Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Fun with the 45 Colt

A while back I picked up a .454" Round Ball mold. I've been trying to create a useful load for my Ruger New Vaquero and Marlin 1894CB. Incrementally I've been working up trying to find "the load" but haven't manage it yet.

My latest attempt was with 6 grains of Red Dot under the 147 grain ball. The accuracy and the velocity deviation are improving.

The Point of Impact (POI) with the Marlin is slightly higher than with my usual 300 grain 1300 fps load. It would make a decent Grouse and garden vermin load with a little more pressure to seal the chamber to prevent the gas blowing back through the bolt and sooting the cases. To remedy that I'd probably have to ramp up the velocity quite a bit more. Right now this load is averaging 953 fps which makes for a reasonably quiet and rimfire like recoil - pushing it faster would no doubt increase the report which is contrary to my preferences for the load... I may try it anyway.

Out of the Ruger New Vaquero the Red Dot/ Round Ball load average 730 fps. The accuracy was OK, a bit over 2" at 25 yards but it printed a full 8" lower than point of aim.image hosting by
The 25 yard Round Ball group is below the target on the cardboard. The group in the bullseye is a 255 grain Lee cast bullet pushed to 925 fps by SR4756 - it shoots Point of Aim.

t 25 feet the Round Ball load still printed well below the 255 grain load.
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25 foot group

After my testing was done I decided to have a little fun and shoot the Ruger at 100 yards. Aiming about 12" high the "group" (loose sense of the word but still "minute of zombie.") measured just beyond the span of my hand, stringing mostly horizontally so I expect it was mostly the result of pilot error and the RNV is capable of better. The delay between the muzzle blast and the dirt splash/thud was enjoyable. Boom.... thud! Grin. I "bonged the 100 yard gong" 3 out of five times while shooting offhand (two handed).

Next time I may see if I can knock down a 200 yard ram... ;^)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Camelbak packs

A few Elk seasons ago I managed to get myself lost. It was the first time I had hunted the area and I spent the afternoon and evening on a long stalk. I was so focused on the Elk I did not pay enough attention to my surroundings. When the sun set and I had to abandon the hunt and head back to camp which I assumed was just over the ridge. As I crested the ridge I didn't recognize any familiar landmarks. I guessed the stalk had taken me further away from camp than I realized so I continued on my original bearing to the next ridge. After an hour of hiking and still uncertain of my location I admitted I was in fact lost which brings me to the point of this preamble - I had the gear I needed because I was wearing my pack.

My gear gave me confidence and gave me options. Light, map and compass if I wanted to try to navigate my way out and/or make a fire and build a shelter as well as the comfort of extra clothing and food. I had some control over my situation and was able to calmly make good decisions. My adventure ended well, as I was able to navigate my way back to camp and the only suffering I endure is the razzing I get annually from my hunting partners about being (really) late for dinner...

A while back I did a gear review on the CamelBak Striker pack. I've since added another two Camelbak packs to my collection - The Commander and the Ranger.

All of the packs are well made and loaded with features like organizers inside compartments, cinch strap stabilizers, lashing loops, and easily adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt. I'll give a synopsis of all three.

The Striker is a great pack when the terrain is thick and maneuverability is a priority. It also excels when worn mountain biking. It is big enough to carry essentials and small enough not to get in the way. I've hunted with this pack on several occasions and found wearing it all day with ~20 pounds of gear and water is comfortable. I would estimate around 25 pounds is about the max for comfort. At 1,180 cubic inches it is difficult to stuff that much weight in it. It comes with a 70 oz reservoir that when full does tend to round the back of the pack when it is fully loaded with gear.

The Ranger is my newest pack and so far I am very happy with it too. Its 1831 cubic inches (30 L) is plenty for a day trip and very nice in the winter for extra clothing and food. It is a more traditionally styled pack with a lot of organization features. It is probably the maximum size I would want to wear when riding a mountain bike and then I wouldn't want to load it to its weight capacity. It falls short of being an overnight pack unless you are willing to be very minimalist. The Ranger is a very nice size for long day trips with enough room for multiple meals and peripheral gear like camera equipment. Though bigger it isn't burdensome nor a lot more catchy in thick brush. After a year of use I haven't found the max all day comfort weight limit yet. The pack straps and belt are slightly more substantial than the striker and the internal soft frame improve comfort. The Ranger is also equipped with the larger 100 oz reservoir.

The Commander is the largest of the three hunting packs at 2747 cubic inches (45 L). The straps and belt are upgraded and more supportive than the previous two. It also has a couple of nice pouches - including one with cartridge loops - that are nice and handy for frequently used small items. The down side to this feature is that it interferes with holster wear. The commander is large enough for overnight trips with a moderate amount of gear. My 2 man Cabelas XPG tent and Wiggys overbag fit in the main compartment with a few smaller items stuffed in too. The tent poles need to be tied along the side the pack as they are too long to fit inside the compartment. There is additional room for food, cooking gear, activity gear (minimal: fishing, hunting) and essential items provided they are compact. I have not over-nighted with this bag but I have carried it loaded with my camping gear and some additional iron plate weight, if you can put it in this pack you can carry it comfortably provided you aren't haulng rocks. It too comes with the 100 oz reservoir.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

45 Colt on Game Performance

45 Colt is one of my favorite calibers to load, shoot and hunt with. It has been getting the job done for over 130 years now. With modern propellants and projectiles it looks like it has plenty of life left in it. Here are a few posts I've gleaned from the various forums I haunt.

Count Zer0 wrote in the THR 1894 club;

"1894 Big 5 "edition" in 45 Colt. it goes well with my RBH in same caliber, except its chamber is larger than the RBH, so it works the brass more than I'd like.

Undisclosed load gets a 265WFN gas-checked lead bullet to 1450fps from said weapon, which was enough to pass thru about 30" of elk only a 2 weeks ago. My first elk, so you might say I like this rifle. This is one of those 45 Colt loads one should not attempt in Colts or replicas thereof, but it's good for 2" groups on average at 100yds with said bullets ( optics used ). The jacketed fodder will do better, but lever guns are inherently innacurate right? My hunting setup uses a Skinner peep sight, I pulled the glass after load development was done.

Anyway, I can't think of a better "brush gun" right now since mine is still all aglow!

My hunting buddy has the CB in the same caliber and got his elk with his using the same load. No bullets were recovered despite one going through both upper foreleg bones and the ribs twice. Those foreleg bones are the size of a quarter folks. Less meat damage than on the third elk in our party which fell to the classic 180gr 30-06.

From the Cast Boolits forum:

Stubshaft wrote -"I use the 300 in my Blackhawk w/4 5/8" barrel. I drive it about 750fps and although I have never shot a deer with it, it is death and destruction on hogs. I do try to stalk to within 25yds and have not needed a followup shot to drop one. The biggest hog to date with this bullet was 195lbs dressed."

Leadman wrote: "I shot an elk with the very similar Lee 310gr. RFN, muzzle velocity just over 1,100 fps in the front shoulders. Went all the way thru both shoulders, elk ran maybe 50 yards. Hole was the same size coming out as going in and that was with AC WW. These big heavy for caliber bolits don't need a tremendous amont of velocity. "

Old Vic wrote: "A couple years back I shot a muley doe with a .45 Colt out of a Ruger 4 5/8 barrel. It was a broadside shot at about 50 yards. At the shot, the doe fliinched, then trotted off a few yards before toppling over. The hit was through both lungs, with a thumb size hole going in and coming out. The bullet was a 300 grainer with a moderate meplate. I didn't know what the velocity was at the time of the shot, but when I chrono'ed them later, they were going 730 fps."

Veral Smith has a formula that seems to work in the real world, not just on paper.

He writes: "My displacement velocity formula is: Velocity times meplat width in thousandths of an inch divided by 4. Ideal DV range for big game is 100 to 125, 130 at the very max for fastest kills. At 100, wound diameter will average about 1 inch, at 125 it will be around 1 1/4 inch. If the wound diameter is 1 1/2 inch or larger in diameter the animal will normally run like it's tail is afire for 50 to 150 yards before expiring, though the shot is centered in the vitals. Yes even with a 4 inch diameter exit wound on a deer. Many will drop instantly with large wounds, if nerve shock anchors them, but many will run violently because blood flow is slowed by too large a wound. If wound diameter is 3/4 inch, about 85 DV, kills can be instant if well placed but some run can be expected. With a 70 DV, wounds will be about 1/2 to 5/8 inch. VERY deadly if well placed in the vitals, but some run is quite certain."

In another post he writes:

"First understand that it is NOT a theory. I would have let you call it a concept 15 years ago, but it is now a fact, proven over and over by thousands, and no one who has tried it has questioned it's accuracy since I published it in 1990.

The easy calculation is meplat diameter in thousandths of an inch X Velocity divided by 4.

Ignore the range you'll expect to be shooting at. Just calculate it off muzzle velocity and it will be close out to as far as most can hit with a revolver or rifles which thrive on 'Pumpkin ball' type bullets.

Get the DV up to 80 minimum, for quick kills on deer and larger game, best with 100 to 125. Don't go over that very much or kill speed will go down.

If using a small caliber gun which doesn't have the omph to get the 80 minimum desired DV, you'll get good clean kills at DV's down to 60 if the bullets are placed into good vital areas of the chest. i.e. If they cut major blood vessels, heart, or the thicker parts of the lungs.

Expect approximate wound diameters straight through the muscle and organ parts of game as follows:

60 to 70 DV 1/2 inch diameter
75 to 90 DV 3/4 inch +
100 DV 1 inch +
125 DV 1 1/4 inch +
If wound diameter goes up to 1 3/8 inch or greater kill speed drops off rapidly, which means game runs quite a way before expiring. With a DV of 100 to 125, game up to elk moose and bison almost always fold in their tracks or take a few steps at most."

Good stuff!

Broadening Horizons

I've decided to broaden the scope of this Blog. Rather than limit it to topics concerning only the Marlin Mountie I'm going to include other Marlins, calibers and whatever else strikes my fancy when I feel like writing.

Mountie Range Report

I took the Mountie out to the range today to get some reps for next month's Cowboy silhouette match and test some ammo.

Best of the the four ammo's I tried today was the Federal bulk. Averaged 1234 fps, produced the smallest group and knocked 8 of 10 of the 100 yard rams. It used to be cheap - under $10 for 550 rounds at Wally World - I haven't seen it available for several months though and the last time it was just under $15 with tax. I recovered a few of these from my sand backstop, they roll back in near perfect mushrooms. I'll put my micrometer on them later. I've not recovered on of these from either vermin or Grouse but if they expand like they do in sand it is no wonder they are effective killers.

The next most accurate was the Federal Auto-match ammo. The 40 grain bullet averaged 1215 fps out of the Mountie. I didn't try this at longer ranges but I may give it a go my next trip out. Comparatively out of my 5.5" Ruger Single six it averaged 1029 fps with excellent accuracy.

The Winchester Xpert22 36 grain HP looks like a pretty wicked little bullet. It feeds a little rough in the Mountie but it fed and ejected 100% of the time. It averaged 1237 fps and produced a very good group at 25 yards but had more fliers than the previous listed ammo. Again for comparison the Ruger Single Six shot these very accurately at 1069 fps average velocity.

The load that I had high hopes for fell short in accuracy was the 40 grain RN Aguila Super Extra Standard Velocity. It averaged 1096 fps with the lowest standard deviation - under 11.

All and all a fun day at the range.

An April walk in the woods with my 39

With the snow gone from my property I had the perfect excuse to bug out to my property for a few days and do a little work on my cabin. Of course the 39 joined me on a number of walks and fired a number of magazines worth at various targets - knots on logs, scrap wood, soda cans, Ponderosa Pine cones...

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A fella can have a lot of fun with a few tools and some room to be free.

I gave the CCI [b]Small Game Bullet[b] a try on this trip. I like the shape of the bullet - nice flat point. It didn't seem to be as accurate as the Federal Bulk ammo this Mountie seems to favor but I was using field positions and conditions. I'll take it to the range and see what it will do from the bench and over the chronograph and report back.