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  • Writer's pictureJeff Rice

500 Yards? - Larry Weishuhn

My friend, hunt host, and fellow DSC member David Cotton, had just gotten his Mossberg Patriot Predator chambered in 6.5 PRC which he topped with a Trijicon 3-18x50 AccuPoint scope. That accomplished he headed to their ranch’s rifle range to sight-in with Hornady Precision Hunter 143-grain ELD-X at 100-yards.  He had just finished doing so when I arrived. Well actually there was one step he had done before I got there.  His dad, Edgar, had recently bought a custom rifle chambered for the same round, complete with custom-loaded, by the rifle builder, ammunition. Just before my arrival he and his dad, Edgar, had shot their respective rifles, both being extremely accurate and competent shooters. 


As I walked up to the rifle range, David was grinning widely. “Guess who just out shot someone else sitting here at the table, and I did so with his Mossberg/Trijicon and Hornady ammo combination that cost less than twenty percent of that good looking custom rifle laying in front of the guy sitting at this same table.”  Mr. Edgar grinned and shook his head.


I had introduced David to my Mossberg/Trijicon/Hornady 7mm PRC combination several weeks earlier on a deer hunt.  I arrived at their ranch having been on several hunts where my Mossberg/Trijicon combo had been dropped and beat around quite a bit.  I sat at the bench and sent three 175-grain Precision Hunter ELD-X downrange at the 100-yards target.  All three touched, taking out the “X” in the center bullseye.


“Can you hit the 500-yard target?” asked David.  I switched to circular steel target 500-yards distant and put a shot near the center, using what I thought should have been the appropriate hold-over.  “Hmmmmm!” said my host.


We then talked about the 7mm PRC and the 6.5 PRC, the advantages of both.  “Think I’m going to get me a Mossberg Patriot Predator in 6.5 PRC. Daddy just bought a custom rifle in that round.”


I was carrying my Taurus Raging Hunter .44 Mag topped with a Trijicon 2.5 MOA SRO red-dot sight, loaded with Hornady 240-grain XTP Custom.  I looked at the 500-yard target.  “Mind if I try the far target?” I asked.


When I took the .44 Mag out of the soft-case I carried it in. I noticed questioning expressions on both David and Mr. Edgar’s faces.  Before sitting down at the bench I grabbed a piece of cut firewood to use for a “solid” rest, laid the soft case on top of it, then sat down and got behind the gun.


I suspected the bullet, the way I had the Taurus revolver sighted-in with the 240-grain Hornady load should drop about 29-feet at 500-yards.  I held accordingly or best I could estimate a proper hold-over using the 2.5 MOA red-dot sight and round steel target, allowing for about 2 MOA (10-inches) of wind from left to right.  With David watching through his Swarovski binocular I sent a round toward the target.





“Gracious, just off to the left!  Saw where the bullet hit! You almost hit it.  Missed by no more than a foot”. I shot five more rounds.  David’s comments were essentially the same after each shot.  Every shot had come close!


A few years ago, I spent a fair amount of time shooting at the 200, 300, 400, 500 and even 600-yard targets with my handguns at the FTW Ranch where they teach the Sportsman All Weather All Terrain Marksman (SAAM) course.  The class was for shooting rifles, but I asked to try to shoot some targets with my .44 Mag and .454 Casull handguns.  All were shot at with hold-over rather than dial-up scopes as the rifle shooters were doing.  I did extremely well shooting the 200 and 300-yard target. At 400-yards once I had shot some rounds to determine a basic hold-over and wind, I got to where I could hit the target at least once in every four shots.  At 500-yards after doing the same I got to where I could hit steel, one out of every 5 or 6 shots. At both the 400 and 500-yards my misses were within inches of the target.  Later I decided to put a large sheet of cardboard behind the 600-yard target. I did so because I wanted to see when I missed where the shots went.  I shot 18-shots at that target with my .44 Mag and 15-shots with my .454 Casull, shooting Hornady 240-grain XTP and 300-gain XTP loads respectively.  I did not hit the 24-inch steel, but none of my 33 misses were more than 6-inches away from the target.


It was on the FTW that I was introduced to Bret Vorhees, President of Taurus USA, by Mark Sidelinger a long time friend through the shooting/hunting industry.  Bret allowed me to shoot a couple of his Taurus Raging Hunter revolvers, loaded with Hornady ammo.  I shot groups at 100 yards then shot the 200-yard steel targets.  The 100-yard .44 Mag groups shot from the bench were less than 1 1/2-inch 6-shot groups.  My .454 Casull 5-shot groups were just over one and a half-inch.  I was IMPRESSED! Before parting company, I made arrangements with Bret and Mark to procure at least one if not two Raging Hunter revolvers.  By the time I had sent an order there were four Raging Hunters I wanted, one each in .357 Mag, .44 Mag, .454 Casull and .460 S&W Mag.


I ended up topping all four with either Trijicon RMR or SRO red-dot 2.5 MOA sights. At my home range using the appropriate Hornady ammo I was able to easily shoot 2-inch groups at 100-yards and if I really did my part, considerably tighter groups.


Meanwhile back on the Cotton Ranch, after barely missing the 500-yard target using a red-dot sight, I decided when I got back home to replace that sight with one of my old Thompson/Center 2.5-7x28 Long Eye Relief (LER) scopes.  I say old because it goes back to the middle 1980’s when I did some promotional work for Simmons Optics.  Simmons built the LER scopes for T/C.  Originally made by Light Optical in the Philippines for Simmons, these early Thompson/Center and Simmons are still some of the best LER scopes ever made.  I can say that because I have used a LER scope from just about every company that ever made them.  That said I have seen one better.  It was the proto-type I talked Zeiss into making years ago.  They “built” three.  Initially I had two of those.  When requested the scopes be sent back I sent only one and kept the other. Now I wish I had kept both! There has never been a LER scope of equal or even coming close to those scopes.  Unfortunately, Zeiss never produced another of these optics.


After scoping my Taurus Raging Hunter .44 Mag I returned to the Cotton Ranch. There I sighted-in with Hornady 240-grain XTP Custom (I have never shot a .44 Mag that didn’t love this particular load, nor one that performs so perfectly down-range when it hits an animal.) at 100-yards; four of the 6 shots touched, taking out the “X” in the bullseye. The other two shots, my fifth and sixth were within less than a half-inch on either side.


I knew the 240-grain bullet should drop about 345-inches or around 29-feet at 500-yards, based on what I had read.  Having shot in the past using a 7 ½-inch barrel revolver at that distance I tended to shoot over the target if I used a 29-feet hold over.


I settled in behind the revolver and the scope.  I cranked the magnification down to just over 2.5X then looked through the scope. With that particular setting it looked to me if the target was at the very bottom of the scope there was about 26 to 28-feet between it and the crosshairs.  The wind seemed to be blowing directly from the target into my face. I decided not to hold for any wind.  I cocked the hammer and slowly squeezed the trigger while David Cotton watched through Swarvoski binoculars.  At the shot, said David, “You blew up some mud a few inches below the target.”


I cocked the double-action Taurus’ hammer and estimated holding a bit higher than the previous shot, where I could see only about half of the target at the bottom of the scope. I shot a second time. “Just over the top!”


I again cocked the hammer. This time held so I could see about two-thirds of the steel circle target at the bottom of the scope, then started slowing squeezing the trigger. At the shot.. ”You hit it!  Just to the left and slight below of dead-center!’ 


Again cocking the Taurus’ hammer I held as close I could to my previous shot and pulled the trigger. This time I could actually see spray from hitting the target, having had sufficient time to get back on target from the time I pulled the trigger to when the bullet hit the target. “Just to the left of our last shot!” 


I shot the remaining two rounds, but unfortunately they went just to the left of the target. The wind had gotten a bit stronger and changed from right to left. I could not have been happier.


Moments later I handed my Taurus .44 Mag to David, “Your turn!”  He was all smiles, got behind the gun and scope.  I suggested he allow for wind drift by holding the vertical crosshair on the right side of the target, and where he could see about two-thirds of the target in the bottom of the scope.  He did!  His first three shot all but hit the target! His fourth shot indeed did hit the target nearly the same place my second shot had.  The fifth and sixth shots were just off to left side. The wind had picked up even more.


Had we been shooting at 36-inch circular target I suspect all our shots would have hit, the ones that missed were that close.


I loved what we had done with my scoped .44 Mag Taurus Raging Hunter, loaded with Hornady’s 240-grain XTP Custom, using “Texas windage” rather than a dial up scope or fancy ballistics program.


Next time I head to the Cotton Ranch I will be carrying my .454 Casull Taurus Raging Hunter double-action revolver topped with another of my old Thompson/Center or Simmons LER scopes. Then after David and I, and Mr. Edgar, hit the 500-yard target with my Casull, we’ll try to do the same with my .460 S&W Mag Raging Hunter.


Would I ever try to shoot an animal at that distance, Heaven NO!  I know the various cartridges limitations in terms of down-range energy. But, shooting at steel or paper at those distances is fun, particularly when you do it without a dial-up scope or fancy ballistics program.




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