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Montana Rifle Company Review: Judging The Junction

Montana Rifle Company Review: Judging The Junction
Photo: Massaro Media Group.

The author takes a look at the Montana Rifle Company and its American-made Junction rifle.

Among the numerous rifle companies that made a definite impression in the 20th century, one squeezed in just under the wire; in fact, their flagship rifle action was named for the last year of the 1900s.

Montana Rifle Company was the brainchild of gunsmith Brian Sipe. Their Model 1999 action became a favorite among hunters, and their bolt-action rifles gained equal popularity. Using a controlled-round-feed (CRF) action, with definite influences from the proven original Winchester Model 70 CRF design, those Montana Rifles equipped with the Model 1999 action were a perfect fit for the hunter on the back forty or for those pursuing big game around the globe. The original rifle series came in common calibers as small as .22-250 Remington, all the way up to the behemoth .505 Gibbs, and each made many hunters happy during its time in the spotlight.

Between business issues, production problems and availability, Montana Rifle Company as we knew it ended up closing its doors, being purchased by a private investor group and ultimately shutting down in March of 2020.

But don’t count the old brand out just yet: Grace Engineering of Memphis, Michigan, has revived the brand with a pair of new—yet familiar—bolt-action rifles: the synthetic-stocked Highline, and the walnut-stocked Junction. It was the latter that I got to spend time with.

Montana-Rifle-Company-bolt
The Montana uses a familiar controlled-round-feed bolt design—very similar to that of the Mauser 98 or early Winchester Model 70—yet the shooter can single-feed a cartridge into the chamber without fear of breaking the extractor. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

A Brand Reborn

Upon opening the box, I was expecting to see the familiar lines of the Model 1999 action … but I was surprised to see something altogether different. Instead of the ol’ ’99, Montana revised the action to create the Model 2022 action. Between this and several other obvious features, I knew this was much more than a reboot of previous designs. The stock lines were familiar—the Montana Rifles always ran a bit thin in the wrist and heavy in the forend, and the Junction is no different—but they’ve incorporated some features that immediately set it apart from its older siblings.

Montana-Model-2022-action
The Montana Model 2022 action is CRF, with a non-rotating extractor. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

The first was what looked like a two-piece Picatinny rail atop the receiver, until I realized it was machined into the receiver itself. Instead of using a cast receiver, a la the Model 1999, Montana’s Model 2022 is milled from a solid billet of 416 stainless steel. The Mauser-style extractor band is still there, along with the Winchester 70-style three-position safety, as well as the hinged floorplate. Though the action is technically considered CRF, Montana has engineered the action to allow the single feeding of a cartridge without the risk of damaging the extractor, giving one additional round on top of the full magazine.

Montana-Model-2022-action-2
Unlike many of the older CRF designs, the M2022 bolt can cam over a cartridge’s rim without fear of harming the extractor, giving the shooter one additional round. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

The bolt handle has a distinct gold band in the middle section, terminating in an unadorned oblong bolt handle, which is comfortable in the hand. Because all the metalwork is covered in a weatherproof finish, working the Junction’s action right out of the box may seem a little stiff, but it soon smooths out from use.

MRC-Junction-safety
A Winchester 70-style three-position safety (forward to fire and work bolt, middle blocks sear and allows bolt to open for safe unloading, and rearward locks bolt and blocks sear) is standard on the Montana rifles. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

The Junction uses an adjustable trigger—again inspired by the Winchester Model 70 design—finished in the same gold color that adorns the bolt handle, which Montana Rifles says is set to 3.5 pounds but adjustable down to 2 pounds. My handy little Lyman Digital Trigger Scale showed that the trigger broke consistently at 3 pounds, 5 ounces. I found the trigger had just the slightest bit of creep and almost no overtravel.

My test rifle—and the entire initial run of Junction rifles—came chambered in the now universal 6.5 Creedmoor, and the magazine will hold five rounds. Note: 11 cartridges are in the works from Montana, including the 6.5 PRC, 7mm PRC, .308 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum, .375 H&H Magnum and more coming throughout this year.

Equipped with a 24-inch button-rifled, hand-lapped barrel—made in Michigan at the Montana Rifles plant—with a 1:8 twist and threaded at the muzzle, the Junction comes with a removable muzzle brake that brings the low-recoiling Creedmoor down to nearly nothing. The Junction’s barrel is clean, with no iron sights, and one look at the receiver with the integral base tells the prospective purchaser this rifle is assuredly designed to be scoped.

MRC-Junction-muzzle-brake
The Junction’s muzzle is threaded for a muzzle brake or suppressor; the author’s test rifle was shipped with a brake onboard. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

Turning to the Junction’s stock, there’s a definite new look, even if the feel hasn’t changed much from the older Montana Rifles offerings. The Junction is stocked in a handsome piece of walnut in the Monte Carlo design, with a prominent cheekpiece, and is checkered at the pistol grip and forend. The length-of-pull on the test rifle measured 13½ inches, which is pretty well the same dimension as most American hunting rifles, though I personally wish that, collectively, rifle manufacturers would add a half-inch or so to that figure.

As I stated above, the Montana design has always had a thinner pistol grip and a fatter forend. But, in the new Junction rifle, Grace Engineering has provided not only the traditional sling studs fore and aft, but also a four-slot M-Lok rail along the bottom of the stock and in between the forward sling stud and the front action screw. While perhaps unconventional, at least in the visual department, it does make a whole bunch of sense. It allows the use of bipods, tripods and what-have-you, without the need for the end user to modify the rifle. Looking toward the rear of the rifle, Montana provides a ⅝-inch pliable recoil pad to absorb any recoil sting that the muzzle brake doesn’t handle. 

MRC-Junction-MLOK; Montana Rifle Company
Montana has installed a four-slot M-Lok rail on the underside of the walnut stock, between the forward sling stud and the action screw at the front of the hinged floorplate. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

In all, the Junction is a familiar-feeling rifle that’ll sit comfortably in the hands of traditionalists, yet it provides a good number of useful features that even the younger folks—who have accepted attaching all sorts of goodies to a rifle or handgun—will gravitate toward.

Testing The Montana Rifle Company Junction

My test rifle came with an optic already mounted and sighted by the folks at Montana—though the Junction isn’t sold with any sort of optic. The Vortex Viper 4-16x44mm in Vortex mounts (conveniently labeled with torque specs on the rings—nice touch) certainly will help take full advantage of the Creedmoor’s trajectory and accuracy performance, and it was more than enough to evaluate the 100-yard accuracy of this combination.

Did I mention that Montana Rifle Company gives a ½-MOA guarantee with their new rifles? Well, they do. According to the company: “All Model 2022 rifles are guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group inside ½ MOA from a cold barrel using premium ammunition.” Gauntlet dropped; let’s see if the Junction will hold up to that claim. I grabbed four different boxes of premium ammo and packed up the Junction to head to the range.

Hornady’s Match load—with the 140-grain ELD Match bullet at 2,710 fps—has certainly become the benchmark for assessing a rifle’s potential, so I included that in the mix. But as the Junction is first and foremost a hunting rifle, I grabbed three boxes of premium hunting ammunition that I thought would best serve in the test. The Federal Premium 130-grain Barnes TSX load would be a lead-free hunting choice, the Nosler Trophy Grade 129-grain AccuBond Long Range load certainly qualifies as a premium ammunition choice, and the Remington Premier Long Range 140-grain Speer Impact load would round out the group.

65-creedmoor
Love it or hate it, the 6.5 Creedmoor ranks among the most popular choices for centerfire rifles, so much so that Montana chose it for the initial release of the Junction rifle.

Firstly, I had no extraction or ejection issues with any of the ammunition. Secondly, because I had the accuracy claim from Montana Rifles in mind, and the fact that this is a hunting rifle, I limited groups to three shots, letting the barrel completely cool to ambient temperature before shooting the next group. Thirdly, I like the way the Junction shot from the bench; in spite of the fact that the stock was a bit too short for my liking, I felt like the stock design allowed me to shoot it well from the bench. And lastly, the Junction very nearly made the accuracy guarantee … but not quite.

The three hunting loads each averaged at or below 0.8 MOA, with the Hornady Match load printing the best of the lot at 0.62 inch. Perhaps I had too much coffee (or perhaps not enough) and my weebles and wobbles didn’t align by ⅜ inch, or someone somewhere played a Yoko Ono record and set the earth off its axis … I dunno. While I will confidently say that the Junction is definitely a sub-MOA rifle, at the very least my test rifle didn’t have a group at or below the ½-MOA mark. Nonetheless, this level of accuracy is absolutely sufficient for a hunting rifle, and each load shot consistently, holding the same general size over four three-shot groups.

Montana-Rifle-Company-MOA
Though Montana makes a ½-MOA guarantee for their rifles with premium ammunition, the author saw three-shot group sizes hanging around ¾ MOA, with the rifle showing a preference for the Federal 130-grain Barnes TSX load. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

Usually, with accuracy comes consistent velocities, and the Junction rifle was a great example of this. My Oehler 35P showed that the “worst” load gave an extreme spread of 75 fps, with all four loads coming within 35 fps of the advertised velocities. Across the board, the Junction impressed me at the bench, and I’m certain it would do the same in the field and woods.

Patriotic Pride

All of the Montana rifles—action, stock and barrel—are made right here in the good old United States, and that means something to many hunters. In generations past, gun store shelves were stacked with rifles made in America, yet today many of our biggest names have been bought by foreign companies and moved manufacturing off American soil. Montana offers a high-quality rifle made in America by Americans.

Though currently available only in right-handed configuration, Montana indicates that left-handed models will be available in the near future. The Junction measured 45½ inches with the muzzle brake attached and weighed in at just over 7½ pounds, unscoped. The Montana Rifle Company Junction has an MSRP of $2,495 and you can find it at MontanaRifleCo.com.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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Source link: https://gundigest.com/gun-reviews/rifles-reviews/montana-rifle-company by Philip Massaro at gundigest.com

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Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set

Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set
The Dillon wrench kit comes complete: All you have to do is assemble it onto your press. They are press-specific, so make sure you get the correct one.

Do you ever say to yourself you’ve had enough? More specifically, have you had enough with the litter of tools on your loading bench?

I have.

I’m regularly swapping toolheads to change calibers on my presses as I test this or that, trying something new or swapping calibers. I tried to keep the Allen wrenches for those adjustments in a plastic box, but they always ended up on the bench.

And then, where on the bench were they? Mumble … mumble … mutter.

I finally had enough, so when I saw the wrench rack from Dillon, I knew my 550 and 750 were each going to get a set. The rack is simple: It’s a heavy-gauge stamping that you bolt to the top back of your strong mount, behind your press. You don’t use a strong mount? We’re going to have to talk about that in the next issue.

Dillon has it all covered. You bolt the plate by means of the rear bolts on your press/strong mount setup. The kit comes with the Allen wrench sizes you need to work on your press, plus a die ring wrench as well. They all slide right into their reserved spots. And, just to make it even easier, Dillon includes a strip of label, with the sizes already printed on it, and they’re spaced to line up with the spot for each of them.

Dillon-Wrench-Rack
The Dillon wrench kit bolts into your strong mount, on the back of your Dillon press. Once there, it’s in easy reach to put each one back when done.

Hot tip: Install the label before you bolt on the plate to save yourself the stretching and reaching to get the label in place after you’ve bolted things together.

Wait, there’s more. The wrenches come with the angle to the short leg of each one pre-dipped in vinyl, so you have a good grip and can see the wrench clearly when you go to pluck it out of the rack. As an extra bonus, the working end is a ball-end wrench tip, so you can spin the wrench even when you approach the screw you’re tightening from an angle.

Of course, gear doesn’t come cheap. The kit runs $46 from Dillon.

“Ouch,” you say?

You can buy the wrenches for a buck each. Yes, you can. But then you’ll still have them scattered on your loading bench or in a box you have to find. Once you lose one or use it someplace else and leave it there, you’ll buy another. And another. You’ll end up with three, four or five sets of them scattered to the winds.

With the Dillon kit, you have a place for them. And the Dillon blue vinyl coating lets you know “This is a loading room wrench; I have to get it back there.”

I’m not saying you need to go full-on Marie Kondo on your loading room, bench and components storage, but keeping the tools that get things properly adjusted is a smart thing to do. And when you can make a change by simply grabbing the handy wrench and put it back right where it was, your loading process will be less distracted, more focused and more productive.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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Source link: https://gundigest.com/more/how-to/gunsmithing/dillon-wrench-rack by Patrick Sweeney at gundigest.com

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Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

If you and your loved ones expect to keep cool in an emergency, you need to practice team tactics.

When most think of team tactics, they envision highly trained Delta Force operatives—or a SWAT team—breaching a door and conducting a dynamic entry. That’s a good example of team tactics in action … but few of us will ever participate in an activity like that.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t develop your team tactics. Well, unless you’re a hermit who has no friends and has moved to the mountains to live alone and write a manifesto. Most normal humans have other humans they often hang with, whether they’re their good friend, a spouse or children.

I’ve had some team tactics training. As a soldier, and back in my badge-wearing days, it was part of the curriculum. I’ve also attended a team tactics course at Gunsite Academy that focused on civilian teams, like a husband and a wife. Recently, I also did some work helping Benghazi survivor and master firearms instructor David “Boon” Benton, who was portrayed in the movie 13 Hours, train our local SWAT team.

Gunsite-course
You’ll learn tactical theory at a team tactics class, but most learning occurs during after action reviews following tactical simulations.

Regardless of the group or situation, there are two things that team operations—whether they involve a six- or two-man team—have in common: A tactically proficient and successful team must have a plan, and they must have good communication.

Determine Your Team

If you’re a loner, you’re your own team (and hopefully someday you’ll find another human who finds you moderately tolerable). For the rest of us who are at least semi-normal, we’ll have a good friend and/or a significant other with whom we’re commonly around. This is your team, and it might also include children.

training-vehicle-truck
A good civilian team tactics course will address common situations like you might experience around vehicles and in parking lots.

Each team member should also have a job. These jobs could be as simple as following your mother, calling 911 or holding on to the hands of your siblings. A job for a team member could be as simple as being armed and making sure an emergency first aid kit is present and accessible, and all team members should be responsible for not forgetting to have their cell phone with them.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s best when kept simple and generic, and don’t put excessive responsibility on the backs of untrained or juvenile team members. However, every team member should know what the job of the other team members are. At a minimum, this tells them who to look to for guidance, and if capable, others know what each team member is responsible for and then they can assume that role if necessary.

training-home-house
A team tactics course isn’t a shooting course. It’s primarily a course to teach you and your partner how to work—stay alive—together.

In fact, establishing a team chain of command is important. If you’re identified as the team leader, but your wife and kids are out without you, generally your wife would assume that role. This means one of the kids—if capable and of a responsible age—can assume the duties of your wife. This goes a long way toward answering the question, “Dad’s not here. What now?”

Have A Plan

It’s impossible to develop a comprehensive plan for every situation that might develop. However, you can institute operating guidelines for common tasks that might occur. These are established tactical responses, predetermined to deal with things that have a high probability of happening.

Dealing with doors is a perfect example.

During one team tactics course, my partner and I were presented with various reality-based scenarios we had to react to. This was during force-on-force exercises where all the participants were armed with handguns that fired Simunitions. During the prior day while under the guidance of an instructor, my partner and I were given an opportunity to establish some operating guidelines: make a plan.

Gunsite-training
Don’t go to team tactics course planning to learn how to shoot or to run your gun. You need to know that before you get there.

One of our plans was how we’d deal with opening closed doors that led into the unknown. Just before the Simunition training began, I told my partner we should deal with every door just as we had decided during the previous day. This worked well and eliminated unnecessary communication and possible confusion. When we approached a closed door that we had to go through, each of us knew—without a word—what we were supposed to do.

This same concept can apply to a lot of situations.

Let’s say you want to establish a plan to tactically exit a location by vehicle. In this instance, you could identify the person who will drive, where each team member shall sit and how to access the vehicle depending on the direction of approach and even the direction of the potential threat. Sure, when the time comes to implement the plan there may be extenuating circumstances—the pre-identified driver might be injured—but you can plan for that as well: If team member A is injured, then team member C will drive.

injured-partner-training
What do you do if your partner gets hurt? You should have a plan for that.

If you have children, it’s very important to include them in these plans. It’s also important to dry run the plan to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you have an infant, who is going to carry him or her? It could be your wife or an older sibling. If you’re planning a response to a home invasion or burglar, the kids need to know what to do when the alarm sounds.

You should also always have at least one contingency; if you cannot do plan A, execute plan B. Similarly, you should also have a rendezvous point established outside the home, and you should also do the same for commonly trafficked locations such as malls or shopping centers.

team-tactics-instructor-critique
Instructors at a team tactics course not only evaluate your tactics, but they also critique and help you learn to communicate with your partner.

Communication

More than anything else, communication is the most important aspect of team tactics.

Let’s say, for example, you and your wife are engaged in a gunfight and you either need to reload, have a stoppage or maybe you dropped your gun. Your wife needs to know about this while it’s happening; she needs to know why you aren’t shooting or why you’re hiding behind the car. And she needs to be made aware of this without having to watch you or look to see what you’re doing.

team-tactics-corner
How will you and your partner handle a corner like this? You need to know beforehand, and that’s part of planning.

Screaming, “I’m reloading!” or “I’ve lost my gun!” takes too many words and might not be a good idea. Establish simple and direct communications for potential issues ahead of time. You could simply yell out, “Working!” and your wife would know you’re temporarily unavailable. To let her know the problem has been solved, your communication could be as simple as “Up!”

team-tactics-minimal-communication
You and your partner should know how to solve simple tactical problems with minimal communication.

Talking while shooting or while responding to a lethal encounter doesn’t come naturally. It’s something that needs to be practiced. Also, if you’re in a face-to-face encounter with a potential threat, having an action word that’ll key your partner in on an action you’re about to take is a good idea—kind of the opposite of a “safe” word, if you know what I mean. But in some situations, your communication can and should be non-verbal.

You should have hand signals that help convey actions or actives like to cover or watch, to move or maybe even run. Similarly, you should be able to convey the direction you want to move or the location of a potential threat. Think these communications through, keep them as simple as possible and limit them to the obvious. This isn’t a time to establish a new and comprehensive sign language; you simply want to be able to convey highly probable observations or instructions without words, as clearly and quickly as possible.

AR-15-training
Team tactics should be developed with your partner and include the weapon systems you’ll be using.

Go To School

The best way (of course) to learn team tactics is to take a class from a reputable school. But keep in mind that most team tactics courses aren’t shooting courses: Don’t expect to attend a team tactics class to learn how to shoot. In fact, many schools offering team tactics training have a training prerequisite so that they know you can shoot and handle a firearm safely before they’ll let you in the class. Yeah, you’ll do some shooting in a team tactics class, but you won’t learn to shoot in a team tactics class.

training-reload
Gun-handling skills should be learned before attending a team tactics course.

This might seem overly stringent, but it makes perfect sense. It takes about five, 8-hour days of training to go from a non-shooter to someone who is safe and reasonably competent with a defensive handgun. A basic team tactics course should be, at a minimum, 2 to 3 days long … and ideally 5 days. To learn to shoot and to learn team tactics could consume 2 weeks, and most of us can’t take 2 weeks off from life to do that. It’s just like with any other firearms discipline—you learn to shoot and then you learn the tactics.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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Source link: https://gundigest.com/more/how-to/firearm-training/team-tactics by Richard A. Mann at gundigest.com

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Gear

New Guns And Gear March 2024

New Guns And Gear March 2024

Looking for a new iron or piece of kit to enhance the one you already own? Check out these 7 new bits of guns and gear to grow your firearms wish list.

The New Guns And Gear:

WOOX Titano

woox
Heirloom looks with state-of-the-art performance, the WOOX Titano stands out in competition stocks. Tailored for Benchrest and F-Class shooters, the stock boasts a stunning American walnut stock and an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis. With a 3-inch fore and wide barrel channel supporting up to 1.20-inch diameter barrels, it accommodates large fire tubes common to comp rifles. Furthermore, WOOX’s Suspense weight system allows you to precisely balance the system with six 2.5-ounce weights. The buttstock is fully adjustable for both the length of pull and cheek rise. Other notables include a smooth-bottom bag rider butt and Integrated thumb rests to enhance grip comfort.
MSRP: $999


Taylor’s & Company 1875 Outlaw Revolver

Taylors 1875
A collaboration with Uberti, Taylor’s & Company offers up a faithful reproduction of a classic Remington single-action, but with a modern twist—it’s chambered for 9mm. While no Old West outlaws pitch Parabellum, the modernization effort makes it easier on contemporary cowboys’ pocketbooks. Available in 7.5- and 5.5-inch barrel lengths, the 1875 Outlaw features smooth walnut grips, a forged blued steel frame, a rear frame notch and a fixed front blade sight. Also, the webbed ejector rod helps the wheelgun cut an unmistakable profile. It’s enough to make Frank James envious.
MSRP: $698


StopBox Chamber Lock

chamber lock
New or old, it’s wise to stop the unauthorized use of a firearm. That’s where the Chamber Lock comes into play. At once, it keeps a firearm safe, yet at hand. Construct-ed from Type II hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum, it features a patented mechanical hand gesture code lock, ensuring intuitive use even in low-light or high-stress situations. The lock offers six configurable combinations, expandable to 16 with the Actuator Accessory Pack, although preset combinations are recommended for optimal security. Compatible with most AR-15s and shotguns.
MSRP: $150


MTM Case-Gard Bull Rifle Rest

MTM rifle rest
Dialing in a rifle is the key to a solid shooting platform. MTM Case-Gard provides just this with its affordable Bull Rifle Rest. With an adjustable length between 18.3 and 26 inches, it accommodates nearly any long-gun you shoulder. Additionally, the lightweight rest features slip-free rubber feet and a wide stance, for a wobble-free shooting base. And front elevation adjustments are easily made on the rest, thanks to a screw system allowing you to get a rifle or shotgun situated just right.
MSRP: $43


Mission First Tactical Leather Hybrid Holsters

MFT holster
What a looker! Too bad it’s meant to be kept under wraps. This Kydex and leather gem offers exact tolerances, secure retention and easy re-holstering. Plus, the hanger requires no break-in time compared to its traditional leather cousins. Versatile for AIWB, IWB or OWB use, it accommodates right- and left-hand positioning. Additionally, the American-made hybrids are red-dot compatible and have an audible “CLICK” when you re-holster.
MSRP: $70


Ruger Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition SR1911 Pistol

Ruger Diamond 1911
In celebration of its 75th year, Sturm, Ruger & Company presents its limited-edition 75th Anniversary Ruger SR1911. This iconic pistol features a finely detailed, laser-engraved slide and custom grip panels with intricate scrollwork. Ruger’s CNC-controlled machining ensures precision, while the classic 1911 fire control and positive barrel lockup enhance accuracy. You’ll have to act fast on these beauties, only 750 units are being produced in 2024, and each pistol bears the special R75 serial number prefix and ships in a marked case with two stainless-steel magazines.
MSRP: $1,800


Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep .32 Auto

Federal 32 Auto
In the day and age of deep carry, good ol’ .32 ACP is making a bit of a comeback. Federal Premium is supporting its renaissance with the introduction of Hydra-Shok Deep in the pocket caliber. Rigorous testing and stringent manufacturing processes ensure superb accuracy and consistent ballistic performance of this ammo. Furthermore, the notched copper jacket of the Hydra-Shok bullet ensures consistent controlled expansion and adequate stopping power trigger pull in and out.
MSRP: $35, box of 20

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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Source link: https://gundigest.com/gear-ammo/guns-and-gear-march-2024 by Gun Digest Editors at gundigest.com

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