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  • March 26, 2013

    Is This Bullet Accurate? It Is. Are You?

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the questions I am most often asked is, is such and such a bullet accurate? To which I invariably reply, “Accurate enough for what?” It’s a relative term. If you want to shoot in competition, you need a different order of accuracy than is required in a hunting rifle. The easy answer is, I don’t know of any bullets, hunting or target, that aren’t accurate, except for what’s in some of the cheap military ammo, which is loaded with industrial waste and possibly a pinch of cat crap.

    Competition bullets don’t have to expand or penetrate, they just have to get into the same hole as the previous bullet. Their construction, while requiring great precision and ruthless quality control, is much simpler than that of a hunting bullet, which has to expand and penetrate both, and getting a slug to do this involves complications. The Swift A-Frame, for example, has two cores, not one, and they’re bonded to the bullet’s jacket to keep everything together. Two cores doubles the chance for an error in manufacture, but since A-Frames are made in small numbers with people constantly keeping track of what’s going on, they shoot just fine. If you go to Africa and would like to see your PH smile, tell him you’re shooting A-Frames.

  • March 25, 2013

    Good Hunting Gear: TerraLUX Lightstar 80 Flashlight

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Of all the many things we can buy covered in camo that shouldn’t be camo-ed, flashlights rank near the top of the list, along with knives. Several years ago a big game guide showed me his knife. He had dipped the handle in some kind of rubberized bright orange paint. It was easy to hold onto, he said, and easy to find when he set it down somewhere.

    Which brings us to the TerraLux Lightstar 80. I used one last season and found it to be in most ways a basic, serviceable light. It’s a fairly inexpensive ($30 list, sells for less) 80 lumen LED light that runs for five hours on a pair of AA batteries. It has a rubber ring around the end so you can hold it in your mouth comfortably, and the on-off switch can even be operated with tongue pressure.

  • March 22, 2013

    Shotgun Ammo: Do You Have to Relearn to Shoot After Switching to High-Velocity Loads?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Deadeye Dick asked an excellent question in a comment on the high velocity ping pong ball post: Do you have to relearn how to shoot when you switch to very high velocity loads?

    Others will disagree but I will say no, you don’t have to learn to shoot all over again. I haven’t recalibrated my leads consciously or (as far as I know) unconsciously when I shoot high velocity ammo. Remington’s website says the difference in lead between their 1,675 fps Hypersonic and other steel is 11 percent — about eight inches at 40 yards. That would be on a true 90-degree crosser at 40 yards, and most makeable shots in the field occur at shorter distances and shallower angles. On, say, a 20-yard quartering target, the difference in lead between a super-fast shell and a normal velocity shell is negligible.

  • March 21, 2013

    Some Projects for Senator Feinstein

    By David E. Petzal

    At the beginning of this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid informed the world that he would not introduce a bill containing an assault weapons ban to the Senate for a vote, since there was as much chance of it passing as there is of Bill Clinton taking holy orders (my metaphor, not Sen. Reid’s). This came as a bitter blow to Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) who was sponsoring the ban, and whose fondest hope it is to see ARs, and eventually all firearms, outlawed.

    I hope that Sen. Feinstein will not mope overly much, because there is work to be done, by gum, and she is the one to do it. In order to make the United States a better place, here are some of my own ideas for firearms-related laws that she might take up.

    - A law requiring any candidate for national elective office to be a Life Member of the NRA before they can claim to be a shooter or a gun owner. It would not make this a safer country, but it would spare us all an immense amount of bulls***.

  • March 20, 2013

    Pheasants: When Your Hunting Truck is a Plane

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Occasionally we have discussed hunting vehicles in this space. Photographer Dave Tunge sent me this picture of his “hunting truck,” a Piper Super Cub. “The Super Cub is a poor man’s helicopter,” he told me. “I can land almost anywhere with it.” He uses flotation tires inflated to just 6-8 psi (“like pillows”) he says, that allow him to roll over rocks the size of softballs and ruts in the fields without feeling them.

  • March 19, 2013

    Gun History: M-1 Carbine—The Gun that Got Above Its Pay Grade

    By David E. Petzal

    To understand the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M-1, it’s helpful to recount the experience of my Uncle Ed who was a naval officer in World War II. In the course of his training he was expected to qualify with the Model 1911 Colt by standing 25 yards from a bull’s-eye target, assuming a duelist’s stance, firing 10 rounds, and getting a score of at least 70 out of 100. Uncle Ed, whose prior experience with handguns was nil, did not get a shot on the paper. The range officer who scored his target took out a fountain pen, punched ten holes in the black, and said, “Congratulations, Ensign, you’ve just qualified with the .45.” Uncle Ed, who was a thoughtful type, then bought a Colt .38 Special revolver which he carried throughout the war.

  • March 14, 2013

    Knife Review: The Diamond Blade Meridian

    By David E. Petzal

    Those of you who follow my rantings and ravings are aware of my creepy—bordering on unnatural—fondness for Diamond Blade knives. I think they’re about the best working knives you can buy, both because of their excellent design, and because they will stay sharper longer than anything else that cuts. This is not based on gutting one deer; it’s based on the 100 yards of ½-inch manila rope which I reduced to nothing, half an inch at a time, over the course of several years, slicing away with all sorts of knives to see which kept their bite longest. A number of them did extremely well, but none could match a Diamond Blade.

    If you’re new to the name, Diamond Blades are made of D2 steel, which is common in the knife biz, but the edges are subjected to a unique process called Friction Forging, which subjects the metal to great heat and immense pressure. (It’s an adaptation of the technique by which submarine hulls are joined together.) This results in a blade whose edge is so hard that its Rockwell number is off the chart (65 to 68 on the C scale; 62 is regarded as absolute max on conventionally tempered blades) while the spine is Rc 42-45, about as hard as a rifle receiver.

    The result is the same as Japanese swordsmiths achieved with katana blades—an extremely sharp, durable edge, and a nearly unbreakable blade. I once watched a Diamond Blade bent double in a vise, then bent straight again, and it didn’t care much if at all.

  • March 13, 2013

    Gun History: The Million Dollar Luger in .45 ACP

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Currently Dave and I are writing a sort of followup to the Total Gun Manual entitled “100 Great Guns” and as I have been reacquainting myself with the world’s most famous firearms, I was reminded of the interesting story behind the very rare .45 caliber Luger.

    In the movie Wall Street, greedmeister Gordon Gekko brags about owning “the rarest pistol in the world,” and shows off a (prop) .45 caliber Luger. Also known as “the million dollar Luger” the pistol was not merely a product of Oliver Stone’s imagination; it does exist as an interesting footnote to the familiar story of the Army’s adoption of the 1911 as its sidearm.

  • March 11, 2013

    Shotgun Ammo: Supersonic Ping Pong Ball Shows Why Steel Shot Needs Speed

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Time for a special “Science Monday” Gun Nuts post. Steel shot, we know, is ballistically challenged because it’s light. Driving it at very high velocities is inefficient because it loses velocity quickly, but it’s the only way to make steel hit harder without going to a larger size pellet. Field experience among waterfowlers generally shows that high velocity steel does outperform slower steel shot.

  • March 8, 2013

    U.S. Military Arms: A Few Mistakes Here and There

    By David E. Petzal

    In writing my post on the M-14, I alluded to our less-than-sterling record of not always putting the best guns in the hands of our servicemen. This is not a base canard; it is a dismal fact.

    Let us start with the War of Southern Miscalculation, when the Union’s issue weapon throughout the conflict was the Model 1861 Springfield Rifle Musket (above). It was a good weapon as muzzle-loaders go, but it had a sustained rate of fire of two rounds per minute (three in the hands of someone who was really good) while the cartridge-firing lever-action Spencer, which was available in the latter stages of the war, could deliver 20. Union Ordnance would have refused to issue the Spencer at all save for the direct intervention of A. Lincoln, who tried it and liked it. The Spencer rifle and carbine established an admirable record and might have shortened the conflict had they been in wider use.

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