VOLUME 15----------SEPTEMBER 2003
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
September has arrived! Just a few short weeks until deer season.
Like most areas on the edge of suburbia, our whitetail deer herd is outgrowing its resources. Little Heifer is not at all happy that the deer continue to think of her rosebushes and potted plants as their "resources," especially when they come onto the patios and porches to dine!
Finally, in recognition of the problem, the Department of Fish and Wildlife established a special permit drawing for our hunting unit that allows an extra tag for an antlerless deer. There were 711 applications for 400 available tags. Rick, Ann, and I applied for these tags and we were all 3 drawn. Hopefully, we will have a little "Thinning of the Herd."
In anticipation of the October 11th opener, I have been working on a deer load for my Ruger Vaquero .45 Colt. I have been reading good things about a new hunting bullet developed by Speer specifically for that caliber, and now available in Speer's factory loads, as well as a reloading component. www.speer-bullets.com (Load data for this specific bullet is not available in the latest Speer Reloading Manual #13, but is available on their web site.) The bullet is called the "Gold Dot®," weighs 250 grains, and has a large, deep hollow point design.
My first effort at load development utilized new Starline Brass, CCI 300 Large Pistol Primers, and Hodgdon's H4227 Powder. This combination gave me much wider extreme velocity spreads than I like, so I switched to Ol' Elmer Keith's favorite powder for heavy big bore handgun loads; Alliant's (formerly Hercules) 2400! I'm still not comfortable with printing specific powder charge weights here, so please refer to the Speer data for your loads.
The 2400 powder charge I am using is well under the maximum load shown in the Speer source, and is generating 1080 feet per second from my 5 1/2 inch Vaquero. While it is possible to safely push this bullet to over 1120 fps from my Ruger, the recoil starts to become objectionable, so I settled for the 1080 fps velocity. WARNING - Do not try to get these velocities from a Colt SAA or one of its clones! The Speer data I'm referring to was developed specifically for stronger firearms such as Ruger, Freedom Arms, and Thompson Center, and should not be used in firearms of weaker design!
I am confident I can put one of these loads into the "boiler room" on a deer sized animal at 50 yards or less, so will limit myself to that distance with a classic broadside presentation. Will let you know how it works out.
Back in June, I reported on a shooting session that tried out a couple of new rifles. Mine was a Marlin Cowboy lever action in .44-40, and our Son, Rick had just acquired a Marlin Model 1894 in .41 Remington Magnum.
As reported, the .41 Mag would hardly stay on the paper at 25 yards with either Remington Factory Loads with 170 grain jacketed bullets, or handloads pushing a 210 grain Sierra jacketed bullet at just under 1300 fps.
Since this rifle is destined to be "mostly a fun plinker," we went back to the drawing board, and began work on some cast bullet loads with light charges of Hodgdon's Titegroup powder. Depending on specific powder charges, we were looking to get 800 to 1100 fps from the 20 inch tube on this rifle.
In addition to the Titegroup powder, our components included once fired Remington brass, CCI 300 Large Pistol primers, and D & J Truncated Cone Cast bullets weighing 215 grains. Again, I'm not printing specific powder charges, but Titegroup data can be found in Hodgdon Powder's Number 27 Data Manual, for a variety of cast and jacketed bullets in the .41 Remington Magnum.
I think Rick decided early in the shooting session that he would keep the Marlin! Here is the first 25 yard group after 5 fouling shots through a freshly cleaned barrel. These 5 shots averaged about 950 feet per second. Drifting the rear sight to the right a smidgen with a brass punch, centered the groups at point of aim for subsequent shooting.
5 Shot group at 25 yards .41 Rem Mag - 215 gr cast bullets
This is the same picture of Rick that was in the June 03 Newsletter, but I'd swear he grew a smile on his face, retroactively, after this performance by the Marlin!
As a matter of note, this .41 Mag is the first Marlin any of us has owned that has their Micro-Groove® rifling. (Little Heifer's .38 Cowboy Competition and my .44-40 Cowboy both have Ballard type cut rifling.) It appeared that accuracy began to deteriorate after 10 or 15 rounds, so this barrel may require more frequent cleaning than some others we own. Time and further experimenting will tell that tale.
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!