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Randy Garrett is an extremely nice person. He and his wife of many years live in Chehalis Wa. Randy is honest and straight forward... when I casually mentioned to him one day that I had coined the name Hammerhead for a bullet that Ed Wosika and I designed back in 1986. He immediately said he would withdraw the name from his products, from Garrett Cartridges, Inc. And I insisted that he shouldn’t, that I couldn’t think of a better bullet to be named HAMMERHEAD, than his design and products.

Randy is very straight forward, intelligent and an interesting person. He is head and shoulders over the rest at manufacturing 44 magnum and 45-70 custom ammo for large game animals. Those are his two product lines. And for those folks that understand what it means...... Randy is one you can ride the river with....

It may sound strange that a custom ammo producer would limit himself and his business to only two cartridge/calibers. But this decision on his part has given him the time to spend concentrating on 44 magnum and the 45-70 development, perfecting of those two, to finest custom standards developed so far. His research is vast and thorough.

I received a Ruger S/A 44 magnum Hunter back about a year or more ago.... and had no real commercial control ammo for a baseline in testing the gun, testing my handloads, and normal mass produced commercial ammo in it... Randy came to the rescue with his very fine 310 grain 44 mag/Hammerheads.

Both the 330 grain and the 310 grain have .320 meplats. This ammo has taken nearly all the large game animals in North America from Texas thru Canada up thru Alaska. It is noted that on a frontal chest shot on a boar grizzly the 330 grain load and ‘SuperHardCast’ bullet penetrates all the way back to the hips. And with that broad flat meplat the damage must be extensive. The 330 gain 44s are for guns like Ruger’s Redhawk and such. The 310s are for the other guns listed right on the ammo’s yellow plastic boxes of 50. It is the pressure and the length of the loaded round in the 330 that precludes it from the smaller guns. Randy in his advertising states also that in rifles the 330 grainer is too long to cycle in the leverguns... generally true but I have a 92 (Legacy) and a Winchester 94 that will cycle them.... I have others that won’t...

Taking the Hunter and ½ a dozen different 44 magnum handloads, and five different commercial ammo types plus the Garrett Hammerheads to the range on a cool February day for testing, I came away shaking my head, I didn’t expect the kind of accuracy I got from the Garrett loads.

But first off with a new gun it needs to be broken in a bit.... I ran 50 or so of my rounds thru it, to set the Ruger open sights, and then another fifty or so to sight in the Simmons handgun scope, and to settle in the new gun. I started with a new Tasco scope but it couldn’t stand the pleasure of the recoil of my handloads.... this is unusual because I have Tasco scopes that date all the way back to the 1970s. And have never before had this kind of failure with them...

The Ruger S/A Hunter has a barrel rib that takes Ruger scope rings which came with the gun.... And this allows the quick removal of the scope to use the open sights... then returning the scope with no change in point of impact (poi). Simply using a penny to tighten and untighten the rings, because they are well designed.

After the 100 or so rounds, I figured the Ruger was settled in enough to start accuracy testing of loads... and I shot a 5 shot Garrett 310 grain control group off a handgun rest on the range bench. A gun rest called the Paco/Taffin gun rest.... at 25 yards +. Of course friend John Taffin calls it the Taffin/Paco gun rest. It is simply a tightly rolled up hunk of carpet... it tends to take the recoil of the gun with out the usual bounce you get from solid rests. At twenty five yards the five 310 grain Garrett Hammerheads went into one ragged hole 6/10ths of an inch. This was with the scope.... With apologies to Randy, I knew this was a fluke... so I fired another test group... swallowed hard and then another... and I had three ragged holes in the target.... None of the rest of the loads I fired that day could match the accuracy of those 310 grain Hammerheads.

Thinking it could be that the Ruger just liked the Garrett ammo, that happens with guns and ammo sometimes. You find one load that just performs like a show pony, in one certain gun. So I broke out my 5 inch S&W model 29, 44 magnum. This is an older nickeled version, it was a trade/gift from John Taffin. I usually keep this gun and it’s loads set for personal security, woods walking, and close range predator elimination. The normal load for this gun, Cast Perfection 280 grain hard cast bullets over 18 grains of 2400. A medium load with much power. Rarely do I put higher pressures than that thru this fine old S&W. But for testing verification, I put five 310 grain Garrett hammerheads thru it... bingo 3/4s of an inch at 25 yards. I broke out my Son’s 1892 44 magnum rifle... five rounds under an inch and a half at 75 yards. With that’s with my old eyes, and less than acceptable (for me), original open sites.

I have since tested the other 44 magnum load (330 grain) that Randy offers and have found them to be of the same quality as the 310s. I think everyone that owns and reveres the 44 magnum and hunts with it, should have two boxes of Garrett’s 44 magnums on his shelf. You have to see what a Hammerhead 310/44 mag will do when it punches through a feral pig or black bear, to believe it. They are designed for deer to elk in weight and power. The 330 grainers are designed for larger game like moose, the big bears, and such....

As for the 45-70s, do you want to hunt the world... want to go to Africa and hunt the world’s largest game... you want to bring down a 1500 lb Cape Buffalo and/or a 14,000 lb elephant? But you don’t want to pay $1500+ dollars for the bolt action rifle to do it with.......

Randy Garrett has solved that problem for you. As most know I belong to a very special group of shooters called the SHOOTISTS.. We are shooting industry people, gun writers, gun designers, custom gun builders, custom ammo producers, lots of lawmen that really know guns, and much more. We like to think we are the top 100 in the industry.. Probably not fully true... but some of our members certainly fit that description.

Mic McPherson is one of us... Mic is a gun writer of the first order with several books to his credit, including the classic reloading and pressure manual, the 3rd Edition of METALLIC CARTRIDGE RELOADING... and hundreds of articles. Good sound shooting information... he’s the guru we go to for pressure data.. And his work in glass bedding and slicking up leverguns is extraordinary. Mic is a powerfully built man, as my sainted grandmother would say, he is a ‘bear of a man’.

At the Shootist Holiday a year back, I was showing off my Gary Reeder custom Marlin 45-70. And having the Shootists fire it with Randy Garrett’s very fine 540 grain 45-70 Hammerheads. Now this load will get your attention.. In the field hunting you won’t notice it... but any other time, better have a decelerator pad on your levergun!

The Shootists that tried Garrett’s Big Game 540 grain 45-70 loads in my Marlin (I have since put a decelerator pad on it), all said about the same thing... they would love to use them on Elk, Moose, Cape Buffalo, big Bears, etc... each one choosing what they would love to hunt with them. But I noticed each Shootist only wanted to fire one round... it got there attention. And even the bear of a man, Mic McPherson only fired two. All elephant level loads kick like hell in any caliber or cartridge. This Garrett load was designed for ultra-big game and it performs that way. Want to go to Africa with a rifle that is more of an all around rifle than the 375s, 458s, and such. A rifle that costs much less than half the cost of an African Grade rifle, but yet performs just as well on big game and is more versatile from small game to elephants?

A Marlin 45-70 and Garrett’s 540 grain Hammerhead PlusP will do the job and do it very well... just a look at Garrett’s web site and the photos of the African and Alaskan game taken with this load, it’s an eye opener. I don’t know about others.. But I find my Marlin 45-70, is a handier rifle to use than the big magnum bolt actions... and certainly is faster to rechamber the next round, than the bolt guns ever could be... and speed in rechambering can become a forefront issue if you start wacking lions, or grizzles, or brown bears, and a number of others in this world.

There is also his 420 grain Hammerhead PlusP is designed for all the thin skinned animals from deer, pigs, up to moose weight, less recoil but just as deadly on them....

Garrett is not content to sit on his laurels with just the SuperHardCast Hammerhead PlusP line of 45-70... he has recently introduced a very custom line of 45-70 ammo that is absolutely the epitome for the big ones, those that weigh not in pounds but tons, those that are thin skinned but don’t know it and bite back savagely, given the chance...

The 500 gr +P Speer AGS Tungsten Solid near 1600 fps is the ultimate killer of the worlds largest game animals, in wonderful leveraction rifles that are truly able to be used and fired often by normal hunters. I have fired some of the Mega-Bores like the 600 Nitro express and even others routinely are larger. We once had a line of cars behind us by 10 to 12 yards, and set off their car alarms from the concussion of firing a 600 Nitro in the opposite direction of the cars. .. It was that bad. The recoil can only be described as brutal, some of these Mega-Bores can be potentially damaging to the shooter, if more than a few shots are taken. Certainly a terrible flinch comes about... and detached retinas are not unheard of....

Tungsten is harder/stronger than steel... and to clear a way a misunderstanding with some... Tungsten is heavier than lead! It is Titanium that is lighter than steel. This round called the EXITER has more penetration than the 458 Winchester and 500 Nitro Express with solids, and has higher Taylor KO values at 100 yards, than the 375 H&H has at the muzzle. All this and the pressure of this load is only 35,000 cup. These were tested against each other at the Linebaugh Shooter’s conference. The Exiter routinely out penetrated the other 458s like the 458 Winchester Magnum... by many inches.

These bullets do not upset in the least and have a direct and the deep penetration in Elephant and Rhino... they are not cheap. But they are when wedded to the Marlin 45-70s for the world’s largest game animals. The Marlins become big game rifles in compact, easy to swing, quick to point, and fast to recharge the chamber, Elephant rifles. Recoil? You bet but it is less than some .458 Winchesters I have used.

And then there is the Garrett SuperJack 45-70 Ammo, they come in 350 and 500 grain Australian Woodleigh Weld-Core bullets. These have heavy jackets with bonded cores for excellent bullet integrity for all thin skin game up to moose if you use the 350 grainers. And Grizzly, Bison, and even Cape Buffalo with the 500 grainers. Both these bullets have a frontal meplat of .330 and expand without rupture to about .700 caliber in the large game they are designed for.

There is a misconception that high velocity is needed to generate power to take down the big animals of this world. But this one area that has proven that heavy mass bullets at moderate velocity will penetrate much deeper then the same bullets at much higher speeds. Many have asked me in the past why this is so.... few even in the bullet industry understand why this happens..

It’s basic velocity/mass resistance, pure rules of physics. Take two bullets basically the same type in the big 458s.... push one like the 510 grain 458 Winchester solid at 2000 + fps.... and the same bullet at 1600 fps. The 2000+ bullet builds up more mass resistance in front of it, because of it’s higher entrance velocity in the animal (in essence it’s harder push slows it down more) and slows much quicker... the 1600 + velocity bullet doesn’t build as much mass resistance so it slows down at much less a rate, and thus goes deeper. Push a solid block of dense material with the palm of your hand.... then up the velocity of your hand and slap the block, the block moves less, and the back energy produced by the blocks resistance to higher velocity/mass is felt in your palm... You can push your palm down thru water, but hit it hard enough with hand speed and you get the same back resistance.

So that’s the story of a fine man and his bullets and custom ammo.

GARRETT Cartridges, Inc. A sound company offering very specialized custom ammo in 44 magnum and 45-70 run by a prince of a person Randy Garrett... give his web site a try, www.GarrettCartridges.com  You wont be disappointed.

PS from a user of Garrett Ammuntion:


One heck of a great article! Paco was right on every single count! Especially the statement ... "Randy is one you can ride the river with".

I staked my life on him (via his Hammerhead cartridges) while on my safaris in Africa and they (he) came through better than can be believed. Take a look at www.vincelupo.com and you will see what I am talking about!

Again I say BRAVO to Paco, but also BRAVO to www.leverguns.com for posting such a wonderful article!

Vincent R. Lupo 






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