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Gun-e-sack.

One of the most treacherous pitfalls for a writer--any writer, regardless of his field of endeavor--is to take himself too seriously. It is an insidious affliction, one that slithers among the commas, periods and paragraphs like the serpent of Eden looking to turn good ol' boy straight talk into pompous B.S. Especially susceptible are those scribes who, like myself, are fortunate enough to have a regular column like this one in which we can "wing it" with regard to subject matter.

Just for the record, one of the things we try to accomplish here in Gun-E-Sack is to subjectively review products, not always new and many of which are only of a minor nature, but nonetheless worthy of your knowing about. And we like to rap about any topic of interest to shooters and hunters, especially as it relates to those products and their use in the real world.

Toward that end, it is often the input from your readers that gets the wheels turning, gives direction or correction. So don't hesitate to pick up a pen. I enjoy hearing from you.

While paging through the December 29th-January 4th edition of TV Guide for something worth watching (hope does spring eternal), I was stunned to see an article entitled "You Can't Silence a Revolver--or Muzzle Prime-Time Misfires" by one Gregory Bayan.

Mr. Bayan opens his article by relating a typical TV cop show scenario wherein some nasty whips out a revolver with a silencer attached. "Ballistic experts roll in the aisles when they see a silenced revolver," says Bayan. "It's a ridiculous and impractical portrayal. Technical reason: even if the muzzle report is silenced, the gap between the barrel and cylinder of a conventional revolver allows noisy explosive gases to escape when the gun is fired."

Well, run me through the sheep dip! Finally, someone was pointing out in a general circulation magazine the ludicrous technical errors that appear with monotonous regularity on network television. I'm sure Bayan wasn't the first writer who wanted to poke fun at what is obviously the cavalier attitude of TV producers toward facts; it's just that the editors of general circulation newspapers and magazines simply don't care either, and assume everyone feels the way they do. Hence my surprise at seeing Bayan's article, especially when he opened with the silencer bit. He made brief mention of some other stock errors we're all too familiar with--the infinite-shot revolver and the recoiless high-powered rifle--before going on to other technically deficient aspects of television.

I wish Bayan had spent more time on his firearms-related digs but then I'm sure he got in about all he could expect to get away with, considering the publication.

Since Bayan missed my favorite, now's as good a time as any to tell you about it. What drives me higher up the wall than any other "ludicrism," if I may coin a term--more than 16-shot hoglegs, more than high-powered rifles without recoil--is what I call the "scope fiddler." You've seen him: he's usually a professional hit man, sinister yet surave, replete with his London fog overcoat and briefcase.

The typical scene goes like this: our assassin is shuffling up the stairs of some high-rise. He reaches the door to the roof (which is always unlocked, by the way), opens it, then purposefully moves to his pre-selected vantage point. Down goes the briefcase, up goes the lid. There inside reposes a dismantled rifle of some sort, usually very exotic--looking. He quickly screws the barrel in place, attaches a buttstock, then snaps the scope in place. So far so good. Nothing incredulous here.

But then this professional gunman, a supposed expert, brings the rifle to his shoulder and begins looking for his target through the scope. Ah, there he (or she) is. But wait, the crosshair isn't where it'll do the job, so what does our pro do? Still peering through the scope, he reaches up to the windage of elevation knob and starts playing a tune! We the viewers then see the reticle moving onto the target. Never mind moving the gun, which we've mistakenly assumed was already zeroed in. Then he moves the crosshair, as if doing so will somehow drag the point of impact with it.

The day after reading Bayan's article, my son Ian came home with a couple of rented VCR movies, one of which was Sudden Impact, the latest "Dirty Harry" flick. In it, Clint Eastwood describes his .44 Auto Mag as firing a "300-grain cartridge." C'mon, Harry, since when do we weigh the whole thing?

The next evening these was a network re-run of Burt Reynolds' Sharkey's Machine in which we were not only given a demonstration of the term "scattergun" in the literal sense, but also one of the niftiest pieces of forensic ballistics I've ever seen.

In Sharhkey's, the hit man is using an over/under with the tubes sawed off just at the tip of the forearm. With said sawed-off in hand, Mr. Sinister saunters up to this hooker's apartment and blows her away through the door just as she's about to open it. Now the muzzles were literally against the door, yet in the next scene they show a hole about 18 inches in diameter. Talk about an open-choked gun! Not only that, but around the periphery of that 18-inch "pattern" they show a few buckshot holes for good measure.

We then see Burt and a few of his colleagues from the homicide unit nosing around for clues, plus the usual complement of "lab boys" including a ballistic expert. The latter, a bespectacled little fuddy-duddy of a fellow, opines that the murder weapon was indeed a sawed-off shotgun, ". . . 3 inches under legal I should think."

Amazing!

ALPHA RIFLE

Jim Hill's Alpha Arms down Dalas way is starting to produce some really fine, lightweight hunting rifles. The Alpha is based on a slick little turnbolt of a Homer Koon design; it's a three-lug, short-lift action based on the "fat bolt" principle whereby the locking lugs at the head are formed by stock removal. Since the lugs do not protrude like on a Mauser-type design such as a Sako, Remington 700 or Ruger 77, only a perfectly round hole need be bored in the receiver. This allows close tolerances between bolt and receiver which translates into a very smooth, wobble-free operation. Actually, it's very similar to Weatherby's Mark V except that the Alpha uses three large lugs of 120-degree centers whereas the Weatherby uses three rows of three--nine small ones on the same 120-degree orientation. The bolt is fluted, too, just like the Mark V.

The overriding concept behind Homer's design of the original Alpha was compactness and light weight, and in that the succeeded admirably. He also wanted the rifle to sell at a price that would make it very competitive with Ruger and Remington. In that, he didn't succeed.

Enter Jim Hill who saw a future in Alpha, not in the brutally competitive marketplace dominated by the biggies, but in the semi-production category where more effort could by expended on quality control, overall finish and optional custom features. Hence the name change to Alpha Custom, the line which Jim introduced at the '84 SHOT Show. Jim is one of those highly astute fellows who share my ehthusiasm for the .284 Winchester. Kidding aside, this fine round offers the most power and reach in a commercial cartridge that will cycle through a short action, so the .284 was a perfect choice for the Alpha. Surprisingly, the wildcat .25-.284 is also offered as a stock chambering, as well as the other shorties--.243, .308 and 7mm--08.

Jim recently sent me his newest model to look over, the Grand Slam, a laminated-stock version of the basic Alpha barreled action. I generally don't like petite guns but this one is an exception. The stock is fashioned from 32 pieces of white birch veneer, each of which measure only .050-inch thick. The layers are vacuum impregnated with phenolic resins then glued under high pressure. The resultant stock should be extremely strong and stable. With the veneers oriented vertically and the phenolic resin being of a walnut shade that colors the thin layers accordingly, the Grand Slam stock looks like an incredibly beautiful piece of slab-sawed walnut. You have to look twice to be certain it isn't. It's really beautiful.

The loaner Jim sent me was, oddly enough, a .284. With its 21-inch barrel (the standard length for this and the .25-.284 in the Alpha Custom), the gun weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces naked and measured 40-5/8 inches long.

Also new for '85 is a three-position, Model 70-type safety that is now standard, replacing the two-position side-tang arrangement of the earlier guns. Suggested retail price is the same as last year: $1,275.

The Alpha Custom and Grand Slam are impressive rifles which should delight anyone looking for a short, light rifle with class. For a brochure showing the complete line, write Alpha Arms, 12923 Valley Branch, Dept. GA, Dallas, TX 75234.

Just returned from the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and am I bushed. As most of you know, the National Shooting Sports Foundation-sponsored SHOT is the show where most new hunting and shooting-related products are introduced to the trade. This year there were nearly 1,000 exhibitors, far too many for a mere mortal to see in three days' time. Indeed, it would have required just a two-minute visit at each booth during the entire 36 hours the show was in progress to see everything.

I did, however, manage to see most of what's new and interesting for 1985 and we'll be highlighting some of them here in the ol' sack during the next 12 months.

Celebrating their 75th anniversary this year it was the Boy Scouts' turn for a Winchester (USRAC) commemorative. Appropriately enough, the excelent Model 9422 was chosen instead of the 94 centerfire that's normally been used as the basis for these limited-edition firearms. There will be two versions of the BSA commemorative: the Eagle Scout and Boy Scout. The former is the fancier of the pair, of which only 1,000 will be produced. The Boy Scout model is less lavishly embellished yet still carries plenty of rolled "engraving" on its antique gold-finished receiver and lever, select wood, and a commemorative medallion in the buttstock.

To complement the BSA rifles, USRAC has commissioned the Winchester Group of Olin corporation to produce a limited run of special .22 Long Rifle cartridges with nickel-plated cases and the Boy Scouts' fleur-de-lis emblem for the head-stamp. Naturally, there's special packaging of both the individual 50-round boxes and the 10-box "brick."

Royalties accruing from the sale of these special rifles and this ammunition will be paid to the Boy Scouts of America to further Scouting projects and activities.

Another ner version of the 9422 for '85 is what USRAC's calling its XTR Classic, which should appeal to those who like the looks of lever actions as they were around the turn of the century. The Classic will Feature a 24-inch barrel in conjunction with a longer fore-end and magazine tube, a curved finger lever, and crescent-shaped steel buttplate--a nice-looking rifle.
COPYRIGHT 1985 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:various small arms-rifle issues discussed
Author:Sundra, John
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1985
Words:1868
Previous Article:1985: what's new from Remington? A look at the latest from America's oldest arms maker.
Next Article:The gun: your best survival insurance! In the social breakdown that follows a natural calamity, you will be responsible for protecting your family...
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