“Recoil was brisk but manageable”

I’ve been shooting high-end 45 Colt loads* in my Freedom Arms revolver, because that’s the only brass I had. Until today — I finally found some pukka factory 454 Casull ammo.

Hornady 300 grain XTP at 1650 fps claimed muzzle velocity. I didn’t get a chance to chrony the actual velocity though. Price was good — RRP is something like $35 / box in the ‘states, and I got these for R350, and that includes 14% VAT (current exchange rate is about R9/$ but these were probably brought in at closer to R8/$).

Acceptable Combat Accuracy…

I shot five shots, then played with my M30PK 9mm a bit. After that I invited one of our range officers to shoot the thing, his shot was the topmost on the above target. After some persuasion, the range officer in training then made that hole in the bottom corner… he certainly did not bring his part.

I finished the cylinder. Shots are all low because notice the front sight? It’s taller since the gun shoots way high with the abovementioned 45 Colt load.

This isn’t really a gun for standing. The barrel is way too heavy, very difficult to hold the sights steady. And the trigger is fairly light, which is good for Creedmoor but not so much for standing.

Edit, Monday morning. Well, I can certainly feel my wrist this morning. This is not a gun for a lazy afternoon of plinking, at least not with full power ammo.


*  255 grain cast bullet chronied at 1160 fps — factory spec for a 255 grainer is just under 1000 fps. The same bullet can be persuaded to clock around 1600 fps in a 454 Casull.



Back when Obama was first elected, the American public kicked their gun and ammo purchases into high gear. CCI alone was shipping 12 million primers a week, trying to catch up with their “billions” backorder.

And then Obama got re-elected, the Sandy Hook tragedy went down, and Obama started shooting Skeet.

Seems that the people were relatively calm until this bullshit pic was released (with a request to not photoshop it. R U kidding? Is Internet. “Don’t” is short for “Do it immediately damnit!”)

The problem with four letter words being ubiquitous in our society is that one lacks words to express the absolute crazy. It’s like Jeremy Clarkson trying to explain just how fast the latest land-jet is. They ripped those gun purchases out of high gear and straight into a new gearbox. With a supercharger. And afterburners.

From Doug (along with the picture above):

Smith & Wesson-is running at Full capacity making 300+ guns/day-mainly M&P pistols. They are unable to produce any more guns to help with the shortages.

RUGER: Plans to increase from 75% to 100% in the next 90 days.

FNH: Moving from 50% production to 75% by Feb 1st and 100% by March 1. Remington-Maxed out!

Armalite: Maxed out.

DPMS: Can’t get enough parts to produce any more product.

COLT: Production runs increasing weekly…bottle necked by Bolt carrier’s.

LWRC:Making only black guns, running at full capacity…can’t get enough gun quality steel to make barrels.

Springfield Armory: Only company who can meet demand but are running 30-45 days behind.

AMMO: Every caliber is now Allocated! We are looking at a nation wide shortage of all calibers over the next 9 months. All plants are producing as much ammo as possible w/ of 1 BILLION rounds produced weekly. Most is military followed by L.E. and civilians are third in line.

MAGPUL is behind 1 MILLION mags, do not expect any large quantities of magpul anytime soon.

RELOADERS… ALL Remington, Winchester, CCI & Federal primers are going to ammo FIRST. There are no extra’s for reloading purposes… it could be 6-9 months before things get caught up.

And from Bob:

It really hit me when I realized that the World War-era M1 Garands , M1 carbines, and Enfield .303s were gone, along with every last shell. Ubiquitous Mosin-Nagants—of which every gun store always seems to have 10-20—were gone. So was their ammo. Only a dust free space marked their passing. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Every weapon of military utility designed within the past 100+ years was gone. This isn’t a society stocking up on certain guns because they fear they may be banned. This is a society preparing for war.

This is going to impact shooters worldwide, if it isn’t already*. Primers and ammo — we get a lot of stuff from Europe, S&B, Fiocchi, Russian 22 — but that’s likely to be diverted to the US market too. The local agents are assuring us that the current orders will be filled, but once that’s gone, I see a two year drought coming.

Commencing operation stocking up.

* I’m trying to get hold of a few Thompson Contender G2 frames. It’s a single shot target handgun — useless for self defense, and highly unlikely to be banned — but it goes “bang” and as a result the distributor is back-ordered.

Busy, but not in a good way.

Some internationally known damn fool goes and shoots his slightly less but still internationally known extremely photogenic girlfriend on Valentine’s Day and the email starts ringing off the hook.

So far I’ve been quoted in the Metro newspaper, Time Magazine and Global Post.

Edit: And CNN (2012-02-25)

In the mean time, the campaigns for victim disarmament are claiming that only the police should have guns (really? Are you kidding?) and that “Very few people successfully use firearms to defend themselves” (really?).

For once I am in perfect agreement with Pierre de Vos:

Meanwhile another women is dead today. Because Oscar Pistorius is famous, I fear that many of us (including many in the media) will forget this. Oscar is not dead. Reeva Steenkamp is. We should not forget that. Neither should we forget that many women are abused or killed by their partners every day.

Even more competenter

Yes, I did another bunch of competency exams. This time, the four “Handle and Use a [Handgun | Shotgun | Manual Rifle | Self Loading Rifle] for Business Purposes”.

I had to study — everything I know is not quite the same as the answers in the book, and of course the answers in the book are always right — for example, the four rules of gun safety, in order of importance, are:

1. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction;

2. Keep your booger hook off of the bang switch;

3. Always treat guns as if they’re loaded; and

4. Know your target and what’s behind it.

Now, I learned those in a slightly different order, but it’s simple enough to remember what order the examiner considers correct.

Also, I only ever learned four colour codes, but the course adds black. And not the USMC one, no, black is apparently when people are trying to kill you. Sho sho, I’ll try to remember that next time someone tries to kill me…

Anywayz, the general setup is still the same. Get the book, read through it, do the open book exam at the back. Pitch at the venue, write a closed book exam on the easiest three quarters of the open book exam. Identical questions, (presumably) identical answers, and they leave out the tricky bits like identifying the parts of the firearms by name (except they did ask what you call the lever used to open a double barrel shotty (the “break neck lever”. I suspect I might have misremembered that. And I had to look it up for this post)). Also, “what’s the difference between a boxer primed case and a berdan primed case?” “You can reload the boxer” is not the right answer. The right answer mentions number of flash holes and stuff about the anvil — all stuff I know, but who cares, “berdan cases stuff up your decapping pin” is important.

Then I had to prove that I can shoot. 10 shots with a CZ75 at about 7m, all shots must be on an A5 page. 10 shots with a scoped 22 rimfire boltgun at 7m, all shots must be on an A5 page. 10 shots with an LM5 (semi-auto 223, peep sights) at 7m, all shots must be on an A4 page. And three shots with a shotty, all shots must hit the berm. Didn’t have too much of a hassle with that…

Now I need to make an appointment at the cop shop to apply for a competency to deal in firearms (actually, I just want to store some ammunition for a friend, but this is what’s required).

300 WinMag

And so it came to pass that I found myself badly in need* of a flat rifle. Not one that’s been under a truck, mind, but one with a flat trajectory, for use at distances further than the 100m or so that my collection of leverguns are capable of.

So I asked around, and found a new barreled action in 300 WinMag. Perfect. Got an endorsement letter (as a dedicated hunter) from Kaapjag, applied for the licence, waited about four months, got the licence and the gun.

Reading up on the Howa, I came across this page which explains how to adjust the trigger. But the first step is, take the whole thing apart and clean it up. Get the gunk out, and also lightly sand the relevant surfaces to smooth things out.

[When I find the pictures I took I’ll post them here. I suspect they’re on a memstick that crashed. Suffice to say, the inside of the trigger assembly was dirty!]

Johan van Niekerk out in Plattekloof makes awesome stocks. Unfortunately he didn’t have a template for the long Howa action, only for the short one. So I had to wait while he ordered a stock from the ‘states to use as a template. Took from February until June, but I am way happy with the result.

He epoxy bedded the action, put in two aliminium pillars where the action screws go through the stock, and added two crossbolts (you can see the holes, roughly in line with the scope rings).

The scope is a 3-9 Redfield Revolution with the Accu-Range BDC reticle.

Load development

A factory round is made to a specification — typically that set by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI). When handloading, you have a bit more leeway — your hard limits are not the paper specification, but the actual rifle in your hands.

1. Pick a bullet. Every time you change the bullet, you have to revisit all the points below. In my case, I picked the Sierra 180 grain Game King. While the Match King might be more accurate, I’m developing a hunting load here, and in general match bullets are totally unsuited to hunting.

2. Cartridge Overall Length (COL). The cartridge has to fit in the chamber of the gun. The bullet can’t protrude to where the lands of the rifling starts, because it takes the pressure of the exploding powder to force the bullet into those lands and grooves, engraving the lands on the bullet which then impart spin on it.

In general, it’s good to seat the bullet about 10 thou (0.001″ 0.010″ or a quarter of a millimeter) away from where it would contact the lands, so that it has a short “jump” before it hits the rifling. Varying this distance can also improve accuracy.

There’s also a second hard limit that’s sometimes overlooked, and that is that you preferably want your ammo to fit in your magazine. Sometimes, this is not a problem, and there’s plenty space in the magazine, other times, not so much.

So, step the first. Load a bullet in an empty case, just deep enough to hold it in place. See whether this combination fits in your chamber. If not, seat the bullet a little deeper until you can close the bolt. Measure the COL, either to the tip of the bullet or (better) using something like a Stoney Point bullet comparator.

This is the maximum length cartridge that will fit my chamber — about 3.540″. The caliper shows the SAAMI spec 300 WinMag COL of 3.340″. The Howa has a very long throat, obviously.

So far so good, but does this monstrosity fit in the magazine? Not a chance.

Step the second. Continue seating the bullet until it fits in your magazine.

There we go. That fits my magazine.

Notice the other nice thing? All other things being equal (hint: they never are) you want the whole neck of the case to be in contact with the bullet, which means that it should be aligned with the parallel sides of the bullet, which start just after the boat tail and at some stage stop being parallel by turning into the bullet ogive. The pic above shows the IMO optimal seating depth relative to the case neck for a boat tail bullet. Further in and you’re encroaching on your powder space, also at some stage the front end of the case neck stops contacting the bullet (not really an issue with a short neck like this, more of an issue with something like the 30-30). Further out and not all of the case neck is gripping the bullet.

3. Pick a load. The general rule of thumb is, get as many data points as possible, then start low and work up. The Somchem manual lists 60.8 to 67.5 grains S365, 67.5 to 75 grains S361 and 68.5 to 73.5 grains S385 for a 180 grain bullet. I started at 66.6 grains S365 and worked up to 69 grains. The first (3 shot) group was just under an inch at 100m, but a bit slow at 2880 fps. More powder didn’t really give better groups, until the groups started opening up at 68 grains and 2980 fps.

So I switched to S385. 74 grains (which is over the Somchem max, I know) gave 3040 fps and this:

Yes, I know. It’s a fluke. But it’s a pretty fluke.

* People would argue, but I’m calling it a need, so there.


A stealthie is a selfie…

… taken while wearing camo. So sayeth Tamsyn.

Note to self. If your pants are too short, and you don’t put suntan lotion on your shins, you will regret it later.

Father and Child Hunt, Richmond, April 2014.

As always, it was fun.




This is what I get up to when the wife is on holiday.

* Grass Widower — in the sense that Tanya and the kids are away for the week, I’m left with the cats and a fridge full of beer. I have no complaints.


I absolutely have to repost three videos my buddy Weer’d found while I was away playing hide and seek.

“So, in summary, firearms have (at worst) an immeasurably small causal effect on violence, violence is a systemic problem in certain communities, and focusing on singular horrible events because of media buzz is a nasty, racist attempt to deflect attention from the real causes, because those causes are embarrassing, and because certain useless symbolic actions look good.

“The idea that the police are not civilians is a deeply pernicious, dangerous one, and it is demonstrably false.

“The truth is a set of not-too-exciting little details, not a cute soundbite.

“Now of course, and I want to emphasize this, cops’ lives and jobs can be dangerous, and I want them to be able to defend themselves vigorously and successfully when that need arises. But when we define them by that armed conflict role, when that becomes their most salient characteristic, well, no good comes of it.

This third video doesn’t pack nearly the punch of the other two, but it does explain the firearm licencing process in South Africa quite accurately and quite well.



Be vewy quiet…

If you wear camo and sit very quietly in the shade of a bush you can get to see interesting things.

See it? Lemme zoom in a bit for you.

I sat watching this fellow as he was making a beeline pretty much straight for me.

This is a split second after he saw me (the camo in the foreground is me). Changed his mind pretty quickly and made for the hills.

And the evening I had to eat a gemmerkoekie* as punishment for not shooting the blighter. Because there are two problem animals that get shot on sight on farms, jackal** and caracal***.

Why didn’t I shoot? The gemsbok were just behind that ridge ahead of me, and I was seriously considering changing my priority from kudu to gemsbok. That ended up not happening and I walked-and-surprised**** a nice young kudu bull the next day. So all turned out well.

* “gemmerkoekie” = ginger biscuit. But laced with Stroh rum. I like Stroh rum. This is a game I play to lose.

** Black-backed jackal, known as “rooijakkals” or red jackal in Afrikaans. The little bat-eared foxes and silver foxes are also “jakkals” in Afrikaans but you don’t shoot those.

*** I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shoot a caracal. And of course the african wild cat is rightly so a no-shoot.

**** You don’t walk-and-stalk a kudu. You walk-and-surprise it. It will see you before you see it, if you’re moving, and it won’t stay around for too long. And once they’re gone, they are gone. Over the mountain, down the other side, over the next mountain, and still going strong, while you’re still trying to find your second wind.