Gary's Gun Notes #23
As we get closer to our next Africa hunt I have the same regrets that I always do at the last minute. That being that I maybe should have tried out one of our newer cartridges rather than the tried and true 378 GNR and 338 GNR that I always seem to use.
I had earlier planned to bring along several different handguns to try, then found out that the firearm rules and regulations had drastically changed in South Africa and I would be limited to 1 handgun and two rifles. This is really no problem as I can take one of my Ultimate Encores and take a couple of extra barrels. I also had tentatively planned to take my 510 Hunter in case I needed a big thumper.
During the latter part of last summer I planned to take my 416 GNR encore as it worked very well on large critters back in 2000 when Larry Kovach and I hunted Africa. I took several animals with it including the current #1 gemsbok and the #2 Waterbuck. I had worked up some new loads using a new 416 caliber 350 grain LBT bullet from Kelly Brost.
Last fall Larry developed a new 41 GNR load that is the first new load for that cartridge since I developed it back in 1979. This was a 250 grain LBT bullet doing almost the same velocity as the 170 jacketed bullet. No medium or large game has ever been taken with it so I was looking forward to using that in a custom
My 410 GNR revolver that is the prototype of the Ultimate 41 series that I took the African Savannah buffalo with 2 years ago was all prepped and ready to go on this hunt. I haven't broken the news to it yet that it will stay in the safe this coming summer.
A couple of years ago I built a special 356 GNR revolver, with 8 inch heavy barrel and an extremely tight barrel/cylinder gap. I scoped it up and got it all sighted in as this year was the year for it to go to Africa with me for medium size plains game. That one will be keeping my 410 GNR revolver company in the safe this summer.
My list of wannabees goes on and on but unfortunately this year is not the year for them. It looks like the old reliable 378 GNR with the extra 338 GNR barrel will be my calibers of choice this year.
While I was typing this I had a phone call that was interesting. A fellow called to ask about our BMF and asked me the big question..."do I need a 500 maximum?" Hell no you don't. Nobody needs one, nor do they need a 500 S&W magnum. But that doesn't stop us from wanting one and finding some way to come up with money to buy one. But do we need one. Not only no, but hell no.
For those of you that have never shot a 500 maximum or 500 S&W, it is a totally different experience. It does not have a tremendous muzzle flip but does slam back into the palm of your hand with the force of a hard swinging baseball bat. I have to shoot 30 rounds thru each one we build and after the first 10 I take a good long break, hoping that someone will steal it before I get back for another 10. The BMF is not for the guy that loves to shoot a 357 mag. I don't know if it is even for the fellow that shoots a 475 Linebaugh. It is for the person that finds himself in a position of needing something to keep him safe. I sell a lot of BMFs to fishing guides in Alaska. Those guys are always in bear country and they need something that will put a bear down quick. And that something is the 500 Maximum.
I also build a lot of our BMFs for the fellow that hunts squirrels. Those are the animals that are always thinking NUTS..NUTS..gotta have nuts! Vicious little furballs. The BMF works on them too.
In the last year our BMF has turned into our best selling revolver, for whatever reason. I think, if for no other reason than to prove that we can handle the biggest and baddest there is. And our BMF in 500 maximum is that gun.
Speaking of our revolvers, one of the gun writers recently mentioned that we were sort of the assembly line of custom revolvers. He is a good friend and didn't mean it badly but I do want to clear up any misinformation that might be out there. Every gun that we built gets just as much time and effort as it would if I was doing everything myself. All our parts are still built the same way. Every part is hand fitted, hand tuned and hand finished. And no, I don't build the entire gun myself. I have a total of 8 very talented workers that are tops in their type of work. I do all the shooting and probably 65% of the engraving plus all the Black Chromex finishing and the final fit and test firing. Every gun gets just as much hands on work as any other custom gunsmith would give a gun. Our advantage is that I have more people working for me than most custom shops do. And speaking of that our plans to get our delivery time down is finally coming to pass. All orders that we have taken in during the past couple of months will be finished within 4 to 6 months, some quicker. I still have no control over things like porting or special items like real ivory grips but for the most part 4 to 6 months will be the norm, not the exception.
Recently Rick Sim mentioned that I should go over the reasons for our gold bead front sight and the advantages of them. First off, we are not the only ones to go with that type front sight. Way back in the 40's and 50's many revolvers came out with the King front sight which was a gold bead with a V rear. This was more for target type shooting than hunting but for the same reasons.
Since then other companies have come out with the gold bead, one of the first being Ruger with their Redhawk optional bead front sight and V rear. Freedom Arms also has their own version of the Express sight that works extremely well. We started putting the gold bead type front sight on our original Black Widow back in the late 80's so we weren't the first by any stretch of the imagination.
Be that as it may, it is our most popular type of sight for our hunting revolvers. A standard black front blade, in most of todays configurations, covers up 40 inches at 100 yards. If you have a deer, or an elk for that matter facing you at or near that range, then you have covered him up completely and it's a guessing game. The gold bead front sight is much smaller and obviously covers up less of the animal and targeting is much easier and much more precise. Plus with the V rear blade you don't have to worry about making sure the front blade is exactly centered between the edges of the notch. With the V rear you simply drop the bead down into the tapered notch. You can also sight the gun in with the spot you want to hit above the bead and still see the animal clearly. It is quick and it is almost, and I repeat, almost, foolproof.
I have either the gold bead front sight or a scope on all my hunting revolvers. In my humble opinion, that is the only way to go. And with our interchangeable front blade system, you can have a red ramp blade on the gun (or a full black blade) for close up heavy brush hunting and switch to the gold bead for the long range stuff. The rear V blade is easily switched also.
I have had a lot of inquiry lately about which rests are the best for hunting in the field and I'll try to get to that in depth in the next Gun Notes.