Sunday, February 12, 2017

Coming to a receiver near you

I have just returned from the SCI convention in Las Vegas. I met with some old clients and many old friends as well and met a few new clients. The dramatic change in temperatures from Cache Valley to Las Vegas was worth the trip alone. Campbell Smith brought his usual South African humor that kept everyone within ear shot rolling in laughter for hours. We did acquire a bottle of Blue Sapphire, some tonic and I seem to recall some limes that got flown in from Colorado. 

Tia Shoemaker picked up her 416 and then spent the rest of the convention trying to explain to everyone why it had head lights. With a 12.5" Length of pull and 8 pounds and an ounce or two fully loaded with 5 rounds you don't have to eject an empty to know its gone off. Together the pair should make a formidable force to deal with in a punch up as the lady is now packing some serious heat.

During the week I spent some time looking over what the optics companies have in store for us in 2017. There is noticeable trend a foot and I must admit I'm a bit puzzled by it. The number of Precision Rifle shooters in this country seems to be increasing every year. I think this is partially due to the lack of anyone being able to draw any tags in the west anymore and I'm told this shooting discipline is a lot of fun. The sport requires practiced skill and dedication and this has spawned a need for ever evolving kit with optics being front and center.

It would appear that we, the shooting public, have requested our rifles scopes to be Biggie Sized once again to allow for that currently fashionable 1138 yard shot onto the next ridge line, or over the county line or perhaps into the next time zone. To do so we now apparently "need" larger scope tube diameters to better fill this need. The new darlings of the game come with 34mm tubes but hang on folks a 36mm line is now plowing ground into the market as I type.  Allowing enough reticle movement in the come up turret to almost insure a hit on a target at the edge of your horizon. Be still my beating heart.  

You begged for bigger and the Industry has listened. All this is well and good for the practiced Long Range Shooter/Hunter but the trend I now see is the morphing over of these specialized optical marvels into a line of scopes now marketed as a "standard" hunting rifle scope. No, I'm not kidding, I wish I were. 

In one booth I was being shown such a scope and the Rep was doing his absolute level best with a straight face I might add to convince me his companies newest model, engineered around a 34mm tube was without any question the finest general purpose hunting scope on the market and would insure me precise shot placement from off the muzzle to beyond a 1000 yards. 

             I swirled the ice in my $18 G&T and asked him if he'd ever seen me shoot ? 

Confused by my question he pulled up short for a reply. I'm sure when he saw my eyes begin to glaze over that he decided to help out a more likely prospect that had just entered the booth. 

Look carefully at the 2 pictures below, seems far fetched doesn't it ? A 77mm, many pound Hubble sitting atop my daughters hunting rifle conjures up an image of a Buck Rogers taking on Martians that have over stepped their boundary. 

                                           No way you say, it will never happen!!

As the M-16 has evolved into what is now termed by many as the "Modern Hunting Rifle" so may a rifle scope such as in my mock up become a standard on many deer rifles in the future. Can you imagine the balance and dynamics of this sweet combo ? Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

I fully understand the internal space required to add an additional 1/2 mile come up to your turret column but are we beginning to not only loose sight of the forest through the trees or have we lost sight of the whole damn forest ? 

                                    Time will tell, anyone want to take some odds ? 

No 77mm Leica's were harmed during the filming of this picture

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 is over, and 2017 is a wide open gate

I'm not all that sure where all of 2016 went. Before I knew it all 365 days had clocked out. What was accomplished ?? Quite a lot thank you very much.

For one thing a long over due trip to visit McMillan Fiberglass can be logged in as a major plus. I flew to Phoenix to sort out some ideas with Team McMillan. I was given a solid day to plead my case, toss out some ideas and vent. They listened hard, express their own ideas and they vented while I listened in turn. We cut stocks, we altered a mold, we got shit done. I flew home at the end of the day a very happy camper. The results have begun to trickle in the door and the results are as anticipated. Jeff, Mike and Kelly many, many thanks.

On a sad note Dick Davis, part of the backbone at McMillan for all these years passed away. I for one will miss Dick and considered him a wealth of information and a good friend.

A Frogman washed up, Keith Wood stopped by to try some new skill sets, my 83 year old mother swanned in to stay and the annual float trip on the Teton was great as usual.

The work load in 2016 was diverse and very satisfying. A lot of rounds went down range and a lot of feed back came in from the field as the year progressed. I spent much of this year on R&D, mostly at night and over the weekends. I believe it was effort well spent and long over due. Central Valley Machine put up with my constant intrusions as usual and offered me a cot in early fall to save me from having to go home every night. Thanks Bret as always!

Now time will tell if the use of all that  midnight oil is going to bare fruit. If you don't evolve, you rust. Bathing in WD-40 can only help for so long.

A number of great projects were completed and there are some dandies in the works now. I have another Echols & Co. Lid in the works and should be ready to test drive soon. Artist and Illustrator Dan Burr is finishing up the Art Work for the Logo patch as I type this .

I need to send Kevin Dilley Kudos for his consistent photographic skills and ability to work with a mad man. Kev, you da man !!!!

Soon I'll be heading to the SCI convention and getting out of this ice box for a week. I'm sure I'll see a lot of old friends and clients hopefully make a few new ones.

And to think the Turkey season is just around the corner

                   In the words of Timbuc-3            The Futures So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

See you all in Vegas

Friday, December 16, 2016

Another Shrike Stock Profile

The plan was to instruct when it came to fitting a Shrike stock, at least that's what I signed up for.  This project started with a group of friends that had put their heads, hearts and funds together to build a retiring SEAL a rifle for retirement. They wanted to use a 700 type receiver and I suggested a Borden. The parts began to arrive as did some of the participants, work began and when the dust settled this is how it all came together.

The Borden Stainless steel Timberline action was chambered for 300 Winchester Magnum, The 4 grove chrome moly barrel came from Krieger. The bottom Metal was secured from Sunnyhill and the labor was supplied by some hard working, well meaning folks that felt enough about a friend and his commitment to career and country, often in harms way, to make it all come together and say thank you for your service.

Chad Tarbet and Brad Green from Intermountain Gunsmithing blued the Stainless receiver while my painter, Jeff Bunce, primed and finished the paint job with his usual stellar efforts.

The rifle was put through its paces to iron out any bugs, find which loads shot the best leaving the recipient the rest of his hunting career to hopefully make some memories with it. 

This Shrike stock is now beginning to make a lot of 700 fans very happy when they've taken the plunge and given this stock a try. 

Photography by Kevin Dilly at Klik Photography

Thursday, December 1, 2016

You Just Never Know What Will Walk In The Door

I am occasionally asked to machine a set of grips for some rather ornate Handguns. A while ago I took the time to make a couple of additional fixtures to allow me a bit more versatility when called upon to do so. Making the fixtures took considerably more time to fabricate then to machine any actual pair of grip scales but the sweat equity was worth the up front investment. This pair of fixtures was used initially to machine a set of grips for a highly engraved Luger Parabellum. They allowed me to machine the raised inletting bosses on the underside of the Lugers grip panels for the 1st operation. Then allowed me to rotate the grip scales 180 degrees, index each scale back onto the fixture and then contour the exterior sides. On that particular project the scales exterior surface thickness was left  oversized to allow them to be carved per the clients request.

Recently another highly engraved Colt 1911 required a set of grips to be machined and the same fixture was pulled out of a drawer and dusted off. As the underside of the 1911 scales fit flush against the frame each scale was set up in the mill, machined smooth with an end mill then the screws holes were precisely located and drilled. Each scale was then rotated 180 degrees and each screw hole precisely relocated with gauge pins then counterbored for the screw heads. Low Head Allen screws were machined to mimic the original 1911 grip screws and then each scale was securely screwed to the fixture. Only then was the exterior profile and contour machined.

This 1911 had been expertly surface ground, detailed and polished by the Chad Tarbet and Brad Green at Intermountain Gunsmithing LLC. Once the metalwork was completed it was then completely engraved by Lee Griffiths. As Lee owns the 1911 he chose a World War 1 theme for the scenes. It is a damn shame I have no quality close ups of the scenes at this time as they are excellent.

This set of scales was machined from a very hard block of Turkish Walnut that Lee had squirreled away. It was thick enough for me to split in half to give the pair a "Book Match" look. I had considered using a block of Ebony in the same manner but the Turkish won the coin toss. The scales now finished have been left un-checkered to allow a prospective buyer the options of having them checkered, carved by Lee or remain as is.

Doug Turnbull's crew Carbonia Blued the majority of the finely polished parts after Lee had completed the engraving. The gold plating sets off a nice contrast with the French Grey, Carbonia blue and Walnut back drop. Then Intermountain was called to back into the game to refit and reassembled the 1911 without doing any cosmetic damage to the finished surfaces. I have it on good account that all the cell phones were turned off and Brad chose an Easy Listening radio station for the remainder of the assembly time.

The final result is eye catching to say the least and speaks volumes about the time and effort by bevy of craftsmen doing their best to achieve a desired goal. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

More Pics From The Field

It is Thanksgiving Day and the sun is shinning in Northern Utah. We have a light skiff of snow in the yard and for the 1st time this fall and the temps have finally dropped. One of our Spring Gobblers is in the oven and I can already predict the results. By early evening we should all be in gravy induced daze.

Here are some more recent pics from the field. Many have had a pretty productive fall so far.

Terry drew a coveted tag to hunt on the Eastern plains of Colorado for deer. The tag allows you to take either a Mule Deer or a Whitetail. Terry's plan was to try and kill one of the oversized Mule Deer that live amongst the many corn and alfalfa pivots that break up the short grass sand hills and arroyos. At the end of the 5th day plenty of bucks had been seen but nothing found really pushed the envelope. It wasn't for lack of effort, they just hadn't run into a stud. The Outfitter suggested Terry extend the hunt a few more days and the search continued. Late in the afternoon on the 7th day the team ran into this mature Whitetail tending a doe and the 300 H&H was quickly put into action, a single round closed the deal.

  This is Terry's largest Whitetail to date and fine buck it is. 

Craig and his son Will drew two Elk tags in their home state of Arizona and set about to make the most of the opportunity. Each has a battery of rifles to choose from but the hammer of choice for this hunt was a Legend 270 Winchester that has been used in Canada and Missouri with now predictable effects pushing a 140gr TTSX it has been lethal to say the least. 

I'm not sure if the two of them draw straws to hunt with the same rifle. Does one take a morning shift the other afternoon shift ? or if they alternated days ? but there seems be be a division of possession that works and everybody is happy. Another Legend is currently in the works so when completed they no longer will have to share the same rifle on every other Thursday and or alternate Leap years. 

Craig's bull was shot head-on and very close range and the TTSX drilled through the brisket and up- ended the bull right there. Ross Seyfried once said the Winchester 140gr Failsafe turned the 270 Winchester into a true Elk cartridge. While the Failsafe is now a thing of the past the TTSX may be with us for many Elk seasons to come. A smart man would lay in a case or two of his favorite weight and caliber.

The both Craig and Will are now in Missouri hunting Whitetails and I can only imagine who is carrying that Legend at this very moment ???

Both Karl and John drew deer tags Oregon this fall and rolled out their Legends in hopes of having to use them. For a number of year these two compadre's would go to Namibia on cull hunts as they wanted the trigger time more than worrying about the size of the horns. All the meat is marketed professionally and they were more than willing to bring the ammo, lots of ammo. Needless to say they now have a lot of experience under their belts and have become more than passable shots. The bucks below are the results of that hunt. John dropped this 10 plus year old 2 point with his 7mm Remington and Karl killed this mature 4x4 buck with his 300 Winchester. 

Lexi spent less time at the range this summer and most of her time being employed as a life guard. So as the Utah deer season crept up on us it became apparent that some after school range time was imperative and had to happen quickly. 

With the season just around the corner her point of impact was confirmed from sitting and prone rather than off the Hart rest and within a a few afternoons she was back in the groove keeping all her bullets in a 5" group out to 300 yards. She had drawn a General Season Deer tag in the northwest corner of Utah but I was not at all familiar with where we ought to start. The scouting that I would have normally done was put on hold while I moved my 83 year old mother from Virginia to Utah. I called a number of friends that had hunted Box Elder County in the past and all had some good ideas to pass on.

I am now becoming much more familiar with App functions that allow you to determine land ownership in the field and this was proving to be a real asset this fall. We finally got permission to hunt a large ranch and spent a couple days behind a spotting scope at dawn and dusk trying to determine how to best hunt the first weekend of the season.

A group of Bucks could be seen on the neighbors alfalfa pivots but so far we only turned up a small buck and some Elk where we had permission. Opening day found us climbing a ridge line and carefully glassing the country around us. We found the Elk again but never sighted any Deer. We did however find a canyon trail that a large buck has been using for some time that I think held some promise. We found a place to set up and wait the buck out just at dusk as he dropped into the base of the hills to feed. While we hadn't seem him it was the only game in town that had any merit and the place as well as the plan seemed to have potential. 

As luck would have it at noon we had to drive to another ranch in the same area so Lexi could pitch a proposal for a science project she had in mind to the land owner that would require a healthy amount of real-estate to gather any useful data. We rolled into the ranch yard to find it filled with family and friends, some out for the deer hunt, some there for the meal to come and others deeply involved in a very serious looking game of poker. I knew many of these participants and walked over to the barbecue grill knowing it was a lot safer than being anywhere near that poker table. Lexi made her pitch, was granted the access and as we were about that leave the owner and his son said " why don't you all drive down to that guzzler on the upper bench and look for a 4 point that's been hanging out there for weeks". I like trick questions just as much as anyone and asked "why isn't anyone else here hunting him ??" the owner replied "Card games to important to worry about that buck right now, you'll go ahead" so with that we saddled up. 

This patch of ground is often where I hunt Chukar's and Hun's and I've seen plenty of deer on it over the years. I stopped the truck 600 yards from the guzzler and began to look for bedded deer, within moments I spotted the very buck snoozing under a tall bunch of sage. He was not alone, in short order I spotted 3 other bucks and a number of does. I got out the Big Eye and had Lexi look through the spotting scope" What do think ?" the smile was all I needed to see, it was game on.

There was no way to put a sneak on that buck from our current position. So we drove out of sight, parked, then Lexi, my wife and I sorted out what little gear we needed to attempt a stalk. We got above the bedded deer and slowly made our way in their direction up slope and into the wind. It was then we ran into another dozen deer that had just gone to water. One old doe knew all was not good in Camelot but just couldn't put all the pieces together well enough to start a rapid retreat to safer pastures. I was afraid she'd bolt down the draw and blow up all the other deer around the buck we were after. 

Instead she watched and waited before making move. We were patiently doing the very same thing 300 yards away in some head high sage. At the end of 20 minutes she elected to leave the draw going way from the other bedded deer, the rest of the herd followed her over the ridge. The stalk continued but now the wind was really beginning to swirl. Three times it hit the back of our necks and I thought we were busted, but when its 4th and goal you just don't hand over the ball and walk off the field.

Now we were on our hands and knees then finally our bellies. I could see other bedded deer below us and eventually spotted the buck still snoozing under the same sage. The range was 200 yards and we were now out of cover.  Lexi found the buck in the binocs and decided to slowly scoot uphill on her rear end until she had a clear view and an unobstructed shooting lane. I pulled the shooting sticks out of my pack, extended the legs and handed them uphill. She was as calm and deliberate as ever as she slid the fore-end into the yoke. She then asked for a little more elevation on one leg and settled into the rest. When she was ready I said "wait until he stands and then place the duplex right where you want the bullet to go, this could take awhile". 

Ten seconds later the buck rose to his feet and stretched. I heard the safe safety go off then as an after thought said "don't forget to breath". Seconds late the rifle cracked and the solid thump of a bullet strike rolled through the draw. The buck took a few feeble steps in a half circle and settled back into the sage one last time. The ping of the spent round let me know her situation awareness has improved and we rose to our feet. Lexi did a bee-line for the buck. I motioned to my ever patient wife that she could now come forward. She unfortunately hadn't been able to watch this all unfold as she stayed 50 yards behind us on the final crawl. The buck was a typical 3 year old and for some time the three of us just soaked it all in. We took some pictures and Lexi and I finally went to work on the buck while Rebecca went to get the truck at least closer than it was. 

The 120gr TTSX entered and exited the ribcage shredding the contents. Over the years I have been most impressed in this bullet when used in the 260 Remington, 6.5 Asp and the 6.5-06. So far, at least to 350 yards it is a stellar killer. Soon the field dressing was complete and the truck could be seen lumbering into view. We cut away the liver noting there was no saving the heart as it had been turned to giblets. 

The buck was very fat having been feeding on Reeds wheat for most of his life and as it was weeks before the rut and I had an idea that the version would be excellent. It had been a grand day on the hill. As we pointed the nose of Kermit in the direction of home I asked Lexi if she had learned anything today? a tired voice from the back of the cab said " yes I have, when's the next poker game ? " 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Highlights from this season so far

Over the past few months quite a number of pictures have made their way into my in-box and I felt it was time to post a few.

Terry sent in this pair of pics showing another old Oregon Blacktail Buck that hesitated just a few seconds to long before bolting for cover. Terry shot the buck with a his 300 H&H Legend at less than 60 yards. His smiling face and this Legend have been featured on this Blog many times. While he owns more than a few firearms and 2 other Legends this 300 H&H seems to be his "Go To" rifle of choice. The paint job is in tatters, the bluing fading on all the edges and the recoil pad looks like solid road kill. Terry shudders at the thought of refurbishing this work horse,  to quote him "you don't mess with perfection". I'll leave it at that.

Louis once again teamed up with Outfitter Travis Adams and Bucks & Bulls to take his best Mule Deer to date and this one is truly a bomber. Travis had this buck patterned at least as to the basin the buck preferred to hang in during the late summer. This buck had eluded a string of hunters for the past couple years to then reappear on winter range after the seasons had closed. Throughout the week the buck was spotted only a few times and was always well out of range and in an area that made a stalk just out of the question. Rather than blow the buck out of the country Travis elected to methodically wait and watch undetected. By the end of the week both Louis and Travis were sunburned and had bloodshot eyes from endless hours of glassing but Travis stayed put. Did I mention there are un-born fawns that already fear Travis

Late in the hunt the buck was seen in a location that just might allow them an approach to get in range. Quietly they made a move to close the distance on the bedded buck. Pinned down and finally out of cover Louis set up and mulled over his options, it was time to fish or cut bait. Wind direction and speed were discussed as there was still a lot of rarified air between the hunters and the bedded buck. Louis had recently hit targets at this distance and the conditions at that moment were just about ideal, he chose the appropriate range line on the reticle and leaned into the bipod. Travis ranged the buck one last time. 

Louis held for some wind and then surgically placed a single bullet into the buck at just shy of 6 football fields with his Legend 300 Weatherby.  It was over before the rifle's report faded into the aspens.

Louis has practiced for this type of shot for many, many years. Always preferring to get as close as possible to what ever he was about to shoot at.  This shot was calculated, the conditions checked and double checked before the round left the muzzle. Some will say "luck" while I say well done gentlemen, very well done. What a hog.

Hulme and Athol put together another Safari, this one in Mozambique. Old friends make fine hunting companions and this pair have shared more than a few campfires together over the years. Athol and the tracking team managed to turn up this heavy bossed, grumpy old bull and Hulme killed him cleanly with his 375 H&H Legend and a single solid. No Drama, no blood trails, no issues, just bang, thump !

Richard traveled into the NWT in search of a Moose and maybe a Wolf if he was lucky enough to see one. He was carrying a Legend chambered for 375 H&H we had built quite some time ago that until now he had never been in the field. The hours in the saddle and diligently glassing into Artic basins finally paid off with this really fine bull. Not a lot of New Yorkers will be eating Moose tenderloin this winter but I know one family will have plenty of steaks on the grill for some time to come.

The Wolf came in circumstances that really defy all reason but not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth Richard dropped the Wolf with a single round while he was fixing something to eat. You just never know what will show up for a meal.