Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The 454 Casull

The 454 has some hefty recoil

Freedom Arms 454 Casull
Ever since handguns were invented some 700 years ago we always wanted to make them more powerful and accurate. The problem was technology because until smokeless powder was invented you couldn’t get the high velocities. They had huge handguns during the 19’Th century. The Americans had a 44 Colt Walker and later the 45 Colt. The British has some 577 caliber handguns and the Austrians had an 11 Montenegrin. While they were potent for their day black powder limited the velocity to between 7 and 900 feet per second in most cases. While some of them threw a large chunk of lead range and accuracy was limited. When smokeless powder was invented in 1886 all of that changed.

The freedom Arms 454 with 45 Colt cylinder

The first really powerful handgun came out about 1900 in Great Britain. It was a large semi auto known as the Mars Pistol. It came in various calibers including an 8.5 and 45. The 8.5 achieved a velocity of 1750 fps while the 45 went about 1250. Those were impressive ballistics in their day and still are more then respectable. It was a short lived venture as the gun was ahead of its time. Recoil was reported to be ferocious also. That’s the way it stood until 1935 though there were various experimenters working on other high powered handguns. The 357 magnum came out and was touted as the world’s most powerful handgun at least commercially. In 1955 the 44 magnum knocked it off its perch as the most powerful handgun. However it didn’t get to bask in its glory for long as in 1959 the 454 Casull was announced and production started. The case is a modified 45 Colt made 1/10” longer to prevent it being chambered in a 45 Colt. It also uses a small rifle primer because of the high operating pressures. It has twice the energy of a 44 magnum and put handguns into the super powerful category. Like the 44 magnum the 454 didn’t stay on top of the hill for too many years. The 475 Linebaugh and 444 super mag came along to rival the 454. While not common they have been around for some years. Then S & W came out with the massive 500 and afterward the 460 S & W. The 500 is touted as the world’s most powerful commercial revolver cartridge while the 460 is the fastest. While overshadowed the 454 is still a potent cartridge capable of harvesting anything on four legs given a proper load.

typical targers shot at 100 yards with Casull

Freedom Arms chambers their single action revolver for this cartridge and it is a massive affair out of necessity. They also chamber the 475 Linbaugh and the 500 Wyoming among other calibers and models. It is a 5 shot which enables the cylinder to be made thicker to withstand the operating pressures. Ammo has been made by Hornady, Buffalo Bore, Cor-Bon, and Black Hills. While you can find factory ammo it is expensive and sometimes hard to find. Also most of it has pretty severe recoil which might not be desirable. I have shot some of the factory fodder and it shoots fine but being a reloader and bullet maker I want to include in this review some options for an owner of a Freedom Arms 454. With the cost of ammo skyrocketing a lot of shooters are looking at reloading where in the past it might not of interested them. I want this review help out anyone who has one of these or thinking about buying one to see the many options to enable someone to shoot it a lot. There is no sense of me telling you how good the revolver is if you can’t afford to shoot it or find the ammo. If you plan on taking it hunting then plenty of practice is mandatory which is true of any hunting weapon but especially a handgun.

11 MM Montenegrin an early attempt at a powerful cartridge & the 454

First of all the gun is an extremely high quality product. They use the best steels available and keep the tolerances extremely tight. It reminds me of a top quality safe the way it locks up. My gun came with a 45 Colt cylinder which is an option among other calibers such as the 45 Win Mag. It has the 10” barrel which will enhance velocity though it doesn’t make it any easier to carry. Freedom Arms can install a sling system as an option. It is a single action and has a safety, half cock half cock safety, and the full cock. The half cock allows the cylinder to rotate to load or unload. It operates the same as any other single action. There is a safety transfer bar which will stop it from going off if it is dropped on its hammer. The other difference is you have to remove a screw to take out the cylinder which isn’t a problem. The 4 lb gun is all stainless steel and is attractive. The trigger pull is 3 lbs and breaks cleanly. There is no creep or over travel and in fact it would compare favorably with a high quality rifle trigger. They advise against dry firing stating it may damage the firing pin and they provide snap caps for that. The only downside that I can see is the cost. For a model like mine an 83 with an extra cylinder you will drop about two grand or so. Is it worth it? I think so if you want the ultimate single action serious hunting revolver. One thing for sure is you will never wear out this gun.

From left 500 & 460 S & W 454 Casull, 475 Limbaugh and 445 Super mag

To shoot it with factory fodder is going to set you back some bucks and you might have to check a couple of stores to find it. There is a limited selection of loads also. You can fire 45 Colt and 45 Schofield rounds but if you do I would advise that you use the 45 Colt cylinder for that. If you don’t have one be sure to clean the 454 cylinder very thoroughly prior to shooting 454’s. That is vitally important to avoid chambering and pressure problems. The factory advises against shooting 45 Colts in the 454 Cylinder. I have shot everything from 125 grain home made to a 370 grain LBT bullet. Due to the high quality it is a very accurate gun and we did well at 100 yards. The problem is the recoil with some loads. It is just brutal and no fun to shoot. There is no compensator to absorb the recoil. The tradeoff is a compensator reduces recoil but increases noise. Freedom Arms does offer magna porting to help mitigate the recoil. For their options you can go to to see what models and options they offer. They also have a dealers list to show you where you can buy one. I have shot the 500 S & W with a muzzle break and was thankful for its existence. I shot a verity of bullets through the chronograph and on targets so I got well acquainted with the Freedom Arms revolver. For this review I shot about 500 rounds of 454 (what fun) and a bunch of 45 Colt. You might notice that I mention the recoil on several occasions. This is a specialized hunting cartridge and it is more then adequate for the job but it’s not your fathers 38. It is like the 500 horsepower Corvette while it will perform is more costly then a Malibu. If you can handle a 44 magnum with full loads then you can probably deal with this gun ok. Here are some loads you can use in the Casull. Approach max loads with caution.

22 X 231 125 grain X/PLODER 2359 good load
19.5 X Red Dot 25 grain X/PLODER 2249 accurate
20 X Red Dot 155 grain X/PLODER 2162 consistent
20 X Unique 200 grain Speer 1859 mild
19 X Green Dot 200 grain Barnes 1854 nice*
36 X 296 230 grain 1730 deer load
26 X 2400 250 grain Barnes 1548 consistent
26 X 2400 250 grain Hornady 1484 consistent
34 X 296 250 grain Hornady 1646 mild
32 X 2400 250 grain Hornady 1939 near max
31 X 296 300 grain Hornady 1720 stout
26 X 5744 300 grain Hornady 1557 mild
30 X H 110 310 grain home made 1665 hunting load
27 X H 110 350 grain home made 1603 ouch
26.5 X 296 360 grain gas check 1499 consistent
* used 45 Colt cases as bullet was too long for Casull cases.

bench rest shooting makes it easier to shoot accurately

The 125’s went out at 2350 fps and are good for pests and varmints. I pushed the 250’s out to close to 1900 and the 300 Sierras over 1700. At those velocities while accurate they aren’t a lot of fun to shoot. The nice thing about the 454 is you can load them down and still have a potent load. I have a 350 grain jacketed bullet that I make and at 1600 fps and change it’s brutal but it will take down a grizzly bear. I obtained and shot some LBT 370 grain gas check slugs. With a stiff load it clocks over 1500 fps. My first thought was if T-Rex ever comes back he is in trouble. Good Grief! That Kicks! Unless I go somewhere where the critters stomp and eat you and weigh over a half ton I won’t be shooting them anytime soon. You don’t have to take that abuse for casual shooting just use 45 Colts and save your hand. You can load a 250 grain in the 45 Colt to 12-1300 feet per second and have a fine deer load in the woods. I was at the range not long ago and a fellow shooter had one with a 2” barrel and was shooting it with Winchester factory loads. His hand looked as red as a lobster and he complained about the pain. He offered to let me have at it which I politely declined. The only way I would shoot that with a full load is if a bear was on top of me. Reduced loads? No problem.

45 Colt and 45 Schofield can be used as light loads in the 454

I had a problem that I wanted a good deer load that would go out to at least a hundred yards, be accurate and not break your wrist. A light bullet in the 200 grain range seemed to be what I was looking for but none of them, I felt would stand up to the task at hand. When loading bullets designed for a 45 auto or Colt be careful because some of them won’t stand up to full 454 loads and may come apart. Then Barnes came out with a 200 grain pointed bullet meant for the 460 S & W. That’s just what I needed to solve my dilemma. I obtained some and quickly found out that loaded in the 454 case they were too long for the cylinder. That’s where the 45 Colt case comes in. I loaded them to 2000 fps and found that they are accurate out to at least 100 yards and recoil wasn’t bad. The Barnes bullet has a well deserved reputation for being deadly on game. I will be taking that on a hunt shortly for whitetail. I loaded some 250 grain Barnes for a hog hunt that I am planning. For the record I used Starline brass for all my testing with the 45 and 454 because it is a quality product. I use it for many of my tests for that reason. To find out what Starline offers go to to see their brass line. For those attracted to the idea of having both a rifle and handgun chambered for the same caliber then you are in luck. There is a lever action out there for the 454 a Puma model 92 which at some future date I plan on putting it through its paces.

Nice deer load a 200 grain Barnes in a 45 Colt case

The bottom line is if you want a top notch hunting handgun and don’t mind shelling out the dough then the Freedom Arms revolver is for you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blue Lady Resort in Arkansas

Brian and Margie Roelands are the owners of the Blue Lady Resort

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas next to Lake Norfolk is the Blue Lady Resort. Owned by Brian and Margie Roelands they offer an ideal get away for a family vacation. Although they have only had it for a short period of time their reputation is really taking off after buying the resort in 2005 after moving from California. That, of course, is because they offer great service at reasonable prices. The resort is located just outside of Gamaliel AR and they can be reached at 870-467-5115 or their website I advise that you book ahead of time as slots fill up rapidly especially during the summer. They have suites of 1-3 bedrooms with all the comforts of home. They have stoves, refrigerators, microwaves and other convenient utilities to cook and clean. A laundry room as well as cable TV is also available. A BBQ grill is available as is wine tasting. They have their own wine cellar and make it themselves carrying on a family tradition. It is a full service resort and can accommodate up to 70 people. Customized trips are available including weddings and receptions. If a corporation wants to entertain clients this is the place to take them.

You can expect clean and comfortable accomodations at Blue Lady

Lake Norfolk is a very large lake 31,000 acres that has quite a few species of fish in case you want to drop in a line. They have some nice bass including Stripers, Large Mouth and Hybrids. Also there is Walleye, Crappie, Catfish, Bream as well as Brook and Brown Trout. There is a guide service and you would do well to utilize it if you want to catch a bunch of fish. Chuck knows where all the fish are and he will ensure your success. I was guided by Chuck and he knows how to find and catch fish! They also have boat rentals both pontoons and bass boats. If you want to take a cruise on the lake with the family then a pontoon is just for you. They are clean and well maintained as is all the equipment and cabins. Also you better bring along your camera as the lake is very scenic especially at sunrise or sunset. Also available is a 15 slip dock and a 10 X 20 fishing platform with pole holders and night lights. A cleaning station is also included. The fishing is a year around activity and the winters are relatively mild so that shouldn’t be a problem. In 2008 Field and Stream rated Lake Norfolk the number 2 fishing spot in the US.

The boathouse and fishing area

If you want to employ a fishing guide I highly recommend Chuck Pate who can be reached at 870-491-5971 or 870-404-9604. He will ensure your success for a memorable trip. I would call ahead of time to make sure he is available. One on one fishing consultations are available and for more fishing info go to

These are some of the fish we caught in about 3 hours plus we threw some back

If you have kids that you want to bring along you are in luck. They have outdoor activities such as a swing set and bad mitten and volleyball court. A play gym and shuffleboard court is also available. There is room for them to roam about and a couple of friendly pooches to pet. There is also a swimming pool with a covered deck so the parents can watch the kids swim or take a dip themselves. There is also a bunch of board games and movies available if needed. With the nice weather they enjoy I can’t imaging anyone spending a lot of time indoors.

A nice swimming pool to keep the kids happy

Who couldn't fall in love with these two.

Nothing like a nice pontoon boat for a relaxing cruise on the Norfolk Lake

Sunrise on the lake

There are hiking trails with great scenery and plenty of wildlife to observe. Make sure you have your camera at all times as you never know when you get a chance at a great picture. There are scenic roads to travel also. If you need anything then the town of Mountain Home is about 13 miles away. They have everything you might need including a hospital. It would be hard to be bored in such a lovely spot.

A nice view of the lake from the terrece

Guided hunts are available and the area is well populated with deer. Short distances away bear and wild boar can also be hunted as well as small game. You can check ahead for seasons and guide information. If hunting is on the agenda I would recommend that you check out this website. It has all the info on seasons, places to hunt and other info. Of course you can book at the Blue Lady Resort for your hunting trip. They have about 20,000 acres of public land to hunt on

If you want a getaway with the family this is the ideal place to rest and relax. You’re out where it’s quiet and there is no crime to worry about. You can take nice pictures of the lake from the terrace as it is higher up. There are plenty of boats and jet skis to watch go up and down the lake. Come on down you won’t be sorry.

For the adults there is wine tasting and it is good

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Products

Dillon tool head with UniqueTek upgrades including allen screws to hold tool head steadier, light in center and micrometer charge bar.

New Products
In my travels and writings I encounter some worthwhile products that shooters might not be aware of. They might be new companies or just haven’t been able to advertise nationally but have a good product none the less. I will put them on the blog so readers can have an opportunity to buy them. These are products that I have used and know work as advertised. Some I have tested extensively.

Installing micrometer on powder bar

The first company is a new local company that offers some unique products for the Dillon reloaders. They have a micrometer adjustable powder bar where the settings can be recorded and repeated. It also is very consistent in weight variation. They also have a powder baffle that fits inside the powder measure that aids in consistency. Another upgrade is they remove the pins that hold the tool head and tap the holes for their screws. This takes the play out of the head making the ammo more consistent. They provide the materials and easy to follow instructions on installation. We installed the upgrades on one of my Dillon 550’s and it does make it more consistent. It only took a few minutes using common tools and a vice. For match shooters these upgrades are mandatory for more accurate ammo. As any match shooter understands consistent ammo is mandatory in winning matches. Hunters and other shooters can also appreciate better quality ammo. They also carry some other unique tools for the reloader. They have everything from scales to ear protection. Gun cleaners and sights are also included on their site. They have a lot of neat products too numerous to list here. You can get on their E-mail list to keep up with what’s new at their company. I found that the staff is both helpful and pleasant to deal with. Their website is The office is located in Chandler Az and if you live in the area you can stop by. The address and directions are on the website. The phone # is 480-507-0866 if you want to call them. Check them out , you won’t be sorry.

550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™

Stop The Flopping

The UniqueTek 550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™ enables your Dillon 550 and 650 toolheads to be CLAMPED into the press frame. This corrects the loose fit between the toolhead and press frame, thus reducing OAL (overall length) variation and stabilizing die-to-shellplate alignment. Your press frame remains unmodified so you can still use standard toolheads with the original toolhead pins ... and your original Dillon warranty will not be affected.

• Eliminates Loose Toolhead-to-Frame Fit
• Reduces OAL Variation*
• Improves Crimp Repeatibility
• Improves Bullet Conentricity from Seating Die
• Reduces Jams at Size/Decap Die

♦ It also reduces vibration and stops toolhead rattling when using the Dillon Rapid Trim Case Trimmer!

Fits the Following Dillon Presses
• XL 650
• RL 550B
• AT 500
• SL 900 (Fits both the powder bar and the shot bar!)
• Any older model press capable of using the currently available 550 or 650 toolheads.

♦ Also fits the powder bar for the Dillon 'Belted Magnum' Powder System!

What Comes in the Kit
The UniqueTek 550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™ comes complete with all the parts needed for 2 presses and 6 toolheads in a reclosable plastic bag (toolheads not included). Each kit includes*:
• Installation Tool for threaded inserts
• 9/64" HSS Drill Bit
• STI Thread Tap
• 12 stainless steel thread inserts
• 4 grade-8 alloy steel clamp screws with moly anti-seize coating
• 4 stainess steel washers,
• Hex-key to tighten the clamp screws
• Detailed instructions
* Quantities listed are for small sized kit.

Large Size Kit: $34.95
Due to popular demand, the UniqueTek 550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™ is now available in an large size to service more toolheads and/or more presses. The large kit contains 26 inserts, 10 screws and 10 washers ... enough for 13 toolheads and 5 presses ... plus the thread tap, insertion tool and hex key.

Refill Kit: $12.95
We now have a Refill Kit. The kit contains 16 inserts ... enough inserts for 8 more toolheads ... plus 4 spare screws and 6 spare washers. (Available 12/11/07)

Preinstalled Toolheads: 550=$29.95 / 650=$32.95
We also offer new 550 and 650 toolheads with the clamp kit parts pre-installed. Each toolhead comes with a set of clamp screws and washers and is ready for installation of your dies. Just select the toolhead from the drop-down menu when ordering.
NOTE: This option is being discontinued. We are now out of 650 toolheads but have two (2) 550 toolheads remaining in stock.

How it Works
Installation and use is quite simple. You tap threads into the two locator pin holes in the toolhead and install a stainless steel thread insert into each hole. The press frame is NOT modified. When you install the toolhead in the press frame, insert the clamp screws instead of locator pins to hold the toolhead into the frame. Leave the screws loose until you begin cycling the press and have all dies occupied by a round. Then, with the ram still in the up position, tighten the clamp screws. This procedure aligns the toohead to the shellplate, reducing jams. The clamp screws also create a preload force, clamping the toolhead against the top of the press frame, stopping the toolhead from moving during the press cycle and resulting in reduced OAL variation. Once the srews are tightened, just continue reloading as usual.

Q: I only shoot pistol cartridges so OAL variation isn't that critical for me.
A: Let's say you are loading to meet USPSA major power factor. Chamber pressures can rise dramatically if the bullet is seated too deeply (shorter OAL). On the other hand, if your OAL is too long, you can have feed and chambering failures. Either way, it is likely to ruin you day.

Q: I only load cartridges for Cowboy Action shooting. How can this help me?
A: In addition to reduced OAL variation yielding less problems with short action carbines, the light loads commonly used for Cowboy Action shooting require a consistent crip to achieve uniform muzzle velocities. A light crimp will not build as much chamber pressure, resulting in a velocity reduction.

Q: I'm already using a Redding Competition Bullet Seating Die. How will clamping the toolhead improve on that?
A: The Redding Competition Bullet Seating Die is a GREAT product! But it can't perform to its full potential if the toolhead is moving. With the toolhead clamped, you will achieve the full benefit of the seating die's micrometer adjustment capability. In fact, we now carry Redding Competition Bullet Seating Dies in the most popular calibers!

Read reviews of the 550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™ in the following publications!
Reloading; Product Reviews/Aug 2008. Click Here to Read
IHMSA News; Volume 19, Issue 5, June 2008, Page 8. Click Here to Read
Handloader; February-March 2006, Page 90.

"After switching over to the toolhead clamp I'm finding I went from .004"-.008" of variance to .001"-.002". I measure my variance using a ogive comparator tool to the base of the case." — Steven S. – Boise, ID

"I would say I reduced the OAL variations and the station one jams by half (conservative estimate). Congratulations on another product that needed developing." — James O. – Reno, NV

Tap Handle $5.00
This nifty "tap handle" is actually a key for winding a clock, but it is the perfect size to fit the small thread tap in our kits. It is smaller and less cumbersome to use than a standard tap handle, making it easier to align the tap squarely with the hole and making tap breakage less likely.

We offer these as an option with both the small kit and large kit. If you already have a Toolhead Clamp Kit™, you can buy just the tap handle. Just select it from the drop-down menu.

*Reduction in OAL variation can be highly dependent on cartridge, bullet and other factors.

Select Kit Size
To select the Large Kit, Refill Kit, add the Tap Handle or order complete toolheads, click on the drop-down menu below.
Standard Kit ($24.95)Standard Kit w Tap Handle [$29.95]Large Kit [$34.95]Large Kit w Tap Handle [$39.95]Tap Handle Only [$5.00]Refill Kit [$12.95]550 Toolhead [$29.95]


Grade 8 Alloy Steel Clamp Bolts with Dry-Film Moly Anti-Seize Coating
Stainless Steel Thread Inserts
Fits Dillon 550 and 650 Toolheads
Can be Installed on Toolheads Already Set Up with Dies
Press Frame is NOT Modified & your Dillon Warranty will NOT be affected
Unmodified Toolheads Can Still Be Used with Original Toolhead Pins

Finished powder bar

Step in installing screws in toolhead

Clock Handle and tap for threading screw holes in Dillon head

SensGard hearing protecton

At the 2008 SHOT show I met Greg Post from Sensgard hearing protecton products. His are light and compact so I wanted to try them out. I have been using them exclusively for over a year and they work very well. They are compact and comfortable and don't sweat like muffs do. I stood just a few feet from a 50 caliber rifle (50 BMG) and they worked well on that. I would suggest you give them a try. For more info ph# 585-218-4086 or

They work for me

Anyone who has skinned large game understands the importance of a quality knife. I has to stay sharp during the entire operation or you are in for a long day. It has to be sharp and maintain that edge. Such a knife is made by the Case company who have been around a long time because they make good products. You can see their extensive line at

Any freedom lovimg person should join the NRA here is their website address to join

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bird Hunting in Arizona

Nice lodge to conduct business. has all kinds of trophys
Bird Hunting in Arizona

Birds hunted at this preserve are quail, pheasant & chukar. While quail hunting is popular in AZ pheasants are few and far in between so this is one of the very few places to hunt them. The season for pheasants, chukar and quail is October through March when the weather is bearable. Most of the rest of the year is too hot to hunt. The area is only 1400 feet above sea level so temperatures can go well above 110 degrees during the summer.

Quail being shot with Lanber fuled with Blackhorn 209

There is no lodging or meals provided but there are hookups for motor homes and hotels and restaurants are available in Casa Grande or Coolidge. Both cities are a short distance from the lodge with well marked roads. Casa Grande has hotels such as the Holliday Inn, Best Western and Comfort Inn. There are over 650 rooms available in those and other hotels there. There are plenty of restaurants such as the Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden and the Golden Corral as well as
local and fast food places. Coolidge is smaller but has a few diners on their main street. There is also an airport if you want to fly in by plane.

A good dog is a joy to have on a quail hunt

You can take your dogs or use theirs. Both Bob Henson and Arlette Hennesy are top notch dog trainers who have won many field trials. They can board and train your dogs as one of their services.

Tony sure has some well trained dogs

You need to call ahead to make arrangements for training or prior to the hunt. They also have an experienced staff that can answer questions or help out in making your hunt more enjoyable.It is a private club however anyone can hunt there by calling ahead and arranging to pay the necessary fees and getting on the hunting schedule. There are memberships available or 1 day hunts. The memberships range from Associate to VIP with prices ranging from $200 to $3150 a year per the last information they put out. Sporting clay shooting is also available with a 1 day reservation ahead. I don’t want to quote any one day prices in case of changes but a phone call will determine that.

On point!!!!

He has about 8,000 acres available for hunting which is more then ample for any bird hunting.The area is either desert or fields such as alfalfa. There are very few trees but a lot of scrub brush that the birds use. The land is very flat and this makes for easy walking a feature I can appreciate. You should expect to do some amount of walking and blaze orange is required. Be sure to have some good broke in walking shoes for best comfort. High boots are not necessary
as the land is water free. During the winter months the weather is usually very pleasant with temperatures from the 50’s to the 70’s. There is a possibility of rain and windy conditions during the winter months so bringing along some rain gear might not be a bad idea. The fall and spring temperatures can be warmer up to the 90’s so be prepared to dress accordingly. During the warmer weather I would advise to carry some drinking water with you as dehydration can be a concern. I went quail hunting with a good friend of mine who is a member. It was an enjoyable experience that I plan on repeating.

Typical desert quail country

The Lanber O/U 12-gauge I was carrying is light and acquires the target very well which is a help with fast flying quail. The Lanber proved to be a reliable shotgun that everyone who shot it liked it. A light well balanced shotgun is much easier then a heavy one for the amount of walking you might do. The Lanber is such a gun.
Tony’s dogs were great and I was able to get some pictures as well as some quail. All in all an enjoyable hunting experience which I intend to repeat.

Tony with Lanber and dog

Desert Pheasant recreation has been in business for 20 years and has a good reputation. They also have big game hunting available in Texas for exotics and whitetail and Ohio for deer so if you are interested call for info. As with any hunting situation I would advise calling ahead of time with any questions so there isn’t any misunderstandings and you will have a more enjoyable hunt. That is true with any hunting lodge.

Bringing back the bird

The land is flat desert and is easy walking. The hunting is on the easy side and the dogs have plenty of room to run. If you would like to try a different type of hunting then this south west excursion might be just what you are looking for. It is not at all like hunting birds in the eastern states where there are trees and lots of undercover. Shot size is regulated to 7 & ½ or smaller.
Based on my experience I would recommend it and I have a pheasant hunt planned for the near future. Since I live about 45 miles away I will be going back as often as I can.

They have some rules so you need to call or e-mail prior to showing up.

Contact info is Bob Henson the owner who you can call at 520-723-7234 or 520-709-1019 or e-

mail for further info and fees. The snail mail address is Desert

Pheasant Recreation 774 N Wheeler Rd Coolidge AZ 85228-9313.

Bob Shell
Tony sure likes that Lanber

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lanber O/U Shotgun

That bird is in trouble compliments of a Lanber

The Lanber Shotgun
I received a Lanber model 2077 for evaluation from Jim Meuse product specialists. It is an O/U 12 gauge with 3” chambers. The first impression is that it is well balanced and light. The barrels are 24” which is plenty. Contrary to the old wives tales you don’t need a long barrel to reach out and touch. Your powder is usually burned in the first 20 to 24” and the choke determines how dense the pattern will be not the barrel length. Wood to metal fitting was good and it is a handsome gun to look at. There is some figure on my forearm though the stock is fairly plain though there is checkering on both pieces of wood. It comes with various screw in chokes from improved to full plus a tool to replace them. They are marked with the notches which indicate the degree of choke. The helpful manual that comes with it will help out in identifying which choke tube is which, plus plenty of safety and other info. It has a raised vent rib but it isn’t excessively high. It comes in a sturdy gun case that holds everything once the gun is taken down. That chore is very simple much like most other O/U shotguns. To me it is a no nonsense hunting gun that is handsome without being gaudy. One shooter described it as pretty without being girly pretty. The single trigger is gold plated which I don’t care for. While a minor observation I would have preferred a blue trigger but I am old fashioned I guess. The bluing on the barrels was well done and even and I didn’t see any tool marks when I disassembled the gun. Apparently the craftsmen who make these guns take pride in their work and it shows. The high resolution front sight makes acquiring a target very easy. The guns are made in Spain but the corporate office is in Westfield MA US phone number is 800-545-6952 if you want to give them a call.

My good friend Tony Bua shooting the Lanber

The proof in the pudding is in the shooting. Initial shooting showed it to come up quick and point well. The balance is as good as it gets which is a big plus for carrying or shooting. We took it to South Dakota for the pheasant season. Since there are many places to go and birds I knew that it would get a workout. Several hunters of varying sizes from short and stocky to tall and lanky all tried it and they stated that the gun was comfortable to them. No one had any difficulty hitting birds per their ability.

Lanber in sturdy carrying case

There were no malfunctions of any kind during the testing. It was shot quite a few times with varying loads and brands of ammo. I even tried a powder meant for inline rifles called Blackhorn 209. I wanted to see if I could get it to work in a shotgun well enough to work it and knock down a quail. It did on both counts. The quail being shot in the picture was a victim of 209 powders. The ejectors are frisky sending the empties about 10 to 12 feet from the gun. The selector is located on the safety and is easy to use as is the safety. The only objection to the gun was it kicks with heavy and 3” loads. That is a function of its light weight a feature I value. If you only shoot a few of the heavy loads there shouldn’t be a problem with the recoil. The recoil pad helps and I am not that sensitive to recoil so it doesn’t bother me as much as some other shooters.

Lanber in sturdy carrying case

We took it on a quail hunt at Desert Pheasant Recreation in Coolidge AZ. The land is flat and requires a lot of walking which is somewhat difficult to me as my legs are not what they used to be. The light weight of the Lanber was really appreciated by me. You would be surprised what a LB or so difference can make during a hunt requiring a lot of walking. I have several shotguns but for walking the Lanber gets the nod every time due to its weight and balance.

Reciever of the Lanber

I haven’t tried shotgun slugs but with the open chokes I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work. It is good for trap and skeet shooting because you can change the choke inserts very easily to suit the need. At a later date I will run a few slugs through it though the recoil will be frisky. I have other shotguns for slugs but it will be interesting to try it. The loads I tried pattern well though some better then others which is true of any shotgun. It hits where you point it and you shouldn’t have a problem hitting birds once you get use to it as every gun shoots differently for each shooter. Of course your ability will determine how well you do also.

Choke tube kit

The market is flooded with some nice O/U’s so anyone for an O/U would do well to look at the various Lanber offerings. My model is a mid price in the $1200.00 range and if you are going to spend that much on a shotgun then I would strongly recommend a serious look at this model. They have been around for around 20 years or so and have a good reputation. I have talked to other Lanber owners and they have positive things to say about them. If you buy one I don’t believe you will ever be sorry for that purchase. They produce various semi-auto and competition shotguns at different price ranges. They have an informative website which provides a lot of helpful info and tips.


Bob Shell

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Teaching a Senior Citizen How To Shoot

Boy is she proud of this!!! Teaching a Senior Citizen to Shoot

Through out quite a number of years I have taught a lot of people basic handgun shooting. Most of them were in their 20’s or 30’s and have good hand to eye coordination which makes the job of instructing them relatively simple. As a rule they learn rapidly and progress to decent to good shots in a relatively short period of time. Some went on to become really good shots. I worked at a prison and everyone had to qualify in order to maintain employment and I worked with them on this endeavor.

Intruders are in for it

A new and interesting challenge came my way when an 80 year old woman wanted to learn to shoot a handgun for home defense as she lives alone. While she is pretty healthy for her age there were some problems not encountered with younger shooters. I found out that you have to deal with diminished coordination and eyesight among other situations. Like everything I do I regarded it as a challenge rather then a problem. When working with an 80 year old person you have to remember that they move slower, have less strength and coordination plus are sometimes forgetful. Once you understand the limitations you can successfully teach them to shoot well enough to defend them selves in case of a break in by an intruder. Since most intruders are much younger and stronger then a senior the handgun tends to level the playing field.

A S & W model 15 ideal for beginners

Like any new shooter I always use a double action revolver in a 38 special caliber. While there is nothing wrong with a semi auto pistol it does take more training to safely master it. A 38 has several advantages including ammo supply and is economical to shoot especially with lead bullet handloads. The gun that we are using for these lessons is a S & W model 15 with a 4” barrel. It is a good compromise between weight and controllability for this individual to handle. We tried several other handguns but she felt more comfortable with this one. Feel and weight are very important factors when teaching an 80 year old to shoot. Self confidence has to be built up and maintained through out the lessons.

Shooting is about fun!!

Before we did any shooting we went over the various aspects of shooting especially safety. She was instructed in how to load & unload the gun and where to point it at all times. Safety was repeatedly emphasized. We went over stance, sight alignment trigger control and other aspects of shooting successfully. Dry firing was done to give her a chance to get the feel and to allow me to tweak her habits. This was done to an extent as she needed this more then a younger shooter. Because of hand strength limitations we shot two handed most of the time. She also had some issues shooting double action though we are improving on that to an extent. We spent a lot of time dry firing and operating the gun before we shot live ammo. This was necessary and beneficial to her and anyone teaching a senior will do well to remember that they have limitations that the rest of us might not have. Patience is a virtue in this exercise. She dry fires at night which helps with trigger control and hand strength. We also went over some of the other do’s and don’ts such as never allow an intruder to get closer that about 12 feet away and if he attempts to get closer shoot him and other tactical things to do though I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

Wearing Sensgard hearing protection

The day came when we went out with live ammo. I used a b-27 target at 7 yards. Right off she had trouble seeing the X ring with all the rest of the black on the target so I pasted a white piece of paper over it to help her focus on the target better. I use a 158 grain semi wadcutter loaded to 800-850 feet per second. This load produces some recoil but not enough to bother her. You might have to adjust that load for someone else. Anyway it is fairly close to a good home defense load. We worked at 7 yards because it isn’t too difficult and is usually the longest distance you will likely have to defend your home at. Again you might have to adjust the distance and target type to suit your trainee.

We started shooting and as expected she didn’t start off real well but she never shot a revolver before so it was a new experience on top of everything. I went over her stance, trigger control, sight alignment and other things like positive thinking. Never underestimate attitude and confidence as without them it will be impossible to be successful in training any new shooter. The prevailing opinion among new handgun shooters is that it very difficult learning to shoot a handgun well so you have to work on that as well as the physical stuff. We got her confidence up and after a couple of range sessions she started to show real improvement. Also a bell went off. She realized that shooting is fun! That happens a lot doesn’t it? She has arrived at the point where she can hit the white all 6 shots and expects to do it all the time. It took a few sessions but we are successful in what we wanted to achieve. If she misses it then she gets mad at herself because she realizes that she is capable of doing that feat of marksmanship. While she will never be an expert in the common way of describing one she is confident of her ability and an intruder breaking in is in for a nasty surprise.
Bob Shell

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Discussion of Pressures

A sure sign of a dangerous overload

Double barrel blown up by overload

A Discussion on Pressure

Some people think that all pressure in a gun is bad. Nothing can be further from the truth because without pressure the bullet wouldn’t exit the muzzle. When a gun is fired the primer ignites the powder which turns into gas. That process pushes the bullet out the end of the barrel as that is usually the point of least resistance. When the proper amount and type of powder are employed the gun goes bang and you hit your target without any problems. Or at least the gun goes off ok.

Muzzle loader blown up due to bullet 1" away from powder

What then is the proper amount and type of powder? That would depend on the age and strength of the firearm. A good example of a cartridge to look at is the 45-70. It came out in 1873 as a black powder round in the Trapdoor Springfield and has been loaded in almost any style of rifle ever since. It is more popular today and deservedly so. The Trapdoor while a quality rifle for its time is limited to loads producing pressures of 25,000 lbs. The design and metal technology of the day won’t allow much more then that without coming apart. However there are modern guns that will take twice that pressure without a whimper. The Ruger # 1 and the Siamese Mauser are two that come to mind. With full loads they are junior 458 magnums but if you shoot those loads in the Trapdoor it will certainly destroy it and probably injure the shooter. The Marlin is also a strong rifle capable of heavy loads but the limiting factor may be how much recoil you are willing to accept. If you are in doubt as to the strength of your rifle check with a qualified gunsmith or the manufacturer to ascertain what ammo is safe to use.

Bullet stuck in revolver can destroy it

Another old wives tale is that the 308 Winchester will equal the 30-06 in power. In your dreams! It started with the original 30-06 load which was a 150 grain bullet at 2700 feet per second. In the 06 that is mild while the 308 can achieve that velocity it does so at a higher pressure. In reality the 308, which is a fine cartridge, can achieve 2700 of so with a 150 grain bullet without excessive pressures. The 30-06 can go over 3000 with careful load development without a problem. I did some experiments with a 308 with a 24” barrel and achieved 2900 plus with the 150 but it was a load that I would not use or recommend as it had definite signs of excess pressure. A good friend of mind achieved the same results with his rifle using a different powder and like mine had excessive pressures. With 180 grain and heavier bullets there is even more of a difference between the 308 and the 30-06. My point is if you have a 308 don’t try and make it a 30-06. And if you have a 30-06 don’t try and make it a 300 magnum.

300 magnum showin overloaded case

What then is excess pressure? Some things are obvious such as damaged gun or a blown case. There are less obvious signs but they should be observed and dealt with. While this primarily deals with handloads factory ammo can occasionally be included. If you have sticky extraction that can be an indication of a hot load but not necessarily true. The other possibilities are a rough chamber or bad brass both is unlikely with a new gun and good brass. If I have sticky extraction with a handload that I think is normal I will check & clean the chamber and fire some factory or light loads in it to see if the problem persists. I did have one gun with rough chambers it was a S & W 38 and even with wad cutter loads the empties were difficult to extract. Polishing the chambers cured that problem. If the problem persists I will either reduce the powder load or change the powder altogether. I have a 270 that doesn’t like IMR 4350 for some reason. Even with moderate loads it shows signs of pressure but if I switch to H-4831 it becomes a different rifle all together using a 130 grain bullet in both loads. If you are shooting an old gun with the proper loads and you have hard extraction check for bulges in the case. That is fairly common and you shouldn’t continue to shoot it because a case might rupture. I am assuming that you are using good quality brass. As I am writing this I have a 22 Savage Hi Power that has a chamber so bad that the cases do rupture. The cure for that is to set the barrel back and rechamber which will be done prior to shooting it any more. Other signs to look for are shiny ejector marks on the cases or creatured primers. The primer thing is problematical because some primers have soft cups and may show that with normal loads. Also a sharp firing pin can cause that. If you have fired the cases once or twice and the primer pocket is loose that is probably an indication of hot loads. Soft brass can cause that though with modern cases that’s unlikely. If you blow the primer out of the case that is a very good time to stop and evaluate what you are doing. That is a good sign that you are way over the line and should disassemble the loads rather then shoot them. Shooting overloads in a gun is like speeding all the time in your car. Both will accelerate wear and shorten the useful life of the implement. Most modern guns have some protections in case your ammo ruptures. They have provisions to route the harmful gas away from your face in the event of a case failure. However you should not rely on that entirely but use common sense in reloading and wear safety glasses when shooting.
Another cause of high pressure is shooting a gun with an object such as a bullet or wad lodged in the barrel. Engaging in such activity is the height of stupidly. If there is any possibility of something lodged in your barrel STOP and check it out before shooting again. A wad in a shotgun barrel will destroy it and injure anyone who might be unfortunate enough to be standing alongside it. If you are shooting and the round sounds or feels funny there is a reason and you should check it out. A bullet lodged in a rifle or handgun barrel will at the least leave a bulge and can destroy the weapon. It has happened where a bore sighter has been left in the barrel and a round shot. That will generally destroy the barrel and injure the shooter and spectators. I have seen that happen with bullets lodged so I know it can happen.
A good way to destroy a gun is to shoot the wrong ammo in it. If you shoot an 8 X 57 Mauser round in a 30-06 your day will quickly go downhill from there. First of all you have a partially unsupported case and you are shooting a 32 caliber bullet down a 30 caliber barrel. You always need to make sure you are shooting the proper ammo to avoid such unfortunate accidents.

Pay attention to labels to avoid a tragic mistake

What affects pressures? First of all it would be the powder. If you are using a correct powder but put in a grain or two too much it might show pressure signs but probably won’t hurt the gun. The real problem is if you use the wrong powder. For instance if you were supposed to use Hodgens 1000 and picked up Hodgens 110 instead that could be a major disaster in the making. The 1000 is for magnum rifles while the 110 is a magnum pistol powder. The labels look similar and if you aren’t paying attention you could pick up the wrong can. Another thing is if you are using loads that are maximum or a bit above any small change of components will cause a change in how your ammo behaves. If you change primer or bullet brands that can have a negative affect on your ammo. Changing case brands or even a rise in temperature can spike your pressures above where you might want them. If you reduce your loads just a bit these things probably won’t change your ammo as much. Another benefit in cutting back just a bit is your rifle will probably be more accurate and it will certainly last longer. If you do change components be sure to check your rifle for accuracy and point of impact. Make no mistake about it changing components can change your group size and your zero setting.

2 bullets same weight & caliber but can produce different pressures

Don’t labor under the impression that case separation is a result of pressure. It is caused by excess headspace. Either the gun itself is at fault or your loading technique. It is easy to have the gun checked and if it is ok then reevaluate your loading procedures. You may be pushing the shoulder back each time you size the case and that in itself will produce excess headspace. To fix that just back off the sizing die and set it to where the case will chamber ok but not any more. If you have excess headspace high pressure will aggravate it but not cause it. Normally a case that separates due to headspace isn’t dangerous but will certainly cause you a problem as the front of the case will stay in the chamber. If you just shot and wounded a bear that could be a serious problem. To get it out you can insert an empty case in the chamber via the bolt and close it somewhat to put pressure on the bad case. Then just extract as normal and both cases should come out ok.
Bob Shell

A sure sign of a dangerous overload