The time required producing TV doesn't permit Jim to answer all of the hundreds of questions he gets each week. We post some of the questions with his answers here on the website.



My name is Michael. I'm 12 years old and I live in Minnesota. I'm doing a history project on how lever action rifles changed hunting.  So, I would l would like to get some information like who invented them and what the first brand to make them was?  How did they change hunting and what was the main reason for them?  My family loves your show.  I have a 4-10 and a Jr.20ga. and I hope to get a 30-06 for my birthday.  In 2009 I got my first 2 ducks and my first deer.  Michael - Deer River, MN


Good to hear from you and you’ve chosen an interesting project, BUT...

The development of lever action, metallic cartridge, rifles didn’t first change hunting... they changed warfare.

There were two lever rifles that appeared at about the same time, there’s a continuing argument about which should be considered the first.

The Henry Rifle, named for the plant foreman who developed the rifle for Oliver Winchester.  The first Winchester only appeared after the Henry became successful.  Oliver Winchester didn’t want to risk putting his name on a product that might fail. 

The other lever rifle was the Spencer that operated differently, feeding cartridges through the butt-stock.  The Union Army bought thousands of Spencers and it is the repeating rifle that was credited with turning the tide of war to defeat the Confederates

The Army never bought Henry Rifles, but individual soldiers on the union side did buy them to equip themselves with repeating fire-power.  That’s why it got the slogan from the Confederates, ”That Damn Yankee rifle that you can load on Sunday and fire all week.”

After the Civil war, the army sold surplus Spencers to the public, and that had two effects:  it put Christopher Spencer out of business because he couldn’t compete with cheap surplus rifles.  And a lot of those rifles ended up in the hands of Indians in the Western territories. Traders swapped cheap rifles for furs and other items the Indians had to trade, like horses.  George Armstrong Custer and his men were defeated at the Little Big Horn for a number of reasons, but one of the most significant was that the Indians had Spencer repeaters. Custer’s men had trap-door Springfield single shot rifles.

Up until 1894, none of the lever rifles were well suited to hunting.  The black powder cartridges weren’t powerful enough to reliably put down game. The single shot big-bore rifles, like the Sharps, did the buffalo hunting on the prairie to feed the railroad workers building the cross country tracks. 

But in 1894, Winchester introduced the model 94, which was the first lever gun built strong enough to shoot the new smoke-less powder cartridge introduced at the same time -- the 30-30 Winchester. That was really the start of lever guns chambered in a cartridge that would take deer with a single, well placed shot.

Now you’ve got a bunch of names to run on Google to pull up more information, but you may need to change the focus of your project

If you study guns, you’ll find that ALL new developments occur during war time.  Later on, hunting becomes the beneficiary of war time developments, like that 30-06 you hope to get for hunting... that cartridge was developed for the ‘03 Springfield Rifle to go fight the Germans in WW-1.

Good luck with the project and with your hunting.




What is the difference in the .45 Colt and the .45 Long Colt?


No difference. 

The problem comes from the introduction of the .45 ACP round with the 1911 pistol in 1911.  Prior to that, the rimmed cartridge for the Peacemaker had been called the .45 Colt, and it still is. But the Colt 1911’s rimless cartridge got the designation .45 ACP meaning “Auto Colt Pistol”. But then when a customer walked in to buy ammo and asked for .45, to be sure of which round was actually being requested, folks started referring to the revolver cartridge as “The Long Colt”. But it’s never been a formal name... just a descriptive clarification of which .45 you’re talking about




I want to know why my shoulder is getting sore with a 12 gauge instead of a 20 gauge with less kick. Let’s say both shells are shooting the same shot and powder. Looking at ballistics, the 12 looks like it’s maybe 50 fps faster (which may be the bore), but that’s all I can find. I think a 12 hits harder, but if so, why?  So besides the gauge and everything else being equal, what is the difference? - Tim - Walterboro, SC


I’m using the Federal Ballistics Tables (on-line) to provide some answers.  You can do the same thing at this link.  It defaults to rifle, but switch the window to shotshell and then select ducks in the use window and it will pull up all of the federal offerings with ballistics -- both 20 and 12 gauge.

But the simple answer to your question is that the powder and shot AREN’T the same in 20 gauge and 12 gauge shells.Couple of examples: Federal’s 3 inch 12 gauge duck loads generally shoot at 1500 feet per second and pack about an ounce and a half of shot in sizes number 2 or BB.

There is a 20 gauge duck load that comes up, shooting at 1350 feet per second and firing one ounce of number 2 or number 4 shot. There isn’t enough room for shot the size of BB, to still produce an effective pattern at duck distances, so they don’t offer BB in 20 gauge.

The problem of not enough shot and speed is exacerbated by the requirement of not shooting lead. With steel shot, velocity becomes very important to get a clean kill. You’re welcome take a 20 gauge out to your duck blind.  Maybe you can work a deal with your hunting buddies that the close in ducks are yours and they only take the distant shots. <G>

Same basic answer applies to a round of clays. Nobody says you can’t shoot a 20 gauge, but the guy beside you with his 12 gauge will be throwing more number 8 shot at the target for a larger or more dense pattern, depending on his choice of choke.

So it comes down to a choice: Do you want the best chance of hitting and killing the target?  Or lighter recoil? I think I’d so some research on the newer recoil absorbing stocks.



bisley1smI have a gun that’s been in the family a long time. It’s a Colt single-action Bisley target model. From what I have learned, there was only 976 target model Bisleys made. I wrote Colt years ago and got the letter that says it was shipped as 38 but its a 32. The cylinder numbers match the gun which makes me think it was an error listed at the factory. I know it would be hard to put a value on it. I was wondering if you could give me a rough idea? - Doug - Birmingham, Alabama.


The big question is whether your Bisley is a “flat-top” model with a dovetailed, slide in, rear sight. The standard Bisley used the sighting notch cut into the frame as a rear sight. If yours has a separate rear sight, it is rare and it’s the model that Colt made only 976 times in limited production.

bisley2smIn excellent condition, with 95% of the finish remaining, it’s worth somewhere around $25,000, according to the books. Very Good condition would be $16,000. Good condition is $9,500.

If it’s the standard Bisley model, Colt made many more units, but it’s still quite valuable. $9,000 in Excellent condition, $6,500 as Very Good, $4,500 in Good Condition.

To help you decide the condition of your Bisley, I’ve attached a description sheet as a pdf file.



I've been a longtime fan of the show, and I had some questions about home protection and concealed carry. In this strange society that we live in, more recently I've noticed a lot of baby snatchings and attempts to baby snatch. I guess you can tell why I'm putting this first in my e-mail. My wife and I are expecting our first baby very shortly. I need a recommendation for a semi-auto pistol, that’s not only practical, but easily rendered safe.

I have just started shopping around and figured if anyone would have good Ideas it would be you. I was thinking about the Glock model 23c, but I'm not sure about the trigger safety system. I know the newer models have the key lock behind the bottom of the magazine. I've also considered the SW40GVE. Are there any others I should consider?   - Keith - Riverview, Florida


I can certainly appreciate why you would have a growing concern for family protection. That’s what Dads are responsible for. However, Dads don’t always stay at home, so what you decide to buy for protection at home also needs to involve your wife. She’s the one who will most likely need to pick up the gun, in the unlikely event that there’s a threat to the house, to her, or to the new baby. So think female in this discussion. What can she shoot? Will she learn to shoot it? If she’s opposed to learning how to run the gun, then you still are wise to arm yourself; but those cases of baby snatching you’ve been hearing about didn’t happen while the father was around to prevent it. Even a demented kidnapper can form a plan to attack the weaker member of the family unit. Statistically, you’re more likely to come home to find a burglar inside trying to steal your plasma TV, than to have a baby snatch attempt. Or think of preparing for a home invasion robbery--The newest form of drug user terrorism.

Clint Smith, the well known gun writer and police firearms instructor, is famous for some of his sayings, “If I knew I was going to a gun fight, I’d take a rifle.” That’s actually very good advice that I’ve changed slightly to choose my primary home defense weapon—not a pistol, but a 7 round Winchester pump shotgun, loaded with low velocity buck shot. That sits in the corner of the home office my wife uses for her home business and that I share with her when working from the house, like I am this morning. The point being, if either of us has time to confront a bad guy at the front door, I want the confrontation to obviously involve lots of potential bullets coming his way. Just seeing the muzzle of a 12 gauge shotgun eyeing him for a possible trigger pull, is probably enough to stop anything the perp had in mind. And the sound of a pump shotgun being racked to chamber the first round is enough deterrent in the dark of night to turn around a prowler who’s already broken into the house looking for loot. Keep in mind you don’t really want to shoot the bad guy and open your entire life to civil claims from his family and survivors; you only want to stop the threat. And the sight or sound of a big shotgun opposing the threat is pretty much guaranteed to do that. If you do need to shoot, you want to hit the threat and a 10 inch pattern of 00 Buck shot is more likely to enforce your will, than any handgun. Most people in an emergency, with adrenaline pumping in their ears, have real trouble hitting any target. Trained cops have had 10 round exchanges of gunfire with perpetrators who were shooting back at distances as short as 15 feet… and neither cop nor perp hit the other guy. So the handgun is a problem to actually use in an emergency… but the handgun is better than no gun… for the emergency when you can’t get to the shotgun in time.

You’ve got a concealed carry law in Florida so I assume you’ll be qualifying to obtain your permit to carry with you. So now we get to the question of what to carry and how to have it ready for an emergency out of the home, or at home, when you are totally surprised by an act of violence. By the way, you’ll likely spend precious reaction time first questioning yourself in an emergency, “Is this really happening?” So think about your own reaction time in an emergency.

I have access to about anything I’d like to have with me and I have had a Tennessee carry permit ever since this state passed our CCW law back in the early 1990s. I own a Glock, but I won’t carry it. I don’t trust the “flipper trigger” safety. I’ve got lots of 1911 design guns, but they are too big and too heavy to carry all day, every day. Clint Smith would disapprove of that comment, since he teaches that “carrying is to be comforting, not comfortable.” But I’ve worked it out that too big a gun won’t be with you when you need it because it’s too inconvenient. You’ll have left it in the Glove compartment of the car, or at home on the shelf in the bedroom closet. My choice for some years has been the S&W model 340 Airlite Centennial revolver. 5 shots of .38 special Plus P ammo in a titanium cylinder. It weighs just 15 ounces loaded so it’s the smallest and lightest possible carry gun that still packs serious firepower. There is no safety on a revolver and on mine there is no internal lock. It will not fire unless I operate the long trigger pull to fire each round. That gives me time to decide if I really want to send the bullet before it leaves the barrel.

I don’t wear my carry gun around the house. I depend on my dogs to provide an early warning that someone may be approaching and they give me time to decide if it’s just the UPS man, or if a possum has wandered out of the woods into the front yard, or if I may need to investigate a potential threat, in which case I’ve got time to pick up a firearm if I think I may need it. However, the shotgun is at one end of the house, the bedrooms are at the opposite end. So there is another loaded revolver secured on a high shelf in the bedroom, in case the dogs wake me reporting a problem at night. That one is a steel gun, in .38 special. It doesn’t need to be light weight and my wife can handle the recoil of that caliber in that heavier gun. There’s also a tactical flashlight close by the bedroom gun. So my solution is several guns chosen and stored in locations that are my best estimate of what I might need and when I might need it.

Now a note on safety: The guns that are at the house, that are not intended to be ready for a possible threat, are all locked in the gun safe in the basement. The ones I’ve mentioned, that are emergency guns, are all loaded and ready. All but the shotgun are revolvers that are perfectly safe until someone pulls the trigger. Everyone who lives here knows about the loaded guns and where they are. Even the cleaning lady knows we have loaded guns stored in certain places around the house. I judge that to be sufficiently safe, without locks to disable the guns, that would slow my ability to respond in an emergency. The shotgun is perfectly safe with rounds in the magazine tube, and with an empty chamber, until my wife or I might need to rack the slide to be able to shoot.

Lots of people will tell you that you need the firepower of a high capacity auto pistol to be ready. I don’t think so. Unless you’re living in a neighborhood where a gang of 10 is likely to break down your front door, you’re not going to get into a shooting war that will require multiple magazine loads of 15 rounds each. It just isn’t going to happen. So that’s why I choose revolvers. They’re easy to understand—pull the trigger, it goes bang, every time. And most importantly, your wife will understand that, too.

Lots now for you to consider,  Jim Scoutten


When reporting crimes involving firearms, the media apparently uses the terms "high power" and "assault rifle" too frequently. I am fairly certain that the great majority of the guns referred to as "assault rifles" are actually semi-automatic rifles but I do not know exactly which weapons/ammunition would properly be described as "high power". If there is an accurate description of a high power weapon or ammunition, please advise me what the threshold would be and whether that term refers to bullet weight, velocity, energy or caliber, etc. -
Thank you, Al Dillon


Actually, the media more often uses the term “assault weapon” to describe AR type rifles. There is no such description in military and shooter circles. There is a definition for “assault rifle”, that it use rifle ammunition (as opposed to pistol ammo in a sub-gun) and that it have a “select fire” function, to fire bursts, or full auto, or semi auto. Very few of examples of true assault rifles are in civilian hands. The ATF requires an extensive background check and a $200 permit fee to be approved to buy a true assault rifle. And only those made prior to 1984 can ever be owned by civilians. So most often the mainstream media is wrong when using either term; “assault rifle” or “assault weapon”.

The only definition I’ve ever heard of “high power” is the NRA competition definition for Camp Perry matches or for Silhouette. They also have a silhouette class called “hunting rifle”. In both cases the competitors are free to choose any center fire cartridge they think will give the accuracy and power to shoot the long ranges of competition. 1,000 yards at Camp Perry. 500 meters in silhouette. There is wide-spread disagreement among competitors on which bullet and which cartridge does the job best, but that’s like any form of “racing” or competition.

The High Power term applied by the NRA refers to the configuration of the rifle… and what it looks like with the enhancements for competition. There are rules on how modified the rifles can be, but they are definitely different from anything you or I might buy in a gun shop.

Other than that, there’s no break-over point where a centerfire cartridge becomes a “high power” cartridge. We could get into a discussion of how much power is recommended or required for shooting different types of game, up to the cartridges required in Africa to go after dangerous game, but even then there’s no use of the term “high power.”

Hope that clarifies things for you. But, I’m sure the media isn’t interested in the real definitions.



Is there a difference in power/energy/velocity in long and short barrels? If it depends on the caliber, lets say a .410 bore shotgun. Is a .410 with a longer barrel going to be sufficiently more powerful than one with a short barrel and could you briefly explain why? - Appreciate it. M. Johnston

Yes, but we don’t know how much without chrono-ing the rounds.

I use the term, “time in the tube” to reference the necessary barrel to take full advantage of the expanding gasses. Magnum handgun rounds, like the .357, don’t achieve their intended velocity without a minimum of 5 inches of barrel. (The 2 inch carry revolvers will probably blind both the perp and the shooter at night as the unburned powder finishes burning outside the barrel.) Rifle testing is generally done with a 28” barrel.

Visualize the incredible acceleration of a bullet at ignition. But the acceleration is over at the time the barrel ends and the gasses that have been pushing escape to the atmosphere. Visualize the same effect on a drag strip. The standard is the quarter mile, but there are also avid racers on 1/8 mile tracks. The acceleration may be the same on each track to the 1/8 mile, but then one car is done at that trap speed, while the quarter mile racer has more acceleration to his finish line. The ET will be longer, but the trap speed will be much higher. With bullets, velocity squared times the weight of the bullet determines energy, so the longer barrel will allow the same cartridge to hit the target harder.

Finally, this note: Modern powders generally have finished their burn in about 30 inches of barrel. So, like car acceleration to terminal velocity, barrel length has a limit, beyond which the bullet is now slowing down due to friction of the lands and grooves of the rifling.

Hope that helps somewhat.


I’ve heard lots of stories about this, but would like to hear the real story: why was it called a .38 caliber cartridge in the 1800s when it was developed, rather than .36 (same as the percussion caliber weapon)? - D. Drenkowski

When the .38 and then the .38 special were introduced, the original practice with black powder cartridges was to measure the neck diameter of the case. By the time the .357 Magnum was introduced, with the same diameter bullet, they needed a new designation for the new round. So they measured the diameter of the bullet. In both instances the measurements were expressed in caliber which is decimal measurements of an inch. Meanwhile, the Europeans were also measuring the diameter of their rounds... and they got 9mm for the Luger cartridge. Exactly the same diameter as the bullet for the .38 and the .357.

How's that for the background?


Can you explain the difference between a clip and a magazine? - J. Weaver

A "clip" is a bent piece of brass or steel that holds rounds to speed load a military rifle. For the '03 Springfield, 30-06 rounds came in 5 round "stripper clips" that perched up above the open bolt so that 5 rounds could be quickly pushed down into the receiver of the Springfield.

For the M-1 Garand, 30-06 rounds were gripped by a steel clip and sent to the soldiers in bandoleers holding a number of "clips" of ammo. The Garand is loaded by shoving a full clip of ammo down into the receiver. The Garand fires the eight rounds and ejects the now empty clip with the last shot, clearing the receiver to accept another loaded clip of 8 rounds.

The Germans and the French also packaged their cartridges in stripper clips to speed load their bolt action rifles in WW-1 & 2.

A clip does not have an internal spring forcing the rounds up. That is the design of a "magazine".

Many modern rifles and all modern semi-auto handguns use "magazines" to reload.

They are frequently referred to as "clips", especially by gangster rappers, but they are magazines, with an internal spring and a follower to move the ammo up as the rounds are loaded and fired from the top of the magazine.


What can you tell me about Muzzle Brakes?

I have been looking for resources on muzzle brakes, with no luck.  I did not realize there were so many different types of brakes for rifles.  I always heard that they made your rifle loud and even in some cases could cause debris to spray back on the shooter.  I have seen many different claims on different designs.  Some claim a 85% recoil reduction and no increase in the volume of the shot for the shooter. Some have holes pointing forward all the way around the brake, others only on the the sides and the top. 

Is there any research on the brakes out there that have been tested with decibel meters (at the shooter and possibly on the sides for measurement while one is at the range) and Lbs./sq. inch measurements at the butt of the gun.  

If you have any information on muzzle brakes I would love to hear from you.  I am sure there are many people out there, like me, that would love to shoot large bore high powered rifles comfortably without killing the people next to us at the range with noise.

Thank you very much, Dr. Terry O.

There are basically two types of designs, intended to do two different things for the shooter.  The compensator, and the true brake.  Both sound louder from the shooting position, from the firing line beside the shooter, and behind the firing line.

First Compensators which re-direct gasses up and to the side of the muzzle. These are intended to stabilize the position of the muzzle and prevent rise in repeated shooting. The jets of gas through the ports are not directed back toward the firing line and there is relatively little reduction of recoil. There is some reduction as the gasses first slam into the baffles and pull the barrel forward, but the mini-jet-engine effect is used to force the muzzle down.

In military applications, compensators were first designed to be "flash hiders" to help conceal the shooters position when firing.  The early version of the AR-15 flash hider had ports all the way around, but the bottom ports kicked up dust when a soldier was firing in the prone or foxhole position.  Subsequent models had no bottom ports and only then became compensators as well as flash hiders.  (little history there.)

Now Muzzle Brakes, which always direct gas to the rear.  The most commonly seen version is T shaped with one to three chambers on each side directing gas to the rear.  You can see the most important muzzle brake available to civilians on the .50 BMG rifles manufactured by Barrett:  These brakes use two effects--gas hitting the baffles and gas jetting to the side and the rear--to reduce recoil.  They are very loud from the rear, outside the relatively neutral zone occupied by the shooter.  And they are somewhat dangerous to observers, since they are directing some amount of unburned powder to each side of the shooter.  But few people could stand the recoil of the .50 BMG without that recoil reduction.

None of these guns will be particularly popular with shooters at a range, unless they also are shooting the same kind of hardware. Nobody thinks anything about the extra noise at a USPSA Open event, because the guns are expected to be compensated.  Equally, no one thinks about the rear directed blast at a .50 Caliber match, because they all have the same sound and effect. 

But to be specific to your question, I don't know of any studies on decibel levels of different muzzle brakes. There are way too many variables with the vast choice of chamberings and barrel lengths. I will offer the thought that the louder they are at the firing line, the more effective the recoil reduction.

As you look at designs, consider the two effects:  Gas hitting the fixed baffles and gas directed to the rear.  Maximum reduction in recoil requires both.

I hope that's some help.



Could this be a Merwin & Bray

A widow my wife works with found this in her attic and I'm having a difficult time getting it identified.  I was hoping you could help and possibly determine its value.  It measures approx. 7" x 3" and does not appear to have any markings.  A search on the Internet only allows me to determine that it is some kind of pepperbox/deringer, possibly from the late-1800s or early 1900s.  There was a Merwin & Bray firearm on one website that looked the same, but again, there are no markings. Any ideas? Thanks,- Brian

Merwin & Bray Single ShotIt is virtually certain it's a Merwin & Bray Single Shot Deringer... made between 1865 and 1867.

It's hard to tell from your pictures, but yours appears to be the 32 caliber rimfire model.  A smaller version was made in 22 rimfire.  You have the brass frame model.  There was also an iron frame version that is very rare.

Merwin & Bray Single Shot 2Total production of both calibers believed to be about 4,100.

"Merwin & Bray New York" should appear on the barrel somewhere.  Look closely for old stampings.  However, Merwin & Bray were only agents of sale for these deringers.  They were produced by Bacon or Prescott and in rare cases the markings are by other producers:  J.P. Lower or A. Wurfflein Phila.  Either of these is worth a premium.

The standard models are currently valued at $350 to $400 in "fine" condition, which yours appears to be.


What the heck was a Burp Gun?

My Dad was in WWII. He often referred to, when telling war stories, the German "Burp Gun". While they were under fire, a British soldier made a remark when they took cover, "What's the matter Yank?  Afraid of the Bloody Burp Gun?"  Hah…hah… But what the heck was a Burp Gun?  - Thank you,  A. Cloutier

The German "Burp Gun" was first the MP-38 that was rather quickly replaced by the MP-40... both are frequently called the "Schmeisser", however that is an error.  Hugo Schmeisser had nothing to do with the two designs.   Both the MP-38 and the MP-40 had cyclic rates of fire of 500 RPM and both chambered the 9mm Luger round which classes them as "sub-machineguns", not as assault weapons. 

However, Burp Gun was also the slang term that has entered the dictionary to describe any small machine pistol or sub gun.  And it was the trade name of a company that produced air powered toy ping-pong ball guns in the 1950's.

I can't find a reference on who first used the term, but it was likely a GI or a War correspondent in World War Two.



Every time I shoot my new Taurus 357 mag, I have a problem concentrating and miss the shot. Anything you can tell me to help?

I've gotten a new Taurus 357 mag large frame revolver model 608ss. My question is about shooting it. Every time I shoot it I have a problem concentrating and miss the shot. I don't understand, I'm a good shot with my contender 35 and all of my rifles and shotguns, but every time I go to pull the trigger, it's like I freeze before the shot. I'm so concerned about the kick and missing, I end up missing anyway. Anything you can tell me to help?  - Sincerely, C. Carpenter

The 357 mag has a very sharp recoil.  By way of comparison, I'd much rather shoot Dirty Harry's 44 Rem Magnum than shoot a 6" 357 revolver even though the 44 Mag has more energy, but it also has a recoil that is not so quick and sharp as the 357 Mag. There is no question you are flinching, anticipating the recoil at the moment you pull the trigger, and jerking to avoid the jolt to your hands that you know is about to happen.  The result... you jerk the sights off the target before the bullet can leave the barrel. 

But what do you do about it?

1)  Buy yourself a pair of Uncle Mike's fingerless shooting gloves... with some grip padding and traction material in the palms.  That will help a bit, and slipping them on will tell your mind that you have recoil protection.  A whole bunch of this is psychological.

2)  While you are shopping, buy a 50 round box of 38 special PLUS P with the heaviest bullet the shop has in stock.  Those are going to be hot loaded 38's, but the recoil will be way less than the 357 rounds.  You'll use these in your 357 Taurus to prove to your brain that you can hit where you are sighting.

3)  Also buy a couple of boxes of 357 in the lightest weight hollow points you can get at the gun shop--110 grain if you can find it... no more than 125 grain.  Lighter bullet weight means less recoil.

4)  Here's what to do at the range:  First put on the gloves.  Load up with the 38 special rounds and shoot several in Single Action.  Try to surprise yourself when the shot goes off as you squeeze the trigger while holding the sights on target.  You should now have cured the flinch and pulling off target, but if you haven't, get a buddy to stand beside you and pull the trigger while you just use both hands to aim.  Then you do it single action until you are certain you are not flinching with the 38 special.

5)  Now load up with the new 357 rounds which you expect will have less recoil than what you have been buying with the heavier bullet.  Shoot a string of 5, single action, cocking the hammer first.  If you're flinching now, get your buddy back on the job to do the trigger work while you master holding the gun steady.  Keep working at it with you pulling the trigger in single action mode until you have cured your flinch.

6)  Now, for the first time with the new ammo, shoot double action pulling the trigger all the way through to cock the hammer and drop it.  And, as you do this, be sure only your trigger finger is moving... not any other portion of your hand.  Finger only.

You should now be hitting the bull.


What is the difference between a .300 Win Mag and a .308? Is one more powerful than the other? Is one a larger diameter bullet? I've seen hunting/sniper rifles and they all pretty much come in .308 or .300 Win Mag, so what's the difference?  B. Goodwin

The .300 Winchester Magnum and the 308 Winchester both use the same diameter bullet (308 is a designation, not a measurement).  The 308 was a successor to the 30-06 and has basically the same ballistics although the case is shorter by approximately half an inch.  The 308 is an exact dimensional match to the NATO round, the 7.62 X 51, as expressed in the European metric measurements. The metric round came first and in 1957 Winchester simply adopted the military cartridge and re-named it for sporting purposes.  But the 308 is a marginal hunting round for large North American Game--elk, moose and bear.

So then came the 300 Winchester Magnum...  Same bullet choices--180 grains to 250 grains--but with a notable difference... the case is "belted".  Which means it has a heavy ring of brass formed around the base to prevent a fracture under high pressure at the weakest point of the casing. With that change in design, the 300 Win Mag can be, and is, loaded to higher pressures than the 308.  The difference is in all areas of ballistics--velocity, energy, and trajectory. For a hunter, the 300 Win Mag will reliably take down large NA Game.  But that same hunter will have to stand more recoil for the benefits.

Two simple comparisons:

308 Velocity measured at the muzzle: 2740 FPS. Energy at muzzle (180 grain bullet): 3000 Ft. Lbs.

300 Win Mag Muzzle Velocity: 2960 FPS. Energy at muzzle (180 grain bullet): 3505 Ft. Lbs. 

Want all the numbers?   Download the Federal Ammo Catalog of Comparison numbers at


Can you tell me what is meant by "Timing", pertaining to a revolver? I had purchased a revolver some years back and was told the "Timing" had to be adjusted. - A. Cloutier

Timing refers to whether the cylinder has turned and precisely lined up the chamber that is going to fire with the forcing cone on the rear of the barrel, BEFORE the hammer falls and fires the round.  If the timing is slightly off (not uncommon with inexpensive or old guns) the bullet will be jumping across the gap before the barrel is lined up and some of the bullet is likely to be scraped off and blow out the side of the revolver. It's kind of a small shower of lead to the sides of the cylinder.  It's actually somewhat dangerous if you have somebody standing to the side.  Obviously bad timing, that's scraping bullets, is not good for accuracy since you're re-shaping the round bullet as you fire.

The fix calls for a skilled gunsmith to adjust the ratchet and pawl mechanism at the rear of the cylinder that turns the cylinder when you pull the trigger (pull back the hammer on a single action). And he may adjust the cylinder stop, under the cylinder, that drops into the detents on the side of the cylinder to lock the position each time for firing.

It's professional work.


How do I set up a 100 yard shooting range?

I have recently been attempting to find info on how to set up a 100 yard shooting range, have had no luck on the net, in mags. and or books.  Do you have any info that would help?  I mainly need a design or plans to build a permanent shooting bench and target stand.  Thanks again for a great show, G. Stine

You're not finding anything because there really isn't anything much on the web.  How to build a shooting bench is probably the most frequent question I've received over the years and there still aren't any plans from anybody to offer.

The range question is pretty easy:  You need 100 yards of clear ground, you need a berm to stop the rounds behind the target stands.  And target holders are as simple as two vertical uprights to which you can staple standard targets, or cardboard backing to paper targets that you've pasted on the cardboard with wallpaper paste. A staple gun is standard range equipment.

When you lay out the range, you don't want the afternoon sun in your eye... you want it on the targets... so the preferred direction of fire would be the quadrant North through East, but get it too much to the East and you won't like shooting in the morning. Basically try to keep the sun out of your eyes and sights or adjust your shooting times to the sunlight, but most folks don't have a lot of choice unless they own a lot of land with good ridges or hills to back stop the berm.

The bench just needs to be heavy and stable.  Typically they have an L shaped top with the long side of the L on the shooter's strong hand side.  Or you can build a T top that will accommodate both right and left hand shooters.  I've seen benches made from concrete blocks with a cement top, but most often they are heavy wood constructions, either anchored to the ground in concrete or with a really heavy wood base so they can be moved around.  Height typically is a bit less than kitchen counter tops... so the shooter can sit, flat footed, and lean into a good shooting position.   Chairs now tend to be inexpensive office chairs with the gas adjustable pedestal. 

Your best bet is to go visit some ranges with your digital camera and take pictures of the ones that seem comfortable to you.


Is there such a thing as a Colt 57 cal. 30-06 single shot bolt-action rifle?

Recently, a friend told me he came across a Colt 57 cal. 30-06 single shot bolt-action rifle. Sight unseen. But I've never heard of Colt building a 30-06 model 57. (If they have, then I've spent way too many years hidden from Could you please send some info on this rifle if at all possible? In good condition would it be a good investment? If it does exist to begin with.  -  T. Gooden

I would have been confused, too... and I was when I got your message... but it's in the books.

The Colt "57" Bolt Action Rifle was manufactured for Colt in 1957 by Jefferson Manufacturing Co. also of Hartford, CT.  They made about 5,000 chambered in either .243 or 30-06.  It came with adjustable sights.  And it's basically a Fabrique Nationale Mauser action, barreled by Jefferson and matched with an American Walnut Monte Carlo Stock.  The book says there was a deluxe version with higher grade wood.  Current value for Very Good Condition is listed at $450... about 20% more if it's the deluxe.

Not much collector interest, since Colt didn't actually make it.  They had it private labeled for them to sell. So I wouldn't expect it to be a good investment.  More of a curiosity to make guys like us scratch our heads and say: What??!!


Do you have any idea where I can find a schematic for a S&W .38 CTGE? Also, what does CTGE mean?

I have an old revolver that belonged to my grandfather. The manufacturer was Harrington & Richardson, but the barrel says S&W .38 CTGE. It's a top break five shot. The action is SA/DA and uses a half cock safety feature. I'm not certain what model it is, but it has four pins. One of the two thicker pins holds the trigger assembly in the frame, while the other holds in the rear of the trigger guard. There are two thinner pins; one holds the front of the trigger guard and the other is directly above it, which apparently retains the spindle that the cylinder spins on. The barrel is 3 inches long.

This piece has sentimental value to me and I intend to restore its appearance as close to original as is possible. Here is my problem. This gun was obviously taken apart at one time and one of the thick pins is hammered up pretty bad. I have searched the Internet for a correct schematic so I might order a new set of pins. Do you have any idea where I can find a schematic for this revolver? Also, what does CTGE mean?

Not much doubt you've got a H&R Automatic Ejection Double Action Revolver... and it's pretty clear it's a model 2, made from 1889 to 1940.   Your serial number falls about a third of the way into the total of 1,300,000 made in that period... so you might guess yours was made about 1910 or so.



H&R revolvers have not become collectible over the years, they've never caught on with collectors, probably because they became "Saturday night specials" in the 50's through the 80's... cheap guns that worked, but had no significant effort given to aesthetics and finish.  In "very good condition" yours is valued at $50.   But that doesn't mean it should not have high personal interest as your Grandfather's revolver.

From the photo you sent, you appear to have the 3 and a quarter inch barrel version, chambered in 38 S&W Centerfire.  (That's what CTGE means--Cartridge)   NOTE:  This is NOT .38 Special, but the original round designed by S&W in 1877.  This cartridge is also known as the 38 Colt New Police.  You might be able to find some factory ammo, but I'd be slow to try shooting until you're sure of the rebuild.

Pins?  and a Schematic?  Not likely, for the same reason the gun has little monetary value.  What isn't collected doesn't find that kind of support.  What I'd do is go chat with the best gunsmith you can find in your area and see if he can modify or create some new pins to clean up the look.


I have inherited a Winchester model 62, the numbers on the gun are 80219A, 22 SL or LR, made in New Haven Conn. by Winchester Repeating Arms Co... I am interested in the history of the gun.  Could tell me when it was made?  It has been in the family since it was new.  It is still a shooter and will remain in my family forever.  Any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated. - Sincerely, R. Koenig

You appear to have one of the earliest versions of the Model 62A Slide Action repeaters.  The 62A was a slightly improved version of the Model 62 that was introduced in 1932 when Winchester dropped the earlier similar models 1890 and 1906.  The "A" designation notes a change to the breech bolt mechanism and the "A" after your serial number indicates this is one of the first, since later versions also had an "A" after the Model number--62A. 

All of that marking information above indicates you have one of the most valuable of the 62 series. If it were in "New in the Box" condition it would currently be worth about $2,600.  In excellent condition, $1,750.

According to Winchester factory records, your 62A was the 14th rifle made after January 1, 1939.  We could assume Jan 3, which was a Tuesday after the holiday.

All together, Winchester made about 409,000 Model 62 and 62A rifles from 1933 to 1958.  All are take down models.




Where does the Magnum Reaserch Desert Eagle MarkXIX .50AE rank among the
world's most powerful handguns? - Thank You, Thomas K.

The .50 AE is behind the 454 Casull which, in turn, is less powerful than the new S&W 500 Magnum.

The .50 Action Express was developed to add more performance to the Desert Eagle, which had been designed to chamber the 44 Rem Mag.  The trick was to use the same rim size as the 44 Mag to make all the internals of the Desert Eagle function with only the need for a change of barrel. That's why the .50 AE has a rebated rim.

.50 AE uses a 300 grain bullet at 1580 Feet per second resulting in a muzzle energy of 1568 Foot Pounds.

454 Casull with a 240 grain bullet fires at 1916 Feet per second creating energy of 1955 Foot Lbs.

Currently there are 3 loads from Corbon available for the 500 Magnum:

The "light" load is a 275-grain Barnes X copper hollowpoint bullet. Muzzle velocity is 1665 fps and it produces 1668 ft.-lb. of energy.

A 400-grain jacketed softpoint at 1675 fps and 2500 ft.-lb. of energy is available for larger game.

Those heading to Alaska or Africa will want the 440-grain hard-cast lead, gas checked, flat point load. At 1625 fps and 2580 ft.-lb. of energy. It's the new Dirty Harry handgun.


UPDATE: For more information reflecting the newest calibers, click here.


I have some old ".22 EX.LONG" ammo that no one seems to know anything about. It's a centerfire and it’s about the same size as a .22 mag. Can you tell me anything about this cartridge??

    The 22 Extra Long Centerfire is one of the cartridges for the model 1882 Maynard single shot hunting and gallery rifles. Ballard and Stevens Rifles were also available in the caliber in the period of the turn of the century. The round was subsequently replaced by the 22 WCF and larger 22 centerfire rounds.

    Those cartridges you have presumably have a 45 grain lead bullet with 8 to 10 grains of FFFg black powder in the case and they are fired by the small 0 primer that hasn't been produced for many years.

    I suspect a cartridge collector would place considerable value on them, especially if you have the original box.

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I need your help in settling an argument. My friends and I were discussing what happens to a bullet the instant it leaves the barrel; they seem to think that once the bullet leaves the barrel it rises before it starts to fall. I can't see how that could be possible, could you help us clear this up? Thanks for your help!! - C Jost

    Every bullet of every caliber travels in a arc, as gravity begins to pull it down as soon as it leaves the barrel of the gun that fired the shot. If your barrel were absolutely level and at exactly the same height as the ten ring in your target that was set at 100 yards... you would not hit the bull... the bullet would strike the target somewhere between 2 inches to as much as 4 inches below the bullseye, depending on caliber and bullet weight.

    So when we speak of "zeroing at 100 yards" (or at any other distance you chose to set your zero for) what we are really doing is adjusting how much we will be aiming up when the sights are set dead on at 100 yards. We're compensating for expected bullet drop at that distance. Basically we're lobbing shots up, like an artillery crew, so they will come back down to land precisely where we are aiming with the sights.

    So in that sense, the bullet is rising after it leaves the barrel, but that's because we're aiming the barrel slightly up. But the bullet doesn't rise by some magic of its own. It rises because the barrel is pointed up.

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I would like to scope a .270 for distances up to 500 yards for target shooting. What power/scope would you recommend for this type application? - Thanks, R Lowry

    The best target shooters will tell you, you can only shoot as well as you can see. So more power is a good thing for shots out to 500 yards, but the question becomes, "how steady can you hold?"

    So, with that said, you want max power commonly available. Lots of manufacturers offer zoom scopes with max power of 20x. Less common, but available are scopes with a max zoom of 24 or 25 power (Leupold and Swarovski) But... just like in sports cars, more power costs more money. Leupold's 8.5 - 25 power Target scope lists for $860 from Cabela's. Swarovski's 6 - 24 30mm scope is $1,519.99!!! So, suddenly, you've got more money in the scope than in the rifle mounting it.

    I'd suggest trying some friend's 20 power zoom scope to see what you can see at 500 yards, before deciding on the higher power Leupold.

    But I'll also tell you that the High Power Silhouette shooters, who drop rams at 500 Meters, start with a high power Leupold and then have them custom modified to raise the power to 35 or 40 power. And then they shoot off hand!!!! I can't even get the scope to settle on something the size of a volkswagen with that much power.

    So, again, more is better... but only if you can hold that power on the target.

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Can You Tell Me About the Stoner 63?

My dad worked at a place called Cadillac Gage in Warren Mi. They made a weapon system called a Stoner 63 chambered in .223 rem/5.56mm . I would like some info on this gun. He gave me one in semi-auto only that has not been fired. He told me they only made 250
civy models just for the employees. I remember him saying something about the Navy SEALS taking this weapon system to Viet Nam. Any and all info would be great. - Thanks Again, Jon

    What you have may be hard to value, but I suspect there are Colt and Stoner collectors who would kill for your unfired, very rare, semi-auto piece.

    There is a full auto Stoner 63 in the collection at the Springfield Armory that was valued at $13,500 about 20 years ago before it was transferred to the Armory.

    I'd insure that piece for at least $20,000 and I'd buy it a gun safe if you intend to keep it. If you intend to sell, you'll need a very competent and very experienced dealer.

    Here’s a link to a website with the history of the Stoner 63 at Cadillac Gage.

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What to Use for Polar Bear Defense?

I’m hoping you can help me. Next year I will embark on a solo expedition to the North Pole. I’ll be leaving from the Russian side, and polar bears will be a significant danger through much of my expedition.

I’m looking for a weapon to defend myself against polar bears. I’m an experienced shooter (NRA Expert Rifleman, Boy Scout Team); handgun, rifle, and shotgun. I’d prefer to go with a handgun, but shotgun would be my next choice.

Which caliber/handgun would you recommend for my needs? I appreciate greatly any advice/information you can share. Thanks kindly in advance.  --  W Vidmar, Explorer

    The only possibility of using a shotgun is if you are shooting big slugs... not sabot slugs, but the full barrel filling rifled slugs:

    Here's the Federal option with the product code first, the slug weight at 547 grains and the energy in foot pounds at the muzzle, then 25 yards, 50 yards, 75 yards and 100 yards.



1 1/4 / 547

12 / 3 / 76

Classic Rifled Slug






    The handgun option would be the new Smith 500 Magnum loaded with five rounds of the high velocity Corbon Ammo developed for the new gun. Either choice will provide protection, but nothing less will guarantee your personal safety if you actually meet an angry Polar bear or Grizzly. Good luck with the tour!



School Assignment: The Most Powerful Handguns?

My son is in the fourth grade and is very much into hunting. He  also watches your show as often as possible and that is why I am trying to contact you. He has a school project to find out the three most powerful handguns. If you or anyone you know can help it  would be very helpful to him. — Kevin E. for Jeremy E.

    Let's keep this relatively simple, without venturing into the realm of  "wildcat" cartridges, but it is true that Dirty Harry's famous Movie line is obsolete:  "This is the world's most powerful handgun, do  you feel lucky, punk?"  Dirty Harry had a Smith and Wesson 44 Magnum and the big bang guns have now moved beyond that.

    The widely available big handgun cartridge these days is the 454  Casull with Muzzle Energy that can be as high as 1,759 Foot Pounds (force measurement based on bullet weight and velocity measured at the muzzle)

    By comparison the 44 Remington Magnum (Formal Name) can  achieve a maximum Muzzle Energy of 741 Foot Pounds. (Lighter weight bullet and lower velocity)  But this is still no small number, the more common 38 special hot loaded to the limit can achieve  only 278 Foot Pounds of Muzzle Energy. (By the way I'm using Winchester's Factory Ammo Charts for these quotes.)

    Currently, you can get revolvers (no semi-autos) chambered in 454  Casull from Taurus, Ruger, and a few smaller manufacturers.  The problem with both of these is that you have to be holding on when you pull the trigger... and Newton's law says any action creates an  equal and opposite reaction... so something close to those same 1,700 foot pounds of force is also applied to your hands when it goes bang!  After demonstrating these guns for TV, I've usually  gone home with a sore right hand.

    Then there is another revolver, from Magnum Research, called the  BFR. Officially that stands for "Biggest, Finest, Revolver". But there's a Magnum Research joke here, Dad, if you think about it. The BFR is huge!  and it can be chambered in 45-70, which is a  rifle cartridge about 3 inches long with a huge bullet. (In black powder form, this was the cartridge Custer's men were shooting at the Indians at the battle of the Little Big Horn. This was also the  cartridge used by many of the Buffalo Hunters.) Loaded with Modern, Smokeless Powder, the 45-70 Government (Formal Name) will create 2375 Foot Pounds of Energy at the Muzzle. I've  never shot a BFR in this caliber, and I don't want to because of what Isaac Newton says is going to happen. I have shot a BFR chambered for .410 Shotgun Shells and that was tolerable, but  whatever the BFR is chambered in, I have no idea what you'd do with it other than brag to your buddies that you had the most powerful revolver in the world.

    But there is one more class of handgun that is more powerful...  single shot handguns made to shoot Rifle Ammo. Two are frequently seen competing in long range target matches, or are selected for handgun hunting... The Remington XP-100,  which is  essentially a cut down bolt action rifle with a handgrip instead of a shoulder stock... and the TC Encore, a break-top single shot handgun. Each of these can be chambered in rifle rounds like the  .223, .308, even the 7mm08 Remington. And with some of these rounds the Muzzle Energy is as high as 2500 Foot Pounds. Newton is still warning you what's going to happen to your hands,  but hunters don't shoot a lot of rounds.

    I hope that helps with the assignment. And I'm most impressed, in  this day and age, that a gun assignment is allowed in your school. Amazing.

  • UPDATE: For more information reflecting the newest calibers, click here.
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Which .22 Caliber Conversion for my Glock?

 I am thinking of purchasing either a Ciener or Advantage Arms .22 conversion for my Glock 22 or 26. Do you recommend either one(kit)? My wife thought she heard that the kits for the Glocks  had trouble jamming. I contacted DELTA FORCE regarding a sale on both kits and they recommended the Advantage Arms(a little more expensive but more features). — Kary K.

    I don't have an opinion on either one. We haven't done anything  with conversion kits since centerfire ammo isn't a problem if you do a Gun Show. In principal, I'm not crazy about training with a 22 conversion, since the absence of full recoil won't help you obtain  accuracy with the real centerfire rounds.

    I do have several choices in 22 caliber handguns and those work  quite nicely for plinking or target shooting with the 12 year old. And those guns cost about the same as a good conversion kit.

    Overall, I kind of view the 22 conversions as one of those ideas  you'd see on the cover of Popular Science:  "The Car That Flies", but it doesn't do either job well. Better off with a Car and a Plane, or in this case a Glock and some other kind of 22 pistol.

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What’s the History of my Winchester Model 1400 Left Handed 12  gauge?

I have a Winchester Model 1400 Left Handed 12Ga Shotgun. Can  you tell me the history of this gun? — Vern K.

    There isn't all that much history to a model 1400. Winchester  introduced a variety of the autoloaders in 1964 in both right and left hand variants. Gauges were 12-16-or 20. Barrels could be 26-28-or-30 inches, with a vent rib or without. And there was a  Deer Gun version with 22 inch barrel and rifle sights. In 1968 the 1400 was replaced by the 1400 Mark II which was the same gun with different checkering on the stock and forearm and an  improved action release. And then there were more variations... skeet models, trap and what have you. In 1974 the Mark II was replaced by the Super-X models.
    Depending on the version and the condition, a Model 1400 is worth about $250. Not much money for an autoloader these days, if it shoots well.

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What’s the history of my double barrel Sharps shotgun?

My 12 year-old enjoys it especially when Tom Knapp is on.  Occasionally on your show you talk about Sharps guns. I have a double barrel shotgun and the name Sharps is stamped on it. I've checked in the library and found nothing on a double barrel  shotgun made by Sharps. I also went on the Internet and have the same results. I was wondering if you could help me out. Think you very much from a loyal watcher. — Bob S.

    You may have a very rare piece. Here's what I've found: Sharps  announced in their 1878 Catalog that they were tooled up to manufacture fine quality shotguns, but it appears they actually contracted to have the double barreled shotguns made in England.  All were 10 or 12 gauge doubles. The quantity is unknown, but thought to be extremely limited. Webley was apparently the largest supplier sending about 150 guns by 1879.

    All but one of the guns were side lever opening. There was one  made with a top lever. All had plain side locks marked SHARPS RIFLE CO. They have Rebounding Hammers, Damascus barrels, marked on the center rib:  OLD RELIABLE in a panel and  SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN.  Plain Grade Pistol Grip Stock.

    If you've got one of the side lever guns, it is currently valued at  about $5,000 in Excellent Condition, about $3,000 in Very Good Condition. That top lever gun? That would be WOW!

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