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Ram Air: a new big bore hunting video

by B.B. Pelletier

First, an apology from yesterday. The blog would not accept comments until MajorKonig pointed it out to me. Blogger’s default, which they hide from you in editing, is to not accept comments. This one time I forgot to go in and change that. Blogger software has recently been “upgraded,” which I am sure has made some people very happy. For me, the changes have increased the workload. I work on a Mac platform with a Mac-specific browser and Blogger is apparently PC-dominated. Recent changes have disabled one of my favorite browser from working with the Blogger software.

Are you interested in hunting with an airgun? Do you want to see how big bore airguns perform in the field? Well, if you do, there’s a new hunting video from Bigbore Video Productions that fills both requirements.

Eric Henderson is a big bore airgun hunter who makes videos of hunts so more people can enjoy the sport. He hunts in the U.S. and in South Africa, and he introduces other airgunners to the sport at the same time.

Maybe you own a Big Bore 909 from Sam Yang or a .50 caliber Dragon-Slayer, and you wonder how and where it can be used. Eric takes seven other hunters and himself on several hunts at the Wildlife Ranch in Mason, Texas, where they hunt exotic animals such as Jacob 4-horn sheep, Ibex, Catalina goat, axis deer, fallow deer, Texas dall sheep, aoudad sheep, Black Hawaiian sheep, mouflon sheep, corsicans, elk, red deer and many other species. The ranch is open year-round, so anyone can fit this kind of hunting into their schedule.

Wildlife Ranch has leased 20 different ranches located near the Mason area, so the hunting area is expansive. The game has every advantage. In other words, you really have to hunt!

Each hunter is guided by the ranch, which is included in the fee. Eric goes along with each hunter to record the event both for them and for you.

If you’ve watched hunting shows on television, there are two differences between what you see there and this video. First, Eric usually shows you the entire approach to the game. There’s no cutting to commercials or cutaways to interview celebrities. It’s all just hunting. Oh, he does interview the hunter, but not during the action.

The second difference is one that took me some time to appreciate. I have hunted quite a bit with modern centerfires, and I’m used to one-shot kills that drop the game quickly through hydrostatic shock. Hunting with a big bore airgun isn’t like that. It’s more like bow hunting, where the game takes some time to bleed out and expire. The big bullets move slowly compared to a bullet from a centerfire rifle. But they weigh many times as much as the centerfire bullet does, so when they hit they penetrate very deep. If your aim is good, they’re just as effective as supersonic bullets, but the kill usually takes longer. Bowhunters will be familiar with this kind of hunting; but, for someone used to a small, fast bullet, it takes some time to adjust your thinking.

And, Eric doesn’t edit the time between the shot and the kill, like they do on TV. You watch the entire hunt, just as though you were with the hunters.

The Texas scrub country where they hunt is wide open and strewn with rocky outcroppings, so stalking is possible but tricky. The ground crunches with every step that’s not on rock, so stealth is important, because these animals are very wary.

One thing that surprised me were the number of shots that completely penetrated the animal! Elmer Keith wrote extensively that slow-moving lead bullets or balls would out-penetrate a lightweight .30 caliber bullet from a .30/06, and these hunts seem to bear that out. The shots are taken at 50-90 yards and at least one time Eric slows the motion enough that you can actually see the 405-grain lead slug fly from the rifle to the target.

Besides the hunts, there is footage of the ranch. You become familiar with how they operate, and you get the feeling that this is something you could do. Between hunts, Eric shows you examples of the other exotic game on the ranch, and some of those shots are idyllic. I remember in Europe where a red deer might have cost several thousand dollars (back in he 1970s) and you got only one if your name was drawn from a lottery. Here there are plenty of them!

There are two separate hunts on this video. The second one is a much larger group of hunters, and one hunter, Big Bore Bob, takes his animal with an antique outside lock rifle equipped with open sites. This one shot a round ball, so you don’t need those big slugs to do the job.

If you ever needed motivation to buy a big bore air rifle, here is more than one hour of it in the comfort of your own home.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

25 thoughts on “Ram Air: a new big bore hunting video”

  1. BB,are thease big bore air guns accurate,if shots are taken between 50 to 90 yrds,where do you place your shot for a kill,i no some people might think its a stupid question,on say a deer would you shoot for a heart as if useing a big bore rifle! if ther is no hydrostatic shock present will a head shot be a good option!

  2. Head shots are never good mostly because the brain takes up only a small portion of the head. I’ve heard stories of jaws being blown off. Even if your of my an in on the head, the above can happen. If you aim for the heart, you’ll get a double lung shot and the animal will drop in a hundred yards.

  3. Nathan,

    Always take a high heart/lung shot with a big bore airgun, if possible. It is nearly always the most effective shot. Head shots are far to iffy, as these animals don’t have large brains.

    Another shot that is very popular is the “Texas heart shot,” which can only be taken when the animal is walking directly away from you.


  4. Ok, I think I got the green light from BB, so here’s a small list that may help some.


    I’ll only mention two that are the most famous. There are others too, but these are the most talked about.

    50 Dragonslayer : A .50 caliber, reputedly VERY accurate but a little lacking in power if you want to take down big hogs, that is. Appropriate for smaller hogs and deer.

    44 SamYang : Supposed to be harder hitting than the Dragonslayer and good accuracy too. You can read about these two guns on Pyramyd’s site itself. And all external reviews indicate that they are quite good. In fact, the Sam Yang is even compared to DAQ’s 50 Bandit (in stock form, unaltered). Talk about a compliment !!!


    50 Bandit : A .50 caliber gun, shoots roundball and gets around 250 fpe. The idea is to have a gun that has the power to take hogs and deer, but not let the shot carry too far. This is accomplished by using the roundball. Tuning can take it upto 500 fpe with heavier slugs. This changes the basic concept of the gun as you are now using bullets and not roundball.

    308 Exile : This is a .308 caliber, barrel optimised to shoot spitzers rather than roundball. You could of course shoot them if you wanted. Power is around 220 fpe with 120 gr. conicals. 150 grs have also been used to jack up the power. This is more of a long range gun as opposed to the Bandit, owing to the use of spitzers. Muzzle energy may be lower than the Bandit’s, but at say 100 yards or so, it would have more power left. This gun has taken coyote / deer at around 100 yards and more. Zach Allen has shot impressive groups at 200 yards with the Exile.

    457 LA Outlaw : The absolute bad boy of them all, in my opinion. Gets anywhere between 500 and 600 fpe using abt 500 gr. slugs. This is the gun that has taken the biggest game. Elk, kudu and bison have all fallen to this gun. Eric H. has ‘target shot’ a drum at 500 yards with the Outlaw.

    457 Destroyer : This is a dump gun as they call it. Empties itself on every shot. Shoots roundball at around 950 fps. Supposed to be extremely light. Has been used to take hogs and goats.

    58 Beast : The newest horse in the stable. A .58 caliber, it gets around 700 – 800 fpe (with tuning). As far as I know, it has’nt been field tested yet.


    The Barnes guns fall in a similar power band. There are too many of them so I cant list them. You can tell Barnes and Quackenbush guns apart very easily. They look VERY different. The Barnes guns are very intricately designed with lots of engraving and artistic wood/metal work.

    The Quackenbush guns look like typical guns you and I know.

  5. BB,

    ” …I’m used to one-shot kills that drop the game quickly through hydrostatic shock”

    Is that cavitation that you are referring to ? I have read something on cavitation as a wounding mechanism of military bullets. Is that the same phenomenon you meant ?

  6. MajorKonig,

    My only understanding of cavitation is when a moving object under water compresses air out of water, causing tiny bubbles to form.

    Hydrostatic shock, as I understand it is a shock wave that passes through liquid-filled tissue and causes massive rupturing of cell walls. The damaged tissue dies instantly. You can also see this shock in ballistic gelatin.


  7. BB,

    What you said is not very different from what I had in mind. And you also mentioned gelatin. You are talking about the funnel-shaped cavity that forms in the gelatin, right ?

    I think its the same thing, just different terms, I guess.

  8. RE: comment to Nathan, “Always take a high heart/lung shot…” –while shot placement is somewhat debateable, aiming 1/3 of the way up, just behind the shoulder, puts the projectile dead center of the vital lung/heart mass. Miss a little high, hit lung; low, hit heart; forward, lung; back, liver. All fatal. With a “high heart/lung shot, a high miss can go into the so-called “black hole” between the vitals and the spine, leaving you with a wounded animal and a not-so-merry, and typically endless, chase. As per the old deer-hunter maxim, “Hit ’em high, wave goodbye”.

  9. B.B.
    For your readers wondering if the big bores are accurate, you betcha! I happen to have a few big bores, just enough to form an opinion. I have a Condor that was modified with a DAQ .308 barrel and a valve that allows about 180 FPE. It shoots conical bullets to roughly 1.5-2 MOA. It is a crude gun but performs pretty well, it would take deer easily. I also have a DragonSlayer .50. That gun is very accurate with Hornady .495 balls. Don’t even bother with other ammo, I’ve been there and done that, you can stack those balls at 50 yards and under and nothing else works as well… The DS puts out about 150 FPE, if it drove 180-190, it might be the perfect factory bigbore! As is, for the price, it’s hard to beat. Accuracy for the DS is around the 1.5 MOA at 40 yards figure. I’m also fortunate enough to own a couple Barnes rifles; a .25 that shoots MOA easy and a Woodsman that shoots close to 1/2 MOA with a .32 insert. The Woodsman puts out 190 FPE+ (as a .32, about 390 FPE as a .62) and is dead accurate. I’ve yet to try it as a .62 smoothbore but with the .32 insert, it shoots like a competition bench gun. If you go to GLBarnes.com (then visit the db page), you can see a couple of my groups and even one my 10 year old shot that shows how good this gun shoots.
    Yes Virginia, big bores are accurate!

  10. Jerry ,

    Is’nt the Woodsman something of a mini Justice ?! Thats what it looks like to me.

    Yes I do recollect seeing your groups. Correct me if I am wrong but you were in the AirForce, yes? Chopper pilot I think.

    I monitor the daily briefing page everyday 🙂 I keep looking out for the range tests of those guns. The video clips of the 100 yard shots are damn good. Seeing a 2 x 4 getting clipped at 100 yards by an airgun slug is certainly a treat to watch !!!

  11. You are correct, the Woodsman is a smaller lighter version of the Justice. I wouldn’t call it “mini” by any strech though. It’s the biggest airgun i own by a good margin, the Justice is just huge!

    I am a former pilot. U.S. Navy though. I try to send pics to Gary from time to time because it appears most of his customers don’t shoot much. That’s a shame because the guns are so good, just looking at them as an investment is silly in my book.

  12. BB,

    Can you define better what is meant by a humane kill? Maybe it’s more of a blog topics than a short answer.

    I’ve seen comments about 57 minutes to take down a bison. I also see discussions on heart shots vs. head shots.

    Is waiting for an animal to bleed out humane?

    I think this would help put some base for all the discussions on caliber, fps, and fpe.

    .22 Mendoza RM-200

  13. Humane kill,

    This is a good question for an ethics class. When I use the term humane I mean without undue suffering.

    According to the guides at the Wildlife Ranch, centerfire rifles can take as long as 45 minutes to finish a bison. The one taken with a big bore airgun expired in 15. But not all game goes that quickly.

    Once in Germany I killed a roe deer that had been wounded for a month. It had lost the use of its left hind leg, and the skin had not healed over the wound., The animal was hobbling around on three legs – but doing well in the late summer when I finished it. However, letting an animal face a winter with a wound like that would have been inhumane.


  14. Comment on Majorkonig’s Cavitation

    I’ve not checked out a ballistics definition on cavitation, however, Wikipedia.org has a good bit on hydrostatic shock, (which they more or less call a misleading name for HYDRODYNAMIC shock). They explain it well, as well as some of the pro’s and con’s of opinions on the subject. Also a link to the subject of stopping power, which I haven’t checked on yet. JP

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