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KinleyWater
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 9:07am | IP Logged Quote KinleyWater

Well a little while ago, I posted about how I acquired a new stainless Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take it to the range to see how it did. Also present were my Marlin 1894 .44 and my also new Henry All Weather in 45-70 (put it on layaway the day I picked up the Puma).

For the Puma, I had a variety of ammunition in .357:
Geco 180gr JHP
Remington G&W 180gr SJHP
Federal AE 158gr SJFP
Magtech 158gr SJFP
PPU 158gr SJHP
Federal Hydrashok 158gr JHP

Yes, yes, I know this is a handloads forum, and I know there are no handloads on this list. I don't load for the .357 yet.

First, a note on the Geco ammunition. Geco is an imprint of RUAG GmbH, for those of you who do not know, and is available through online and brick and mortar locations for fairly low prices. This particular ammunition was their 180 Hexagon JHP. The hollow point consists exclusively of the jacket material and is open only very slightly at the tip. Looking inside as best I could, I found that is formed a hollow chamber above the core material (I assume lead). In essence, this is more like an OTM bullet than a defensive HP. Because of the steep slope of the ogive and hard tip, I did not feel comfortable loading this into a tubular magazine. However, one of the nice things about the Puma is the ability to single load rounds through the top of the action, so they were not wasted.

With the exception of the Geco ammo, I tested the rounds I had for this rifle for ease of loading, ease of cycling, and precision (grouping). For each ammo type I used 10 rounds (yes, it's a small sample size). I loaded five into the magazine, noting ease of loading, then fired them at a human silhouette target at 50 yards. The remaining 5 rounds I fired at an 8 inch plate at 150 yards. All shooting was done seated with the firing arm elbow rested on the bench.

As I did not feel comfortable magazine loading the Geco ammo, I single loaded it and shot it exclusively at the 150 yard target. I found that when I did my part, I had a surprisingly good average of hitting the plate (something that earned my the death stare from a gentleman shooting 6.5 Creedmoor at 100 yards). I found the buckhorn sights to be a little more open than on my Marlin and this had the advantage of picking up a bit more light. The brass bead front also helped a great deal. I did not find the iron sights to be a disadvantage at all on this rifle for any of the ammo.

Of the ammunition tested for general use, the Remington green and white (G&W) box 180 SJHP was absolutely the most precise, shooting just about 3 inches at 50 yards. It loaded smooth, but would not feed through the action unless the muzzle of the rifle was pointed down. If level, the round would wedge against the top of the chamber and lock up the action. I attribute this to the length of the projectile and the more pointed ogive (I noticed the similarly shaped Geco needed to be dropped into the chamber, rather than rested in the elevator cradle). I also found the 150 yard target several times with this load.

The Federal Hydrashoc rounds loaded the easiest, likely due to the full-length jacket on the HP. It also fed very well, but turned in lackluster performance on the 50 yard target, achieving about a basketball sized group for 10 rounds. I did not fire this at the 150 yard target, as I did not feel I could hit it.

The Federal American Eagle and Magtech loads both had some trouble loading into the tube, getting hung up just inside the gate. I believe that there is some unevenness in the mouth of the magazine tube, perhaps a bur, which gouges the exposed lead of these rounds. The Magtech seemed to have a bit less trouble, but that might have just been circumstance. Both shot mediocre groups at 50 yards - about 6 inches each, and I was able to use both to find the 150 yard plate, though my percentages of hitting were low.

The surprise of the bunch was the PPU. It fed with about the same difficulty as the AE and Magtech, but loaded without incident. Groups at 50 yards were about 5 inches and I could still poke the steel at 150 with it. At the lowest price point, I was not expecting much from it, but it seemed to perform well.

I did not do any terminal performance testing. I suspect that out of a 20 inch barrel, any load I can get to cycle will be plenty enough. The trick, I think, is to find a load that performs well in terms of penetration and expansion for both the Puma and in a revolver. That will need to wait for another day.

I also shot the Marlin 1894 with some of my handloads and discovered a problem. My loads kinda suck. I was shooting Starline brass, 240gr Nosler Sporting Handgun HP, on top of 15 grains Blue Dot. At 50 yards, I can put round after round into a nice big ragged hole, but at 100, I'm lucky to put them all on the same target. I tried some factory Federal 240gr SJHP and was able to engage the 150 yard plate with round after round. *sigh* ooks like I'm back to the proverbial drawing board with that one.

Finally, the Henry 45-70. I tried 3 different types of factory ammo, since I don't have anything I need to reload this one yet:

HSM 405 grain (Cowboy Action load I think)
Hornady Leverevolution 325gr
Winchester Silvertip (350? gr)

Recoil. Recoil was mild, especially with the HSM loads. I would feel comfortable with my wife shooting those loads as they are. They were not overly accurate at the 50 yards target, though that was likely due to my never having shot the load or rifle before. The recoil witht he Hornady and Winchester loads was noticeably heavier, but much, much, less than my 35 Whelan or a 12 gauge with slugs.

Everything fed, loaded, and fired just fine. I did not find the front-load tube the Henry to be a distraction or a hindrance, and found single loading possible through the ejection port with all rounds tested.

Okay, lessons learned time...

Lever guns with irons sights are fun - lots of fun. Lots of fun out to ranges I didn't think would be possible. Let's face it, 8 inches at 150 yards is really cool for a pistol cartridge with a flat nose. With practice, I think I would feel completely comfortable hunting deer with any of those rifle at that distance.

People who shoot very expensive rifles at exactly 100 yards for tiny tiny groups are missing the point of shooting. Yes, I think it's a fun thing to do as well, but doesn't put nearly the smile on your face as ringing steel does.

I need to spend more time at the range practicing and validating my loads.

Inexpensive does not always mean cheap.

Rant time:

I am sick of gun "experts", both online and in print. Mostly, I am sick and tired of the cliches and sensationalizing of everything. "Kicks like a mule", for example, when describing recoil. I have never been kicked by a mule before. I have, however, been kicked by a horse, and a goat, and been butted by a ram. No gun I have ever fried has ever felt like any of these things. I have shot some rounds in my 35 Whelen that pinched a nerve in my shoulder and made the fingers of my firing hand go numb.

Really, though, I talking about big bores in general and the 45-70 in particular. I get it that everyone feels recoil differently, but I can't but wonder how many shooters never even try some calibers or combinations because some moron bloviated about the monstrous recoil of "X" round, or whatever. My wife, for example, was timid for many years about shooting 45 ACP, because she had been told that it had horrible recoil. It took me years to convince her to actually try it, and now she owns a 1911 in 45.

Okay, rant over, stepping down from soapbox.

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Paul B.
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 1:37pm | IP Logged Quote Paul B.

"Okay, rant over, stepping down from soapbox."

I'll agree with you but only up to a point. I casually invite you to stop by
and shoot my Ruger #1H in .416 Rigby. That one does kick like a very
pissed off mule. Shoulder that on wrong and you could easily end up
with a broken collar bone. Ruger's skimpy little pad doesn't help much,
if at all. I use the heavy duty Past recoil shield when I shoot it or my
.404 Jeffery.
I've never owned but have shot the .600 N.E., actually twice. It was a
13 pound H&H double rifle and yes, it got my attention. When I was
younger I had the guts or was it stupidity shoot any rifle made
regardless of kick. These days at age 80, I much prefer the more milder
kickers like my .35 Whelen which is close to a hot 220 gr. load from an
06. If I swing an elk hunt this year I'll probably just take my 7x57 and be
done with it. My handloads run right alongside the 7-07 with 150 gr.
Noslers so why not?
Paul B.
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KinleyWater
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 2:13pm | IP Logged Quote KinleyWater

Paul,

I'm not trying to say there aren't very powerful, or very high recoil calibers. I am trying to say that in the gun writing industry, and with online pundits, there is an overwhelming trend to hype recoil up to the point where it does the shooting community a disservice.

And for the record, I would love to try the Rigby (maybe just once), but at $100 / box online, you're buying the ammo...

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STCM(SW)
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 5:30pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

Try the 416 WBY Magnum I had!
Knocked me flat on my back from a sitting possession the first time I shot it.....

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doghawg
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 6:14pm | IP Logged Quote doghawg

Kinley

I've owned two .45/70's...a BFR 10" revolver with a 2x to 6x B&L scope and the Ruger #1 that I still own. I had the BFR pushing 400 gr. bullets over 1400 fps and I don't know nuthin' bout mules but recoil was nasty. The same gun with Winchester 405 gr. factory loads (chrony @ 1120 fps) was a completely different animal and pleasant to shoot. A handloaded 350 gr. cast bullet at 1000 fps or so was like a big fluffy .38 spl. Either of those lighter loads would certainly kill deer or bear very well but I was younger and tougher (also dumber) back then. The gun was very accurate but weighed over 5 lbs. scoped and the novelty soon wore off.

I had to hot rod the Ruger when I first got it too. With "Ruger only" handloads it was pushing 400 gr. Speers over 1900 fps and 350 gr. Hornady RN at 2100 fps. Recoil in that little 7 lb. rifle was again...Vicious! That was 20 years ago and this year I'll hunt with the #1 and 300 gr. RCBS GC (325 gr. from my mold) lumbering along at a sedate 1500 fps and mild recoil. I'm confident that's all the horsepower needed for any whitetail in a Wisconsin cedar swamp.

Brian Pearce took a Marlin lever .45/70 to Africa and proved the old war horse was adequate for big beasties. If you use heavy handloads or stuff like the Buffalo Bore ammo it's going to kick but that's the beauty of this caliber....it doesn't need to be pushed that hard to work.

Randy

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turbo1889
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Posted: August 19 2018 at 10:03pm | IP Logged Quote turbo1889

Your results with PPU ammo doesn't
surprise me at all. That stuff is good
ammo and is the first stuff I look for if
I'm actually going to break down and buy
factory retail ammo, for the price
comparing factory retail ammo to factory
retail ammo it can't be beat and often
outperforms higher cost ammo. Their
offering in 308 will hold head to head
with Black Hills Match ammo in my
experience !!! Then Serbs know what they
are doing when it comes to ammo and I've
heard their guns aren't bad either
although I have yet to confirm that
myself, still trying to get my hands on
one of their M-76 dedicated marksman
rifled in the old 8x57 warhorse
chambering.

As to guns that "kick like a mule" like
you I have never been kicked by a mule so
I don't know how true that saying is but
it has become a standard saying to the
point where I'm not so sure it matters how
accurate it is. And then there is most
viciously recoiling gun I have ever shot.
My woman has a confirmed case of "Cranium
Swelling Magnumitis" or in other words she
likes really big guns especially if they
are bigger guns then "then the boys" guns
and she has a big head about it and it
gives her an ego trip when she can shoot
guns that guys won't shoot or will only
shoot once and then give it back to her
and don't want to shoot any of her guns
afterwards. Well she owns sever 50-BMG
rifles, a couple of which aren't bad to
shoot, the semi-auto berret is actually
somewhat nice to shoot. But she also has
a 50-BMG take down gun that fits in it's
own little briefcase. The barrel is
exactly 16" long and goes in the case
diagonally from corner to corner with the
center piece action in one corner on one
side of the barrel and the stock in the
other. Well put together it weighs under
8-lbs and it's a single shot bolt action
50-BMG. Well I have shot that gun twice,
second time just because I wasn't going to
give her the satisfaction of knowing I
didn't want to shoot it again.

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KinleyWater
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Posted: August 20 2018 at 12:04pm | IP Logged Quote KinleyWater

turbo1889 wrote:
Your results with PPU ammo doesn't
surprise me at all...


My wife loves their 308 165gr psp out of her Gunsite scout. My only concern with the 357 is terminal performance out of a 4 inch revolver.

Thing is about recoil, I had a miserable experience with a 44 Mag revolver many years ago. It was an M29 4 inch, owned by a buddy, shooting 180 grain factory loads. It was unquestionably the most unpleasant handgun I had ever shot, and I thought the caliber was beyond my tolerance.

However, I took a second go at it with a new M69 and I can't believe that I ever though the recoil was too much. I have not, I admit, shot any 180 grain loads through it, but I have shot Buffalo Bore 240 +P at a verified 1500 fps.

Again, I don't debate that there are powerfully recoiling cartridges or cartridge/ firearm combinations.

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