Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Flying With Firearms

I was recently asked to participate in a survey in regard to flying with firearms.  The survey group specifically wanted to know if I were ever hassled or detained when flying with my firearms.  Below is the response I E-mailed to them.

"Since the terrorist attack on 9/11, I have flown with firearms (both handguns and long guns) on three separate occasions out of O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.  One trip was to Maine through Boston's Logan Airport.  One was to Memphis, TN, and the other to Boise, Idaho through Denver.  I have never had an incident with any airline, airline employees, or TSA http://www.tsa.gov/ personnel.  Nor have I ever experienced any kind of problems with the local law enforcement.  Ironically, most of these connecting cities that I've flown through, and my city of origin are considered extremely liberal politically.

Maybe I've just been extremely lucky so far, but I am one of those individuals who do not mind the added security and the delays, nor do I mind the pat downs if required.  As a former Deputy Sheriff I understand the need for the additional security concerns.  As a point of clarification, I never display any type of law enforcement credentials nor do I ever inform the airlines that I am former law enforcement, so I can assure you that I am not getting any sort of preferential treatment from them. 

I do believe most of the hassles can be avoided by presenting a positive attitude towards the TSA folks, and by doing a pre-flight assessment of yourself and your belongings.  I always wear slip-on shoes when flying.  I do not wear a belt of any kind.  My car keys are packed away in my luggage.  I do not carry any loose change in my pockets.  My watch is small and unobtrusive and easy to remove.  I also turn my Cell phone off before boarding.  Lastly, I thoroughly inspect all of my personal items before packing to avoid any possible contraband.  This is just good old fashioned common sense.  Something that most of America has lost as of late. 

I know it's probably just a matter of time until I'm hassled, but if and when I am, I'll just grin and bare it.  Truthfully, I try to avoid flying with firearms at all costs if I can help it.  I drive to most of my shooting matches and hunting destinations whenever I can.  As a big man, I also hate sitting in the extremely small seats on planes and paying the checked baggage fees so why should I bother flying if I really don't have to.  In my opinion, air travel has become nothing more than a Greyhound Bus http://www.greyhound.com/ with wings".

We should keep in mind that as members of the gun fraternity we are always open to public scrutiny.  When we are in posession of our firearms we should conduct ourselves in a professional manner and respect anyone we come in contact with.  We are basically ambassadors for the shooting sports whenever we're in the public eye.  Whether we like it or not, that's just how it is! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The .357 Remington Maximum.

I just purchased a like-new Ruger Super Blackhawk in the much maligned .357 Remington Maximum cartridge.  The .357 Remington Maximum cartridge was originally designed by Elgin Gates for the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette http://www.ihmsa.org/ crowd.  This wildcat round was quite potent out to 200 meters and would knock steel Rams down with authority.  In 1983, the round was introduced into commercial production as a joint-venture between Sturm, Ruger & Co. http://www.ruger.com/index.html and Remington Arms http://www.remington.com/  Ruger released the Super Blackhawk in .357 Maximum and Dan Wesson Arms http://www.cz-usa.com/about-dan-wesson/ came out with their Model 40 revolver. 

The big-name gun writers of the era wanted to see just what this round could do, so they stuffed as much gun powder as they could in the 1.6" case, and launched the lightest .357 bullet weights they could find.  Needless to say that the velocities they were attaining were astronomical.  These gun scribes began to notice a phenomenon called Flame Cutting began to appear on the top strap of their revolvers.  Almost as quickly as it was introduced, the .357 Maximum was branded as too overpowered and unsafe because of the Flame Cutting issue.  Ironically, the Flame Cutting would only cut into the top strap to a certain depth, and after approximately 2,000 rounds or so, the cut would not deepen.

Flame Cutting is commonly found on any revolver that is fed a constant diet of hot, magnum loads.  Flame Cutting results from the hot gasses formed by the burning gunpowder as it escapes behind the bullet as it leaves the cylinder and jumps into the forcing cone of the barrel.  Its the nature of the beast.  Well, the .357 Maximum was unanimously pooh-pooed by the gun scribes, and because of these so-called experts, and excellent cartridge and the guns chambered for it fell by the wayside.

The .357 Maximum was always better suited to heavier bullets weights.  The 158, 180, and 200 grain bullets were preferred by Silhouette shooters and handgun hunters.  The .357 Maximum really found it's niche in the Thompson/Center http://www.tcarms.com/ single shot pistols.  These single shot's have barrel lengths up to 14" and are not prone to the Flame Cutting phenomenon.  The .357 Maximum cartridge really excels in the T/C.  You can stoke the T/C furnace up to 1,800 FPS or more.  It truly is a hand-rifle.  The man to see about T/C barrels and custom work is Mike Bellm of Grant's Pass, Oregon.  http://www.bellmtcs.com/store/

Because most pistols chambered for the .357 Maximum were discontinued early on, factory ammunition is almost non existent for this round as are unfired brass cases.  I was surprised to see that Starline Brass does not offer any .357 Maximum brass.  Remington still makes a run of brass a couple of time a year.  There are also a couple of specialty ammunition manufacturers that make ammo for the Maximum but their prices are quite steep.  I did find an outfit that reloads for the .357 Maximum.  They are Tug Hill Cartridge, Inc. in upstate Camden, New York http://tughillcartridge.com/home 

I have placed an order with Tug Hill for 250 rounds, loaded with the 180 grain Hornady XTP bullet.  This load out of a 7.5" barrel should generate around 1,400 feet per second.  My goal for the Ruger Maximum is to hunt Deer-sized game and Coyotes.  This load should generate more than enough power for my intended purpose, including game up to large Black Bear.  I haven't decided if I'm going to scope the Ruger Maximum yet.  Being that I already have a couple other scoped hunting handguns, I may run the Ruger with iron sights for the time being. 

The .357 Maximum project will keep me busy through the winter and it should be ready for the hunting trip that I'm planning to south Texas to handgun hunt a couple of the Super Exotic species this spring.  I'm looking to hunt Fallow Deer, Axis Deer, and Blackbuck Antelope this time around.  There is no doubt that the .357 Maximum should easily be up to the task at hand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ATTS Handgun Hunting Clinic Coming.

As as avid Handgun hunter and Certified NRA Hunter Clinic Instructor http://www.nrahq.org/hunting/clinic/hunterclinic.asp for Wild Turkey, White-tailed Deer, and Western Big Game hunting, I've been waiting for several years for the NRA to come out with a Handgun Hunting Clinic.  I have been told by the brass at headquarters that the next hunter clinic the NRA is in the process of releasing is on Waterfowl Hunting.

Well I've decided to take the bull by the horns and put together my own Handgun Hunting clinic that I will offer through my training company.  I believe I have enough handgun hunting experience and trophies under my belt to produce and teach a clinic such as this, so as soon as it's completed I'll list it on my web site and possibly in Handgun Hunter http://www.handgunhunt.com/ magazine.

This clinic will cover the various game animals that can be hunted with a handgun, firearm and ammunition selection, equipment preparation, shot placement, judging handgun hunting distances, field dressing and trophy preparation.  This clinic should give the budding handgun hunter the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to get into the sport of handgun hunting safely and efficiently.

Keep watching my web site for further developments and upcoming clinic dates.  

My Love Affair With Handguns.

Where do I begin.  Well, back when I was a young boy, I used to read all of the gun magazines, especially those on handgunning.  I was afflicted with handgunitis at the tender age of thirteen when I used to go Pheasant hunting with my Uncle Louie.  Uncle Louie was a Greek immigrant and a story unto himself but we'll leave him for another entry.

During our hunts we would stop for lunch along a farm road.  After lunch, Uncle Louie would produce a High Standard Citation .22 caliber target pistol and we would have a go at the empty soda cans.  I caught on quickly to the attributes of sight alignment and trigger control and I'd send those cans flying.  In his broken English, Uncle Louie would tell me that I was a very good shot with handgun.

When I was fifteen, a customer of our family's grocery business asked my Mother if it was okay for me to accompany him to a Moose Lodge Road and Gun Club swap meet.  My Mom agreed so he picked me up on a Honda 750 equipped with a sidecar.  That alone was pretty cool but when we hit the swap meet I was mesmerized by all of the guns for sale.  While walking along the tables filled with goodies, I spied a Smith & Wesson Model 1917 revolver chambered for .45 ACP/Auto-rim.  The revolver has seen it's better days but with a price tag of only $30.00 I wanted it.

I asked the man who took me to the swap meet what I had to do to buy the revolver.  He explained that in the People's Republic of Illinois I needed a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) card and be at least 21 years of age.  I assured him that my Mother would allow me to have it so we called Mom and after some keen negotiation and pleading on my part, the Big S&W was mine.  The man bought the revolver and then transferred it to my Mother the next day.

I shot that old hog-leg for a while and when I was sixteen, I had the chance to pick up a new-in-box Colt Python with a 4-digit serial number from a Chicago Police Officer I knew quite well.  The gun was built in 1959 and it was now 1972.  The Python was cool for a while but the old S&W made me realize I was a "Smith" man for life, or should I say a "Smith" boy.

Now you're probably thinking why would a Mother allow her son to have handguns at that age.  It was a different world back then, kids were far more responsible and mature than those Text-sending, video game playing, mindless, effeminate Zombies that are walking around today.  It was common practice for me to load up my car with several firearms and head to the the firing range by myself or with a few gun buddies.  Now 35 years later I'm still at it.  I'm just a bit more shrewed at wheeling and dealing. 

Over the years I've come to utilize certain calibers more than others.  Between managing one of the largest police pistol clubs in the region, and running my firearm training company, I probably shoot several thousand rounds of rifle and pistol ammunition every year.  I like to keep my caliber selections fairly small.  The bulk of my training and competitive shooting is done with the .38 special, the 9 Millimeter, the .223 Remington, and the .308 Winchester.  But as a handgun hunter there is one caliber that I really cherish and that is the .41 Remington Magnum.

The .41 Remington Magnum first hit the scene in 1964.  It was designed to bridge the gap between the .357 Magnum and the mighty .44 Remington Magnum.  It was also touted as being the ultimate law enforcement caliber, which it may have been had the factory loading been better suited for police use.  Being that the .41 Magnum was pushing a 210 grain bullet at over 1,300 feet per second, it was apparent that it was far too hot a load for rank and file police use.  At the same time several gun scribes had their own pet projects in the mix so the .41 Magnum was pushed aside and became sort of a Red-headed stepchild.

Now as a handgun hunting round it has very few peers.  Granted the .44 Remington Magnum, the .454 Casull, and the newer .460 and .500 Smith & Wesson Magnums far outshine the .41 Magnum in many ways, these aren't the easiest calibers for the average person to handle comfortably.  The .41 Magnum is actually a joy to shoot, even with hotter loads and is extremely accurate to boot. 

Currently, I have several .41 Magnums in my inventory.  My all-time favorites are a Smith & Wesson Model 57 with a six-inch barrel.  A semi-rare Smith & Wesson Model 58 with a four-inch barrel, and a scoped Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter with a 7.5" barrel.  All of these revolvers shoot extremely well.  The Model 58 was the Red-headed Stepchild that was supposed to replace the police revolvers of the 1960's.

The .41 Remington Magnum will easily take Black Bear.  Several years ago, I hunted Black Bear in Maine with Wayne Bosowicz http://www.foggymountain.com/ of Foggy Mountain Guide Service.  Wayne told me he has killed a slew of Bear with the .41 Magnum.  During my handgun hunt for Mountain Lion in Idaho, the .41 Magnum was at my side.  Shot placement on game is critical when hunting, especially with a handgun.  For most people the .41 Magnum will be much easier to shoot than a .44 Magnum, and that alone will give a shooter the ability and confidence required to make a lethal hit on a game animal.

Now that doesn't mean you can pick up a .41 Magnum and run out into the field and be proficient with it.  On the contrary, all big-bore handguns take time and practice to master.  That means you have to burn up some expensive ammunition to achieve your goals.  You must spend time on the range sighting in your hand-cannon for various distances.  Know where your given load will strike at 25 yards, 50 yards, and possibly 75 yards.  I've seen a lot of hunters who think bore-sighting their firearm means it's sighted in properly.  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  You owe it to yourself and the game your after to become a proficient marksman and handgun hunter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Course

On Sunday, December 4, 2011 ATTS held it's largest Utah Concealed Firearm Permit course to date with 33 students in attendance.  Interest in the Non-resident Utah CFP has increased dramatically due to the State of Wisconsin finally adopting concealed carry on November 1st, and because Wisconsin recognizes the Utah non-resident permit from Illinois residents. 

ATTS will be scheduling at least one class a month in 2012 to keep up with the demand for the Utah permit.  ATTS offers a complete training package to all of it's students which includes all necessary documentation, state mandated training, instructor sign-off and fingerprinting service.  If and when Illinois ever adopts concealed carry, ATTS will be ready to begin teaching those courses as well