PRO AIM SHOOTING GLOVES

Shooting a large caliber handgun can be a lot of fun, but it is not without physical strain that ranges from a bit uncomfortable to down right dangerous. A big revolver can “come back at you” with surprising force, and a careless hold can result in knots on your head – or worse. Different shooters have different levels of tolerance for handgun recoil, and what is too much for me might be just fine for you, but there are ways of helping to ease the pain. On my new-to-me .480 Ruger, for instance, I was lucky in that the previous owner had the foresight to buy me a barrel porting job from Mag-na-port. Although porting usually results in a louder muzzle blast, it can reduce recoil significantly. I also replaced the stock Hogue rubber grip with a “Tamer” grip from the same company that soaks up recoil with its soft gel insert.

Many times shooting gloves are recommended – especially for the really serious cartridges like the .454 Casull and larger. The brand I decided to try is from Pro Aim, and are available in full fingered, full finger with an open thumb, and half finger styles. These gloves have a padded palm to absorb recoil, plus a wrist brace built in to help support the “gun hand” and keep it straight and stiff. The company suggests these gloves may also be used as driving or weight lifting gloves, and I did steer a trip to the Beaumont area and back the first day I received them to try that function, and I found them quite comfortable. In fact, I wish I these had been available when I was suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!

These shooting gloves by Pro Aim reduce recoil and increase accuracy in handgun shooting.

These shooting gloves by Pro Aim reduce recoil and increase accuracy in handgun shooting.

For shooting, the small amount I’ve done with them certainly seemed more pleasant than with bare hands, and I do not regret the purchase.They cushioned the blow of the .480 with full powered ammo, and made it easier to keep a good grip. Even the cut-out finger version covers to the first knuckle or so, with pad to protect said knuckle. While they are probably not necessary for hand gun hunting, an extended shooting session at the range would really demonstrate their value. They are also “aimed” – pardon the pun – at improving accuracy. The company claim that they work like a bench rest might be debatable, but they certainly do help hold your handgun steady. In fact, in some cases they are said to allow one-handed shooting of guns you would normally only fire with a two handed grip. As of right now, they cannot be ordered from the company website, but they do accept call-in orders, and shipping is prompt.

The Pro Aim glove helps hold for better accuracy

The Pro Aim glove helps hold for better accuracy

When demonstrating them to my old deckhand, “Six-Pack” Jack, he pointed out something perhaps only he would have noticed – that with the fingerless glove on, picking your(or HIS) nose does not require removing the glove – which can be a bit slow to get off.

For more information, or to order your own pair, go to www.Proaim.com, or call 1-623-262-4525.

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HANG ON TIGHT! – SHOOTING THE .480 RUGER

It was with mixed feelings that I recently entered into a “relationship” with a .480 Ruger Super Redhawk revolver. I have long been an enthusiastic user of the .44 magnum cartridge in both handguns and long guns. In my opinion, this is one of the most versatile rounds available, especially for the hand loader – as well as on the upper limits of what I am willing to endure in recoil in a handgun. When loaded with heavy-for-caliber hard cast bullets, the good ol’ .44 can be a fire breathing dragon capable of taking down some of the world’s largest game. On the other hand, when loaded with those same bullets at less punishing velocities it will still have enough penetration to take down all but the very largest of those same game animals. Switch to lead semi-wadcutter target bullets pushed at low velocities by Trail Boss powder and it is fine for small game and pest control, as well as just “fun – shootin'”. With the performance offered by the .44 mag, I have found it hard to see the justification in a .454 Casull or larger handgun cartridge. The recoil in these big boomers is hard for many shooters to handle – and certainly could not be considered enjoyable. Just as if I want to shoot at long range I will pick up one of my rifles firing a cartridge intended for use at long range, I generally feel like if I need to shoot at something large and dangerous I would likely go for a heavy caliber rifle over a handgun.

Comparing cast bullet hand loads in .44, .45LC, and .480 Ruger with factory .480 ammo with 325gr and 400gr XTP's

Comparing cast bullet hand loads in .44, .45LC, and .480 Ruger with factory .480 ammo with 325gr and 400gr XTP’s

This having been said, the .480 appealed to me for its large (.475 caliber) bullet at lower velocities and pressures than the other ultra-bore handgun rounds. Not only does this give hope for less recoil, but perhaps also for the same sort of versatility as the .44 mag. The many loads listed in popular manuals featuring light charges of Trail Boss powder were especially interesting. I occasionally use Trail Boss in .44 loads, and I do not think you can get enough of this stuff in a .44 case to be even respectable in performance, much less dangerous. I can’t see the .480 Ruger being used much by the Cowboy Action Shooters who use the most of it, so I suspected there must be a number of .480 shooters who want a less powerful loading for target shooting and other instances where a full power load might not be needed – or wanted. Also promising to me were the number of load “recipes” using hard cast bullets and more conventional powders like Titegroup, and aimed at velocities in the 900 – 1100 fps range. These speeds are well under the potential of the .480, but should replicate or exceed the functionality of 300gr bullets at the same speeds in a .44 mag – great penetration, with low recoil.

The two Hard Cast bullets from Cast Performance Bullets weigh 375 and 410 grains, respectively. They have lubrication grooves, gas checks, and a flat nose for optimum penetration. To their left is a .44 magnum shell casing, INSIDE of a .480 Ruger casing!

The two Hard Cast bullets from Cast Performance Bullets weigh 375 and 410 grains, respectively. They have lubrication grooves, gas checks, and a flat nose for optimum penetration. To their left is a .44 magnum shell casing, INSIDE of a .480 Ruger casing!

While I had heard the recoil of the .480 described as not much more than a hot loaded .44 mag, I am not one who believes everything I hear or read, and chose to “work up” to shooting the factory loads I got in my gun deal. I had purchased a quantity of hard cast bullets from Cast Performance in .375 gr and 410gr weights for my .480 hunting hand loads, so I made up cylinder full of those 600 fps or less loads with Trail Boss to get an easy start – and explore the lower limits of .480 performance. On the first sunny day in January, I slogged my way out to my hunting property to shoot, thinking if I could handle the light load OK, I’d work my way up. Well, it didn’t take long – one shot, really – to see that these loads were cream puffs! Muzzle blast was minimal and recoil almost non-existant. Rapid shots were comfortable, either single or double action, and accuracy at 15 yards (I wanted to make sure I hit the target, without having to first sight in) seemed very good. I had just fired several rounds through my Ruger Blackhawk .45LC to check operation with its “new” red dot sight with 310gr HC bullets at around 800 – 900 fps, and those felt “stouter” than the light .480 rounds. I think my wife could fire these rounds, if she can hold the hefty Super Redhawk up!

From left: 305 gr .44 hard cast, .310gr .45Colt , 375gr .480 Ruger, 325gr XTP .480, 400gr XTP .480

From left: 305 gr .44 hard cast, .310gr .45Colt , 375gr .480 Ruger, 325gr XTP .480, 400gr XTP .480

After this “success”, I moved on to factory fodder. After having to choose between a lighter bullet at higher velocity or a heavier slug at slower speeds, I decided to first try the 325 gr XTP loads at 1350 fps. Well, logically enough these made quite a bit more of an impression than the 600 fps loads! Still they were not bad, confirming the rumor that the .480 does not “kick” much more than a hot .44 mag – and that the recoil is more of strong push than a sharp “whack” against the hand. Switching to the 400gr XTP at 1100 fps increased the felt recoil, but still not to uncomfortable levels – for me. Again, my SRH has a mag-na-ported barrel, which is supposed to reduce recoil, as well as the Tamer grips – and I was wearing my Pro Aim shooting gloves, which have both padding and a wrist brace. Not having fired a .480 Ruger without these aids, I can’t accurately report on how much they do reduce the recoil, but suspect it to be at least an easily noticeable amount.

I probably will not load many of those ultra-light rounds for this revolver in the future. They could easily make it a viable “plinking” or even home defense gun, but I have handguns for those uses that are more easily carried. My next load will be with Titegroup to get those big hard cast bullets moving at 1000 to 1100 fps for smacking hogs. After that, maybe I’ll try a 400gr or heavier bullet at 1300 fps or faster – just for grins!

In comparing to other calibers, I see the .480 being described as having 80% of the power offered by the .454 Casull, with 50% of the recoil! That is a combination that is hard NOT to like! Not really a fair comparison, of course, as in penetration tests the .480 with a flat nosed hard cast lead bullet traveling around 1000 fps will actually penetrate better and deeper than a smaller, faster moving jacketed bullet fired from a .454. For what might be called he “average” handgun hunter, I would think the .480 would be just about the cartridge dreams are made of!

Now for my “disclaimer” on loading and shooting the .480 so far. My first efforts with the .375 HC from CPB would not even fit in the Ruger’s chambers! The bullet diameter was a little over .475, and the chambers a little less – as can be the case with Ruger chambers. My usual answer to this would be to put a really tight crimp on the shell – which I prefer with a powerful revolver anyway – but Lee does not offer their Factory Crimp Die in .475/.480. I went to Richard Lee’s book on hand loading, and found a more detailed procedure for crimping bullets with the standard die set than comes in the instructions with the dies. This basically adds another step to the process, but allowed me to seat the bullets and crimp them tight enough to easily work in my chambers. I will probably have Lee build me a custom FCD for this cartridge, which they do at a very reasonable cost, but have also ordered a custom Bullet Swager and lube kit to size the bullets themselves for my gun.

Somewhere I had read that the early SRH in .480 (which mine seems to be) had an extraction problem that at least partly caused Ruger to stop production of the gun for a time. Reading these one of these articles again had that author relating that all the Hornady brass he fired exhibited sticky or difficult extraction, while loads with heavier hard cast bullets at lower velocities – 1000 – 1100 fps – simply fell out when the cylinder was inverted. The Hornady ammo I fired with the 400gr bullets was VERY difficult to extract from my gun, while those that had held 325gr bullets were much easier – but still did not “fall” out like the loads I made using new Starline brass did. Also, the Lee dies for .475/.480 come with a #5 shell holder, but state that for Hornady brass a #15 holder will be necessary. Again, the “empties” from my 400gr ammo would fit neither holder, while the brass from the 325gr ammo fit both?? Questioning all three types of brass with a micrometer showed a difference rim thickness – .068 for the Starline and 325gr Hornady brass, .074 on the brass from the 400gr ammo. The fired cases also told a differing tale, with those from the 325gr Hornady measuring .506, from the 400gr .510 – and the Starline brass .504. A Lee employee advises me not to shoot the 400gr ammo, as he considers the hard extraction a possible warning sign of high pressure. As I write this, Hornady is deciding whether to address the problem. Almost seems as though there may have never been a problem with the Ruger revolver, but rather in the factory ammo made for it?

This cylinder of empties shows the apparent size difference between brass from Hornady factory loads with 325gr and 400gr bullets against once fired Starline brass that shot 375gr hard cast bullets. The Hornady gave extraction problems and will not sldie back in the chambers, while the Starline empties dropped out easily - and get as easily drop back in.

This cylinder of empties shows the apparent size difference between brass from Hornady factory loads with 325gr and 400gr bullets against once fired Starline brass that shot 375gr hard cast bullets. The Hornady gave extraction problems and will not sldie back in the chambers, while the Starline empties dropped out easily – and get as easily drop back in.

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang!, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

PUBLIC COMMENTS ACCEPTED FOR RED SNAPPER SUB-QUOTAS

SOUTHEAST FISHERY BULLETIN
(Gulf of Mexico)

FB15-002
Peter Hood
727-824-5305

January 16, 2015

Notice of Availability for Public Comments on a Proposal to Establish Two Recreational Sub-Quotas for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

Comment Period Ends March 17, 2015

NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment on Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 40 to NOAA Fisheries for review, approval, and implementation. The Notice of Availabilityfor public comment on this amendment published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2015. This bulletin only summarizes the proposed actions and their effects. NOAA Fisheries encourages constituents to access Amendment 40 and its associated Final Environmental Impact Statement at
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2013/am40/index.html
for more complete information.

Purpose of the Amendment 40
If approved by NOAA Fisheries, Amendment 40 would provide a basis for increased flexibility in future management of the entire recreational sector, and reduce the chance for recreational quota overruns, which could jeopardize the rebuilding of the red snapper stock.

Proposed Management Measures
Amendment 40 proposes to establish sub-quotas for federally permitted for-hire vessels and private anglers who fish for red snapper for a three-year period beginning in 2015.
The federal for-hire component would be comprised of all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit.
The private angling component would be comprised of private recreational anglers and for-hire operators who do not have a federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit.
Amendment 40 would allocate the 5,390,000-pound red snapper recreational quota based on historical landings data for each sub-group. Federally permitted for-hire vessels would receive 42.3 percent of the recreational quota, and private anglers would receive 57.7 percent of the recreational quota.
The federally permitted for-hire quota would be 2,279,970 pounds.
The private angling quota would be 3,110,030 pounds.
Finally, Amendment 40 would establish separate red snapper annual catch targets and season closure provisions for the federal for-hire and private angling components. For both components, each season would start June 1 and continue until the component’s annual catch target is projected to be caught. A 20 percent buffer is applied to the recreational quota to get the annual catch target, which is then allocated between components. At this time, NOAA Fisheries cannot project season lengths for the components because it is waiting to receive final 2014 recreational landings data as well as the results of an update to the red snapper stock assessment.

The Council proposes to sunset this action after three years unless the Council takes additional action. The Council is currently evaluating other measures to manage the recreational sector including red snapper regional management.

Request for Comments
NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on this notice no later than March 17, 2015. We will address all comments specifically directed to Amendment 40 or the subsequent proposed rule in the final rule. You may obtain electronic copies of Amendment 40 from the NOAA Fisheries Web site:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2013/am40/index.html or the e-Rulemaking Portal: www.regulation.gov.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

TAKING THINGS “UP” A NOTCH! THE .480 RUGER SUPER REDHAWK!

The .480 Ruger chambered Ruger Super Redhawk is a big, serious revolver!

The .480 Ruger chambered Ruger Super Redhawk is a big, serious revolver!

Although I have been shooting .44 magnum handguns – single action revolvers and Thompson Contenders – for many years, I have never owned a large caliber double action revolver, nor fired a handgun in a caliber more potent than .44 mag, unless a Contender in .30-30 counts for that? To be truthful, I currently load my .44 and .45 ammo to lower velocities – and pressures – than factory ammo, even though the recoil of a full power .44 mag does not bother me that much. When I saw a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for .480 Ruger for sale at what appeared to be a very reasonable price, however, I began to remember the things I had heard about this round – and re-read everything I could about it before deciding to take the chance and purchase the big boomer! A good supply of ammo came with the gun, in 325gr and 400gr Hornady “Custom” form with Hornady XTP hollow point bullets. When viewed with .44 or .45 loads with heavy hard cast bullets, they are definitely larger in diameter – but really don’t seem THAT much more, probably because the case length is about the same.

The 325gr and 400gr Hornady XTP .480 Ruger loads, don't "look" that much bigger than 300+gr Hard Cast .44 and .45 loads!

The 325gr and 400gr Hornady XTP .480 Ruger loads, don’t “look” that much bigger than 300+gr Hard Cast .44 and .45 loads!

Swinging the cylinder out on the .480 SRH displays six very large holes where the powerful rounds will await their launch!

Another thing I like about the Super Redhawk is the non-fluted cylinder. Flutes on cylinders were originally a weight saving trick, but they have become a sort of fashion statement. When maximum strength is needed, as with really powerful cartridges, unfluted cylinders have more metal, and are the first choice. I just like the look of an unfluted cylinder, and would have gone for a 7 1/2″ barrel on my Super Blackhawk single action for that reason alone over the 5 1/2″ version, which has a fluted cylinder. Ruger also chose to use a very special stainless steel developed for use in the space industry for construction of the Redhawks, so the elimination of flutes is not actually needed – but it still fairly shouts massive strength.

Although the Ruger Super Redhawk was made at one time in a five shot version in .454 and .480, mine is a six-shooter!

Although the Ruger Super Blackhawk was made at one time in a five shot version in .454 and .480, mine is a six-shooter!

The finish on my gun is called “Target Grey” by Ruger, and has been replaced by a satin stainless steel finish in newer models. I like the grey, personally, and it feels more like I expect a Ceracote or other coating finish to feel, rather than bare metal. The scope I mounted for now is the 2X Weaver that was on my Ruger .45 Blackhawk, and I think the camo wrap blends well with the grey SRH. While the 1″ rings come with the Redhawk, some owners prefer to use an Ultra-dot red dot system, which often – depending on model – uses a larger 30mm ring size (1″ is 25 mm) – and Ruger does provide 30mm rings for this use. A mount made by Weigland Combat can be ordered that fits on the frame of the gun without gun smith modifications,much like the ones I use on my Blackhawks, to convert the Redhawk mount system to accept Weaver-style rings for the 30mm – or a rail mount sight like my big C More holo sight. The Weigland mount uses the Ruger base slots plus the rear sight screw hole for what might be a more secure mount than the Ruger rings. The other option would be to use the Ultra Dot 1″ sight, which should work with the Ruger rings and spacing.

When I acquired the .480 SRH, it came with the factory Ruger scope rings that fit into slots machined in the frame, Mag-na-porting near the muzzle added by a previous owner, and the original Hogue Mono-grip.

When I acquired the .480 SRH, it came with the factory Ruger scope rings that fit into slots machines in the frame, Mag-na-porting near the muzzle added by a previous owner, and the original Hogue Mono-grip.

Even though the .480 in full power mode is supposed to have less recoil than other big bore handgun cartridges like the .454 Casull or the .475 Linebough there are still steps a prudent shooter might take to control the recoil he does get. The easiest and most economical of these is to replace the “stock” Hogue rubber Mono-grip with the “Tamer” version of the same grip. This one has a soft, blue silicon rubber insert inside the grip to cushion the blow of the gun coming back under recoil. It also has a more straight rear angle, instead of the “hump” found on the original grip – which is very uncomfortable to my hand even without firing the gun. The Tamer grip for the Redhawk (in any caliber) is about $20 from Amazon, and easily worth that.

I will find out soon, I hope, how well the Tamer works, and also the Mag-Na-Porting near the muzzle that a previous owner must have had done. I am normally not a big fan of porting, because of the extra noise it invariably creates, but on a really BIG caliber revolver, I suspect it will prove of value. Because of weather and family commitments, I might not get to shoot the Redhawk until after the coming weekend, by which time my Pro Aim shooting gloves should have arrived.These gloves have a gel padded palm and incorporate a brace – and are said to significantly reduce felt recoil.

An easy "upgrade" in installment and on the pocketbook, the Hogue Tamer grip is the basic mono-grip with a gel insert to help cushion heavy recoil.

An easy “upgrade” in installment and on the pocketbook, the Hogue Tamer grip is the basic mono-grip with a gel insert to help cushion heavy recoil.

The hump in the original grip  - even without firing it - was not comfortable to my hand - the upgrade is more a straight line.

The hump in the original grip – even without firing it – was not comfortable to my hand – the upgrade is more a straight line.


As I mentioned earlier, the .480 Ruger is regarded as producing less recoil than the .454, .475, or other big bore revolver cartridges. The reason is that though it shoots a .475″ bullet of usually a heavier weight than the .454, it does so at a lower velocity and pressure. The .480, like the .475, claims the .45/70 rifle cartridge as its parent case, and is actually a “cut down” .475 that can be fired in it’s larger sibling, much as a .44 Special may be fired in a .44 magnum. The Hornady factory loads I obtained with the gun show the 400 gr XTP version rated by Hornady at 1100 fps, the 325 a bit faster at 1350 fps. When looking over load recipes from the Hodgdon manual, I found three of my favorite powders prominently mentioned – H110, Titegroup, and Trail Boss. With H110, reloaders can “push” velocities into or even beyond .454 speeds, as with a 375gr Hard Cast at 1454 fps, or a 410gr at 1328. Those will probably get your attention! Even with Titegroup, which I am using more and more as a substitute for the harder to get Universal that is one of my “go-to” powders for medium level handgun loads, velocities with those same two bullets can be 1137 and 1019. On the other hand, a starting load of Titegroup has published velocities of 1047 for the 375gr and 925 for the 410, which should be fairly manageable.

Trail Boss was developed for Cowboy Action Shooting, and only for use with lead bullets. TB “start” loads push the 373gr to only 597 fps, and the 410gr to 469. Even a max charge of TB only produces 689 fps from the 375 gr and 645 fps with the 410gr. While I would not expect these to be total cream puff loads with the bullet weights involved, they should certainly be more enjoyable to shoot than the loads with a heavy charge of H110. It will, however, take some time on the firing line to determine how effective they might be on live targets. Unique is another powder often recommended for the .480, and as I have some of that in the cabinet, also, I may give it a try.

Now for a reality check: I don’t really NEED a .480 Ruger – but don’t tell my wife! I did, however, really WANT one! Unless hunting on an exotic ranch where there are bison, elk, and large African antelope or imported Nilgi, the .480 at full strength is pretty much overkill – pun intended – for whitetail deer. Feral hogs are a more worthy target, but even then a revolver larger than .44 magnum is not really necessary. As mentioned, I shoot .44 and .45LC with HC bullets in the 300gr range at from 800 – 1000 fps, and they kill hogs very handily. I suspect a 400gr bullet at 1000 fps would probably be every bit as effective, but doubt the same bullet at over 1300 fps will kill a hog any “deader”. Of course, I don’t really HAVE to kill hogs at all, I can do like the environmentalists and get my meat at the grocery store – but what fun is that? Also, living in Texas, there is always the slight chance I might be able to go after some of those larger animals that roam parts of our state one day.

This post will be expanded to include actual shooting data as soon as the pieces fall into place to allow me to do some shooting.

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A GRIPPING HOME PROJECT!

My love of nice wood grips on handguns is obvious, and a couple of custom grip makers are benefitting from that preference of mine lately. Recently I “found” a piece of wood once used on the control panel of my old 31 Bertram that I thought I would like to return to use in the form of a nice set of grips for my Ruger Blackhawk. While waiting on replies from the custom guys. I got anxious and gave thought to working on a set myself. Not surprisingly, there are several videos on-line demonstrating how folks have done this, and after watching a couple, I made the decision to give it a go.

The wood in question was a piece of Lacewood salvaged from a yacht restoration scrap yard that I had cut into a 6″ circle as a base for the big marine compass that was on the old Bert when I bought it. Lacewood seems to be a very hard wood, and has what appear to be “flakes” of a lighter colored, almost iridescent nature imbedded in the grain. When handled, turning the wood for different light angles shows different patterns that are constantly changing. The main body of the wood is reddish in color, and I find it very attractive.

This piece of Lacewood was once a compass base on the control panel, of my dear departed 31 Bertram.

This piece of Lacewood was once a compass base on the control panel, of my dear departed 31 Bertram.

I used a set of grips on hand that I knew fit my Blackhawk as patterns, and first outlined the grips on the pice of wood, then cut them out with my basic jig saw and a scrolling blade.

This set in the grip making process is the easiest!

This set in the grip making process is the easiest!

I used a cheap sander and a Dremel tool with a sanding head to shape the grips, and tried to make them a bit better fit to my hand than the factory grips.

Grips were "shaped" to fit my hands with a Dremel and hand sanding.

Grips were “shaped” to fit my hands with a Dremel and hand sanding.

First I tried a boiled linseed oil finish, but I didn’t like the way it was turning out, so it was sanded back to the bare wood again, and a several coat polyurethane finish used instead.

Several coats of polyurethane were the final finish.

Several coats of polyurethane were the final finish.

Holes for the grip screw hardware were copied from the factory grips. as were the positioning holes on the back side of the grips. I actually placed these holes using the grip frame, but they needed some adjustment, so I drilled a much larger hole, filled it with epoxy putty, and pushed the grip onto the frame so the positioning pins marked where they wanted to be. The excess putty was sanded smooth after it dried, and the holes drilled just a bit oversize.

As a final step, I cut off two cartridge heads from new, unprimed .45 Colt brass and tried imbedding them in the grips, for an even more “personal” touch. This first effort was not flawless, but showed the way for a better result if I make another set like this (or decide to mark all my grips with the cartridge they will be helping to shoot).

As a final touch, I tried embedding a .45 Colt cartridge head in each grip, to distinguish the round used in the revolver they were meant for.

As a final touch, I tried embedding a .45 Colt cartridge head in each grip, to distinguish the round used in the revolver they were meant for.

The final product is certainly not up to custom standards, but I think they turned out fairly well for a first effort, using minimal tools and wood working skills. My suspicion is that the folks who do this for a living probably have specialized equipment I do not have access to? In any case, I learned quite a bit from the project, and if I attempt making a set of grips again (which I probably will), I would expect better fit and finish to result. Still, these would do fine for an “everyday” set of shooting grips – I’ll find out for sure about that after I get the grips screw hardware in from Brownell’s so I can shoot with them.The Lacewood almost overcomes any mistakes I made, and I think I’ll send what I have left to Carl at Privates and have him make me a “real” custom grip set!

By the way, Lacewood can usually be found at “yards” that specialize in fine and exotic woods, if you don’t have pieces of a wrecked Bertram on hand!

The beauty of the finished Lacewood sort of overcomes my beginners mistakes.

The beauty of the finished Lacewood sort of overcomes my beginners mistakes.

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Privates Custom Grips For Ruger Single Actions

Spaulted Maple tends to impressive figuring and attractive (and varied) coloration in a grip.

Spaulted Maple tends to impressive figuring and attractive (and varied) coloration in a grip.

To feed my addiction to custom wood grips, I asked Carl, of Privates Custom Grips (www.privatescustomgrips.com) make me two pair for my Ruger New Model Blackhawk .45LC – one of Mesquite for those hunting trips to South Texas, and other of Spaulted Maple, for Sunday-go-to-church carry. Spaulting is a process where the wood is allowed to almost begin decomposition, then stabilized by infusion of an epoxy resin. This results in some very interesting patterns in the wood, as well as making it very strong and long wearing.

These grips are Spaulted Maple

These grips are Spaulted Maple

Mesquite, of course, is as tough and long lasting as anything else from South Texas, and can also be a very beautiful wood. The grain tends to be straight, but when it does have patterns, they are nice ones.

These Mesquite grips by Privates are a good set for a hunting revolver.

These Mesquite grips by Privates are a good set for a hunting revolver.

It is rare to get a really well figured piece of Mesquite suitable for revolver grips,. but when you do get figure, it can be impressive. More normal with Mesquite is a straight line grain noted for strength and durability.

It is rare to get a really well figured piece of Mesquite suitable for revolver grips,. but when you do get figure, it can be impressive. More normal with Mesquite is a straight line grain noted for strength and durability.

Posted in Product Evaluations | 1 Comment

Take a Senior Citizen Hunting This Deer Season!

Taking An Old-timer Hunting Can be A Rewarding Experience!

Most of us who consider ourselves hunters can, or could, benefit from the experience of those who have been in the game longer than ourselves. There is always something to learn from seasoned veterans, and doing so can help you both enjoy your time afield more, and in a safe manner. When I began to hunt again after spending 30 years or so as a hard, hard core fisherman, I remembered my younger days when I loved to hunt, and read everything I could in the popular outdoor magazines of the day by the giants of the industry – like Jack O’Connor. Of course, it wasn’t possible to ask these departed authors to hunt with me – or was it?
The constant companion of every hunter is his or her weapon of choice, be it a rifle, shotgun, handgun, bow, or crossbow. This implement will always be at your side – or in your hand. Probably no other companion can teach you more about the killing portion of the sport, which is not all there is to hunting by any means – but it IS a part of it. The animals we hunt deserve to be taken cleanly, and quickly. Not only is this important from a humane angle, but if the animal is to be eaten the meat will be of much better quality if the kill is quick, and the animal is not wounded and pursued. This usually involves “using enough gun” to make a clean kill, knowing where to best place your shot, and then being able to put it there. To do this, your firearm must become a very good friend – one you can depend on.
A noted custom revolver builder remarked in a book he wrote that each one had its own personality, its own soul. I suspect this also applies to guns other than wheel guns. Some rifles have endured over the years longer than others. Those that are still popular reach that status because they were – and are – accurate and dependable, and chambered in popular cartridges. Simply put, they work.

A South Texas spike harvested with a .300 Savage Model 99 lever action, vintage 1952.

A South Texas spike harvested with a .300 Savage Model 99 lever action, vintage 1952.

My first such hunting companion after I returned to the field was one I had always thought to be one of the best looking rifles ever, besides it’s other qualifications. After admiring this rifle in magazines and catalogues as a teenager, I finally found and acquired a Savage Model 99, in .300 Savage caliber. Mine was made in 1950, as was I! The .300 Savage cartridge was originally envisioned as a military round being capable of approximating the power of the .30-06 in a shorter cartridge easier to use in a semi-auto. This was the role later filled by the .308, but the .300 Savage found its place as an excellent sporting round, mostly in the Model 99 lever action rifle. A bullet weight of 150 grains was probably the most popular, although a 180 grain version was also made, and used mostly by hunters after elk or moose in more Northern climes. I killed a spike buck in South Texas with that 99 the first year I used it with a 150 grain, and a small 8-point on my property a few years later – and the older rifle seemed to remember exactly how to do it. Quite a few hogs have also fallen to this gun and load, and I used a 180 grain soft point from it to down my largest boar to date. The old Savage comes to my shoulder naturally and points quickly. It is also more accurate than an old lever gun in a “dated” cartridge might be expected to be, especially when firing the 130 grain hand loads with the Barnes TTSX all copper bullets I have begun to use.

The old Savage 99 in .300 Savage has been killing deer a long time!

The old Savage 99 in .300 Savage has been killing deer a long time!

My next “hunting buddy” was even more experienced. I sort of inherited a 1909 Argentine Mauser. An uncle who had passed away had been a big fan of Jack O’Connor, also, and had this surplus military rifle – which I found was actually produced in 1917 – re-barreled to .270 caliber and set the action in a decent, but not quite finished walnut sporter stock with a vintage Leupold variable scope. I soon found that the 1909 Argentine is well thought of as a “donor” action for custom rifle builds, but the barrel on this one seems to have been produced by a company no longer in business. It has never been my most accurate rifle, but the only deer I have shot at with it was taken down with a high shoulder shot at just over 100 yards – and showed me why the .270 is so legendary as a game cartridge. I re-finished the stock, and have enjoyed the company of this rifle afield.

This Texas 7 point fell to a high shoulder shot from a 1909 Argentine Mauser re-barreled to .270

This Texas 7 point fell to a high shoulder shot from a 1909 Argentine Mauser re-barreled to .270

The next step for me was a natural one – to get a Winchester Model 70 to share my hunting adventures. The first one I found was a 1968 vintage “push-feed” in .30-06, but attractive to me because it was a Mannlicher version with a full-length stock by custom stock maker Fajen and a 19” barrel. Only about 2,500 of these rifles were built, in .30-06, .270, .243, and .308, with the most being in .30-06. I have made no kills with this gun as yet, but it has faithfully come along with me on some enjoyable hunts.
The 1968 Model 70 was followed by a real find – a 1952, pre-’64, build. This one showed me why the pre-1964 Model 70’s are so highly thought of, and is perhaps the most accurate rifle I own. It has put down some large hogs for me, and who knows where it hunted in its younger days, what game it harvested?

The pre-64 Model 70 made in the early '50's is as fine a rifle as of new manufacture.

The pre-64 Model 70 made in the early ’50’s is as fine a rifle as of new manufacture.

My other pre-64 model 70 just barely qualifies, as it was made in 1963. The caliber is .300 Winchester Magnum, and this was the first year the .300 Win Mag was offered. This action as bedded in a Boyd’s laminate stock, making it heavy enough to contain the recoil. This is also a very accurate rifle, and most of my shooting with it has been with Federal loads containing the 130 grain Barnes Tipped Triple Shock all copper bullet. The high velocity and bullet construction knocked over a large feral sow at 130 yards for me, but a small doe I shot in South Texas ran about 30 yards after being hit through both shoulders, so maybe it isn’t too big for Texas deer?.
All of these rifles probably fall in the “classic” category. Another like that is a Ruger semi auto carbine in .44 magnum that I bought for my wife as a hog rifle. She had been using a .243 that just would not put them down – and keep them down – for her. The first one she shot with the .44 mag went straight down and stayed there. Between us both, we killed 4 nice hogs with that rifle the first weekend we used it – all one shot kills. As I said earlier, you need to use enough gun. I recently read that Bill Ruger designed the rotary magazines in this rifle and his 10/22 rim fire rifle to emulate the magazine in the Savage, one of his all-time favorite rifles. He is also supposed to have “converted” a 99 into a semi-auto while in college. Early Ruger .44 magnums were called “Deerstalker” carbines, until the Ithaca Shotgun company pointed out their Pump shotgun designed for shooting slugs at venison had been going by the same name for some time, but it is still one of the very best deer rifles in heavy brush.
The last rifle I added to my safe was my only brand new purchase. It is a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in .270 – a REAL Jack O’Conner rifle – made the first year Winchester went back to the controlled round feed of the pre-64’s. Sadly, this .270 is also not capable of pin-point accuracy on the range as it came from the factory, but like the Argentine Mauser, it is a deer-killer. My largest buck to date fell to one shot to the chest from this rifle at 75 yards, and I was able to watch it drop through the scope.

The new Winchester Model 70 Featherweight by FN is an fine, American-made rifle

The new Winchester Model 70 Featherweight by FN is an fine, American-made rifle

This nice 8 point buck was the first to fall to my new Model 70 Featherweight, but will likely not be the last.

This nice 8 point buck was the first to fall to my new Model 70 Featherweight, but will likely not be the last.

These are more rifles than I need to hunt efficiently with, I know that, but I treasure each one. They are trusted friends that I can rely on to do their job as long as I do mine, and if we can’t go hunting we often just shoot at targets – and enjoy spending the time together.

Posted in Deer Hunting | 1 Comment

SCOPE SKINS SCOPE COVERING KIT

A few years ago I was sitting n a tripod stand hoping to ambush a deer with my suppressed .44 magnum. when it occurred to me that out in the open as I was, even though the titanium surface of the suppressor was not real shiny, it still did not blend in with my surroundings all that well. When I got home, I wrapped the suppressor in camo duct tape. I liked the effect so much I did much of the plastic shoulder stock, and the Burriss scope as well.To my mind, the only thing more handy to have around than standard duct tape is the camo version, and it has held up well on this firearm for 3 years so far.

Camo duct tape can cover and protect suppressors - or scopes.

Camo duct tape can cover and protect suppressors – or scopes.

Fast forward to last week, and I am scoping two Ruger revolvers, my .45 LC New Model Blackhawk, and the .44 magnum Super Blackhawk. I had 3 handgun scopes available in the safe to choose from ” a silver Weaver 2X, a blued Leupold 4X, and a blued T/C 2.5 X x 7.5X variable. I had decided to leave the 4X on my .30/30 Contender, and wanted to use the T/C variable on the .44 mag, 2X Weaver on the .45. More than one person told me the silver scope was not at its best on a blued revolver – or verse visa – so I began looking at ways to fix the problem – including camo duct tape.

Instead, I found a product called Scope Skin, from Gun Skins (www.gunskins.com). As the name implies, this company makes a flexible covering for entire guns – or for scopes only. It is a heat sensitive material that can be cut to any size or shape needed, and applied with a hair dryer if a heat gun is not available. I actually used my wife’s hair dryer on mine, as I think my industrial strength heat gun would have been too hot!

I am not a fine craftsman on such things, and even I found applying the scope skin fairly painless. They have a link to a Youtube video that shows how to do it, it that helps. I changed on step in the process, removing the scope rings and covering beneath them instead of going around them in place as in the video. This allowed me to leave a thin cushion under the ring to protect the scope from ring marks. I covered the rings separately.

This is Midnight Camo, from Scope Skins, a heat stick material to change scope color and/or protect the finish

This is Midnight Camo, from Scope Skins, a heat stick material to change scope color and/or protect the finish

Scope Skins can change the coloring of a scope, as well as provide protection for the surface.

Scope Skins can change the coloring of a scope, as well as provide protection for the surface.

After getting the T/C scope done first, since it was already off the gun and easy to “practice”on, I had more than enough material left to get the silver scope covered. I am pleased with the look, and I think the “Midnight Camo” color/pattern I chose will not look too bad on the .44 mag when it comes back from Texas Custom Guns wearing it’s new “Stainless” Cerakote finish!

The Scope Skin material looks good and protects your optic!

The Scope Skin material looks good and protects your optic!

Oh, I have to admit the ScopeSkins covering does look a little better than my camo duct tape job!

Posted in Product Evaluations | Comments Off on SCOPE SKINS SCOPE COVERING KIT

Rep. Vitter (R-LA) Pushes Back Against Sector Separation

THIS WAS FORWARDED TO ME. Be sure to click on the link to the letter and read it. It is a great letter.

For Immediate Release Contact: Luke Bolar, Cheyenne Steel
December 4, 2014 (202) 224-6176

Vitter Urges Dept. of Commerce to Discard Controversial Red Snapper Proposal
Proposed amendment would unnecessarily divide recreational red snapper sector

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today sent a letter to Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the Department of Commerce. In the letter, Vitter urges Secretary Pritzker to deny a request by the Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishing Management Council (Gulf Council) to divide the recreational red snapper sector.

“Recreational fishing is a way of life for many Louisianians and residents along the Gulf Coast and the Gulf Council’s amendment is putting that in danger. Their proposal to further divide the recreational fishing sector is completely unnecessary, based on an incomplete economic analysis, and goes well beyond their federally mandated authority,” said Vitter. “It is crucial for Gulf fishermen, tackle shops, boat retailers, and the surrounding communities that Secretary Pritzker denies the Gulf Council’s request to move forward on this highly controversial proposal.

In October 2014, the Gulf Council voted on a controversial amendment that would divide the recreational red snapper sector, and has virtually no public support. Vitter has been urging the Gulf Council to protect public access to the red snapper fishery. As part of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy, in September, Vitter detailed the environmental collusion attempts to shut out public fishing. In June, Vitter wrote an op-ed in the Houma Courier, “Protecting red snapper fishing,” which discussed fairly managing fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and protecting the rights of recreational anglers – particularly with access to the red snapper fishery.

Click here to read today’s letter.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | 2 Comments

BRAZORIA LION’S CLUB HOLIDAY GUN RAFFLE IS CLOSE!

November 25, 2014

For immediate release. Please announce the following event:

Brazoria Lions Club Takes Aim on Annual Gun Raffle

The Brazoria Lions Club’s traditional, decade plus old annual gun raffle drawing (99 long guns and a new Polaris 4-Wheeler ATV) takes place on Thursday, December 11 with doors opening at 6 p.m. at the Brazoria Heritage Foundation Lloyd Thomas Gym, Hwy. 36 at Smith St., Downtown Brazoria.

At the drawing, a meal (bar-b-q sandwiches, chips and a drink) is available with each raffle ticket purchased. The meal and social hour is from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. immediately followed by the drawing. There will also be a live Auction for a very limited number of items and additional “Card” drawings at the event. Brazoria Lions Club members will also conduct vision screenings for interested participants during the evening.

The prizes of the gun raffle are listed on the raffle ticket and all prizes MUST be claimed within 30 days of the drawing. Winners will have choices of calibers, and gauges on model drawn on hand – first come, first choice. All gun winners must pass a NCIS background check.

Only 3,500 tickets will be sold. Winners need not be present to win.

Proceeds benefit Brazoria Lions Club Projects and Building Fund. For ticket availability or more information, call: 979-798-4444.

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | Comments Off on BRAZORIA LION’S CLUB HOLIDAY GUN RAFFLE IS CLOSE!