Thursday, October 21, 2010

UPDATED Wildlife officials trying to stay ahead of emerging firearms technology

With the firearms industry in overdrive introducing new models or else tweaking existing firearms to tickle the gun-buying public, it's increasingly becoming difficult for state fish and game agencies to keep abreast of the evolutionary process.

As a result, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has declared one new firearm model built by the Brazilian firm Rossi as not being acceptable for deer hunting while approving another radical-looking model as being acceptable.

Using the platform of its hyper-popular "Judge" .410/.45 Long Colt self-defense revolver, Rossi has created its .410/.45 Long Colt "Circuit Judge" carbine rifle.

The problem with the Circuit Judge however, is that while .410 shotguns firing slugs are legal for use in deer-hunting such instruments cannot hold more than three rounds. And the Circuit Judge's cylinder can hold five rounds and which cannot be "plugged."

That feature is unlike other types of shotguns such as semi-automatics and pump-action models which can be fitted with a plug that reduces the firearm's capacity in order to fulfill Ohio law.

Even so, the Circuit Judge is one interestingly looking piece. It has an 18 1/2 inch barrel, weighs only 4.45 pounds, has fixed rifle-type sights and possesses a high combed butt stock. It retails for $618 and is currently available, according to Rossi USA's web site.

"I saw an article in the NRA magazine this past summer and (then) someone sent in an inquiry regarding their use but the Circuit Judge doesn’t meet our criteria; which states that a firearm’s plug can only be removed if the gun can be dissembled," said Kenneth J. Fitz, the Wildlife Division's acting law enforcement administrator

"The Circuit Judge has a swing-out cylinder that can't take a one-piece plug. If there would be a way to fit the Circuit Judge with a one-piece plug that could only be removed by dissembling the firearm then it could be used with .410 slugs but not with the .45 Long Colt cartridge."

The Rossi product the Wildlife Division has approved, though, is the manufacturer's "Ranch Hand," officially categorized as a handgun by the federal government.

And since the Ranch Hand comes chambered for the straight-walled either .357 magnum, .44 Magnum, or .45 Long Colt calibers (all of which are allowed,) and since the federal government says the firearm is a handgun, the Wildlife Division has approved it use for deer hunting in Ohio, Fitz said.

In looks the four-pound Ranch Hand has a 12-inch barrel of equal length to its magazine tube, sports an over-sized loop lever, a saddle ring along with a gold-bead front sight and an adjustable buckhorn rear sight.

The firearm holds six rounds. Its suggested retail price is $536 and is expected to soon become available.

Interestingly too the Ranch Hand is copied after the weapon used by actor Steve McQueen in the old television Western series "Wanted: Dead or Alive," Fitz said.

“There’s no way that I can see how the Ranch Hand can be fired from the shoulder. I doubt that many people would use it anyway,” Fitz said also.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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