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The "Ranging Shot" Is A Regular Column In The IHMSA News
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at http://www.ihmsa.org
Volume 16, Issue 3 April
 
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:  TSPOTTI@worldnet.att.net
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti
 
     January is the traditional month for the firearms industry to gather for its annual Shot Show gala, and 2005 was no exception. The Shot Show is essentially a trade show that is not open to the public. Here, the manufacturers who make products having anything remotely connected to the shooting sports gather to show off their new wares to the distributors and dealers that will eventually sell them to you and me. Almost all of the new things on display are prototypes and the real stuff wonít be hitting the dealerís shelves until several months later, typically in the Summer or even the Fall. 
 
     It seems like the Show has pretty much settled on Sin City (Las Vegas) as being the best location for its extravaganza since Nevada is certainly one of the most firearms friendly states in the nation. (Occasionally, the Show will be held in Orlando, Florida as well.) Previous Shot Shows in Atlanta and New Orleans were met with a wild frenzy of antigun opposition from those city governments, despite the fact that the Show brought in well over twenty million dollars worth of business to those cities. Based on those cityís reprehensible behavior, members of the industry are passionate about never holding a Show there ever again.
 
     As usual, the Show keeps breaking itís own attendance records. This year there were 1726 exhibitors jammed in the LV Convention Center along with 23,771 buyers, nearly 1200 members of the press, over 13,000 exhibitor personnel, and a gaggle of others. Total attendance of the Show was over 37,000 people. One statistic really got my attention i.e. companies from over one third of all the nations on the whole planet were in attendance at the Show. Wow!
 
     I also found that I could personally relate to another statistic. If a person set out to visit every booth at the Show over its four day run, theyíd only be able to spend a little over one minute in each booth before theyíd have to move on. Well, I was at the Show for only three days, and there were times when I was on a very tight schedule running from one appointment to another (usually at opposite ends of the Center), so it definitely felt like I only had one minute to spend at each booth. It was fun though, and itís always nice to see industry friends again.
 
     By and large my general impression was that this was a year of consolidation for the industry as I just didnít see that many products that really grabbed my attention. It seemed ďBusiness as UsualĒ could have been the theme for the Show this year. However there were two clear exceptions to that rule. These were companies where there was honest to goodness excitement in the air. Youíd just walk into the booth area and you could actually feel the electricity snapping and crackling around your body. Here they are.
 

Smith & Wesson 460 XVR

     This was the undisputed star of the Show in my book. Smith & Wesson has introduced a new eye popping cartridge, the 460 Mag, and is coupling it with the same frame as their wildly successful 500 Mag revolver. The 460 is a big straight walled cartridge (1.8Ē long) which uses a large rifle primer to light it up. If you can imagine a shortened, straight walled 45-70, you can get an approximate idea of what the 460 looks like.
 
     One of the prime things that makes this gun unique is the fact that the 460 shoots a 200 grain Hornady SST, spire point 45 caliber bullet. Yes, thatís right - a spire point. As you know, all blunt nose bullets commonly shot out of revolvers start dropping like a rock after 100 yards. The new spire point will definitely improve the ballistics of this cartridge. This is a gun and cartridge thatís meant for very serious business at long range. The neat thing that makes using a spire point possible is the fact that the revolver is using the same long cylinder which was designed to accommodate the 500 mag. Hornady is making plastic tipped loaded ammunition as we speak, and it should be just hitting the shelves about the time you read this story.
 

     First priority for the Hornady made brass and bullets will go to making loaded ammo, but once that pipeline has been filled, Iím sure that reloading components will be hitting the market sometime soon after that. I also have been able to confirm that Starline will be making brass, which if all goes well with the testing currently underway, should be on the market in the April/May/June time frame. While spire point bullets as a reloading component wonít be available for a time, any heavily constructed bullet that can be safely used for the 454 Casull should be suitable for the 460 as well. In fact, both cartridges actually work in the same pressure range (60,000 psi +). Smith also says that for further flexibility, both 45 Colt and 454 Casull ammo can be used in the gun.
 
     Another rousing characteristic of this gun and cartridge is the absolutely sizzling velocity that they produce. Smith is reporting over 2300 fps! (By the way, as you might have guessed, XVR stands for ďExtreme Velocity RevolverĒ). This is just absolutely phenomenal. I donít know of any revolver that can match the Smith 460 in velocity, especially in 45 caliber. No doubt, some of this velocity can be attributed to the spire point design and the fact that the bullet is fairly light for its diameter. Additionally, because of its lighter weight, recoil is very likely to be much milder than its big brother, the 500 mag. The fact that the revolver has a very effective removable 1Ē compensator on the end of the muzzle, as well as its meaty 73 ounces of mass, should also help keep recoil under control. 
 
     An unusually flat trajectory is another advantage for this gun and cartridge. Smith & Wesson tells me that when zeroed at 200 yards, the 460 should be in the kill zone for any deer sized game from 50 to 250 yards without any holdover. The practicality of this literally blows me away. Just think what it could do on the silhouette range. 
 
     Besides producing fantastic revolver velocities, Iím also told that accuracy has been very good when working with just the preliminary test ammo and prototype guns (one inch at 50 yards). I would guess that itís probably gotten even better as any early kinks were eliminated. However, Iím not too surprised that the preliminary accuracy has been good. When handling the 460 at the S&W booth, I noted that when I pulled the hammer back and held it, while pulling the trigger, cylinder lock up was very tight. In fact, it just may have been the tightest of any double action revolver Iíve tried. As you know cylinder ďshakeĒ is a major enemy of revolver accuracy.
 
     The barrel also sports a couple of interesting features. For one, itís a tensioned barrel with a shroud aka Dan Wesson. Smith is an enthusiastic supporter of this proven concept for reducing barrel vibrations and tightening up groups. The 7 3/8ís inch barrel also uses a gain twist. This is a very old concept that enjoyed quite a bit of popularity around the late 1800ís and early 1900ís among cast bullet target rifle competitors. 
 
     The idea is that a barrel at the throat would have a very slow rate of twist to eliminate or reduce any rotational shearing that might occur when the bullet first entered the bore. Then, as the bullet gained velocity, the rate of twist would gradually be increased. The idea was to not only minimize damage to the bullet, but also because the bullet didnít have to ďfightĒ as hard against the twist of the barrel, a possible velocity advantage could be achieved as well. The 460 barrel starts off at an extremely slow 1:100 twist and then tightens up to a fairly standard 1:20 twist rate. This is the absolute first time that a major manufacturer has used this technique in a revolver. If youíre a cast bullet shooter, youíre going to love this gain twist barrel. Great idea!
 
     So there you have it. This is certainly one of the most innovative and exciting revolvers that Iíve seen in a long time. Anyone who is interested in getting XP-100 type velocities and tons of long range performance in a revolver certainly needs to take a careful look at this new gun and cartridge. There are only 5500 guns being produced in this first production run and Iím sure they going to be snapped up quickly. I hope as the guns reach the shelves, Iíll be able to get more info on what itís like actually shooting this big boy. Stay tuned.
 
Redfield
     In my last column, I broke the news about how Meade, the owner of Redfield, Simmons, and Weaver, had totally reinvented the Simmons brand with a series of absolutely new technological achievements. I also predicted that Redfield would be the shining star in Meadeís galaxy and would be making use of exotic materials that would enable it to match or exceed the performance levels of any scope on the planet. My prediction was correct. Redfield has pulled out all the engineering and optical design stops in putting together its new line up. There is not another rifle scope on this earth that uses the technology and the quality of materials thatís incorporated in the new Redfield. Letís take a look at the highlights by starting from the front of the scope.
 
     Objective Lens - An apochromatic design using ED glass. If youíve read my some of my past reviews of spotting scopes, you know that this is the most advanced lens design available. This lens design is used on only the very highest quality spotting scopes. To the very best of my knowledge, this is absolutely the very first time this type of lens has been used on a rifle scope. 
 
     So what is a apochromatic lens and what is ED (extra low dispersion) glass? For a detailed explanation, go to (www.lasc.us/rangingshotNikonFieldscopellled.htm). In brief, this type lens is a sandwich of three different types of optical glass (including the ED type). By using this sandwich in the objective lens, chromatic aberration (color distortion) is reduced to total irrelevance. Additionally, light transmission, resolution, and contrast is also increased. There is no better lens design and there is no better glass than whatís on the front of the Redfield's. Additionally, Meade has used itís astronomical telescope expertise to provide very high transmission optical coatings to increase light transmission 2.8% higher than any standard fully multicoated product. 
 
     Scope Tube - Instead of using the standard aluminum alloy used by everyone else, Redfield uses a magnesium alloy instead. The benefit is that itís a much lighter tube and just as strong. Like Simmons, this is also a true one piece scope tube design. As I mentioned in my last column, even though almost all manufacturers say they have a one piece scope tube, they really donít. They have a scope tube with a eye piece lens assembly screwed on to the back. So in reality, their products are a two piece design. Two piece scopes will tend to flex in the rings under the brutal recoil of many modern cartridges, and when that happens, unpleasant things can happen can happen to the internals. The Redfield's are composed of one solid tube into which the rear lens components are inserted, making it an honest mono tube design with all of the structural advantages that goes with that technique.
 
     5X Magnification Range - All variable scopes give you either a three power or a four power magnification range i.e. 3X9, 4X12, 6X24, etc. Redfield, uses a unique design to give you a five power boost in magnification over the lowest setting i.e. 4X20, 5X25, 6X30 etc. No other scope in the world does this. You benefit by having more flexibility in magnification choices. 
 
     Rear Eyepiece - OK, this is an aspheric lens using Lanthanum glass. Letís talk about the lens first.  Aspheric lens are flatter than normal lenses. So what? Well, curved lenses give you the very best, very brightest image in their very centers. As you move your eye from the center, resolution starts to fall off and the lens is less able to transmit all of the light which entered it from the front. This is why many lenses in less than ideal conditions are noticeably darker on the edges. An aspheric lens by design minimizes this effect. Result? A crisper, brighter image all across the width of the lens. 
 
     To make the end result even brighter, premium Lanthanum glass is used for the rear lens. Lanthanum is a very expensive rare earth that increases light transmission in glass. It is normally used in optical laboratory instruments or other similar applications. Again, this is the very best type of glass that there is as far as light transmission is concerned.
 
     The greatest benefit of the Redfield eyepiece design however, is that the image cone or ďeye boxĒ that the rear eyepiece produces, is much larger than that produced by a standard eyepiece. What this means in practical terms, is that itís much, much easier to pick up the image with your eye - especially at the higher powers i.e. thereís no hunting around for the picture. Eye relief is also a constant four inches, no matter what the magnification power that the scope is set for. That in itself is a huge optical achievement. Whether you have a Redfield scope mounted on a TC or your favorite hunting rifle, when you bring the scope up to your eye, the image will be there with no fumbling around.
 
     Because of time and space constraints, Iíve only touched on the highlights of the new Redfield. Believe it or not, there are even more features that you should know about, but weíll save them for another time. In summary, itís easy to say that this is the most technologically advanced rifle scope on the plant. Just the combination of the apochromatic ED objective lens on the front and Lanthanum aspheric eyepiece on the rear sets it head and shoulders above the rest of the industry. 
 
     One last point. Fittingly, all Redfield scopes are made right here in the good, old USA and carry a no bull, 48 hour turn around warrantee. No one else does that. No one. These are truly exciting products and Iím really looking forward to getting one in my hands and running it through some practical exercises. Weíll keep in touch.
 
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.