Gary's Gun Notes #58

The last Gun Notes had to cover 2 months due to an overburden of work. This month's Gun Notes will also be a 2 month edition. As I had mentioned before a couple of my main guys quit for personal family reasons and this has put us in a helluva bind. I have hired new guys and am in the process of training them, but this puts an extreme burden on my time. The normal day these days is 20 hours and 7 days a week. I do the Black Chromex finish on Wednesday and Saturday so while my tanks are coming up to temperature I have a couple of minutes to spare. I can either eat dinner or do Gun Notes.

Our hunting seasons are fast approaching with some starting in as little as a month for archery and a bit later for the gun seasons. Unfortunately out here pretty much everything is on a draw system. If you put in and get drawn then you hunt. If not then you are S.O.L. As usual I ended up with rabbits and squirrels again this year. Our rabbits are considered varmints and can be hunted year round. We have cottontails and jack rabbits out here by the gazillions. As soon as it cools off a bit and the rattlers den up and it is safe to have our Jack Russell terriers out, I enjoy spending quite a bit of time in the field with them for rabbits and for crows. 

If you had to guess, which gun company do you think puts out the most firearms? You might be surprised but probably not. In the top 10 for 2006, we have ...

#1. Remington
#2. Ruger
#3. S&W
#4. Mossberg
#5. Marlin
#6. H&R
#7. Savage
#8. Argus (and I am not sure who Argus is)
#9. U.S.Repeating Arms (Winchester was still selling guns in early '06)
#10. Sigarms

When the 2007 list comes around I would imagine we will see some of these not listed and maybe a few new ones shown. With the problems Remington has been having during the last 8 to 10 months and Winchester being gone completely (even though they may well be back in production by the end of this year), we should see some changes in this line up.

More and more ammo companies are posting rebates and freebies to boost lagging ammo sales, which has been lagging due to the massive price hikes we have seen since the first of the year. More hikes are predicted and already being announced over the last half of the year. As I have told you several times before, buy it now while the prices are still within reason. Just this week I was helping put out some 22 magnum on the shelf over at our gun shop. We had received several thousand rounds of various rimfire ammo and shoved back in behind a box of 20 gauge slugs was a box of Federal 22 magnum ammo. It was obviously about a year old by the date code on the box. It was priced at $8.95 a box. Today that same ammo is $17.95 a box, exactly double what it was this time last year. 

Reloading is increasing in leaps and bounds due to the higher cost of buying loaded ammo. If you have been thinking of getting into reloading, now is the time. The cost of getting into reloading runs about $350 for a good set up with a good press, scale, powder measure, dies, manuals and several small accessories. Still a bargain for what you will be saving. 

If a box of ammo retails for $40 on the dealers shelf, you can still load that for a bit less than half that price and even less if you bypass the higher price premium bullets. Plus the time you spend reloading keeps you off the streets and out of the bars, and your wife will probably like that. 

About once a year I go over my choices in reloading gear for those interested in getting started but who don't know where to begin. So let's not make '07 any different. Here are the items I would recommend for a beginner or someone who has loaded a bit with Lee Loaders or some other ancient piece of equipment and who wants to get with the 21st century.

A good press....I highly recommend the RCBS Rockchucker Master Kit. This is a full set up which includes the Rockchucker press, a good scale, the powder measure, the Speer manual, a manual case trimmer, plus several small accessories that go along with it. Obviously it does not include the dies or shell holder. 

Powder scales...I use an RCBS electronic scale, but not one of the ones that dribble the powder out into the pan. If you have plenty of time, this set up is fine, but if your time is limited, just go with the electronic scale and do your own dribbling. The electronic scales require as long as 30 minutes to warm up and settle down. They have to be taken almost completely apart when you change powders to get all the powder out of the nooks and crannies and then reassembled again. I bought one of the top of the line Lyman electronic scales, got fed up with the wasted time and put it up on a shelf and haven't touched it again. 

Powder measures...Most of these are very similar, so one is not really preferred over the other. I use an RCBS and have had it for many years.

Dies....personal preference here. I like RCBS and Hornady. The RCBS is the easiest to use. I don't care for the Hornady bullet seating system although that is all personal. I have C&H, and Lyman dies but don't care for Lee dies at all. Again personal preference. For straight wall handgun cartridges like 357, 44 mag, 45 long colt etc, always try to buy the carbide dies. This eliminates almost all the lubing and mess. 

Reloading books.... You never have too many. Watch the gun shows and pick up the older books too as sometime down the road you will need them. Plus they are great as reference material. I personally like the Lyman manual as they give load data for all bullets while the other companies like to show data for their own bullets. The Lyman book isn't always up to date on the newest calibers so if you shoot one or two of the newer calibers then take a good look at the book and make sure your calibers are listed. 

Bullets...Again personal preference, but remember very often the higher priced premium bullets are actually no better than the lower priced bullets. Barnes new Triple Shok bullets are excellent bullets, but having tested them in several of my barrels, I don't really find them any better than the lower priced Noslers, Sierras, Hornadys etc. In fact unless you have a $50,000 African hunt scheduled, you will do just as well with the standard bullets and save considerable money while you are at it. For my money it is hard to beat the Nosler Partition or Accu-Bond bullets and they are considerably less than some of the high dollar premium bullets. People have been taking big game for as long as there have been jacketed bullets and doing so with the standard bullets off the shelf. With the prices of bullets hitting the ceiling, don't fall for gimmick bullets. 

Powder...Again personal preference. You may have to try several brands of powder before you find the one your gun likes. But that is normal so don't get your panties in a wad about it. You will use that powder in another caliber. Powders are like bullets and manuals..the more types and brands you have the better off you will be. 

Lead or LBT bullets....These are becoming more and more popular with handgunners and some rifle shooters. The more we progress the more we revert back to the basics. I would suggest you never ever shoot a lead bullet without a gas check, but I know a lot of people that do. In fact I do myself, but only in cowboy guns doing the sighting in of new guns we have just built. The gas check is kind of like a bullet condom. It is a little copper cap on the base of the bullet that keeps the base of the bullet from melting when you fire the shell. It protects the inside of the barrel from getting leaded up. Getting lead out of the barrel after you have leaded it up is like getting un-pregnant...hard to do. I shoot probably 750 to 800 rounds of cowboy loads a week test firing guns and these are non gas checked bullets. But very often half way thru the sighting in and testing of the revolver, we have to stop and get all the lead out of the barrel. For hot loads I would highly recommend you use only gas checked bullets. Usually anything over 900 to 1000 fps will lead up your barrel unless you have gas checked bullets. 

LBT bullets...this stands for Lead Bullet Technology. These bullets are extremely hard, have gas checks on them and are for big game, and dangerous game. They work and work better than most jacketed bullets. My place of choice lately to buy them has been Montana Bullet Works. Dave Jennings is the head honcho there and is a good guy. Their bullets are high quality and not expensive at all. Find them at

Accessories....Boy, here I get into a squabble with reloaders every time I suggest that one is better than the other. If you have a buddy that reloads take a look at his gear. Then if it works for you, go for it. Just remember there is a difference in accessories and gimmicks. Nuff said.

I won't go into shotshell reloading here or casting your own lead bullets. I have touched on these topics in the past but these are specialty endeavors and not for everyone. Learn to reload rifle and handgun ammo first before you venture into this.

Let's see, what else is new or different since last time. Politics? If you have yet to join the NRA, now is the time. Although I don't always agree with their methods, they have saved our guns more times than I like to remember. Join now and get your buddy to do so. With all the anti gun liberals in congress and possibly soon to be in the White House, now is the time. 

I had a fellow stop in this afternoon after Kase had already gone and complain about his 1911. It was a factory gun, not one that Kase built. It was one of these tiny little miniature 1911s that are cropping up everywhere. I would highly not recommend one of them for self defense. Due to their super small gripframe, they do not fit everyone's hand and because you only have 2 fingers on the butt, you don't give the gun something to work against. It is sort of like limp wristing a gun. Most everyone knows that if you limp wrist a semi auto it won't function. You have to have a good firm grip on the gripframe to give the slide something to work with. The small frames guns cause almost everyone to limp wrist the gun causing failures to extract and failures to feed. If you use the gun to protect your life, this is not good. Gimmicks can get you killed.

Our Handgun Hunters Challenge #2 is coming up in less than 3 months in the hills of Tennessee. We have a full slate of hunters signed up to go. The camp holds 25 and we have that many signed up ready to go. I hope to try out a couple of our newer calibers there. Our new 256 GNR and the new 429 GNR both did very well on the Hot & Nasty hunt we were on a month ago. Both calibers in revolvers took hogs ranging from 300 pounds to well over 400 pounds and with one shot each. We should see several revolvers chambered in each of these on this next hunt. 

Our new Mega Beast rifle prototype is finished and the pictures have been posted on here. It is chambered in our 2 new calibers, the 586 GNR and 610 GNR, and in both a deluxe and a field grade. The 610 GNR will get within 125 fps of the 600 nitro and will beat the 460 Weatherby but has about one third the recoil of the 460. It is built on your Ruger #1 base gun. Dies should be here very soon and the 610 has already gone thru a long load testing session and load data is there ready to go with the gun. The 586 testing still awaits the dies. If you have always wanted a 600 Nitro or 577 Nitro, now you can have the next best thing for about 1/10th the price. Hell, ask your wife, bigger is better. 

Til next time, hunting season is almost here, get ready.



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