Our latest Handgun Hunter’s Challenge is history and a good one it was. A lot of unusual animals were taken. Several of the Misfits said they enjoyed it even more as they got to see some critters they had never seen before, like a Zebra stallion that Bob Denning’s daughter Tiffany took. There was a young Nilgai that was a pet and followed some of the guys around looking for handouts. Kase took an Addax, which was a first for me as I had never seen one before. Several of the guys got to hunt in the corn field and it has become sort of a challenge to many. It is extremely dense and overgrown. Even seeing an animal more than 10 feet away is impossible. I ran across a Watusi bull in the corn field and was lucky enough to get him. On the last afternoon I also took a nice hog at kissing range in the corn field.  Blake Naugle and son Jon Hefferman both took Sikas, Randy Barnett took a really nice Axis buck, Woody Seiders got a Sika buck, Larry Farley and Brian Tonnacliff filled up their freezers with cow elk, Nate Henning, one of my main guys here at the shop got a nice Fallow deer. Several big bull elk were taken, one by J. Bunnell. Doug Faith took a nice painted Desert ram while Bill Strawberry got a nice eating size hog. And several of the guys took unusual animals, making it even more enjoyable. Our next HHC, probably the first part of March, will be a bit different. I won’t go into it right now but I have several unusual things to go over with Alan Wilson. I will book it within the next 2 weeks and will let you know more when I have finalized it with Alan.
I have been really surprised that a lot of the guns promised for this fall have not shown up yet. Some of the companies have come across with some very sensible guns for hunters this year and I have mentioned them here already. One is Mossberg with a new rifle that is sensibly priced and very good quality. The other is Savage with their Stevens model 200 that they came out with 2 years ago. They added to that this year with the AXIS rifle a very well made rifle with lots of special features, super smooth action, nylon stock, removable box magazine and we sell them for under $300, a great rifle for the money.
   A little clarification about Marlin here. A while back I mentioned that they had closed their doors and I was hoping it wasn’t for good. Well, I was somewhat right.  The Freedom Group’s factory rep was in the shop a few days ago and gave me the scoop on all the things that are going on with the company. Marlin also has a plant in Kentucky and this plant is where the bolt action guns are being made. They have new equipment and all is going well there. They are cranking out new rifles on a regular basis and the quality is fine. The problem was in their New York plant. The equipment for making the 1894 and 1895 rifles was so worn out that they couldn’t put out a gun that would work reliably. When they moved from their old plant they let all their old workers go and those old guys had babied the old equipment along to make it work. The new guys didn’t know which buttons to push to make the old worn out equipment crank out good product. So they closed down the production of the 1894 and 1895 rifles until all new equipment can be made and tested fully. They hope within a few months to start doing the testing and have guns coming out by next fall. The equipment that makes the model 336s and the model 39s  is newer equipment so they are able to build a few of them, but the emphasis right now is getting the new equipment in and going, and let the Kentucky plant carry them along.
The Rep for the Freedom group is also the Rep for Remington, Barnes bullets, New England Arms, H&R, Dakota Arms, Bushmaster, DPMS and several other companies. Most of them are still putting out their normal stuff and in the normal time frame. Remington is planning some special rifles for next year which is the 50th anniversary of the model 700 rifle. They have actually 2 special model 700s coming out, a 700 BDL and a 700 CDL.  The model 700 BDL will be in 7mm Remington Magnum, as will  the 700 CDL.
Barnes bullets is now also Barnes ammunition. They have a bunch of special dealer promotions to get the gun shops to carrying the Barnes ammo. Colleen is gone on a hunting trip back east with a bunch of her girl friends and her Jack Russells but I will give her all the special promo info when she gets back and will let you know how the ammo looks when we get it in.
Remington is taking some notes from Hornady’s game plan. Hornady has their Superformance ammo out and some fine ammo it is. Remington plans to put out their own high performance line of ammo out using their Core Lokt bullets.  They also have a new redesigned handgun bullet out in a new HPJ ammunition. This is their High Performance Jacket which will be found in their new redesigned Golden Saber ammo.  It is to be chambered in 38 special +P, 357 magnum, 380 auto, 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. The new HPJ bullets sport a smaller diameter nose and frontal area with a small driving band in the rear in the normal diameter. They use a special brass jacket of a stiffer material to help the petals expand during the mushrooming. 
Also another very special and very unusual ammo that is coming out soon is the new Hornady Zombie Max ammunition. They say the ammo is “not intended for normal humans nor any animal, plant or vegetable, only for Zombies”. It will come in several calibers including 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 223, 7.62 X 39 and 308. We have a couple of cases of each caliber ordered and I will let you know how it looks and shoots when we get it in. If you haven’t seen the video ad yet, by all means Google Hornady Zombie Max ammo and watch the video. I will surely give them full credit for making a very well made video. Somebody there knows what they are doing.
Across the country the parts shortages are still in full swing. We build our own Contender and Encore lugs and barrels but use TC’s extractors and bolts. It is just not monetarily feasible to make them ourselves. A while back I ordered enough small parts for 100 barrels. Last week I got enough for 7 barrels. If you have ordered a TC barrel from us, hang in there. More than likely the barrel is made, just waiting on the small parts to get in here. Thompson Center was bought out a while back by Smith & Wesson and the plant moved to the land where the Smith & Wesson plant is. This is what is taking them so long to get us the parts, (I hope). And hopefully they will catch up on all the back orders real soon.
Several of the new 1911s are being shipped this week and we should have a couple of the new brands in by early next week. I will take a good look at them, as will Kase, as he knows a lot more about the good and bad points on each gun. I will let you know how they stack up against some of the current brands. One that I will mention right now that we got in early this week is a new one by a company called Metro Arms. The gun is the American Classic 2. Kase and I both checked this one completely and I was extremely impressed with it. It is a blued gun, typical 1911, but that is where the “typical” ends. The gun is very smooth and very accurate. Kase shot  several magazines thru it, hollow points, ball ammo and hard cast lead round nose reloads. All went into 2 inches at 25 yards. Now a lot of guns can do that, and a lot of the high dollar guns can do that, but here is the difference. This gun retails for about $550. We sell it for well under $500. And here is the catcher. It has over $400 worth of special features on it if you have that done to a standard 1911. Here are some of the features....It has a custom long trigger with a nice crisp let off, it has a nicely fitted beavertail, it has the rounded Commander hammer, it has Novak sights front and rear, it has front and rear serrations on the slide, it has nice wooden grips, stippled to give you a better grip,  it has extender slide release and extended safety and it is fully throated and ramped and the port lowered. And all that plus good accuracy for well under $500. Kase mentioned that he had shot several of the high dollar 1911s that didn’t have anywhere near those features and weren’t as accurate. If you are thinking of picking up a good 1911 but are on a budget, check out Metro Arms American Classic 2. The gun is made in the Philippines  but don’t let that bother you. The High Standard is also made there and it is a very well made 1911. I wouldn’t hesitate to own one of the new Metro Arms 1911s, in fact I may have Colleen order me one. I have several 1911s but all are long slides and it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a standard size 1911.
There are a lot of new high dollar bullets coming out this fall and some have already hit the market. I get calls and e-mails every day asking which ones I use in my guns. I had someone ask on the forum today which ones would be best. Well, with the economy in the tank, I personally would recommend the standard hunting bullets., I have taken well over 300 whitetail deer in the last 40 years all over this country, almost every one of them with my handguns and I can truthfully say not one was taken with a high dollar premium bullet. I see no need to waste money on these specialty bullets when the standard ones will do fine. I consider the Sierra and Hornady handgun bullet to be fine for any game you would hunt with a handgun. Of the many whitetail deer I have taken, probably 90% of them were taken with the Sierra handgun bullets. I really consider them the best ever made. I have used and depended on the Sierra 170 grain 41 caliber JHC bullet and the 180 grain Sierra 44 magnum JHC bullet and other than thru a screw up of mine or using the wrong bullet on the wrong animal, these two bullets have never let me down. For larger game I have used the Hornady 265 grain 44 caliber JFN bullet for game that a hollow point would not be best for. In my 44 Auto mags I have used that bullet for almost 40 years. I use a round nose bullet seater when loading it and this gives it a slightly rounded nose that feeds perfectly. And I have shot that bullet end to end thru Bison and Black bear. I like the Speer 260 grain JSP bullet in my 45 caliber handguns and it has worked very well for me thru the years. I have used it on several Black bear in Murphy and Andrew North Carolina and in east Tennessee.
Not only do I try to stick with the standard hunting bullets in my revolvers and semi autos I also try to stick with the standard proven spitzer and soft point bullets in my Encore and Contender cartridges. The only bullet I can think of that was at one time considered a premium bullet is the Nosler Accubond. I use the 260 grain Accubond bullet in my 378 GNR mainly because it works and the barrel likes that bullet. Although these days the Accubond is not considered any more premium than the older Partition bullet. For many years on my African hunts I used the 260 grain Partition and it did very well in my 378 GNR. In my 338 GNR which is probably my second most used big game caliber, I have used the Hornady 225 grain spire pointed bullet and my longest shots I have ever made were made with a standard 210 grain spire pointed bullet in my 338 GNR, those shots being a hair under 300 yards, and that was from a good rest on a broadside animal that weighed nearly 300 pounds. Otherwise I would never have tried the shot. When hunting heavy brush with my 338 GNR I use the Speer 275 grain semi spitzer, which is a very slightly rounded nose bullet. It seems to get thru the brush better without deflecting on a leaf or small twig. But what I am getting at is none of these are the high dollar bullets that are so prevalent these days and every gun writer (except JT) seems to be pushing as well as all the guys on the hunting shows. I never watch those shows as I don’t like fairy tales but I have had quite a few people ask me about a special bullet being pushed on the shows. Remember those guys get paid to say those things. And they get paid very well to get you all excited enough to head to your local gun shop looking for these bullets. So the main thing here is, you work hard for your money. Don’t blow it needlessly on those high dollar bullets when some of the old stand-byes will do just as well. There is not a deer, black bear or elk alive that requires a bullet that costs $3. Stick with the older proven bullets and you will have more money left over for more hunting trips or an extra rifle or handgun.
A week or two ago I mentioned a new/old cartridge I was bringing out. I have had a few e-mails asking about it so I guess I need to explain myself. Back in ‘04 I came up with a 25 caliber bullet for medium long range deer, antelope and such. The cartridge is my 256 Falcon. Actually it had another name but I have used that name since then so the Falcon came into being. For some reason not even I remember I shelved the cartridge. My good friend and reamer maker Dave Manson said it was because I was a dumb shit. I have to agree with Dave. In fact when I came up with the cartridge and had Dave draw it up he went on and registered it for me. When I hesitated on bringing it out Dave set it aside figuring I would come to my senses and bring it out eventually. Seven years later I finally did. I took my original drawing and added 50 thou to the neck and gave it a 40° shoulder instead of a 35°. The cartridge is pretty much identical to my 7 GNR except in 25 caliber. It is based on a 30-30 case necked down to 25, straight case, sharp shoulder and short neck. This has proven to be a winner in the 7 GNR and the 30 GNR so the 25 caliber version should do just as well.
Being that Dave kept all the drawings and figures we just had to do the 2 small changes and the name change to the paperwork and Dave got right to work on the reamer. I should have the reamer in my hands by the end of this coming week and the prototype barrel made up shortly after that. The dies are a different matter. Hornady is so far behind. I still haven’t received the dies for my 277 GNR, the 405 case necked to 270 caliber. But they will get them to me as soon as they can. In the mean time I will make two  barrels, one for me and one for Sean and send him some dies so he can afro engineer some ammo up and do some tentative testing.
It is Saturday night and I am in the middle of doing the Black Chromex finishing. I have several guns to do tonight including a double barreled shotgun and those are a real pain in the schwantz. Right now I am typing this up while I wait on my tanks to come up to temperature.
Our hunting seasons are here, maybe just small game for those back east but hunting is hunting. It doesn’t matter what we hunt as long as we can get out in the woods with our guns. And remember, take a youngster or your wife with you. They are our future. Until next time, God bless.