Shooting big-bore rifles isn’t something most shooters do purely for recreation. There are a variety of reasons, from ammunition costs to places to shoot long-range. But one that’s hardest to overcome for many is the simple fact that big-bore rifles can be punishing to shoot.
It’s one thing to be facing down a charging beast with a .500 Nitro or facing an angry boar hog snapping three-inch tusks at you with a .444 Guide Gun…adrenaline takes care of that.
But the work of zeroing a riflescope or verifying the point-of-aim on the iron sights can, if you’re not careful, groove a flinch that just might get you hurt -or worse- in an adrenaline-dump situation. If you jump when you shoot, you can miss.
Yes, using a Lead Sled can make the actual zeroing easier than detaching a retina in the zeroing process. But if you’re going to carry a gun, you’d best know how to shoot that gun. There is just no substitute for shooting a gun to learn how to operate it - especially under duress.
In a high-stress situation, you really do “default to your level of training.” If only thing you remember is the admonition to “secure the gun into the fixture before loading and firing,” your last thought in an emergency might be “I should have actually learned to run the gun before deciding to carry it.”
Most of us don’t go looking for trouble. But you wouldn’t be carrying a “major caliber” if you weren’t either: 1) looking for a dangerous animal or, 2) wandering around where there actually are dangerous animals.
During my visit to Silencerco in Utah last week, I was invited down to their range to try a variety of silencers.
Since I like shooting, it didn’t take a lot of conversation to convince me to do that, especially since I’d already seen their impressive collection of guns. And each of them was suppressor ready. So I was surprised when I was handed a pair of shooting muffs when we walked up to a table full of suppressed guns chosen for me to “sample”.
When I asked about muffs, the response was simple: “enclosed space.”
Despite the sound having been reduced to safe levels, the close quarters of the range didn’t do enough to reduce the effect of pressure waves. Lesson learned. I have shot plenty of suppressed guns on indoor ranges, but only handguns or .22 caliber rifles.
Good thing. Because I’d never considered whether pressure waves of big-bore rifles or full-auto carbines were capable of damaging your ears. Turns out they are. Ergo, the muffs.
Did I mention everyone at Silencerco is more experienced with the science and technology involved in sound suppression than me?
Anyway, the need to wear hearing protection because of pressure waves in enclosed spaces, especially when shooting rifle caliber cartridges, was knowledge that I felt worth sharing. Many of you already knew, but keeping one person from damaging their hearing is worth being considered “less-experienced” than many of you. After all, I am less experienced than many of you.
Since I’m sharing information I collected there, we’re circling back to the big-bores. I had no idea that a suppressor could make a big-bore rifle so much less unpleasant to shoot-until I was invited to shoot a 45-70 lever gun equipped with one of Silencerco’s Hybrid 46-M units.
Having owned a .444 Marlin Guide Gun, I’m no stranger to the “thump” of big bore lever actions. I’m not a huge fan (which is why the ownership is past tense). But…as a visitor, I wasn’t going to back down from the opportunity.
Glad I didn’t. The 45-70 with the 46-M attached was more akin to shooting a 12-gauge shotgun than the anticipated thump of this “big boy” rifle.
When shooting a full-auto carbine, it was easy to appreciate Silencerco’s Velos LBP (top).This “hard use” model is excellent on full-auto capable rifles because it not only tames muzzle rise, it directs gases forward of the operator. The 46-M on the 45-70 being fired by Silencerco’s Shauna Young (below) kept down the “boom” of the big bore cartridge -and the muzzle. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photos
I thought it was just me, but Silencerco’s Shauna Young stepped up to prove my feeling wasn’t imaginary. She is, quite easily, 100 pounds lighter than me. And had no problem handling the 45-70 -and as you’ll see in the photo. The suppressor also did a lot to minimize what is normally pretty significant muzzle rise. Not only did it make the rifle quieter, it made it more manageable and quicker to cycle and get back on target.
Now I get why long distance shooters and hunters like suppressors so much. Yet another reason suppressors should be far less complicated to own.
But that’s grist for another milling.
Now we’re going to clean up a misconception related to a recent news item with a bit of good news sent to us by our good friend Roy Huntington:
Here’s the Cliff Note: the famous Cylinder & Slide Shop is not Closing.
When Bill Laughridge, founder and owner of the C&S Shop announced he was retiring, everyone assumed that meant he was closing the shutters on the shop. It seems many were a bit to hasty thinking so. Bill is indeed retiring, but has two investors who will continue to run the C&S shop, and plan on keeping it open in its present location in Fremont, Nebraska.
“The new owners are excited to keep the flag flying,” Bill said. “They are gun-people and understand what we do, how we do it and what our customers expect. The parts side of the house will remain strong and continue to grow, and I’ll remain to work with them while we make a smooth transition. The new team is also looking forward to hiring more senior staff gunsmiths and to continue to grow the business.”
You can still reach C&S at: www.cylinder-slide.com
And, as always, we’ll keep you posted.
— Jim Shepherd