Guns have been one of the most enduring
hobbies of my life, for few other interests have given me the pleasure they
have. I count myself as being most fortunate in having lived in a time and
place which permitted me considerable hunting of both small and big game and
being privileged with the opportunity of shooting many different guns; such
experience standing me in good stead during the years I served in the United
States Marine Corps. Even so, this experience I consider as only a drop in the
bucket as compared with the experience of some who lived before my time.
However, since an interest has been expressed in some of my firearms
activities of the past, I will herein set down a few of these experiences as I
All in all, I have spent a good many
years "playing" with guns of various kinds and poking into their
history, mechanics and philosophy, in an endeavor to find the best guns and
loads for the different uses to which they were to be put. I realized years
ago that I would never finish the job of learning everything there is to know
about guns but, I have been, and am certainly enjoying trying to do that very
I never lose an opportunity to learn
something from the other fellow, be he sage of sourdough. Remaining a curious
student throughout life renders one’s life interesting and progressive. With
the hope that the following brief sketch of my activities may be just that for
you, I set down these experiences.
First, let me (in part) pay my tribute
to our great sport and hobby. In my estimation, firearms are among the
greatest tools and offer more sport, thrills and health-building recreation
and make more people happy, than most anything else on our globe. There are
the Skeet shooters, the clay pigeon enthusiasts, the great annual rifle and
handgun shoots, along with the thousands of rifle and pistol clubs which go on
the range for practice and there are the millions of hunters who take
themselves out into the clean, fresh air in the great mountains, fields,
streams and prairies and meadows, and into the most remote parts of the world
where land and water unmask their beauty, with game of every type, from the
small rabbit to the great elephant. All of these things work magic in one’s
The sunshine, fresh unpolluted air,
vigorous exercise in a rigorous country, works wonders in one’s health. It
strengthens the muscles, restores brain, and makes life worth the living; and
it is the firearm that is responsible for it all. Show me a man who does not
care for guns, shooting matches, game shooting, who has never received the
rewards of the great out-of-doors, and I will show you a man whose life
isn’t worth while. No one who has not had the hobby of guns and followed the
outdoor life can fully realize just how important firearms are, in the way of
building men (and women), both morally and physically.
The love of firearms developed in me at
an early age, and ever since I have striven to increase my knowledge of them
and their proper use. I do not know of any hobby which offers more in
the way of relaxation and recreation, or a more fertile field for
experimentation, that in loading ammunition and then shooting it, whether in
hunting game, or shooting inanimate targets. The degree of skill necessary for
one to be proficient at this is a constant challenge for improvement. It calls
for, in the highest degree, the development of one’s full physical and
mental capabilities. In my humble opinion, no other sport excels that of
hunting for developing a person in the most complete manner a person is
capable of attaining. In this, I am in full accord with the philosophy of one
of the greatest Americans who ever lived – President Theodore Roosevelt.
A part of interest in firearms has
developed as a result of my collection of guns. This collection has given me
much pleasure, and is very interesting to the historian in me, for a part of
the history of the United States is attached to each of them. Then, too, a
large part of the pleasure which may be derived form a collection of firearms,
is to handload ammunition for them, and then experimentally shoot the guns. I
am aware that there are many collectors whose only pride is in the immaculate
condition of their collection and they would "shrink in horror" at
the thought o0f shooting any of their guns. But, my interest is the other way
– my greatest pleasure is in determining how they perform. To me,
"Beauty is as beauty does". However, I have no quarrel with anyone
who is more interested in the "Mint" condition of their arms
collection. As has been so aptly said: "Let every dog scratch his own
fleas in his own way".
Collecting and shooting "hard to
get" guns is a most fascinating hobby. The "Collector-shooter"
can have as his goal, thousands more models and patterns that those of current
manufacture. Gun collectors are of as many varieties as the guns they collect.
Some collect only models of a given manufacturer, some pure antiques, some
only moderns, some all types. Some never shoot the guns they collect; others
shoot them all regularly. To my way of thinking, collecting and
shooting guns can be a most fascinating diversion. Rest assured, you will
never bring the subject to a conclusion in a life-time. If you are looking for
a long-range hobby that will last, you need look no further.
Perhaps a few remarks on safety in
handling firearms may be fitting here. I believe that all youth, girls as well
as boys, should receive a through groundwork in the safe and proper handling
of firearms. Then most so-called firearms accidents could be avoided. For most
of these accidents are the result of sheer carelessness, and the way to
eliminate this carelessness is by through training in the safe and proper
handling of firearms.
One of my earliest experiences
pertaining to firearms came about in this manner: (This episode was recounted
to me many times during the years of my youth). One evening as my mother was
preparing to feed me my supper – I being at the time some 3 years old and
sitting in the "high-chair" awaiting my meal – my father walked
into the kitchen having returned from hunting quail. He had his favorite
Parker Bros., double-barrel, 12-gauge shotgun in his hands and as he walked in
and closed the door, I, (according to the story), started to yell and pound
the tray of the high-chair to get his attention. Thinking that I wanted him to
come over to me, he leaned the shotgun against the wall and walked across the
room to where I was. But, this action on his part did not cause me to stop my
yelling and pounding on the tray. I kept looking at the gun and pointing
towards it. Then, my mother said, "I believe he wants the quail
gun". As I continued to yell and pound the table, calling, "gun,
gun", my father went back and picked it up and returning he laid it
across the tray of the high-chair, whereupon; as the story goes, I immediately
stopped my yelling and started to pat the gun, gurgling all the while and with
a most happy smile upon my face. Then I spread my arms over the gun as if to
prevent anyone taking it from me, laid my head down on the stock and went to
sleep. I no longer had any interest in my supper. My father had to awaken me
so that my mother could give me my supper, but then I would not eat until the
gun was laid on the table near by where I could see it while I ate. Ever after
this, my parents said, anytime I cried, all they had to do to get me to stop,
was to show me the gun and let me place my hands on it; I would then be
overjoyed. Some children want their "teddy bear" in bed with them
when they go to sleep – in my case it was a gun
Perhaps a psychologist could give a
scientific (?) explanation of such child behavior, but to me it has meant only
one thing: That some ingrained personality trait, "born and bred in the
bone", has come down to me through the generations of my ancestry.
Perhaps too, this may explain, at least in part, my great love for firearms of
Incidentally, this same beautiful and
sturdy Parker Bros. Shotgun, years after the above mentioned episode, stands
in my gun cabinet, with its smooth bores as clean and as burnished as the day
it left the proud hands of its maker. And today it still comes to cheek as
smoothly and as comfortably as it has in the past in bringing to bag the
thousands of quail and other upland game which have fallen when its voice of
authority spoke. Even after digesting thousands of field loads it is still so
tight that the insertion of a sheet of thin tissue paper between the barrels
and the standing breech, will render very difficult its closing. Truly a
magnificent masterpiece of the gunmaker’s arts.
I was about 9 years of age when my
father permitted me to hunt with the Parker Bros. 12-gauge double, with light
loads and then only under his personal supervision. I shall never forget my
first rabbit taken with this gun if I live to be 100. I had jumped this bunny
and as he swung around to my left, my father said, "Hold a gun length in
front of him and shoot". Doing just that, the load of No. 6 chilled shot
bowled "Peter" over neatly and with dispatch. I don’t know who was
more proud – my father or myself.
About this time my father gave me my
first rifle – a Winchester Model 1890, chambered for .22 Shorts. This rifle
had had an interesting history prior to this time. Father had obtained it
shortly after the Model was first introduced and had used it considerably as a
squirrel rifle. While he was away from the farm going to College, he had
loaned it to a farmer who wanted to use it for killing butcher stock and who
had subsequently failed to clean it properly (if at all). Those old loads were
poison to the .22’s of that day. Of course, we now know it wasn’t the
powder that caused the trouble, but the priming composition. Be that as it
may, when my father received the rifle back, the bore was ruined. Wanting me
to learn, firsthand, the evils of neglect in the care of firearms, he had me
attempt to clean the rifle. Nothing he could have said would have impressed me
as did this procedure. So much so, that, to this day, I make a point of
thoroughly cleaning my guns following their use, and periodically thereafter.
Following this experience, my father
sent the Winchester Model 1890 rifle to the factory with instructions to
replace the barrel with a new standard barrel, and further, to go through the
entire rifle and replace any parts as needed and otherwise put it in like new
condition. When the rifle was returned by the Winchester people, my father
gave it to me. Since then it has remained my favorite.22 Rimfire rifle for
hunting. Over the years, it ha brought to bag many cottontail rabbits and such
pests as magpies, snakes, etc., around the Ranch. This is the rifle I learned
to shoot with. It will still drive tacks at 50 feet, and altogether, I have a
great fondness for it. It has served me well. A fitting representative of the
accuracy, sturdy reliability and neat design that I have found in all of
Winchester products. In all fields of human activity there seems to be a
certain product that stands above all others – in the rifle field that one
is – Winchester. At least that has been my experience over years of shooting
many types of rifles.
I spent my 14th birthday with
my parents on the Island of Cuba (pre-Castro) in the West Indies. While in
Cuba, I had the opportunity to engage in considerable shooting, mostly with
the Parker Bros. 12-gauge double. Using it to bag many wild guineas which were
quite numerous in some areas at the time. I also did considerable hunting (at
least one day a week) with the Parker – using buckshot loads on deer and
round ball loads on wild hogs, there being no closed season on any of this
game during the time I spent there. Incidentally, the shotgun loads I just
mentioned – the field loads of No. 6 shot, the buckshot loads and the round
ball loads were loaded by myself and were the first ammunition I had ever
loaded. As I recall, it was necessary to spend at least two evenings prior to
each hunt to load enough shells for the proposed day’s sport, as I had only
the simplest hand tools for the job. But, I learned a lot and what a thrill it
was to bag the game with shells I had loaded myself!
During my residence in Cuba I also had
the opportunity to shoot the Model 1903 Springfield .30-06 rifle. It came
about in this way: On several hunts, both for deer and wild hogs, a couple of
Rurales (Cuban police) joined us. They were armed with the ’03 Springfield
rifles and 150 grain, full-jacketed bullet loads and were quite willing for me
to try the combination out, both at targets and on game. I recall one of them
tying an empty .30-06 cartridge case to a branch of a shrub and asking me to
try hitting it. And hit I did, after firing a clip of cartridges to "get
the feel" of the rifle. I earned too, that I had better keep my right
thumb straight along the right side of the stock it I didn’t want a bloody
On one hunt after wild hogs I had the
opportunity to use the .30-06, when the hounds brought a large boar to bay. I
shot him in the ear. Most any gun would have done the job as well in this
instance, even my little Model 1890 .22 Short, which we used so much to drop
stock when butchering, My father had taught me that the proper way to shoot
butcher stock was to draw an imaginary cross (X) on the animal’s forehead by
drawing said line from the right ear to the left eye, and another from the
left ear to the right eye, and where these two lines would cross (forming the
X) was the exact spot to hit with the bullet. This will put any animal down,
and then it should be "stuck" and bled out immediately. On butcher
stock this always gave the best meat as it would be well bled out; no meat
would be destroyed and the meat would keep better. But this should not be done
with a heavy caliber; heavily loaded; as the bullet would then penetrate back
into the animal ruining much good meat.
I also shot several deer with the .30-06
and the same full-jacketed bullets. Not the best for game shooting,
admittedly, but they seemed to get the job done satisfactorily. Since then I
have paid little attention when someone would "chant" about the
evils of using full-jacketed bullets on game animals. I used them with good
effect then (and other times later), and if nothing better was available,
would use them again. However, my experience over the years has taught me how
to alter these full-jacketed bullets into first-class hunting bullets, so if
time permitted, I would now so alter such bullets before I used them on big
Most of the game I hunted in Cuba,
however, was brought down with the 12-gauge Parker gun, using No. 6 shot on
the birds, and either buckshot or a round "punkin" ball on the deer,
and the ball on wild hogs, All of this ammo that I used, was loaded by myself
as mentioned above. Components were all bought locally, with the Winchester
Ranger shells, wads and primers being imported from the States, while the shot
and powder came from Spain. The balls were molded on the Plantation from lead
In this hunting of both deer and wild
hogs, packs of hounds were used to drive the game in the jungles, the hunters
being placed on "stands". The jungle growth was so thick that
otherwise, the hunter would never have a chance at seeing game, and one had to
get his shot off "muy pronto".
The Rurales (police) "frowned"
upon the idea of me packing a handgun of any kind but I had the use of several
nevertheless. I became acquainted with a couple of Rurales who kind of
"adopted" me (and El Jefe, who looked the other way. Thus I was able
to get familiar with the side arms they carried: the .45ACP. (Remember: I was
only 14 years of age). I shot several wild boars with the .45 ACP, but, that
was nothing to get excited about since the hogs were brought to bay by the
hounds; a heavy load was not really necessary.
Also in the handgun category I became
acquainted with two Americans who had taken up permanent residence there and
who had large land holdings. Since they were both avid hunters also, we got
along well. They both packed sixguns every day: Clyde Jewett using a Colt New
Service, with the .38 Special on the .45 caliber frame. He used the heaviest
.38 Special loads he could get, but he was not a reloader.
My other hunter friend of those days was
Sumner Pingree who grew up on a large cattle ranch in Camaguey Province. He
learned the cattle business from A to Z and later obtained a large tract of
land in the eastern part of Cuba -–Oriente Province. Sumner preferred the
Colt Single Action Army model. He had three different calibers in these,
.32-20, .38 Special and .45 Long Colt. As he explained it to me; he found the
.32-20 somewhat on the light side for general use and preferred the .38
Special in heavy loads. But, when he traveled deep into the jungle where he
might have need for a heavier load, he would choose the SAA in the .45 Long
Colt caliber. He never took a rifle with him. Sumner also was not a reloader.
Both men packed their sixguns in open – top holsters with leather thong over
the hammer spur.
On those "social" occasions
when, for obvious reasons, it was inadvisable to carry one of the bigger guns,
they used their "hideaway" gun. Clyde carried a small .25 ACP which
even he admitted might not be adequate in an emergency, but he couldn’t
speak from experience. It didn’t appeal to me either, so I gave it
"short shift". However, Sumner’s hideaway was a light frame Colt
D. A. with 2" barrel and the grip cut down. It had a length of only about
6" over all and weighed only a little over a pound. It fired the .38
Spec. cartridge so it was a fairly potent package. When he could wear a coat,
he carried it in a shoulder holster, but, at other times, he carried it in a
small belt holster.
I was, indeed, most fortunate in having
the opportunity to use these guns of my friends. We engaged in informal target
practice and had several hunts after the wild hogs were I had some good shoots
to bag a number of these critters. I owe a lot to these men as they were the
ones who actually get me interested and started on the trail to sixgun
hunting. They put a fever in my bolld that nothing since has been able to
Before closing my remarks on this first
Cuban experience, I would like to describe a couple of other incidents, not
directly related to guns, but distinctly a part of my life.
From early boyhood I had wanted to be a
"cowboy", so when an opportunity came along to become one while
residing there, I jumped at the chance. So for several months I was in the
saddle all day and every day, riding line most of the time, but also rounding
up horses and mules, stock cattle and oxen (most of the heavy hauling was done
It was on one of these rides that an
interesting incident occurred. I was riding along the trail which at a certain
point passed under a tree; the lowest branch of which would barely clear a
horse’s head. But, upon approaching the tree, my mount shied away and
refused to proceed. While I was trying to get Jeff to take the trail (there
was no other way to go unless I turned back down the way I had come), I
studied that tree for anything unusual. Finally, I thought I saw the limb move
and then looking closer, saw it was a large snake (Boa Constrictor) looped
around a limb. I didn’t have a gun with me (and it was sure badly missed),
but I did have a long Machete on the saddle. (Everyone carried a Machete when
riding in those jungles). I drew my blade and finally persuaded Jeff to get me
close enough to take a long swing at it. It’s head hung down below the
branch and my swing took its head off as clean as whistle. Its convulsions
soon had it on the ground and as soon as I could I skinned it out for a
trophy. It skinned out to some 8 feet long and 6 inches wide. When I returned
to the Home Corrals, I showed it to my friend Sumner and he was quite
impressed and promised to send the skin to a tannery in Guantanomo. When it
was returned to me, I displayed it in the Lobby of the American Club where I
lived at the time. Later, when I returned to the States I was able to get the
skin through Customs and I still have it – displayed on the wall of my Den.
Following the above incident and in
talking with my friend, I remarked that I should have had a sixgun to take
that Boa. He agreed and said he would take care of it. Next morning he met me
at the Corral before I rode out with a little Colt Army Special in .32-20
caliber and a box of ammo for it. But, no holster. He said it wouldn’t do to
be caught packing the gun on me. He said, "keep it in your saddle bags
and then it a Rurale meets you, you wouldn’t get in trouble". Out of
sight, out of mind, I reckon. I carried that fine little gun for the rest of
the time I rode for the outfit, and I used it. My friend was quite liberal
with the ammo supply.
I certainly had some varied experiences
during this period of my life. So many, they would fill a book. But, because
of space limitations I can not cover them here. One other incident, however,
even thought also not connected with guns, I must mention. If even just to
indicate how really varied my life then was.
One day after I had been riding for the
outfit for some eight months, the Boss called me into the Office and said they
had a problem. It seemed that the Sugar Corporation had lost their locomotive
fireman and could I pinch hit until another fireman could be brought down from
the States? I hesitated as I was pretty well satisfied with my riding job and
the opportunity to keep that .32-20 smoking. But finally, after being promised
a big increase in wages, who could turn it down? Engineer Goodrich kind of
"took me under his wing", so to speak, and proceeded to teach me
some of the many aspects of railroading. Maybe you don’t know how thrilling
it is to ride a buckin’ 40 ton Baldwin locomotive down a narrow pair of
tracks at dawn with a long line of sugar cane cars strung out behind you! We
were told to keep that cane coming – and that we did!
It was during this period that I
contracted Malaria. Despite all the quinine I could take, I couldn’t break
its hold on me, so, as soon as a replacement fireman arrived (some months
later), I decided to leave Cuba and return to the States, hoping to stamp the
disease out of my system.
After returning to the states, taking up
residence at Longmont, Colorado, (where my parents resided), I continued my
shooting and experimenting. Wanting to do some black powder shooting, I
obtained a Colt Model 1860 Cap & Ball sixgun in .44 caliber. I was only 16
at the time, but I did much shooting with this gun and learned a lot
Soon after I had settled at Longmont, I
met an old cowboy – Shorty James – who had rode for ranchers all over
Eastern Colorado. He now was ranching for himself and had a small spread West
of town, out in the foothills.
Shorty was a real sixgunner and he
packed an old "Peacemaker" in .45 LC every day when he was on his
Ranch. He had quite a collection of the old Colts in various calibers, but the
.45LC was his favorite. So he proceeded to convince me that I should make it
mine also. He shot mostly blackpowder loads, reloading his own using the load
"Ideal" tools. Much of what I have learned about loading and using
blackpowder was gained from his unselfish teaching and coaching. I had
returned to school but spent every weekend and the summer vacation months with
him learning the many jobs on a working Cow Ranch - building and repairing
fences, corrals, sheds and other buildings; putting up hay; branding;
dehorning and vaccinating calves, etc., etc., and hunting and shooting at
every opportunity. Hard work, but, a lot of fun along with it.
Perhaps some who read this may be
interested in a few of the "kinks" in using blackpowder that were
passed on to me. (Others, of course, always have the opportunity to
"skip" over them if they so desire. But, not experiencing the
pleasures of shooting blackpowder will cause one to miss a lot in this grand
game of shooting).
For the 1860 Army Model .44 and charge
of 20 grains FFg was recommended for a steady diet at targets and such small
game we had in the area. And if I ever wanted to use this gun on heavier game
– such as deer – a somewhat heavier charge would be advisable, in fact,
one could safely use all the FFg blackpowder the chambers would hold and still
seat the bullet.
Pure lead was mostly used for these
bullets, but he found that a mixture of 1 part tin to 25 parts lead would
produce a bullet of about the proper temper. In the old days, a lubricated wad
between bullet and powder charge was rarely, if ever, used. However, a well
lubricated wad of felt placed between powder and bullet will cut down on
powder fouling. The wads are cut with a .45 caliber wadcutter, from hat felt,
or similar material, which had been soaked in a hot mixture of 1 part beeswax
to 2 parts tallow.
Another stunt to cut down on powder
fouling (blackpowder must be compressed) is to use yellow corn meal over the
powder. After loading the reduced charge of FFg, follow with the cornmeal,
leaving room to seat the bullet. This cuts down on fouling and the corn oil in
the meal gives some lubrication.
In some of the smaller calibers, powder
of a finer granulation – say – FFFg will perform more satisfactorily, as
it burns quickly and is entirely consumed before leaving the barrel. Before
loading, run a copper wire of the proper diameter through each tube on the
sixgun to make sure that each is clear.
If the screws that hold the trigger
guard and back strap to the frame loosen, remove each screw, put a drop or two
of linseed oil on the threads and set up snugly. The oil will congeal,
effectively preventing the screws from loosening, yet they may be removed at
will with a heavy screwdriver of the proper size and shape.
After several years of this idyllic life
and having completed High School, I had to look for a full-time job. As fate
would have it, about this time, I received a letter from My old friend of
Cuban days, Sumner Pingree. In it he said that the Sugar Corporation there had
been reorganized with him as President and General Manager and would I come
down and join him. Well, the school was over, it seemed that I had pretty well
licked the Malaria, the salary offered was great, and I was 18 and out of a
job! So what could I lose? So soon I was on my way South.
I was asked to take the position of
Livestock Manager which kept me busy and most interesting work it was – all
except the daily reports I had to make – sometimes writing them up until 10
P.M. But, on week-ends – that was set aside for hunting. And hunting we did
– the Boss wouldn’t let anything interfere with that! We hunted deer, wild
hogs with the hounds and occasionally I was able to slip out for a short shoot
My old friend had advised me not to
attempt to bring any firearms with me from the States, but he had, in his own
collection, enough to take care of my requirements. I chose a fine Fox
Sterlingworth double, in 12 gauge, with 28" barrels bored Modified and
Full. It fitted me better than some of the others in my friend’s collection.
I used factory loaded upland game loads with size #6 shot, imported form the
In hunting deer and wild hogs, I chose
to pack a .45LC in the Colt SAA. The cartridges were all factory loads (also
from the States) as my friend he just didn’t have the time for reloading.
Since I didn’t have the spare time either, I had to take the easy way out
and use what I could get in the way of ammo.
After two years of residence, I had a
severe attack of Malaria, which may have been a recurrence of my previous
trouble with it. Finally, it became so severe that I came to the conclusion
that the Tropics were no place for a White Man to live in indefinitely, so I
decided to return to the States permanently and try to forget the lure of the
Returning to Longmont, Colorado, I spent
the next several months under the best medical care I could get, fighting the
Malarial I looked up my old friend, Shorty, and spent as much time with him as
possible, working, riding, shooting. I think that last did me more good than
all the medicine I had to take.
By the following Spring, I felt
recovered enough to take a "scouting" trip to the South-central part
of the state, on the look-out for a ranching location. I found what I liked in
the Northwest corner of the San Luis Valley and returned home to talk it over
with my father. He liked the idea so as soon as he could get away for a few
weeks we left for the Valley. Since the location looked good to him, we
obtained 1500 acres of ranching land there. During the following months, I
hauled several loads of belonging (including my guns!) to the Ranch and
started "Batching", my parents continuing to live at their Longmont
During the next several years I
continued to build up our herd of cattle, and, along with fence building and
repairs and, that too of corrals, buildings, etc., occupied me – except for
hunting and fishing.
In the decade following, I traded,
bought and borrowed every kind of gun, rifle, shotgun and handgun that I could
get my hands on. These were all put through their paces, principally with
reloads (using factory loads for "controls") ever experimenting to
find my "ideal" gun. I never did determine, to my satisfaction,
which was the best gun, but did learn they all had some advantages, and
some disadvantages, as compared to others. The principal criterion I used was:
"What particular use do I want the gun for?" Of course, there are
some guns which can be used fairly well for several different jobs, especially
with handloads, but there is always one use to which they are best adapted.
Thus, I was never much of a "on-gun" hunter, but rather preferred to
find the gun best adapted, under my conditions, for the specific kind of
hunting I wanted to do at the time and then I chose that gun. Consequently, my
gun collection, or "battery" has been larger than many other hunters
would care to have.
As the newer calibers, and the guns for
them came on the market, I tried them out to determine how well they were
fitted to my kind of hunting. Most of them were traded off, or sold outright,
a few others were added to my collection and still fewer became my favorites.
During this period of time, it was my
custom to spend Christmas with my parents who were still residing in Longmont.
I recall one Christmas day when Dad and I went out on our usual cottontail
rabbit hunt some miles West of town. He used the Parker 12 gauge double while
I used a beautiful little Parker 28 gauge double with 26" barrels (both
barrels ½ choke). I had a couple of boxes of (21/4 – dram, ¾ - oz. #7 ½
shot) shells. Man, it was heaven! I found I was shooting the sweetest little
cottontail gun I had ever had in my hands. The way it rolled those bunnies was
a revelation. I had borrowed this gun from a friend of my father for this hunt
and he wouldn’t sell it. I wouldn’t have either after I found out how it
shot for me.
On another hunt I went out with Father
to the Briggsdale country North-east of Longmont, where we tackled the
jackrabbits there. Dad used the 12 gauge Parker, while I used an old Parker 10
gauge double in which I shot heavy loads of blackpowder behind #5 shot. These
were some old loads I had picked up. I had the time of my life shooting this
old blackpowder gun. It was deadly on those jacks. There were always several
jacks in gun range all the time and as I shot until my shoulder said,
"Enough"! These hunts were repeated for some years, until my Father
having retired; my parents moved down to the Ranch.
Going back to the years when I first
settled on the Ranch; my Father bought a new Colt .22LR Woodsman pistol, along
with 1000 rounds of Super-X H.P. ammo and "gave me my orders" to,
"thin out these prairie dogs or you won’t have any grass left for your
cattle", I proceeded to do just that, not only with the 1000 rounds but
several 1000’s after them.
Provided a good solid hit was made in
the forequarters of the sod-poodles, a kill was made with the Long Rifle
Hollow-points. But, I reckon I got too confident and started to take shots at
them running. Sometimes, I (accidentally) hit them in the head and anchored
them before they were able to get to the safety of their holes, but that was
not always a sure thing with me.
One of the cowpokes on a Ranch some 10
miles South of me wanted a pair of fancy chaps more than he wanted his sixgun,
so I traded him a pair of exhibition chaps for an almost new Colt Single
Action Army sixgun in .32-20 caliber with 7 ½" barrel complete with
holster to fit, cartridge belt and a box of factory cartridges with the 115
grain jacketed soft-point bullet. I had a great time using this gun on jacks
and coyotes but, with the factory loads, it was a little more than necessary
for the dogs.
Obtaining a Winchester "tong"
reloading tool for the .32-20 and a bullet mould for the #3118 bullet from
Bill Sprague of Portland, Oregon, I soon had a bunch of bullets run and loaded
my .32-20 cases with all the FFg blackpowder they would hold and still seat
the bullet lubricated with a 50-50 mixture of beeswax and tallow. This made a
good load for prairie dogs, but very foul burning.
I then went back to my old cornmeal
technique – using only 15 grains of FFg and balance of the load with
cornmeal. This shot much cleaner and appeared to be equal in power of loads,
with a straight 20 grains FFg. For a light load I used 10 grains FFg and
balance of case filled with cornmeal. This mow made the .32-20 fine for
prairie dogs – much better than any .22 in the sixgun.
When using my .32-20 rifle (Model 1892
Win.) on coyotes, I preferred using factory smokeless loads behind the 80
grain Open-point bullet. This load was quite affective out to 150 yards or so,
but it wasn’t necessary for the smaller stuff. And for jacks, I preferred my
reloads using either my ‘cornmeal" load previously mentioned or, using
smokeless powder primers, I loaded 3.0 grains DuPont #80 smokeless powder
against the primer, then 15.0 grains FFg black with the 115 grain cast lead
bullet (#3118). This load made a full power load for the .32-20 and was even
cleaner shooting than the cornmeal load. For full power loads in either rifle
or sixgun, I preferred it; but in the midrange and low power range, I liked
the "Smudgeless cornmeal loads best.
With the .45LC sixgun, I used a
smudgeless load of 30.0 grains FFg and balance of load cornmeal behind the
#454190 bullet. This made a good load for jacks. I obtained a sixgun from R.T.
Frazer of Pueblo, Colorado. (They were well known over the West for many years
for their fine leather work). This made a good outfit for an everyday
"Ranch gun". I packed it whenever I went out on the Ranch and took a
shot at everything I jumped.
About this time, on a trip to Denver, I
stopped in to visit with Dave Cook, sporting goods dealer. Dave carried a huge
stock of guns of all kinds along with reloading components of every kind and
description. I spent many an interesting hour with him discussing our grand
old game of guns and shooting. On this occasion, I was able to get a Model
1895 Winchester in .30-06 caliber. Learning that Dave had some surplus
military .30-06 ammo at a bargain price, I bought 500 rounds of it for some
experiments I wanted to make in altering the jacketed bullets for use on game.
Later, I altered the bullets by filing
with a thin file, (a jeweler’s hacksaw is better), 3 notches in the nose of
the bullet jacket. I made these notches 3/16" back from the point at
right angles to the bullet and just short of connecting with each other and
just through the jacket at the center of the notch, leaving a little of the
jacket solid between the ends of the notches. After testing some 25 loads at
the bench rest. I found that they shot as accurately as before and they fed
through the magazine good. I shot quite a few coyotes with this altered bullet
and found they gave prompt execution. Also using this bullet in the same Model
’95 Win., I shot my first, real good Mule Deer head. All in all, it was a
good combination of rifle and load.
I shot the Model 1894 Winchester in
.25-35 caliber and found it fairly accurate – at least enough so for hunting
purposes for which it was designed. It would make a good gun for jacks and
coyotes, but, I consider it too light for Mule Deer, the principal use I
wanted it for. I found in shooting that there was considerable horizontal
dispersion in a brisk cross wind such as we usually have here with the 87
grain bullet. On calm day, however, it gave a good account of itself on small
game. The 117 grain bullet would be best for deer. However, I found it too
light for my use so I passed it up. As our old friend Keith was wont to say
about these light guns, "It has neither the velocity, nor the caliber,
nor the weight of bullet, any one of which would make it a better
Through the efforts of several
cowpuncher friends who, knowing of my hobby of experimenting and shooting
various guns all types and calibers, I was able to locate many that would
otherwise never be available to me. As a result of this, I was able to have
the opportunity of testing guns I would have had to purchase first. In this
manner I obtained for testing several of the Savage lever action rifles in
several different calibers. I know a lot of hunters who think these rifles are
the finest every made. However, my trials of them failed to convince me of
In the shotgun category, my favorites
have long been the doubles. I have shot a lot of them in testing for patterns,
upland game, ducks, geese and some big game such as deer and wild hogs, as
previously mentioned. All in all, I consider the shotgun a most versatile
In testing the shotguns, I used the idea
of super-imposing an outline (life-size) of either a rabbit, dove or a duck
(depending upon the type of load being tested) on the 2 foot square of paper
used for patterning in the center. With the duck target, I shot from 40 yards,
with the dove from 30 yards and with the rabbit from 20 yards. After firing at
the game size pattern, a sheet of heavy plastic (2’ x 2’), marked off to
contain 64 3" squares, is super-imposing over the pattern and the number
of hits per square, the number on the "game" and how many is readily
seen. A minimum of 3 hits per 3" square on the game is needed for a
At one time I experimented with the idea
of developing "sub-loads" for my big game rifles for use as grouse
and rabbit loads when deer hunting . This was before I learned that when one
was hunting deer, he shouldn’t "monkey" with grouse or rabbits.
Anyway, taking the Krag .30-40 rifle as an example, I obtained a supplemental
chamber to use the .32 S&W cartridge in. This worked good, especially if
loaded with a good flat-point bullet for pot shooting grouse, rabbits and
similar game. The factory loaded round-point can be greatly improved for game
shooting by giving the bullet a flat point, a practice I follow with all
round-point factory loads I use in sixguns for game. I do this by filing off 8
or 10 grains of the round nose, making it a plat-point bullet. When
"flatting" the bullet in this way, care should be taken to have the
flat as nearly level or "true" as possible. The best way to do this
is to use a "jig" such as has been developed by my good friend,
Allen Taylor. This works especially well with the .22 Long Rifle rimfires for
use in both rifle and sixgun. I find them better than hollow points for small
I mentioned using the .30-30 Krag. I
found the .30-40 cartridge a very good big game load, especially with the 220
grain bullet (when I could connect). I tried several
"run-of-the-mill" Krags but never could get the accuracy I wanted
out of them. There must have been some good Krags worked over by custom
gunsmiths that were good accurate hunting guns as they were popular at one
time. I heard that Winchester made a few Model 54’s in the .30-40, but none
of them ever came my way. Also the Model 1895 Win. Was made in this caliber
for awhile. All in all, I have a lot of respect for that good .30-40 cartridge
– like the .30-06.
As one of the "giants" of the
past, Colonel Townsend Whelan has said, "The .30-06 is never a mistake.
This has been my experience with this cartridge and its many different
loadings with bullets of many different types and weights from 74 grains to
250 grains. Much could be said about this cartridge and the rifles it can be
fired in but space limitations again prevent my doing so at this time.
Early in my life I was fortunate to
obtain a .33 Win. In the Model 1886 Winchester rifle. This rifle handled so
well and gave such excellent results on all of our big game that I used it for
years, only laying it aside for its great successor – the Model 71
Winchester or the .348 Win. Cartridge. For a timber rifle, the Model 71
can’t be beat. For that type of shooting it is easily my favorite to this
day. (webmasters note: after Robert passed away I
obtained the Model 71 from Mrs. Smythe. Robert has purchased it new in
During my Marine experience, I became
familiar with most of the small arms with which the Corps were equipped at the
time. Here I will mention but two, the famous Garand (semi-automatic) .30-06
rifle M1 and the Marine’s long time favorite – the .45ACP. With the rifle,
I made Expert, (this rating gave me a $5.00 per month bonus in my pay), while
with the Colt Model 1911 pistol, I fired a 91 percent score to tie the record
fired on the Pistol Range at Camp Mathews.
These, (and other) experienced with the
.30-06 cartridge and the .45ACP purposes for which they were designed to be
used, they were "tops" in the Marine armament. I used them
effectively then and I consider them most effective now. May I repeat Colonel
Whelan’s pronouncement, "The .30-06 is never a mistake. The .45ACP, in
the Colt pistol, for combat or personal defense is also, never a mistake
After leaving active duty in the Marine
Corps, I returned to my old "stamping grounds", Heart Bar Ranch,
where I resumed my ranching operations, my experimenting and hunting
activities. While not dropping all of my blackpowder shooting, my
experimenting now turned more and more to smokeless powder and more powerful
loads, especially for use in sixguns for hunting game – both small and big
game up to Mule Deer, Elk and Bear.
Over the years and now from time to
time, I do a lot of shooting with the .22 rimfires and the smaller .32 center
fires. I still have a fondness for my old friend, the .32-20 and have
developed some good loads for the same.
In working up some heavy loads with
smokeless powder in the .32-20 caliber, I have had trouble with the inherent
weakness of the cases in this caliber. To overcome this, I got a bunch of .32
semi-rimmed, and full-length resized them for use in my .32-20 sixguns.
One of the best bullets for heavy
smokeless loads in the .32-20 is the old 80 grain jacketed open-point which I
open up to 1/8" cavity, 3/8" deep, which cuts the weight to 76
grains. This bullet ahead of 3.5 grs. Bullseye gives fine accuracy and great
killing power; gives one shot kills on jacks, but is a maximum load. A maximum
load of 6.0 gr. Unique has been used, also 9.0 gr. Of #2400, but as a rule
these loads do not burn cleanly. However, with a light booster priming charge
of FFg blackpowder, with a decrease in the main charge load. (These old 80
grain jacketed bullets are no longer on the market but, although I have not
used them as yet, I see no reason why the light bullets for the new .32 Magnum
would not work as well).
With full power loads the .38 Special
has some advantage over the .32-20. In performance and in light loads, the
difference is slight. From a reloading standpoint, the .32 Special has the
edge as it is a straight sided case, while the slight bottle-neck of the
.32-20 creates some difficulties. In applying my "duplex" loading to
the .38 Special, the same procedure is followed as for the .32-20. The same
for the .357 Magnum.
The heaviest loads for the .357 Mag are
obtained with #2400 powder. I never use over 14.0 grs. And 12.0 grs. Is a
better and much safer load. After testing several different bullets in the
.357, I have settled on the Ideal #358345, which casts out at 125 grains. I
use this bullet for all of my cast bullet loads in the .357 Mag. And .38 Spec.
With the #358345 bullet, for heavy
loads, I use either 12.0 grains #2400 or 6.0 grains Unique. All bullets size
to .358". These loads average 4" at 50 yards in my guns.
Lead-alloy bullets of 125 to 160 grains
weight can be used with 3.0 to 3.5 grains of Bullseye, (the heaviest loads
with the lightest bullets). All bullets sized to .358". The case is
straight-sided and easy to reload for a gallery, basement of other indoor use
with a round ball (size 000) or buckshot .358" to .360" and a charge
of 2.5 grs. Weight of Bullseye. However, for this I would prefer a charge of
3.0 grs. Bullseye under Allen Taylor’s "Slip-in" bullet.
Any 120 to 160 grain .358" bullet
can be used with the comparatively weak load of 6.0 grs. #2400 powder, but
performs better if a booster priming charge of 3.0 grs. FFFg blackpowder is
added next to the primer. Using the same gun I did some group shooting with
9.0 grs. #2400, using different bullets, cases and primers, without any
appreciable change in impact at 25 yards. Results also improved when the
booster of 3.0 grs. FFg blackpowder was used. Although #2400 powder burns best
at higher pressures than that developed by these loads, the groups were
consistently good and I scored above 80 on the Standard American target. I
used any make .357 or .38 Spec. Case I had on hand, an any pistol or rifle
primer that would fit the case. (I call it my "Clean Up" load). Yet
the loads grouped consistently good. The load did so well I tried it at 50
yards for impact and core. The impact was 5" above point of aim at 50
yards, which was favorable for a 6 o’clock hold and I got offhand scores of
88 and 83 on the S.A. target.
On jackrabbits I found the .357 Mag. to
be inferior in killing power to the larger bores but superior to the .38 Spec.
and smaller sixgun calibers.
With the .38 Special, on one hunt, I had
a 2-neck-hit kills out of 10 shots. The other 8 shots included 3 missed, 2
visible hits which escaped and 3 paunch-hit jacks which were recovered. (With
the .32-20 sixgun, I had better results on 3 jacks out of 6 shots. The other 3
shots were misses and 2 of the kills were paunch hits). With the .357 Mag., I
got 7 jacks out of 19 shots, all within 50 yards. With the factory (.357 load)
I had 5 misses and 3 neck hit hills and 2 paunch hits which did not kill. With
my handloads, I had 3 misses and 4 clean kills, of which 3 were paunch hits. I
had 2 paunch or rear-end hits which did not kill.
With all sixgun loads, it is very
important that they be used with the bullets sized right for the individual
guns and not more than .001" over groove diameter in the .401 Mag., .44
Spec., .44 Mag. or .45 Colt barrels and the cylinder throats must be large
enough to allow the sized bullets to pass through easily by hand.
In concluding my remarks on the .357
Magnum, I would add that I do not believe it advisable to hunt big game of the
kind we have here in Colorado with the .357 Mag. For the smaller Eastern game,
it may be just the thing, but this is beyond the realms of my own experience.
We come now, in my brief remarks of some
of the sixgun calibers I have used, to a caliber that is not familiar to most
sixgunners. It is a caliber that should have never been allowed to become
obsolete, in my humble opinion. I have reference to the .401 Magnum (Herter
I realize that some enthusiastic
supporters of the .41 Mag., will likely berate me for even mentioning the two
in the same breath, but, this sketch is supposed to be about my own
experiences and I would be less than honest if I neglected to give those
experiences, especially so when they pertain to the .401 Mag., so much more
than to the .41 Mag. I will leave any differences to be pointed out by those
thoroughly familiar with the .41 Mag.
The .401 Mag. uses a case of the same
length as the .357 and .44 Magnums, with a velocity (with 180 grain,
soft-point jacketed bullets in factory loads), of about 1500 fps. With
lead-alloy and short (half) jacketed bullets in full loads, a velocity of
sound or near 1100 fps for cast and about 1400 fps for the half-jacket bullets
is near maximum. Factory loads gave an average of about 35,000 pounds
pressure. It is necessary that this cartridge be used in a heavy (.44 Mag.)
frame in sixguns. Recoil is some what lighter than that of the .44 Magnum.
I tried the Magnums up to 500 yards. My
misses were all high until I cut down the amount of front sight held up over
the rear sight bar in my sight picture. At 200 yards, I tried several 5 gallon
cans, having little trouble in hitting them once I found out how little front
sight to hold up. The .401 Mag. is much more powerful than the .357 Mag., Cuts
a larger hole and throws more lead. Report and muzzle blast is, of course,
sharp and fairly heavy with both the .401 and .44 Magnums.
Any bullet up to 200 grains (180 gr. Is
preferable), that can be sized to .403", will be found useful in the .401
Mag. The bullet I have used most is Ideal #40188, 180 grs. It is well adapted
for all loads up to 1200fps.
Hercules Unique power is, in a way,
unique in that it is one of the most versatile of all propellants. Unique can
be used for loading every – thing from the smallest to the largest cases
(rifle or handgun), even finding its way into certain loads for shotguns. With
a load of 12.0 grains Unique and the 180 gr. Half-jacket bullet (.403"),
I got 1400 fps. Although in my tests, no signs of excessive pressure were
noted, this load should be regarded as near maximum.
Bullseye powder, also of Hercules make,
has its distinction too. While not as versatile as Unique, it is capable of
producing more reloads per pound of powder simply because it is loaded in
substantially smaller charges. Cutting the Unique charge weight in half, I
settled on a load of 6.0 grains of Bullseye and the 180 grain half-jacket
bullet. Velocities with this load run about 1100 fps and it is both easy
shooting and accurate. Dropping to #30188 cast bullet at 600 fps for a good
A good general purpose hunting load with
target accuracy is the 180 gr. #40188 bullet ahead of 9.0 grs. #2400 powder,
but better results were obtained when a booster of 3.0 grs. FFFg blackpowder
was loaded as a priming charge. In this same sixgun, with a load of 12.0 grs.
#2400, I did some good shooting. Here again, results improved when the booster
of 3.0 grs. FFFg black was used. I have scored 95x100 at 25 yards with it. I
killed a migpie in a tree some 60 yards away and 14 jacks up to 50 yards with
this load. I also had 6 misses and 3 no kill hits (2nd shot
necessary) up to 140 yards. In all, I killed 85 jacks with this load during my
The maximum, full power, .401 Mag.
factory load was 20.0 gra. #2400, giving 1500 fps. My full-power load is 18.0
grs. Behind the 180 pr. Semi-wadcutter, soft-point, jacketed, bullet. This
load can also be used with the 180 gr. Half-jacket bullet as before noted for
the load of 12.0 grs. Unique. Both of these loads give about 1400 fps and
should be regarded as near maximum. They should NOT be exceeded by the
A good medium-power (Mid-range) load is
a charge of 8.0 grs. Unique behind the #40188 180 gr. bullet. Two loads, also
of moderate power, which I have found quite useful are: 3.5 grs. also 4.0 grs.
Bullseye works good, with the #40188 bullet. If a supply of Herco Shotgun
powder is available, 6.0 grs. is a good load – same bullet.
For light loads: the #40188 bullet with
from 2.0 to 3.0 grs. Bullseye works good. (The exact charge for these loads
depends a great deal upon just how the individual gun handles them - - - -
keeping in mind always not to exceed maximum pressure levels). A full
charge of FFg Blackpowder behind this #40188 bullet gives about 900 fps
I found that my load of 18.0 grs. #2400
powder behind the 180 grain .401 Mag. bullet, gives at least 25% greater
destructive effect on live targets than the .357 Mag. load. I have never lost
an animal hit with one of these bullets from my .401 Magnum.
In concluding my remarks at this time on
the .401 Magnum, here are the results of its use on several head of big game.
These are all shot with the aforementioned 18.0 grs. #2400 and the 180 gr.
Soft-point, jacketed bullet. Deer – 3 shots: first shot, superficial wound
in flanks, off hand from 75 yards. Second shot through both flanks at 230
paces. Animal put almost down, recovered, when about 200 yards, when down and
waited for finishing shot at 30 yds. Deer – one shot through lungs at 100
yards; went about 300 yards and fell dead. Elk – one shot at 100 yards
through lungs. Turned and went 30 yards. Fell dead. Bullet recovered – upset
to over .50 caliber at nose – about 30 grs. loss weight. Elk – high
shoulder shot passing through both shoulder blades. Second shot in flank.
Animal went down after 400 yards. Finishing shot in the head. Bear – about
115 yards. One shot base of skull. Bear dropped, killed instantly. Bullet
recovered under skin high on opposite shoulder. Upset and distorted by bone.
About 40 grs. loss in weight.
In my experience, this caliber is very
little short of the .44 Mag. in actual killing power, is flatter shooting over
long range, and a bit easier to make hits with. It will also take big game if
it is placed right, yet is not too heavy a caliber to work good on the smaller
game with lighter loads. The .401 Mag., is a very good game cartridge, far
better than the .357 Mag. for such game, in my opinion. If anyone out there in
"sixgun land" has a sixgun made for this .401 Mag. cartridge –
keep it shooting – is my recommendation. I only wish I had known enough to
obtain one of Herter'’ Double Action guns in this same caliber when they
were available. It would have been so much better than any of the .357 Mags in
DA guns that have come along since.
Going up the "power-scale": I
used the .44 Magnum for some time and bagged considerable game with it. I
would be the last one to "down-play", "Maggie", and her
accomplishments as a hunter’s sixgun. Although for my own use (and for many
reasons), I much prefer the .45 Long Colt in a heavy Single Action sixgun, it
would be hard to fault the choice of some other sixgun hunters who prefer the
.44 Magnum as a one-gun choice.
As I have mentioned previously, this
question of caliber, loads, type and make of sixgun, really depends upon the
individual and the kind of country he hunts in. What would be suitable and
preferable for me would not, necessarily, be suitable for another hunter. So
we have to assess all of the factors that might apply to our use of the gun
and make our choice accordingly.
Getting to some .44 Mag. loads I have
used; the target load is 4.0 grs. of Bullseye behind the 240 gr. Ideal Keith
#429421 bullet. The velocity of this light load is about 600 fps. I have made
some good scores with this load. At 50 yards offhand, I scored (lowest) 90 x
100 and the highest 97 x 100. This also makes a good game load for rabbits,
grouse, etc., also on such pests as prairie dogs, etc.
For mid-range loads (all with the
#429421 240 gr. Bullet), 4.5 grs. Bullseye is good, also 6.0 grs. to 10.0 grs.
Unique. Using Unique behind this bullet, 6.0 grs. gives about 760 fps at
13,000 pounds pressure; 9.0 grs. gives 1030 at 17,000 pounds and 10.0 grs.
1100 fps at 20,000 pounds.
Going up the scale, another good load in
the .44 Mag. is my .401 Mag., duplex load, but behind the 240 gr. #429421
bullet, i.e., 3.0 grs. FFFg black as a priming (booster) charge and 12.0 grs.
#2400 smokeless powder. This load will give about 1200 fps at 20,000 pounds
pressure. Using this load, I have put 10 shots in 3.50" at 50 yards from
rest. For comparison, the factory "control" loads made offhand
groups just over 5.0" at 50 yards. From rest, the factory loads put 10
shots in 4.0" at 50 yards.
I use the .44 Mag. occasionally, if only
to compare its performance with my favorite – the .45 Long Colt. Even that
shooting of the .44 Mag. has been gradually diminishing now that so many
improvements in .45LC guns and new heavy loads have been developed over the
past several years. As has been so aptly said by friend John Taffin, "The
.45 Colt is once again the King of the Sixgun Cartridges". My own
experience with the .45LC (Old "Elsie") convinces me of the
truthfulness of that statement. To date, no other caliber has given me the
performance on game that it has. The old saying (while not with in ken of my
own experience) that, "The .45LC is good for anything from mice to
elephants", does indicate its versatility.
Getting to the loads I am now using in
my .45’s; for plinking and general "fun" shooting, I have found
nothing better than Allen Taylor’s "slip-in" bullet. Ahead of 3.0
grs. to 4.0 grs. Bullseye it is good for targets and plinking, while the same
bullet ahead of 5.0 grs. Bullseye makes a good small game load.
For a mid-range load (all with the Keith
#454424 bullet), 6.0 to 10.0 grs. of Unique (depending upon my needs and guns)
gives good performance on game up to the smaller big game. A load that has
given me good results on deer is the 250 gr. #454424 bullet loaded as follows:
first against the primer load 3.0 FFFg blackpowder as a priming (booster)
charge, then 12.0 grs. Hercules #2400 powder, with the Keith bullet crimped
just below the front band. Use large pistol primers.
I have used the very efficient load of
11.0 grs. of Unique (with large pistol primers) behind the Keith #454424 250
gr. Bullet. Such a load in heavy .45 LC guns, does not have unpleasant recoil
and yet gives adequate power for the lighter big game. At 1100 fps it develops
about 700 pounds energy.
Another load I like for deer is the
.45LC case with Large Pistol Primers and 18.0 grs. #2400 behind the Keith
#454424 bullet in 250 grs. weight. I also like the same bullet over 20.0 grs.
#2400 and LP primer.
After shooting these loads over the
years at targets and such game as Jack-rabbits, I found that hitting game the
size of deer at relatively short ranges was comparatively easy.
My best load (to date) for the heavy
stuff (bear and elk) is one that my friend Jim Taylor developed for his Ruger
.45LC. It uses the #457191 bullet cast of wheel-weights, sized .452" and
heat-treated Rem. Cases sized full-length. Primed with Large Rifle
primers (primer pockets require deepening to fit these). Powder charge is 18.5
grs. #2400 and bullet seated so it will crimp in top grease groove with a
heavy crimp. This load, using rifle primers gives the cleanest burning of any
load of #2400 I have used and is very accurate. In a couple of my guns (heavy
single actions) it gives one-hole groups at 25 yards. It clocks in the
neighborhood of 1200 fps and over 800 pounds of energy.
For just plain "fun-shooting’,
rabbits, prairie dogs, pop-cans, etc. in all guns, I like the following: use
any primer that will fit, any design bullet of desirable shape, of approximate
standard weight for the caliber, having an adequate crimp groove; with #4759
(or Bulk Shotgun Smokeless if you can get it) for priming charge and FFg black
powder for main charge. The priming charge next to the primer. A priming
charge of 3.0 grs. smokeless is sufficient for any load.
Another (Smudgeless) load is: any proper
size primer, a one-half charge, or a ¾ charge of FFg blackpowder and balance
of space (to compress black powder) filled with medium-ground yellow cornmeal.
Allowing sufficient space to seat bullet after compressing the meal. (This
last mentioned type of load is fine for shooting the old blackpowder sixguns
we all have or run into from time to time).
Such loads are easy to assemble. They
give adequate power in each caliber for the purposes designed for, give normal
pressures and are safe to use in any sixgun for which they were chambered.
They shoot practically as clean as any straight smokeless loads, give long
life to the cases, are accurate in most guns, and are more economical to load
than any equivalent power, straight, full smokeless powder loads.
In concluding my remarks on the loads
mentioned in this sketch, please note, I assume the risk and consequences of
only such loads as I have myself assembled.
I trust that this brief biographical
sketch will be found of interest by some and perhaps somewhat useful as well.
It has been with considerable pleasure that I have recalled such experiences
as I have recorded in these pages and it is my hope that you, my readers, may
find them of equal interest.