Gary's Gun Notes #60

This Gun Notes is a bit early which is very rare for me, but the end of this month is our Handgun Hunters Challenge 2 in the hills of Tennessee so things will get a bit hectic in another couple of weeks.

This Gun Notes is being written on Sunday evening after a leisurely Sunday afternoon of cartridge testing. I have had something special on my mind for a while since Lance Faler asked if we were going to develop any new cartridges on the new 375 Ruger case. I had briefly thought about it when the cartridge came out but never really wasted any brain waves on the subject. But after Lance asked the question, I began to give it some thought.

I called a friend at Hornady and got a handful of 375 Ruger brass. The first thing I do when I am thinking of developing a new cartridge is form the new case and check for case capacity. I never use the water method as it is not precise enough for me. I use a ball powder as it flows evenly and packs to the same amount in a case just about every time, never varying more than a tenth of a grain. 

I first measured the case capacity of an unfired 375 Ruger case. The capacity of the unfired case is 96 grains. Now this is not a load, this is the total case capacity to the top of the case. Then just for the hell of it, I compared it to other cases capacity as I keep a log of most of the other. Here is what we got...some of these were surprising to me...

  • 375 Ruger...96 grains
  • 375 H&H...91 grains this surprised me
  • 458 Win Mag...92.5 grains at this point it had my attention..
  • 416 Rigby...126 grains
  • 338 Win Mag...84 grains
  • 416 Weatherby...134 grains
  • 458 Lott...103 grains
  • 470 Capstick...104 grains
  • 50 Alaskan...67 grains
  • 586 GNR...123 grains
  • 610 GNR...128 grains

Now quite often when I am working on a possible new cartridge, my work stops here. If the new cartridge is less than it's nearest competitor, there is no reason to continue. It would be a waste of money. From the time the brain fart gets you to thinking about a new cartridge to the time you load the first round with the custom dies to the firing of the first round in the newly converted firearm you will spend close to $2000. So if the cartridge doesn't look good on paper, it is probably a waste of money.

Now the next step is to decide what caliber I should convert this case to. There is no use even thinking about the 416 as the Rigby case is way up there as the 416 Weatherby case, both well over 125 grains.

Next up would be the 458 caliber. The Ruger case beats the 458 Winchester by a few grains and a blown out case would be even a bit more, but enough of a gain? Maybe. But worth spending twice as much for a set of dies and three or four times longer loading the cartridge? Probably not.

Then we look at the 458 Lott at 103 grains and that eliminates the 458 caliber for a possible conversion. Next step up is the .475 caliber. We have the 470 Capstick, which is simply a 375 H&H case blown out straight with a .475 caliber bullet seated in the case. This is a possibility.

Looking at the 375 Ruger case we find the case is .527 at the base with a slow taper to .510 at the shoulder area, give or take a thou. I took a case and blew it out straight and then necked it down to .475. This gave me considerably more case capacity but is it enough? Again maybe. Now the case is the same as a fired case in 475 caliber. The full case capacity is now 103 grains. It is now for all practical purposes identical to the 470 Capstick in capacity. The problem now is the shoulder. It is very small, probably not large enough to headspace the cartridge on. The Capstick case headspaces on the belt. The 375 Ruger has no belt so it has to have something to headspace on.

Years ago I experimented with the 400 Whelen, which was the 30-06 case necked up to 40 caliber. It also had a very small shoulder and if I ran the bolt forward hard or fast it shoved the case too far into the chamber and caused misfires. I heard later that that was the reason the 400 Whelen was dropped. 

So now it's down to put out or get out. At best the cartridge would equal the 470 Capstick. At worst I would have a constant headache with the headspace problems. At this point I think I will wait to see if someone else decides to use this great new case for a wildcat cartridge. It is a bit more of a gamble than I like to take. Thanks Lance for the idea. I enjoyed the day working on it even if nothing comes of it. 

Besides I have several new cartridges that are doing very well, so why take the gamble? My 429 is doing very well. I spent several hours this past week doing more load testing. The 455 is a proven winner. We have lots of orders for this one and it has already proven itself on African buffalo and several other animals of that size and disposition.

The 586 GNR and the 610 GNR are finally finished with the load testing. I have several orders for each already and though they won't be something everyone will want or need, there is enough demand for them from those planning to hunt Australia , Alaska or Africa for them to be in the top 10% of our various cartridges. With a case capacity of 123 grains for the 586 and 130 grains for the 610 GNR, that is plenty of power for anything on this planet and the recoil is no more than a hot 12 gauge shotgun.

Our HHC 2 is coming up in about 3 weeks and I am getting several e-mails a day about it. This HHC is in the foothills of Tennessee at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee. They have many acres of dense heavy hardwoods and many acres of open meadows to hunt and animals there from huge wild boar to African game and game from other countries. The have several types of buffalo and bison. They have several species of exotic sheep and deer. They have the game animal I really love to hunt, the Nilgai. This is a horse size critter with 2 devil horns on his head. he is often called the Devil Horse due to the size and the horns but also due to his evil temper and nasty disposition. They are also one of the finest eating animals available. 

Or how about an animal that is about the size of a yearling antelope who hops like a mule deer, barks at you and has 3 inch fangs on each side of his mouth. This little guy is the Muntjac and is also called the Chinese Water Deer. They have them up at the Lodge also. These little animals seem to have no fear of man and will often come hopping up to a hunter, barking and snapping his fangs. That's enough to make you quit drinking. 

We have 28 hunters scheduled for this hunt and if it is a success, which I feel sure it will be, I will plan another one in the spring. 

No bad news this time. I hit you with enough bad dreary news last time to keep you in a foul mood for a couple of weeks so we won't get into it this time. We all know ammo and components are going up almost daily, so we just have to change our buying habits and live with it.

Smith & Wesson's new semi auto shotguns are finally out and they really look nice. They are some of the nicest semi autos out there and in 20 gauge plus 12 gauge in 2 3/4, 3 and 3 1/2 inch.

Pelican, who make, in my estimation, the absolute best gun cases on the market, now has some new flashlights out that will give Surefire a run for the money. The couple that I have seen were extremely nice and extremely bright and $25 to $35 cheaper than the same light by Surefire.

I have always had a hard on for nice 22 LR rifles. I have a 541 Remington that is a mans 22. Now Savage has come out with what they call the Rimfire Classic. This is one of the nicest rimfire rifles on the market. When you pick it up, the feel is like one of the older Kimbers, solid and with the feel of a centerfire. If you like classy 22 rifles, check out the Savage Classic Rimfire.

Kase and I have been mulling over a couple of special guns that will be introduced within 3 months. Two of them are the 2007 Classic. Kase will have one of them in a very special 1911 and I plan a special revolver. There will only be one of each and each will be marked "2007 Classic". These two will be auctioned off the last week or so of the year.

The next special thing will be our 30th anniversary pistol. We started in 1978 and 2008 is our 30th anniversary. It seems like just a year or so ago that we put out 5 very special 25th anniversary pistols and we hope to make the 30 anniversary guns even more special. I will tell you more about these as we go along.

That's it for this time. Hunting season is here. get your guns and hit the field. And don't forget to take the family hunting. 



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