A .40 Caliber Long-Range Rifle
The Black Powder Cartridge News|Summer 2021
During a recent stay in New Zealand, we found ourselves in Rotorua, which is the stomping grounds of expert Kiwi rifleman, Laurie Kerr. Laurie has been a friend since we first met at Raton, New Mexico, a number of years ago and we have managed to stay in relatively good communication ever since.
Steve Garbe

Laurie recently turned more than a few heads by his second-place win at the 2019 World Long Range Muzzleloading Championship and a first-place finish at the 2020 United States National Muzzleloading Championships. We weren’t really surprised; we’ve known for quite a while that Laurie took his shooting very seriously and is a top-notch competitor.

We were fortunate to be passing through that area, so we stopped at Laurie’s house, had a great visit catching up on old times and discussed the new shooting matches in the area. I, naturally, had to question Laurie on the rifle and ammunition he used for his latest long-range competitions. I was struck by the fact that he was using a .40 caliber side-hammer muzzleloader, which most current wisdom deems a too light caliber for 1,000-yard shooting. Laurie is one of the few riflemen shooting from the old “back position” and I wanted to see how he manages to shoot so well from what many consider as an unworkable position. I knew that many readers of The Black Powder Cartridge News would like to know more, so I gathered up the pertinent facts over beer and a burger.

Laurie’s rifle was built by himself, along the lines of the British Henry, Gibbs and Metford long-range rifles of the late 1800s. Like many who are involved in muzzleloading, and particularly in long-range muzzleloading, Laurie does much of his own gunsmithing. He cut the stock pattern out from a nice stable piece of New Zealand English walnut and carefully inlet the barrel and furniture. He also modified the Rod England breech to give more of a direct ignition channel, which has paid dividends in eliminating hangfires and misfires. The rifle is a beauty, exhibiting careful workmanship, pleasing lines and weighs 12¾ pounds with the sights.

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