Saturday, July 15th, 2017
by Hamilton Bowen

New Ammunition From Garrett


By Hamilton Bowen


Garrett Cartridges of TX is one of the preeminent ammunition makers of our time, especially for revolver shooters. The company’s reputation was made with two heavy-bullet .44 Magnum cartridges that were introduced nearly thirty years ago by founder Randy Garrett. Mercifully for the ammo-buying public, the firm didn’t disappear when Randy Garrett retired some years ago. He put it into the hands Ashley Emerson, who has carried on Garrett’s great tradition of quality and innovation. Emerson also brings to the table several lifetimes of hunting experience with revolvers and has applied his accumulated knowledge and judgment to the development of everything from better sights to better ammunition.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Emerson has added several innovative cartridges to the Garrett lineup since he took over. Among his more important offerings are high-performance loads for the .45 Colt and .454 Casull. But every round fired doesn’t need to be of the thermonuclear variety. Bearing that in mind, Emerson has developed some mid-range ammo that extends both the life of a gun and a shooter’s hands. The first of these rounds introduced a couple of years ago was a .45 Colt +P+ load that pushes a 265-grain TFP bullet along at about 1,000 feet per second from a 7½-inch barrel. This month we received from Emerson three more mid-range .44-caliber cartridges, one for .44 Special and two for .44 Magnum.

The Garrett .44s left to right: .44 Mag. 310-gr. Defender, .44 Special 250-gr. Hammerhead, .44 Mag. 250-gr. Defender, .44 Mag. 250-gr. Hammerhead and the .44 Mag. 330-gr. Long Hammerhead.

.44 Special 250-grain Hammerheads:

This SAAMI-compliant cartridge shoots 250-grain Hammerhead bullets at 950-1000 fps in 4½ to to 7½-inch barrels in modern .44 Special Colt Single-Actions and their clones and in Ruger and Smith & Wesson .44 Special and .44 Magnum revolvers.

.44 Magnum 250-grain Defender:

A milder version of Garrett’s 310-grain, heavy-duty load, this cartridge propels 250-grain bullets at around 1000 fps in the 4-inch barreled guns often favored to protect home and hearth or for backup carry in the field. Even in heavy, all-steel .44 Magnums, the recoil created by 310-grain bullets can be tiresome for some shooters. The 250-grain Defender is a less painful alternative, but it’s still plenty effective, thanks to the excellent bullet design and material. These cartridges are particularly suited for smaller, lighter guns such as the S&W Model 69 or S&W’s infamously punishing Model 329 PD, which weighs just 25½ ounces. The reduced recoil of the Defender load boosts the shooter’s comfort level, allowing better shot placement and quicker followup shots.

.44 Magnum 250-grain Hammerheads:

As with the Defender load above, the 250-grain Hammerhead is an understudy to Garrett’s original 310-grain Hammerhead round, which can be formidable for less-experienced revolver shooters. Again, thanks to the excellent bullet design and material, this cartridge offers performance on par with traditional high-velocity 240-250-grain loads without their attendant recoil and muzzle blast.

All Garrett bullets are cast from a proven alloy that will not shatter. They are tough and hold their shape, which is one of the most critical aspects of cast-bullet performance. The penetration delivered by such bullets is out of all proportion to their indicated horsepower. Gas checks on the bullets minimize leading in guns with less than optimal cylinder throat diameters.

These new cartridges fill some gaps in Garrett’s growing cartridge lineup. There is much useful commentary and practical knowledge on the subjects of bullet design, penetration and performance on big game at the Garrett website. For more information on Garrett ammunition, contact them at:


Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
by Hamilton Bowen

Book review of The Model 1891 Carcano Rifle

Book review of

Giovanni Chegia and Alberto Simonelli
with Ralph Riccio

Experts have been defined as authorities who know more and more about less and less, but that sounds like a compliment to me. Luckily, we have experts in the world of vintage firearms who are just that. A couple of them have written a definitive book on service rifles used by Italy’s armed forces over a span of fifty years, including two world wars. The book is dedicated to the authors’ forbearers who fought with these guns. In honor of their families, the authors have obviously have worked hard to make their book as complete and accurate as possible.

Drawing on their arms collections and extensive knowledge, the authors have covered in depth every specification, component and detail variation of service rifles. The sections on proof marks, arsenal and inspection stamps of wood and metal parts will enable an enthusiast to learn everything about a specimen except possibly the state of the weather on the day it left the factory. Equally fascinating is the section on clips and ammunition with several pages of color photographs devoted to cartridge boxes and packets. Considerable space is allotted to sniper rifles and equipment, and there’s even a surprising amount of coverage on toy air rifles that mimic service arms. My favorite section dealt with antiaircraft fire, the theory and training and the exotic rifle sights utilized. Just as a battalion of British Tommies could hose down an out-of-view enemy position with volleys of high-angle fire from their SMLEs, Italian troops evidently saw the merit of hosing down portions of the sky. The practice had possibilities against low-flying, ground-attack aircraft.

I can’t imagine a question on the subject of Carcano rifles esoteric enough to stump the authors. Like any great technical treatise, their book doesn’t stint on technical reporting or accounts of how rifles were developed. The authors also take pains to assign the service rifles their proper place in history. I grew up in a household that favored British SMLEs, so I don’t know much about Carcano rifles. An uncle had a Carcano that I suppose he brought back from Africa following World War Two. All I remember about it was that it was small and handy – probably a carbine of some sort – and well turned out. At the time, ammunition for the gun was not to be had, so I never got to shoot it.

The Carcano book afforded me a worm’s eye view of a service rifle I knew little about and gave me a greater appreciation of it. I also have a great deal of admiration for the authors’ commitment to their effort. How so few could gather so much fascinating information on one rifle in one lifetime is a mystery to me. Happy in my ignorance, I’ll just be thankful guys like this are out there moiling away somewhere on something even as we speak.

Experts who devote so much of time and energy to their subjects are to be commended, but their efforts would never see the light of day were it not for publishers willing to cater to the small audiences for such work. Only specialized firms undertake the production and distribution of such books. Lucky for arms and militaria bibliophiles, we have Schiffer Publications on the case. They have produced an especially handsome and well done book. It is nicely laid out and organized. Packed into its 304 pages are 1,727 color and black-and-white photos. Hardbound with a handsome dust jacket, the book is $59.95 plus shipping and handling. For information on ordering, contact:


Schiffer Publishing
4880 Lower Valley Road
Atglen, PA 19310
(610) 593-1777

Monday, June 26th, 2017
by Hamilton Bowen