Friday, September 3, 2010

Contemporary Purdey Shotguns

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

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, in association with Bernard and Associates, proudly presents Sporting Classics. Widely recognized as the premier outdoor magazine, with award-winning photos, paintings, and graphics and the country's top writers, Sporting Classics focuses on the best hunting and fishing throughout the world.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles has been chosen as one of the few Outdoor Bloggers to share content from the most respected and well known magazine in the outdoor community!

Please enjoy the following advance publication of their Shotgun Column.


The Shotguns Column
by Robert Matthews

One of the perks of my job is that I get to go a lot of places and meet a lot of interesting people. Just before Christmas last year I went to London, where I spent some time with a grand and gracious Englishman named Richard Purdey. Richard is a direct descendant of James Purdey, the founder, and is a former chairman of James Purdey and Sons. He is also a fine fellow, thoroughly English, and a thoroughly nice guy. The kind you’d like to go to a pub with, perhaps have a bit of lunch, maybe an ale, and talk about guns and birds and football, and even the strangeness of politics and politicians. All of which we did.

We were in a small establishment called The Dove, just down the street from Purdey’s Hammersmith factory and only a stone’s throw from the River Thames. We had just finished a factory tour and decided to take a break for lunch before continuing.

The conversation was free-ranging, but as you would expect, it was dominated by guns and gunmaking. I was in awe of what I had seen at the factory, because what I had seen was not what I expected. Apparently my mind’s eye had been blinded by the stereotype. I had envisioned rows of wizened old men hunched over workbenches, filing and scraping in the wan light of ancient oil lamps. I certainly saw marvelously talented craftsmen working over lumps of steel and wood. And they were, if not so old or very wizened, certainly accomplished and enthusiastic. We spent some time with stocker Mark McCarthy and finisher Tom Nichols. As you would expect from any maker of Best-quality guns, all of the guns I saw were exquisite.

The story took an unexpected turn, though, when I met Ian Clark, foreman of the machine shop. Ian showed me an incredible assemblage of ultra-modern equipment. Purdey makes use of the latest, most advanced CNC machines, spark eroders and wire eroders, that are capable of amazing precision. They also have the capability to reverse-engineer almost anything. Should they find themselves in need of an extraordinarily rare and obsolete widget, it can be made. With the use of lasers and computers, they can convert an object into a data image that’s incorporated into a computer program, which then allows them to replicate virtually any object with extreme precision. This advanced technology enables them to create things that would tax the capabilities of other makers.

In recent years we’ve seen Purdey produce such marvels as scaled-frame guns in .410 bore and classic hammer guns in 12 and 20 gauges. While I was there, I saw a 12-gauge side-by-side being made entirely of stainless steel. I also saw an over/under that was being constructed entirely of Damascus steel. Not just the barrels! All of the metal work was of Damascus. The barrels, action, locks and trigger guard, all of it. The net result of this new technology is a remarkable ability to adapt. And in today’s marketplace, adaptability may well be the key to survival.

As in the past, Purdey still produces Best-quality guns that are paragons of the gunmaker’s art. They produce over/under shotguns, as well as side-by-side rifles and shotguns. They also build side-by-side hammer guns, bolt-action rifles and a slightly lower priced Sporter for sporting clays shooters. The Sporter is built in co-operation with Italian maker, Perugini & Visini. They also build Best-quality guns under the Woodward name, which Purdey owns. That being said, it is impossible to completely define the Purdey “line.” In Richard’s words: “Almost anything is possible if the client is sufficiently well-heeled.”

Later, Richard and I walked along the Thames to the nearest tube station, and after a short ride, emerged at Hyde Park, just down from Audley House, which has served as Purdey’s London showroom since January 1883. There, in the hallowed Long Room, I found myself awed again by its historical significance. The room was crowded with the ghosts of potentates and presidents, kings and poets, statesmen, writers, heroes and celebrities of all sorts who have stood in this room before. Men who were drawn to this place because it is one of the world’s great monuments to excellence.

Ian Andrews, senior Gun Sales Manager, got down the ledger books and carried them into the Long Room where the three of us thumbed the yellowed, hand-scribed pages. I ran my fingers along the faded lines and touched history itself. There, hidden among the pages of the past, I found the entry where it was recorded that my beloved hammer gun was delivered to its original owner. The date was August 18, 1888.

Considering the date, it is entirely possible that the scrivener was none other than James Purdey the Younger.
In the end, how do you sum up Purdey? What can anyone say about Purdey that hasn’t already been said? Purdey is Purdey, no one else is. In all the world, no name carries more prestige. No name carries more tradition. All of the superlatives in the language have become shopworn from referencing the Purdey name.
Considering its name and tradition, you might expect the company would be content to let the name carry them, but that’s not what Purdey is doing. The gunmaker is in many ways a reflection of London itself. London stands at the nexus of East and West, an enchanting amalgamation of cultures and traditions, with a surprise around every corner. One corner reveals the rich history of England and the western world. The next reveals the new, the strange, and the exotic.

In the same way, Purdey stands at the very nexus of past and future. I had expected them to be hidebound worshipers of the past. And I was wrong. Yes, they have the same obsessive attention to quality and detail they’ve always had. They have the same obsessive desire to produce only the best. But Purdey is a modern company that knows where it has been . . . and knows where it is going. They are as classic as a Best-quality hammer gun, and as modern as the space shuttle. As illustrious as Purdey’s history is, perhaps the real story is that the future looks bright for Purdey. And the best of the story is yet to be told.

Editor’s Note: For more information
visit or Griffin & Howe at


Next Week!
A Growling in the Rain
Tanzanian PH stalks Lion during a downpour

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.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Terminal Ballistics and Hunting; Redux

Terminal Ballistics and Real World Results!
© 2009-2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Terminal Ballistics and Your Hunting
(Or, why I like big bores so much.)

Weatherby Eurosport in 30/06,
my light rifle.

One of those things that I’ve never understood is how someone could spend hundreds of dollars on a rifle, spend the same and sometimes more on a scope, and then pick up a box of the least expensive ammunition they can find. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with such an approach, but when a hunt can cost you thousands of dollars in incidental costs, what’s twenty more dollars?

With that in mind I thought I would discuss terminal performance.

What a bullet should do:

There are two ways that a bullet works, either by punching a hole through a vital zone or disintegrating inside and destroying the same. The fact is that given sufficient disruption of a primary system, death will occur, therefore a projectile works by stopping or damaging a vital life support system and causing death by suffocation, shock, or central nervous system shut down.

A bullet should reach its target unerringly, penetrate and do what is desired of it. Varmint hunting prefer to have the projectile blow up inside the target and expend its energy within. Medium and big game hunters vary in their desire for controlled expansion. Bullets shouldn’t be expected to do everything regardless of circumstances. At close range some bullets just won't hold up. At long ranges some won't do what they're designed to do.

For handloaders, there is one bullet that qualifies for the do-all-to-end-all. (In my opinion anyway!) That would have to be the big-bore hardcast LBT style bullets. Close range to long range they make a big hole and keep on going. Just ask the buffalo runners of yesterday. But we will get to that shortly.

Image Credit: Tonyolm
270 Winchester FMJ, Pointed Soft Point, Ballistic Tip

Today the trend is towards deep penetration and retained weight. Originally, the Nosler Partitions, and now the Swift A-Frames, and the Failsafes are the yardstick by which all other bullets are measured. I will get to solids shortly. Since I am predominantly a hog hunter, I can speak with some confidence as to what works and what doesn’t. If we limit our discussion to larger pigs of 225 lbs or more, the need for quality bullets becomes apparent. I have observed that at about 150 lbs hogs start to develop the shield and by the time they are about 225 the shield is now a hardened gristle deposit.

Imagine, if you will, a hollow-pointed bullet hitting that. The expanding bullet drives into this dense, inelastic material. The bullet expands rapidly in this material and loses velocity. At some point it starts to shed pieces and loses mass. Without additional mass driving it from behind, penetration slows dramatically. In all probability it never penetrates past the gristle layer. What you get is a surface wound, little to no blood trail, and no hog.

160gr Soft Points
The reason the 30/30 has taken so much game, is that it throws a 150gr softpoint at a moderate velocity. It hits, expands, and the long bullet shank goes on its merry way. If you shot the same bullet out of a 30-06, at the same ranges as a 30/30, it might not hold together. Too much speed and not enough jacket strength. So it is also important to match the projectile to the cartridge parameters.

A non-partition softpoint doesn’t expand, as much as it is disrupted by the initial impact. In this case, mass directly determines penetration. The heavier the softpoint, the more likely it will penetrate deeper. The original Barnes made its money with its softpoint line. Heavy for caliber bullets (How about 600gr 458s and 250gr 308s!), driven at moderate speed disrupted well, retained 80% of their weight and drove deep. The only problem the Barnes Soft Points ever suffered from was over-expansion and the commensurate deceleration, which limited penetration, and on very large game sometimes the softpoints failed to smash through bones.

XP3 Bullets
Now if you will, try the same scenarios with a Failsafe or XP3. The momentum afforded by the encased base allows the bullet to continue through the gristle and bone, and drive into the vitals.

Solids work by penetrating deeply and displacing tissue. Certain designs are meant primarily to drive through bones or large masses of flesh and muscle, like the Woodleigh Sledge Hammer, Barnes homogenous, and the AGS by Speer, which I understand is the best solid commercially available. These bullets are designed to drive deep, drive straight, and smash their way through anything intervening. In the hands of an excellent shot, a solid will reach the target it is intended to. “Karamojo “ Bell used solids almost exclusively in his .265 and .275 for all the game he took, dangerous or otherwise.

The latest take on solids, is the LBT style hardcast lead bullets. They are heat treated to make them tougher than they would otherwise be. They penetrate deeply, creating massive wound channels. They are accurate within their own parameters, and are available in number of calibers from 30 to .510. I use them in my 45LC and 458WM.

It has always been my preference to lean in the direction of greater penetration. Since I’ve always been suspect of my abilities, and hope to never lose an animal, I plan for the worse, and only take shots that I am certain of.

The Weatherby line up.
In the late fifties and early sixties Roy Weatherby thought that if he could push bullets fast enough, the “hydrostatic shock” of the projectile moving through the muscles and tissues of an animal would be sufficient to cause instantaneous death. Two things worked against Roy’s theory. One, bullets at that time could not withstand the then phenomenal speeds at which the Weatherby rifles/cartridges shot them. Secondly, hydrostatic shock doesn’t work on large elastic masses. On the minimal mass of a prairie dog, it will, on hippos, no. It has been conclusively proven that bullet placement, not energy, is what kills. In the end it is the hunter’s ability to accurately place a bullet in the right spot that determines whether he is successful or not.

Stopping Power:
Image Credit: Jobe Roco
Classic, Old School Stopping Power!

Stopping power is directly related to the caliber.

Stopping power is directly related to the caliber.

There, I’ve said it twice. In other words, the bigger it is the more likely it will settle hash right then and there. As long as it has enough velocity to penetrate and all other things being equal, the larger the cross section, the more powerful the knock down capability. Empirical evidence suggests that weight, velocity, and the cross section of a bullet, determines its ability to knock down, that is to stun or immediately kill an animal. Pondoro Taylor and Hatcher both devised formulae and tables to estimate the knockdown power of any given projectile. They both weigh in heavily in favor of the bigger bores.

If you peruse the cartridge tables, you will notice two things, one, the big bore cartridges are slow, and two the projectile weights are high. When velocity is low you need mass and frontal area. Again empirical evidence suggests that when you are confronted with a mad Brownie, a 45-70 is better than say a 338WM. Otherwise why would so many Alaskan bush pilots prefer the Guide Gun and the Alaskans? The answer is the ability of a slightly souped up 405gr, .458cal solid bullet being able to traverse, end for end, an 800lb bear, smashing everything in its way. Wound channels are commensurately large in proportion with frontal cross section. As caliber goes up, the area goes up exponentially. A 30caliber bullet has a frontal area of .074 square inch versus .165 sq in for a .458, more than twice the area.

Image Credit: Keefs
Martini-Henry 577/450


You can never be certain as to what conditions will be when you have to put a bullet into the vital zone. The ability of the projectile to penetrate through any intervening meat, bone or viscera, into the vital zone is directly related to construction and design. Range and impact velocity also are variables to contend with. The lines are blurring slightly when one has to choose between a light quick bullet and a heavier slower one. Due to the better qualities of the newer bullets, it has become easier to drop in weight, add velocity and be confident of retained terminal weight. The 30-06 loaded with 150gr Failsafes shoots as flat as a Remington 7mm Magnum and will retain almost all of its weight. But retained momentum and energy are diminished substantially as the bullet weight goes down.

How should you decide? I am convinced that 90% of all game is taken inside of 100 meters. In the end all that matters is whether a bullet penetrated and did sufficient damage to kill quickly. If I was hunting Florida whitetails exclusively, and limited my shot to reasonable ones, I wouldn’t hesitate to use any of the commercial soft points. I would only choose the brand that gave me the best accuracy. Florida deer are small, and considering I do most of my non-hog shooting with a 30-06, there is no real need for a deep penetration. That’s a personal preference; at the ranges I am capable of shooting to, you could cut the end of the bullet off with bolt-cutters, and it would still hit the target close enough to point of aim. But if I were going to Africa (plains game), or to Arizona for elk, even white tails in Texas, I would use nothing less than Winchester Failsafe/XP3 or Remington Swift A-Frames. I would limit myself to shots inside of 150 yards, where I could be absolutely sure of where my bullets hit. I would familiarize myself with the game animal until I could visually dissect it and know where every vital organ lies. I’ve killed enough pigs to be almost certain of every shot’s terminal trajectory on them. “Karamojo" Bell did this with much success when meat shooting North American game in Alaska, and then in Africa where he made his fame shooting elephants for ivory. But even though I can visualize where the pig’s heart, spine, and liver lay, occasionally I am still surprised. Years ago, I took a shot at a small hog, aiming for the box made by the eyes and ears. Imagine my surprise when I recovered him and found that instead of a frontal head shot, I had made a side brain shot.

450gr LBT's
If you are picking your shots, and not picking fights or trying to stop them quickly, then it is reasonable to use any cartridge and rifle combination that is suitable for the game at hand. For instance, I think I am a reasonably capable shot with my Weatherby 30-06. Anything inside of a couple of inches is in eminent danger of being ventilated at 150 meters or less. With that in mind, I would not hesitate to use it with 180gr A-Frames against brown bears, and here is the operative phrase, if I had to. But I think I would feel better with my 458WM. At 100 meters I can keep all my shots within 3 inches. 450gr hard cast LBT type bullets at 1800fps, will double lung any grizzly, bust both shoulders, or traverse the grizzly end for end.

And If things somehow got ugly and I have to end a fight, I’ll be confident that between the 458 and I, we can swat one down flatter than a stray aluminum can on the expressway.

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best of the Outdoor Bloggers: Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors

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

Wild Ed is a prodigious outdoor author and one that I am honored to be friends with. This is his second installment on the Best of the Outdoor Bloggers series with several more to come, as his posts are that good!

Best of the Outdoor Bloggers

Recently,built an all wood boat and have started on my second build, which will be a copy of the Brazos Boat Works design of a 3 panel kayak with stripped decks. The whole boat will be made from cedar strips.

I did not want to paddle these boats with a plastic kayak paddle and decided to go purchase a laminated wood double kayak paddle. Boy was I in for sticker shock. I had no idea that wood kayak paddles would be so expensive. I came home without a paddle and decided to just use the plastic one I had.

I went to Academy several days ago to look for another plastic paddle and while I was browsing the plastic paddles I saw several inexpensive single wood boat paddles. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought why not take a couple of the inexpensive wooden boat paddles and make a double blade kayak paddle. The following pictures will show some of what I did and how it turned out. I am actually quite proud of the results and will be doing some more in the future. Total cost in materials was under $40.00

Here are the two inexpensive canoe paddles I started with.

Clamped the paddles together cut the handles off and cut the blades to shape on the band saw

Here is what the two paddles looked liked when I unclamped them from cutting and shaping the blades.

Sanded blades, cut scarf joint, glued. fiberglassed the joint and clamped up to dry.

Finished paddle sanded and varnished. The upper blade is darker in the photo because it is wet and the final drying is taking place. I did put a bamboo dowel through the scarf joint and also fiberglassed the joint to make sure it was plenty strong. This was my first time to laminate two paddles into one and I am pleased with the result. I want to see how this length works with my style of boat and a high seat. I may make a shorter one later.

My friends, I hope you are as pleased as I with this installment of "Best of the Outdoor Bloggers." I want to thank Wild Ed of Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors for allowing me to share his "Turning Canoe Paddles into Kayak Paddles" with everyone.  If you have a post that you are particularly proud of, or if you want to look at your Analytics and check out what your # 1 post is, please feel free to forward it to me and I will gladly post it and link the snot out of it to your blog!

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