Sunday, July 14, 2019

My Old Marlin – The 444
Marlin Firearm Company introduced the 444 Marlin to the shooting world in 1964 in their legendary 336 lever action rifle. At that time is was the largest lever action rifle cartridge available as many manufacturers had discontinued production of the 45-70 Gov’t cartridge. The 444 Marlin as it was known as was a .44 caliber cartridge. It is a large straight walled, semi-rimmed that was originally loaded with a Remington 240 grain soft point bullet leaving the barrel at 2350 feet per second. Within its effective range it was a devastating cartridge with enough stopping power to put down any of the North American game animals hunted.

In 1968, I was but 13 years old and one day, while reading one of my father’s Outdoor Life magazines, I came across an article on the 444. The author, whose name is now lost to me, wrote of traveling North America shooting every imaginable game animal with the 444. According to the author, they were all one shot kills, and many were dropped in their tracks. I was hooked, and I must have re-read the article a dozen or more times. By the time I was legally allowed to purchase my own firearms I had the entire article memorized. So it was, just after my birthday I headed to the local gun store and carried home my 444. Mine was topped with a then state-of-the-art Redfield Wideview scope which was held to the rifle by a set of Burris rings and a Burris base.

In those early years the 444 Marlin was not without its problem, mostly caused by the ammunition available. Originally Remington was the only company loading ammunition for the 444 and they were using their 240 hand bullets for the cartridge. Problem was, the hand gun bullets just couldn’t hold up to the pressure developed by the 444. Even though Remington declared the bullets they used in or provided for the 444 were not the same using in the 44 Magnum, testing provide otherwise. No of the problems was the original bullets were of a .429 diameter, which is exact what was used in the .44 magnum, which was slightly smaller than the 444 bore, which was .4295. In 1967 Hornady solved that problem when they introduced a 265 grain .430 diameter bullet explicitly designed for the 444. It was a flat point – soft point - bullet that proved to have better than average accuracy, and devastating stopping power.

My Marlin has a 24 inch mico-grove © barrel that just seem perfectly suited for the 265 grain bullet. Over the years it has been my go to rifle, and I have carried across mountains, in the rain and snow, and along the way have taken several really good animals with it. With the Hornady bullets which can be driven to just over 2200 feet per second, carries over 3000 foot pounds of energy at 100 yards, which is why one can see why the cartridge can have devastating effects on impact. The only limitation on the 444 is its range, which should be kept to less than 200 yards, as it was never designed as a long range cartridge. Recently Hornady developed a newer 265 grain bullet known as the Flex-Tip bullet. It has a soft polymer tip that is safe to use in tubular magazines.  The design of the bullet along with the polymer tip actually increases the ballistic coefficiency therefore extending the effective range of the cartridge. Unfortunately the newer Flex-Tip bullets won’t stabilize in the older 444 rifles with the micro-grove barrel.

Marlin re-introduced the 444 marlin this year in their 1985 Big Bore Rifle line. It is the classic 336 action with a 22 inch barrel design to utilize the Hornady Flex-tip ammunition. For fans of big bore lever action rifles the 444 Marlin is classic that won’t let you down.   

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Iconic 30-06 Springfield

The Iconic 30-06 Springfield

In 1903 the German army adopted the 7.92x57 Mauser as its standard military cartridge. Also known as the 8mm Mauser, it revolutionized modern military cartridges, and set of an arms race, of sorts, as various other countries tried to match the design and power of the 8mm Mauser. That “race” resulted in the development in the United States of a cartridge that to this day is a truly iconic cartridge that has withstood the test of time.

Soon after the Civil War, the United States military adopted a black powder cartridge developed by Winchester and know as the 45-70 Government as its primary military cartridge. The 45-70 Gov’t as it was know, would be the main stay of the military until 1894 when the US military changed to the new smokeless powder round designated the 30-40 Krag. Like so many cartridges of the late 1800s the 30-40 Kraig carried a 220 grain round nose bullet. At the same time the Germans used a cartridge designated as the Patrone 88. Like our 3-40 Krag, the Patrone 88 was loaded with the new smokeless powder and fired a 227 grain round nose bullet. But as the new century dawned that was all about to change.

In 1903 the Germans introduced their new 8mm cartridge, designed from the 7.92x57mm Mauser (8mm Mauser) with a revolutionary new bullet know as the “spitzer” bullet. Spitzer is German for pointed and the bullet was actually that - a pointed nose bullet – gone where the round nose bullets. The ballistics was much better with a pointed bullet and every country was off to the races – so to speak. The US Military turned to Springfield Armory, and from the United States came an answer in 1903, a cartridge known as the 30-03, but the performance of the cartridge was less than stellar, so back to the drawing board they went. Three years later Springfield offered their new and improved cartridge and the 30-06 Springfield was born. The cartridge would come to be known as the “30 aught 6” and was a 30 caliber (7.62mm) cartridge. The name derives from the 30 caliber designation and 1906 – the year it was adopted by the US military. Originally the 30-06 Springfield fired a 150 grain bullet at close to 2700 FPS with 2429 foot pounds of energy. Like the German 8mm Mauser, the bullet was of the “new” spitzer design.

The 30-06 Springfield would go on to be used by the US Military in three conflicts – WWI, WWII and Korea. It was first used in the bolt action rifles know as the M1903 and M1917 Springfield during WWI. With the outbreak of WWII the 3-06 cartridge was used in the MI Garand. The MI Garand was also during the Korean conflict. As a result, as the soldiers returned home, the 30-06 Cartridge became a favorite of many hunters. As the gun was carried afield what many hunters soon realized was that the 30-06 was an incredibly versatile cartridge. Designed as a truly 1000 yard cartridge, soon 30-06 ammunition was available in a wide variety of loads and bullets. By the 1920s it is was, and to this day remains, the most popular sporting cartridge not only here in the United State but around the world. It’s almost impossible not to find ammunition for the 30-06 at any firearms store. Even with all choices in ammunition today, the most popular and widely produced cartridge is the 30-06.

The 30-06 Springfield is suitable for every hunting pursuit in North American as well as most pursuits overseas. It is just as comfortable chasing plains game on the savannas of Africa, or stags in the mountains of New Zealand as it is chasing whitetails here in the states. I’ve personally known of hunters who have taken large coastal brown bears with a 30-06, then used it to hunt pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. When it comes to loads for the 30-06 Springfield the sky is the limit. There are literally dozens of bullets in various weights, ranging 110 grains to 220 grain, available for the 30-06.

Iconic is the only way one a can truly describe the “30 aught 6”. Since its inception, the cartridge has been the mainstay for sportsman and women around the world. Its manageable recoil, yet impressive energy on impact, guarantees that the 30-06 Springfield will be here for decades to come. As long as men and women head afield, many will carry a rifle chambered in 30-06 Springfield with them…..