Saturday, June 23, 2012

Circuit Judge

Judge and Circuit judge Circuit Judge At the 2012 SHOT show as usual I stopped at the Taurus/Rossi booths to see what they have new. As usual they have a lot of novalty type of guns. A couple of years ago I did an article on the Judge which has some interesting features. They have come out with a rifle version of the Judge known as the Circuit Judge. Like the revolver it is a 5 shot that uses 45 Colt and 410 gauge shotshells. I ask for and received a sample rifle for testing which I received sometime later. Various ammo that can be used There is an insert that reduces the capacity to three rounds. For hunting migritory birds it is a federal law to have only three shots. Since the insert is easily removable it might cause a legal problem in some areas so that is something to be aware of. If you are in doubt about the legality of any firearm it is a lot cheaper to check it out before a game warden gives you a citation. It would make a nice rabbit gun out to 20 or so yards with a load of #6 shot. Its light weight and quick shoulder acquisition would make snap shots easy. Again, check for legality in your area. I don’t see much use for the 87 grain slugs as they are not particularly accurate and not powerful enough for hunting big game. For small game I would go with the 275 grain hollow base at about 1200 FPS. Hornady makes a 45 bullet that weighs 255 grains and is .454 in diameter which would make it a potentially great bullet to use. For a handloader the Circuit Judge is quite versatile within its limits. As with any gun you will have to determine what works for you. Circuit Judge has good accuracy potential One thing right off is I like its light weight. I feel that with proper loads in the 45 it can do ok for deer size game at woods ranges. A low power scope should be a good addition to this rifle. The rifle has attractive dark colored wood and the bluing is nice. The sight are high visibility and are adjustable. The 5 shot rifle has a double action trigger pull which is somewhat heavy for accurate work. The single action is a lot lighter making accurate shooting easier. Several people who tried it generally liked it due to its light weight and balance. We tried some cowboy loads from Ten X and Winchester. They were both mild and reasonably accurate. Having some experience with a Judge it will probably require an oversize bullet to produce the best accuracy. The Judge is designed for close range self-defense against intruders or rattle snakes on a hiking trail. With the proper ammo it does its job well. The Circuit Judge should be looked at as a hunting rifle for some large game at woods ranges. It isn’t difficult to work up a safe load but with the long cylinder getting accuracy might be more challenging. What ever range you can keep 5 shots into a small saucer should be your max range for hunting. Depending on the load range can be from 50 to 100 yards. It is not a long range gun as trajectory would be very steep past 100 yards. Ammo that is too long for standard Colt works well in Circuit judge I have tried a verity of loads from cowboy to some serious hunting loads. One thing that we noticed is it does spit some gas back into your face. It’s not a large amount but is noticable but if you wear safety glasess there should be no problem. It is a lot easier shooting it single action as opposed to the double action trigger which is heavy. I let a couple of females and a boy shoot it and they all liked it and handeled it well. The light weight really comes in handy. The stock screw has a tendency to come loose which can be annoying. It looks too small for its application though some locktite may help. Hawke Scope is perfect addition to Circuit Judge We shot some barnes VOR TX 200 grain XPB bullets which while mild were very consistent in the Circuit Judge some Barnes 225 grain XPB bullets were quite a bit warmer and are what I am looking for as I am looking for a hunting outfit.. We shot some Ranier bullets and results are listed below. My goal isn’t to get a lot more velocity but to tweak these loads and make sure some of them are accurate enough for hunting at 50 yards or so. I would not recommend making these loads any hotter as I am not sure what this gun is proofed at. I did not shoot any of these heavy loads in my Judge revolver as the recoil would be too vicious and there was no need for those in such a light weight gun. Just as a test we shot a Ranch Hand with a 12’ barrel and it always chronographed higher undoubtly due to the Circuit Judge having a large flash gap. Like any firearm you need to find out what works best. I read that if you have a 40 caliber weapon that will launch a 200 grain bullet at 1000 FPS or faster, you have a woods deer rifle. The Circuit Judge will far exceed that with ease. LOAD BULLET VELOCITY COMMENT 12 X Herco 200 grain Berry HP 1158 high es Ten X 200 grain lead 776 light Ten X 250 grain lead 768 Winchester 250 grain lead 1146 fair Barnes 200 Gr XPB 1210 mild-24 X 2400 Barnes 225 XPB 1683 consistent 12 X Herco 275 grain HB cast 1126 accurate 18 X Lil-Gun Ranier 300 grain FP 1218 high es 22 X 296 Ranier 300 grain FP 1315 high es 10 X Herco 305 grain cast HB 1042 accurate Since the cylinder is a lot longer and chambered for 410 shot shells loads can be heavier and some of the bullets can be seated out further which may enhance accuracy. From an accuracy standpoint the 458 diameter hollow base bullets seem the best. A 305 grain cast bullet should make a good hunting bullet. Such game as deer and pigs should fall to those in a convincing manner. Like the Judge, the Circuit likes oversize bullets. Bullets used in test The rifle comes with a base and I am going to mount a Hawke Eclipse 30 on it. This scope is a 1.25 X 4 X 24 with lighted reticle which can be red or green at your choosing. I have used Hawke scopes in the past and I highly reccoimend them for any hunting situation. For more info you can go to for a listing of their fine products. During testing the Hawke acquitted itself well as I would expect. The clarity make shooting groups easier. Screw that holds stock to frame is a bit small in my opinion The question is would I take this gun hunting because that is its main purpose as far as I am concerned. It can be used for self-defense if nothing else is available but I have a Judge that fills that bill nicely. So yes I would take it on certain hunts where there wasn’t a chance for long shots. For deer sized game out to about 100 yards it should do well and I will give it a thumbs up for that purpose. Walking through brush for rabbits? I would definitely use it. It is a unique gun and the price is reasonable. Circuit Judge is a pleasant and light gun to shoot

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Using Gunpowder

Some books that should be on a reloaders' shelf                               


 The powder that you put in the case is the fuel that propels the bullet out the barrel. As such it requires some thought before selecting the correct powder for your application.  When referring to loading ammo powder weight is measured in grains. So a grain is a unit of measure not one piece of powder. It takes 7,000 grains to make a LB. so a grain might not sound like much but lets put it in prospective. If your reloading manual indicates that 5 grains is max, then what harm will 1 grain extra do? If you add 1 grain to that 5 then you have a 20% over charge which may very well destroy your gun. Those manuals are printed for a reason and if you try and become cute that can cause you some grief.

What you see when looking up a load

 There are three types of powders available to the reloader. They are ball, flake and extruded. Ball powder has an advantage in that it meters very well and can be used in handgun, shotgun and rifle ammo. Flake powders are generally used in handguns and shotguns. They can also be used in some rifle applications. It meters reasonably well and if you keep your measure nearly full and tap the side occasionally it helps in the consistency. Extruded powders are generally for rifles though there are a few for handguns and shotguns. Sometimes the coarser ones will bridge in a measure. That means that one load may have very little powder while the next one may have a double charge  though that would probably overfill the case and spill on the table. That is one of the many reasons to pay strict attention to what you are doing.

Three types of smokeless powders available to the handloader

 Proper storage of powder is important. It can go bad after some years especially if stored where temperatures are excessive. It should be stored in a cool dry place away from any heat source. If you buy old powder at a yard sale be very cautious before using it. If you see a red dust scrap it. A sour smell might be another indication of defective powder. If you use it that way results can be unpredictable and dangerous. Your best bet is to dispose of it in a safe manner. Fresh powder is cheaper then gun and body parts.  Modern powders are not meant to explode though under certain conditions that can happen, usually with severe consequences.  When you fire a gun the powder burns at a rapid rate rather then explode. The rate is controlled by various factors such as the coating and size of the grains. There are various mixtures employed by powder makers to control the burn rate. That is why there are so many powders available and it is imperative that you select the correct ones for your particular application. For instance if you take a 30-06 case and fill it with pistol powder and shoot it disaster is imminent. The handgun powder which is way too fast for a rifle case so it will burn so quickly that the bullet won’t have a chance to move down the barrel, hence a blowup. Be sure you read the label on the container and don’t put powders in a incorrectly labeled can. Do not mix powders as that is a recipe for disaster.  There would be no way to predict what will happen but it won’t be good. 

Hornady produces excellent reloading components and manuals

 When you  select a powder for reloading a certain cartridge always go to one of the reloading manuals. You should have at least one, preferably more.  It will let you know how much and what kind to use. Do not exceed the max loads. Most manuals list from 10 to 15 selections for each load.  The reloading manuals are available at any gun store plus online such as Amazon and Barnes. All of your bullet  and powder makers produce them and they are all good. Examples are the Hodgdon, Sierra, Speer, Nosler, Barnes and Hornady. It doesn’t hurt to have all of them.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hawke Scopes

Model 70 in 7mm-08 mated well with Hawke Scope

     Hawke 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.

Adjustments are easy to see and use

 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 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 Hawke 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.     

Hawke and Ruger American make a good combo
Part ll

 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. 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 Hawke scope to get feedback. Everyone commented on the clarity and the ease of adjustments. No one had anything negative to say about either scope.

The ladies found both the Hawke and Winchester model 70 in 7 mm-08 easy to use

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 reticle 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.   

 I returned the Winchester 7 mm-08 so a new scope the HK 5164 3 X 9 was put on a Ruger American which is a new model released by that company. It is a low cost rifle and bears no resemblance to the model 77. Anyway the rifle performed very well and if you want more info you can go to The caliber chosen is the 30-06 and of course the scope performed to expectations, meaning that it was flawless and easy to sight in. Since I plan on keeping the rifle the scope will also remain with it as it will be my main hunting rig. I would reccomend the Hawke Panorama EV HK5164 in 3 X 9 for general hunting use. I did switch scopes from rifle to rifle as part of my test. The Hawke scope responded well. Through use on several rifles the Hawke have earned my trust and will be going on various hunting trips. this scope has red and blue illumination and is water and shock proof, making it more hunter friendly.   

Hawke, Knight and Black Hills Ammo all peformed well

 I transferred the scope from the Knight to a Circuit Judge rifle. It is a novel firearm well worth looking into if you want a 410 gauge shotgun and a 45 Colt round. Since you can use it for woods hunting I thought that the Hawke scope would be perfect for it. I wasn’t disappointed It will extract all of the accuracy potential that this rifle is capable of. I shot some 305 grain hollow base bullets in this rifle and they produced excellent accuracy for this type of rifle. The Eclips 30 1.5 X 4 with its large dot and wide field of view is a perfect match for the Circuit Judge and similar firearms. For more info on the Circuit Judge you can go to    Deer Pass HK 3254 1.5 X 4 on Circuit judge. Perfect Combo Hawke scopes show their versatility by being useful on a verity of firearms.  My view on the Hawke 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. For more info on their fine optics you can go to  

Flip ups to keep dust and moisture out

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Priming and Belling Cases

Large and Small Primers

                                               Priming and Belling the Cases

 After the cases are sized and the primer removed you are ready to put in a new primer and bell if necessary. Virtually all straight cases and some bottleneck cases need to be belled or flared. This allows the bullet to be seated without shaving the case or ruining it. If a bullet catches the side it will pull part of the case down which will render that round useless. Lead bullets need to be belled a little more then their jacketed brethren. It should be flared enough so you can start the bullet in the case but no more. Excessive belling will shorten the life of the case by causing cracks at the mouth. If you are using lead bullets in rifles the case needs to be belled to avoid shaving. Another downside to shaved bullets is loss of accuracy. One side will be shaved which will cause the bullet to be off balance.

Bullet in Case
Properly seated primer

 Primers come in two sizes large and small. Then they are broken down to rifle and handgun. To make things more interesting there are magnum and standard primers. Let us say that you are loading 9 mm’s for your Glock. The primer of choice is a small pistol. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all the pistol primer has the right amount of compound to properly but not over ignite your powder charge. Also a rifle primer is usually taller then the pistol so you will have difficulty properly seating it. Remember is primer has to be flush with the case head or even a thousands of an inch or two below to insure good feeding and ignition.   While not common a primer that is protruding can cause a slam fire. That happens when the bolt comes forward and ignites the round before the action is completely closed. That, my friend will light you up good and proper.  While not common you can have a residue buildup in your primer pocket. Excess residue will make seating a primer more difficult but an inexpensive tool can clean them out very easily. If you hear a crunch when seating a primer, that is a good indication that the pocket needs cleaning.

Belled case

 Depending on what type of set up you have you can have a primer feed tool or do them one at a time which might not be a bad way to start. There should be a certain amount of feel but if it is excessive or too easy there is a problem of some sort. If you have military ammo there is probably a crimp that has to be removed. For suck cases as a 9 I wouldn’t bother as it is time consuming. There are tools that will press the crimp but I never cared for those or you can carefully ream out the pocket. The only cases I do that with are old 30-06’s that I plan on making blanks or light loads. Anything else I just scrap. If the primer goes in too easy then the pocket might be expanded as a result of firing heavy loads in the case. Max loads will expand the primer pocket sometimes after only one firing. That is a clue to back off on the powder charge. Shotgun primers generally come in one size though there is a magnum version. At one time there was a smaller one used but you seldom encounter them today.  Priming is a simple mechanical chore but not always easy.