50 BMG

50 BMG We have been looking at .50 BMG long range match rounds for a couple of years now and found that the civilian market was lukewarm but the security forces have taken a liking to this calibre for long range material destruction which is not what we expected. 50BMG

In conjunction with colleagues from another group we have developed three very accurate long range loads. The first is a standard bullet which will double as a target round out to 1500 metres with extremely good accuracy. I might add here that I do not shoot these guns any longer and even with a 20 power scope the target is a mere misty blob but my younger colleagues do not have this problem.

The second cartridge has a splash tip. This works with a rather cunningly designed titanium tip that will give off a bright white flash on hitting hard surfaces and under ideal conditions such as fuel tanks etc will handle as a mechanical incendiary.

The third bullet development is for an armour piercing mechanical incendiary cartridge which is accurate to 1500 metres which has proved to be extremely versatile and as good as, if not better than the industrial standards but more accurate.

We are currently looking at marketing these three products and have considerable interest from security forces in the UK and overseas.

I will update these notes as the months go by and new developments come on line.

Know Your Ammo – Keep to the Creed.

“It is an astonishing thing how little the average man in Africa knows about the rifles he uses - it is but a very small exaggeration to say all he really does know is that the bullet comes out of that end which has a hole in it!”

The words of the big game hunter, writer, and all round shooting guru, John Taylor in 1948, in his classic book: African Rifles & Cartridges. We’d like to think that we’ve all advanced a bit from those days, but Kynamco, the company which makes the world famous Kynoch big game ammunition isn’t quite so sure!

“Big game ammunition is a bit like a car”, says owner David Little, “most of us know what to do with it, but not many know actually what goes into it! Ammunition is the pointed end of the hunting process, yet it’s often the last thing people think about.”

Years ago the company took a leaf out of an old Eley catalogue from the 1920s, literally, and re-wrote The Shooter’s Creed as a general reminder of some basic principles for Kynoch’s modern day customers. It’s a seven point list of apparently blindingly obvious things to think about when it comes to big game rifles and ammunition.

If you happen to be lucky enough to own an old English double rifle, principle number 1 is to make sure you know the correct calibre and bullet weight, and if possible the original powder charge. For example, with so many different types of .375 (2½ inch; 400/375; Magnum Flanged, H&H Belted Magnum; different bullet weights, softs? solids?), it’s easy to overlook the key details you’ll need when you come to order more.

David Little remembers one urgent call from a rather demanding customer:

“I’d like some ammunition for my double – you know it comes in that yellow and red box. Can you send it to the airport by this evening when my flight leaves?”
“What calibre is it and will you need soft or solids?”
“Calibre? The rifle is one of those big ones, it’s a 4 .. ah yes, a 475.”
“Is that a .475 Eley, a .475 Jeffrey or a 3¼ inch?”
“Erm .. blimey. I’ll phone you back.”

Now I know it seems a tall tale, but I’m assured this does happen once or twice a year. This story had a happy ending when the correct ammunition reached the correct airport and even managed to reach Africa on the correct flight.

The second point is to make sure the chambers of your rifle are clean, polished and free from any kind of pitting or rusting. Any kind of roughness will affect extraction, and you don’t want a jammed cartridge case if you need a quick follow up shot, or worse, if you have an angry animal coming towards you at an alarmingly high speed. Kynoch once took an anxious phone call via satellite phone from a client in Tanzania complaining that their ammunition wouldn’t eject. We he was asked if he had cleaned his barrels and chambers recently, the querulous reply came, “Am I supposed to do that?”

There is always much debate about solid vs soft for hunting. Most clients use both types of bullets through their guns, but the bullets do behave differently. So, before heading off on your hunt, make sure that both solid and softnosed bullets are shooting at the point of aim.

Ammunition, especially the brass, is soft and can be easily damaged, so you need to check every round you are carrying before going out hunting. This recommendation comes specifically from John Taylor himself. The individual rounds of commercially sold ammunition are always packaged separately to prevent impacts and dents and you should try to treat your ammunition in the field in the same way. If you’ve just crawled up and down a hill with ammunition in your pockets – check it before carrying it in a more sensible place. Even jumping out of a 4x4 with a rattling satchel bag of ammunition will not lead to a happy outcome later in the day when you try to chamber a round, so keep a close eye on your cartridges.

Heat and damp affects the performance of ammunition more than the cold – if you’re hunting in Africa, these are definitely issues to watch out for. Point 5 of the Shooter’s Creed .... beware leaving ammunition sitting in the sun, especially on the dash board of your hunting vehicle. A couple of hours or so will “cook the cartridge” raising velocity and pressures by up to 15%. Kynoch have had several clients miss large trophy animals after an arduous and testing stalk – each case involved an experienced Gun whose ammunition had been put on the dashboard or seat of a vehicle. The problem is that heat in particular alters the burn rate of the powder – and this doesn’t return to its original rate after the cartridge cools down.

It’s been a great safari, you looked after your ammunition, it wasn’t dented, super heated or drenched, you stalked well, and shot fabulously and now you’re back home after a long flight, perhaps with an extra stop along the way. In your bag, you have a few rounds left over, maybe twenty or so, which you can use on your next hunt. Kynoch recommends that you should mark them up and use them only for practice. Don’t subject them to another pressurised flight from a potentially damp UK, half a day at 38,000 feet and back into the heat and damp of Africa. Cartridges that have travelled to and fro too many times may well suffer deteriorating performance and The Law Of Sod will doubtless mean a less than successful shot just at the wrong moment.

So, having put aside your ammunition for practice only the time arrives to plan your next hunting trip. The ammunition you shot with worked really well so you’ll need some more.

But will you be able to acquire more? What was its batch number? Did you keep any of the original boxes?

Batches do vary. Manufacturers try to eliminate variations as much as possible but it’s difficult to do so completely when even humidity can be markedly different on different days. These differences will affect the performance of the powder to such an extent that powder loaded “cold” will always underperform powder that has been brought up to ambient temperatures before loading. So, if you have used a batch of ammo that has worked well then make a note of the batch number and, when you can, order 2 or 3 years’ supply. If you store it in a cool dry place, preferably somewhere with a stable temperature, your ammunition should last for at least 10 years, all depending how fast you shoot it out!

Kynoch try to help their customers as much as possible by having a huge range of calibres available and within each calibre, different batches. It’s a large investment but if it cuts down on worried satellite phone calls from distant hillsides, they think it’s worth it.

The Shooters Creed is there for us, the shooter. It should make our lives easier and help prevent us from getting into difficulties which, in hunting, can have serious results. I’m sure none of us wants to face dangerous game with cartridges which may under-perform, may not eject, or may not shoot where we’re aiming... particularly if it comes as an unexpected surprise!

There is a story about the professional hunter, and former Game Warden of Kenya, Blaney Percival. He discovered a fired shell which had become stuck in the chamber ... just after having shot one of half a dozen lion in long grass. The others all turned, growling, to face him. He did what we’d all do, drop down sharpish, right down into the cover of the grass. However, instead of quietly making off, he dug out the jammed cartridge with his knife, reloaded, and gradually got back to a kneeling position. Despite the mounting cacophony of growls and snarls, he let fly at one of the lions, but later admitted to being so shaken up by this close encounter that he missed completely. Fortunately all the lions took off and Percival lived to hunt another day.

Now while I do love the excitement, dangers even, of hunting, I prefer to avoid too many Blaney Percival moments, so I’m keeping to The Creed!

The Shooter’s Creed

  • Make sure you know the correct calibre of your rifle and its original charge and bullet weight before ordering ammunition.
  • Have your rifle checked regularly by your gunsmith, paying particular care to the chambers. Make sure they are polished and free from any kind of pitting and rusting and that the extractors are fitted correctly in the barrels. Any kind of roughness will affect extraction.
  • Test fire your rifle before hunting, to make sure that both solid and soft nosed bullets are shooting at the same point of aim.
  • Check every round you are carrying before going out into the field. Ammunition is a soft and easily damaged disposable item. This recommendation comes from none other than John Taylor, the writer and big game hunter who always did this before leaving in the morning.
  • Keep ammunition clean and dry, and stored in a cool place. Do not leave it in the sun, especially on the dashboard of a land cruiser. Heat affects ammunition more than damp and more than cold.
  • When you return from your hunt, the ammunition tajken but not used should be marked “for practice only”. Exposing ammunition to tropical heat and damp, and carriage in airline holds can affect its performance. Buy a new supply before your next trip.
  • All ammunition carries batch numbers. If you find a batch that works well with your rifle, make a note of the number and order two or three years’ supply. Batches vary, not intentionally, but even a different day of manufacture with different humidity can have an effect. So if your rifle likes a particular batch, order and store it in a cool dry place, and it will stay fresh for at least 10 years.

by Don Munro