Friday, November 25, 2011

Winchester Model 70

" Shooting the 7 mm-08 at Rio Salado

Winchester Model 70 Featherweight 7 mm -08

Recently I received a new model 70 in 7mm-08 for testing and evaluation. This model is also offered in the 22-250, 243 and 308 calibers. I wanted the 7 mm 08 because I haven’t had a chance to work with one and I feel that in a lightweight package it would be a good choice. I also wanted to have an effective hunting rifle that is both light and has low recoil. This rifle is excellent for small framed hunters and beginners. The 7 mm -08 was introduced in 1980 by Remington, though it was a wildcat since 1958. It is an efficient cartridge which makes it desirable for handloading. In the past 30 years with the improvements in ammo and bullets the 7mm has really come into its own. It is a good example of an effective hunting rifle that won’t stomp you. Low recoiling rifles are a lot easier to shoot then a shoulder buster. That is especially true with beginning shooters. Due to its more streamlined bullets it will out range its parent the 308. It would be nifty in 338 Federal and 358 Winchester caliber offerings. Recoil would go up but not enough to bother an experienced hunter.

Shooting the Winchester model 70 in 7 mm -08 The Hawkeye scope proved to work well with the model 70

The rifle is quite handsome with a nice piece of wood for the stock. The 20” barrel has no sights but the receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope. The MSRP is $899 which would take it out of the low price range. Personally for that price they should include a Weaver base which would cost them a very few dollars. The bluing is nice and even which enhances the attractiveness of the gun. It has the controlled feed action based on the Mauser model 98 which is a major plus in my book. It has the three position safety which allows you to empty your gun when on safe or it can lock the bolt closed. That is a good feature if you are walking through low hanging tree branches as they won’t open up the bolt without you knowing it. The MOA trigger is easily adjustable and has no creep or over travel. I did not find it necessary to adjust the trigger on my sample. All in all it is a nice compact rifle offered in some flat shooting calibers. With those calibers offered it would be good out to 300 yards for some big game animals. The 22-250, one of my all time favorites, would be a joy to hunt varmints with. I think that if Winchester brought out a plain Jane version with a composite stock for less money they might have a winner as more shooters may opt for it as opposed to the more expensive model. Anyway it is just my opinion for what it is worth.

Factory ammo worked well in this test

For shooting I mounted a Hawkeye 3 X 9 scope which proved to have excellent optics. It also has a lighted reticule which is handy in low light situations. The adjustments are very easy to work with and you don’t need a screwdriver as in some other scopes. Also the power adjustment is also very easy to work with. I have used some scopes that are hard to adjust from 3 to 9 X. The Hawkeye scope line contains many products such as spotting scopes and binoculars. For more info on these fine products you can go to to shop online or find a local dealer. I received ammo from Barnes, Hornady and Doubletap. After sighting in we shot some groups at 100 yards. We were getting groups of 1 to 1 & ½’ which I thought were a little large but we were contending with a brisk wind that was blowing from right to left at varying speeds which did nothing to shrink the groups. The targets were also moving from side to side which enhanced accuracy not a bit. I have shot those brands of ammo a lot and I know that they are capable of better accuracy then we obtained on that day. Recoil was pleasant and functioning was perfect as expected. A second trip to the range improved the groups somewhat. As with any rifle it has its preferences in ammo. That is the fun in experimenting and reloading. Not only do you get more practice but you get to know your rifle and ammo better.

Cast bullets work well

As I always do I let several people with varying amounts of experience shoot it in order to get some feedback. Everyone was impressed with its looks and shooting. One young lady really liked it and in fact was hitting a 200 yard target with no problems. The Hawkeye scope also received good reviews. One comment made by a couple of shooters was the bolt was smooth, a feature sometimes not found in new guns. It seemed like it was already broken in. I shot some factory ammo and all of it performed well and would be suitable for hunting. For info on these fine brands of ammo you can go to or I used Barnes, Hornady and Sierra bullets for my handloads you can go to their sites for bullets and for their line of reloading bullets.

I wanted to chronograph some loads to get an idea as to its potential. In power the 7 mm-08 is similar to the much older 7 X 57 Mauser though the Mauser can be loaded up a bit more because of slightly larger case capacity. That would be true only in modern strong rifles and the difference would be insignificant especially with light bullets.

48 X IMR 4895 100 grain Hornady HP 3094 high es
8 X Trail Boss 100 grain Hornady HP 1312 nice
45 X IMR 4895 120 grain Hornady 2932 ok
Barnes 120 grain 2973 accurate
42 X IMR4895 139 grain Hornady G-Max 2608 ok
Hornady 139 grain G-Max 2837 consistent
Double Tap 140 grain TTSX 2793 nice
48 X 760 140 grain Sierra FB 2768 consistent
8 X Trail Boss 140 grain cast RN 1204 very consistent
8 X Trail Boss 145 grain cast sp 1162 accurate
45 X Big Game 150 grain Barnes TTSX 2530 ok
45 X Big Game 150 grain Barnes X 2545 nice
42 X Big Game 175 grain Hornady 2339 woods load

During the testing there were no malfunctions of any kind. It turned out to be quite a flexible rifle as there is a very large selection of 7 mm bullets second only to the 30 calibers. The rifle handled everything well including the cast bullet loads. I had three different ladies shoot it and in spite of the fact that they were beginners they handled the rifle just fine. The loads I listed are representative of the verity of bullets available. Due to its mildness premium bullets are not necessary though they can be put to good use. Since the case is fairly small it isn’t temperamental to reload such as a larger case may be. The medium range powders work the best though with a heavy bullet a slower powder may do ok.

Model 70 is easy for a woman to shoot

If you don’t mind paying the asking price this is a good choice for a light compact hunting rifle. For a woman or youngster it makes an ideal rifle for a verity of large game hunting and wouldn’t be bad for varmints such as coyotes. If you are shopping for a rifle in this price range I can recommend that you give this model a try. For more info on this fine rifle and other Winchester products you can go to

Barrel 20”
Weight 6 & ½ lbs
MSRP $899.00
Safety 3 position
Trigger MOA adjustable
Sights none Tapped for scope
Total Length 39 & ½”
Pull 13”
Drop @ comb ½”
Drop @ heel ¾”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Governor

A view of the Governor

The Governor

Whenever a company comes up with a good idea invariably someone else will bring a similar product to the market. A good example is the Judge brought out by Taurus which is a novel gun that shoots 45 Colts and 410 gauge shotshells. Evidently the Judge is selling well because Smith & Wesson has come up with their own variation. It is a close copy of the Judge with a couple of more features. Don’t get me wrong competition is good in so far as it forces the makers to come up with new and better products which are good for the end user.

These Winchester loads worked fine in my Governor

Smith & Wesson came up with their model which they call the Governor. It looks like the Judge but S & W has some features that the Judge lacks. First of all they made it a 6 shot as opposed to 5 in the Judge. That does make it a little bulkier however which may or may not be important. The feature that I like the best is its ability to shoot 45 autos. You need moon clips which are provided for that purpose. There are 2- 6 round clips as well as 2 two round versions. They would be great if you wanted to mix your ammo for some reason. I did find that it is difficult to load 45 autos in them but a little dressing with a round file should cure that. The 2 rounders seemed easier to load. The reason that I like the 45 auto feature is the ammo is easier and cheaper to get. The 45 Colt is a fine round but I have heard complaints that many stores don’t have it and when they do it is expensive. The 410 is a 2 & ½’ only which for such a small gun should not be a problem as there is some nice 410 ammo out there for self defense. Since the Governor like the Judge is a close range defense gun 45 autos should do well even if they aren’t the most accurate rounds for that revolver. The sights are fixed with the front sight being Tritium Night Sight and it sports a 2 & 3/4” barrel as opposed to a 3” on my Judge. Fixed sights are not a problem with these guns. Another novel feature is a small key is provided. There is a small hole just above the cylinder release button and you can lock the gun in case there are children around. While neat it is hardly a new idea. I have a very old Dutch revolver that has a similar feature. The frame is scandium alloy which has proven durable over time. Listed weight is 29.6 oz unloaded. The MSRP is $679 and for about $220 more you can get Crimson Trace Laser Grips which are a great addition to any gun. For info on these great sights go to for a complete listing of their products. At this time the Judge has more models to choose from including a verity of rifle variations. I suspect that if it goes over well S & W will add more models and options. The gun is matt black which at this time is the only finish available which isn’t a problem. It you look at the business end of it, it is intimidating. I would not want to be on the wrong end of that or a similar piece in a hostile situation. The double action trigger is decent while the single breaks pretty cleanly. Most women should be able to handle it ok with a little practice. With the verity of the ammo available it should be able to cover most self defense situations. It could be a handy and flexible hiking gun also. Recoil can be a bit frisky with some loads but the grips are comfortable and help deal with that.

Three different loads shows flexibility of the Governor

Shooting the Governor with both types of 45s proved to be a pleasure. The moon clips work fine and the 45 Colts also shot well though a bit high. As a note you can use 45 Gap ammo with the moon clips and 45 Schofield, same as the 45 Colt. You can not fit 454 Casull ammo or 460 S & W ammo in it. There is a step which prevents that with good reason. If you managed to chamber one of those rounds and fired it the gun would be totally destroyed and anyone in the area would be injured. The gun isn’t designed for such high pressure loadings. I would not fire 45 Colt +P loadings either as a precaution and recoil would be excessive. The 410s however proved to be a serious problem. They totally jammed up the gun by locking the cylinder and were very difficult to extract. There is a noticeable swelling by the base which may be caused by the cut in the cylinder that is necessary to load 45 autos. I notified Matt Rice @ Blue Herron Communications who handles S & W’s advertising and am awaiting his reply. He is in contact with a S & W engineer to see if the problem can be resolved. I never received a definitive answer from anyone so I resolved it myself. I read a review in another magazine and they had the same problem. The ammo functions fine in 2 other guns including a Judge so the ammo isn’t at fault. I have come across some information that other Governors have a similar problem with the 410’s. I tried some Winchester factory loads but they also jammed the gun. In the interest of complete testing I obtained some ammo made for a handgun one is 3 balls & the other is the disc ammo with 12 bb’s in it. They worked well in the Judge in a previous test so hopefully they will function in the Governor which they did.

8 X Unique 200 grain cast 760 fair
8 X Unique 250 grain cast 844 good load
8 X Unique 300 grain cast HB 768 ok

Some of the 45 Colt loads used.

The Winchester handgun loads worked well with no jamming or hard extraction. I used the 3 disc with 12 BB load and the 3 ball load with both working fine. If you buy a Governor and want to use 410’s for self defense stick with the pistol rounds and make sure that they work in your gun. They are pricey but you won’t be shooting too many so that shouldn’t be a major issue. I reloaded the Winchester handgun hulls with my standard load and they worked fine. I would have to conclude that the brass heads on the revolver ammo is heavier then on the regular shells which doesn’t allow them to expand into the chamber. Just to try them out I loaded a few 444 Marlin cases with the standard 410 load but crimped the shot in with a gas check. They were only fair as opposed to test in the past with a 444 Marlin rifle. They showed a noticeable bulge so I don’t recommend them as a substitute for 410’s. I tried them to see how flexible the pistol is and since it isn’t made for those it isn’t a design fault that they didn’t do particularly well. A regular 444 cylinder would improve that but it isn’t practical. Do not even think of shooting a 444 Marlin rifle load in the Governor as it isn’t designed for such a powerful round. Such foolishness will result in disaster for both the gun & shooter. You can use 45 Colts with the Speer shot capsule with good results also. The Governor is a flexible gun and if you handload your options increase dramatically. Accuracy was fair out to 15 yards especially with the oversize 300 grain hollow base bullets. They are sized at 458 and seem more accurate then the 452 diameter bullets. Jacketed bullets offer little if any advantage over the cast types so I didn’t use them except in the 45 auto ammo. A 185 grain HP would be a good defense option in the 45 ACP case.

The safety lock is a good feature around kids.

The Governor is a specialized close range self defense pistol. Used that way with good ammo it will perform its duties quite well. It can be handy on a hiking trail against aggressive our legged critters such as coyotes with the proper ammo. With its flexibility you can carry the proper ammo for any situation that you might encounter. With that thought I would recommend it to a buyer looking for such a gun.

Standard 410 loads produce this swelling in the Governor

For more info on this novel gun you can go to and see all of their fine products.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hawke Scopes

This young lady had no trouble hitting a 200 yard target with a Hwakeye Scope

Hawkeye Scopes

For over 30 years Hawke Sport Optics, the leading optics supplier in Europe, has been providing innovative, benefit rich products to sporting men and women in over 40 countries around the world. While still relatively new to the North American marketplace, Hawke has proven to have the staying power to become a force in sport optics in the United States and Canada. With their extensive product line coupled with good quality I see a winner here.
Hawke offers a complete line of sport optics. From rifle, crossbow, shotgun, black powder, and air gun scopes, to binoculars, spotting scopes, and accessories, Hawke is sure to have a product to suit your individual shooting, hunting, or viewing needs. For more info on their extensive line of fine products you can go to You can buy their products through a local dealer or buy directly from them. You can go to their site to find a nearby dealer which will allow you to physically examine the product.

Shooting the 7 mm-08 with a Hawkeye Scope was a pleasure

I received two scopes for testing. One is a Deer Pass (point and shoot system) model HK 3254 a 3 X 9 X 40 EVIR. It is intended for a muzzle loading rifles or shotgun shooting slugs at the ranges expected from them. The optics are clear and all of the adjustments are easy to use. It has the usual up & down plus the left & right and a parallax adjustment. It also has a focus adjustment at the rear of the tube. There is an instruction booklet printed in several languages that gives good detail. The Deer Pass scope also comes with a pamphlet that helps you in determining the range that a deer might be at. They give 6 X as an example out to 225 yards. That would be an extreme range for most slugs and near the top range for an inline bullet. The pictures show how to judge the range using a typical shotgun slug. I would strongly suggest that you study this helpful chart prior to hunting. Any edge that a hunter can obtain is a good thing provided that it is legal and ethical. Most slugs have a curved trajectory especially past 100 yards so using this chart will enhance your chances of a good shot. You can also use it for muzzleloading projectiles. You can make the necessary adjustments according to the trajectory you are working with. To make Hawkeye scopes more attractive they offer BRC Ballistic Reticle Software free of charge. You can go to their website to download the software. Of course the scope can be used for other game such as a bear or wild hog.

Another young lady enjoyed shooting with the Hawkeye Scope

I have a Knight rifle which has two barrels a 45-70 and a 50 caliber inline muzzle loading barrel. I plan on using the scope on both barrels. I mounted the scope and started with the 45-70 using some Black Hills 405 grain lead bullets. I wanted mild loads to approximate the trajectory of a slug. After bore sighting I shot at 25 yards and had no trouble getting it on the target. The clarity was great once I adjusted the focus and parallax. At 100 yards the scope performed flawlessly as I would expect. Clarity was great once the adjustments were made. The Black Hills ammo also performed well and was consistent through the chronograph as well as being accurate. They make a lot of good quality ammo and you can check them out at for a complete list of their stock. I have fired a verity of their calibers and have always had good results. As I always do I had several people fire the gun with the Hawkeye scope to get feedback. Everyone commented on the clarity and the ease of adjustments. No one had anything negative to say about either scope.

Black Hills Ammo performed well in the Knight 45-70

The other scope is an Extreme View Riflescope model HK5160 IREV which is also a 3 X 9 X 40. It also has a red or blue reticule besides the usual black and they showed up very well against various backgrounds. That enables you have the best color for the shooting conditions you might encounter. I mounted it on a Winchester model 70 in 7 mm-08 which I was testing at the time. It is a nice light weight model and if you want more info you can go to to check out their extensive line of firearms. We took it up to the Rio Salado shooting range which I am a member to test both products. After adjusting the scope we started shooting 100 yard groups with various types of ammo. It was pretty windy but we were still able to shoot groups in the 1” range. The adjustments are easy to work with and clarity is great at all ranges tested. The 300 yard target showed up real well and as a result hitting the gong wasn’t much of a challenge. Despite the target blending in with the background the scope brought it up clearly. We took a second trip to the range and due to the good optics I was able to get the rifles full potential. I had a novice shooter try the rifle with the Extreme View scope and she really liked it. In fact she was able to hit a small rock at a measured 200 yards without much difficulty which spoke well of the rifle and scope. A couple of other shooters really liked it and stated that they would buy one when they need a scope on their next rifles.

Both the Hawkeye Scope and the Black Hills ammo performed very well in the Knight 45-70

My view on the Hawkeye scopes is two thumbs up. They are a quality product well worth the price. I would suggest anyone looking for a good scope or other optics to check them out on their website. I think that you will be impressed. I am looking forward to using them on some hunting trips.

A good look at the Hawkeye Scope on the Knight 45-70

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bulk Ammo

45 auto used in testing Fiocchi Ammo

Bulk Ammo
Recently I ran across a website that sells ammo. You might wonder what the big deal is as lots of sites do just that. They have a large selection of calibers and brands of all of the common calibers you might shoot. If you go to their website you can get a list of their products. They also list how many of each item is on hand so you don’t get stuck with back orders. They have a nice selection of the common calibers as well as several leading brands. You will find that their pricing is quite attractive usually lower then some other retailers of bulk ammo.

They sent me a tin of Fiocchi ammo called Canned Heat, in 45 auto in 230 grain hard ball. The idea of ammo being stored in a tin is a novel one. For storage it should be ideal. I have shot Fiocchi ammo in various calibers and found it to be a quality product. The 45 ammo was no exception. Advertised velocity is 830 but mine chronographed at 892 and was very consistent. I used a 5” Rock Island 45 for the test. Accuracy was also good. By the way like some other brands they are going to small pistol primers. While they will work just fine you will have to look out for them when loading assorted 45 brass. They also have rifle ammo of various calibers so for the hunter or target shooter you might find a good source of ammo there. There is also some shotgun ammo available. Rimfire in the 17 and 22 calibers are also available. They also put various items on sale which changes every so often so it would behoove you to keep an eye out on their site. The already attractive pries are reduced more on the sale items.

New Fiocchi Canned Heat Bulk Ammo

Their website is easy to navigate which is important for me as I don’t like to spend a lot of time fooling with a hard to understand site. Their customer service is excellent as well something lacking in some other companies I have dealt with. You can set up your own account which will make it quicker and easier to order your ammo. If you are looking for good deals on bulk ammo I would strongly recommend that you give these guys a try.

Shooting Black Powder Rifle

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Webley & Scott Shotguns

Shooting the model 900 12 gauge Webley & Scott O/U

Webley & Scott Shotguns.

Webley and Scott is one of the oldest names in the UK gun industry having been started in 1790. They are responsible for almost two centuries of production of some of the most famous firearms the world has ever seen - the Webely revolver, shotguns, and Webley rifles. Webley was founded in the late 18th century by William Davies who originally made bullet moulds. In 1834 the company was taken over by his son-in-law, Philip Webley, and his brother James who began the production of percussion sporting guns. Two sons, Thomas and Henry, entered the family business during the 1860's. The Webley's manufactured several types of pistols over the subsequent years, including single and double action percussion revolvers as well as pin-fire and center-fire revolvers. It is for the production of handguns, that Webley became famous. Webley's production originally consisted of hand-crafted firearms, although mass-production was later introduced to supply police and military buyers.

This young lady enjoyed shooting the Webley & Scott O/U

Recently Webley & Scott started importing some of their fine products into the US. Besides O/U shotguns they offer semi auto shotguns and Airguns. To get an idea as to what they have you can go to to get a full listing of their products. Derick Cole, who I met at a dove shoot was kind enough to send me a model 900 or properly the 912 indicating that it is a 12 gauge sporting model. Like the other Webleys I saw, it is attractive and well balanced. It has the 5 chokes like all of the other models in O/U. The gun is light and well balanced for bird or trap shooting. The single trigger breaks cleanly and is consistent. The metal fitting is tight as you would expect a new gun to be. The fit and finish rate high and the stock is attractive with a dull finish which I prefer. The wood has a decent figure which enhances the looks of the gun. There is a standard 3 year warranty on the shotguns you just need to send in the warranty card. If you want a fancy model they have the Model 3000 side lock action available for $6500.00 MSRP

The Webley & Scott shotgun is packed in an attractive hard case

Shooting the model 900 was a pleasure. Its good balance and light weight allowed easy tracking of clays. The front sight, which is a red fiber optic, is very easy to pick up which is important in wing or trap shooting shooting. The trigger breaks cleanly and the auto ejectors kick out the empties with authority. I was able to shoot it well with no problems. My only regret was due to time constraints I couldn’t keep it for the late dove season. I have no doubt that I could have limited out due to its good shooting qualities. Time also didn’t allow me to test all of the available chokes but that will come in the future.

The specifications for the 12 gauge sporter model are
30” barrels with a 3” chamber 28” Tested
20 Gauge available in 26 or 28” barrels
All models proofed for steel shot
Auto ejectors
Gated barrel selector
5 screw in chokes & tool
Fiber optic sight
Single trigger
Manual safety
Heavy duty hammer spring
Oil finished stock
MSRP Model 900 K $1200.00

The receiver is machined from a single piece of steel by CNC machinery and parts will interchange with other Webleys of the same model. The barrels sport an attractive even high gloss finish. The fitting is very tight as you would expect in a quality gun. Their guns are also usable with steel shot a big plus for duck and goose hunting

Another shooter found that hitting clays is easy with the Webley & Scott

We shot some trap with it out in the desert. I gave several shooters a chance to try it to get some feedback. One friend couldn’t miss with it. He commented on the superior balance and the front sight. Another shooter also liked the balance and after a few misses he got used to it and started hitting the clays pretty well. He liked the light weight and looks as well. A third shooter commented on the balance and looks. A couple of other shooters made similar comments and no one had anything negative to say about it. My experiences mirror theirs. The only drawback might be the price for someone on a tight budget. If you shoot magnum loads the recoil will be a bit more brisk but for most of your shooting a 1 & 1/8oz load should be sufficient. Most of our shooting was done with 1 & 1/8oz of 7 &1/2 shot which performed well in this gun. I did a limited amount of pattern testing and they were even at 40 yards. Both barrels shot close to the point of aim at the same range.

If you are looking for an O/U in the $1200.00 price range I would highly recommend that you give this one a try.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tour at the Doubletap Ammo Factory

Some of the Ammo that Doubletap sells

Double Tap Ammo Tour
In the last number of years there have been a number of companies started up to produce ammo. Some are niche companies while others supply most modern ammo. One such company is Double Tap. It was started in 2002 by Mike Mcnett with the idea of producing high quality ammo for hunting and self defense purposes. They are located in Cedar City Utah and have a toll free number 866-867-1066. For info on their products you can go to to view their extensive line of products. They started out with three loads for the 10 mm but now offer over 300 loadings in various rifle and handgun calibers. They are adding new products all of the time so it is necessary to check their site frequently lest you miss out on something you might want. I became aware of this company at the writer’s shoot which is a day prior to the SHOT show. I talked to Mike and looked over his ammo and it became obvious that he cares deeply about the quality of his products.
A couple of weeks after the SHOT show was over he sent me some sample ammo in 380, 9mm and 40 caliber. He uses premium bullets from such makers as Barnes Hornady and Nosler all top notch. A couple of loads have a high ES but that would be a function of that individual gun. Every gun is different and some don’t like a certain load or bullet. That is why it is important to experiment with your firearm to see what it likes.

9 mm Beretta 92 5” 124 grain 1293 consistent
40- Glock 22 5” 125 grain Barnes 1308 very consistent
40- Glock 22 5” 200 grain Nosler 1013 nice
40- Glock 27 3 &1/2” 125 grain Barnes 1125 OK
40- Glock 27 3 &1/2” 200 grain Nosler 976 consistent
Sig 220 5” barrel 160 grain Barnes Tac XP 1132 potent
Sig 220 5” barrel 185 grain Nosler 1199 nice
Rock River 308 20’ 150 grain Barnes TTSX 2875 consistent
Rock River 308 20” 180 grain Nosler Accubond 2588 good load
Rock River 308 20” 200 grain Nosler Accubond 2443 high es
H & R Pistol 32 mag 60 grain Barnes 2 &1/2” barrel 1058 consistent
Ruger 327 mag 5 & ½” 60 grain Barnes 1581 impressive

One of the loading machines used.

We shot the 60 grain Barnes in the 327 at 25 yards and they were very accurate. A better rest & less wind would have done better. I have also shot some of his ammo in a couple of Diamondback pistols that I was testing out. They are very sub compact models and they performed well with his ammo. Calibers were the 380 and 9 mm. Accuracy for such small pistols was outstanding.

The Rock River 308 shot the Double Tap very well at 100 yards giving groups in the 1” area consistently. Both the Barnes and Nosler Accubonds shot well indicating good quality ammo. Either bullet would be suitable for large game hunting.

One of the Branes bullets loaded by Doubletap

Recently I had a chance to visit and tour his factory in Cedar City Utah. While the operation doesn’t look large the available space is utilized in an efficient way. They use a number of Dillon presses to manufacture most of the ammo. The Dillon presses are set up for production while maintaining the high quality control that Mike demands. For the most part he uses Starline brass which is also a quality product. Bullets come from various manufactures such as Barnes, Nosler and Hornady. The rifle ammo is hand crimped in a single stage RCBS press and individually inspected by the operator.

Target shot with Diamondback 380 and Doubletap ammo 380

I have shot a lot of his ammo and have never had any type of problem. There are several ways to measure ammo quality. First of all it has to fit and feed in the gun it is designed for. Next it has to be consistent in order to be accurate. Consistency is usually measured by a chronograph which measures its velocities among other factors. If it has a low standard deviation and ES, the difference between the slowest and fastest shot in the string, then that is an indication of good quality. Among other things it requires the proper powder and amount is used which takes some experimenting and time to develop such loads. It also has to be safe in the guns that it is designed for. Consistent ammo also is accurate an important consideration both in hunting and self defense. Mike puts the velocity on all of his boxes and the guns that were used to develop the loads. If your gun is similar to his then you should get similar results. I’m here to tell you that his ammo meets all of the criteria necessary to call it great ammo. Based on my experiences with it I would recommend his ammo without hesitation. I have other calibers to test and will report on them at a later date.
Bob Shell

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barnes Bullet factory Tour

Barnes Bullet Factory Tour

For quite a few years I have used Barnes bullets both the traditional cup and jacket and the copper verity. They always performed well for me both in hunting and accuracy tests. I have toured bullet plants and saw how conventional jacketed bullets are made but haven’t had the opportunity to see how pure copper bullets are made. In August I went to a POMA conference for gun writers. Anyway Barnes is located on the way so I contacted Kari Cook and she arranged a tour for us. The plant is located in Mona which is a tiny town right off of I-15 about 2 hours or so south of Ogden. Upon arrival I noticed that the plant is modern in every way and the employees are very courteous and helpful.

The tour was conducted by Ty Herring who is the customer service lead technician. As a long time employee he is very knowledgeable and helpful. He showed us the dies in various stages of manufacture with the tolerances being kept at 50 millionths of an inch. To give you an idea as to how much thickness that is take a human hair and slice it lengthwise into 200 pieces and that will give you an idea of their tolerances. In order to make consistent bullets you need tooling that is consistent. With their modern machinery such tolerances are possible.

One of the presses used to make bullets

To make the bullets Barnes buys rolls of copper wire that is made to their specifications both in material and diameter. The wire then is pulled through a die to insure that the diameter is perfect then is cut into a cylinder shape, the length determines the weight. After inspection they are fed into a large press that used punches to give the bullet its shape and hollow cavity. The tooling in the presses are inspected and replaced often to insure that the dimensions are as needed. Every operator is their own quality control technician and they always keep the bullets in specs. Since they measure by ten thousands of an inch we shooters can appreciate the effort used in making these fine bullets. There are no shortcuts taken and if the bullets don’t measure up they don’t leave the plant. Once the bullets are made they have a proprietary machine that cuts the grooves in them. It is amazing to watch the process but no photos are allowed of that machine and a couple of others which is totally understandable. The bullets are cleaned in a large tub that contains ball bearings which shines them up really nice. They are then inspected again with a laser device that can pick up any defects and sort them out. As they are being packed the inspection process is again repeated. I have personally bought and used a lot of Barnes bullets of various calibers including the lead core bullets and never saw a defective specimen. I watched some 348 traditional bullets being inspected by hand and since it is such a tedious job I joked with her as to does she dream of them when sleeping. After the bullets are made some are tested at their shooing range upstairs to insure accuracy.

Muzzle loading bullets made by Barnes

They also make solids out of a brass alloy. They have long rods that are cut into length and machined to whatever caliber is desired. The laser cutter insures the demanded dimensions needed to produce a top notch bullet. They are made from 22 up to a dinosaur killing 577 Nitro. While I haven’t shot a lot of these the ones I did shot well. The Triple-Shock X bullet is made from 22 caliber up to a 577 while the tipped Triple’s go from a 22 to one made for the 458 Socom. You might want to check out their website as there are new bullets being added quite frequently. They also produce muzzle loading bullets as well as loaded ammo so you might want to visit to keep up with all of the goodies made by them. I have shot the muzzle loading slugs in a couple of inlines and they were accurate as you expect from a Barnes product.

One of my several favorites is the TTSX 338 210 grain loaded in the 338 RCM Ruger Hawkeye in a 20” barrel. I get great groups and it should handle anything that I am likely to hunt. My 300 RCM, 30-06 and 270 also shoot very well with various Barnes bullets. I am presently conducting tests with the 70 grain 22 bullets and results so far look very promising.

Bullets ready to be inspected and packed

There are a number of bullet companies out there who make quality products and are introducing new items all of the time. Such competition is good for us shooters because better bullets are constantly being designed and produced. Barnes is such a company and I strongly recommend that you try out their products if you haven’t already done so.
Bob Shell

Cartridge Conversion Guide Book review

Cartridge Comparison Guide

There is a lot of information out there regarding cartridges and their dimensions and features. Unfortunately a lot of it is either outdated or inaccurate. Some of the other info out there might be hard to understand by a layman. This well researched book is written by Andrew Chamberlain

I ran across this guy at the POMA convention recently and he has written a book on cartridges and the information pertaining to them. I have seen quite a few books on this subject but he approaches it from a different angle. It starts with an explanation of how to select a cartridge for a specific purpose. It details who should use what cartridge based on such factors as purpose of use and recoil. The details are very comprehensive and clear. Anyone should be able to understand the text. It also contains a glossary to help anyone who isn’t clear on some of the terms used. Pictures are sprinkled through out which gives a face to the info provided. Then it goes to what to consider when selecting a round such as conditions, range, accuracy requirements and other factors a shooter may look at.

If you like tables and graphs then this book is for you. There are over 100 pages of tables in small print that covers grouping of calibers by caliber, energy, velocity and recoil. They also cover energy efficiency, sectional density, bullet momentum and recoil energy.
All of the modern cartridges are covered and if you want to know anything about your hunting load this is the read that will help you out. I am in total awe of how much time and effort was expanded to compile these tables. Bullet brands are also covered. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not knowing the pertinent info on his favorite cartridge.

After you get through with the tables they have a chapter on identifying an animal’s physical characteristics and describe which bullets and calibers work best for a particular application. They go into bullet behavior with a clear explanation of what to expect with certain bullets. Components and parts of a bullet are described in good detail which would be a great help to a beginner. Special purpose bullets and wound channel information is also described. Penetration and expansion of various bullets are written about extensively. In flight bullet behavior as well as effect of various calibers is gone over in detail. The book goes into cartridge names and recoil energy among many other things. There is so much info in this guide that it is hard to cover in a review. It is not a reloading manual for various reasons.

There are charts showing bullet drop at various ranges and other useful info that a shooter may need. With this book you can figure out the energy of your bullet at various ranges. By the time you finish this book you should have a good understanding on ammo nomenclature and behavior.

It is evident that a lot of research and work went into producing this book and I would give it an A+ for anyone who wants a lot of good info on their favorite cartridge. For more info you can go to to buy a copy. At $24.99 it is a bargain

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hodgdon's Powders Part ll

The 303 Savage responds well to LEVERevolution powder and Hornady's FTX bullets

I also received some LEVERevolution powder from Hodgdon. A Marlin 336 20” barrel in 30-30 was used for this test. The 30-30 has been around for some 115 years but continues to be very popular for deer hunting. With the new powder and bullets its popularity will soar because the guns are so handy and relatively inexpensive. You will gain at least 100 yards with the new powder and bullets.
37 X Lever 150 grain Barnes TSX 2385 nice
36.5 X lever 160 grain Hornady FTX 2335 consistent
35 X Lever 180 grain RN 2144 good load

The 25-35 is another old timer however they are still fairly popular. With that thought I tried a load. The factory load lists a 117 grain at 2230 so you can realize a 150 FPS increase which may make it suitable for close range deer.
26 X lever 117 grain Horn RN 2386 nice load

LEVERevolution is a real fine powder that measures consistently

So what good does the FTX bullet do over a conventional round nose bullet in regards to usable range? Let’s use 1000 FT LBS of energy as the minimal amount to reliably anchor a large game animal according to many experts. You can probably boost the velocities of the round nose bullets using lever powder a hundred feet per second or so but what would be the point. You still have a poorly shaped bullet and at most you would gain a few yards of useful range. In my opinion it’s not worth the time or effort. The ballistic coefficient of a Hornady 170 grain flat nose is .189 while the FTX is 330, quite a difference.
150 grain rn
Muzzle 2390/1902 100 yards 1959/1278 200 yards 1581/832

160 grain FTX
Muzzle 2400/2046 100 yards 2150/1636 200 yards 1916/1309 300 yards 1699/1025
As you can see the 150 grain drops below 1000 LBS before reaching 200 yards while the FTX extends the range to 300 yards a 35% increase in usable range. The 170 grain flat point launched at 2200 FPS drops below 1000 FP LBS of energy at 150 yards so the 160 grain FTX would double the useful range.

The pointed FTX bullet will extend the range at least 100 yards given the same velocity

Even though the 303 Savage is considered obsolete there is still a demand for the ammo. Quite a few people still hunt with the Savage model 99 because it is so durable and still gets the job done. With that thought I decided to work up a couple of loads which will enhance the performance of the old round. It has about 3.5 grains more capacity then the 30-30 using Lever powder. I added a conventional bullet for comparison.
38.5 X Lever 160 grain Hornady FTX 2447 consistent
36 X Lever 180 grain RN 2220 nice

The 30 Remington has a very similar case capacity to the 303 Savage so I tried one load. I used a Remington model 14 pump for this test. Like the 303 Savage the 30 Remington is still moderately popular among deer hunters. The rifle is both light and handy in the woods both desirable traits. Both the 303 Savage and 30 Remington were brought out to compete with the 30-30. For awhile they did pretty well but were dropped after WW ll.
38 X Lever 160 grain Hornady FTX 2504 consistent-max

The 32 Winchester Special can also benefit from the new powder and bullets. There are enough 32 Winchesters out there to make using this powder worth while. If you have a 32 Remington then you should get similar results with similar loads. The FTX bullets in my model 94 are very accurate and will extend the range over the flat point bullets by at least 100 yards.
37 X Lever 170 grain Horn FP 2197 ok
Hornady factory 165 grain FTX Lever 2291 nice
37.5 X Lever 165 grain FTX 2177 mild
37.5 X Lever 165 grain FTX 2223 consistent
38 X Lever 165 grain FTX 2266 consistent
38.5 X Lever 165 grain FTX 2284 factory spec

30-30 top, 30 remington and 303 Savage benefit from LEVER powder and FTX bullets

The 35 Remington also has available a 200 grain Hornady FTX which will extend it range also. I used a Marlin model 336 with a 20” barrel for this test. The 35 Remington is still being offered in rifles and factory ammo is available to some extent but like the others in its class handloading brings out the best in it. Quite a few years ago when I was a youngster I can remember my dad having a Remington pump in 35 and he didn’t have a great deal of trouble harvesting a deer at woods range. It would be interesting to hear his comments on the new FTX bullets.
41.5 X lever 200 grain Hornady FTX 2064 good load
42.5 X lever 200 grain Hornady FTX 2164 great load
The 200 grain FTX starting at 2225/2198 still has 1503/1003 at 300 yards which makes it a legitimate 300 yard round if you can pull off the shot.
The 200 grain round nose commonly used in the 35 launched at 2100 FPS would have dropped to 1,000 FT LBS of energy at 150 yards. That would be about ½ the range that the FTX can be used at. You can use a round nose with this powder and get a hundred feet per second or slightly more but due to the poor shape of the bullet you would realize very little range advantage.

Marlin model 95 in 45-70 used in test

I fired the 325 grain FTX in the 45-70 velocity was 1957 and accuracy is good. With a BC of .325 it flattens out the trajectory from a 300 or 350 grain roundnose. You can load the 325 grain up to 2200 FPS in a modern gun such as the Marlin but not in a black powder rifle such as a Trapdoor Springfield. If you reload the 325 grain FTX in the 45-70 you may have to trim the case a bit shorter then normal. Because of the shape of the bullet the cannelure has to be located where it is for best results. Hornady designed it that way to give it the highest ballistic coefficient possible. Hornady offers FTX loads in factory ammo in case you don’t reload. The factory Hornady ammo does have a slightly shorter case so you might want to keep them separated from the normal cases. I have tested a lot of Hornady ammo in various calibers over the last couple of years and it always chronographs at or near the advertised velocity and is always accurate and reliable.

So yes there is a major advantage to using FTX bullets with new powders if you want to extend the range of some of the old standbys. How important is that to you? If you stay in the woods and never hunt fields it might not make much of a difference. However if you come out to the edge of the woods and see a nice buck across the bean field 200 yards or so away then you might want to ask yourself? Do I want the standby flat point or the new FTX loaded with LEVERevolution powder? Your answer will determine if you will harvest that buck or watch him walk away. With the new ammo you will gain a flatter trajectory plus a possibility of better accuracy as well. My calculations indicate a 100 to a 150 yard range increase for such calibers as the 30-30 & 35 Remington which is nothing to sneeze at. If you have a 32 Winchester or 32 Remington you are in luck as they offer a 160 grain FTX bullet. You can have usable ranges to 300 yards provided you have the skill to pull off such a shot. Most game animals are shot within 200 yards; though a longer shot is sometimes necessary so instead of buying a new rifle you can upgrade the old smokepole, another advantage to using new bullets and powders. You just need to know that these products are not magic wands. If you don’t have the skill with conventional ammo you probably won’t gain anything with the new stuff. With the new ammo, if you have a longer shot then you are covered. The long and short of it is if you have a rifle such as a 30-30 and don’t want or can’t afford a new rifle a change in bullets and powder will give you an honest 100 to 150 yards in useful range. That alone can save you some bucks and make your hunts more successful.

The 32 Winchester special another old timer that works well with Lever and FTX bullets

There are a lot of changes taking place in the shooting industry including some new calibers and gun models. However the most interesting changes may be taking place with the introductions of new powders and bullets. Today’s ammo is more accurate and gives better killing power then that that was made a generation ago. For us hunters those changes are a good thing. Just remember this isn’t your grandfather’s bullets or powder even if it’s his gun.

Hodgdon's New Powders Part l

Accuracy that cen be expected using Superperformance Powder

At the 2011 SHOT show I went to the Hodgdon booth as there are always new powders to try. They had their recently introduced new powders including the LEVERevolution and Superperformance brands. They were recently introduced to us handloaders with the idea of improving the performance of certain cartridges. It is the same powder that Hornady uses in some of their factory loads. Both are ball powders that meter very evenly in most powder measures. The burning rates for the LEVERevolution is between BLC on the fast side and H-380 on the slow side while the Superperformance is between H-4831 on the fast side and WW 780 on the slow side. Between the new powders being introduced and the Hornady FTX bullets there are a lot of exciting possibilities for some of the old standbys. With the Hornady FTX bullets a tubular magazine can be safely loaded with pointed bullets, extending its range. Those bullets are available in 30, 32, 338, 35, 357, 44 and 45 calibers so anyone with a lever gun can take advantage of these fine bullets. Stay tuned they will probably be offered in more choices because of their efficiency and popularity. Not only do they extend the range of a lever gun but with the plastic tip they are more likely to open up at the longer ranges thus giving the hunter better killing power. They can be used in some bolt guns as well as revolvers so there is something for everyone. Do not load conventional pointed bullets in a tubular magazine as the point can possibly set off the round in front of it due to recoil. If that happens the results will be disastrous for both the gun and shooter. If you want more info on Hornady’s fine products you can go to They also carry FTX bullets in handgun calibers.

220 Swift works well with SUPERperformance powder

Since the 22-250 is listed for the Superperformance and it is one of my favorite cartridges I decided to try it with several bullets. They listed 42.5 with a 60 grain bullet so I tried it with a 63 grain Sierra Semi pointed which I had a supply on hand. It was the only load that didn’t do well as it has a high es and marginal velocity. (See tables)
Rifles tested was Weatherby Vanguard 24” and a Ruger model 77 22” That would explain why the Weatherby is faster then the Ruger as it has 2” more barrel. As in all guns some combos work better then others which is why we experiment. I would not advise you to increase loads.
44 X super 55 grain Sierra BT HP 3933 Weatherby great load
44 X super 55 grain Sierra SP BT 3829 Weatherby nice
44 X Super 55 grain Sierra SP BT 3793 Ruger consistent
44 X super 55 grain military BT 3763 Weatherby consistent
42.5 X Super 63 grain Sierra SP 3577 Weatherby high es
42.5 X Super 63 grain Sierra SP 3555 Ruger high es
43 X Super 60 grain Sierra HP FB 3685 Weatherby OK
43 X Super 60 grain Sierra HP FB 3568 Ruger consistent
43 X Super 63 grain Sierra SP 3613 Weatherby decent
43 X Super 63 grain Sierra SP 3519 Ruger ok

Superperformance can be used in a verity of cartridges

I have a Ruger model 77 in 220 Swift with a 26” barrel and thought it would be interesting to try it with the new powder. I would not exceed these loads as pressures can rise dramatically with a small increase in powder charges.
LOAD Bullet Velocity COMMENT
47.2 X Super 50 grain Remington HP 4272 consistent max
47 X Super 52 grain Hornady 4253 ok max
45 X Super 55 grain Sierra BT SP 3973

Various bullets used in test.

44.5 X Super 60 grain Sierra HP FB 3730 high es
44.5 X Super 63 grain Sierra HP FB 3708 high es
Notice that the velocity dropped using 46 as opposed to 45 but it was more consistent. It seemed to like the 55 grain bullet in this rifle. The Swift needs a little more work which will be done as soon as I can get more powder. Like all powders it doesn’t do everything for every gun but when you get a fit it really works out well. They have a fairly narrow field of cartridges that they are suitable for but if you find one that they are meant for they really will shine. The new Hodgdon reloading manual lists quite a few calibers that these powders are good in. The Swift being an example it likes some bullets better then others. The same can be said for the 22-250 or any other rifle for that matter. Hodgdon states that they can’t keep up with the orders so it may be a while before I can get some more. It should work well in such cartridges as the 300 RCM and Win Short Mag. As a note both powders meter extremely well. I have measured just about every powder available and these two powders meter as good as anything I have used and better then virtually all of them. I checked them for consistency and virtually all the time there was no difference in the thrown weight. Occasionally it would vary by 1/10 grain but that was rare. For those who weigh each powder charge, it shouldn’t be necessary with these two new powders. For more info on these fine powders you can go to They also carry Winchester and IMR powders and you can get free loading info on their site also. The Sierra bullets used produced exceptional accuracy which I have come to expect from them. For more info on their line of bullets you can go to I have been using a Vortex 4.5 X 10 scope on the 22-250 and it has great optics enabling us to shoot good groups. For more info you can go to for more info on these great products.

Weatherby Vanguard 22-250 used in tests

Monday, April 11, 2011

RCBS Ammomaster Chronograph

View of RCBS skyscreens

RCBS Chronograph
As a result of going to the 2011 SHOT show I received a RCBS Chronograph for testing and evaluation. Sheila Ennes sent it along with the Speer # 14 reloading book which I find extremely useful. The chronograph is made in China, what isn’t these days, has a novel shape much like a large round of ammo. It mounts on a standard camera tri pod which is a plus for it. The screens and electric eyes are stored inside the body which really makes it handy to carry and store. When it is in use it comes apart with the smaller end has the screen and various buttons while the larger part holds the sky screens. It is easy to assemble for use. All in all a neat arrangement especially for transport.

It has the usual buttons to retrieve data but I have found it less then user friendly. It seems overly complicated to operate at least to a gadget klutz like me. My shooting buddy who is better with gadgets doesn’t have as much trouble though he agrees that it could be easier to operate. Over a period of time it is getting easier to operate once you get used to the buttons. It helps to read the directions. It doesn’t have print capability at least yet. It takes a nine volt battery and has a one year warranty.

Large numbers are easy to read

I have used it for quite a few types of guns and it picks up the velocities well from about 600 FPS to 4000. The numbers are large which makes them easy to read something my aging eyes appreciate. It is capable of reading velocities from 500 to 7,000 FPS and can also be read in meters per second. It weighs 4 LBS and 2 OZ and has 20’ wires which are nice because sometimes you have to be further then 10’ from the start screen. I find that true when chronographing black powder loads.

If you are looking for a moderately priced chronograph then I would suggest you check out this model. It novel storage features and lower price, around $130, gives it a thumbs up.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Speer # 14 Reloading Manual

Speer # 14 Reloading Book

Speer # 14 Loading Manual

There are many loading books out there and for the most part they contain a lot of good info. Speer has been producing loading manuals for a long time and in 4/07 they came out with the number 14. It has been reprinted a couple of times indicating its popularity. There is a good reason for the many copies that were and are still being sold.

Page from Speer Manual showing details of cartridges

It has 1149 pages full of must read material for the advanced and beginner alike who want to handload their ammo. It covers all of the modern cartridges that are in production as of the time that it was written and covers a few of the odd ball numbers such as the 9 mm Largo. The history and description of each cartridge is extremely complete and covers any item that you are likely to run in to. For certain cartridges such as the 32-20 and 45-70 it goes into different levels of loads for the guns that were produced many years ago as well as modern weapons. I can tell you that a lot of hard work and research went into this book. They have good drawings and dimensions of all of the cartridges listed which in itself is a valuable asset. It goes into all of the dos and don’ts of reloading. Safety and problem issues are also dealt with in detail. If you are having a reloading problem chances are the answer is somewhere in the Speer book. Of course the data is for Speer bullets and they wisely advise the reader to reduce a little if another brand of bullet is substituted. Since they are part of the same company they recommend RCBS loading products and molds which is another quality brand.

View of RCBS chronograph

Friday, January 28, 2011

Powder trickler

Powder Trickler
Recently I had an opportunity to test an electric powder trickler. With certain course powders in order to get accurate measurements it is necessary to run it through a measure then trickle the last couple of grains in order to get consistent charges. Powders such as 4198 or 3031 are course and difficult to get consistent charges from a conventional measure. That is where this unique product comes into play.

UniqueTek offers this neat trickler plus many other novel products for the shooter and reloader. They seem to find products that while necessary for us shooters aren’t found in many other places. They have aftermarket items to make your Dillon work better. I have those on mine and they do indeed help out. They have other stuff including cleaning products that work well. I strongly recommend that you check out their website and see for yourself what they have to offer.

The Omega 2-Speed Electric Powder Trickler has several good features. It has a two speed motor that precisely meters the powder according to our needs. It has a heavy base that won’t slide but doesn’t take up excessive room on a reloading bench. It uses two AA batteries to power it. The 4½” long discharge tube is cut at an angle so you can see the powder coming out. It is adjustable for height and can rotate 360 degrees. It is a well made unit that should last for many years of use. I use it with various powders and it always meters well and stopped precisely where I want it to. For someone who uses course powders I can definitely recommend this unit for the uses it is designed for. It will save time and frustration when dealing with those course powders. There is a warning not to use black powder or substitutes as static electricity can ignite black powder. It is a worthwhile addition to any loading bench. For further info go to

Bob Shell