Saturday, February 27, 2010

New World Record Trophy

Yesterday UPS delivered the Bill from my taxidermist.  It's great!

It originally green scored 3.4567--much larger than the then current world record.  After the mandatory 90 day drying period it now measures 3.3791.  That is .0009 higher than the previous world record.

The taxidermist did a first-class job.  Many people like their mallard bills mounted on a shoulder mount, but I prefer just the bill mounted on mahogany.  Under the bill there is a brass plaque that attests to its world record status.  MY GAWD!  .0009 larger than the previous!

When my friends see the mount they will know that I am a master hunter and that to take such a magnificent mallard with such a magnificent bill takes a truly great hunter.  No one else could have seen and taken a mallard that scores so well.  One of those undeniable facts.

Now, on to better things.  Even before I knew that the mallard bill was going to make the new world record, I had been planning my next trophy hunt to the Alaskan tundra north of the Brooks Range.  Since it is new, you may not have heard about the newest world record mosquito proboscis.  I haven't actually seen the world record, but the number two was displayed in a Reno casino this past January--what a nose!  It scored .650324.

I can't give out the name, but I have been in contact with a mosquito-proboscis-guide in the north country.  He can't guarantee that he has "seen" one to match or exceed the world record, but he said that he has felt a few that must be world records.

I can't wait.  When I have both a world record mallard bill and a world record mosquito proboscis on my wall people will know that I am somebody.  Many hunters can estimate a monster whitetail or world class bull elk, but few have the calibrated eyeball that can discern the royal mallard bill or a majestic mosquito nose.

Future post:  "Scoring the bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus."  (A post that has been planned for quite some time.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

280 Remington For Elk Hunting

No One Will Know The Difference

To your front are two bull elk.  If measured, one would score 380; the other 375.  Which one do you shoot?
The best hunter armed with the best guide, binoculars, spotting scope and micrometers couldn’t tell the difference between bulls.  You would shoot the bull elk that was closest, “looked bigger,” had the best shot at, or had the best angle for a good shot.  Neither you, nor the elk will know the difference.
Behind you is a line of four rifle bearers.  Each one holds one of the stand-bys for elk hunting--270 Winchester, 280 Remington, 284 Winchester, and a 30-06 Springfield.  Which rifle do you choose?
If each of the mentioned rifles were of the same make, model and outfitted with similar sights and sling, neither you, nor the elk will know the difference.  That contradicts what is written in magazines and “hunting” forums and chat rooms.  There, claims are made that this is bigger, faster, slow, more powerful, less powerful, not as good, blah, blah, blah.  I know the argument well, when we were children my brothers and I fought over who got the biggest piece of cake.
Ballistically all four use the same case.  The key word there is “ballistically.”  Before everyone runs for the comment box and points out the difference between the 270/280/30-06 and the 284, yes, they are different, but ballistically identical.  The 280 Remington and the 284 Winchester will shoot bullets of 160 grains and heavier to nearly the same velocity and point of impact.  For lighter bullets there will be about a 100 fps difference in velocity, and not much change in impact at normal hunting ranges.  The 30-284 wildcat used the same loading data as the 30-06.  (Please check you loads and work them up carefully.  Don’t take my word for it, but it’s true.)
280 Remington
The 280 had a lot of ground to make up when it was released by Remington in 1957.  It’s original ballistic competitor, the 30-06 Springfield had already been around for over 50 years and warehouses full of surplus military ammo remained.  Its near ballistic twin, the 270 Winchester, had been out since 1925 and had garnered a following that included Jack “Mr 270” O’Connor.
It was initially available in the Model 740 semi-automatic and later the 750 pump and 721 bolt gun.
It didn’t catch on.  I could snort, bellow, paw the dirt, and make claims as to why, but I won’t--I always got the smallest piece of cake.
The 280 case is the 30-06 or 270 case stretched an additional .052 inches longer to ensure it cannot be fired in a 270.  The reverse is not true.  If you have several rifles, one of which is a 270, take great care when choosing ammunition.  Rifles with good extractors can hold the 270 shell rigidly enough in the 280 to cause excessive headspace.  Firing could, and probably will, separate the case and do possible damage (and death) to the rifle and the shooter.
In 1979, Remington shot itself in the foot with the 280.  Because of lackluster sales, the marketing gurus decided to rename the cartridge the 7mm Express, which people immediately confused with the successful 7mm Remington Magnum.  They came to their senses in 1981 and returned to the 280 moniker.
All competing claims of the superiority of the one cartridge over or under the 280 aside, I have seen no difference in the field.  Surprisingly, a dead elk is dead regardless of what it was shot with.  The only caveat I have for the 280 (and the 284 Winchester) is logistics.  Because they have not been as popular as the 270 and ’06, ammunition can be hard to find in back woods gas stations and trading posts.  Plan accordingly.
284 Winchester
In 1963, Winchester released the 284 in its Model 100 semi-automatic and Model 88 lever gun.  The case was a new design.  It features a case body nearly equal to belted magnums, but a rim that fits standard bolt faces.  The point of this experiment was to squeeze a 270/280 out of a short action capable of handling 308 length case.
The experiment--as the 284--failed miserably.  The warning about logistics on 280 ammunition should be multiplied for the 284.  Good Luck!
The case does live on though.  It is the basis for many efficient wildcats, most notably, the 6.5-284, which has become the “go to” cartridge for long range target shooting.
The concept of a rebated rim was also used in the Remington Ultra Mags--only scaled up.  The RUMs uses a rim that fits a magnum bolt face and a large case body without the belt.
Anyone want to fight over cake?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Drop Brain, Grab Wallets

Your tax dollars are being spent for "NEW" research.

(USFWS photo)

Today's Great Falls Tribune ran an Associated Press story that describes a new method to cull deer and elk from National Parks.  Story here.

The method involves introducing packs of wolves to small parks that are being overrun by herds of deer and elk.

The proposal is the brainchild of Dan Licht, National Park Service biologist for the Northern plains and five other researchers.

The Tribune article doesn't say if Ed Bangs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and leader of the Northern Rockies restoration program, was part of the research, or if he was contacted for his input.  Bangs has received ridicule from both pro- and anti-wolf groups, but he has been in charge of the restoration project for over a decade.  He is the "go to guy" for wolf biology in the Northern Rockies.

The AP story did quote Bangs twice.

Wolves fix very few problems compared to the ones they create.
When you have great densities of people, lots of agriculture, you're not going to keep wolves alive.  If you're talking even 100 square miles, or 200 square miles, you're talking about a territory that's too small for even one wolf pack.
Licht's proposal is talking about areas as small as 15 square miles.

 Seems good research should include experts in the field researched.

It is surprising that the researchers have left out hunters.  With bows or shotguns, the deer and elk could be controlled at less cost than transporting, collaring, neutering, fencing and managing wolves.  Since hunters pay to hunt, the license fees pay for management--a win-win for wildlife and the parks.

Numbers of hunters would also be easier to control as the population ebbs and flows over the course of years.  Wolves on the other hand, would have to be fed or transported to a new location when numbers of deer and elk fell.

Calf D152 killed by wolves in the Smith Creek drainage of Montana.  (LF Ranch photo)

And then there is always the possibility they could escape the enclosures and attack cattle and domestic animals.  The neutered and collared wolves would kill New York or California domestics as easily as the wild wolves kill Montana, Idaho and Wyoming domestics--cattle, sheep, and dogs.

You may want to call your congressmen and ask that money for worthless research be restricted.

Today.  Tomorrow may be to late.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To Clean or Not To Clean?

Here are my thoughts 280 rick:

A month ago, 31 Dec 2009, a reader--280 rick--left the following comment on my 270 Winchester for Elk Hunting post:

Anonymous said...

dennis, happy new year to you too. call me (anonymous) 280 rick. do you have any tips or can you refer me to a page that has reliable, practical info on rifle cleaning after a day at the range? i'm reading that more damage is caused by cleaning than by shooting and am developing a flinch when i pick up my rod

I have heard the same thing, but don’t totally believe it. Why do shooters clean their rifles? Two reasons: get the crud out and keep the bore from rusting.

All rifles will accumulate bullet and powder fouling. If you have been to a black powder shoot, you have seen the worst. Black powder and to a lesser extent Pyrodex leaves more residue than smokeless powder. Traces of lead are also left behind in black powder barrels. During the normal course of fire black powder shooters don’t have time to clean the barrel of the crud, and some have developed a method of keeping the crud moist so that it doesn’t hinder accuracy as much. This is were they use the breathing tubes to introduce moisture leaden breath to the bore.

Smokeless powder and copper bullets are not as bad, but still leave behind gunk. The actual gunk usually isn’t a great detractor to accuracy, but left in the barrel, it attracts moisture and will be a site for rust to develop. Ever look through a barrel that doesn’t get much cleaning and see all those black pits and not a shiny rifled barrel? I doubt that cleaning would have done as much damage to the bore as not cleaning had in that instance.

Having said that, cleaning improperly can damage a barrel. To lessen the damage use good cleaning tools and procedures.


  • One piece coated rod
  • Bore guide or muzzle guide
  • Use a wrap patch or pierce-type jag
  • Use a relatively “tame” solvent during routine cleaning
  • Use the copper-cutter type solvent sparingly and correctly
  • Lubricant for bore

Break Free can be used for solvent and lubricant; Hoppe's is old school, but works; be careful with the copper remover!

Procedures after a day of shooting:

1. Clear you weapon--really

2. Place it in a caddy correctly. If you shoot an M-14 type rifle it should be placed upside down to keep solvent from bleeding into the gas system. This can have a “dieseling” effect on the first round fired after cleaning. Not good.

3. Install the bore guide or muzzle guide. Damage can be done to both the beginning of the rifling in front of the chamber and to the muzzle by not having the rod aligned with the bore. Without a bore scope you may never see the damage done to the rifle in front of the chamber. Hot powder gases from the cartridge damages the rifling throughout the bore, but it is usually concentric, effecting top, bottom, left, and right equally. Rods that are misaligned with the bore can leave nics and mashed spots in only one place. I like Sinclair All-Purpose Rod Guides. They have a cone shaped end that fits many chambers, an adjustable lock that fits different length actions and a solvent port.

4. The bore guide also keeps solvent, dirt, grime and residue from leaking out of the patch, chamber and locking lugs and into the stock and trigger mechanism. A clean rifle with a sticky trigger is no fun, especially in a cold climate like Montana. (Link to Trigger: Heart of the Elk Rifle)

Selection of bore guides: Sinclair, AR15 type, MTM.

Sinclair bore guide in Winchester M70. Note the solvent port.

5. Use a one-piece coated rod. If you are in the field and need to make a quick cleaning go ahead and use the sectioned “GI” type rod, but remember that each edge of each section will bump the rifling at the muzzle and at the breech. I like Dewey one-piece rods with a length and diameter to match the bore.

AR15 with bore guide and one-piece coated Dewey rod.

GI sectioned rod. Notice bright mark where sections meet, indicating wear on metal somewhere!

6. Use a wrap-patch or pierce-patch type jag that protects the rifling from the jag with a layer of cotton patch. Pay special attention to the end of the jag that will contact the bore first.

Wrap-type jag.

7. If you have a solvent port on your bore guide, add the solvent here.

8. Push the patch all the way through. Do not try to reverse direction half way through the bore. Tangent: The first day that we shot at 6th Army MTU one of the shooters reversed direction and got his rod stuck. We tried dumping cold water on him, but it didn’t work. The gunsmiths were away, so for a week he had to take his M-14 everywhere he went with a bright yellow rod sticking out the muzzle.

9. Remove the patch at the muzzle, or breach if a lever, pump, auto, etc.

10. Pull the rod back carefully. Dings on the muzzle will happen if the rod is casually pulled back.

11. Attach the bore brush. If I had just shot a round or two at an elk, I would dispense with the bore brush, but if I have shot a full National Match Course, or more, I would run the brush through four or five times in both directions--never reversing direction in mid-bore.

12. Reattach the jag and swab one way with multiple patches until the patches come out dry and clean. If the rifle is to sit for more than a day, run a lubricated patch through to protect the barrel from rust. If you have done this step, remember to swab the bore once or twice before shooting!

Before I started shooting moly-coated bullets I would use a copper-cutter solvent on my rifle two or three times a year. This is on a rifle that shot several thousand rounds a year. After I switched to moly bullets I still use the copper-cutter once a year--if it has been shot a lot. Remember to follow the directions on the copper-cutter solvents. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN LONG!!! They don’t just eat copper, they eat METAL.

These are the procedures I, and everyone else on the Army team used, when shooting in competition. I have adjusted them a bit for use on hunting rifles that are usually shot less then 200 rounds per year. Although, if you are a dedicated hunter and shooter, you will want to shoot something much more than 200 rounds a year. Smallbore, air rifle, silhouette.

There is an old mantra that goes something like this, “A soldier can take heat, cold, rain, snow, ice and lack of sleep, but a soldier’s weapon need more care than that.” Take care of your weapon soldier, or hunter as the case may be!