Friday, January 23, 2009

The Range Reviews: The .416 Ruger and the Hawkeye Alaskan

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

I have always wanted to convert a Mauser 98 I own to a 416 Taylor. I need a short barreled pig thumper for the occasional unscheduled and intimate dinner parties I get invited to with the wild hogs I hunt. Boar hunting rifles come in every size and shape, for every style of hunting. But for me, I like it up close and personal. Hence the need for something short, maneuverable, and heavy hitting. Something with the punch of a big bore express rifle but in an affordable package. (For more on hog hunting rifles calibers see: Boar Hunting Rifle Calibers Parts I and II)

Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan in .416 Ruger
Photo courtesy of Sturm, Ruger, and Co.

Well, Ruger beat me to it. While at the Bass Pro Shops sponsored "Media Day at the Range," (Held the day before the Shot Show starts.), I found the Ruger table laden with all sorts of new goodies! Drawn like one of my bees to honey, I spied the new Number 1 in .300 RCM (Ruger Compact Magnum), a couple of Mini-14s, and two or three new bolt rifles on the table. Tom Sullivan, VP of Operations, noted my interest and offered the new Hawkeye Alaskan in 416 Ruger for my inspection.

Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of stainless steel, black plastic/composite stock, or all weather rifles, having had my fill of black plastic things that shoot when I was in the US Army. But this beauty from Ruger turned me around like a set of long legs in a mini-skirt on a hot Miami street.

The first thing I noted as a held it, was the comfortable grip the Hogue OverMolded rubber stock afforded. "Grippy" not sticky is what I would call it. I could easily change my grip or slide my hand on the forearm. But when I held on, it held back. The texture, a small continuous pebble-like surface, afforded an excellent grip that didn't slip, slide, or move. Tom reminded me that the synthetic rubber coating is bonded to the fiberglass stock, and is impervious to gun cleaning solvents.

The rifle weighed in at a reasonable 7 3/4 lbs so it wasn't the weight that moderated the recoil from the Ruger 416 that it was chambered for. Control was phenomenal, and I believe that the Hogue stock along with the new improved recoil pad, had a lot to do with the relatively reasonable recoil generated by the cartridge/rifle combination.

The Hawkeye action is the standard length M77 rendered in matte stainless steel with controlled round feed. The extractor is a proper, beefy, Mauser type claw that will see to it that the expended cartridge leaves the chamber with alacrity. The three position safety was smooth and relatively quiet. The rifle sports a 20 inch stainless barrel, with a windage adjustable shallow V rear sight and a white bead up front. The rear sight debuted with the .375 Ruger M77 and is a substantial improvement over the folding rear sights they used to put on the rifle. The sights lined up easily and were surprisingly accurate. Accurate enough for me to put all my 416 rounds in a four inch circle at one hundred yards! For my eyes, that's better than good, it is great!

The receiver is of course, machined for the Ruger scope rings, which are included. The Ruger scope ring and action interphase design is by far the best made. The machined grooves in the action do not allow the scope base to move in any way, but allow quick and easy removal and replacement of the scope as the situation warrants, without losing zero. Not only that, but you can get aperture sights like those offered by NECG that lock right into place, again with no loss of zero. With the larger aperture you can line up the sights far quicker than even the standard iron sights allow. Carried with your gear, it can also save your hunt should a scope go awry.

LC 6 Trigger Photo courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Tom pointed out that the trigger subgroup was the new LC6. Out of the box it is a much improved trigger, smooth pulling and breaking somewhere in the 3.5 to 4.5 range.

The .416 Ruger is a proprietary cartridge that is being manufactured by Hornady for Ruger. Made to replicate the power and performance of the classic .416 Rigby and the more recent .416 Remington, it does so in a standard length action with a 24 inch barrel. Using 400 grain bullets it churns out 2400 fps at the muzzle, with 5116 ft/lbs and at 100 yards it is still a very convincing 2143 fps and 4077 ft/lbs. In the 20 inch barrel that the Hawkeye sports, it is supposed to nearly equal the fabled Rigby. Viewing the ballistic charts I am not certain what criteria they are following and how the comparison is made, but if you take 300 fps off for the 20 inch barrel, you are still very close to the 5000 ft/lbs considered necessary for dangerous game.

Hornady is offering two loads: one a steel jacketed, copper clad soft point, capable of expanding to one and a half times its diameter, and a steel jacketed, copper clad solid with a super tough alloy core that will not deform allowing for deep penetration. For the handloader there are an innumerable number of bullets available for the .416 from all the manufacturers.

Both Phillip Loughlin of The Hog Blog and I were able to fire several rounds through the Alaskan. We were both impressed by the handling characteristics of the rifle, and the ballistics are compelling, to say the least. Remember we are talking about Rigby performance out of a 20 inch barrel!

Phillip Loughlin at full recoil with the .416 Ruger

The only recommendation I made to the folks at Ruger was to add a barrel band for a sling. Even though the Hawkeye was fairly reasonable in the recoil department, a sling stud could chew up a misplaced hand in the heat of battle. I noticed they had removed the stud at the show, perhaps someone had already experienced a stud bite!

I think I will look no further for a bolt action hog hunting rifle. Not only does it meet my criteria for a close range battle stopper, it's made by Ruger. (Always a big plus for me!) In addition the ammo is commercially available, and all the components for reloading, from brass to bullets, are on the shelves. So when you are in the market for a Dangerous Game Rifle that is rugged, controllable, weather resistant, and accurate, look no further than the Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan. As a dangerous game rifle with a street price of less than a thousand dollars, I think you will be as taken by it as I!

And remember, when it says Ruger it's made in America!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Range Reviews: SOG S62 PowerLock with V-Cutter

Best Muti-Tool on the Market!
© 2009-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

“At SOG, we create style through craftsmanship. Our purpose is to combine advanced technology, imaginative designs and high-quality construction to create products of the highest caliber-products that enhance your life”
The SOG Philosophy

Multi-tools have become ubiquitous. Just about everyone makes one, with quality varying from atrocious to sublime. SOG Specialty Knives makes one of best multi-tools.

To quote SOG Specialty Knives, they are “totally committed to creating the world's finest specialized knives and tools.” Having used their S62 PowerLock with V-Cutter for well over a year, I have no doubt as to the commitment of its founder and chief designer, Spencer Frazer, and his talented crew, to produce cutting edge tools for today’s military personnel and civilian outdoorsmen.

Picture courtesy of SOG Specialty Knives

The S62's specifications and components are impressive:
  • Double tooth saw
  • ½ serrated blade
  • Three sided file
  • Large screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • ¼” socket driver
  • Awl
  • Can opener/Small screwdriver
  • Bottle opener/Medium screwdriver
  • Wire crimper
  • Wire cutter
  • V-Cutter

Picture courtesy of SOG Specialty Knives

From left to right: Drive unit, blade
can opener-small screwdriver,
bottle opener-medium screwdriver.

Top to bottom: Double tooth saw, awl, large screwdriver,
Philips head screwdriver, can opener-small screwdriver, and file.

Standard leather sheath

Closed it measures 4.6 inches and open it is 7 inches. It weighs 9.6 ounces, which while not heavy, gives it sufficient heft. It is made of polished stainless steel and comes with a leather sheath. A nylon sheath is also available, and can be purchased separately.

The first impression is that of a very sturdy and solid tool. The polish is very good and the imprints and logos are deep and well done. Upon opening, the needle nose pliers are robust without being too bulky. It is obvious that they are meant to be used.

Picture courtesy of SOG Specialty Knives

The gearing system, called Compound Leverage (TM) generates twice the gripping and cutting force than other multi-tools. As a test I went and clipped a couple of pennies, a dime, some hardened wire, plain wire, and a coat hanger. Except for some copper streaking, the cutters show no sign of any wear.

Very little pressure disengages the locks.

The components are held in the open position by the PowerLock spring. To close them you depress the lever and fold them back.

The blade is serrated along half of its length. These serrations worked well against cardboard, nylon strapping, along with polypropylene, manila, and cotton rope. The blade itself is chisel ground. While some may not like that edge, it does make it easier to sharpen. The steel is easy enough to sharpen if you don’t wait until it is stone dull, and the blade is very serviceable.

Double tooth saw blade made short work of 1X1 oak!
The double tooth saw was exceptional in its cutting ability. It cut through a 1X1 piece of oak and then two pieces of pine lumber. Again the saw felt as sharp as when the first cut was made.

¼ inch drive unit works well; carry the adapter
and any bits you need for your guns when you travel!

A neat feature is the ¼ inch drive. Any ¼ inch socket will fit on the drive, and with the adapter you can use all those hex screwdrivers, allen wrenches, torx bits and anything else with a ¼ inch hex shank. You can also use an extension to give you a little more reach or clearance.

The V-Cutter is designed to cut through webbing or cord. Unable to find any webbing that I could safely cut, it made short work of ¼ inch braided cordage. I'm thinking you could even use it to gut game animals if need be.

All of the minor tools performed as expected; that is to say the screwdrivers tightened and loosened screws, and the bottle and can opener opened their respective containers. The awl is diamond shaped and as sharp as a razor. It punched through some very heavy harness leather with ease. It is best to back whatever you are punching through with a piece of softwood for safety.

All you need to disassemble and service the S62 is a ¼ inch wrench.

Something that really set the tool apart is that you can completely disassemble it, rearrange the components, or replace components with completely different ones. (As long as they are the same thickness.) All that is required is a ¼ inch wrench.

Care is nothing out of the ordinary. Keep it clean, oil the hinges lightly, occasionally strip it down to its components and clean it thoroughly. It should give you a lifetime of service.

Overall I rate the SOG S62 PowerLock a rock-solid buy, well worth the price. It is the best multi-tool currently on the market, the guarantee is unbeatable, and their commitment to be the best instills great confidence. A SOG S62 PowerLock on your hip will resolve 95% of your problems; the other 5% probably require a specialist and a big fat bank account.

And remember SOG is made in America!

SOG PowerLock S62
MSRP: $110.00

Best Regards,
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Albert A Rasch
Best Boar Hunting Rifle Calibers: Part I

Albert A Rasch
Preserving and Tanning Small Hides

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shot Show Review: Report # IV

© 2009 Albert A Rasch

Howdy All!

Well, I suppose all good things must come to an end!

It has been a pleasantly exhausting five days at the 2009 Shot Show here in Orlando. The quantity and quality of offerings are simply too many for one person to see, even if you have the full four days to walk the convention floor. I was told by my good friend, Phillip Loughlin of the Hog Blog, (See banner link on right hand column.) that if you walked every aisle you would cover something like nine miles! I must have walked them three or four times each day. It is real easy to get distracted and disoriented in that cavernous space, it was every bit of 715,ooo square feet!

I have been told that the number of attendees was less than usual. If that's the case, it must be wild when it is packed!

I just received this a few moments ago:

"Though many trade shows have seen a decline in attendance, SHOT Show attendance remained strong this year, rising 3 percent when compared to its last visit to Orlando in 2007. According to preliminary figures, this year's show attracted 25,384 attendees, 22,098 exhibiting personnel and a record 1,425 members of the media for a total attendance of 48,907."

National Shooting Sports Foundation Online News Service

There were plenty of vendors too. And they were all very supportive of each others, as well as attentive to the attendees. I asked many of them how they had done, if the economic slow down was affecting them. Each and every one said that they got some business, took some orders, and made some deals. Some said it was less than the past years, that the foreign buyers were less and not as willing to purchase, but OK none-the-less. Even the African safari vendors said they were booking hunts. With the DoD pumping money into anything related to Homeland Defense, most of the "tactical" types said their business was booming.

Firing the Desert Tactical Arms Stealth Recon Scout
Sniper Weapon System in .308, at the 2009
Media Day at the Range.
Three shots, three hits at 500 yards!
Wait until you hear what the .338 Lapua version did...

Just to whet your appetite, here are a few things we will be covering in the coming weeks:

  • I'll have information on some great new sporting firearms,
  • Reviews on gun gear and equipment,
  • Field tests with accessories from several makers,
  • And a couple of interviews!
CZ's Safari Classics Magnum Express rifle in 500 Jeffery.
Unfortunately I was only able to fire some lightweight
medium rounds
like the Ruger 416 and the Sako 370.

On a more personal note, I got a real life education. Of course the usual comedic disasters befell me, and if you don't hear it from me first, I'm dead sure Phillip will tell you. But the knowledge I gained from industry insiders, new friends, and regular folk attending the Shot Show, was invaluable. I am certain that it will help make The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles better, more informative, and of greater use to you.

Fondest Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...