Tag Archives: Ruger

New Sizzle for Ruger Standbys

Shooting Illustrated

Published in “Shooting Illustrated” May 20New Ruger

When Federal announced the new .327 Fed. Mag.,

Ruger responded first with its SP101

The theory was to offer some serious power in a compact self-defense handgun for recoil-sensitive shooters. Having known a couple of folks who were recoil sensitive, yet were interested in a firearm for self-protection, the gun-and-caliber combination made sense to me.

A respected gun-writer friend sug­gested Ruger chamber the new round in a larger-frame revolver, particularly the Blackhawk. Having been so impressed with the .327 Fed. Mag.’s performance when it first came out, I thought this was a great idea, but I didn’t really expect to see it happen. To my delight, Ruger is offering the hot cartridge in both its single-action Blackhawk and its double-action GP100 revolvers. And I can see justifiable applications for both.

Ruger Cylinder

Ruger's GP100 chambered in .327 Fed. Mag. is a big, tough gun whether intended for home defense or outdoor use. The asymmetric look of a seven-shot revolver has been known to shock old-time gun writers, but that extra round is universally accepted as a good thing.

The new .327s are from Ruger’s stainless steel stable of revolvers. The GP100 has a 4-inch barrel, but one big surprise is its cylinder holds seven rounds. The extra round is made possible by the GPlOO’s frame being beefier than that of most mid-size revolvers.

 When it comes to self-defense, more rounds are better. For the millions of Americans who keep a gun for home defense, but don’t carry concealed, there is no need for a small revolver. Your nightstand doesn’t care what the gun weighs, and your practice sessions will be much more pleasant with a larger-frame gun. Self-defense isn’t about having fun, but enjoying training sessions is better than dreading them and will translate to greater proficiency with your gun.

The GP100 also comes with Hogue’s finger-groove rubber grips, which happen to fit my hand perfectly. Although the .327’s recoil doesn’t necessitate soft grips, I’d keep them because of the excellent ergonomics. If the gun doesn’t fit your hand as well as it does mine, you might have to look at different grips.

Not much is simpler than a basic double-action revolver. No manual of arms is required for presentation or prepara­tion; simply aim and pull the trigger. If, for any reason, a round doesn’t go bang, pull the trigger again. Speaking of just pulling the trigger, I was more than happy with the smooth, double-action trigger on the GP100. In a defensive scenario, shooting double action is simple and effective.

Admittedly, a revolver is slower to reload than a semi-auto, but when fully loaded, the GP100 gives you seven opportunities to solve the problem. And how many of us with semi-automatics in our nightstands put a spare magazine in a pocket when we pick up our gun in response to a bump in the darkness? Please don’t tell me you wear a spare magazine carrier to bed. I’m not saying we should surrender our semi-autos for a wheel gun in .327 Fed. Mag. However, I am saying there’s a self-defense role for the GP100 in many homes.

Given my boyhood love affair with a Ruger Single Six, it was the Blackhawk in .327 that really got my attention. For this offering, Ruger chose stainless steel and a 5 1/2inch barrel. If sales warrant, we’ll probably see it in blue and with other barrel lengths in the future.

Ruger Blackhawk

Prepare for a shock when you see the eight chambers in the Blackhawk cylinder. Other than the increased capacity, the rest of the gun is classic Blackhawk with wood grips and adjustable black sights. If you were a kid west of Rhode Island, your first centerfire handgun was probably a Ruger Blackhawk. And if you’re old enough, to this day you know that with a centerfire Blackhawk revolver within reach, you will not be someone’s prey.

I found the .327 Fed. Mag.’s performance very impressive, particularly in normal-length barrels. Federal’s 85-grain Hydra-Shoks generated right at 1,600 fps from the Blackhawk’s 5 1/2-inch barrel and just more than 1,580 fps in the GPlOO’s 4-inch barrel. At 25 yards with my wrists on a rest, groups ran slightly over 2 inches from the Blackhawk and a little more than 3 inches in the GP100. Black Hills 85-grain .32 H&R Mag. gave 1,158 fps in the Blackhawk and 990 fps in the GP100. Groups were just a little more than 2 inches in the Blackhawk and just less than 2 inches in the GP. I had only one box of Federal 100-grain jacketed soft points and wanted them for a javelina hunt, so I just tested them in the Blackhawk. Results were velocities around 1,530 fps and groups around 1 1/2 inches.

 One of my favorite hunting pastimes is chasing rabbits with handguns, and the new .327 Blackhawk looks like a perfect small-game gun (with self-defense capabilities included) for bumming about Arizona’s high country and game-rich deserts. It would also make an excellent trail gun.

 I should comment about the sights on the revolvers. Both have black front blades and black, adjustable rear sights. The only difference is the GP100 has a white line around the rear-sight notch. It’s easier to see the rear sight in dim light or against a dark target, but it’s not the rear sight at which you should be looking. For daylight hunting, I find plain black sights seem to work best. For defensive shooting, particularly up close, it’s the front sight that needs to be seen, not the rear. Both guns should be fine as equipped for hunting, unless the angle of the sun is such that the white outline catches the glare and washes out your sight picture. But that’s just my opinion, and if your vision is better than mine, you might have a different preference.


It will be interesting to see how the .327 Fed. Mag. fares in the marketplace. The cartridge doesn’t really do anything the .32-20 Win. or .30 Carbine won’t do in a medium- to large-size handgun. But, the .327 is a more compact cartridge and will work in a small-frame revolver. It’s also available with a greater variety of high-performance ammo than either the .32-20 Win. or .30 Carbine and will prove easier to reload than the tapered .32-20 Win. case or rimless .30 Carbine. In any case, several gun manufacturers and a large ammunition company are sinking some resources into the new caliber. The rest is up to us shooters.






Big Game Basics


Pulblished in “Shooting Illstrated” April 2007

O ne of the hazards associated with describing anything as “basic” is the preconceived notion that it implies marginal suitability or even sub­standard quality. Very few of us ask a real­tor to simply show us a basic house or tell a car salesman we want only a basic car. But many of the basic handguns on today’s market are exceptional products. Just look at the expensive custom guns you and your buddies own. Under all of those spe­cial touches there probably lies a Ruger or Smith & Wesson, or perhaps even a Freedom Arms revolver. Once we buy a gun, we tend to accessorize to suit our tastes or tailor the gun to more closely match our needs. Let’s establish some parameters and look at a few of the superb basic handguns avail­able today that are more than adequate for big-game hunting.

In its basic form right from the Ruger factory, the Super Blackhawk in .44 Magnum is a solid handgun for big-game hunting. The author prefers the version with a 5’/2-ineh barrel, because it offers the best com­promise of velocity, portability and handling characteristics that moke accurate bullet placement easier.
Perhaps a good starting point is decid­ing which cartridges are suitable for big game. I know the .357 Magnum has taken big game, such as deer and feral hogs, and while I’ve used this caliber myself on both species, the animals’ deaths weren’t nearly as quick and humane as they should have been. In my opinion, big-game calibers start with the number “4,” and if neces­sary, I could spend the rest of my days happily hunting with the basic .41 and .44 Magnums. Using proper bullets, I’m not sure any animal could tell the difference between hits with the .41 Magnum versus the .44 Magnum. An advantage for the .44 is the incredible availability of ammuni­tion, even in small-town general stores and hunting locations overseas. The .44 is also available with heavier bullets, although these more specialized loads may not be found just anywhere. The .41 dishes out a tad less recoil, partly because it usually shoots lighter bullets and partly because there’s a bit more weight to the gun. Stan­dard bullets for the .41 Magnum are 210 grains, while the classic .44 Magnum load is 240 grains. With heavy, cast bullets, .41 Magnum loads feature slugs up around 265 grains and the .44 Magnum tops 300 grains. Stuffed with these heavyweights, both calibers provide great penetration.
To me, a basic big-game handgun has iron sights and is carried in a belt holster. I also believe a basic handgun is one I can effec­tively shoot offhand if necessary. I’ll take a rest whenever one is available, but I’m not passing up a reasonable standing shot if one is presented, and I can shoot iron sights much better offhand than any gun with a scope. My preference is for barrels from 4 3/4 to 6 inches in length, but I recognize one could make an argument for anything from 4 to 7 1/2 inches. I would have stipulated 5 to 6 inches, except the Ruger and Freedom Arms single actions have barrels that extend just to the end of the ejector housing. Per­haps my tighter tolerances are a function of advancing age, but it seems I can stretch my effective shooting range a bit using a 5-inch barrel rather than a 4-inch one. I’m certainly more comfortable with the sight picture offered by factory sights on a lon­ger barrel. On the upper end, a 6-inch barrel in a belt holster still makes it easy for me to take a seat while still-hunting without jamming the muzzle into the dirt. Access and comfort in a four-wheel drive, ATV or on a horse is greatly enhanced with a short holster, and as I get older, I spend more time letting something else do the walking.
Gun selection for the .41 Magnum is a bit more limited than for the .44 Magnum, which is not to say it is terribly restricted. Ruger offers the eternal Blackhawk in two barrel lengths. The short barrel touches my lower boundary of 4 3/4 inches, and while the other just misses my upper limit with its 61/2-inch tube, I’ll grant this gun a waiver. Both are six-shooters that represent excep­tional guns for the money and will still be running when your grandkids inherit them. For me, the short barrel packs more comfortably, while the extended sight radius of the longer barrel makes it easier to shoot. Velocity difference between the two barrel lengths shouldn’t be a concern, or you would be looking for a more special­ized hunting handgun.
Freedom Arms offers the .41 Magnum in two different frame sizes, and there are differences in the capabilities of the two guns. Both are single-action five-shoot­ers. The Model 83 in .41 Magnum has the same large frame and exacting tolerances as the company’s .454 Casull version, which means you can maximize the .41’s perfor­mance beyond other guns. Barrel lengths include both 4 3/4 and 6 inches, as well as shorter and longer tubes beyond my defi­nition of basic, The cylinder and frame of the Model 97 are not sized to accommodate long, heavy bullets, but the smaller gun is a joy to carry and is quite manageable with standard factory loads of 210-grain jacketed hollow points. While the Model 97 may lack the size of its big brother, manu­facturing tolerances are just as tight and ensure maximum accuracy.
Smith & Wesson offers some excellent double-action .41 Magnum revolvers that, although just outside my barrel-length parameters, may be perfect for you. There is a scandium framed 4-inch model that is as light as you’ll find in a .41 Magnum, and it’s called, oddly enough, the Model 357.

While the .44 Magnum (right) Is widely popular □mong handgunners pursuing big game, the .41 Magnum deserves credit for being an effec­tive cartridge as well. However, hunters traveling far from home should keep in mind that .44 Magnum ammunition is generally easier to find in local gunshops.

 The classic Model 57 has returned with a 4-inch barrel and blued finish. It’s the same size as the Model 357, but with its steel frame and classic adjustable sights, it’s more comfortable to shoot.

I would guess no hunting handgun is more common than the .44 Magnum, and the number of guns chambered for this caliber reflects its popularity. Freedom Arms doesn’t chamber the Model 97 in .44 Magnum, but it does offer the Model 83 in .44 Magnum with the same barrel lengths as the .41 Magnum. The Model 83 digests the heaviest factory loads with aplomb, and I’ve never seen a Freedom Arms revolver shoot loose from firing large quantities of full-power ammo. Ruger makes both single- and double-action revolvers in
.44 Magnum. The single actions are built on the Super Blackhawk frame, which is slightly larger than the Blackhawk and features the distinctive, flattened hammer spur. One of my favorites is the elegantly simple Super Blackhawk with 5 1/2-inch bar­rel, and if I ever get into that “one gun for survival” argument, this would be a candi­date. The incredibly strong, stainless steel Ruger Redhawk has been available over the years in a 5 1/2-inch barrel, and while the gun will digest any load, I have trouble managing the recoil with the small, wooden grip panels standard on the gun. Stepping up to Pachmayr rubber grips helps, but the overall grip becomes a bit large for my hand. But this revolver, and the new .44 Magnum Redhawk with a 4-inch barrel, are definitely worth considering.
Smith & Wesson continues its love affair with the .44 Magnum offering its N-frame revolvers in barrel lengths from 4 to 8 3/8inches. The 5- and 6-inch .44 Magnums meet all my criteria. In fact, the 5-inch Model 625 and Model 629 Classic would be my other candidates for the “one gun” argument. The 5-inch barrel offers a crisp, clean sight picture and superb bal­ance for offhand shooting. Their double-action triggers and, to a lesser degree, faster reloading capability may not be factors in hunting, but shooters who have mastered the double-action technique might prefer these guns. For the old-and-slow cadre of shooters like me, I’ll simply say their single-action trigger pulls can’t be beat for precision shooting.
I haven’t mentioned Taurus revolvers simply because I haven’t hunted with any of the company’s .41 or .44 Magnums, but I have hunted with a Raging Bull double-action revolver chambered in .480 Ruger and loved it. I’ve also shot two titanium Tracker revolvers in .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum, and have high praise for both. Their light weight, crisp, black sights, soft rubber grips and factory porting systems make them excellent candidates for a big-bore belt gun. However, I didn’t shoot them as well offhand as some of the other candi­dates, and that’s a big factor with me.
Finally, let me emphasize again how important it is to practice shooting off­hand. Besides the obvious fact that you may miss an opportunity trying to find a rest when one isn’t available, you will be pleased with the increased shooting skills and confidence that comes with your grow­ing ability to stand on your hind legs and shoot like a man.

The Bodacious .454

Published in “Shooting Illustrated” February 2007

W hen the .454 Casull was intro­duced in 1983, it instantly won the title for most powerful revolver cartridge. With operating pres­sures a good 50 percent higher than the magnums on the market, it generated energy levels not previously seen in wheel-guns and became the caliber for hunting really big game with handguns.

Above: Polishing and jeweling dress up the Ruger Super Redhawk customized by Mog-na-port's Ken Kelly, but "Bodacious" is still a serious hunting handgun. A tuned action and trigger, along with a Mag-na-brake and Weigand scope base, are modifications that complement the power of the revolver's .454 Casull chambering.

The cartridge was housed in the new, sin­gle-action Freedom Arms Model 83 revolver that had been specially designed and built with a five-shot cylinder and extremely close manufacturing tolerances to contain the 60,000-plus pounds per square inch pressure. I recall some early articles on Dick Casull, the .454’s inventor, stating he was trying to achieve a muzzle velocity of 2,000 feet per second with .45-caliber bul­lets fired from a 77;-inch barrel.

The Ruger Super Redhawk's cylinder can hold six rounds ot .454 Casull, and a transfer bar lets hunters safely carry a round beneath the double-action's hammer. To make practice sessions a little easier on the hand, the revolver will also fire .45 Colt ammunition.

Using some exotic triplex loads—three different powders carefully stacked in the case—Mr. Casull did achieve his tar­get velocity, but the hazards and liabili­ties associated with triplex loads far out­weighed the extra feet per second gained, and commercial ammo makers went to more conventional loads featuring heavy doses of slow-burning powders. Even with the less-exotic loads, the cartridge still pro­duced some sizzling velocities with lighter-weight bullets, making it not only suitable for big game, but a prime candidate for long-range handgun hunting of medium-sized game. This is a long-winded way of explaining my selection of the .454 for an antelope hunt.
The hunt was scheduled with Hunter Ross of Desert Safaris and held on several ranches located near Fort Davis, TX. I had just received a Ruger .454 Super Redhawk customized by Ken Kelly, of Mag-na-port fame, and knowing that Hornady makes a high-velocity .454 round with a 240-grain jacketed hollow point, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to test the gun and lightweight bullets on a long-range, medium-game hunt. Given the lack of preparation time with the gun and ammo, my definition of long range for this hunt was 100 yards or less.
The Super Redhawk originally arrived with a standard 7’7/-inch barrel and integral scallops in the topstrap for mounting the factory-furnished rings. For those who may not know it, the .454 Casull generates lots of energy on both ends of the gun. It kicks big-time. Most of my other big-bore handguns wear muzzle brakes or feature porting systems installed by Mag-na-port to help manage the recoil. As I get older and heal more slowly, I see no reason to discontinue this policy. Besides, last year at the White Oak Plantation Handgun Hunt in Alabama, I got a look Kelly’s latest Super Redhawk creation, and fell in love with both the gun and the name he had given it—”Boda­cious.” Like earlier Mag-na-port handgun names, “Predator” and “Stalker,” it was a perfect choice.
Kelly shortened the Super Red Hawk’s barrel to 5 3/4  inches, gave the muzzle an inverted crown and installed an oversized muzzle brake he calls a Mag-na-brake.  Compared to some of the slender brakes he uses on single-action revolvers, this one seemed quite bulky, but somehow it was right for this rather massive handgun. He also added two custom pinstripe bands on the Mag-na-brake and another two bands on the cylinder. I rarely give Kelly instruc­tions regarding the decorative touches on his guns, rather letting him express himself and surprise me. You, of course, can decide what goes on your gun. Other barrel-related work included removing the lengthy Ruger liability warning, something many Ruger buyers would like to see done at the factory.

Ports In the Mag-no-brake direct gases away from the shooter while alleviating the .454 Casull's Infamous recoil. The ports ore angled forward so gases travel to the front, and they form a twist pattern opposite to the Mag-na-brake s threading to ensure It stays tight on the muzzle.

Rather than use the factory rings, Kelly installed a Weigand scope base, mount­ing it into the existing scallop cuts in the topstrap. This Weaver-style base does two things: First it raises the height of the scope, providing more room for the thumb when cocking the revolver, and second, it allows more flexibility in mounting the scope either closer to the muzzle or more toward the shooter.
To say Kelly performed a trigger job would be inadequate. He completely tuned the action, polished and jeweled the hammer and trigger, and applied his glass-bead, velvet-hone finish. The result was a super-slick, double-action magnum revolver. Finally, he added his standard Mag-na-port custom logo and the brand new title, “Bodacious.”
I debated changing the factory Ruger grips since they are rather thin and can focus the .454’s punishing recoil into the web of the hand on a non-ported gun. But the factory stocks with rubber around the edges fit me pretty well, permitting an easier reach to, and good control of, the trigger with my rather short fingers.  Combined with Kelly’s Mag-na-brake, the grips did their part in softening the .454’s felt recoil. The last touch was installing scope rings and a 2X Nikon handgun scope. Much as I like iron-sighted handguns, antelope and wide-open spaces were on my agenda, and I wanted an optic to take full advantage of the .454’s flat trajectory.
There was time for one trip to the range before the hunt, so I did some homework and “hit the books” as we used to say in school. Specifically, I dug out Volume 2 of Hornady’s Handbook of Cartridge Reloading and opened it to the handgun bullet bal­listics tables that give distances in yards. Since the chronograph showed the 240-grain Hornady .454’s produced a muzzle velocity of 1,709 feet per second, I looked at the tables for the 240-grain XTP bullet traveling at 1,700 feet per second. With a 100-yard zero, the bullet would strike 1 1/2 inches high at 50 yards, 1.3 inches high at 75 yards, and 6 1/2 inches low at 150 yards. This seemed perfect given my self-imposed limit of 100 yards with the 2X scope. My concern was that on previous antelope hunts, some of my range estimations had been grossly inaccurate. Admittedly, I would have a Nikon rangefinder, but there was no assurance I would have access to it or time to use it when the time came to shoot.
Given the kill zone on an antelope is about 8 inches in diameter, I wanted to be less than 4 inches high at mid-range and less than 4 inches low out past 100 yards. Checking the tables for the performance of my load, a zero of 150 yards showed the bullet would be a bit less than 4 inches high at 50 yards and about 4 1/2 inches high at 75 and 100 yards. Since these numbers could result in a hit above my arbitrary 8-inch circle, I compromised and sighted in Bodacious roughly 3 inches high at 100 yards. I thought this should keep me in the kill zone all the way out to 150 yards, just in case I really screwed up range esti­mation. Shooting off a sandbag, the load produced 3-shot groups that measured 2 1/2 to3 1/2 inches at 100 yards. I was ready.
On the hunt though, I made a mistake. I was riding in the Yamaha Rhino with another outdoor writer who had taken a nice buck earlier and was now prepared to do the range-finding honors for me. When our guide, Troy Calaway, spotted another nice buck and the other writer announced quietly the Nikon showed we were within 87 yards of the animal, it was time to shoot. The buck was slightly quartering away from me, and thinking the shot would be no more than 3 inches high, I held the crosshair slightly low in the body and fired. The buck dropped in its tracks, an unusual event for an animal like antelope, which can cover many miles of prairie even when severely wounded. We learned shortly the shot was several inches high and, luckily for me, broke the buck’s back. The cross­hair had been exactly where I wanted it when the hammer fell, and I didn’t imme­diately realize why the impact point had been so high. Thinking back to the range, I realized the problem. On the range, I had been shooting with Bodacious buried solidly into a sandbag, while my shot at the antelope, like most hunting scenarios, involved nothing more than my forearms resting across an available surface. Even with the Mag-na-brake’s taming influence, the .454’s recoil caused the barrel to rise more than it had when resting solidly on a sandbag and range bench.
One might say that given my rookie mis­take. Bodacious and the Hornady ammo performed above and beyond the call of duty. Certainly the results were more than I deserved, but then I’ve become accustomed to outstanding performance from Ken Kel­ly’s Rugers and Hornady’s handgun hunting ammunition loaded with XTP bullets.

1993 NRA Long Range Silhouette Championships

Having proved her total mastery of the elements at last year’s Nationals, Big Mama Nature cast a gentler countenance on the 565 entries at the ’93 NRA Long Range Silhouette Championships.

The winners’ circle was visited by some familiar faces and some new kids. Bob Vaughan displayed tremendous consistency in all events to win the Grand Aggregate Championship, beating his nearest competitor by 15 huge points.

Lee Cottriel again captured the woman’s Grand Aggregate as well as a few individual trophies along the way. Gene Grant won High Senior with a score that made me re-evaluate my plan to dye my hair grayer and lie about my age. And finally, a 12-year-old young lady named Krista Morris won the Junior Free Style Aggregate with some great shooting skills and a dazzling smile.

The number of manufacturers with displays at the match wasn’t large, but the hardware on display was truly representa­tive and showed the continuing evolution of the sport. Hooded front sights, most of them made by Iron Sight Gun Works, were on just about everything. That’s the same outfit that makes the precision rear sight on all the single shots and revolvers except for S&W and Ruger.

Randy Smith from Freedom Arms brought all their calibers and made them available to any competitor want­ing to try one at the end of the day. Great marketing move! Ted Zysk liked the octagon barrel Freedom Arms .44 Magnum so much, he shot it in revolver class scoring one of only two perfect 80s recorded during the week!

Not only is that long octagon barrel a thing of beauty, but also Creedmore shooters maintained that the sharp edges make it “stick to your leg.” I caught the Freedom Arms fever and borrowed Randy’s 454 to knock off 60 of the crit­ters in Standing Unlimited, and while that’s a respectable score with a full power hunting handgun, it doesn’t get you an invite to the shoot-offs against today’s outstanding shooters.

Rock Pistol Manufacturing is slim­ming down the bull barrels of the XL sin­gle-shot pistol from .850″ to .800″ to facilitate making weight. Of interest to the handgun hunter, as well as the stand­ing class competitor, is that it makes for a much better balanced handgun and, while the .05″ doesn’t sound like much, the resulting gun looks much sleeker.

As noted in last year’s match, most of the really competitive unlimited standing shooters are using some kind of high rise scope mount system. Many of these are manufactured by Ken Light, a local shooter whose hardware is as impressive as his competitive achievements.

Machined from T6 aluminum, his ris­ers arc drilled to tit the hole pattern of numerous factory guns with slots on the top rail to accept standard Weaver rings allowing some flexibility in scope loca­tion. Simple and innovative in design, Ken makes a scope riser to comply with the rules of all silhouette events from air pistols to ram ringers.

Seth Wesson announced that a new model Wesson revolver will be in pro­duction this fall designed for the silhou­ette shooter. It will have a 1:16 twist bar­rel with a Taylor throat. (That’s more freebore than usual.) Every gun will have Hoguc grips, 1SGW rear sight, hooded front sight, and an action job. Caliber will be .357 Maximum.

Interestingly, the other revolver class perfect 80 at this year’s Nationals was shot with a Dan Wesson in caliber .45 Long Colt by Hulan Mathis. Hulan has shot more than one perfect score on the half-scale critters with different calibers, so it was no great surprise when he won the shoot-off and revolver championship with that Wesson .45 Colt. I think given a week’s practice and a few semi-round rocks. Hulan could probably bowl a per­fect 80!

A completely new bolt action unlimit­ed gun came to the match with David Dewsbury. Australia’s director of Metal­lic Silhouettes. Called the MAB Model SP and chambered in 7 BR. in Dave’s competent hands it shot the third highest unlimited score of the week.

The gun has a couple of interesting and unique features worth noting. (Dave has a couple of interesting features too, like a big, “down under” grin and one of those great Aussie hats!) The gun’s bolt face is threaded into the bolt to be easily replaceable if you want to change calibers or head space.

The locking lugs are in the barrel, not the receiver, which also facilitates a cal­iber change. Bolt release is by means of an externally accessible lever on the left side of the receiver. The gun is manufac­tured by Graham Bugden in Brisbane, has an Omark match barrel and is Mag-Na-Ported. (MAB is the Mag-Na-Port agent in Australia.) Designed by and for silhou-etters, the weapon is currently only avail­able in Australia.

It was a beautifully run match. When I filled out three identical forms at registra­tion, I chuckled at the thought that per­haps the NRA needed to spend a little less time in Washington. D.C.. but how-many sports would allow someone to par­ticipate in a National Championship with no match scores for over a year?

Throughout the week, the “stat shack” crew processed the paper work and posted scores rapidly and efficiently, while the AFROTC Cadets from Canyon and Crescenta Valley High Schools had targets set and score cards completed before new-relays could get to the line.

And the lady that ran the outdoor kitchen had me trained like Pavlov’s dog. It didn’t matter if she was fixing barbecue or tub-o-spaghetti. she’d ring the cowbell and I’d come running!

Special thanks to E.A. Brown Co.. Rock Pistol Manufacturing, and Wesson Firearms who highlighted the Friday bar­becue raffle with their contribution of firearms.

Published:  American Handgunner – January/February 1994


The First IHMSA Field Pistol Internationals


If you have never been to southern Arizona in the late fall, you’ve never seen one of God’s chosen resorts. Of slightly less galactic importance, you’ve also never attended one of the his­toric handgun silhouette events at the Tucson Rifle Club. You missed a double opportunity this past fall when TRC host­ed the first ever Field Pistol International Championship sponsored by IHMSA.

For those of you who don’t shoot field pistol, it’s a standing silhouette match with half-scale targets shot at half the normal ranges with production guns and straight wall centerfire cartridges.

There is also a .22 caliber match called Smallbore Field Pistol. Both cen­terfire and .22 matches can be shot with iron sights or scopes and electronic dot sights.

Sound sim­ple? Remember, “half scale” means that each dimension is halved; the resulting target is one fourth the area of a full size silhouette target.

There were approximately 150 entries in both centerfire and rimfire events, with about a dozen more contes­tants in centerfire. Single shots dominated the match with half the competitors shooting Jim Rock’s XL and one-third (about 50 contestants) shooting T/Cs.

The XL’s popularity in Tucson is understandable: not only does Jim’s gun have the home court advantage, but also competitors get to see first hand how well his guns shoot in the hands of Bob Kelly, IHMSA’s current international big bore aggregate champion.

Moving to the repeaters, Ruger had nine guns go to the line, split pretty even­ly between centerfire and .22s, while Browning sent a total of seven guns to the line, all .22s. The choices in centerfire calibers surprised me a bit. One third of the competitors (25) were using XL’s chambered for the .270 REN, a very recently developed cartridge designed specifically for Field Pistol competition. It’s the .22 Hornet case “blown out” to .270 caliber to comply with the field pis­tol rule requiring straight wall cases.

Since its creation, the .22 Hornet has been legalized for FP competition, and I would expect its popularity to soar, par­ticularly since my experience with the cartridge in an older Merrill pistol showed it to be equally at home with cast and jacketed bullets in terms of accuracy.

A distant second in calibers was the .357 Magnum. Sixteen shooters ventured to the line with this reliable old per­former, but the vast majority of these (14) were used in the open sight event.

Close behind the .357 was the .32 H&R mag with 14 entries; then the .32-20 with nine shooters; and finally the .30 Carbine with 5 shooters.

Clearly, this is not a power-oriented shooting sport. The match went very smoothly with target setters doing an excellent job maintaining relay schedules. The only problem I noted was with the waist-high bench running the length of the shooting line.

While the bench was a very conve­nient place for gear, competitors tended to edge forward when firing and had to be reminded about not resting stomachs over the edge of the bench.

This is a natural tendency for us big guys who eat lots of burritos and drink beer. Or. as Jane Russell would call us, “We full-figured men.”

Speaking of eating, the entry fee included a bar-beque dinner at a local restaurant called El Musque-tal that looked like a con­verted barn and served some of the best beans I’ve ever had. I’m not sure how much those beans were enjoyed during the rest of their bio­logical cycle, but they were delicious going in!

The match director was John Rock, who has been doing yeoman service at the Tucson Rifle Club’s hand­gun metallic silhouette matches starting with the first one in 1975. For this match, like most at TRC, John and the crew ran spe­cial, fast-paced “Tres Banditos” matches that were fun for the shooters, financial­ly helpful to the sponsoring club, and filled in the inactive lull while match results were being tabulated.

In the finals of the Bandito match, both teams turned their last 100 meter tar­get sideways without knocking it off the stand. Ever tried hitting a 5″ tall, .375″ wide target at 100 meters?

In recognition of his efforts over the years, John was presented with an out-standing service award by IHMSA’s president. Frank Scotto.

IHMSA Status

I had a chance to chat with Frank about his three years as president and the progress made by IHMSA in that time. In a nutshell, IHMSA is now financially sound and growing again.

While maintaining a “low key pres­ence,” Frank makes an equivalent half dozen cross country trips a year promot­ing IHMSA and actively participating as a shooter.

Newcomers to the sport can’t imagine the depth and extent of the wounds that Frank and his staff have healed during his three years service.  And perhaps the most ironic measurement of success in the 20th century is that his year IHMSA has achieved a status that both permits and requires the purchase of liability insurance!

Enough reading: con­tact IHMSA to participate in the match nearest you. There might even be a video available to facili­tate your silhouette educa­tion and whet your appetite since professional photographer Dan Fong was at this match exploring the prospects of a promo video for IHMSA. But no matter how you take that First step, you’re going to meet the friendliest bunch of shooters around and have more fun than the law usually allows.

For information on joining IHMSA, write to them at P.O. Box 36X. Burlington, IA 52601.

Published:  American Handgunner– May June 1993