Saturday, October 26, 2013

Firearms Guide 4'th Edition

                                                 Firearms Guide 4’TH Edition

                                                (Book Review)

I recently had an opportunity to review the 4 ‘TH  edition of the Firearms Guide.  If you want info on guns and ammo this guide is for you. There are a lot of listing for gun makers and models. You can go in and in various ways look up a gun and caliber, models, finishes and other pertinent info regarding that gun. It shows pictures and prices where available. The gun section is broken down to types such as drillings or bolt actions and further broken down to each maker. You can go into a specific maker and see what they offer. One feature I love is they are getting into antique and military guns going back to the Civil War. There are some machine and Gatling guns listed as well  I would buy the guide just for that.  In fact, they are soliciting pictures of old guns that are not there in order to have more info for future issues. I am going through my collection to see if I have something, they need in order to make it more complete. Like all good publications they are looking for various ways to make a real good book even better.  There are no articles on guns or ammo but that would be out of the scope of this book. The best way to look at this publication is it is a super list of the things described in this piece.
Swiss Vetterli schematic?    You bet!

Ammo is broken down to caliber and further to manufacturer. You can pick a specific caliber and see who is making it and what loads are offered. Pictures are also given along with prices and ballistics where available. Bullet weights and some illustrations are also shown.  Every ammo maker is listed worldwide as well as the US.  There are calibers that most folks never heard of that is listed so if you need something odd there is a chance that you can find it here.
All brands of ammo are included

 There are well over 4,000 schematics from about 360 makers from every country that makes firearms. The pictures have good definition but those from other countries are in that language. It is a big help if you have a gun with missing parts or need something for a particular part. In some instances, you can see what the part looks like and possibly have one made for you. Air guns are included as well. For those of us who like offbeat guns such as drillings they have a nice list of them.

 Looking for a gunshop in your area? With this guide, you are in luck. They have a complete listing in every area and show all types of sales.  They list paws shops and class 3 dealers as well. In other words it is a complete list. I tried it in my area and found shops that I didn’t know existed. Addresses and phone numbers are included.
All types of shotguns are listed

 Another neat feature is they have printable targets of all kinds which will save you money from buying targets. Like every other aspect of this book the target selection is extensive. Since I am a writer I have an idea as to what effort is utilized in producing such a book. I am here to tell you that an enormous amount of work went into this product.

 It is very evident that a lot of work went into producing this book. Once you learn how to navigate around it is easy to find what you are looking for. There are various ways to find the desired info and they have a help section for non-technical folks  like me. It shows us how to find info easily. It is avialable for windows and mac systems. Also the 3 Rd  edition is available for $29.95  in case you want it. The list price is $39.95 and I am here to tell you that it is worth every penny you pay for it. Thumbs Up!





Tuesday, October 15, 2013

He Can Make Anything


                                         He Can Make Anything

 On  our way to the 2012  POMA conference I wanted to stop in Seymour Texas to see a shop that makes all kinds of reloading components and ammo for the obsolete calibers. I have been doing business with Bob Hayley for some years and was anxious to see how  he makes some of the stuff that he makes. I called about a week ahead of time to make the arrangements and everything was set. 
One of his many shelves of goodies

 We called when we left the hotel and he wanted to meet us along the road before we got into town. That turned out to be a good move as his place would be difficult to find otherwise. From the outside his place shown no indication of the business inside. There are no signs of any kind showing where he is located. Bob is from the old school, he has no computer if you want to talk to him, picking up the phone is the only way to get to him. Everything is kept simple. He is however an encyclopedia on ammo for old guns. His knowledge of the old guns and their history is vast. He is also a trained geologist and a preacher.  The town itself is a small sleepy town in North East Texas.  Bob is old school and doesn’t have a website so you can call him at 940-888-3352. Chances are he will have what you need. 

 Going in the shop there are only two rooms neither very large but full of goodies and various types of machinery used to manufacture his products. You see various types of presses and molds. He makes cast bullets that are not available elsewhere from custom molds obtained through the years.  Many of his molds are special order which makes them costly and usually requires a lengthy wait.
Dies that are necessary

 If you want pinfire ammo you are in luck. He can make any caliber in existence that you may want. Since it is a handmade product prices are not cheap but if you want to shoot that old gun he can help you. Since there are pinfires out there his knowledge  and products are appreciated. I have shot his pinfire ammo and it works.  
Various pinfire rounds are available

 He has figured out a way to make ammo for the obsolete rimfire calibers. One way he does it is to drill a hole on the side of the rim and use a 22 starter pistol blank as the ignition source. One major advantage to that is the case can be reloaded. Smaller cases need a small primer to obtain the same results.
Various shotgun shells can be made that are found no where else

 When making obsolete ammo it is frequently necessary to make the cases out of other cases that can be found. Some of the operations require trimming, swaging and cutting down the rim. As can be imagined special tooling is frequently in order. Bob has all of the necessary equipment to perform these and other operations as necessary. Many of his tools he has modified himself in order to perform the necessary tasks. That is a job in itself because everything has to be so specialized for a specific case. When I was there he had a lathe set up to make 351 cases out of 357 maxies. It is necessary to cut off the rim and put an extractor groove in the case. Needless to say the dimensions have to be precise in order to make a quality product. If the rim is not the correct size feeding problems will ensue. The extractor groove has to be deep enough but if it is too deep the case will separate causing a safety issue. Then it is trimmed and sized to be a finished product. Another example is a machine that swages the case bodies. That has to set it precisely to get the proper body dimensions. At the time of my visit he was making 43 Spanish cases out of 348’s . I form a lot of my stuff but Bob has a lot more equipment so I get some of my brass from him. Also I get most of my odd cast bullets there also as I don’t like to cast much and his bullet prices are reasonable. He makes cast bullets from tiny 22’s to giant slugs. I use a lot of his various 11 mm bullets and they always shoot ok. If you want an 8.15 X 46 bullet with a central driving band then you are in luck. A 6 sided Medford or a 310 cadet slug? Yes and many other bullets that most people haven’t heard of.  
These will make it possible to shoot your rimfire

 Some loaded ammo is available upon request as not everyone reloads their own. Also it takes knowledge to load those obsolete rounds. There are times when odd ball ammo is more difficult to load then your modern fodder.  I have purchased Berdan primers from him for some of the cases I load. He is one of the very few sources for these items. He also stocks reloading some reloading tools and dies and you can call to get details. Keep in mind it is a one man operation so be patient as he is extremely busy at this time.

Bob hayley     Looks like a college professor not a maker of odd ammo components

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reloading Ammo by Feel

                                                                    Reloading by Feel

 There are many techniques discussed when talking about reloading ammo but I don’t see many articles suggesting that feel is very important to successful ammo making. When you are performing various tasks, you can’t see what is going on inside the die so you have to depend on feel to determine how your ammo will come out. They don’t make transparent dies yet so feeling your way around the processes in vital.  Once you learn how to feel your way around reloading ammo will be easier and more enjoyable.

3 stages unprimed,deprimmed and primed cases
 Normally after you inspect and clean your brass sizing and decapping is your first operation. Sizing brings the case neck to the correct size to hold a bullet while the body is squeezed down a bit to enable chambering. Most dies decap the case also meaning the old primer is removed. The operation involves some resistance which depends on the size and brand of the case and the type of lubricant used. You can buy tungsten dies for most handgun rounds and I would suggest that you spring for the few extra bucks to buy them. They usually eliminate the need for lube which saves time and the die last longer. There is also a small amount of pressure required to remove the old primer as well.

Different bullets and loads will cause different feelings

 When you get set up you will notice the resistance involved and it should be the same for all of the cases. If it is too easy, you might have a split case or slipped in the wrong one. If you have a difficult time sizing the case perhaps you forgot to lube it in the instance of a rifle or handgun without using a tungsten die. If you get an unlubed rifle case stuck in a die, you have a serious situation. You will need a stuck case remover and some effort to remove it. Rifle cases need to be lubed around the body in order to size them easily. Don’t put lube around the shoulder area as that won’t help out plus will produce hydraulic dents on the shoulders. If you have military cases, especially foreign made make sure that the primers are of the boxer type. Trying to decap a Berdan type primer with a conventional set up will result in the assembly getting bent and breaking the decapping pin. That is an aggravation we can do without.   That is where feel comes in handy to avoid those headaches.  Some brands of cases are more difficult to size then others due to the construction some being thicker then others. Therefore, if you are mixing brands during sizing that might account for some of the feeling difference.       
Too much lube in shoulder area will cause these dents

 After sizing, priming is usually the next step. Seating a primer generates a little resistance which is ordinary. If the primer is too easy to seat the pocket might be expanded which usually results from shooting loads that are too hot. Once the pocket is expanded, too much the case is not good for anything other then a display round. If the primer is too hard to seat there may be a couple of reasons.  One is the pocket might have some residue which can easily be cleaned out. Military cases frequently have a crimp in the pocket which needs to be removed. I use a reamer for that task as I do a lot of military cases for various projects. There is a primer pocket expander available but I don’t care for it but it might be worth trying. I have run across some brands of foreign cases that have pockets that are too small or shallow to easily seat a primer. I either avoid them or slightly ream out the pocket. If you use too much force to seat a primer some of the compound might come out which will adversely affect the performance of the ammo.   
Bullet not seated or crimped yet. It will take a small amount of feel to complete this stage

 Seating the bullet is done by feel also. I always chamfer the inside of the case mouth which makes seating easier and more consistent.  You will have some feel, which is normal. If the bullet seats too easily you might have a split neck. Another possibility is the brass is too thin. I have used one brand of brass in the 8 X 57 caliber which has necks that are too thin and the bullets aren’t tight enough. That will cause inconsistent ammo among other problems including bullets dropping down in the cases. I size those necks in a .318 die, which helps, but normally I will buy another brand of brass to avoid that headache. Another cause might be bullets that are a tiny bit too small which is not common but can happen. Occasionally an expander plug might be too large causing loose fitting of the bullet. If they are too difficult, it might be thick brass at the neck. That could be especially true if you necked down the case from a larger caliber such as making 243’s from 308 cases. You would have to either turn down the case necks or ream them out. Thick necks will cause difficult chambering and possibly dangerous high pressures. Like every other operation when seating bullets, they should all feel the same. Remember you are dealing with dimensions that are in the .001 inch and that can make a difference.

Sizing die with tungston insert will make sizing cases a lot easier with less feel
 If you are crimping the bullets, there is also a feel there. Once you get use to using the feel method the crimping can be felt and if there is a problem you will realize it. The cases have to be the same length in order to have a consistent crimp.    If the feel is consistent chances are the ammo will perform better.
 Learning the feel method will help you out a great deal when loading ammo. Making good ammo has its

These are problems that may be picked up by using the feel method

Monday, July 15, 2013

CMA Bullets

Owner John with test guns


                                                                     CMA Bullets

 There are various ways of making bullets including casting, swaging and machining them. CMA uses the swaging method which entails forming them under pressure using dies. The dies determine the shape and caliber of the bullet. Both jacketed and lead bullets can be formed this way. One advantage to swaging is you can have a die made to make any type of bullet that you can dream up. There are some dies made by a couple of companies that are capable of making your bullets. It is fairly expensive to get into swaging and can be downright costly in some instances. So if you want to swage be prepared to lay out some cash.  A better option might be buying custom bullets from a custom maker such as CMA. His prices are very reasonable which is another plus.

Another option is to buy them. Most bullet companies swage their bullets under various criteria depending on what the projectile is going to be used for. If you like specialized bullets then a small company may be the place to check out. One such company that makes unique bullets and offers some loaded ammo is CMA.    For info you can go to   for more info and availability. Let’s be honest!  Anyone who reloads likes to experiment with various loads and bullets and this is a great way to achieve that goal. You might be able to suggest an idea to John and he might be able to make it but check with him first. All custom bullets require tools and dies specific to that particular slug. Since I do some swaging, I am well aware of the needs of custom bullet making.

44 special & mag with CMA bullets. Both shot accurately


As with all aspects of shooting the proof is in the pudding. How well do they shoot. I have used some of the hollow base bullets in 45 and they produce good accuracy even in a Judge, which can be finicky. Their stack-ems separate very well as they are supposed to. Light and button bullets can be useful in some self defense loads where excess penetration could be an issue. I have just received some 44 and 45 hollow base bullets which I have shot with good results. John also sent some 9 mm in 69 and 135 grain hollow points which performed well. The 69 should make a nice bullet in the 380. With such a light weight they should help make the 380 a serious social load.      

45 ACP SWC'S   Unlike many others these are beveled which aids in loading

We have shot some of John’s bullets and accuracy is always good. Even the Governor, which isn’t known for accuracy, shot them well especially the hollow base types. Many of his bullets are made for self defense and with his designs I see some good potential there. He makes some stackers, which are different, and with two or three bullets hitting an intruder at the same time, keeping your family safe should be no issue. He sent some 45 ACP 200 and 220 SWC bullets which should be good for target or small game hunting. They are FMJ’s and have a prominent bevel, which is lacking on most of these type of bullets. The advantage of a bevel is you don’t have to flare the case as needed in most handgun loads. That will extend the life of a case because beveling works the case mouth which will cause splits. With normal loads case splitting is the main cause of failure. 

Even the Governor which isn't known for accuracy shot CMA bullets well

 I finally got to meet John and he brought some samples to shoot. One interesting one is a 45 ACP 125 grain Tiger Claw HP. I am looking at a lightweight bullet that will cut down on recoil and still be effective.  After shooting this bullet in 2- 45 autos, I see a lot of potential for it. Accuracy is outstanding and at 1200 fps recoil is pleasant. The cavity is large which should expand readily in most medium. He uses  full length jacket with a plastic ball behind the lead core. While that changes the balance point of the bullet accuracy isn’t compromised, in fact it might help out in that department.  The full length jacket aids in feeding. One complaint that I have run across is the recoil of some 45 ammo. Even some of the hot 185 grain ammo drew some negative comments from mostly female shooters. I use a load of 7.5 X 231 and get real good results. A 125 grain HP at 1200 FPS  makes a nice controllable round in the 45 and would be effective for self defense. I let a couple of female shooters try it and they have a very positive review of it. They would carry it in their 45 ACP pistols.  Yes, women carry and shoot 45 autos.   

 Like many people, John wants to start and run his own business. One requirement to being successful is to have a quality and useful product. John’s items fill both those needs nicely. Reasonable prices are also necessary as well as good customer service. I have been dealing with him for some time and he is always a pleasure to deal with and anyone looking for some good bullets will do well to contact him.  There is a market for his innovative products and I for one hopes he succeeds. 

38 & 9mm bullets good for self defense also accurate
 Like many of us John started out with a single shot 22 with the help of his grandfather. He progressed along and at the age of 12 received a 22 auto loading rifle. Like many other people in the industry John progressed through the necessary steps in learning about handloading and bullet making. I would suggest that you contact him for prices and availability especially if you want a custom bullet. With the demand for ammo and reloading components there is always room for a good custom bullet maker.

He is a life member of the NRA Since 1979 and a Life Member of The Colorado State Shooting Association (CSSA) as well as a member of the 50 Cal Shooters Association, Army Marksmanship Association and the Elk Foundation. I try and keep myself current of activities that affect the shooting and hunting industries that we all hold so Dear.

Some more target bullets from a good selection of CMA products.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Double Tap Ammo


                                         Double Tap Ammo

 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. Since I have shot a good amount of his ammo, I was curious as to who developed the loads they use. It turns out that Mike does all of the load development for Double Tap. That job requires a lot of knowledge about ballistics and loading not to mention the time involved . Since his ammo shoots so well I can appreciate the dedication he puts into developing his products.  They also sell some accessories including some brass and bullets so that might be something to look into. 



Ruger Commander and Doubletap make a good combo


 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. He buys brass from various makers and it is always top grade. A couple of loads have a high ES but that could 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.


LOAD             BULLET                         VELOOCITY                    COMMENT

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        1257                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             good load  
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  


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.  Neither gun jammed with this ammo.


 Some of the 45 ammo tested

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 since there were no feeding issues..


 The 45 Auto Rim came out during WWl to supplement the 45 ACP. It is used in Colt and S & W large frame revolvers. I have a S & W 1917 which I used to test the Double Tap load. As usual it performed well. That is a potent load but they have several others in the auto rim caliber.

LOAD             BULLET                           VELOCITY                    COMMENT

Double Tap      255 gr SWC                        769                                 potent

They make ammo that isn't available elsewhere

 I recently received a Ruger 45 auto with a 4 &1/4” barrel for T & E. I thought that Doubletap ammo would work well and I was right. The Commander digested everything that I fed it.  For personal protection the Nosler 185 grain load would be hard to beat and I plan on using it as my carry load.

LOAD          BULLET                            VELOCITY                   COMMENT

Double Tap    185 gr Nosler HP               1182                              potent

Double Tap     200 gr Bonded JHP             1089                              consistent

Double Tap     230 gr FMJ  RN                 883                                 nice


 I have a LAR Grizzly in 45 Win mag.  There were several guns made for this caliber though the Grizzly and the Wildey were discontinued. TC makes a barrel and Freedom Arms offers an optional cylinder for their model 83. Factory ammo is difficult to find unless you check with Double Tap. They make four loads for it so you are in luck if you are lucky enough to own one of these pistols.  I started shooting ammo in this gun but unfortunately, the ejector broke so test was cancelled. The Double Tap look good with the limited shooting I did.


40 auto 125 grain HP   nice defense load


 Up to a few years ago when S & W introduced the 500 the 454 Casull was the most powerful commercial handgun. With good loads it is capable of taking any big game. Double Tap makes some loads for it and they shot very well in my Freedom Arms model 83 with a 10” barrel. Recoil with the 400 grain can be only described as brutal.

 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 though other brands are utilized.. 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. He has opened a new facility near the old one because of the rapid growth he is experiencing.



Double tap is the only company who presently makes ammo for the 45 win mag

 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 be safe and 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 have shot a good amount of his fodder and the velocities are always very close to the advertised speed.  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 don’t see how his business would ever fail with the quality products and service he offers.

Ammo is accurate also

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bear Hunting in Canada

Donald with nice bear shot with 12 gauge and Lightfield slugs
            Bear Hunting in Canada


 The big day has finally arrived. After waiting 10 months from August 2010 when I got this trip through POMA to June this year we are looking forward to the trip to Quebec. The Danis family generously donated the hunt to help POMA raise money for worthy causes such as helping writers getting their careers started. They deserve accolades for their generosity. Bill Miller from the North American Hunting Club arranged with the Danis family to give the hunt.    The lodge that we are going to is  It is a family owned business by The Danis Family, Raymond, Serge and Sylvain. I personally dealt with Serge. You can check out their website for info on hunts and fishing.


 We did the usual preparations sighting in guns and making sure we didn’t forget anything and got all of the required paperwork done. You have to go to Customs to get your guns certified so you can bring them back to the US after the hunt is over. You should be able to find a customs office in your area. If you don’t do this prior to the hunt you will have a very difficult time bring back your guns. For the Canadian Government you have to file a firearms declaration listing exactly what you are bringing including type, caliber, ser #’s and your name and address. It is a non resident firearms declaration issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which you can download and print. If you take care of this ahead of time it will save you aggravation at the airport. It will also cost $25 per gun case. Be sure that you don’t bring any restricted firearms as that will cause problems. Handguns and high capacity semi autos are not permitted so I would advise that you research ahead of time regarding legal weapons. If you are not sure leave it home. I am telling you this because if you don’t do this ahead of time it might ruin your vacation. You may also encounter some hostility from various officials about the guns so having the correct paperwork will help out greatly.  Of course you need a passport which can be obtained at the Post Office. You can get into Canada without a passport but returning back to the US is much more difficult without one. Going through airports is enough of hassle so don’t bring any unnecessary pain upon yourself by not having the correct paperwork. Be sure that the airline knows that you are transporting firearms and put them in an airline grade case. One other thing if you shoot a bear you need to tag it there so you can bring it back to the US. The outfitter can help you out on that matter.

Good fishing on the lake

 We arrived at the lodge Sunday evening after a four hour drive from. Ottawa. The lodge is located in the middle of nowhere and I mean nowhere. We drove 45 miles on a dirt road after leaving the paved section behind. There is no cell phone service or TV’s there so you might want to bring a book or two along. They do have Wi-Fi at the main lodge and a land line phone.   The cabins have some age but are well maintained and clean and have the necessary items such as a stove and refrigerator. I would not classify it as luxurious but it is ok for the purposes. If you are handicapped then you need to let them know ahead of time and they will make accommodations for you as they did for me.


 The last thing I expected to see there was a French chef. This guy cooked up some awesome meals that were fancy with all the sauces and fancy deserts. It was like eating at a fancy French restaurant. In other words the food is first rate. Breakfast was also top rate and great sandwiches were provided for lunch. Like everyone else at the lodge he and his assistants worked hard to make it a pleasant stay. They succeeded quite well.

338 RCM withAlpen scope good scope for gathering light

 The bear hunting is over baits and you are put into a blind. That might sound easy but believe me it isn’t. There is no guarantee that you will see any bear even if you do things right.  Bears are very intelligent and wary animals and especially the larger ones don’t go to a bait unless they feel secure in that there is no danger. They don’t get large by being stupid. They are very quick and move quietly capable of running up to 40 MPH and can climb trees with ease. They almost seem like a ghost as one second there is nothing and suddenly a bear appears. It might seem boring but you need to pay attention every second lest you miss out on a shot. Try and get a comfortable position early on so you can remain motionless as possible to enhance your chance of seeing a bruin. Hunting black bears is very worthwhile challenge that any hunter should enjoy. If seeing a bear out in the woods doesn’t get your heart racing then you better have someone take your pulse because you probably don’t have one. Another aspect though very small is the danger factor. A black bear is much more powerful then a human and can dismember one if it chooses to do so which is very seldom. Tracking a wounded bear at night has a way of keeping you alert. The bears average around 250 LBS but can be larger. You should bring a rifle that is powerful enough to do the job. You don’t need a super magnum, anything such as the 30-06 with a good bullet will definitely do the job. Bears are tough and even when well hit they may travel some distance. You don’t need a super accurate rifle as long as it has enough oomph to do the job. If it shoots a 3” group at 100 yards then you are in business. Shots are seldom over 75 yards and frequently much closer.


 The guides at the lodge work very hard to insure a hunter a chance to harvest one of these magnificent animals. They maintain the baits by checking them every couple of days to see which ones are active. The head guide EZ and his helpers drive some 100 miles each day to inspect and refresh the baits. The stands are set up so you can see a bear without being seen. A bear has an astronomical sense of smell and their hearing is also great. Their eyes are definitely adequate for the job at hand. You can use various items to cover your scent and silence is indeed golden here. Domaine Shannon runs a great lodge and I would recommend that you check them out if you are contemplating on going to Canada. They also offer moose hunting and good fishing at Shannon Lake. Pike and Muskie are the fish there.  While I didn’t fish I saw a lot of boats come back with stringers of fish so the lake is pretty well stocked.  They also have an 80 yard shooting range to make sure that the scope didn’t get knocked off during the flight. My 338 RCM was off by about 4” which was easy to rectify. The Alpen scope model 40-50 performed very well the light gathering qualities and lighted reticule really helped out in less then ideal lighting conditions. The optics are extremely clear, a big help in the woods. The model 40-50 is a 1.5 X 6 X 42 with a 30 mm tube and I would recommend it for serious hunting. For more info you can go to  for a complete listing of their fine optics.   

Cabin we stayed in

 The guides have you at the stand by 6:00 PM which is plenty of time as bears don’t generally move around a lot prior to 8:00 or so. Of course there are exceptions as with any type of hunting. There is no morning hunting as that isn’t as productive. They maintain between 65 and 85 bait sites and I have to admire them as to how they remember where they are. The roads are primitive and there aren’t a lot of signs there to help out. I probably would be lost most of the time if I had to do that job. They go out during the day to freshen the baits and see which ones are active. They only take a few hunters each week to increase the chances of success. Pickup from the blind is usually after 9:00 as the days are very long that time of the year.


 The first couple of nights we saw bear but they didn’t stick around long enough to allow a shot. I saw a large one about 9:10 or so but he vanished like a ghost before I could get off a shot. The same situation happened to Donald, like I said it isn’t as easy as it seems.

The next night I saw a small bear but gave him a pass as I didn’t want a cub. I saw another bear but he was partially obscured by some tree branches. I couldn’t tell for sure how large he was or where I could shoot as I couldn’t see all of his body. Ethics should prevent any hunter from taking such a shot.  When in a blind it is imperative that you don’t make any noise or do something that produces an odor that might spook the bear. You will also want good bug protection as there are a good supply of mosquitoes and black flies.  If you are swatting and scratching bugs then that will considerably diminish your chances of success. I highly recommend Therma Cell products as they work great in the blind. A good repellant with deet and a face net are also good things to have along. If you go out without any insect protection you will diminish your chances of success as the bugs will be getting your attention instead of the hunt itself. I can not over emphasize that point as the bugs are vicious and hungry. Most of the windows on the blinds are screened but the pesky bugs find all of the little cracks and take advantage of them.


 The following night Donald shot a nice size bear, about 325 LBS on the hoof around 8:15 PM. The well hit bear ran about 30 yards before piling up He went a slightly different route and was using a Remington model 870 pump with Lightfield slugs that were handloaded. A Leopold scope sat on top of his gun which performed well as you expect a Leopold product to do. They proved accurate and deadly in the rifled barrel that he was using. Range of the shot was about 65 yards. I have tested Lightfield products extensively and I can recommend them for the hunter who wants to use a slug either by choice or law. For more info you can go to for a complete listing of their products.

Lightfield slugs produce excellent accuracy

 The following night I was in a stand next to a logging road. The bait was about 75 yards into the woods and of course I was watching it. Imagine my amazement when a large bear appeared out of nowhere walking on the road coming toward my blind. He was leisurely walking along and came within 10 yards of me. Of course I didn’t make a sound and couldn’t get a shot because of the blind construction. I watched him for three or four minutes and finally he started to walk away from me and I thought that he was gone. However he entered the woods about 60 yards away on my side and I was sure that he was going to the bait. Sure enough about a minute later he appeared and I took the shot. He went down but was thrashing about and do to an obstruction I was unable to do a follow up shot. He got up and started walking away at that time I fired again but he disappeared. He was hit hard but they couldn’t find him as he went into a marshy area. It just shows you that bears are tough and in spite of a good shot I lost a fine trophy.  I was using a 338 RCM with a 210 grain Barnes TTSX bullet.    


 It was an enjoyable stay and the folks at Domaine guarantee you an opportunity to harvest a bear and if you don’t get an opportunity then they will offer you a trip next year on them.  That is pretty hard to beat. Their success rate is typically 90%.  They also offer moose hunting during that season. If you are looking for a good place to hunt and fish then I can highly recommend these people. If circumstances permit I will return.
Since lodge is out in the middle of nowhere a sea plane is handy to get there

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Charactoristics of Bulk Ammo


A  Luger such as this one is a perfect match for surplus ammo 

                                                   Characteristics of Bulk Ammo

 As we shooters are finding out the cost of ammo is spiraling out of control. Every time you go into a gun store, sticker shock happens when you buy some ammo. There are a couple of reasons for this occurrence. First of all, with the re-election of Obama there is a fear that he is going to go after us gun owners in one way or another. Unfortunately, that fear is justified. Another reason that ammo is going up is the demand from both military and civilian usage.  People are buying and stockpiling ammo for a rainy day. The law enforcement community is also buying large amounts of this product.  I have toured various ammo and bullet factories plus I have talked to various contacts in the industry and they all say that they can’t keep up with the demand although some companies are running 24-7.

 So if you like, to do a lot of shooting what are your options? Some people opt for reloading their own but the supply problems also plague that industry. It is however a good option but we are going to look at the other route.  Many of the guns that are currently popular are chambered for military rounds from various countries. One fact about military calibers is that they are commercially successful regardless of their characteristics. For the shopper of these calibers there are some good sources for these loads. One definite upside to buying bulk is the price. Ammo bought in bulk is about 50% the cost of regular store bought fodder depending on caliber and location.  

7.35 Carcano ammo is available surplus but may not always go off 

Ok so you are sold where do you get this stuff? One good place to start is at the gunshows. Especially the larger ones there is usually at least one distributer of bulk ammo. For the purposes of this article bulk will be at least 500 rounds. There isn’t much sense in buying smaller quantities especially if you want to save money. I see folks buying bulk is such quantities that they bring in a cart to carry it out.   Perhaps they get together with some friends and go into large lots which would be a good idea. Another advantage to buying at a gunshow is the elimination of shipping charges, which can be steep with heavy packages.  In the area I live in there is a company that sells bulk reloads in such calibers as 38 special and 45 Colt. The old adage that buying reloads at a gunshow is risky business in no longer valid. If you deal with a reputable company you will get good ammo at a reasonable price. I have tried a few of their calibers with satisfaction. Naturally, the brass is reloadable so you should pick it up. 

8 X 57 Mauser ammo is available and generally reliable  

 You may live in an area that doesn’t have a gunshow near by so the next best option is buying from various distributers online or get their catalog. Since shipping cost may be an issue you want to buy the largest quantity as you can. Going in with shooting buddies is a good idea.  One good source is Cheaper Then Dirt   You can go to their online catalog and check on prices and availability. If it is out of stock that info will show up on that page. They have a good selection at reasonable prices.  Another good source of bulk ammo is Ventura ammo  They have both Wolf and reloaded ammo including 38 special and 40 S & W besides the regular military stuff.  I have dealt with these folks and the experience was good.  Another possible source for surplus ammo is J & G sales  A company I ran across that advertises 7.62 X 39 is     may help out with your ammo purchases. Another excellent source for bulk is SOG   They have such calibers as the 7.5 French and 7.62 X 38 for the Russian Nagant. The 40 S & W is also available in bulk. 


 7.65 X 53, 8 X 56 30-40, 303 British and 7.62 Mas can be found on the market

So when you buy this ammo what should you expect in regards to quality and reliability? That is a legitimate concern, as poor ammo isn’t a bargain at any price. The ammo should feed and eject reliability and go off every time. You also want decent accuracy and safe loads. Keep in mind that this ammo is lower priced so they use less expensive materials, which isn’t a bad thing if done properly. A lot of the ammo is made overseas again that is ok. A lot of the cases are steel as opposed to brass which cuts the cost. The down side is they are not reloadable which may or may not be important to the consumer. They also have Berdan primers, which also makes them not suitable for reloading but further cuts the cost of the ammo. They generally have FMJ bullets, which for shooting purposes is fine. One of the largest manufactures of bulk ammo is Wolf.   They do offer brass cases with soft point bullets for those who prefer this type of ammo. Ventura ammo also offers this option in some calibers. That ammo may cost a bit more but is worth it to some consumers. The soft point ammo is good for some types of hunting. I had a batch of Wolf in 7.62 X 54 with a 205 grain softpoint and it shot quite well. I even pulled some of the bullets to use in the 303 British and 7.65 Mauser rounds with good results.     

More surplus ammo  

Sometimes you can find 6.5 Dutch but iit would probably misfire
 Since there are a lot of military rifles and handguns from WWl and ll the question of bulk frequently comes up for these relics. Buying bulk is possible for some but can be tricky. Keep in mind that WW ll ended 67 years ago and the manufacture of ammo for some was discontinued. If you buy bulk ammo for these there are a couple of things to be aware of.  Depending on original quality and storage you might have a lot of misfires. Another problem and potentially more dangerous is the hangfire. What happens is when you shoot the round doesn’t go off right away but may go off a few seconds later. If you have a misfire with any ammo keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction for at least 60 seconds before opening action. If you start to open the gun and the round goes off a serious injury may occur.  Some years ago I had some 303 British that did exactly that. About the only thing you can do is pull the bullets, if able and dispose of it. This ammo had the Cordite powder, which made for a good photo so all wasn’t lost. Another time I bought 500 rounds of 7.5 X 54 French and the ammo looked great. Unfortunately none of it went off so I pulled the bullets and used them for another project.  Like the newer bulk sometimes you can find it at a gunshow.   A good source to find bulk ammo is the Shotgun News magazine, which is available by subscription and on magazine racks. They are essentially a militarily orientated publication and they have advertisers of bulk and surplus ammo. I have seen such items as 30-06, 8 X 57 Mauser and 7.65 Mauser ammo advertised. Some of it was made in the 1980’s and 90’s and should be reliable. Occasionally you can find other calibers such as the 7.35 Carcano but it may not go off.  Pistol calibers such as the 7.62 X 25 Tokerav can be found with a little research. I have a CZ 52 and found that the bulk works well in it.  When looking for some of the less popular calibers some patience is required which will pay off in the end. If the ammo is old and looks bad you might want to give it a pass unless it is really dirt cheap. That way if it doesn’t  go off you still have the components.  Another thing to keep in mind is most of it has corrosive primers which will require you to thoroughly clean your weapon to avoid rust or other damage. When buying surplus or bulk assume that it has a corrosive primer to avoid any problems. Like any other shopping if you put some time and effort in it you will find what you are looking for at a decent price.

 I have shot a lot of bulk ammo in various weapons in my line of work.  I study ammo performance in various weapons and situations. I have shot a lot of ammo in anything from 9 mm to 308 and 30-06. With such brands as Wolf quality is generally good. Some loads leave some residue though I never had a malfunction because of it.  I have chronographed some and consistency and velocity is usually pretty decent though not top notch. Then again, you are not paying premium prices either. Accuracy is more then adequate for most purposes. I have been to our public range quite a few times and have observed that most shooter of the AK and AR platforms seldom shoot over 50 yards. A few do go out to 100 but that isn’t that common. For what it is designed for performance is good and I would recommend using bulk whenever available.       

8 MM Lebel Ammo