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  • February 28, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Febru-AR-y Madness

    By Phil Bourjaily

    The AR 15 platform can be adapted into a rifle for almost any purpose. Adding and swapping parts yourself is easy and can be performed endlessly, which is why some call these rifles “Barbies for men,” although I think of them as “Adult Lego.”

    Whatever the term, the end result is a rifle personalized to suit the whims and needs of its owner. Today we have two fine examples facing off: Gunfight Friday veteran Tim Flannery’s mostly-Bushmaster is chambered for .450 Bushmaster, one of several big-bore cartridges available for the versatile AR. Jerry from Fargo’s Rock River Arms rifle is a fairly stock 5.56/.223 with a couple of additions.

  • February 27, 2014

    Gun Making: Man Versus Machine

    By David E. Petzal

    What with the great controversy over the Winchester Model 70, the subject of manmade guns versus machine-made guns came up. There are those who believe that the old-fashioned way—skilled machinists putting steel through a series of operations by hand—is superior to CNC (Computer Numeric Control) where a hunk of steel is put into a single machine that is programmed to perform an extensive series of operations without a human being involved. The truth is that you can produce first-class work, or scrap, by either method.

  • February 24, 2014

    Shooting Long Range: The Generational Theory

    By David E. Petzal

    The other day while pondering whether major scandals would erupt on a hourly, daily, or weekly basis during the presidency of Hillary Clinton, I was smitten by a moment of blinding insight into the reasons behind the overwhelming interest in taking big game at long range. As it turns out, they’re only partly related to either shooting or hunting — they are, instead,  generational.

    Bringing down critters at long range is nothing new. Long shots have long held a fascination for us. Outdoor magazines once specialized in hunting tales where the nimrod nailed a Dall ram at 1,217 yards with an iron-sighted lever-action. But this was regarded as more of a stunt than anything else; something that you did maybe once or twice in a hunting lifetime and only in situations of high drama. The rest of the time, your shots averaged around 125 yards—or a lot closer—and so did everyone else’s.

  • February 20, 2014

    Rimfire Ammo Shortage Continues

    By Phil Bourjaily

    While supplies of centerfire and shotgun ammo seem to be catching up to — or maybe we’ve just reached the new normal — rimfire ammo remains scarce. And it goes fast when it does make it to dealers.

    A friend of mine is on the waiting list for .17 Mach 2 at several online ammo retailers. The other day he received an e-mail at 4:05 from MidwayUSA telling him the Mach 2 was back in stock. By the time he logged on at 4:10, it was sold out. It literally didn’t last five minutes before it was all gone.

  • February 18, 2014

    What's a Little Recoil?

    By David E. Petzal

    I pass this one along for your edification. According to the text that came with the video, this is one of three .950 JDJ rifles made by SSK Industries of Ohio. This is the lightest of the trio, the carbine version, weighing in at a negligible 50 pounds. The bullets, which appear to be lathe-turned bronze, weigh 2,400 grains and are pushed at 2,100 fps by 240 grains of powder. The .950 JDJ develops 25,400 foot pounds of muzzle energy and 277 foot-pounds of recoil.

  • February 14, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Weatherby Vanguard vs Ruger No. 1 International

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Today’s Gunfight is a face-off between Continental elegance and American practicality. Some like their firearms restrained and classy, others like them plain and practical. Both of these rifles are accurate game-getters.

    Fittingly, Edward Palumbo’s Mannlicher-stocked Ruger No. 1 International is chambered for the very European 7x57 Mauser, while Eric Kaneshiro’s Weatherby is chambered for the All-American .30/06. And, while on paper that may not seem like a fair fight cartridge-wise, it would be a tossup as to which of those two venerable rounds has taken more game in their long, useful lives. Here they are:

  • February 12, 2014

    Ol' Elmer's 600-Yard Shot with a Handgun

    By David E. Petzal

    Life is filled with mysteries. Is there a sasquatch? What happened to Amelia Earhart? Why does Attorney General Eric Holder lack a chin? And did Elmer Keith really kill a mule deer at 600 yards with a .44 magnum handgun? It is, as Churchill said about Russia, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

    The bare bones of the story are these. In the mid-1950s, shortly after Smith & Wesson introduced the Model 29 .44 magnum revolver, Keith and a rifle-toting friend were hunting mule deer and the friend, who was out ahead of Keith, shot and wounded a mule deer buck on an adjacent ridge. Since the rifleman was making a mess of things, Keith assumed a reclining position bracing his gun arm along his leg and commenced to shoot at the deer with a 6-inch-barreled Model 29. The first four shots were misses but Keith was able to walk the rounds onto the buck; the fifth hit him and the sixth killed him. Keith claimed the distance from him to the deer was 600 yards, and he was challenged on it the rest of his life.

  • February 10, 2014

    Rifles: Taking It Personally

    By David E. Petzal

    Granted that shooters are an odd lot (although no more weird than birders, who are really odd, or golfers, who are pretty much beyond description) but sometimes they really baffle me. A while back I wrote that through much of the 1950s, and into the early 1960s, Winchester turned out a lot of really crummy Model 70 rifles. As a result I got an e-mail from a pre-64 Model 70 enthusiast who was beyond livid. How dare I say that the Rifleman’s Rifle was ever less than perfect? Who the hell did I think I was? It was as if I had just whacked his old mom in the spleen with a grub hoe handle.

  • February 7, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Semiauto Deer Rifles

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Two classic semiauto deer rifles go head-to-head this week: Dr. Ralph’s Winchester Model 100 and Jack Swanson’s Remington 740.

    The Remington 740 was comparatively short-lived. It was introduced in 1955 and replaced by the 742 in 1960. During its production run, it was chambered in .308, .30-06, .244 and .280. There are some complaints about its durability, but apparently Jack Swanson’s rifle never got that memo. It has been shot forever and is still alive and ticking.

    The Winchester Model 100 is one of the better-looking semiautos ever made. It was envisioned as a companion to the lever action Model 88. Introduced in 1961, it was produced in .308, .243 and .284 until 1973. Dr. Ralph’s rifle is new to him and has no history — yet. But it’s a beautiful 100.

  • February 7, 2014

    Gun Cleaning Tips: Mind Your Muzzle

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the questions I got for “Ask Petzal” had to do with using a rod on barrels that have to be cleaned from the muzzle end. Do I give them special treatment?

    And how. It takes thousands of rounds to burn out the rifling in a barrel, but if you damage the grooves and lands at the front end, you can see its accuracy vanish quickly, and there are few better ways to do this than by running a cleaning rod in and out at an angle. It has to remain centered in the bore.