Our most recent HHC (Handgun Hunter's Challenge) is now history and a great success it was. Especially considering we had rain all 3 days and had to tromp thru mud from the rain they had the week before. Also considering we had 6 of our regulars drop out at the last minute. And that Kase suffered an injury to his right hand that kept him in the emergency room most of the afternoon and evening before we were slated to leave. He is recovering from that nicely and was back in the shop the day after. With him sidelined I had to decide whether to scrap our going to the hunt or doing a 1700 mile drive by myself. As I had promised to deliver several custom guns and had Jim Goerg there as special guest, I really had no choice, so the drive was made over a 2 day span.
Jim Goerg is Al Goerg's son, the father of handgun hunting, and being that the hunt was a memorial to his Dad, I thought it appropriate that we invite Jim. He accepted and showed up there with his wife on Saturday and spent that day and evening with us at the lodge. Jim is a wonderful person and was a true pleasure to have there.
Even with 6 hunters dropping out, including Puff Daddy, Andy Rowe, Jim & Nancy Frost, Carl Reiger, Joel Leinard, and Mike Gulas, we had a full 34 hunters there and a large amount of game was taken, including Bison, water buffalo, Fallow Deer, Sika Deer, Red Stag, elk, wildebeest, several exotic sheep, and lots of hogs. Game was taken with everything from a 44 caliber cap & ball pistol by Scott Boggs, to big 500 Maximums and 500 S&Ws to 45-70 lever guns. Lots of the guys took on the Al Goerg mentality and took their game with the smaller calibers. Goerg was known to take black bear with the 218 Bee and 22 K-Chuck, large moose with a 44 magnum, Brown Bear with a 44 magnum, Mountain Goat with a 357 Python, Caribou with the 256 Winchester and many more and all of this in the early 60s, back in the time when our ammo wasn't so hot and hyper speed as it is today, and back when our choice in bullets was slim at best.
Several animals were taken with the 257 Raptor, a couple with the 240 Raptor, a couple with the 356 GNR and 41 GNR. I took a 2000 pound bull Bison with one shot from the 41 GNR and took home over 900 pounds of meat.
I will begin the tentative planning of the next hunt within the next couple of weeks. Good Lord willing, I hope to have it the latter part of March. I will keep all of you posted on that and it will be in the same lodge in Monterey Tennessee.
Well, the shortages of seemingly everything are continuing, and if anything, worsening a bit. Powder seems to be loosening up a slight bit but primers are still extremely backlogged and now rifle ammo is getting hard to find. Even standard ammunition like 30-30, 30-06, 270 and such are scarce and if one is picky about what bullet, brand or type of brass he wants to use, he may do without this year. If you are looking for rifle ammo for your upcoming hunt and find any in the caliber you are hunting with, my suggestion is buy it. Forget looking all over the place as when you get thru looking, unsuccessfully in most cases, that other ammo you passed up may well be gone. Snooze and you lose.
About the only thing I see in any abundance is the various AR-15s. They are now everywhere and at very good prices. The expensive rifles are simply not selling and the cheaper ones just barely. For someone looking for an AR, it is a buyer's market. I hope Ruger's addition to the AR market didn't hit too late. It is an expensive rifle and the distributors I have been talking to haven't had a lot of success selling them.
Speaking of Ruger, they now have a 22 caliber "assault" rifle. They have the new SR-22, which is simply a 10-22 all gussied up to look like an AR-15. A really neat little gun for those wanting an AR look-alike. S&W has also introduced the same thing. They now have a new 22 caliber rifle that looks like their AR-15. And not to be outdone, Remington has just released their new little 597 VTR, which is their model 597 22 auto all adorned up like one of their ARs. The retail on these little 22s will be from $450 to $650 but will probably sell considerably under retail.
And speaking of "assault" type 22 LR rifles, the folks at American Tactical who make the 22 LR version of the H&K MP-5 have just lost a court battle with H&K and it looks like the GSG-5 22 carbine will no longer be made. If you have been wanting one, better get it now while there are still a few at decent prices. And on the subject of 22 rifles, the Henry folks have added a John Wayne type big loop lever gun in 22 LR to take their share of the 22 market.
If you are looking for a hunting rifle, some good deals are out there, as the hunting rifle market is way down. People, for the most part, spent what extra cash they had earlier this year picking up that AR-15 along with powder, primers and ammo and the new rifles are not moving. Hunters, from what I gather, seem to be fine using their old rifle for another year. Another reason for this is the extremely high prices on most of the bigger brand name rifles. The major brand names have introduced their new prices for the 4th quarter and they are HIGH. It is not unusual to see a standard bolt action going for over a grand and seldom do you see one of the big name brands for under $800. Normally in a money crunch, manufacturers do the smart thing and drop their prices a bit to encourage the buyers. Unfortunately for some strange reason America's main rifle makers took a large price hike. I hope I am wrong, but I think this will hurt them in the long run.
If I had told you last year there would be a shortage of H&R single shot shotguns and rifles, you would probably have told me I was nuts. Well, it looks like there will be this fall and into the early spring. H&R has been in the same factory for 140 years and now is moving and in doing so they are finding shortages of material to get started back up again. This means the little single shot rifles and shotguns will not be available for a while. If you had planned to get one for a youngster for Christmas or for this hunting season, better get it while you can.
If you are a SIG fan, lots in stock at the distributors but not many at the gun shops, mainly I hear, due to their high prices. Expect to see the prices drop to a reasonable level soon. Glock, for the first time in a good while, is introducing a new model. It will be introduced at the SHOT SHOW in January. It is a new small frame, slim pistol with a different look.
Here is a different slant on a shortage. 10 round magazines are extremely hard to get from many handgun makers. The hi cap mags are everywhere and at decent prices, but some states, like California and other Communist states are causing a shortage of 10 rounders. Who woulda thunk?
Think about this. Whenever as many as two shooters get together, the conversation invariably turns to the gun and ammunition shortage. The critical shortages of lead, and copper are surely with us. Several large companies produced more guns and cartridges this year than in the last several years. Dealers complaining about how little stock they received this year are surprised that more guns and ammunition were made this year than 5 years ago. With bare shelves staring at them, they can't figure out where the supply has gone. The answer is that with the accumulated demand, it goes out as fast as it comes in, aggravated by the usual psychological reaction under such conditions of scarcity, which causes the public to overbuy, when possible. The picture for next year is that nearly every element of this industry is producing in the highest volume possible.
Now, that last paragraph sounds familiar, doesn't it? It sounds just exactly like what we are going thru every day. Well, that came out of an American Rifleman magazine in January 1947.
I recently picked up an estate sale that had a large amount of reloading gear in it. The unusual part of it was that it had been in storage since 1985 when the old fellow died. And he had been in ill health for 10 years before that, so the chances of him actually using any of that gear in at least 30 to 35 years was slim to zilch.
He had maybe 50 pounds of gun powder. Most unopened and amazingly enough, it was still in good condition, and even more amazing is that the powder was made in the '50s at the latest. Most was very early stuff. Ever heard of Dupont #6 or Dupont #80? Me either, but good friend John Taffin had, and he said those were 2 of Elmer Keith's favorite powders before 2400 came out. John even had all the original loading data and said he had plenty of the old original balloon head cases in 44 special, 45 Colt, 38-40 and 44 magnum. Do you see where I am leading here? I figured if John had all that then he should have the original powder that Elmer used many years ago. In fact John said those loads probably hadn't been used in 75 years.
So, John now has that #6 and #80 powder and over the winter will load up some of old Elmer's original loads and come spring when the snow melts and tweety birds are back out again, he will try some of Keith's original loads and see how they compare with today's loads. That is an article I am looking forward to.
The estate also had lots of other powder I am not familiar with, like Hi-Vel #2, Alcan's Al-5, AL-7 and AL-8. He had several cardboard cans of Bullseye, Unique and also had several cans of 2400 Rifle Powder. Marked right there on the cardboard box was "2400 Rifle Powder", on one of the favorite pistol powders around. Apparently when it was first developed, it was for rifles. Sort of like Winchester 296, which was developed for 410 shotguns and ended up being one of the top 2 or 3 pistol powders around. My, how things change.
In this estate, there was also all the 1947 and 1948 American Rifleman magazines. And that was really an eye opener. But more on that next month. Until then, hunting season is here, take a youngster hunting.