Thursday, October 21, 2010

Idle Thoughts Of An Almost Retired Gunny.

I am retired from hunting, these days. After my stroke it just wouldn't be fair to the game. The only sort of competitive shooting I do anymore is Cowboy Action and I haven't done that since Linda Lou broke her leg. It's not that i don't want to go to a shoot, it's that if I had the money for gas and range fees, I'd go visit Linda Lou in the hospital. And when she was trying to recover at home, the money went to medical stuff that the insurance didn't cover like bandages.

Still, I keep up with the literature and I read the shooting websites. Then I sit around and wonder what world most gunwriters inhabit. I understand that the gun companies come out with new cartridges, not to fill any particular need, but so they can sell more guns. Take, for instance, the new super short magnums. The ponly thing any of them do is give the ballistics of an older round, in a differently shaped case. a shape of case that makes for a rifle with feeding problems, which is why many, if not most, custom riflemakers won't try to build them.

Meanwhile, in spite of all this "progress" in cartridges and rifles, a couple of years back they did a study. The rifle cartridge that had the most one shot kills on deer was the old .300 Savage. Rifles with less oomph would fail with hits from bad angles, rifles and loads more powerful kicked more, making precise shots more difficult.

The .300 Savage approached the original military load of the 150 grain .30-06 in a cartridge short enough to fit that famous old Savage 99 lever action. Like the .308, .260 Remington and the 7mm-08 it was powerful enough for anything but the big bears. Yet nobody much cares about these rounds, wanting POWER! And then they wonder why they have a splitting headache after a practice session.

Another idle thought. Why is it that people who want to go hunting spend all their practice sessions shooting off those big benches, with their rifles snugged into sandbags? How, persactly, does one carry that bench and sandbags out into the woods? Hunting season is almost here. If I were to walk behind the firing line at a busy range I might, might see one guy between the benches, in the sitting or kneeling positions, shooting. And the guys wonder why their freezers are full of storebought beef instead of venison.

I have a couple of acquaintances who are professional hunting guides and outfitters. They always cringe when a client shows up with a new looking magnum rifles. They know that the most recoil the average hunter can handle, and still shoot accurately, is the .30-06. And. really, with rifles getting lighter and lighter, that trend is not toward more powerful rifles. In my day, a normal bolt action rifle weighed 'purt near ten pounds with scope, sling and a magazine full of .30-06 rounds, which was four or five. Today a lot of rifles are a full two pounds lighter, some closer to four pounds. The lighter the rifle, the more the same round kicks, the more recoil, the quicker comes the flinch.

Speaking of rifle weight with sling, how many shooters today can get into a loop sling, quickly? How many can get into a loop sling at all? The loop sling is the single most important aid to accuracy there is in the field. A hunter who is used to shooting from sitting or kneeling with a loop sling is almost as accurate as the guy with his rifle snugged into sandbags on that big concrete bench at rifle ranges. And yet if a modern bolt action wears a sling at all it's one of those "Cobra" style things that are good only for carrying the weapon. So, as rifles get lighter, the slings get wider, modern shoulders must really be tender.

Still another idle thought. The new conventional wisdom is that a person needs a semiautomatic pistol with enough ammo in the magazine to fight the Battle of the Bulge, without reloading, plus have another magazine or two in reserve, all for civilian self defense. Seems that no one is rude enough to ask exactly what happens in a gunfight if you miss the first five or six shots that a revolver carries with that fancy semiauto. Let me be that rude guy. Seeing as how the only real reason for shooting at someone is that that someone poses a deadly threat, you can't solve it in five or six rounds, You. Are. Dead. Worse, those you were trying to defend are now at the tender mercy of the bad guy(s).

Or, what would happen to the civilian who fires the whole ten to fifteen rounds into a bad guy like they think they're in a big city police force. Can you spell prison term?

I have my own quarrel with outfitting city bluesuits with high capacity handguns, too many are not trained well enough to avoid spraying bullets all over the neighborhood, mostly missing but an unfortunate number of rounds going into the bad guy, who has not been convicted of anything, long after he's down. Big cities lack the funds, anymore, to do more than a cursory amount of training. So, when these kids in blue see a perceived threat, the first thing they do is forget about the front sight. The next thing is to start pulling the trigger until they hear a bunch of "clicks" instead of bangs. Somehow, the knowledge of only six shots beminds people to aim.

What the gunwriters and internet gurus have forgotten is that the semiauto pistol shooter needs a lot more training and constant practice than does the owner of a revolver. A revolver also can stand neglect a lot better than that auto. The military style semiauto can take abuse better than the revolver, the revolver, neglect. I have seen the old Colt 1911 dropped into sand, shaken off and fired, without missing a beat. Whereas a revolver can sit, loaded for years, until the brass shell casings have turned green, and those green shells still fired. A semi needs to be maintained.

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