For the most part, the snow is finally gone and the
prairie dogs are out and making nice targets of themselves. Unfortunately here
is Arizona there is a season on them so we have to wait til mid to late summer
to start shooting them. Several friends back east are busy shooting
groundhogs, a sport I used to love dearly when I lived in Tennessee.
And speaking of varmint hunting, it seems that for many the varmint rifle
these days is one of the many AR-15s. The old days of them being one of those
horrible black assault rifles that will kill and maim and pretty much highly
offend poor defenseless liberals appears to be gone. Now they come in various
colors, even hot pink, bright orange and yellow camo and a puke purple. It
also seems that just about everyone has decided to build them and not only for
defense anymore. Now they are being touted as long range target rifles,
varmint rifles and standard deer rifles in various calibers, even elk rifles.
Some of the various calibers, other than the normal 223 and 308 are 6.8 SPC,
6.5 Grendel, 50 Beowulf, 338 Federal, 358 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmore, 204
Ruger, 7.62x39, and an assortment of other calibers. Whatever your need
happens to be there is a caliber chambered in one of the AR models to fit that
And as many calibers as there are, there are also that many companies that are
building them. And some of the old school American companies are jumping on
the bandwagon. As I have mentioned before Remington bought out Bushmaster and
Cerberus, the company that owns Remington also owns DPMS, another AR rifle
company. Armalite is celebrating 50 years of building some of the best ARs on
the market, and the mainstay of the AR rifles, Colt, is apparently only making
them for law enforcement with very few being offered to the public.
But even with Colt out of the line-up, there are an endless array of others to
choose from. And in various configurations.
Almost every one has what they call a Varmint model. The Remington R-15 VTR
(for Varmint/Target Rifle) is full camo, heavy barrel, and a flattop which
takes it totally away from the old image of the "assault rifle".
Stag Arms is making a true left handed AR-15 that we can't call the AR-15
anymore. They have what they call their model 6L Super Varminter with a
24" heavy stainless barrel, match grade of course, free floating with a
match trigger and lots of other goodies to turn it into a long range groundhog
DPMS, mentioned a moment ago, also has a line up of several models aimed at
hunters and target shooters alike. They have what they term an elk rifle in
their Panther model chambered in the 338 Federal. Now the 338 Federal is for
all practical purposes, identical ballistically to the 358 Winchester, and in
my mind that is too light for a big bull elk. They also have several other
models for long range varmints to big game such as Big Horn Sheep.
Many of the new models, while they have names like Coyote Killer and Long
Range Varmint, still keep the black "assault rifle" image. The new
Sig 556 is typical of this, while also being an extremely heavy rifle compared
to other AR types. Rock River Arms, Armalite, Smith & Wesson, among others
still have the assault rifle look even though they say their rifles are meant
for other purposes. Now even Charles Daly has jumped into the arena with their
own AR copy. Theirs is called the CDD, or Charles Daly Defense. No word yet
exactly who is making the rifle but it will be interesting to see how they
fare against so much competition.
In completely the opposite direction there is a new rifle from Uberti that
should catch many eyes. It is their new 1876 rifle. This is the copy of the
original 1876 Winchester Centennial rifle. This is the big boy that originally
came in some large calibers up to the 50-95. Uberti plans to chamber it first
in 45-60 and plans to bring it out in 40-60, 45-75, and the 50-95. Now that
Beretta owns Uberti, we can expect some special versions of the 1876 to come
out under Beretta's name.
Speaking of Beretta, they have picked up a multi year contract to furnish the
U.S. Army with more of the M-9 Berettas. In fact in the next two years they
are supposed to deliver well over 25,000 new pistols to the Army.
Mossberg is doing very well with their many variations of hunting and defense
shotguns and their new Model 100 rifle. Now they have expanded their rifle
line up to include a new lever action in 30-30. With the absence of Winchester
in the lever gun market there is a void that needs to be filled and Mossberg
fills part of it well with their new model 464 30-30. The gun, with it's
20" barrel looks amazingly like the Winchester 94.
Over the past few weeks we have been working on a new small revolver. This
little beauty is based on the 32 caliber Single Six and will be built on the
customer's base gun, as normal. We install a new barrel, new 5 shot cylinder
and chamber it in 38 Super. Now you have the power almost equaling the 357
magnum but in a small compact single action carry gun. And it works great. I
will have more on this later.
This last week we re-introduced our #5 revolver. We originally premiered it
about 3 years ago and due to late shipments of the inner parts and some of the
inner parts being a bit fragile for today's ammo, we had our share of problems
with it. The first run was 100 guns and of that 100 we had probably 20 sent
back with small problems, most of which were the inner parts breaking. I know
20 doesn't sound like a lot, but that is 20% and that is way too many. We got
permission from Ruger to use the old model parts in our original #5 and soon
found out why Ruger had wisely gone to the new model Mostly the parts breaking
were the small pressed metal parts but no matter which part, it was still a
After we shipped the last gun, I sat down and had a long talk with myself. I
was getting calls for the #5 constantly but I didn't want to repeat the
problems we had earlier with the first run. I did some measuring and drew up
the plans for a new #5 gripframe. It was dimensionally the same as the first
#5s we built but the screw holes were in different places and it had a place
for the trigger return spring and when the first test gripframe came in, it
fit the Ruger Blackhawk frame perfectly. Well, as perfectly as you are going
to get these days. It still needed hand fitting and timing but at least it
So the second generation of our #5 Improved has been released. This one will
be built on the customer's base gun, that being a stainless Blackhawk, Super
Blackhawk or Bisley. All these frames are the same and any of them will work
as the base gun, no matter the original caliber as all that will change.The
Field Grade #5 is $1495 built on the customer's base gun.
In converting the customer's Blackhawk to the #5 first we take it totally
apart, discarding everything except the frame. We put it in the mill and
flattop it, just like the original #5. We then build a new 6 shot cylinder in
the caliber of the customer's choosing. Available calibers are 41 magnum, 41
special, 44 special, 45 long colt or 44-40. Then we build a heavy duty barrel
in the length of the customer's choosing, fit our interchangeable blade system
front sight, with the blade the customer wants, fit a new rear sight, and test
fire it. We build a set back trigger for the gun at this stage.
We shoot the gun at least 4 times, normally 30 to 36 rounds total before it
gets the OK to be shipped. Once the gun is sighted in and is accurate enough
to suit me, we drill the hole for the ejector housing and fit nice walnut or
rosewood grips to it and then polish the entire gun, piece by piece. At this
point we also either fit fire blue small parts including screws, pins and such
or we fit stainless small parts to it. Once it is either high polished or
satin finished, according to the customer's wishes, we engrave it. Each #5
gets some engraving, including the customer's name if he wishes at no extra
charge. Everything mentioned above is included in the Field Grade model. The
Deluxe Model is simply the Field Grade with whatever options you want added
on. The options available are...
- Full engraving...$600
- Real elephant ivory grips...$500
- Mammoth Ivory grips (most are 20,000 years
- Octagonal barrel...$500 up to 7 inches. Over 7"
- Mongolian stag grips...$250
When we finished the first of the new model #5s, I set
it beside one of our old model #5s. The only difference was the 3rd screw in
the sideplate and the top strap being slightly thicker. Even this was not
visible unless the person checked it over closely. This #5 I am satisfied with
and the prototype model has had probably 1000 rounds of hot ammo run thru it
in the last 4 months and so far not one problem.
The new #5 Improved, like all our other guns will carry our full lifetime
warranty, no questions asked. The only thing that will void that warranty is
going inside the gun and working on it yourself, or taking it to another
gunsmith and having him tinker with it. If it ever gives you a problem, you
call me, I send out a pick up slip and get it back in here and we fix whatever
the problem is, no charge. Very simple.
Next step, our new #6. More on that later.