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BIGGEST, BADDEST, FASTEST SHORT MAGS — Part 2

Among the short magnums, I have by far the most experience with the 7.82 (.308) Patriot. I’ve done quite a bit of hunting with that one and actual velocities have edged very close to what I get from a .300 Weatherby Magnum, amazing from a short action.

I used the Patriot in both a short-action Lazzeroni L2012 and a Savage 110, both with superb accuracy. Some time back, mostly for fun but with a pig hunt as the excuse, Lazz loaded up some 220-grain Sierras for the Patriot. Of necessity, that long, heavy bullet starts to crowd powder space just a bit, but we still exceeded 2,900 fps and knocked the stuffing out of hogs. Perhaps more interesting, that particular L2012 really liked that heavy bullet, consistently grouping under a half-inch and producing some of the tightest 100-yard groups I’ve ever shot.

L2012 SHORT ACTION RIFLE

Lazzeroni’s L2012 is not fancy, but intended to be a sound, versatile and accurate out-of-the-box hunting rifle. The basis is a CNC-machined stainless steel receiver, mated to a match grade stainless steel Gary Schneider barrel, with diamond-fluted one-piece bolt body. The stock is hand-bedded graphite/composite classic sporter style. All metal parts have NP3 matte finish.

Standard on short-action rifles have Timney triggers and Vais muzzle brakes. Both right and (to gladden my heart) left-hand bolts are available. In both Mountain-Lite and dangerous game short-action rifles, magazine capacity is four rounds. 

The Mountain-Lite Long-Range rifle (L2012SA MTLR) weighs-in at 6.6 pounds and is available in 7.21 (.284) Tomahawk, 7.82 (.308) Patriot; and 8.59 (.338) Galaxy. Standard is a 24-inch barrel with two-position safety. 

The Short Action Dangerous Game rifle (L2012SA DGR) is a bit different and shows some careful thought. It has a heavier 22-inch barrel (to add some welcome weight); and the forward sling swivel stud is moved from the forend to a barrel band. The floorplate/trigger guard assembly is steel, also a adding a bit of weight. On production rifles the safety is being switched to a three-position firing pin safety with integral aluminum scope rail. Weight is 7.2 pounds, so still a very handy little package!  

The DGR is offered in all three big bore short-action cartridges: 9.53 (.375) Hellcat; 10.57 (.416) Maverick; and 12.04 (.475) Lilmufu. 

Worthy of note. This is probably the only short bolt-action dangerous game rifle in existence. How much this is worth is open to discussion, but for the same level of performance, there’s no question that a short bolt-action is faster to operate—and less likely to “short stroke”—than a standard, full-length or magnum bolt-action.

In his last article, published in American Rifleman shortly before his death, W.D.M. “Karamoja” Bell (1880-1954) made much of the advantages of the short bolt-action (which didn’t exist in his heyday).  Bell cited not only speed, but also reduced hand movement, maintaining that if he could start over, he’d use the then-new .308 Winchester with 220-grain solids in a short-action rifle. Smallbore man that he was, I don’t know what he’d make of the short magnums, but he was totally sold on the short bolt-action. 

The three Lazz big-bore cartridges pretty much cover the waterfront. All three offer big gun performance in a wonderfully compact rifle, but I must admit I’m most intrigued by the .416 Maverick. My friend Zack Aultman has one that he swears by and I’m thinking it might make a perfect package for our swamp buffalo hunting in Mozambique.  

SHORT MAGNUM SHORT SAFARI

Every now and then Lazz and I get together for a hunt. He’s good company, but mostly I enjoy picking his brain because he knows his stuff and he’s a helluva rifleman. In the pandemic year of 2020 there’d be no taking a .416 Maverick (or anything else!) to Africa, but we talked about a good old California hog hunt, or maybe Texas. Then Lazz remembered a little pocket of feral hogs he’d hunted in southern New Mexico. He hadn’t been there in years, didn’t know if they were still there, but he made some calls and it sounded good. 

The lockdown was just starting to ease when Lazz and I headed east from Tucson, complete with a full-size chest freezer wired in the back of his pickup. Mind you, I was mightily skeptical, but we’d been locked down for months and I was more than willing to take a flyer. Now, it certainly isn’t that I didn’t have some idea of how the Lazzeroni cartridges would perform, but our mission—if we actually found hogs—was to use as many of the short magnums as possible. 

Yes, the pigs were there, an isolated population that some ranchers were allowing to persist. These were obviously feral hogs, but big-bodied with a good incidence of mature boars. Lazz and I both like hunting pigs and enjoy their pork, but this was a different deal.

The pigs were living happily around the edges of huge alfalfa fields among big irrigation pivots and coexisting happily with cattle, a phenomenon I hadn’t seen before. It was hot and sunny, so we stalked a few pigs in low wet spots, but some were out in dead-flat open fields, so we had to take our time and make sure our shots were perfectly clear. 

My first pig was in a group of three boars getting a mud-bath in a shallow depression, using the .416 Maverick. With no cattle around I slipped in close and took a head shot. That doesn’t prove a whole lot about the cartridge but, after all, with a 350-grain Swift A-Frame at more than 2,500 fps I’m pretty sure a chest shot would have worked just as well. 

Trading off, John shot another big boar with his personal Patriot rifle, also a head shot, this time at some distance. My turn again. I used the prototype of the new Mountain-Lite in 7.21 (.284) Tomahawk. Lazz is a bit of a saver; the box was clearly marked “Jon Sundra’s Rifle,” so the ammo was probably a decade old.

We made a long stalk, using pivot wheels for cover, but the closest we could get was about 200 yards. It was neither distance, nor rifle, nor load. I tried to get fancy, and I missed the brain shot completely. The load was 140-grain Sierra GameKing at nearly 3,400 fps. Not entirely certain what had just whizzed by, the pig trotted away, fortunately not running hard. I waited him out and when he swung broadside, I planted the little Sierra behind the shoulder. No problem. 

John’s turn again. He made an impressive long shot with his .375, using a 300-grain Sierra. Into that long early summer daylight, we’d been up late skinning pigs and would be again that night. More to the point, these were all big-bodied boars and we figured the freezer would be full enough. We called it a day and a hunt and headed back to the ranch, a pretty cool pandemic pig safari, in an entirely different place! 

I’m excited to see Lazz placing more emphasis on his short magnums. His long cartridges are well, spectacular, but the short magnums offer a genuinely unique level of performance, now in two significantly different short-action rifles. For information, check out www.lazzeroni.com.–Craig Boddington

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