Most shooters who envision a varmint rifle see a big, heavy bolt gun perched atop a shooting bench, with prairie dogs 300, 400, and 500 yards or more distant. The shooter carefully loads a single .22-250, 6mm PPC, or other handloaded round and chambers it. After gauging the nearby wind with smoke from a fine cigar, the shooter lays down on the stock and fires. The light recoil from the gun scarcely moves the rifle or shooter.
While many left-handed shooters have accepted their fate of living in a right-handed world, the cross-dominant shooter is yet another kind of victim. Being cross dominant means the hand of greatest dexterity is on the opposite side of the body from the dominant eye.
Are you cross dominant? Here's a test. If you are right handed, for example, make a circle by connecting the tip of your right thumb to the tip of your right index finger. Hold it at arm's length and then bring it slowly to your eye so that you can see clearly through the circle. If it comes naturally to your left eye, you are cross dominant.
John Cantius Garand (1888-1974) was a French-Canadian machine designer who lived in New York. Gen. Julian Hatcher, in his famous and fine reference book, "Hatcher's Notebook," tells us that his close friend John Garand pronounced his name with the accent on the first syllable, to rhyme with the word "parent." So his rifles are GARands, not gaRANDS.
Due to their low cost and high quality, the Swedish M-96 Mauser and the Swiss K-31 have become popular with American gun owners. In fact, these two surplus guns have spawned a healthy aftermarket industry for upgrading them into sporters. This is a prime indicator of a gun's desirability, since it's unlikely that shooters would spend extra money making a sorry gun not quite as sorry.
They're all about fire and brimstone, noise, smoke, and tremendous gobs of fun. We're talking about flintlocks, of course, the longest-lasting form of firearm ignition the world has ever seen. The heyday of flint firearms spanned 200 years. Percussion firearms lasted maybe 50, and our current self-contained cartridges are now about 150 years old. But the idea of banging a stone onto a piece of steel and producing fire was, and still is, a very good one, when not much can go wrong in the process. With a flint firearm all you need is good black powder, a projectile and some wadding and your gun will keep on going bang until you get tired. With percussion and cartridge firearms, you need fulminates, i.e., something which when struck, detonates to ignite the powder. When you run out of caps, you're out of luck. Perhaps that crude simplicity is the great draw of flinters.
Winchester's .300 WSM seems a bit strange to us. Its purpose would seem to be the achieving of a somewhat lighter rifle while maintaining the approximate performance of the .300 Winchester Magnum. With its 1/2-inch-shorter cartridge length, the .300 WSM's action can be half an inch shorter, too. Also, there's the matter of a shorter bolt throw, which implies a faster-operated rifle. Independent tests of these points by some friends of Gun Tests indicated they are not necessarily true. (They found identical rifle weights and bolt-operation times in a casual test of on-hand rifles.)
Without actually seeing the subjects of this month's test, we imagined these two 9mm carbines as being a poor man's AR-15, or perhaps an MP5. The two short rifles in question are in fact the $575 Ruger PC9, which operates from magazines common to Ruger's P85-95 series pistols, and Hi-Point's 9mm Carbine, $199. The Hi-Point cuts the figure of the type of machine pistol one envisions in the hands of SWAT or Special Forces. The Ruger, on the other hand, closely resembles a military rifle from the 1940s. Its profile is of a classic rifle punctuated by a long, narrow magazine hanging just ahead of the trigger guard.
Bottom line: Save your money and buy the utilitarian Savage unless you're bound and determined to own the very nice Steyr.
Lever-action rimfires are among the industry's most entertaining products, whether for big kids or little kids. Suitable for small-game use and plinking, they have the capacity of autoloaders if the game is walking a tin can to a backstop, or they have the accuracy to knock a squirrel out of a tree at 50 paces. They're also easy to carry and accept scopes without fuss.
The Fulton Armory .308 was one-third to one-fourth the cost of other long-range rifles, but it shot as well, or better than, other guns we've tested in the category.
At 4.3 pounds, Professional Ordnance's Carbon 15 is the lightest AR15, and it's a very good one. Bushmaster's lightest rifle, the XM15-E2S, is also worth a close look.
Back in February of this year we tested a group of Sharps rifles by Shiloh, Cabela's and Cimarron. We found that although the other two versions were nice, we felt the price and several-years' wait necessary for the Shiloh Sharps were well justified, because it was the nicest Sharps rifle of the bunch. But can you get a good .45-70 single shot that's not a Sharps, and would you want to? Let's find out.
We obtained a nearly new Ruger No. 1S and a brand-new Browning 1885, both in .45-70, to test against our previous best single-shot, the Shiloh Sharps. These two rifles, while contemporary, both resemble — at least slightly — older rifles from the time of the Sharps. They were not precise copies of earlier rifles, though the Browning came close. We wanted to see how well they'd hold up to the Shiloh Sharps's quality, and to see if they were better buys for you, the lover of single shot .45-70s.
The two newer guns had a tough opponent in the Shiloh, as we noted in the February 2001 issue. The feel of the Shiloh's action was like that of a fine watch. It opened with precision, and shut like the old bank-vault door. There were no machining marks visible anywhere. The inletting was perfection. The sights could be whatever you wanted them to be and agreed to pay for, except (as far as we could tell) there were no provisions for modern scope mounting. Accuracy with the costly aperture sights that were fitted on our test sample was all we could hold for in the dismal light conditions in which we tested this rifle. The better we could see and hold and squeeze, the tighter were our groups.
This was the standard against which we gauged the Browning and the Ruger's performances. How did they do? Read on to find out: