Gary's Gun Notes #77
Summer and varmint season is upon us, finally and for some it may be a bleak varmint season. Normally when I hunt prairie dogs I take 400 to 500 rounds of 22-250 Improved along with 2 heavy barreled rifles we built several years ago and end up shooting most of that ammo. These days with the price of the powder, primers and bullets, I think I would be more apt to take 50 rounds and call it a day after they are gone.
In our gun shop we constantly have people coming in looking for a certain powder or bullet and when we don't have that particular powder or bullet, they leave. If you have been disappointed by scarce powder in the past try something else. There are a lot of new powders out there and more than likely there is one that is available that will suit your needs.
For instance, if you shoot a 223, and can't find Winchester 748, there are quite a few others that will do just as good. For the 223, try Alliant's new 10X. There is a lot of that around. Or maybe Accurate Arms (AA) 2460, AA 2495, AA 2230, or AA2015. Or in the Hodgdon powders try H322, H335, Benchmark, BLC2 or Varget. (More on Varget in a moment). Also from Alliant you can use Rel.7. In the IMR powder line up you can go with 4064, 4198, 4320, or 3031. So there are a lot of other possibilities out there for you 223 shooters.
For you magnum handgun shooters, if you can't find Winchester 296 (my personal favorite for the smaller magnums, 357, 41 and 44) you can also use Hodgdon's H110 or H-4227. In the Alliant stable there is Unique, Blue Dot, or 2400. From IMR you can use SR4756 or 800X. From Accurate Arms you can use AA#7 or AA#9. If you shoot mainly lead, you can try Titegroup or Herco and do very well.
There are some new powders out there to try also. IMR has the new 4007SSC (super short cut, almost a ball powder) that is good for varmint calibers like 220 swift or 22-250 and also especially for the WSMs and WSSMs.
Alliant powders has their new 10X out that I mentioned above along with 20/28 which is obviously a new shotgun powder out primarily for the 20 and 28 gauge shotgunners. Alliant also has the new 410 powder out. That's the name of it and guess what gauge it is slanted toward?
Alliant also has the new Power Pro powder just released which is for magnum pistols, for varmint rifles and for medium magnum rifles. The new Pro Reach powder from Alliant is for the guys that shoot a lot of waterfowl way up there. A special long range shotgun powder. Another from Alliant if the new 50 BMG. Doesn't take much imagination to guess what that powder was intended for. Yep, the 25 auto. And finally their new STEEL powder, yeah I know, another hard one to figure out. Those guys at Alliant have no imagination at all.
Have you seen the new WHITE HOTS? This is the new white powder. I guess equal rights brought that one on. Can't just have black powder. The new White Hots is solid white pellets for 50 caliber in line rifles using the 209 primer. I hope to try some of these soon in my TC Omega and see how they work. Wonder why they didn't just call it the David Duke Powder. Nah, too obvious.
I have mentioned numerous times that if you don't reload, your lovely Mother raised at least one dummy. Ammunition is going up weekly and if you aren't reloading you are getting shut out of a lot of enjoyable shooting. Retail prices are going up steadily and you can still save at least 2/3rds of the retail cost of loaded ammunition by reloading. The new summer 2009 prices have just recently been released. Here are some of them. Remember these are retail prices and although very few gun shops sell at retail, the actual price won't be much less than these prices...
Only some of the larger calibers are listed here but you can get the drift. Each of these are for a box of 20. Lowest price up to the highest price is shown.
- 338 Winchester Magnum..$54 to $101.
- 338 RCM..$46 to $51.
- 35 Remington..$30 to $40
- 375 H&H...$61 to $150.
- 375 RUM..$106 to $142,
- 375 Ruger...$61 to $65.
- 378 Weatherby..$120 to $150
- 416 Rem. Magnum..$174 to $196.
- 416 Rigby...$103 to $277.
- 458 Lott...$102 to $212.
- 460 Weatherby...$129 to $160
- 470 Nitro..$151 to $401.
And so on. The only company that seems to be holding their prices down is Hornady. In almost every one of these prices listed the bottom price was Hornady. In the 470 Nitro, for instance, (I know, not very many of us have a double rifle in 470 Nitro) Hornady's price for 20 is $150, I know that sounds high and it is, BUT Federal is selling pretty much the same ammo for $401. The 458 Lott from Federal is $212. Hornady's price for the same ammo is $101. Steve Hornady has his head on straight and if they can keep this up they will swing a lot of shooters over to their side.
A few minutes ago I mentioned Varget powder. have you looked at what it is selling for on Gunbroker? Varget is one of those powders that works in just about everything and the competition guys love it. A 3 pound keg of it recently sold for $255. Five pounds (5 one pound cans) went for $550 plus shipping, more than $110 a pound. It seems to average about $65 to $70 a pound. Absolutely nuts.
I think 2009 will be a year for gimmicks. With the guns and ammunition being high priced and hard to get, many people that normally buy these as gifts will be heading to the accessory counters instead. I have a list of plain old gimmicks I will touch on in another Gun Notes. Some are really silly. A couple...one company is specializing in full camo boots that have full camo soles. Lord knows we don't want a bear to spot our black or brown boot soles. I figure if a bear sees the soles of my boots, he has already eaten the rest of me. How about a thong style underwear for men that is not only comfy in that it doesn't crawl up the crack of your butt when you are sitting for hours in a tree stand but also hides the scent of your butt. (That's not a gimmick, that's a miracle). The thong undies are listed as a "simple string in the rear that rides comfortably in the crevice of your rear and has a comfortable pouch in the front". I was really glad they didn't have a model like Puff Daddy wearing one. If they call it The Tactical Thong everyone will have to have one. Yes sir, looking forward to one of those.
Back to sensible ideas, Redding has come up with an innovative idea. You know how those semi auto cartridges tend to bulge at the base just above the web and your regular dies won't get that bulge out? Well Redding has a new die called the GRX out that is a push thru die that you push the entire rimless case all the way thru and it sizes it back down to factory specs. Then you go to your original dies for loading. Right now it is in 40 S&W only but hopefully they will offer it in the other semi auto calibers also.
Our next HHC (Handgun Hunting Challenge) hunt has been scheduled for October. As always I book the entire lodge which holds 26 hunters. The next HHC is at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee and is scheduled for Oct 15 thru 18.We arrive at the lodge Thursday Oct 15th mid day or so, hunt that afternoon if you like, hunt all day Friday and Saturday and leave out Sunday. You can check out the prices at
and if you are interested just call Alan Wilson or his wife at 931-260-1600 and put down a $250 deposit. The first 26 people to put their deposits down will be hunting. This hunt fills up quickly so if you are interested, give that number a call soon.
The prices at the HHC are excellent too. A hog or sheep hunt is only $675 and that includes everything. Plus they have several areas that you can hunt that are rolling meadows or straight up and down canyons, whichever you like. They have most of the exotic game, including Bison, water buffalo, all the exotic deer, the exotic sheep, plenty of hogs, and some very unusual critters too. Last year I took a Muntjac there. How about a deer that weighs about 20 pounds, stands a bit over 18" tall, barks like a dog, has 3" fangs and knobby demon horns? And a real bad attitude? Well, that is the Muntjac. Neat little critter and very hard to hunt. Kase took a monster Russian boar, maybe 400 pounds. Plus a lot of really nice exotic deer and sheep have been taken. How about a meat hunt for a 2 to 3 year old bison or water buffalo for $995. That's a helluva meat hunt. That will fill up a freezer real quick. Or hunt the big bulls of those species for more excitement.
We stay in a new lodge, 3 stories high, like a huge log cabin. The food is great and the hunting and companionship is even greater. It doesn't matter if you know anyone or not, you are still invited. You know me and I'm inviting you.
This particular hunt is something I have wanted to do for a while. It is dedicated to the father of handgun hunting, Al Goerg, who died on a handgun hunt in Alaska in 1965. The things he did with a handgun, as far as I know, have never been duplicated. The largest caliber he used was a 44 magnum and most of his big game was taken with cartridges much smaller, like caribou with a 257 Roberts handgun, black bear with a 218 bee, brown bear with a 44 magnum, mountain goats at long range with a 357 magnum Python and so on. This HHC is for those that want to use the small calibers. Like the 256 GNR for deer and sheep, 300 GNR or sheep and deer, 356 GNR for large hogs and maybe meat buffalo, and so on. Using a small caliber handgun is not mandatory. You can use whatever you like, but I plan to use a small caliber handgun as will Kase on our game. Put a bit more sport and actual hunting into the hunt.
But whatever you decide to use, as long as it is a handgun you are welcome to join us. Remember the lodge holds 26 and I think by this time tomorrow we will have filled at least one third of that. Join us. I guarantee you will enjoy it. Til next time, God bless.