Blades & Bullets

What Works Well Isn’t Necessarily The Latest In Cool

By Payton Miller

There really is a case to be made for small knives. Unfortunately, it can also lead to sort of a “reverse snobbery” toward big ones. “Big” in this case would mean occupying the middle ground between between a small-bladed skinner, caper or drop-point for hunting-type stuff and a machete for brush clearing or general utility chores.

This kind of definition perfectly fits one of TOPS Knives’ latest offerings. The Frog Market XL’s razor-sharp 7-1/2-inch blade was hefty enough to fillet an albacore, slice up a whole chicken or roast, or thin enough to slice onions and tomatoes. The blade itself—inspired by a pattern designer Steven Dick saw used by Vietnamese fishmongers and butchers—is all cutting edge, no crossguard. And that large sweeping belly makes for a serious slicer. Probably the best term I’ve heard for it is “camp knife.” Meaning it’s pretty great for any kind of food prep chores you can think of for a bunch of hungry compadres, regardless of whether you’re in a deer-camp cabin, spike-camp cook tent or condo kitchen.

Camp knife: TOP’s Frog Market XL slices, dices and chops just about anything you can think of cooking.

This defensive wadcutter trio includes (left to right) Buffalo Bore’s hardcast 150 grain,
Atomic’s softer 148 grain, and Federal’s “deep-set” 130-grain JHP.

Not Your Dad’s Wadcutter

When I was a kid I remember taking my Dad’s .38 Colt Official Police to the range with a box of Monarch 148-grain target wadcutters. If he was too low on the factory stuff for me to risk “liberating” any, I’d have to spring for a Campbell’s Soup can full of equally mild, flush-fitting paper-punchers at the range.

But targets aside, handloaders—specifically .38 Special users—have been bumping up—and reverse-seating—wadcutters for defensive purposes long before I ever heard of it. There are now some very efficient commercial defensive offerings along these lines as well. Over the past year or so we’ve had a chance to shoot three pretty impressive examples of this “what’s old is new again” approach. All proved quite manageable—and very efficient—from revolvers of various barrel lengths we shot them from.

• Atomic +P (148-grain)854 fps (2-3/4-inch S&W M66)
• Federal +P HST JHP (130-grain)798 fps (2-inch S&W M49), 858 fps (4-inch S&W M15)
• Buffalo Bore Low-Flash Short-Barrel Heavy HC (150-grain)860 fps (3-inch Colt Detective Special)

This 50-yard cluster (right) indicates Aimpoint’s H-2 Micro is a good fit for an appropriately railed .45-70 Marlin.

The Twilight Zone

When even receiver sights get to be a chore for aging lever-action shooters, many turn to the ubiquitous red-dot sight. Now, at the kind of distances you’d be using a lever-action carbine, you could—eyesight permitting—probably shoot ghost-ring groups that’d compare favorably with what you could do with, say an Aimpoint Micro H-2. But with the Aimpoint, you can do it quicker—and in low-light field conditions. Bottom line? It makes the gun more efficient without having to hang a scope on it, which would negate the one-handed “grab it and go” qualities so appealing about un-scoped leverguns in the first place.

Aimpoint claims the light transmission qualities of the 2nd generation H-2 have been improved over the previous H-1. I’ll take their word for it. If I personally could tell the difference, I probably wouldn’t have had to retire my ghost-ring sights! At 50 yards, results with Hornady’s FTX 250-grain loading from a .45-70 Marlin were plenty good enough for me. And I’m positive I could hang the 2 MOA red-dot on a big hog a lot quicker than a front blade or bead, whether he’s moving or not.


This .401 SL Model 1910 Winchester is a breathtaking testimonial to high-end
firearms embellishment in the early 20th Century.

Self-Loading Showstopper

The .401 Winchester Self-Loading was a short-to-mid-range cartridge designed for the Winchester Model 1910—a handy semi-auto rifle which found favor among big-game hunters, security personnel, law-enforcement and some of the more colorful “motor bandits” of the Depression Era.

What’s probably certain is none of those end-users ever had an M1910 like this one! Made in 1912, it got the full dress treatment from master engraver John Ulrich, and features arabesque scrollwork, game scenes, and fancy-grain walnut replete with Winchester “Style A” relief carving.
The rifle also features a special-order express rear sight with one fixed and three folding leaves. This exquisite example of the gunmaker’s art went for $92,000 at last May’s RIA auction. For information on future events, contact Rock Island Auctions at 7819 42nd St. W, Rock Island, IL 61201, (800) 238-8022.

Aimpoint, Inc.
7309 Gateway Ct.
Manassas, VA 20109
(877) 246-7646)
www.aimpoint.com

Atomic Ammunition
(623) 580-8888
www.atomicammo.com

Buffalo Bore Ammunition
366 Sandy Creek Rd.
Salmon, ID 83477
(208) 756-3434
www.buffalobore.com

Federal Premium Ammunition
900 Ehlen, Anoka, MN 55303
(800) 379-1732
www.federalpremium.com

TOPS Knives
P.O. Box 86
Ucon, ID 83454
(208) 542-0013
www.topsknives.com

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