My grandfather’s favorite tool was a hammer, and he had several. For finish carpentry he had a small one, for framing he had another, and for tearing $#!@ up he had a big one. Wilson Combat has a new hammer and AR 15 aficionados should be excited. It’s called the 300 HAM’R and it essentially duplicates the performance of the iconic 30-30 Winchester.
But first, a history lesson on the efforts to enhance the down range performance of the AR 15. Originally the AR 15 was chambered for the 5.56 NATO/223 Remington, but since the turn of the century we’ve seen a bunch of new cartridges, all purporting to be the next best thing to make the AR 15 hit harder. Arguably, it all started with the 6.8 SPC, and some thought it would supplant the 5.56 as the standard issue cartridge for the American Soldier. It didn’t and in fact has for the most part fallen out of grace with shooters.
The 6.5 Grendel introduced in 2003 is still little more than a cult cartridge. It has appeal, as did the 30 Remington AR, which was introduced in 2008. However, like with the 6.8 SPC, these cartridges require—as a minimum—a new bolt and different magazines for any AR chambered for the 5.56 that you want to convert. Between then and 2011 a variety of wildcat cartridges designed for the AR 15 appeared. Some had lots of merit but never really caught on. It was then that Remington went back almost 20 years and introduced a wildcat cartridge designed in the 1990s—the 300 Blackout.
The Blackout took the shooting world by a storm. It wasn’t long until almost every AR 15 manufacturer was offering a rifle chambered for it, and almost every ammunition manufacturer was loading 300 Blackout ammo. The timing was right and the name was cool, and the cartridges compatibility with suppressors rocketed it to stardom. But there was a problem; shooters soon found out that if they accidentally chambered a 300 Blackout cartridge in their AR 15 chambered for the 5.56, they could induce an explosive separation of parts.
While all this was going on Bill Wilson of Wilson combat was living at his ranch in Texas and hunting hogs with a vengeance. A faithful AR shooter, Wilson tried all these cartridges, looking for the ideal way to deliver maximum power down range, with minimal alteration to the AR 15 platform. After a short love affair with the 30 Remington AR – which Remington failed to market or support – he legitimized a wildcat .30-caliber cartridge, made by slightly altering the 223 Remington case, and called it the 7.62×40 WT.
The 7.62×40 worked well but was only marginally more powerful than the 300 Blackout, not enough so to steal shooters away from that cartridge or start its own following. After time Wilson began to dwell on the subject and figured he could increase the capacity of the 7.62×40, while still using a wide variety of .30-caliber bullets suitable for hogs, deer, human adversaries, and even critters as large as elk. He was having good luck with the cartridge but after discovering its fondness for Hodgdon’s CFEBLK powder, realized he had hit on something special.
Bill discovered that out of a 18-inch barrel his new cartridge would not only duplicate but better the performance of one of the greatest American cartridges ever produced. After initially considering naming the cartridge the 30-30 AR, Bill and his team at Wilson Combat settled on the 300 HAM’R. I don’t know how many feral hogs Bill and his associates have taken with the 300 HAM’R, but I’m betting its more than you have ever taken with any cartridge. The 300 HAM’R is field tested, proven, and it works.
Bill sent me one of his Tactical Hunter AR 15s chambered for the 300 HAM’R and I’ve shot it a lot. In fact, I’ve fired every round of ammo Bill provided me, and that included samples of all seven loads Wilson Combat offers for this cartridge. As you would expect, like any firearm from Wilson Combat, the rifle shoots very well; it is completely sub MOA capable. In fact, I fired a 10-shot group using two rounds each of five different loads, with bullet weights ranging from 110 to 150 grains, and the resulting group measured 1.56 inches. I’ll be you don’t own another rifle capable of ding that.
That’s a testament to the rifle and the quality of the ammo. What you are probably more interested in is if in fact this cartridge is an AR 15 version of the 30-30 Winchester. Based on my testing of more than a dozen factory 30-30 loads, and the seven 300 HAM’R Wilson Combat loads, it’s that and more. Not only will the more aerodynamic detachable magazine friendly bullets shoot faster and flatter out of the 300 HAM’R, they’ll hit harder down range because they retain their velocity better.
I can see a lot of potential for this cartridge. Those who like to hunt with their AR now have a powerful option, and all that’s required is a barrel change. The 300 HAM’R uses the same bolt and magazine as the 223 Remington. In a pure tactical environment, the 300 HAM’R will deliver more energy on target than the 5.56 NATO, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×39, and the 300 Blackout, and there are lots of viable bullet options for a variety of applications.
Right now you can get your rifle and Wilson Combat has seven loads to choose from. The Hunting Shack and Black Hills will also be loading ammunition, and Hornady might be poised to offer one or more loads as well. Will the HAM’R replace the 5.56 NATO for the military or universal civilian and law enforcement use? I doubt it. But, it is one of the best general-purpose cartridges available for the AR 15.
Grandpa would have liked it, that I’m sure of. He had a general-purpose hammer he kept handy for just about everything. He also had a 30-30 Winchester he kept around for the same reason. I learned allot from Grandpa. Like when you find a hammer you like you better spend the money and then hold on to it. This rifle now lives with me!
I once described Africa as a drug. A drug administered at the hands of a capable dealer, also known as a professional hunter. With the right dealer you’ll develop an addiction, that while financially debilitating, is emotionally fulfilling. Few things bring with them the wonderment of an African sunrise, and few things warm the soul like an African campfire.
Very soon my son and I will head out for another month long safari in South Africa. For the burglars who think you can sweep into my home while I’m away and haul away all the goodies, if you’re fortunate you will have to deal with a Rhodesian ridgeback that has an affinity for the taste of blood. (She gets very protective when I’m away visiting her homeland.) Maybe those with any doubt about the viciousness of this hound should reach out to Charlie Sisk or Dave Petzal. On the other hand, if you’re unfortunate, you’ll run into my wife. She’ll be well armed, and in a bad mood because her men are gone.
This trip is sort of a graduation present for Bat Mann. He’ll start college this fall and his plans are to secure a degree in business marketing. He wants to help companies in the outdoor industry better market their products to media representatives and customers. More specifically—and to quote the un-caped crusader—he told me, “I want Linda Powell’s job.” Those are some big shoes to fill!
More to the point, for the first week of this month long adventure with Fort Richmond Safaris, we’ll be hunting with Gunsite Academy instructor Dave Hartman. At the end of his week of adventure, the Second Scout Rifle Safari contingency will arrive, and it will be made up of five hunters who were a part of the first Scout Rifle Safari last year. They’ll spend the first day of their safari in a rifle tune up class with Dave Hartman and me. Two of the Scout Rifle Safari participants plan to also hunt a buffalo. So, I’ll spend part of that first day prepping them and their rifles—lever-action rifles—for that quest.
When those fine folks leave, Carlos Martinez of Remington Custom Shop fame, his young son, and Michael Bane and a camera man will arrive. We will spend a week hunting plains game and buffalo with various Remington’s, Marlins, and Dakota rifles out of the custom shop. Again, the buffalo will be hunted with lever-action rifles.
But, just like on the late night infomercial, there’s more. Before those guys are done with their safari, Justin Sitz from Versacarry will arrive to hunt with Fort Richmond Safaris for his second time. Justin will be there partly for work to field test his new Ammo Caddy, which is a fantastic device for ammo management. He’ll be there for about two weeks, and before he leaves, freelance writer Jay Pinsky will show up for his own, one-week safari to test various rifles, optics, and ammunition.
There will be lots of wonderful folks, lots of cool guns, some new and untested optics, a wild array of ammunition, and enough adventure to pack into an eight-part mini series. I’d suggest you follow us along on Instagram and Facebook, partly so you can be jealous, but also partly because there will be lots of magnificent images—my son will be working again as the official safari photographer—and stories to be told.
There’s an assault on those who shoot and hunt, or own firearms for recreation, self-defense, and the protection of liberty. Because of that assault, there’s a lot of talk about which companies should be boycotted. Over the weekend there was a chill over YETI coolers—like I’m sure hoards of gun owners were on the verge of buying a $300 plastic box. And, Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods recently pissed off shooters with their decision not to sale certain firearms. This of course made the cliché, “don’t be a Dick,” more relevant than ever.
Having been a “Dick” all my life—I was named after my father and with “Dick” being the nickname for anyone named Richard, after I was born my father became known as “Big Dick.” You can guess where that left me—and I found that offensive. So offensive in fact, I decided to just forget about it, and get on with my life.
And maybe that’s what we all should do. I’m not suggesting supporting companies you feel have betrayed the liberty we hold so dear. What I am suggesting—no, encouraging—is the support of companies who are on our side and not afraid to say it. I’d like to see social media posts about companies who help the NRA. Contact companies you’re considering purchasing from and ask them, “What are your recent contributions to the NRA?” Below is an example of what you can learn if you ask/check:
I asked YETI, and their response was, “Nothing.” That may be enough to justify your boycott. However, according to my source, YETI has, “Bought ads in AH [NRA’s American Hunter magazine] attended [NRA] Annual Meetings as exhibitor and worked with them [the NRA] on preferred vendor program.”
I’m just a simple hillbilly and my mind works in mysterious ways, but I’m reasonably certain if gun owners stop shopping at Dick’s or Wal-Mart, or never buy another YETI cooler, those companies will still be making money—lots of money. But, I’m also reasonably certain if you buy from companies who give to the NRA, every gun owner in America will benefit. All of this is why I’m donating a portion of the proceeds from my latest book to the National Rifle Association. Like me, that donation may not amount to much, but I’ll give a little bit of the little bit I have.
The cold, hard, truth is if I can do that on gun writer’s wages—with three kids, two car payments, and a mortgage—surely major outdoor companies, making lots of money off gun owners, can do as much…unless they really don’t care about us.
When I was growing up cartoons only came on TV on Saturday morning. There were no video games, and fun was mostly found playing football, cowboys & Indians, or army. Everyone in my family was a hunter and guns were a part of our life and my childhood. I killed a lot of small game and a few deer before I ever kissed a girl. Times have changed.
In most families both parents work. Many kids spend many hours a week at daycare. Evenings are cluttered with homework, television, sports, and extra curricular activity practice. Weekends are filled with soccer, football, baseball and similar endeavors. As parents make an effort to find a moment of sanity, or catch up on chores, kids often end up watching episode after episode of Sponge Bob or other silliness.
I have four children, two are now adults, the others teenagers. They’ve been exposed to guns their entire life. The youngest three enjoy shooting or being around guns; the oldest could care less. I’m responsible for both the gun interest in the youngest and the lack of the same in the oldest. Let me explain.
When my oldest was five I started taking him to the range with me. He was excited about the adventures – I thought because he liked guns. In reality, his enthusiasm came from the opportunity of doing something with dad. I assumed his gun interests were similar to mine. He learned to shoot rather well, but I noticed he quit having fun. I realized I’d made a serious mistake.
When my next oldest son was four, I got him a BB gun and we cut photos of animals from hunting magazines and taped them to cardboard boxes. We went on hunts in the yard, and it wasn’t long until he’d killed all sorts of paper animals. At five, he progressed to a .22 rifle that was light enough for him to shoot off-hand.
After a few shots on paper, so he could see he was hitting what he aimed at, we graduated to fun targets. With mom at work we’d raid the fridge and steal vegetables. We took crackers out of the cabinet, bought some balloons and lollipops. I even ordered some swinging steel plates. Why, when he shot these targets there was a reaction; sometimes an explosive one. He found this exciting but also demonstrated to him the destructive power of a firearm.
When he turned six a friend who builds custom rifles loaned me one he’d put tougher for a small kid. It was too heavy for him to shoot off-hand but the stock fit, the trigger was crisp, and it was chambered for a cartridge that did not knock his boogers out. I let him shoot a few shots at a deer target and three weeks later he killed a spike buck. It was a heart shot at 60 yards he still brags about.
Since then his interest in guns has become more professional. He’s more eager to learn how they work and anytime he has a chance to shoot a gun like he uses when he plays his Modern Warfare game, he’s excited. Still, I make sure that whenever we shoot its fun. I try to end each shooting session with a game or challenge.
This has had a cascading effect on the other, younger kids. My son runs in the house to tell mom about the cool things we did or how well he shot. Our two girls want to be part of that excitement. They associate shooting with fun. It’s my job to make sure that does not change.
This has even had an effect on my wife. She was not a shooter when we met but she was not afraid of, nor did she have any aversion to guns. Over the last few years our son’s shooting enthusiasm spread to her. She’s been to Gunsite Academy multiple times, she’s hunted in Africa, and taken several deer here at home while hunting on her own.
Here is a lesson for husbands and fathers: Mom’s matter – where the mom leads, the kids will follow.
My mother was a hunter and shooter, and so are my sister and I.
Safety is of course a concern. You need to ingrain firearm safety into your kids. When I was in Junior high school, we were all given the hunter’s safety course. Get this; we even loaded shotgun shells in the gym and shot clays on the baseball field. That won’t be happening anymore but the Hunter’s Safety Course is a great safety education experience for a youngster.
With my son I made sure he understood gun safety, and never refuse to let him see or handle a gun as long as he exercises proper protocol. I also encourage him to call me out anytime he sees anything unsafe. When he does, I listen. If he’s wrong, I explain why and if he’s right, I admit my mistake.
Getting kids interested in shooting is really very simple but you have to understand their interest in shooting is driven by different things than yours. A half-inch group will mean little to a seven year old but an exploding tomato will mean the world. Here’s a simple test. If you’re out shooting with your kids and they’re not smiling, you’re doing it wrong.
A Psychologist on Kids & Guns – Samantha Mann
Parents employ methods of discipline loosely based on scientific principles of a behavior modification theory called operant conditioning. Any reward, or more specifically a positive reinforcer is defined as any event following a behavior that increases the frequency of that behavior. Therefore, if you are trying to increase the amount of time that your child is shooting, what happens immediately after the trigger is pulled must influence them to do it or want to do it again. The positive reinforcer they experience can come from you, such as a pat on the back, or from the target, such as a dynamic reaction.
Any parent who has given the horsey ride and heard the squeals and the “do it again!” understands this.
Guns unfortunately create a loud noise and sometimes kick. Both can lead to a certain amount of anxiety. This relates to a behavior modification theory called classical conditioning. Many children – and even adults – are afraid of guns for that very reason. Introduction in gradual increments is the best approach, and be smart; start with a .22 LR. Remington’s CB loads are a low noise option. When the child asks if the gun will kick or be loud, be truthful; help them prepare for what’s coming. It only takes a single bad experience to instill fear in child. If the fear is strong enough, one instance can create a lifelong phobia.
If done intelligently, shooting and hunting are excellent activities to share with children. They will learn much more than just how to shoot or how to hunt. They will develop good self-esteem, coping skills, relationships, self-reliance, and independence, while experiencing healthy recreation and an overall philosophy of life and death. This will reduce their risk for delinquent behavior, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and even giving in to peer pressure.
A lot of folks are outraged about various big box stores like Dick’s and Walmart discontinuing the sale of ARs, or upping the age of purchase to 21. I guess they feel like these monster corporations have betrayed them, and that we should boycott or punish them for not supporting the Second Amendment. Well, um, we should have never started buying our gun stuff there in the first place. We abandoned real gun stores for convenience, and to save a couple dollars, they went out of business, and here we are.
I could care less. In fact, it would not bother me if Dick’s and Walmart stopped selling guns, along with gun and hunting related accessories, all together. Neither have ever been a real gun store anyway. Though I’m sure there are exceptions, those behind the counter are, in most cases, not qualified to sale or even handle a gun. And based on my experience; their enthusiasm for customer care almost equals my interest in cat videos.
When I was growing up there was a local bait & tackle/gun shop about two miles from my house. On weekends—during my paper route—I’d stop there on my bike. The guy behind the counter would let me look at and fondle the guns that interested me, and he even knew a thing or two about firearms…and young boys. I could usually talk him out of some part I needed, that was just lying in the clutter on his workbench. (If you grew up near my hometown—and are older than 50—you will remember Ray’s Bait Shop. I’d rather go back there for one hour than spend a day in Cabela’s.)
We’ve seen the death of the local gun shop. With that, we’ve lost places where real and practical knowledge could be dispensed. Dick’s, Walmart, and others have contributed to this near extinction; they retail firearms so cheap, the local guy cannot compete. (Few realize how small the profit margins are on guns.) What they fail to deliver is service—service before, during, and most importantly, after the sale. And those conducting the sale do not have the experience to get that feeling when someone is trying to buy a gun, with possible bad intentions in mind. (You do realize an FFL dealer can deny a sale to anyone they think might be a danger don’t you? Local gun shop owners take this serious.)
And then there’s the knowledge they do not have to share. Local gun shops are operated by folks who are experienced with, and passionate about, what they do and the things they sale. That passion carries over to the customer. The absence of that passion is like a cancer to the gun and hunting industry. It’s why Dick’s and Walmart could care less about your firearms or hunting interests—they have none of their own. It’s also the reason some gun manufactures are struggling; they hired management types from other industries who lack our passion.
Be mad at Dick’s and Walmart if you like, I could care less what they sale. When I buy gun stuff locally, I’m going to buy it from a guy who smells like Hoppe’s #9, a guy who was installing a trigger on a rifle that morning, a guy who closed his shop early yesterday to go to the range, a guy who frequently has a shop full of like-minded folks bitching about anti-gunners, a guy who knows what a pre-64 model 70 is, who Jeff Cooper was, and who actually gives a shit if I hit what I shoot at, or ever come back in his shop again.
With the help from Dick’s and Walmart, the local gun shop can once again be real. With all the new gun owners in our ranks, they’ve never been needed more than right now! You think Dick’s and Walmart are a gun stores? Well, bless your heart. You’ve never been in a real gun store have you?
For 2018 there will be a new feature at Empty Cases. It’s called “Ask the Gunwriter” and it’s sponsored by Mossberg. I receive gun or hunting questions every day and I do my best to answer them all. But I realized there might be other folks with the same question, looking for an answer. So now, when someone submits a question—a good question—I’ll crate a video response and post it on the Empty Cases website and on social media. If I do not know the answer, I’ll reach out to other—smarter—folks in the industry for help.
The really cool aspect of Ask the Gunwriter is that if you submit a written question your name will entered for a chance to win a Mossberg Patriot Revere chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor. But even better, if you submit a video question, your name will be entered 10 times! In October, I’ll draw a name and announce the winner. For instructions on submitting a question, click HERE
But, before this all gets kicked off I thought I’d save some folks some time and tell you what questions not to ask; remember, to be selected your question has to be good.
It’s cold here in the hills. Temperatures have been in the single digits and the wind has been blowing hard. I have a variety of projects I need to be working on but they all involve shooting, and, well, I’m holding out for better days.
This has provided me with some down time and I’ve been looking around on the Internet a good bit. Enough to remind me how little most shooters know about terminal ballistics. If you visit most any shooting forum you will uncover enough misinformation to make you think you’re on the MSNBC website.
In no time at all you’ll learn that you need a 338 Winchester Magnum to kill any whitetail deer north of Pennsylvania, that the 30-30 is so old it will only kill yearling deer – and then only with good hits, and that any cartridge created before 1965 was only introduced to get folks to buy more guns.
I went back through my archives and notes and found some video and information where I conducted a bunch of terminal ballistics testing at the Barnes Bullets laboratory a few years back. I learned a lot of stuff during those experiments and validated some of my opinions.
One opinion I’ve held for sometime deals with comparing the terminal performance of various cartridges. Looking at recovered bullets is the way this is most commonly done. It’s the easy way, but it’s also the way that provides the least information, at least when it comes to information about how the bullet damaged tissue. The best way I’ve found to compare terminal performance is to look inside the dead deer, or whatever animal you’re trying to recover a bullet from. That’s where you find the real story. It’s also where you realize that by looking inside a dead animal, you cannot tell which cartridge killed it.
Here’s an example of Internet ballistics wisdom. Some argue that the 30-06 is superior to the 308 Winchester in every way. Did you know that the 180-grain, 308 Winchester, RNSP CoreLokt bullet will expand wider and penetrate deeper than a 180-grain, 30-06, PSP CoreLokt? Probably not. Most assume the 30-06 will outperform the 308 because it has a slightly higher muzzle velocity. Regardless of these technicalities, I’ll guarantee if you look inside two deer – one shot with each load – you would have no better than a 50% chance of guessing which one killed which deer.
Below you’ll see a list of terminal performance information most often discussed for three loads, all shooting a 150 grain, .30 caliber projectile. The loads were a 150-grain CoreLokt fired from a 30-30 Winchester, a 150-grain CoreLokt fired from a 308 Winchester, and a 150-grain Barnes TTSX fired from a 308 Winchester. Can you match the data with the cartridge?
Load Penetration Expansion Recovered Weight
Maybe a better way is to watch the video of the bullets impacting the 10% ordnance gelatin. These videos were shot during the testing I referenced. Now, I’ll tell you up front, the videos might be a bit misleading because of where the bullet stuck the gelatin block in relation to the side of the block the camera was positioned on. I’ll also tell you that its – in most cases – as difficult to guess your wife’s weight to her satisfaction as it is to match gel blocks like these to dead critters.
Regardless of all this scientific stuff, the point is most of what you read on a gun forum – and a lot of what you read in gun magazines – is pure speculation, often based on anomalies, examples of one, and even old wives tales. It’s pontification driven by what has been read and repeated, assumed or found in ballistic charts, and by – yes – looking at recovered bullets. Granted, the 30-30 Winchester is not as powerful as the 308 Winchester. The thing is, the animals don’t know that, especially when they are leaking out both sides. To develop an understanding of terminal performance, stop looking at recovered bullets and look at what the bullet does to the animal.
I’ll leave you with these wonderful bits of wisdom from Finn Aagaard, someone who truly understood terminal performance:
1, One can select figures and dense formulas to bolster about any preconceived notion, and therein lies the major weakness of any of these killing power calculations – they reflect merely the personal opinions and prejudice of their authors.
2, Killing power is a matter of biology, not of math and physics, and is influenced almost totally by shot placement, accompanied by sufficient penetration.
3, Rather than relying on fanciful “killing power” formulas, hunters would do far better to learn field marksmanship and to make some study of animal anatomy, in which subject most of them, including most outdoor writers, are woefully deficient.
4, Given sufficient penetration, what does any additional bullet weight add to killing power? Nothing, absolutely nothing.