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.