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CVA's Accura MR Black Nitride Rifle
 
By Dr. Jim & Mary Clary, Associate Editors

 

    We have shot a lot of different muzzleloaders over the past fifty years, from the .58 caliber Zouaves to .50 caliber Hawkens.  Add in the modern inline muzzleloaders and we have burned up a fair amount of powder. That being said, the new model guns that come out every year don't get us excited.  At least that was the case until we laid eyes on the CVA Accura MR black nitride rifle at the 2014 SHOT Show.  Both of us looked at the gun and imagined what it would be like to shoot. For the first time ever, we asked Dudley McGarity, CEO of BPI Outdoors, the company that owns the CVA brand, if we could test that new gun.  It finally arrived in March and it was just as fine a rifle as we remembered.

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Jim & Mary Clary's Accura MR test rifle topped with a BSA Super Mag 4.5-14x44mm RGB riflescope.

 

    For those not familiar with black nitride metal treatments (the technical description of the process is salt bath ferriticnitrocarburizing), they are used in many industries to significantly harden the outer layers of steel parts to make them more durable and more corrosion resistant.  In fact, when used for rifle barrels, it is more corrosion resistant than chrome lining. The same black nitride process is used by several automobile manufacturers to harden the moving parts in their engines, rings, pistons, etc.  Because muzzleloaders are susceptible to corrosion, this treatment goes a long way in substantially reducing the possibility that your gun will be ruined by corrosion.

     CVA went all in with this, deciding to use it on their premium 
Bergara Barrels found on their high end Accura MR and Accura V2 rifles.  And why not?  If you already have a top selling, full featured rifle, it just makes sense to add a bit more "frosting on the cake" to make it even better.  In our discussions with Mr. McGarity, he had data to show that barrels treated with the black nitride process had greater wear and corrosion resistance and lubricity when compared to blued carbon steel or untreated stainless steel.  The lubricity aspect is what appealed to us, given the potential for an increase in muzzle velocities and greater ease in reloading for second or third shots.


Here are the features and specifications for the CVA Accura MR rifle:

 

416 Stainless Steel 25" Fluted Nitride-treated Bergara Barrel with 1:28" Twist Rifling

Bullet Guiding Muzzle

QRBPick Release Breech Plug

DuraSight One-Piece Rail Base/Ring System

Ambidextrous Composite Stock

CrushZone Recoil Pad

Quake Claw Sling

Solid Aluminum PalmSaver Ramrod

Adjustable Trigger

Cocking Spur

Drilled and Tapped for Scope Mounts

40" Overall Length

6.35 lbs. Total Weight

14.5" Length of Pull

Lifetime Warranty

2014 MSRP $592

 

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NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Associate Editor Dr. Jim Clary at the bench with the new .50 caliber CVA Accura MR Black Nitride model rifle.  He was particularly impressed with the accuracy of the rifle - and the ease of loading thanks to the Bullet Guiding Muzzle.

    Before we get into how this rifle shoots, we would like to talk  about the Bullet Guiding Muzzle.  Having shot CVA's on our last hunt, we kind of took for granted its benefit: i.e., no canting or deformation of the bullet as you load it into the barrel prior to using the ramrod.  However, on the range earlier this month we had the opportunity to load and fire several other brands of muzzleloaders (they shall remain nameless except in personal communications).  With the sole exception of the Savage 10MLII, which is no longer made, all of the others required us to literally pound the bullet starter to get a second and third round loaded.  Not only was it hard on the hands and a pain in the butt, but it required far too much time for there being any possibility of an effective second shot.  Not so with the Bullet Guiding Muzzle, on our Prickly Pear hunt, we both reloaded in plenty of time for a second shot (which wasn't needed).  In our tests on the range with the Accura MR, we've loaded and fired ten rounds, without swabbing, and with any difficulty. You can't appreciate the bullet guiding muzzle until you've had it and then don't have it.

    Another feature of the Accura MR is the DuraSight One-Piece Rail Base/Ring System.  Again, it is something that we took for granted as being really cool and an extra benefit on CVA rifles.  The DuraSight mount makes it very easy to mount a scope and is inherently more stable than standard mounts.  The reason being is that there are fewer screws involved that can come loose over time.  It just makes sense... a one-piece mount with two top rings versus a system with two bases,  two ring bases and two tops...... three to six.  No contest on that point.  

     If you get the idea that we are really impressed with this gun, you are  right.  All that remains is to see if it shoots like it handles.

    The trigger pull on the
Accura MR was 3 lbs out of the box, very crisp, without creep. 

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Here are the loading components that Jim and Mary Clary used to test the the new .50 caliber CVA Accura MR Black Nitride model rifle for NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING. 

    We adjusted it down to 2 lbs to match our target rifles.  CVA should be commended for not installing a “lawyer’s trigger” on their rifle. With a target rifles' trigger pull, it was easy to shoot accurate groups.

     Unfortunately, we were only able to conduct our tests with IMR
White Hots and Hodgdon Triple7 pellets, as we had exhausted our supply of Blackhorn 209 and Alliant Black MZ powder.  We will do additional testing with those powders when we get restocked.

    During this testing, we fired multiple three 3-shot groups at 100 yards with each bullet listed below, letting the barrel cool between shoots. In our first test we used two
White Hots pellets and standard Winchester 209 shotgun primers. We used a Sinclair tripod front rest and rear bag for stability to get the greatest possible accuracy from our testing.  With the black nitride treated barrel, we did not have to swab between shots.  However, we did clean the barrel between each 3-shot group.

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Accura MR 100-yard four-shot group punched with two White Hots pellets and 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullet.

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Accura MR 100-yard three-shot group punched with two White Hots pellets and 250-grain Powerbelt AeroLite bullet.


                  Here's The Accuracy We Got With White Hots Pellets...

              Harvester  Scorpion PT Gold 300 Grain:  Smallest Group 1 1/4" - Largest Group 1 1/2"
              Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 260 Grain:  Smallest Group 3/4" - Largest Group 1 1/8"
              Powerbelt AeroLite 250 Grain:  Smallest Group 1.0" - Largest Group 1 1/4"
              Hornady SST* 250 Grain: Smallest Group 7/8" - Largest Group 1 1/4"
              
*Note:  The bullet shot was the Traditions packaged version of the Hornady SST, sold as the 
                "SMACKDOWN SST", with a yellow polymer tip.
 

 

    We repeated our test with two Triple7 pellets and standard Winchester 209 shotgun primers. The results were very similar.  Once again, with the black nitride treated barrel, we did not have to swab between shots, only cleaning the barrel between each 3-shot group


                     Here's The Accuracy We Got With Triple7 Pellets...

               Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 300 Grain:  Smallest Group 1 1/2" - Largest Group 1 5/8" 
               Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 260 Grain:  Smallest Group 7/8" - Largest Group 1 1/8"
               Powerbelt AeroLite 250 Grain:  Smallest Group 1 1/8" - Largest Group 1 3/8"
               Hornady SST* 250 Grain:  Smallest Group 1.0" - Largest Group 1 1/4"
                 *Note:  The bullet shot was the Traditions packaged version of the Hornady SST, sold as the                 
                 "SMACKDOWN SST", with a yellow polymer tip. 

    Now, my (Jim) only problem is getting Mary to let me use the new Accura MR for Aoudad in the fall.  But, I am afraid that she is going to insist on using it for her Blackbuck hunt. Guess I'll have to use my Optima V2 which is a proven game getter. The Accura MR absolutely loves 250/260 grain bullets. With either White Hots or Triple7 pellets, it consistently shot tight groups.  It didn't fare quite as well with 300 grain bullets.  However, that was not a surprise, as very few guns will shoot great with all bullet weights or powders.  That being said, the accuracy of all the bullets we tested was more than adequate for hunting any North American game animals.  

     This new
Accura MR is a muzzleloader that is long overdue.  With the black nitride Bergara barrel, it leaves nothing to be desired.  Even if you already have a "favorite" muzzleloader, you should consider buying this one.  You won't regret it and will probably wind up using the rifle most of the time.

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Choosing The Right Sabot & Bullet Combo For Your Bore

 

By Toby Bridges

 

 

      Back in the early 1990s, I attended a meeting to help try establish some standards for muzzleloading, including standardizing bore sizes. Knight Rifles, Thompson/Center Arms, Connecticut Valley Arms, and other major muzzleloading rifle manufacturers or importers were there, and so were four or five muzzleloading bullet makers. And, I am sorry to say...Not much ever came of that meeting, other than the realization that the muzzleloading industry is the most non-standardized segment of the shooting and hunting industry.

 

Back then, in 1993, rifles sold as ".50 caliber" had bores ranging from as tight as .499" (Gonic) to as loose as .504-.505" (White Rifles). And that much variation had created quite a dilemma for those manufacturing bullets for the so-called .50 caliber muzzle-loaded rifles - or for the .45 & .54 caliber rifles at that time as well. This was especially true with "bore-sized" bullets.


The saving grace of this era of muzzleloader development was the plastic saboted bullet. The resiliency and compressability (new word) of the polymers used to produce sabots made it possible to use the same sabot and bullet combinations in various diameter bores - that is, within a reasonable variation of bore diameters. The fact remained that, at that time, a sabot that fit tight enough to be shot with some degree of accuracy from a .504" White Rifles bore could not even come close to being forced into a .005" smaller diameter .499" Gonic Arms .50 caliber rifle. Likewise, the sabot and bullet combo that loaded properly in the tighter bore would literally fall down the looser bore.

 

CR Sabot

 

 

 

 

Shot from a .502-.503 bore, the tighter fitting red .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot and 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold", propelled by 120-grains of Blackhorn 209, punched the very impressive 1-hole 3-shot group shown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In regard to the variations in the diameter of .50 caliber bores of various modern in-line rifle makers, things have gotten somewhat better. And that's mostly due to those companies that were at the outer edges of what was considered a "nominal bore" diameter not selling enough rifles to remain in business. Still, today's popular .50 caliber fast-twist sabot-shooting bores can vary in diameter as much as .002" to .003" - from the same manufacturer, thanks to wear on the tooling used to produce their barrels.
 

The .50 caliber rifles produced by Knight Rifles all feature Green Mountain barrels, and are some of the closest tolerance muzzleloader barrels produced today. Typically, a .50 caliber Knight in-line ignition rifle will have a bore diameter of .500" to .501". And on rare occasion, a rifle may leave the factory with a bore closer to .502". Thompson/Center Arms .50 caliber barrels are typically .501-.502", with some .50 caliber bores pushing .503". Traditions, CVA and MDM .50 caliber bores generally run .502-.503". And depending on the hardness of the steels used, by about a thousand rounds most of these barrels will show a minute amount of wear - opening, maybe, another .001".


Now, .001"....002"....003" isn't much variation when looking at the gap between the jaws of a set of calipers. In fact, you have to hold it up in front of a bright light to even see an extremely slight gap of .002" between those jaws. But that small amount of difference can make all the difference in the world when trying to obtain optimum accuracy with a saboted bullet - that you are trying to get to group inside of a 2-inch circle at the distance of a football field.


The .50 caliber Knight "Long Range Hunter" I shoot and hunt with more than any other muzzleloader has a bore that's right at .501". This rifle loads relatively easily with the Harvester Muzzleloading .50x.45 black "Crush Rib" Sabot and a .451-.452" bullet. Shooting my favored 260- or 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold", propelled by a 110- or 120-grain charge of either Blackhorn 209 or FFFg Triple Seven, the rifle will consistently keep groups inside of 1 1/2 inches at 100 yards - often tighter when the operator (me) is up to the task that day.

 

Scorpion PT Gold

 

 

 


The 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold" (far right) is shown here with a prototype 350-grain version of the bullet, to be available soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last fall (2008), I helped another shooter sight in his well used .50 caliber Knight DISC Extreme model. He was impressed by the accuracy of the Green Mountain barrel of my rifle, and wanted to shoot the same load. With the same powder charge, sabot and bullet, and with the same exact scope (Hi-Lux HPML) as on my rifle, the best we could do was to get the poly-tipped 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold" to group inside of 2 1/4 inches. But, during loading, I noticed that the black "Crush Rib" and .451" bullet tended to load noticeably easier. I surmised that the bore was .001-.002" larger - so switched to the red .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot. This particular sabot is several thousandths of an inch larger in diameter, designed for maintaining more compression of the smokeless powder charges shot out of the Savage Model 10MLII muzzleloader. The slightly tighter fit, which still loads easily due to the "Crush Rib" design of this sabot, made all the difference in the world. Shooting 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 and the 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold" (with the red .50x.45 sabot), we had his rifle punching 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch groups in short order.
 

Scorpion PT Gold grouping

 

 

 

When time is taken to find the optimum powder charge and optimum bullet-sabot combination, today's in-line rifles are capable of this degree of accuracy.  This groups was shot with the black .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot and 300-grain "Scorpion PT Gold" - out of a Knight .50 "Long Range Hunter".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another .50 caliber rifle I shoot often is one of the MDM break-open "QuicShooter" Magnum models. The bore on the rifle I have runs between .502 and .503". And the rifle shoots well with the black .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot and .451" diameter "Scorpion" or "Scorpion PT Gold". Typically, groups with the latter in 300 grains will be inside of 1 1/2 inches at a hundred yards (ahead of 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 or BlackMag 3). After seeing the big improvement with accuracy in the aforementioned .50 Knight DISC Extreme when switching to the slightly tighter fitting red .50x.45 sabot, I gave them a try in the "QuicShooter" Magnum - and discovered a rifle fully capable of punching sub 1-inch groups.

 

MDM QuicShooter
The MDM break open "QuicShooter" Magnum has a .502-.503" diameter bore, and performs best with the slightly over diameter red .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot.

 

If you are just so-so pleased with the accuracy you are now getting with your .50 caliber in-line rifle, especially if the groups you are shooting are running 2 to 3 inches at a hundred yards, maybe it's time to do some experimenting. A good start may be to run down to a local machine shop and see if you can get them to measure the land-to-land measurement of your bore. Knowing the exact bore size will help you choose the right Harvester Muzzleloading sabot. If the bore runs .500-.502", the black .50x.45 sabot may be the one you need to be loading with. If the bore runs .503-.504", chances are the red .50x.45 "Crush Rib" sabot will help tighten those hundred yard groups.


Experimenting to find the optimum sabot and bullet combination for any particular rifle is half the fun of owning...shooting...and hunting with a modern in-line rifle.


One combination I am looking forward to doing more with in the future is a new .458" diameter 350-grain "Scorpion PT Gold" that Harvester Muzzleloading is looking at bringing to market. I've been loading and shooting prototypes of the big bullet in my Knight "Long Range Hunter", shooting 120-grains of Blackhorn 209, and have found one hard-hitting elk combination that shoots well under an inch at a hundred yards with regularity. While the black .50x.45 "Crush Rib" Sabot has been designed to be loaded with a .451-.452" diameter bullet, it still loads well with the .006-.007" larger diameter .458" bullet. In fact, it loads easier than Harvester Muzzleloading's competition .451-.452 bullets when using their non-ribbed sabots.

 

 

Toby Bridges

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The Scorpion PT Gold Performs The Way A Bullet Should Perform

 

By Toby Bridges

 

            Warmer than usual temperatures through the Fall of 2008 had made hunting tough.  Although on several hunts I had managed to take a couple of big adult does for the freezer, I just couldn't catch up with a decent whitetail buck.   And what made the situation especially frustrating was the fact that I was hunting with one of the most accurate muzzle-loaded rifle, scope and load combinations I had ever packed into the field.

            Through the spring and summer, I had conducted a great deal of test shooting with loads of the all new powder known as Blackhorn 209, doing the majority of that shooting with one of Knight Rifles' top-of-the-line Long Range Hunter models.  And while I loaded and shot an impressive variety of sabots and bullets, I kept coming back to one combination.  And that was Harvester Muzzleloading's 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold and Crush Rib Sabot.  No other bullet and sabot consistently punched tight hundred yard clusters as well as this copper-plated polymer-tipped spire point.

            My first hunt with the newest of Harvester Muzzleloading's electroplated bullets was during the 2006 season.  I had managed to stick with a late, and cold, muzzleloader hunt, until a nice ten-pointer stepped out at almost 200 yards.  That fall, I had been testing a new multi-reticule muzzleloader hunting scope for Hi-Lux Optics, and with a 110-grain charge of FFFg Triple Seven, I had the Knight .50 caliber Long Range Hunter regularly printing the lighter 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold inside of an inch at 100 yards.  And using the 200-yard cross-bar reticule of the scope, it was just a matter of holding "dead center" of the chest cavity and squeezing off the shot.  The sleek poly-tipped spire-point caught the deer perfectly, and the buck went down after only about a 30 yard run.

            For the 2007 season hunts, I'd made a few changes to what most would have considered a "perfect combo".  One was a switch to the 300-grain version of this bullet.  The other was a switch to Blackhorn 209.  In fact, I was shooting and hunting with some pre-production powder, nearly 9 months before it hit the market.  And with a 110-grain charge, it was getting the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold out of the muzzle of the 27-inch Knight rifle barrel at 1,945 f.p.s. - with 2,521 foot-pounds of energy.   And at a hundred yards, the big bullet would often produce three-shot groups with all three holes touching.  My switch to the heavier, and slightly longer bullet was take advantage of its higher ballistic coefficient.  Through comparative shooting to determine bullet drop from 100 to 200 yards, I had determined that the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold has a b.c. of about .220, while the 300 grain version enjoys a higher .250 to .255 b.c.

            A 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 gets the 260 grain bullet on its way at 2,039 f.p.s., with 2,401 f.p.e.  Out at 200 yards the load retains 1,409 f.p.s., and hits with 1,146 f.p.e.  On the other hand, the heavier 300-grain bullet gets out of the muzzle almost 100 f.p.s. slower, but thanks to the added weight, with more energy.  Due to its higher b.c., the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold is actually flying at a slightly higher velocity out at 200 yards - 1,414 f.p.s.  And that translates into a harder hitting hunting bullet at longer range.  The load hits with 1,329 foot-pounds of retained knockdown power at 200 yards.

 

            Through my previous season (2006), I had harvested 11 does and that one ten-point buck with the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold - from as close as 35 yards to the 191 yard shot that had taken the buck.  All had been one-shot kills - and 35 yards was the farthest any traveled after being shot.  So I wasn't too surprised to find that the snappier load of Blackhorn 209 and heavier 300-grain bullet grounded the whitetails even quicker.  During the 2007 season, I managed to take 7 does and 2 bucks with the bullet - and only one went more than 10 yards after being hit.

            While doing all of that test shooting with Blackhorn 209 through much of 2008, I had inched my hunting charge up to 120-grains.  And that amount of the powder gets the 300 grain Harvester Muzzleloading spire-point out of the Knight Long Range Hunter at 2,072 f.p.s.  At the muzzle, the load is good for 2,856 f.p.e.  When it gets to 200 yards, the bullet retains just over 1,500 f.p.s. - and hits with right at 1,500 foot-pounds of punch.  And the fact that I had a rifle and load that could deliver that kind of 200-yard performance, and often keep 200-yard groups right at 2 1/2 inches, is what made it so frustrating not to be able to find a good buck on my first three hunts that fall.   But, on my last hunt of the season, the Nebraska muzzleloader deer season in December, my luck changed.

            I had put together a .50 caliber Knight DISC Extreme and Hi-Lux Optics scope combo for another hunter, who had to cancel out on the hunt at the last moment.  Just before heading to Nebraska, I had sighted that rifle and scope in with 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 and the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold - and the combination had been a tack driver.  So, for the first couple of days of the hunt, I chose to pack that rifle - hoping I could take a good buck, and a few good photos, and rub it in on what the other hunter had missed.  But...just two hours into my first evening hunt...a wide eight-pointer made the mistake of standing broadside on a small rise 130-yards away.  The 260-grain spire-point dropped the deer where it stood.

 

            I purchased my second tag, and spent the next couple of days looking at a lot of deer - both whitetails and mule deer.  However, the weather was still warm for that time of the year - with afternoon highs into the 50s.  The big bucks just weren't moving.  The promise of snow and colder temperatures late in the afternoon meant the deer would likely feed a little early - so I headed for a large winter wheat field where the deer on this ranch usually headed to get a belly full of feed when bad weather was on the way.

            I was in place, using a brush blind thrown together along the southeastern edge of the green wheat field, by 2 that afternoon.  And about two hours later, the deer began to pour into the field.  Temperatures dropped 20 or more degrees in that time and the snow was beginning to fly.  About 30 minutes before dark, a heavy horned ten-pointer ran a doe out into the field.  The buck stood with its rear toward me, not offering much of a shot.  The doe then started angling across the field, stopping every ten or so yards - and the ten-pointer followed.   I followed the deer with the scope, and when the buck turned just enough to offer a perfect angling shot, I looked up over the scope to get a feel for the range - I guessed 160 yards.  The primary crosshair settled about where I guessed the rear rib to be, and I let it drift upward about 2 or 3 inches to allow for the small amount of bullet drop at that range.   The doe stopped again...and so did the buck. 

            My finger tightened on the trigger and the rifle barked, followed a split second later by the hollow-sounding "wallop" of the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold driving home.  The buck made a dash for the heavy cover along the fence line surrounding the field, but only made it 30 yards and rolled.  The mature 160-class buck was a great way to finish off a pretty lackluster season.  When I field dressed the deer, I was amazed at the damage done to internal organs.  When I skinned the buck a couple of days later, the expanded bullet was found just under the hide of the opposite front shoulder.  After penetrating through 25 or 26 inches of whitetail, passing through hide, muscle and bone, the recovered very nicely expanded bullet still weighed right at 270 grains.  In other words, it retained 90-percent of its original weight.

 

            The Scorpion PT Gold bullets perform exactly how I like a hunting bullet to perform.  First, they are extremely accurate.  Second, thanks to the electroplated copper outer surface, there's no separation of "jacket and core".  Third, even if 30-percent of the bullet is shed as it passes through a big game animal, the extremely tough base holds the rear of the bullet together - insuring deep penetration, and as often as not a pass through shot.  And the little lead and copper that's thrown off from the expanded front as it spins through hide, muscle and bone only exaggerates the wound cavity and energy transfer. 

 

            This is exactly what a great hunting bullet is supposed to do!

            Since first shooting and hunting with the Scorpion PT Gold back in 2006, combined I've now taken 26 deer and a half-dozen wild hogs with the 260 and 300 grain versions of this bullet.  None have run off to die somewhere else.  In fact, none have even made it to 40 yards.

 

 300 PT Gold - Expanded

The expanded 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold shown in the center traveled through 25 or 26 inches of the author's 2008 whitetail buck - and retained right at 90 percent of its original weight.
 

Bottom Exp 300 Sc PT Gold

The front half of the bullet recovered from the author's buck had expanded to over .700" across.

 300-grain Sc PT Gold - With target

The author of this article does a lot of test shooting for several companies in the muzzleloading industry, and has found the 300 Scorpion PT gold to be one of the most accurate and best performing muzzle-loaded hunting bullets available today.

 2008 Ten Pointer

After a slow start, the author's 2008 season ended with a bang - and this great northern Nebraska ten-pointer, taken with an angling shot with the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold.

 

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