"ONE GOOD SHOT"
As I write this newsletter, I have just finished previewing the 28 minute promotional video, done by our hosts at Coppermoon Hunting Safari and Benchmark Visual. In this video they captured perfectly the essence of our trip to South Africa--a remarkable story! 5 1/2 months ago Ruth and I were approached by a friend of ours, Ryan Kadavy of Top Shelf Adventures, saying he had recommended us to be part of a video promotion for a new outfitter and new ranch in South Africa called COPPERMOON. They needed a couple to help create a promotional video for them, physically fit, both shooters and hunters, in the shooting/hunting industry, connected on all forms of social media and in our age group, 60 plus! Say what?! Who gets an opportunity like this? How fast can I say WE ARE IN!
In typical fashion we pulled out all the stops to gather valuable knowledge from our customers and friends in the industry that had already done this trip--guys like Alex Holman, Gary Reeder, JD Jones, Mike Cyrus, William Smith, Mark Hampton, Ken Kelly and others. With Ruth all over the travel details as well as what was required to travel with firearms and ammunition internationally, my focus became the actual firearms, calibers and platforms to be used. It is important to note that our earliest decisions were based on the anticipated delivery of the new SSK-50 frames that had just been introduced. With delivery scheduled for late December, there was just enough time to get the pistols and rifles built in time for permits, have SSK build the barrels, then get the loads worked up, sighted in and prepped for the trip. We also discovered that our government really doesn't like for us to travel abroad with OUR OWN suppressors. We are an FFL and SOT, but that didn't matter. That solution came from our PH, Denver Gowar. Although SA gun laws are more complex, we were surprised to find suppressors aren't regulated there. They can be bought over the counter with no delay. I got the specs to Denver and problem solved, realizing, of course, that I'd be leaving them there when we were done. This is when "THE PLAN" began to break down. Difficulties between S&W, Thompson Investment Castings and Lehigh Defense/SSK delayed delivery of MY frames till April. Don't our friends in NH and MA, that we spend so much time promoting, realize how important this is, not only to us, but to the entire SINGLE SHOT COMMUNITY? Our friends at Lehigh Defense(LD) and SSK firearms certainly did, with Brian(SSK) already making 4 Contender barrels for us, LD jumping through hoops with bullets, brass, dies, and load data. They were instrumental in the success of this trip! I spent 30 plus years being the guy that created "THE PLAN" to execute large electrical installations and I had a saying, always have a plan but your ultimate success is most often determined by adjustments to that plan. With no SSK-50 frames to be had, I started collecting an assortment of G1 Contender and G2 Contender frames that we as a family had collected (remember the barrels are in process), deciding on the Leupold optics and gear, clothing, boots, and everything else needed. The following is a list of firearms and loads we chose:
375JDJ Contender rifle, 20" threaded SS SSK barrel w/TSOB base, 3-9x40 Leupold Freedom scope, RH TH Revolution laminate, 250gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Fracture bullets
375JDJ Contender pistol, 14" SS Full Vent Rib SSK barrel, Leupold 2.5-8X32 VX-3i scope, Crusher Loop laminate, 185gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Fracture bullets
309JDJ Contender rifle, 20" SS SSK barrel with TSOB base, Leupold 3-9x40 Freedom scope, RH TH revolution Laminate, 152gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Chaos bullets
6.5JDJ Contender rifle, 20" SS SSK barrel with TSOB base, Leupold 3-9x40 Freedom scope, Upgraded M4 telescopic RIP dipped stockset, 110 gr Lehigh Defense Controlled Chaos bullets
LARRY, yes, we name our guns. This 6.5JDK Contender pistol with an SSK Blue 12" barrel autographed "Larry Kelly" made by JD Jones for his friend, an old Nikon pistol scope that didn't survive the trip, all set up as a tribute to Ken Kelly's Dad by Eric. 110gr Lehigh Defense bullets with the loads worked up for me by JD Jones personally. Thanks, JD
And THE MUTT
The only Encore in the group, named THE MUTT because Eric says it's the ugliest gun he has ever assembled, 2 tone RIP Cerakoted Weathershield frame, 1 lb 15ounce trigger job by Eric, 24" blue MGM barrel chambered in 6.5 x 284 Norma by Mike Bellm and threaded, Leupold VX-3i 6.5-20x50 CDS scope, Birch RH TH Revolution laminate, Marty's handloads developed over 3 years with Dennis using the Hornady 143gr ELDX bullet perfectly tuned to the Leupold CDS dial scope. Ugly yes, BUT this dog can hunt.
While all this was coming together we had multiple opportunities to communicate with our Professional Hunter (PH), Denver Gowar. An absolutely engaging 22 year old young man, heavy accent, and as we found out, a brilliant hunter and now friend. As he was trying to get to know us, our abilities, our physical fitness, and our firearms he had some questions that bring us back to the title of this story, ONE GOOD SHOT.
Why single shots? Most everybody uses bolt guns. Why handguns? Nobody uses them. What are all those JDJ rounds for? What distances are they good for? Bullets? What are those Lehigh Defense bullets anyway? What is a BOG POD Death Grip? Everybody uses some form of sticks. These African plains animals are tough, most often requiring quick follow up shots, Initially, THE MUTT wasn't on our list as we were told shot distances of 200-250 yds max. Denver asked if I had a long range rifle perhaps we could have some fun with it so I'm thinking Baboons? Jackals? Bush Pigs at night? Ok I'll bring it. So an accidental adjustment to the plan changed history for us. I also started explaining the history of the single shot firearms we represent with ONE GOOD SHOT being the motto. If I've done my job up front, and deliver the goods at the right time and place, then we only need "ONE GOOD SHOT".
THE SHOOTING SYSTEM USED
1) Marty, Ruth and Eric all capable shooters.
2) Bog Pod Death Grip, essentially a very sturdy adjustable height tripod with a vise mounted on top. Denver now says it’s the most reliable, sturdy shooting platform he has ever seen.
3) Leupold CDS Dial VX-3i 6.5-20x50 scope 30mm tube combined with Marty’s developed handloads using Hornady 143gr ELDX bullets, perfectly tuned to the dial thus taking elevation completely out of any shooting solution by simply turning the dial to the desired elevation.
4) ANY of our single shot rifles and pistols that have been assembled precisely, and accurized to the max.
At this point I will forego the detail of each successful animal taken but will refer you at the end of the article of where to go to read each in detail. The following is a summary of the animals harvested, distances and firearms used:
Red Hartebeast - 380 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
Impala - 300 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
Black Wildebeest - 326 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
Blesbuck -165 yds-Ruth - THE MUTT OGS
Warthog - 40 yds-Marty - 375JDJ Pistol OGS
Duiker - 273 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
ELAND - 350 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
Springbuck - 240 yds-Eric - THE MUTT OGS
KUDU - 597 yds-Eric - THE MUTT OGS
Gemsbuck - 260 yds-Ruth - THE MUTT OGS
Springbuck - 425 yds-Marty - THE MUTT OGS
Black Wildebeest - 400/440 yds-Eric - THE MUTT
Warthog - 250/250 yds-Eric - 375JDJ Rifle
Bushbuck - 236 yds-Eric - 375JDJ Rifle
KUDU - 221 yds-Marty - 375JDJ Pistol -300 yds-375JDJ Rifle-Marty - 25 yds-375JDJ Pistol-Eric
Steenbuck -155 yds-Ruth - 375JDJ Rifle
Ruth and I were there the full 10 days and Eric the last 6 days of the hunt. As you can imagine, we got after it!
You may also notice that it took 3 shots to finish off my pistol KUDU, here is an excerpt from Eric's Final Day Blog Post as he reflects on that KUDU :
"That said, I realize this wasn't just his bull. I insisted he take the first shot. Actually demanded it because I knew he had it in him, and I was honored to take the final shot. But this wasn't just his bull or my bull or our bull. This incredible Kudu is the product of all pistol hunters before us, the entire community we hunt with and for and support, and all who helped push us into this first of a lifetime hunt. We are blessed, and we know it."
To read the whole story as a daily journal, click here for the HausofArms Blog and enjoy. There are about 17 posts so be sure to start with the prequel, "Everything Before the Hunt."
As soon as the promotional video is posted to YouTube, we will send out a newsletter blast with the link. You won't be disappointed. You can follow Coppermoon's Facebook page here and their Instagram page here.
Wow, also looks like THE MUTT has attained legendary status in South Africa. This cannot be debated. Our hosts see hunters from all over the world and "they all say they can shoot," but and I quote, "We have never seen a family, a system and a gun that DID NOT miss a single shot attempted at a trophy animal!" So what I am about to say will make no sense to some and be applauded by others, WE LEFT THE SYSTEM THERE. The Bog Pod, THE MUTT, the ammo, the Leupold scope, the suppressors, all stayed in SA and are in process of being transferred to our PH Denver Gowar. This means we can simply show up for our scheduled hunt, use THE SYSTEM with no hassle of traveling with firearms and ammo. BUT this also means any of YOU can do the same. Just tell Denver you are friends of HausofArms when you book your hunt. Can't be any easier than that.
As long as this writeup is there really are no words to describe this experience for my family. We have been truly blessed. The only question now is when do we go back?
CHANGES AT THOMPSON CENTER
While we were in South Africa early March I think, I got word that Danielle Sanville, T/C Brand Manager, and potentially some additional staff had been let go, and as of this writing, have not been replaced (4/20/20). What does this mean for the future of the T/C brand? Who knows. We also know that as of last November the S&W CEO had been removed by the board and then it was announced that S&W was to be split away from AOB, American Outdoor Brands. The obvious question I asked at that time was what happens to T/C? The only answer I could get was that T/C stays with S&W. The end of their fiscal year is 4/30/20 so soon there will be a much clearer picture. It is a messy divorce because S&W makes the frames and barrels while Battenfeld (BTI) distributes all the parts and pieces, with the T/C Brand being a major piece of the pie for them. So I guess we will see what happens. Personally, I will say that for us it can only get better.
UPDATE ON THE SSK-50 FRAMES
I've already explained in detail what not having these frames has meant to me personally, so for a minute, indulge me to get philosophical with you. When you are in the middle of a battle there are probably two things you can be sure of:
1) You aren't sure exactly when it will be over
2) You know that whatever it takes you will prevail!
December came and went and so did April, and the battle has raged on but at last it seems the new boundaries have been defined successfully. Lehigh Defense/SSK is a friend and an ally! Wow, that was deep!
1) A new casting foundry has been employed
2) Inspection samples are due to LD by end April
3) If that step is successful, production begins with 400 units (first order) then headed to LD
4) Once those are received at LD, they will need to machine, heat treat, assemble and engrave
6) Be patient, as I said a minute ago, we will prevail. The resolve of LD/SSK will win the day.
A follow up phase to the SSK-50 Frame project not only has begun but is well under way. These barrels, made with Green Mountain blanks, will most likely be on the shelves here at HausofArms by the time you receive this magazine. Initially there will be 3 bore sizes, .308" fast twist 1:7, .429" 1:16 twist and .458" 1:18 twist. Barrels for Encore, Contender, pistol and rifle, all stainless. BULL, FULL and Heavy contours. As appropriate in the following chamberings:
More bore sizes will follow. Note that Brian and I have been creative in these offerings as well as creating forend solutions in advance and also changing the mounting methods to create stronger attachment for those forends. Prices will be excellent! Another example of the commitment to our community by LD/SSK.
WILDCAT BRASS, DIES, BULLETS AND AMMO
Even one more project that was announced alongside the SSK-50 Frames and Barrels was support for the wildcat calibers. Many mainstays caliber wise for the Contender platform have faded in recent years due to the lack of support for the components necessary for them to prosper. So in conjunction with the SSK Hunter line of barrels, you will soon be able to purchase ALL the components for the 309JDJ caliber on HausofArms.com. Our plan is to add these components as we add that particular caliber to the barrel line up, AND if all goes well, an incentive based program that gives larger discounts based on the number of components you select with your barrel order. Let's let the fun begin.
Be safe, stay healthy and shoot straight.