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Volume 13, Issue 3 April
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti

     As I indicated in last month’s article on my impressions of the Shot Show, it was really, really big. The biggest ever. More things to see than ever could be accomplished in a mere four days. Consequently, you have to prioritize your time and just hit as many of the highlights as you can. 

     In my past stories of the Show, I usually restricted myself to only those companies and products that were directly related to silhouette shooting or the direct needs of silhouette shooters themselves. In this year I’ve decided to take a broader approach and will hit the things that tickled my fancy, most of which are directly related to silhouette shooting but some of which are not, but still interesting (at least to me). 

Dan Wesson - The pot is really bubbling up in Norwich, New York. They keep coming out with one innovation after another. Here’s an exclusive peek at three prototype revolvers that are under active development as we speak. First, is the 357 TS. This baby is designed to shoot a bottle neck cartridge case loaded with a 200 grain spire point bullet! The increased efficiency from the bottle neck design and the improved ballistics from the spire point bullet will give the silhouette shooter and the handgun hunter down range performance like they’ve never had before. Subtle features in the case and chamber design are meant to overcome setback problems. They had the serial #1 prototype on display and it was a very impressive gun. This is going to interesting. 

     Then there’s the 460 Super Mag. This is a stretch 45 Win Mag. Cases are being made by Burtram Brass in Australia. This sucker will sling heavy 45 caliber bullets downrange at Super Mag velocities. It’s being developed as a direct competitor to the 454 Casull. It’s currently in the load development phase. 

     Also under development is a 32 Super Mag. I saw some of the prototype cases while at the Show - also made by Burtram Brass. 1.6” long and they’re beautiful. Besides steel animals, also should provide lots of power for game up to coyote at reasonable distances as well. In shorter barrel varieties, it should also have potential as a self defense gun. This really looks intriguing. 

     Now it must be understood than it’s possible that none of these three guns will make it out of the testing stage and into production. But it does illustrate that Dan Wesson is working very hard to develop out of the box products and give you, the consumer, more, innovative choices.  

     In a milestone of some kind, Dan Wesson, which has always been a revolver maker, is now selling more semi auto pistols than anything else. Their Pointman 1911 series was a big hit, and now the new Patriot series with internal parts, combat rear sight, and magazines made by Chip McCormic is even a bigger hit. If you want a tack driving 1911 with all the options standard at half the price, check it out. As an indication of how much interest these new semi autos are generating, one distributor at the Show even tried to buy all of this year’s production. There’s also the new Pointman Major Aussie, a Pointman with a new, low profile slide that seems to be favored down under.   

     For those who like semi autos and flexibility, you’ll have to look into the Pointman Tri-Ops Pack. This is a match, hand fitted Pointman frame assembly with 3 complete match grade slide assemblies in 9mm, 10mm, and 40 S&W. An appropriate recoil spring and magazine for each cartridge is also provided. It’s like getting three guns in one package. 

     Last but not least, they’ve also brought back the Alaskan Guide Special. This is a 445 Super Mag with a fully compensated barrel and a black, baked on, matte finish that’s supposed to be as tough as nails.   

Freedom Arms - The maker of the best single action revolver ever made will start production of its Model 97 22 Long Rifle revolver this April or May. That should put it into the marketplace in the June or July time frame. A ten inch silhouette model will be available. Because it’s based on the smaller, lighter frame, the ten incher should have no problem meeting the weight requirement for production class guns. The new gun will be available with three different cylinders i.e. sporting chamber, match chamber, and a 22 mag chamber. (Mmmm. Just had a thought.  A Freedom Arms revolver chambered in the Hornady 17 rimfire would be a very interesting match indeed.) Right now, Freedom’s backlog is running about 4 months.   

     If you also like to play Cowboy, they also have a couple of new high ride holsters, including a cross draw with a 25 degree angle and a top strap.

Thompson Center - The G2, the replacement for the discontinued Contender, was on display. The pistol was supposed to be on the market last July, but was held back so TC could put a new black powder rifle in production instead. The latest word is that the G2 (Geez, I hope they change the name.) will be available this coming Fall. We’ll see. Although the gun is styled like an Encore, it doesn’t have its muscle. It’s actually not any stronger than the old Contender, not that that’s a bad thing. However, the trigger is totally Encore in operation. The angle of the grip has also been pushed back slightly. Theoretically, recoil is made more manageable with the real heavyweights. All existing Contender barrels will fit the new frame, and it will be available in all the current Contender chambering's. TC also plans to come out with a barrel for the hot, new Hornady 17 Rimfire Mag cartridge. 

Taurus - The “Raging Bull” series continues to expand. This year they’ve added a bunch. The first is in one of my favorite cartridges - the 41 mag. 

     Also joining the family is something that will be of interest to the many silhouette shooters devoted to this particular cartridge - a 30 carbine Raging Bull. Joining the Raging Hornet this year is the Raging Bee i.e. an eight shot 218 Bee revolver. (I think a Taurus should work on a Raging Ram in a silhouette compatible cartridge.) Taurus certainly raised a bunch of eyebrows in the silhouette community when it announced its 12” barreled Silhouette revolver. It now understands that particular gun needs to loose a couple of inches in order to compete in the Production Category. One nice thing about it though was the fact was that trigger pull is easily adjustable by turning a screw under the grips. No gunsmithing required. 

ATK (Formerly Blount) - Had a great interview with the president of the ATK Ammunition and Related Products Group, Mark DeYoung. Mr. DeYoung was formerly president of ATK’s Lake City Small Caliber Ammunition Company before he took over the new group. ATK makes everything from the strap on boosters for the space shuttle to 223 ammo for the armed forces.   

     This is a very aggressive, growth oriented company and so will be throwing the full weight of its considerable technical resources behind its new acquisitions like Federal, CCI, Speer, RCBS, Weaver, Simmons, Outers, Ram Line, etc. Additionally, ATK will be also investing a significant amount of money in their new acquisitions to boost efficiency, capacity, and development. Consequently, I’m very confident that you’ll be seeing a host of new, innovative products once more flowing out of this group. 

     I also asked Mr. DeYoung the critical question that I raised in last month’s column. ATK is an ammo company. Will they spin off the non ammo related portions of the old Blount group like Outers and Redfield, etc.? The answer was no - for now. Basically the non-ammo related divisions will be given a chance to produce profits at the target levels expected of them. If they don’t meet expectations - well, who knows what would happen then.  

     I also asked if ATK was going to support major shooting competitions (like the Internationals) once more. Blount and then Lehman Brothers had reduced this line of support to the shooting sports over the last couple of years. The answer was definitely yes. Good News. 

     The acquisition of Blount’s Sporting Equipment Group by ATK looks like a very positive development for shooting in general. They give every indication that they’re going to work very hard to put money, energy, and most importantly - direction into an important segment of the industry.  

Remington - Sat in on a very interesting briefing from the president of Remington in which he laid out the financial health of the company. It was almost like being at a stockholder’s meeting. In a nutshell - before 9/11 things weren't too good with lots of excess inventory on hand. After 9/11, the inventory literally disappeared overnight and Remington is working hard to replace it. Right now, the company is doing very well indeed, as is the rest of the firearms industry.   

     In the way of product news, Remington has a new family of shotshells called “Hevi Shot” made with an alloy of tungsten, nickel, and iron that’s actually 10% heavier than lead and is totally environmentally safe. They also have a limited edition Model 700 chambered in 221 Fireball. Now, that’s going to be a really neat, fun gun! Now if we could only get them to bring back the XP-100. Of course, their new Short Action Ultra Mag ammo in 7 SA Mag and 30 SA Mag got a lot of attention. More performance than traditional 7 Mag or 300 Win Mag in a shorter cartridge. A good idea.   

Hornady - The 17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (17 HMR) was the talk of the Show. With a muzzle velocity of 2500 fps, the 17 caliber rimfire is supposed to be a tack driver out to 200 yards. Several rifle manufacturers are scrambling to chamber for the new cartridge. While Hornady engineered the new cartridge and the new 17 grain plastic tipped bullet to go with it, they had to go to another company to actually produce it since Hornady has no rimfire production capability. CCI is actually making the ammo for Hornady and even packaging it in CCI plastic boxes with Hornady’s name on it. In order to get the dazzling performance out of the little cartridge, they’re using Hodgdon’s LilGun powder - something I’ve been enthusiastic about ever since they came out with it. Retail for the new cartridge is $12 for a box of 50.  (By the way 13 grs of LilGun in a Hornet with a 45 gr. Speer or Nosler is a killer load for Field Pistol.)

     Hornady has also come out with a nifty new case trimmer which allows you to adjust settings in or out in .001” increments.  Along the  same lines, they also have a new neck turning tool that also allows you to adjust the cutter in .001” increments. These really sound nice.

Redding - They’ve got two new reloading presses. The first is the T-7 which is a 7 station turret type. It uses all cast iron construction for strength and rigidity and a hefty 1” compound linkage ram with nearly four inches of travel. I liked the idea of having 7 stations as you can then have two or even three sets of the dies that you use the most in the press all the time. No need to constantly take them on and off all the time. 

     Additionally Redding introduced the “Big Boss”, which is a jumbo cast iron press for those reloading really big cartridges. It’s on a heavy duty frame, with a 36 degree offset and a one inch ram with 3.8” of travel. Both the T-7 and the Big Boss can use the new optional “Slide Bar Automatic Primer Feeding System”. Basically this is a little gizmo that attaches to the side of the press with a primer tube above it. Raise the shell-holder, slide a bar with the primer under, and lower the ram and the primer is inserted. Works good. 

     They also have new Type S match bushing neck sizing die sets and Type S bushing full sizing die sets. Before you bought the bushing dies separately. There’s also the new Competition Pro Series dies designed for progressive presses which feature their competition seating die and the Redding profile crimp die.   

CCI - They’ve got some new, really hot 22 ammo out for 2002. It’s called Velocitor. Cool name. It’s the fastest 22 LR ammo you can buy - 1425 fps!

     And they do it with a full sized 40 grain bullet! That represents a 30% increase in velocity over other high velocity types. Once more, they’ve capped it with a Gold Dot bullet. Should be as deadly as a lightning strike on squirrels and 22 rams. Hope to try some of this stuff when it comes available and we’ll see how well it shoots. 

Weaver - They’ve got clamp on Weaver scope bases for Ruger Blackhawks now as well as the MK II. The excellent Grand Slam scopes are now available in silver.

Redfield - New dovetail type scope bases and rings for the Contender and Encore. 

Lapua - The news here is that they’ve got a new 22 rimfire ammo called “Signum”. The bullet of the new ammo has approximately 16 vertical lubrication grooves pressed into the nose right where the ogive and the body blend together. This is in addition to the normal horizontal lube grooves that are usually found on all other 22 rimfire bullets. As a result, the bullet carries 50% more lube than a standard bullet. The idea behind the additional lube at that point is that its supposed to prevent lead build up in the bore just ahead of the chamber and thus helps to retain the original accuracy of your gun. 

Nosler - For those who like to shoot the 22 BR or 223 on the half size critters, Nosler has a new 80 grain match bullet using J4 benchrest grade jackets. This is a hollow point boat tail with a ballistic coefficient of .440. A 1 : 7 twist is recommended. If you want something lighter, they also have a new J4 69 grain hollow point boat tail with a coefficient of .359. A 1 : 9 twist is needed. When shooting these bullets, recoil is very low, and because of the slick aerodynamics, trajectory is very flat.

     By the way, if you want to try some of Nosler’s other 22 or 6mm bullets, just call or e-mail and for $5.95 they’ll send you 10 bullets and a Nosler “Test the Best” hat and a catalog.   

Burris - The 80mm spotting scope Burris introduced 2 years ago has done so well that they’ve come out with a higher power variation with its 20 X 60 X 80 Landmark. This is a big scope that gets the job done and provides a very bright image to your spotter. At the other end of the scale, they’ve got a new, very compact 20X 50mm scope that some people will like for its light weight, easy portability, and wide field of view - just the thing for silhouettes. Of course for variable pistol scopes, Burris has more selections than anyone, and their 3 X 12 stands out from the crowd when it comes to checking accuracy of your new loads. 

Nikon - Saw Nikon’s new 2.5 X 8 pistol scope. The clicks are very positive and the optics are impressive for a 28mm objective lens. Eye relief at max power is 15 inches, the same as the Leupold 2 X 8. Also had a chance to check out their new red dots. There are two basic types. The standard model has perhaps the best looking dot I’ve seen i.e. a really well defined, perfectly round dot with no flare or star pattern no matter how high you turn up the brightness. The VSD (variable sized dot) model lets you select four different sized dots (1, 4, 6, or 10 moa) as well as adjust the brightness. It also comes in a RealTree cammo pattern as well. Both red dots are fully waterproof and fog proof. Nikon also makes one of the very best 60mm spotting scopes on the planet, the Fieldscope III. This year, there’s a tactical version in black rubber armor. Very sexy. There’s also a RealTree version of their standard 15x45x60mm spotting scope. It’s the new high definition hardwoods green pattern. Really pretty nice. 

Bushnell - Can’t help but wonder how many tens of thousands Spacemaster spotting scopes Bushnell has sold to silhouette shooters over the years. The 60mm Spacemaster has always delivered the goods at prices that wouldn’t give you a stroke. This year the Spacemaster has been given a rotating eyepiece that moves from the horizontal to nearly vertical. So whether you like your scope mounted high where you use a straight through eye piece position or mounted low where you use a 45 degree or even higher position, the new Spacemaster can handle it. It comes in two versions i.e. a 15-45X and a 20-60X. They’ve also added their “Rainguard” anti fog, water repellent hydrophobic coating to the optics on their Elite line of spotting scopes. It will allow you to see when other lenses fog up. 

Cold Steel - Call me a nut, but besides guns, I like knives as well. Not the $2500 custom made types, but the working kind that you carry in your pocket to take care of the million little things that you use a knife for throughout the day. I’ve been carrying around one of Cold Steel’s Voyager series for several years now and have been very happy with it. However, I’ve had a hankering for something heavier to take care of the bigger jobs when I’m out messing around out in the yard, range, or maybe even dressing game in the field. The new Recon 1 is just the knife I was looking for. Super strong 4” folder with a new, advanced, extremely strong locking mechanism and Cold Steel’s legendary AUS 8A steel blade. The Recon 1 is available in a Tanto, spear, and clip point. It’s a beauty.  

Daisy - Will be coming out with a new line of Winchester pellets. Will be of the dome head variety and will be available in 22 and 177. A new imported, high quality, compressed air pistol (the kind you charge from a scuba tank) should be also coming down the pike this year as well and it won’t cost you the price of a Hawaiian vacation. Had a nice talk with their marketing folks and expressed my admiration for the 747, and suggested that they improve the rear sight. They seemed to be very receptive to the idea. Give them a call if you agree. 

Crossman - Has just concluded an agreement with Umarex Sportwaffen GmbH, maker of Walther and Smith & Wesson airguns whereby Crossman will function as Umarex’s sole North American distributor. Hope this means that Walther airguns will become more available.   

Anschutz - Will be chambering two rifles AND one of their pistols in the new Hornady 17 rimfire. While not suitable for silhouette, it should be a really fun gun. 

IOSSO Cleaning Products - I’ve always been a big fan of their bore cleaning paste which is very convenient to use. Their case cleaner is also tops. For 02, they’ve got a new, very light weight gun oil somewhat similar to Kroil. Use before the bore cleaner to loosen tough fouling and your barrel will come out cleaner than ever. Also use as a lubricant. Biodegradable, no distillates, no silicon, or ammonia. Just good stuff. 

Stoney Point - Their “Laser Magic” bore sighter is really slick for sighting in scopes. Just remove the bolt from your XP or RAMPRO, insert the laser module, and the beam will be projected out to 100 yards, although they recommend sighting in at 25. Adjust your scope’s crosshairs to overlay the laser dot and you’re there. Really takes a lot of the trial and error out of the sight-in process.

Rocky Shoes & Boots - For 02, Rocky has doubled the amount of Thinsulate insulation that’s available in their excellent Cornstalker series of boots. I use these and I know they’re good. You can still get the Cornstalker 01 with its 600 grams of Thinsulate that I wrote about a couple of months ago. However, if things really get cold where you are, go to the CornStalker Pro with 1200 grams. The upper part of the boot has also been redesigned for a new look. Also new this year are some of the nicest camo parkas and insulated pants that you’ll see anywhere. They’re made with “SilentHunter” fabric which is about as noiseless as it gets. It feels like brushed cotton but it’s something much more abrasion resistant. Rocky also makes the best Gore-Tex, Thinsulate, and Merino wool socks (these are great) you’ll find anywhere. Don’t forget the kids. Rocky also has a full line of boots for the kids as well when you’re taking them on that first hunt.

Good luck and good shooting. Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.