|A Great Day of Shooting|
Sometimes life is just plain good. For me, such times often involve hunting, shooting, and related activities - and I had just such a time recently, attending new product seminars for some of the biggest and most respected names in the firearms industry: Winchester, Browning, and Remington. (Since Winchester and Browning are under common ownership, don't be surprised to see me refer to them as "Winchester/Browning," because although they are independent companies, they do work together often.)
So why am I sitting here feeling good after a deadening twelve hours on the go? Because I got to see, handle, and most importantly shoot some of the new products that these companies have come up with. Best of all, I can give you a sneak-peek at what's coming up for hunters and shooters.
The biggest news on the Winchester ammo front are the new Winchester Super Short Magnum (WSSM) cartridges, based on the same short-fat geometry of the Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) line. For 2003, WSSMs are being introduced in 223 and 243 calibers, and man, are they funny-looking. With a base measuring 0.535" (that's just over 1/2"!) and a squat maximum overall length of 2.36", these extra-short, fat cartridges bear a strong resemblance to cartridges like the 6MM PPC, long known to benchrest shooters. But what about performance?
While I don't have the time or space to go into specifics here, I can give you some of Winchester's specs for these cartridges. According to Winchester's info, the 223 WSSM beats the 22-250 Rem by approximately 200 fps - and the 243 WSSM does the same relative to the 243 Win! Like the parent WSM cartridges, these new cartridges headspace on the shoulder, rather than utilizing a belt for that job as magnum cartridges usually did until recently.
The 223 WSSM will be initially offered in three loadings: 55 grain Ballistic Silvertip, 55 grain Pointed Soft Point, and 64 grain Power-Point. New loads for the 243 WSSM include a 55 grain Ballistic Silvertip, a 95 grain Ballistic Silvertip, and a 100 grain Power-Point.
I shot both of these cartridges, and found recoil negligible in both cases. Four out of five rifles were Browning A-Bolts, and the fifth was a Winchester Model 70. The Winchester gave me the poorest groups of the bunch, possibly due to its noticeably heavier trigger pull. Accuracy with both cartridges was about what Winchester's engineers said it should be, 1" to 1.5" at 100 yards. The worst group I fired was 2.5", and that was with the Model 70 I mentioned above. All rifles wore fine Kahles scopes, which I found to be exceptionally clear and easy to focus. The Caldwell rests provided for our use worked very well.
Feeding from the magazine was the biggest snag some shooters ran into, but no doubt this will be corrected in production rifles. Development is still ongoing with these cartridges, mainly what I would call fine-tuning. Kahles' new 2-7x shotgun scope sporting their new "turkey reticle" should be a big hit... it's basically a duplex-type crosshair with a circle in the middle. I like this type of crosshair for fast shooting in brush, and this scope should be just dandy for slug guns as well as turkey guns.
Handgun hunters will be pleased to learn of Winchester's new line of Supreme Platinum Tip Handgun Hunting line of ammo. These new bullets feature a reverse taper jacket that actually gets thinner towards the base, and a two-part stepped hollow point cavity. The thick, plated jacket is notched and the bullet expands into a very effective-looking six-petal shape that should be deadly on game. Cases are nickel-plated.
Fans of the 41 Rem Mag will be happy to see that cartridge leading the batch of new Supreme Platinum Tip loads with a 240 grain load rated at 1250 fps. This line also includes loads for the 44 Rem Mag (250 grains, 1250 fps) and the 454 Casull (260 grains, 1800 fps).
I fired a cylinder of these in 44 Rem Mag, but I have no idea where they hit -- I was shooting at an already-riddled target at 100 yards, with a Freedom Arms Model 83 single-action revolver topped with a Bausch & Lomb scope. Later on I found the same model revolver in 454 Casull and wearing a Leupold scope, and just had time to run a cylinder of Platinum Tips through it. Accuracy was very good, and I'm sure that these cartridges and bullets will do a number on any critter you might need to use them on.