January 1999

Notes On New Stuff

We just got a flyer from Remington, and that financially beleaguered company has come up with some darned good magnets for your money. Hottest of their offerings for 1999 is the .300 Remington Ultra Mag. This is a beautiful, non-belted .404 Jeffery case necked to .30 caliber. You don’t really need that belt, and rounds without it feed smoothly. The new Remington round has a 30-degree shoulder and 20 percent more case capacity than the .300 Winchester Magnum. The result provides ballistics that significantly beat even the .300 Weatherby. The .300 Ultra Mag propels a 180-grain Nosler Partition bullet at 3,300 fps from the 26-inch standard-length barrel that Remington uses in all five of the production rifles in which this cartridge is offered.

Another innovation resurrected by Remington is the composite rifle barrel. This is a thin stainless steel tube wrapped in graphite/epoxy composite, giving a slightly fat but very light barrel. This will be available on the Model 700 Varmint Synthetic Composite and the Sendero Composite rifles in a variety of calibers from .223 to .300 Win. Mag. They’re not inexpensive.

New from Winchester is what I consider to be the best all-around hunting cartridge ever made, the .338-’06. This caliber, also known as the .338 OKH, is my first choice for all U.S. hunting. I took mine to Africa and had excellent results on animals from impala to a Nyasa wildebeest. I have often praised the .338 OKH, and I suspect that anyone who uses it will do the same. We don’t have Winchester’s ballistics, but mine pushes a 250-grain bullet at 2,500 feet per second. I get 2,800 feet per second with 200-grainers. This cartridge will do it all, and we predict a happy future for it.

Did you ever want a really light .38 Special snubby, but thought the so-called airweight types were still too heavy? How about one with a titanium cylinder? Smith & Wesson now has this in the works for their Chiefs Specials and other J-frame revolvers. This new featherweight tips the scales at just 11 ounces, and that’s near miraculous for a +P .38 Special. We can’t wait to try one.

Some states have outlawed in-line muzzleloaders for black powder hunting seasons. I personally think that’s a good idea, because black powder seasons were originally intended for those who wanted to use primitive technology, not for those who wished to expand the frontiers of muzzleloading research. In-liners are essentially single-shot, scoped bolt-action rifles. They are modern and effective, and surely can’t be considered primitive weapons. I have used black powder to good effect in my 1911 Colt .45 ACP, but I don’t consider it appropriate to try to use that gun in a Cowboy Action shoot simply because I shoot black powder in it. While I applaud the new products and research that permit the use of saboted jacketed bullets at high velocity from muzzleloaders, and know that this is, for many shooters, exciting technology, I don’t think its place is in the hunting field during primitive seasons. If you must use one, use it during the regular season.

By the way, there is nothing lacking in killing power from the old lead ball used in, say, a Hawken .54 rifle. These projectiles expand yet hold together, and kill large game effectively, never mind the paper ballistics. My exact replica of a St. Louis Sam Hawken rifle puts a perfectly expanding 223-grain lead ball out at just under 2,000 fps, and that’s a lot of power. Also, there is a big difference in power between a .50 and a .54. Mountain men reliably killed bison with their .54-caliber rifles. Velocity doesn’t do it; weight does.

-Ray Ordorica