can not be responsible for use of this data. Use with caution!!!!

Various bullets from 110 to 160 grain are usable

1.12 X Unique 86 grain round nose 1970 high es
2. 9 X Unique 110 grain rn 1497 consistent
3. 8 X Unique 115 grain cast 1537 also consistent
4. 8 X Unique 125 grain soft point 1293 consistent
5. 34 X H-322 125 grain soft point 2542 high es low vel
6. 37 X H-322 125 grain soft point 2770 *** good load
7. 39 X IMR 4895 140 grain spitzer 2465 ** consistent
8. 40 X 760 150 grain fmj 2189 mild
9. 40 X 760 150 grain spitzer 2201 mild
10. 38 X IMR 4895 150 grain deer bullet 2509 do not exceed
11. 38 X IMR 4895 150 grain spitzer 2569 * consistent
12. 7 X Herco 165 grain cast 1285 consistent
13. 7 X Unique 165 grain cast 1281 consistent
14. 36 X IMR 4895 170 grain soft point 2188 ** slow high es
15. 40 X 760 170 grain soft point 2180 consistent
16 41 X 760 170 grain soft point 2257 *** good load
17. 40 X 760 180 grain soft point 2218 consistent

• most accurate ** second most accurate *** third most accurate
• ES is the difference between the fastest and slowest shot in the string.
• FMJ full metal jacketed bullet rn round nose bullet
Temperatures were between 60 and 70 barrel length 21” 7 shots were fired through chronograph to obtain velocity and start screen was 10 feet from muzzle. Brass was either Hornady 6.5 necked up or 6.5 X 54 Mannlicher shortened and necked up. Didn’t seem to be any difference between the two in so far as service. Both cases worked fine. I used Winchester primers in all loads. Case life was good many were fired several times with no sign of stretching or bulges. Primers always fit tight with no sign of looseness. That indicated loads that are not too hot for gun or brass. As always approach top loads with caution and start 2 or 3 grains of powder below listed loads. While these loads are safe in my rifle they may be excessive in another firearm. Since I have no control in anyone else’s loading methods or supplies neither myself nor the publisher can be responsible for using this loading data.

Breakdown of military round 40 grs of powder and a 128 grain bullet

I took 4 cases and filled them up to the top with WW 296 30-30 49 grains 7.35 52 grains 300 Savage 53 grains and the 308 60 grains. That shows that if all were loaded to the same pressures that it would be very close to the 300 Savage and out do the 30-30 by a decent margin. In a strong rifle and loaded to the same pressure it would virtually duplicate the fine 300 Savage round. However it is below the 308 by a significant margin. Like the 300 Savage it works best with medium burning powders such as 4895. Notice load # 17 was a bit faster then # 15 using the same powder charge. That would indicate that 760 is the best powder for heavier bullets. Slower burning powders such as IMR 4350 would be too slow for best results. Using the 30-06 you need 14 or so grains of the same powder to gain another 4 to 500 feet per second. The expansion ratio is a complicated way of rating cartridge efficiency. It takes case capacity, bullet seating, bullet diameter and barrel length to come up with a number. The higher the number the more efficient the cartridge is in relation to the amount of powder burned in verses the velocity. The 7.35 would have a high expansion ratio indicating that it’s an efficient cartridge The 30-378 for example would have a very low expansion ratio and it requires a huge amount of slow burning powder to beat out a 300 Winchester Magnum by a couple hundred feet per second.

The 125 is a good all around bullet

Accuracy was good with most loads. I tried others but these are the best & most representative. The 50 yard groups ran 1 &1/2 to about 2 &1/2 depending on load. The groups were round and I have no doubt that a scope could shrink the groups a lot. The groups compare favorably to other iron sighted military rifles that I have shot. Probably a younger shooter with better eyes can do better also. I feel that at 100 yards a scope sighted gun could put 3 shots into an inch with a good load. While the sights are crude once you get used to them they are functional out to 100 yards or so depending on your eyes. The trigger is typical military and has some travel but let off is consistent and I don’t find it any problem,

Military ammo in original box

Just for comparison I took the 308 diameter bullets against the 298 Carcano for sectional density of each bullet. I don’t recommend trying to exceed the top loads. There would be nothing to be gained and you might put an unnecessary strain on the action. While it seems to be a reasonably strong action why take chances.
308 110 grain SD .166 298 110 grain SD .177
308 125 grain SD .188 298 125 grain SD .201 308 150 grain SD .226 298 150 grain SD .241
308 170 grain SD . 256 298 170 grain SD .273

Not much difference between them. Ballistic coefficients would be similar with same weight and style of bullets. In theory the Carcano bullet would give slightly deeper penetration but it would be difficult to tell the difference except in a lab.
A 150 grain at muzzle velocity of 2500 feet per second would have 1916 foot lbs of energy. At 300 yards that would drop down to 1922 feet per second giving 1222 foot lbs of energy. 400 yards would be 1791 feet per second while yielding 1024 foot lbs of energy. In theory that would make it a 400 yard deer gun using the 1000 foot lbs of terminal energy philosophy. In practice if sighted in at 200 yards it will drop approximately 10” at 300 while at 400 it would drop 30 or so inches. With that in mind I would consider it a 300 yard gun if it had good sights or a scope. These figures are approximate. They would depend on height of scope above barrel or iron sights. Velocities and bullet configuration would also affect the trajectory.

The rear sight is crude and non adjustable

The 170 at 2300 feet per second produces 1997 foot lbs of energy. At 100 yards it drops off to 1796 and 1218 respectively. At best that load is a 150 yard game load. Anything below 140 grains should be used for varmints and small game. I found the 165 grain cast very accurate at 1200 feet per second or so. The lighter cast bullets were also accurate and pleasant to shoot. That would be excellent for small game that you wanted to eat afterwards. The cast bullets were sized to .300 which helped with accuracy.

Cartouche on 7.35 Carcano stock

Would you throw away the rest of your rifles and get one of these? Of course not! If you have a 300 Savage use it. However if you like odd ball hunting rifles that work this is a viable option. It’s light and handy and a lot of fun to shoot. Would I take it hunting? Under the proper circumstances I would. I probably won’t scope it but at 50 to 100 yards in good light it will deliver the goods so why not. I have shot the rifle quite a bit and had no feeding or other mechanical problems. There were no misfires. Recoil isn’t bad either. Also I have gained a lot of respect for it.
Bob Shell

Clip being loaded in a 7.35 Carcano