This article is for those who live in the bush. Those who go on a guided hunt may find other guns satisfactory for their purposes, but a bush dweller’s life may depend on his guns being called on to meet every contingency, not just those of a guided hunt. Most bush dwellers have only a few guns and since these must both provide food and protection, this is no place to scrimp on quality. Having lived there, here are my observations on the subject.
The people living deep in the backcountry face threats the same as those in the city, only a bit different. Wolf and bear attacks have been increasing in recent years and wolves come in packs, dictating a semiauto for defense. No matter how deep into the wilderness you go, you still may run into people. Some of them are nice and some are not. Some treat any cabin and its contents as abandoned, even if there is a fire still going in the barrel stove. Be forewarned and be prepared.
A GOOD .22 RIFLE is a basic necessity for small game and practice. No practice, no hit anything. The old Browning semiauto .22 has the longest trouble-free life by far. That made it the mainstay of shooting galleries in years gone by.
A somewhat cheaper alternative is the Ruger 10/22 semiauto, which has earned a wide following. Rifles need to be able to handle moose and bear. The best one currently available is the semiauto version of the German G3 rifle. This was also Norway’s standard 7.62 NATO rifle, so you know that it will work in any part of Alaska at any time of the year.
The G3 has proven more reliable than any other gun in widespread use. Even Russia’s vaunted AK-47 pales in reliability comparison to the G3. New guns built on the machinery Portugal used to build the gun under license from H&K in Germany are available from PTR-91. Guns built on military surplus parts kits are available from Century Arms at about half the price. The ones made in Spain are called CETME and they were the first ones. Designed by German engineers after World War II, the CETME was adopted by Germany as the G3. These guns work perfectly with all 7.62 NATO and .308 loads, including the heavy bullet ones. Whichever one you buy, you need to send the trigger group to Williams Trigger Specialties for a trigger job, as the mil-specs on these guns call for a bad trigger in order to survive an insanely high drop test without jarring off. Some hoplophobic bureaucrat’s idea of safety.
People often want to know what is the best survival rifle to carry in their bush plane. The answer may surprise you. It is the M1 carbine. Its cartridge is basically a high-velocity .32-20 load and it kills small game cleanly without ruining the meat. It has also killed very many deer and bear, even though it is universally considered not to be the best caliber for that. Some people say they would not want to face a charging grizzly with one. Well, the grizzly’s brain is located on the centerline of the skull about halfway between the eyes and the ears when his head is down, and you have plenty of shots at it, for the carbine is almost as fast-firing as a .22.
Unlike most survival rifles, the carbine is also easy to hit with. Indeed it may well be the easiest rifle of all time to hit with. So don’t worry, the gun will do its part. In any survival scenario, hitting what you shoot at is the first priority. This gun is small and light, as is its ammunition, so you can carry a lot of ammo easily. The finest ones I have encountered are made by Inland Manufacturing. They make it to the last mil-specs, which were a big improvement over the earlier ones. Inland has been able to get 1-inch minute-of-angle groups at 100 yards with their guns.
Rifle scopes often have a problem with the fact that it rains so much in Alaska. Bushnell’s RainGuard coating on their scopes’ lens enables them to be used in the rain. For semiautos, get a German three-post reticle because crosshairs blur in aimed rapidfire. Once you have taken that careful first shot, you may need aimed rapidfire to bring a running big moose down before his noisy demise attracts bear. I do not want to deal with skinning, butchering and packing out a moose and a bear on the same day. That’s just more work than I want.
FOR PISTOLS, THE BEST choice is the M1911A1. Due to the short ranges in our part of the Alaskan interior, my wife Betty and I ended up using WWII Remington Rand M1911A1s for everything with perfect results. We were both pistol shooters, which made this easy. The M1911A1 is by far the most reliable pistol ever made and definitely the one to choose when your life depends on your pistol. It is extremely fast firing and instantly reloadable with fresh magazines. Again, in my opinion the best one in current production is the Inland Manufacturing M1911A1. This is a loose-fit gun with play in the slide but still incredibly accurate out to 300 yards.
For holsters we always used the WWII G.I. issue rig of the M1916 holster with web belt and magazine pouch. Both El Paso Saddlery and Pacific Canvas and Leather make this holster, and Pacific Canvas and Leather also makes the web belt and magazine pouch to go with it. For concealed carry, nothing beats the pancake holster and El Paso Saddlery makes a fine one for this gun that they call their Tortilla.
A .22 pistol is a necessity on a trapline. We used a Stoeger .22 Luger because it was so accurate and easy to hit with. It wasn’t the best .22, though, and it is no longer made. Today the finest .22 pistol is the Marvel Precision LLC .22 conversion unit mounted on a M1911A1 pistol. This means that you have to buy an extra M1911A1, but now you are getting cheap practice with the gun that you are depending on.
The Marvel Precision LLC units tighten down on the gun in such a way that they provide the finest accuracy, as witnessed by the fact that they are used in the .22 matches at Camp Perry. Unlike most .22 pistols, these are easy to maintain. Many fine .22 pistols are difficult and tricky to take apart and put back together, but not these. They also go on and off the gun quickly and easily.
A LOT OF PEOPLE prefer a revolver. It is a myth that revolvers are more reliable than automatics. I like to shoot at least 200 rounds a day and I have had far, far more jams and malfunctions with revolvers than I ever had with any automatic. That said, the choice is now between single- and double-action revolvers.
The M1873 Colt Single Action Army revolver in .45 Long Colt has been popular in Alaska since the gold rush. It has accounted for every type of Alaskan game many times over the years. It is an extremely easy pistol to hit with, which accounts for its popularity. On the downside, it is slow to unload the spent cartridge cases and reload the chambers. So slow that its sustained fire rate is the same as a cap-and-ball revolver with paper cartridges. Always remember to carry this gun with the hammer down on an empty chamber, as otherwise a sharp blow to the hammer can fire the gun. This is the way it has always been carried over the years, despite its being called a “six-shooter.” The Colt has a lot of screws and they all like to work loose as the gun is fired, so get a pair of fitted screwdrivers for it from Peacemaker Specialties and keep them tight. I have always found the 4¾-inch barrel the fastest and best handling length on this gun. If you go this route, get a genuine Colt. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
The finest double-action revolver is the stainless steel Ruger Redhawk 4-inch barrel in .45 Colt. It is a modern design without screws to back out and is made as rugged and indestructible as modern science can make it. It has the most perfect double action trigger pull of any revolver I have seen. You can actually shoot as good double action as you can single action with this pistol.
El Paso Saddlery has a full line of holsters for both of these revolvers.
THERE IS ALWAYS A place for a close-range backup pistol, but it must be powerful and small. The best one I have found is the American Derringer Co.’s .45 Colt/.410 double Derringer. This gun is a close-range powerhouse that does not recoil badly, so long as you keep a tight grip on it. In Alaska I would only carry .45 Colt ammo in it due to the bears it might be called upon to defend against.
You will note that I only recommend .45 ACP- and .45 Colt- caliber handguns. There are solid reasons for sticking to these two proven performers. Due to the poor ballistic shape of pistol bullets and the fact that air resistance goes up exponentially with velocity after 50 to 75 yards, your .44 Magnum’s velocity has dropped below that of the .45’s and the .44 only has a .429-inch bullet diameter compared to the larger .451-inch diameter of the .45.
Since you never want expanding bullets in a pistol used for big game, as you need penetration, this size difference is significant. The sonic boom of a bullet over the sound barrier of 1,100 feet per second, added to the muzzle blast, will quickly do permanent hearing damage to unprotected ears and how many people have their shooter’s earmuffs on all the time they are in the bush? The subsonic .45s are safer on your hearing. Recoil of the magnums slows down the second and third shots so much that it can have fatal consequences to you. Stick with a proven performer and don’t get caught up with the latest craze like a teenage bobbysoxer.
FOR SHOTGUNS, THE CHEAPEST solution is a Mossberg 500 12-gauge pump gun. With a 20-inch riot gun barrel and sights loaded with German Brenneke slugs, it will put down a bear as fast as the biggest magnum rifle. With a choked barrel made for use with steel shot, which will ruin any barrel not specifically made for it, you have a waterfowl gun. You can shoot grouse and rabbits quite well in either configuration and you don’t have to use that infernal steel shot for them.
If you are serious about your shotgunning and don’t want to waste shells by missing game, you had better invest in a side-by-side 12-bore game gun from the British Isles and have it stocked to fit you. You will have to have a gun fitting at a shooting school or a gun maker over there and have the stock made to these measurements or, in the case of a used gun, altered to fit them. Now you have a gun that points exactly where you are looking and you can hit unfailingly with.
Prices range from a new Purdey at the high end to a used Birmingham-made boxlock extractor gun at the low end. Either way you won’t wear them out like you will a mass-produced gun in hard shooting service. Having a broken gun or running out of ammunition without bringing sufficient game to bag is a lot more serious deep in the Alaskan interior in the winter than it is for the casual sportsman in the Lower 48. This is reason enough to invest in the best.
THE AFOREMENTIONED GUNS WERE recommended as the best available within the budget of the average Alaskan bush resident. There are other guns, of course, but some of the best are not readily available or are very high priced, or both. The M1941 Johnson semiautomatic rifle is a good example of this. The guns I have listed will give good service and not let you down. AmSJ
Editor’s note: Unless otherwise stated, images were provided by the manufacturers.
By Jim Dickson
Over the past 142 years, the name Charles Daly has earned its place as one of the most recognizable and respected brands in imported firearms. Mr. Charles Daly and his partners got started in the firearms business in New York City in 1875. By 1889 they renamed the company Charles Daly and a great American shotgun brand was born. Charles Daly didn’t design or manufacture shotguns. Why should he when he knew the best ones were made in Europe by craftsmen with generational experience? Lacking that expertise, American gun makers weren’t producing many high-quality double-barrel shotguns and Charles Daly made its reputation on finding and importing the best of them for the American sportsman. A Daly led the firm until 1919, when the company was sold. It had only two more owners from then until 1976.
After 1976, Charles Daly changed hands several more times, before the trademark was purchased by firearms importer KBI Inc. in 1997. KBI greatly expanded the product line to include pump and semi-auto shotguns, and M1911-style handguns. In 2008, Charles Daly Defense was created to market American-made AR-15-style semi-auto firearms, but the core of their product line remained shotguns. By this time the brand had a long and prestigious reputation, but in many respects it achieved even greater acclaim under KBI stewardship. Unfortunately, financial problems largely unrelated to Charles Daly resulted in a bank foreclosure on the company and the sale of its assets early in 2010.
The Charles Daly trademark was bought and sold several more times until the fall of 2016, when it was acquired by Don Madole, the company’s former operations manager under KBI. Madole’s intent was to revitalize the historic trademark and restore its former standing as a premier brand of sporting arms. With over 30 years of shotgun sports and importation experience, Madole had the know-how to do it. Before coming over to KBI, he was the CEO of another firearms importer and major KBI competitor, Tri-Star Sporting Arms.
CHARLES DALY’S PATH to restoration was unconventional. After KBI’s unexpected collapse, Madole acquired the patent rights to a unique three-barrel shotgun and subsequently developed it for production with a Turkish manufacturer. In 2012, when he approached firearms industry innovator Rino Chiappa of Chiappa Firearms about marketing the gun, Rino agreed…provided that Madole would come to work for him as the general manager of Chiappa Firearms USA. Rino Chiappa wanted him to raise market awareness of his brand in America and sell product directly to distributors. Madole agreed. Four years later, Madole acquired the Charles Daly trademark and leased it to Chiappa Firearms. Madole took on the additional duties of sourcing, importing and marketing the new Charles Daly product line. Chiappa Firearms USA owns the Charles Daly inventory and is the exclusive distributor of the brand. It is an arrangement where all parties are striving to maximize the success of the brand and it shows in the quality and value of their product selection, which has expanded business significantly in the last two years.
During Madole’s tenure at Charles Daly in the KBI era, they continued sourcing guns in Turkey from various manufacturers. This turned out to be a key strategic move for the brand and the Turkish shotgun manufacturing industry. At that time, Turkey was dominated by cooperative factories, collectively owned by one or more villages. These vaguely socialistic entities were difficult to work with and slow to respond to requests for improved quality and design alterations. The prices were nice but the quality problems were a deal-breaker. Fortunately, there were still some privately owned gun makers in Turkey and Charles Daly forged relationships with them to develop products that would meet the quality expectations of American shooters. The result was a mainly value-oriented line of guns that delivered a lot of features at an affordable price point. In short, a Turkish Charles Daly shotgun was “a honey for the money” and over half a million were sold.
Today, Turkey is once again the source of Charles Daly shotguns. Madole sees Charles Daly as the brand of innovation that challenges their Turkish suppliers to excel. He worked with four different manufacturers to develop their current shotgun line that includes single-shots, side-by-sides and over/under doubles, triple barrels, pumps, and semi-auto models, including a brand-new bullpup and AR-style magazine-fed model. The shotguns cover all aspects of hunting and sport shooting disciplines, as well as tactical/home defense roles. Charles Daly imports 85 shotgun models. Most sporting models come with 3-inch chambers, screw-in chokes, matte black or blued and polished metal, and synthetic or wood stocks, usually fixed but in some cases adjustable. Some models, reflecting the tastes of contemporary hunters, come with Maxi-Mag 3.5-inch chambers, Realtree® camouflage, folding and/or adjustable stocks, pistol grips, Picatinny rails and rifle sights.
THOUGH THE BRAND was more recently known for its value-oriented guns, Madole is reaching up and down. Charles Daly now has entry-level guns for the occasional shooter or beginner on a tight budget, and top-quality guns for the high-end sportsman. In principle, Charles Daly offers guns in field, superior or empire grade, but as a practical matter, no gun is offered in all three grades at this time. For example, single-shot shotguns are entry-level guns for American hunters, so all Charles Daly 101 models are field grade. The 101 synthetic is a five-pound 12-gauge, with 28-inch barrel, 3-inch chamber and Beretta/Benelli® Mobil threaded choke. It comes equipped with a modified choke tube. The black synthetic stock is adjustable for length-of-pull. MSRP is $176 but lowest online price I found was an ultra-bargain $141!
Perhaps the most outstanding value in the Charles Daly line is the Model 601 gas-operated semi-auto shotgun. It was co-developed with the factory specifically for the American market. This 12-gauge has a 28-inch chrome-lined ventilated rib, barrel with 3-inch chamber and comes with Mobil chokes (three are included – improved cylinder, modified and full). Overall length is 49 inches and it has a 5+1 capacity. The receiver is milled from a solid block of aircraft-quality aluminum and it weighs 7.2 pounds with a black synthetic stock or 7.3 pounds with a laser-checkered walnut stock. This is a well-balanced, graceful and very handsome gun despite its simple matte black finish. On top of that, it is not at all finicky about ammunition. MSRP is $309 with black synthetic stock and $325 in wood. The lowest online retail for the wood stock Model 601 was $259. The cheapest I could find a Remington 1187 autoloader, with a synthetic stock, was $457. If you argue that the Remington is better, and that’s a tough argument to make, it’s certainly not $200 better than the Charles Daly 601.
The superior grade side-by-side double-barrel Model 500 shotguns come stocked in beautiful checkered Turkish walnut with a bright receiver and blued barrels (28 inches long in 12-gauge with 3-inch chambers, and 26 inches long for 20-, 28- and .410-gauge). The barrels are threaded to accept Rem Choke screw-in chokes (included are five chokes – skeet, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full). All models have extractors with a single selective trigger. These are light and quick handling guns. The Model 512 28-inch barrel 12-gauge is only 45 inches long and weighs 6 pounds. MSRP is $905 but the lowest online price I found was under $700, which is simply amazing for a quality double-barrel. This year a sleek .410 (Model 536) was added to the line that weighs only 5.4 pounds.
The unique Triple Crown three-barrel shotgun is a Charles Daly exclusive and was designed to be the ultimate hunting shotgun. All hunting models have white receivers, blued barrels and checkered walnut stocks (standard or Anatomically Designed with a higher comb and lower drop at the heel for ladies or youth). Fit and finish is superior grade. The top barrel has a ventilated rib and fiber optic front sight. Since most states limit shotguns to three rounds, the three-barrel design maximizes the speed of delivery and versatility of those three crucial rounds. No shotgun can fire three rounds faster. The barrels are threaded for Rem Choke screw-in chokes (a set of five are included) and fire in order (right, left and top) with a single, non-selectable trigger. A quail hunter can set his chokes for improved cylinder, improved modified and full and bag three birds out of a covey, getting the closest as they rise with the right barrel and taking his last shot at the farthest bird with the full choke top barrel. They are available in 12-, 20-, 28- and .410-gauge, in 28-inch and 26-inch barrel. All barrels have 3-inch chambers, with the exception of the 28-gauge, which is 2¾-inch only. There is also a 12-gauge Magnum version with 3½-inch chambers and checkered synthetic stocks camouflaged in Realtree Max-5® for waterfowl hunting. The slim 26-inch-barrel, 41-inch-long .410 is 6.8 pounds and the 28-inch-barrel, 45-inch-long 12-gauge is 8.7 pounds. The 12-gauge is slightly heavy compared to other guns of this gauge, but the extra weight does make the balanced gun swing nicely and helps absorb recoil. The MSRP on the Triple Crown is $1,929. The lowest online retail I could find was $1,328, which is easily $800 less than your best deal on a Browning Citori over-and-under.
The triple barrel is also available in an 18.5-inch-barrel, 35.5-inch-long home defense model called the Triple Threat, in 12-, 20- and .410-gauge. Perhaps due to its awesome intimidation factor, it turned out to be a hotter seller than the full-length hunting version and generally costs more on the actual retail level as a result. In response to the consumer trend favoring compact tactical/home defense shotguns we’ve seen in the last few years, Charles Daly Defense released a pistol grip version of the gun in 12-gauge and .410 as part of their Honcho line.
CHARLES DALY DEFENSE offers just about all the Charles Daly sporting shotguns in tactical/home defense models, typically adding pistol grips, front and rear sights, Picatinny rail, breacher choke tubes and sometimes adjustable buttstocks depending on the model. The aforementioned Honcho line of compact, 27-inch-long, bird’s head grip, 14-inch-barrel shotguns was introduced last year and proved to be a solid seller. In addition to the three-barrel gun, the line includes a pump; spring-assisted pump; a detachable, five-shot, box magazine-fed, spring-assisted pump; and a semi-auto. Gauges include 3-inch shell 12 and 20, as well as .410. The Honcho .410 spring-assisted pump weighs a scant 4.1 pounds. Its MSRP is $369 but lowest online retail was $283. The 12-gauge pump model had an MSRP of $309 and a lowest online retail of $244. A Mossberg 590 Shockwave will cost you $100 more.
This year Charles Daly Defense is releasing its first bullpup shotgun, the N4S, its first AR-style shotgun, the AR12S, and its first .410-gauge AR-15 compatible upper receiver group. That .410 upper receiver group comes complete with flip up sights and its own magazine and allows you to turn any standard AR-15 platform into a semi-auto, five-shot, 2.5-inch .410 shotgun. The 19-inch cylinder bore barrel is completely enclosed by a carbine length quad Picatinny rail handguard in the rear, and a ventilated, cylindrical perforated heat shield in the front that terminates with a breacher style cut at the end covering the muzzle and acting as a flash hider. MSRP is $399. This gauge recoils about as much as a .223 round in an AR platform and has excellent home defense possibilities.
The N4S Bullpup is a semi-auto, five-shot, box magazine-fed 12-gauge that can handle 3-inch shells. It comes with one magazine and flip up sights. Its 19.5-inch barrel is threaded for Mobil Chokes. It comes equipped with modified choke. Overall length is 29.75 inches and weight is a hefty 9.3 pounds. It may not be light, but is very compact on the business end, ideally suited to defense in close quarters and easy to handle in rapid fire.
The AR12S semi-auto shotgun has a more conventional AR layout, including a carry handle rear sight and raised front sight tower. It likewise has a 19.75-inch barrel threaded for Mobil Chokes and comes equipped with a modified choke. The five-round box magazine has longitudinal slots so you can see how much ammo you have left. The buttstock has an adjustable comb. It is 37.5 inches long and weighs 7.5 pounds. MSRP is $517.
A Charles Daly quality control inspector test fires all their shotguns in Turkey to insure proper function before they are accepted for importation. All shotguns carry a five-year conditional warranty.
IN ADDITION TO its many and varied shotguns, Charles Daly also offers Italian-made 1911 pistols in .45 ACP and 9mm, and an AK-style pistol in 9mm called the PAK-9 made in Romania. Their full-size, 5-inch-barrel 1911 is all steel, uses a forged frame and slide, and features an eight-shot magazine, ambidextrous extended safety, front and rear slide serrations, extended beavertail grip safety, extended commander-style rounded hammer and skeletonized trigger with over-travel adjustment. The Superior Grade model has walnut checkered grip, fiber optic front sight and fixed combat-style rear sight. The Empire Grade model comes with target adjustable sights, relieved ejection port, and custom VZ Operator II Black G10 grips. The 1911 Empire Grade’s MSRP is $829 and the Superior Grade’s is $699.
The PAK-9 is a more unusual bird, best described as a sheet metal AKM 9mm semi-auto pistol. Like the 1911, this is not a new gun to the line, but it only started to hit retail stores in 2018. The reception was uniformly positive for this rugged pistol that accepts Beretta 92 magazines. At six pounds it is rather heavy to shoot as a true pistol, but Charles Daly now offers a package with an adapter to allow the fitting of an AR buffer tube, and by extension, an AR pistol-style arm brace. The addition of the arm brace greatly stabilizes the pistol when shooting. This new package also comes with an adapter to accept Glock® magazines. With a laser sight and flashlight clamped to either side of the front Picatinny rail, the PAK-9 has practical value as a personal defense weapon. Add in the Glock® magazine well adapter so you can use a 50-round drum and you have some truly awesome firepower. The PAK-9 has a 6.5-inch barrel, is 14.37 inches in overall length, has a fixed rear sight, an adjustable front post sight for elevation and comes with two 10-round Beretta 92 style magazines. MSRP is $559 but lowest online retail was $430.
This article is too brief to examine the full scope of Charles Daly products, especially since they are continuously adding new ones and improving old ones. For more information visit the company website at charlesdaly.com and contact them for the location of a dealer near you. This legendary brand seemed to disappear for a few years, but they have come back strong and in some unexpected and very innovative ways.
Story by Frank Jardim
There are many information compile on the internet about the maximum range of slugs and buckshots. The information are based on mathematical data as a gee whiz thing. What about for real-world maximum practical ranges? Yes, the idea of using that big equalizer to thwart the would be home robber is all good, but its a good idea to know the limitations.
Many facts on the load’s maximum range is useless to know in a home invasion scenario. But knowing the maximum effective range is important. Some factors includes the shotgun, load and the shooter’s ability (training experience).
Finding your Maximum Effective Range
The shotgun that you choose will differ, but what you should look for are compactness, handling and capacity. Look into a Mossberg or Remington. The buckshot rule of thumb to follow is “pattern spread 1 inch for every yard”. So at 40 yards the spread will be 45 inches with a couple of pellets in the vital zone. This would be your maximum range that you should consider.
The maximum practical range should be at 30 yards for home defense with buckshots. Sure there are some shotgun chokes that you can use that only spreads 15 inches at 30 yards. But the idea is that inside 10 yards which is the ideal home defense distances – is that we want the inch-per-cylinder spread.
What’s your home defense shotgun and loads?
Sources: Personal Defense, Shooting Illustrated, Jeff Johnston
Shotguns can kaboom just like any firearm can.
Faulty loaded ammunition can be the death to a fine shotgun.
These seven shotgun kabooms send these weapons to their doom.
This skeet shooter had a nasty surprise waiting for him…
A seasoned duck hunter evidently had a dud (squib) shotgun shell jam a wad in his shotgun barrel. The next shot made this work of destructive art.
Well that was once a really nice classic shotgun…
This shotgun was a total loss from a badly loaded shell.
Now that is indeed a sad and scary sight.
Where there’s smoke…
Never fire modern smokeless shotshells in a Damascus or twist steel barrel. This is certainly what happened here in a black powder only vintage shotgun.
The shotgun wad never made it out of the barrel.
In the end many shotgun kabooms can be avoided. Never place a 20 gauge shotshell into a 12 gauge weapon. That smaller shell will lodge in the barrel and a 12 gauge shell can fire into that live shell. Then you have a hand grenade.
Also, any barrel obstructions from squib ammunition must be addressed before you fire again.
Never fire reloaded ammunition unless it is your carefully constructed loads or from a very reputable source. Be careful and that shotgun will survive generations and you will keep your fingers. Now that is certainly a win.
Sources: Photobucket, The Truth about Guns, EndofDay, Eric Nestor, Houston Chronicle, DoubleGunShop