October 1998

Are You Ready To Hunt?

The hunting seasons are now upon us, and we hope you’re ready. Of course, you’ve got your rifle all ready to go, lots of ammunition loaded for it, and it’s all sighted in. Or is it?

How many of you have made the very common error of using cheap ammunition to sight in your rifle, being careful to use the very same bullet weight you’ll be using in your premium hunting ammunition? If you think the two different loads — the inexpensive stuff and the premium-bullet expensive hunting ammunition — will shoot to the exact same point of impact, you’re almost certainly wrong. Here’s why.

The two types of loads will use different powders and achieve different pressures, the barrel vibration and the amount of ejecta (all the other stuff that leaves the gun) will vary very significantly, and the bullets from the two different loads will not fly to the same point of impact, except by luck.

An example: Years ago when I competed in IPSC competition, I handloaded many thousands of rounds of 45 ACP. My load consisted of just enough mass of one type of powder to propel a 230-grain bullet to 850 feet per second. The charge was around 5 grains. Then I discovered that a charge of 11 grains of another type powder would nearly fill the case, yet give the exact same velocity. I presumed it would be a better load, so used it for a time with mixed success. One day, I fired some of my old loads. The old load had so much less recoil that I thought the velocity was way down, but my chronograph told me that both loads gave the same bullet the exact same velocity. The difference in recoil was because of the smaller mass of powder in my original loads. The gun shot these two loads to significantly different points of impact at IPSC ranges, which are measured in feet.

Now, then...if I can see and feel a difference of a few grains of powder in a 1911 auto, what will happen when you vary the charge, bullet type, primer, case capacity and velocity in your hunting rifle? Will they hit in the same county? Please sight in with your actual hunting loads — no matter the cost — in your rifle before you go afield. You owe it to yourself and, more important, to the fine game you hunt.

New RCBS Scale
Those beginning handloaders in need of a good powder scale would do well to check out the new RCBS RC-130 mechanical scale. It gives what they call affordable accuracy up to a limit of 130 grains. It’s magnetically damped for fast results, has three poises for easily-read adjustments, and lists for just under $35.

CCI Pistol Shotshells
As I’ve mentioned, I pack the Colt CCO in a Sparks Summer Special holster around my Idaho ranch. I’ve had a few opportunities to try the Speer/CCI .45 Auto shotshells, and they are nothing short of fabulous. They cycle my little Colt just fine, and also provide excellent patterns. For those of you who carry a .45 auto in snake areas or want a few shotshells for grouse, I can heartily recommend the CCI shotshells. The design encapsulates the shot within a bullet-shaped extension of the aluminum case. Speer/CCI recently announced a shotshell for .40 S&W’s, and they are also available in 9mm, .38 Special, and 44 Magnum.

-Ray Ordorica