Gary's Gun Notes #65

This past month has been one of the most hectic that I have had in a year or two, and why I have no idea. We got back from our HHC 3 on March 3rd and it was almost as if I had been gone a month. Things are beginning to taper off a bit now but only a bit.

One of the things I have been working on for about 6 months is an improved version of our #5 Improved. An improved improved, if you will. We sold and finally delivered (thank you Lord) the last of the original 100 #5 Improved on the original smaller frame. There was nothing wrong with the frame, but the small parts were small and fragile and the ammo that we shoot today is much hotter than it was back in the 50's when those parts were designed. We were having small parts breakage in about one in 5 that we shipped, that works out to 20 of the 100, and that is too high a percentage. So it was time to do something else.

I thought about making another run of the #5s on our larger frame, the one we build the #6s on, but that frame is too big and heavy and we would lose all the sleek and trim angles and feel of the #5. I got with the company that casts our frames and came up with an alternative. That alternative we released this week as our new improved #5 Improved. The gun is simply based on your Ruger Blackhawk frame.

Doing this is exactly the same as we do on our large caliber 5 shot conversions. The stainless Ruger Blackhawk is a great frame and plenty strong enough for any cartridge on the market. It has performed perfectly for us thru the years chambered in cartridges up to 500 Linebaugh and 510 GNR, so why not?

What we are going to do is build a new version of the #5, beefier and stronger and with much stronger internals, thus defeating the problem of weak broken internal parts. We will take the customers stainless Blackhawk, mill it into a flat top, round the sharp edges, fit a beefier barrel in the length the customer wants, install a new cylinder in the caliber the customer wants, either 41 magnum, 41 Special, 44 special or 45 long colt. We fit all new internals, fit the #5 gripframe, and the grips the customer wants, do the engraving and personalization the customer wants and there you have it. A full custom improved #5 Improved. 

We are staying with the same options as the first one had, those being full engraving, stag grips, real elephant ivory grips, 20,000 year old Mammoth ivory grips, and octagonal barrel. The customer can still have his name engraved on it at no extra charge and can have fire blue pins and screws at no additional cost. I have another 100 guns planned for this run and if all goes well, possibly a run of 100 deluxe Black Chromex guns afterward.

We have a couple of new calibers we are working on right now (I know, that's all we need, more calibers to keep up with). One is being built on the suggestion of Kirk Gardner and will be a shorter version of our 256 GNR. This new cartridge will fit a standard length frame and cylinder and is sort of a 256 Winchester improved. I am basing this one on the 357 magnum case (as the original 256 Winchester was) and with a short neck, sharp shoulder and no taper to the case. This new cartridge, dubbed the 250 GNR, should give us reliable functioning in a revolver and the new straight case with a short neck holds 17% more powder than the original 256 Winchester which, if all goes well, should give us some impressive ballistics. The reamer and such have been ordered and I will keep you posted as we go along as to it's progress. Sean Harper will be doing the load testing of this one as is normal.

The second new cartridge is a natural. We have the 445 super mag case necked to 35 caliber, 375 caliber and 41 caliber. Can't go up, so we have to go down and 338 is the next step. I thought of going to 32 caliber but I didn't want any comparison to the 327 Magnum. So I have a new 340 GNR cartridge in progress. I have been working on this one since last fall. The reamer has already come in on this one and I am already working on a test barrel. If it is half as potent and accurate as it's big brothers I will be extremely pleased. This will be one for the contender/G-2, encore and the Ruger Maximum revolver. Again Sean will be working with this one as soon as the dies come in.

We got a large shipment of ammo in today at our gun shop and I almost shit when I saw the prices. A brick of good quality 22 LR ammo is now running well over $25. Boxes of 50 45 auto, ball ammo, not hollow points, is costing us almost $18 wholesale. I asked Colleen what else went up. She just rolled her eyes and said "everything". Reloading is the only way to go for those that shoot a lot and even then the price of powder and primers are steadily easing up. If you reload or are planning to do so, do it now before even that gets too high to consider. And if you can do so, buy in bulk. Buy the 8 pound kegs of powder and at least a thousand primers at a time. Go in with some buddies and buy it in bulk. Unless you store it in a wet humid area, the powder and primers will last a long long time. If you can afford to, get into casting your own bullets. A good hard cast bullet with a gas check is as good if not better than a jacketed bullet. Getting into casting is not an expensive way to go either. And every tire shop has wheelweights that you can get fairly cheap. In most cases you can cast 100 hardcast bullets and install gas checks on them for less than one third the cost of jacketed bullets. Do like I mentioned above. Go in with a buddy or two and this keeps the cost down considerably. 

Our HHC 3 (Handgun Hunter's Challenge 3) is history and a great hunt it was. We had almost 20 hunters there and hunted in an area that is not normally hunted as it is a rough area, straight up and down in some areas and a lot of acreage. But it is also loaded with large mean black Russian hogs. The first morning 2 dogs were cut up real bad by these hogs. One died, the other was in real bad shape when we left. We weren't hunting with dogs, but some moron was hunting with a bow and wanted the dogs to bay the hog for him. A bunch of moving dogs, a snapping, cutting hog and all trying to get the other is not the place for a bowhunter. A bowhunter can't get in that quick snap shot that is needed when that small opening happens for a split second. And unfortunately the dogs paid for the bowhunter's stupidity. 

We got to the camp just outside Monterey Tennessee late Thursday afternoon after being picked up at the airport by Larry Farley of Clarksville Tennessee, an old hunting buddy from the 70's. After getting settled in with Kase, Jason Puff Daddy Parr and Larry, we all sat around the first night til late telling lies and showing off our guns. 

The next morning was dark and damp, foretelling a sure rain before the day was out. We headed out and dropped off the ridge and down into the "canyon"as Alan Wilson, the head honcho calls it. And a canyon it was. The walls were almost straight up and down. There was several inches of snow on the ground which made it even harder to stay on our feet. Kase and Puff worked the bottoms while Larry and I worked the sides of the hills above them. Within about 30 minutes I heard a shot and then another and another. 

Trying to get down to where the shots came from was a job in itself. When I finally got down there Kase and Puff both had very nice Russian Boar down. Kase was using his pet revolver, a Dan Wesson 445 Super Mag and had blasted his hog twice. The first shot did him in but he was still moving and there is no reason to let it suffer for the sake of a one shot kill. 

Puff had asked to use the new Mega Beast in 610 GNR and as it hadn't been bloodied, it was a good idea. When Kase took a shot at his hog, Puff stopped and looked around. He looked up above him on the ridge 20 feet above his head and there was a big black hog looking at him. He quickly placed a 550 grain hardcast slug into the hog and he was down for the count. Two hogs down in about 20 seconds. These were big hogs too, maybe 350 to 375 pounds. All black bristly hair like the Russians always have. 

We all pitched in to get the hogs down to the bottom where the guides could get in and pick them up and headed out looking for more. We walked maybe another half mile down this canyon before it got too steep to move thru. The wet leaves and snow was so bad we couldn't stand up, so we decided to head up the hill and check out the edges of the fields. 

This turned out to be a good idea for us. As we got to the crest Kase had loped on ahead, straight up like a mountain goat and came back to where I was whispering about a huge hog feeding in the edge of the field above. I managed to put on a bit of speed and got to the top not too long after Kase and sure enough there was a big Russian boar standing there feeding. I tried to get to where I could get a clear shot at him with my 510 GNR revolver but as I moved into place he saw me. When he did, that tail went up, which is a sure sign that he is really pissed and it is always better to stay back a ways when this happens. He also turned and headed off at a trot. 

As he turned I let him have a 350 grain LBT just behind the shoulder. This just made him run harder. I took two more shots at him on the run, then one more. Two of the three hit him and he tumbled over at about 75 yards from me. As we walked up to him, we came across Blake Naugle and Beardog, Duane Evans. Both had taken nice hogs a short time before and were looking for their second hog. We took some pictures of the hog and dragged him into a dirt road where the guides could get him too. 

Duane and Blake had spotted some water buffalo on the side of a hill near there so we went over to take a look at them. As we got there the rain started and really came down. It was obvious we were going to get completely soaked as the truck was a good 2 miles from there so we gave up on the buffalo and headed toward the truck. 

As we topped a rise Kase spotted a huge black hog at a water hole up ahead of us. Larry Farley was using a G-2 chambered in 41 GNR and wanted to try it out on one of these big hogs. We eased up to a rise looking down on the water hole but as Larry got into position the hog spotted us and bolted. I had my baby pig squealer call in my hand and let out a couple of loud squeals trying to stop the hog. And sure enough, he slammed on his brakes and turned to look back. Just as he did Larry popped him just behind the shoulder with the 41 GNR. The hog turned to run but didn't have it in him. He made about 3 steps and fell over. Larry had taken a 350 to 400 pound hog with one shot from the 41 GNR with the 170 grain Sierra bullet that has worked so well for us in the past on everything up to bull elk. 

We did the same with Larry's hog, pulling him into the trail to be picked up and headed on to the truck. We hadn't gone 100 yards when Kase again spotted a small herd of big black hogs. Puff Daddy had the prototype 457 GNR revolver on his hip as we moved up and took a shot at the largest hog in the group. At the shot the big hog was literally knocked off his feet by the 400 grain jacketed soft point. The 457 GNR is a new cartridge and is a 475 Maximum brass necked down to .458. It has the power of a hot 45-70 and sure did a number on the hog.

Puff had handed me the Mega Beast rifle in 610 GNR and as one of the bigger hogs came running by I couldn't resist it. I let him have a 550 grain hardcast lead bullet broadside and he hit the ground. Again like shortly before, 2 hogs down in about 20 seconds. By now we were all completely soaked. so we pulled both hogs out into the road where the ATVs could get them and headed for the truck. The rain continued that afternoon so we called it a day and stayed in to dry out our clothes and our guns. 

The next day was bright and sunny and we teamed up with Irvin Smith (Gunner) and hunted the canyon again. Gunner took a big red hog just before lunch and Kase got his second hog just after lunch, again with his 445 Super Mag. 

It was a great hunt. With almost everyone taking at least one hog. Gene Duncan and his buddy Boscoe Godfrey never bloodied their guns as they just weren't in the right place at the right time. But they had a good time nevertheless. The hunt was a success and we have plans to go back there in early October on the next HHC.

Let me see if I can think of anything else that is new before I close. Andy Rowe, the head rat killer at Cartridge Performance Engineering is expanding his equipment line up. He is also starting to load the 445 Super Mag and the 45 Winchester magnum for those of you that have those calibers. We have worked out an agreement also in that Andy will load all the GNR cartridges for you. On some of the ones that he normally does not load, he will do so with a minimum order. 

Those of you back east that have to hunt with shotgun slugs now have another winner. The Brenneke slugs have long been known to be the absolute best in accuracy and power. Now they have added the new K.O. 20 gauge slug to their line up. With over 1600 foot pounds of energy and 1500 fps that one will be a great deer or bear slug.

Remember that insane bill to serial number every round of ammo that is sold? California passed a version of the bill, and now Mississippi is thinking hard about doing the same thing. They have introduced a bill to do just that plus every resident of Mississippi would be required to dispose of every round of non serial numbered ammo that they possess. An insane bill but it is also being considered in Maryland, Tennessee, New York and Washington state. 

And on that dreary note I will call it a day. I will try to have some better news for you next month. Til then, good shootin'.



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