Gary's Gun Notes #68
Normally this time of year we are inundated with new this and new that and new calibers for special new rifles and shotguns and on and on. This year started out that way with a very busy SHOT SHOW but seems to have lost some steam in the months since.
The interest seems to be more into new handguns (and very few of them) than long guns. The long guns announced early this year have either not materialized yet or are receiving lackluster acceptance. Part of this could also be the price of guns being steadily on the rise. Who would have ever thought we would see the average bread and butter guns like the Remington model 700 for over $1000 retail, or the Ruger #1 for well over $1100, or the Ruger model 77 retailing for over $900. Several Smith & Wesson handguns for well over $1000. Even time honored classics like the Ruger MK 3 semi auto 22 LR Hunter model retailing in excess of $700. Winchester's new model 70 slated for introduction in December is being mentioned at from $1000 to $1200. Who would have thought we would see a Savage bolt action rifle in 204 Ruger retail for well over $1000? And this seems to be an across the board price hike, not just the companies mentioned, but all of them. Now admittedly probably none of these guns will be sold at actual retail price, as there is simply too much competition but it still is a true sticker shock to see the actual suggested retail. But all is not lost, there are still some bargains out there though if one looks hard enough. But you will have to look.
Ruger's little LCP is a true bargain in pocket autos, but it seems everyone knows this and they are extremely hard to find. We have a waiting list of a couple dozen names waiting for the little 380s, and we get maybe 2 a week at best.
One of the funny things about the Ruger LCP is that it is sparking sales of the Kel-Tec 380 and 32. Last year they were readily available but now they are in high demand and almost as hard to get as the Ruger. The Kel-Tec is, for all practical purposes, the same gun as the Ruger LCP (with minor changes and differences). The little Kel Tec 32 auto is a tiny little gun, easily fitting in your pocket and affordable, if you can find one.
Another affordable handgun is the Ruger 22/45, priced at slightly over $300 and a great bargain at that price. A couple of easily affordable rifles are the Mossberg model 100 and the Stevens model 200. Both guns sell for well under $400 and both are high quality rifles. For the man that only hunts a few days of the year either of these 2 rifles would be ideal and would cover pretty much all of his needs, no matter what the game happens to be. To me the Stevens model 200 is one of the finest bargains on today's market.
A couple of other bargains still to be had would be the Bersa 380 auto. Excellent quality and a decent price add up to being a great bargain. Charter Arms is back and for the person needing a bedside revolver for those things that go bump in the night, Charter Arms has several models to choose from including their old original 44 special Bulldog.
The 22 caliber bargain rifles are still in abundance with the Ruger 10-22 being at the top of the list. In several models, it is hard to beat the Ruger 10-22. Another is the Remington 597 and also the time proven Marlin model 60, of which millions and millions have been sold. I was cleaning out one of my safes recently shifting my guns to a larger safe and found 2 Marlin model 60s back in the corner. One was marked J.C. Penny and the other a Western Auto Hardware Store model. I have no idea where I got them but there they were. And the model 60 has been sold under the Sears name, Coast To Coast Hardware and many others. Probably one of the most abundant 22 rifles of our time, and still around, and usually for less than $200.
In 22 pistols besides the Ruger 22/45 I mentioned above, the new Walther SP-22 is a great buy. They even have a target model with two tone finish and all kinds of pizzazz features and still well under $400. They have compact models, models that come with lasers, long barreled models and on and on. And all priced well under that $400 mark.
Need a shotgun without taking out a mortgage on your home. Charles Daly has some very well made imports that are true bargains. They range from 20 gauge pumps and semi autos up to the 12 gauge 3 1/2" models in pump or semi auto. The Charles Daly's pump guns are in direct competition with the fine Mossberg model 500 pumps and can be found easily for under $250. Harrington and Richardson, the inexpensive single shot rifle and shotgun folks for many years is now selling 5 models of semi auto shotguns and 6 models of pump shotguns in all kind of finishes including camo and all easily affordable.
Well, let's see, what is new? I think I already mentioned a major shake up in the optics line up. Leupold bought out Redfield optics. Whether they plan to put out scopes or binocs or stay with just the bases and rings end of the business is unknown yet. Several years back, in '93 or '94 Redfield came out with 10X50 black armored binocs. I saw one at a dealer show and they worked perfect for my eyes. I bought a set and took them to Africa over the next couple of years and they worked perfectly for me. Then I heard that Redfield was closing down, so I bought 3 more pair of them. I still use those Redfield 10X50 binocs, and at less than $500 they were and still are a bargain. It would be nice if Redfield brought back their line of binoculars as they were hard to beat. I have worn all 4 pair of mine all over the world, on 11 African safaris, several to Australia and New Zealand and all over the U.S. and they are getting a bit tattered.
ATK, a holding company that owns several gun accessories and related companies like Federal Ammo among others, has bought out Weaver scopes, bases and rings. And Bushnell now owns Simmons scopes. Nothing drastic there.
We had a fellow come into the gun shop a few days ago with a rifle he said had a bullet lodged about halfway up the barrel. Colleen called me over from the machine shops to take a look at it. He had it in a soft gun case and as he pulled it out, I thought, "what in hell is this?" It has a 3 or 4 position collapsible stock on it, some sort of futuristic bipod that folded back into the custom stock's forend, a scope that belonged on a 1000 yard sniper rifle, a bull barrel, and full camo finish on everything, including the scope. As he handed it to me I almost laughed. It was an H&R, or maybe NEF single shot 223 rifle. He had so many gimmicks on this little plinker that I had no idea what it was. He must have had easily $1000 tied up in that little rifle. I punched the offending bullet out and he walked out with his prized sniper rifle securely encased. Whatever blows up your skirt.
Several of our new custom cartridges are doing well in the early testing. We actually have 4 new ones out. And once they are fully tested and dies secured, Andy Rowe will be loading these cartridges for those of you that don't reload.
One is a 445 super mag case necked to 338 caliber, dubbed our 340 GNR. This one is intended for the Ruger Maximum revolver, G-2/Contender and encore barrels and intended for game like large deer, big hogs up to cow elk. The testing has been coming along very well so far.
The second is our new 250 GNR. This little guy is intended for the standard size revolver and will also be chambered in the G-2 and Contender. It is simply a 357 magnum necked down to 25 caliber and is realistically just a 256 Winchester Improved. Testing so far is doing well, with velocities running about 200 fps over the old 256 Winchester.
The 3rd new cartridge is our new 376 GNR. This one is similar to our stretch frame 375 GNR except it fits in a standard size cylinder and frame. It will also be chambered in the G-2 and Contender and encore. It is intended for game normally shot with a 44 magnum, but be a bit faster and flatter shooting. It is simply a 44 magnum case necked down to 375 and shooting a 215 to 225 grain bullet.
The 4th new cartridge is my favorite of the 4. It is also the first cartridge (of over 40 now) that I have developed that I did not put my initials on. This one is our 257 Raptor and is intended for game up to deer and antelope and at ranges up to 225 to 250 yards. It is basically a 204 Ruger case necked up to 25 caliber. Intended for 75 up to 100 grain bullets, it is doing very well in preliminary testing with a 75 grain Hornady bullet at 3000 fps or a bit more. The accuracy is there also with groups holding well under a half inch at 25 yards in a 12" encore handgun. I like the 25 caliber and if the testing continues along as well as it has been doing so far, we may have a winner here. Then maybe a 24 caliber....?