Single Shot Savvy

Ramp Up Your Handgunning Fun!

By Mark Hampton

Want to have some fun? No, seriously, want to challenge yourself and have a bit of fun along the way? Get some steel plates — I like AR 500 in either round or square. They can be whatever size you deem necessary. Place them at various ranges, say 150, 200, 250 and 300 yards and you can go further if you like. Now take a single-shot handgun in your caliber of choice and see what you can do. And try shooting from a variety of positions to toss in even more fun.

Believe me, it’s fun and a tad bit on the challenging side. The instant gratification when you hear the “whack” of the bullet striking steel is fun for you and any bystanders. Long range target, steel and competition shooting is gaining in popularity — and rightly so. It’s not only enjoyable, you’ll learn a great deal about trigger control, follow-through, wind drift, gun handling, trajectory and much more. All of which makes you a better handgun hunter too, if you’re so-inclined.

With many shooters anchored to their revolvers and semi-autos, it’s no wonder so much press is dedicated to these firearms. But single-shot handguns have their rightful place. If whacking steel plates is fun, you should experience handgun hunting if you haven’t already. Now here is a real challenge. You haven’t considered a single shot for hunting? Let me guess, the single shot has no quick follow-up shot capability if necessary. I say, so what.

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The T/C Encore, a .338 Federal Bullberry barrel and Leupold scope is a
world-ready handgun hunting package.

But, But …

I know, I’ve heard this excuse all my life. Let me shed a glimpse of reality on this misguided outlook. I’ve been fortunate to take more game with a handgun than any man deserves. The only reason I say this is — your first shot at an animal will be your best shot. And in many cases, it will be your only shot! The quick follow-up tale is really a non-issue 99.9 percent (or more) of the time. Heck, I’ve killed most all the dangerous game animals in the world, the vast majority of them with single shots, and have never felt compromised.

Single shots offer a tremendous amount of versatility. Allow me to use the tractor analogy to explain. A few years ago when I was shopping for a tractor I asked my neighbor, who is a real farmer unlike me, what he would suggest. “Mark, remember a large tractor can do a large job, a medium-sized job, or a small job. A little tractor can only do a little job.”

By the same token, a single-shot handgun can drop an antelope or dall sheep at 300 yards, a big whitetail buck or prairie dog at 200 yards, or an elephant or monster wild boar at 30 steps. That’s versatile, and you’d be hard-pressed to make this claim with any revolver or auto. When scoped and properly set up, single shots provide unparalleled accuracy in handguns. Single shot handguns are available in a multitude of cartridges, from .22 LR to whatever you’re man enough to shoot, and really shine when precise bullet placement is needed. Luckily we have some fine choices to fit every budget and application, from banging steel to hunting small game, varmints and big game.

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CVA’s Scout pistol in .44 Mag. and Weaver scope produced this 100-yard group. Amazing
value — less than $400 for the gun — and a great way to get into the single- shot side
of things!

Some Ideas

Take the CVA Scout V2 for example. It’s a dandy, budget-friendly, entry-level single shot pistol. This break-open action design is easy and simple to operate. The stainless pistol is available in .223, .243, 300 BLK, .357 and .44 Mag. The 14″ barrel comes with a rail mount ready for scope rings and an optic. My test gun arrived in the form of a .44 Magnum and I was pleasantly surprised on how well it performed at 100 yards. The trigger was pretty decent too, especially when you consider a street price under $400. Overall, I consider the Scout pistol a good value and will make a nice deer, hog or varmint pistol, depending upon which caliber you choose. It’s a great way to test the waters, as it were.

On the other end of the spectrum, H-S Precision makes the finest bolt-action pistol on the market. It’s the only bolt-action currently being manufactured so I guess it’s the finest. And, it’s scary accurate! The Model 2000P is available in short-action cartridges such as .223, 260 Rem., 7mm-08, .308 Win. and others. This pistol comes with a 15″ cut-rifled barrel cradled in a composite stock. The stock — like others H-S Precision is well-known for producing — is available in many colors, including some really cool camo patterns.

I can’t stress the accuracy enough. I have a couple capable of outshooting most rifles I own. After shooting the H-S in long-range competition and hunting in remote parts of the planet, I have a ton of confidence in this bolt-action offering. Whether it involves long-range shooting or serious hunting, H-S Precision delivers a top-shelf, super-accurate pistol.

The discontinued Remington XP-100 is another bolt-action you may see floating around. Many shooters and hunters today are using the action for a custom build of their own design and caliber. This is another very accurate beast capable of outshooting many rifles on the rack. You may also run across a Savage Striker. This discontinued bolt-action is still satisfying shooters today.

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Here, a T/C G2 in .44 Mag. with Leupold scope makes a perfect deer/pig
hunting set-up. Change the barrel to a .223 and go varmint hunting!

The T/C

Probably the best known and most popular single shot is one of T/C’s offerings — from their older Contender to the newer G 2 and Encore. These break-open pistols are at home in the field or the range. The interchangeable barrel capability is mighty handy for some folks. You can have one, two or 10 frames and a variety of barrels to accomplish many deeds. From target shooting, silhouette competition, rabbits to rhino, T/C’s have been there and done that on countless occasions.

The aftermarket barrels from the likes of SSK, MGM and Bullberry, for example, are mind-boggling when it comes to the variety of offerings. When scoped and set up correctly, T/C’s can be very accurate. I have always found them to be reliable and dependable in harsh, unfriendly environments.

If you were in the silhouette game back in the day you probably saw the MOA Maximum at the range. This falling block design was popular among steel silhouette shooters basically because it was so accurate. The strong design lends itself to handle about any cartridge you can muster, and it too can be frightfully accurate. I have witnessed competitors shoot some mighty impressive groups at extreme long-range targets. I won’t tell you the range or group size at the risk of you assuming I’m under the influence of a controlled substance.

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A T/C Contender in .223 with Burris scope and custom grip and forend is ready to go
on a prairie dog hunt. But any of these guns are great fun wanging steel on a range too.

Freedom Arms

Another break-open design I have been shooting recently is the Freedom Arms Model 2008. This single shot also enjoys the benefits of interchangeable barrels once they have been fitted to the frame from the factory. Changing barrels is painless and takes maybe two minutes. Freedom Arms is well-known for their top-of-the-line revolvers and this single shot is built with the same fit, finish and tight tolerances. This stainless pistol features a positive extractor and works well with rimmed or rimless cartridges. You can choose a .223 barrel for varmints, change to something like the 260 Remington for antelope and deer, then put on the .45-70 barrel for moose or bear. Current production has calibers and barrels designed for silhouette shooters and hunters alike, with more new offerings in the works.

To wring out the utmost accuracy from these pistols, quality optics must be used. And it’s not uncommon to find rifle scopes fitted on these long range pistols. Compared to rifle scopes, handgun scopes are limited in magnification and other features. Some caution should be exercised though to keep your eye far enough away from the rifle scope, it’s called “eye relief.” It really hurts when a scope recoils into your skull! That’s called “being scoped” by the way.

Most shooters install an effective muzzle brake on heavier recoiling handguns to help tame things down some. Rifle scopes on handguns offer benefits, especially when long-range precision is necessary. Lately I’ve been mounting Leupold’s VX-3i, 4.5-14X scope on some of my single shots, which has been an asset when developing loads and evaluating accuracy potential. Vortex, Meopta, Sightron and Burris optics have also been employed in the mix. As the old saying goes, “You can’t hit what you can’t see.” Obviously rifle scopes are not necessary for many types of long-range shooting or hunting, but they do work.

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A Freedom Arms Model 2008 in .338 Federal fitted with Leupold 2.5-8x scope
shows the same careful fit and finish of their famous revolvers.

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This H-S Precision with Leupold scope can —
and does — outshoot most scoped hunting rifles!

Refocusing On Fun

Today’s trending rage has been all things “tactical,” although with the new president, things do seem to be slowing in that regard and there is a real move toward “fun” guns again — like single shots! Does a 3″ group at 50 yards with your favorite semi-auto thrill you? How about a 3″ group at 100 yards with your trusty revolver? If so, then a 3″ group at 300 yards with a single-shot may tickle you plum to pieces.

Long-range target killers, steel bangers and handgun hunters enjoy the attributes of single-shot handguns. The versatility and superb accuracy are most gratifying. If you wish to add an exciting, challenging new dimension to your firearms repertoire, simply jump onto the single-shot train. And the “manual of arms” (how to run and shoot the guns) is very simple, making them very good for novice shooters, and a nice, relaxing way to spend an afternoon “shooting a few rounds.”

For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index

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