Gary's Gun Notes #88
As I sit here writing this while watching it snow, I wonder if this winter will ever be over. It seems to just not want to let go. Here it is the last day or so of April and still snowing. All the states north of us are getting it too so I shouldn't whine. But this has been a long, snowy winter and I will be glad when it leaves for a few months. But the good thing is it won't be long before fall is here again and that means hunting season. Here in Arizona we have to get drawn to hunt and as far as Elk is concerned, Kase, Colleen and I all fizzled out for another year. None of us got drawn so none of us hunt elk this year. Our draw for the other critters, Bison, Coues Deer, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep,and Desert Sheep is still a month or so away so there is still a chance we may get drawn for one or more of these hunts. Most of the western states are going to a draw system, which is a real pain but I suppose is the only real fair way to do things. At least that is what I tell myself when I don't get drawn.
The economy is still limping along with no sign of it easing up for a while yet. I hear people just about every day saying the recession is almost over but they have just been drinking Obama's Kool Aid. It is far from over but at least it seems to have stabilized a slight bit, maybe, hopefully. In the firearms industry they are working feverishly trying to bring out new products that will hopefully garner them some sales during this "off season". The ammo, powder, bullets and primer situation is fairly stable, no improvement yet. We got a batch of primers in the shop a couple of days ago and I thought "this is great, the primer shortage is finally easing up". Then I looked at the invoice. The primers were ordered in late November and back-ordered. It took 5 months to fill the order, so nope the shortage is not easing up, or very little if any.
Some gun companies are re-organizing or restructuring the companies to make it thru this crunch. Marlin, as I mentioned last month, is closing their plant in the northeast and moving it. They say it will happen in a year or so but no word yet on where they plan to set up the new plant. I am hearing Ilion New York, and both North Carolina and South Carolina. It could be either of the three but my gut feeling is somewhere in the south in a right to work state.
Thompson Center has slimmed down a bit by closing their custom shop and has no plans to reopen it. They have also laid off some staff and more cuts may be coming. Several other gun companies have encountered some tight spots and lay offs may be coming. We have gone thru this before in the early 70's and again in the late 70s so most will weather the crunch and come out in decent shape when it eases up. Several companies are gobbling up the smaller companies like the recent sales of Marlin, H&R, Dakota Arms, New England Firearms, Remington, DPMS, Bushmaster and a couple of other smaller companies bought up by The Freedom Group. So far this has been a good move for the owners of The Freedom Group. Steyr Arms has recently bought Merkel which should be a good pairing as both are fine firearm companies. Ruger is doing very well and has been named Manufacturer of the year for 2010. When Ruger ended up with new people as owners a while back I wondered if they would do as well without a Ruger behind the helm, but they seem to be doing very well.
Not a gun company but a merger nonetheless, LaCrosse Boots is now partners with Danner boots.
Let's see, what is coming up in the way of new guns. There is supposedly a new Taurus Judge coming out in 500 caliber. That should be a handful. They have the standard Judge, the little Public Defender which is a snubbie, bobbed hammer in 45 long colt and 410 shotshells. Taurus also has a Judge coming inand 410 shotshell and look for a Judge rifle coming out this late summer or fall called the Circuit Judge. Some of these guns sound a bit strange and off the wall but it sure seems to be working for them. Something unusual in shotguns is a target trigger. Mossberg seems to be the first to come out with a special target trigger that makes their shotguns have the trigger pull of a fine rifle. Not really sure of the reasoning for this. Timney Triggers is also coming out with a target trigger for a shotgun. So far only for the but supposedly more on the way.
Ruger was the first out with a polymer framed revolver with their new LCR but others are following suit very quickly. One unusual looking revolver is the new Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38, which has a strange looking grip with built in laser, similar to the Crimson Trace laser but this one goes even further. It has the cylinder latch up on top of the frame on the left side of the topstrap. Smith & Wesson says it is a merger of polymer, aluminum and steel. Smith & Wesson continues to confuse us with their names of the guns. They now have a new Bodyguard 38 and a Bodyguard 380 out. This should make for some confusing parts orders and some hassles with the paperwork. The Bodyguard 380 is a polymer framed pistol in 380 auto with a 2 3/4" barrel, 6 shot magazine, and a built in laser. It is double action only. The little pistol only weighs a bit over 11 ounces.
Speaking of small snubbies, Kel Tec, the company that was the first to come out with a tiny, lightweight semi auto is still going strong. Their first tiny little back up was their P-32 a tiny little 32 auto that held 8 rounds and only weighed a hair over 6 ounces. This one is a true pocket pistol. They have been extremely dependable since they came out several years ago and their new little 380 auto is a carbon copy of the P-32, just a bit bigger.
Those looking for a reasonably priced 1911 should have a lot to choose from. The High Standard 1911 is an excellent pistol. Kase uses them a lot in his custom series. Another is the Rock River 1911. A third is the Regent 1911. All 3 look and feel just like the original 1911-A1 and each is just as accurate and dependable as the original.
Ruger has a new GP-100 coming out sporting a 7 shot 327 Federal cylinder. Now if ammo was just readily available. Sig is working on a new striker fired 9mm and 45, a shoot off of their new model 250. This one should be premiered by fall. Colt supposedly is finally ready to release some of their New Agent. Colt is another company that can't seem to come up with any new names so they go back and bring out a name of another gun in their line up from years past. The old Agent was a revolver, a snubby 38 special similar to the Detective Special. But the new Agent is a semi auto. This one a chopped down 9mm in a 1911 style. It has a 3" barrel, no sights at all, just a groove down the topstrap. They released a few of them last year but this one is a new redesigned and improved model.
For years we have been producing short barreled rifles for dangerous game, guns that have short barrels to handle better in heavy brush while hunting big game. One of them has been our Marlin model 1895 and model 444 in a 16" barreled version. Ours have been in various calibers like 416 GNR, 440 GNR, 450 GNR, 475 GNR, 476 GNR and 50 Alaskan. Now Marlin has come out with a short barreled rifle in their new 1895GBL and 336 BL. The 1895 GBL is chambered in 45-70, has a 18" barrel, full length magazine tube and laminated stock. The 336BL comes chambered in 30-30, also with an 18" barrel and laminated stock and full length magazine tube.
Zeiss Optics has honoredas Outdoor Writer of the Year. No comment.
I saw an unusual set up recently. Most of you are familiar with theMini revolver, the tiny little 22 LR and 22 magnum revolvers that easily fit in your jeans pocket. Now this little revolver is available with a laser sight. The laser, built by LasetLyte, clamps to the topstrap of the little revolver and makes what they call the smallest laser and pistol combo made. I am sure there is a reason for this, but it escapes me right now.
Before I forget it, the new American Handgunner magazine that is being released this week has a very nice article by John Taffin (my choice for Outdoor Writer of the Year) on our new Mastodon, the 5 shot revolver based on the . The Mastodon comes chambered in 429 GNR, 454 Casull, 455 GNR, 475 Linebaugh, 500 Linebaugh and 510 GNR. It sports a heavy duty barrel in the length of your choice, redesigned frame and gripframe, heavy duty 5 shot cylinder and barrel band front sight. The Mastodon can be had in other calibers too at no extra charge. John did an excellent review of the new Mastodon and my thanks go out to him.
Something I found amusing recently in some info I received concerning a new product. It was to make your breath smell fresh so you wouldn't scare off the deer or bears you might be hunting. Now, if a bear is close enough to smell my breath that is just too close. In fact if he is that close, there might be another smell to get his attention. Four of our regulars on my forum, Andy Rowe, Scott Boggs, Sean Harper and Doug Faith are hunting with George Faerber in Alaska in a couple of weeks. They will be looking for black bear. I will have to make sure and let them know about this new breath scent remover. I am sure they will be anxious to try it.
For a few years there have been laser rangefinder binoculars out but in most cases they were priced way out of the average hunter's budget. Bushnell has a new set of rangefinding binocs out in their Fusion 1600 ARC. They range way out to 1600 yards and are a 10X42 powered pair of binocs. They have a built in battery life indicator, twist up eye cups for those that wear glasses and are completely waterproof. They provide a holdover for the rifle hunter and the true horizontal distance for the bowhunter and all displayed in their Vivid Display technology. Retail on these is less than $900 and will sell for considerably less than full retail.
Even with all the shortages of components, reloading is the way to go these days. If you get set up now, you will be plenty experienced enough by fall to be loading all your hunting ammo needs. You save about 2/3 over the retail price and it is an enjoyable hobby. It is also a simple thing to do and does not require a rocket scientist to do it. If you haven't started reloading yet, check into it as soon as you can. You will never regret it.
If the snow ever quits, summer will soon be here. Get out and sharpen your shooting skills on varmints. There are plenty of them. Til next time, go shooting.