February 2008

Firing Line: 02/08

Reloading

I am an appreciative subscriber of your quality publication. Due to the rising cost of ammunition, I am looking to get into reloading—9mm, .45 ACP and .223. Due to time constraints and volume, a progressive reloader seems to make the most sense. Starting from scratch, there are several items of equipment to buy. Would you have a list or any info regarding what might be "Grade A" equipment for one starting a reloading operation?

—Scott Forrest

Re: ".17 Mach 2s: NEF’s Sportster Is An

Affordable Blast to Shoot," January 2008

Frankly, I was more than a little surprised by your "A" rating of the NEF Sportster. My son and I bought an NEF Handy Rifle in .243 Win. for my grandson a year ago this Christmas. Our experience could hardly be less satisfactory! GRADE F! From the beginning, we have been unable to obtain anything close to acceptable hunting accuracy.

By acceptable, I mean a minimum of 3-inch groups at 100 yards. If we were hunting varmints instead of deer, the groups would have to be less than half of that. We have tried several factory loads, including Federal Fusion 95-grain bullets, Winchester 100-grain bullets, Remington 100-grain bullets, and Hornady Custom 100-grain bullets. Handloads haven’t worked either. We tried handloads using 85-grain Nosler Partitions, 85-grain Barnes TSXs, 100-grain Hornady SSTs, and Sierra 85-grain SPs.

The best groups hovered around 5 to 6 inches, and the worst were well over 12 inches! We have tried everything we know to do to improve performance. Checked scope rings and bases, used different scopes, and religious cleaning. Nothing has helped.

Last summer, I sent the rifle back to NEF, and it was returned with a test target showing what looked like about a 3-inch three shot group using Winchester 80-grain bullets. It was hard to be certain since the target they sent was a photo-copy, and not an actual target.

In addition to horrible accuracy, one in four to six shots will fail to eject, and the case will have to be knocked out with a cleaning rod. I couldn’t in good conscience sell it to anyone for another youngster to use!

Robert English
White Hall, Arkansas

I enjoyed reading your tests of .17 M2 rifles, and thought I’d share my experience with your readers as well. Earlier this year I purchased a heavy-barreled NEF Sportster in .17 HMR for a little less than you paid, with a low-cost project in mind. For a few bucks, I installed an ATI AR-style collapsible stock with pistol grip, AR-type handguard, heat shield (that being more cosmetic than anything else), and a lightweight ATI bipod. A trip to Cabela’s and $79 got me a Pine Ridge SF6-18x40 side-focus scope with target turrets calibrated for .17 HMR bullet weights, and after monkeying around with it for a while, a spare B-Square riser that I had laying around made it just right. Sure, it’s a $150 gun, the ATI parts were pretty inexpensive, and the scope is made in China, but it works just like Cabela’s says it will and it isn’t likely to break any time soon due to heavy recoil. Talk about a budget tackdriver! It’s the cheapest gun in my safe, but the most consistent and most fun too. Part of all that fun is letting my gun buddies try to guess just what the hell it is and why it shoots so damn well.

I’ve been a subscriber since the early 1990s, and rely almost exclusively on your unbiased information to guide me along on new acquisitions. Why I keep other subscriptions remains a mystery, but it must have something to do with the cool, full-color pictures since I don’t really trust much about their reviews. Keep up the good work, and don’t change a thing! (Oh, I guess you could have a few more 1911 reviews.)

Neal H. Trent III
Ph.D., ABPP
COL (Ret), U.S. Army
Fort Hood, Texas

We appreciate your service. Please see page 3 in this issue for more .45 coverage. —Todd Woodard

Re: "Double Rifle Vs. Single

Shot," December 2007

Mr. Ordorica’s otherwise fine article was poorly served and cheapened by his superfluous attack on Peter Capstick, who is no longer around to defend himself.

William R. McCants

In the article on single shot versus double rifle hunting guns, I note a reference you made to certain "ignorant amateurs like that Chapstick fellow." I assume you are referring to Peter Hathaway Capstick. If you were referring to the late Mr. Capstick, I wonder if you could point me to the drivel he wrote about firing both barrels of a double rifle, since I could not recall reading this in several of his interesting books. I know that some have suggested Mr. Capstick embellished some of his stories, but if half of what he wrote of his life as a professional hunter and shooter of dangerous game is accurate, it would seem that he had more experience in these matters than, shall we say, your entire magazine staff, their extended families, and all their friends combined. Am I right? OK then, now that we have that established, let me ask you if you were trying to be funny? Mr. Capstick seemed to have quite a sense of humor, as I am sure you are aware. He would probably get a good laugh at your comment, and he missed no opportunity to portray himself in such a deprecating manner. Maybe Peter was a personal friend of yours or other staffers at your publication, and this is just a great inside joke for you all. For the rest of us poor saps we count on you guys to give it to us straight, so I wish you would clarify your remarks. I am not arguing about the advisability of firing both barrels of any double-barreled anything. It doesn’t sound like a good idea to me either. I never knew this guy, of course, but he was a very entertaining writer and seemed to be well respected as a PH also. So I just thought you owed us subscribers and readers a little background on your comments, that is all.

—Bruce Williams
Alexandria, Virginia

Mr. Williams: Thank you for your kind words about the magazine. I am sorry to disillusion you, but Capstick was the worst kind of charlatan. Capstick did indeed want you to think he knew a lot about rifles and hunting. He was an excellent story teller. But he didn’t know much about either rifles or hunting, because, you see, he was never a professional African hunter. He was a bartender. He was a standing joke to those who indeed were African professional hunters.

For a bit of my background, I suggest you look at the June 1978 issue of American Rifleman, in which Ross Seyfried (a genuine African professional hunter) and I co-wrote a story about using paper-patched lead and jacketed bullets in double rifles. Both of us had been messing with double rifles for quite a few years before we wrote that piece, and have done so ever since. I have studied double rifles very seriously for going on 50 years, and am not done yet. I have written extensively about them, particularly the 470, in numerous publications. Please check the 8th Edition of Cartridges of the World. I rewrote the entire "British Sporting Rifle Cartridges" section including the three-page introduction. You will see a photo of my 470 on page 334, along with the discussion of that cartridge. You’ll see a photo of my 12-bore Erskine on page 340. My friends at Holland & Holland can set you straight about who knows his stuff and who does not. I also suggest you read John "Pondoro" Taylor’s work and that of Elmer Keith. Both were double-rifle men.

Capstick’s first blunder about firing both barrels came on page 11 of Death in the Long Grass. He mentioned it several more times throughout his work, by no means his only blunder. —Ray Ordorica

Re: "Full-Size Polymer .45s,

S&W’s M&P45 Beats

H&K & Glock," January 2008

Guys, I was a bit puzzled at your latest review. For some reason you tested a Compact Tactical HK against two full-size pistols, the G21 and the M&P45, then commented on its lack of capacity. Why did you not use a full-size USP or even the USP Tactical? Also, hands down, I have shot all of these guns, and there is no way I would ever choose either of those pistols over the USP. The threaded barrel is negligible when drawing from a holster.

I am not commenting on the letter grade drop as you indicated, but still am a bit surprised at how you arrived at your conclusion. For this review Gun Test gets a C+.

Jody Shook
Undercut Gun Sales
Hedgesville, WV

Re: "Downrange, Jan. 2008

Recognizing that the 2nd Amendment and state constitutions are different, we still must remind folks like Lee Gaillard about the state constitutions. I’ll bet 46 or more guarantee the right to "keep and bear" and offer some statement about "for himself and neighbors."

—Chuck Langenderfer

Controlled-Feed Rifle Test

With a new version of the Winchester Model 70 being produced, I propose a controlled-round-feed rifle test to include the Winchester Model 70, Ruger Hawkeye, Kimber 8400 and perhaps the new version of the CZ550. All rifles should be in .30/06, and should be of the same configuration (i.e., all synthetic/stainless or all blue/wood). As a control, you might want to include an Ed Brown Custom Savannah, which claims to be controlled-round feed and costs about three or four times what the other rifles do.

—M. Seiden

Heckuva idea. We’re on it. —tw

Re: "9mm Polymer Pistols:

Ruger’s SR9 Is Good, But Not

Great," December 2007

I just read your review of the Ruger SR9. In that review you said that Ruger has a lifetime warranty. However, on their website their written statement says they do not have a limited warranty or any other type of warranty. This is very important information. Who is correct?

—Jeff Kerley

Our mistake. The warranty line on the Ruger’s specifications template wasn’t updated. Ruger doesn’t offer a warranty. —tw

Test I Would Like To See

As I am sure you know, the gas piston AR-15 rage is in full bloom. I tend to agree that anything that gives our people a break is worth every penny. I am no expert on any of these matters and do not claim to have been there done that. Whether it holds up better in a sandstorm in the middle of a protracted gun fight or just gives our people one less thing to worry about, I am all for it. It is not always convenient to clean and change the oil. I also do not want GIs to stop their commitment to weapons maintenance.

I would love to hear from Lewis Machine & Tool, Masada, Patriot Ordance Factor, and maybe Bushmaster in that order. Now that the government forestalled all democratic procedures for a fair shoot-off and given Colt’s the chance to catch up and look at everyone else’s design, I would love to see what you come up with.

John Lofland
laymont, Delaware

Re: "Basic 1911 .45s:

Dan Wesson’s Pointman Seven

Leads the Way," March 2007

You reviewed the Taurus PT1911, giving it a D rating because "ours needed to be sighted in and supplied with better-quality magazines." Have you heard if Taurus has addressed any product improvement based on the issues you brought up in your article? I have searched for articles on this particular gun but have only found two, your article and an article in another major gun publication. The other publication gave it a glowing review, but I consider you to be the "honest broker."

—Chuck Oglesby
Copperas Cove, Texas

Sorry, we haven’t heard anything new about the pistol. —tw

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