Forgotten Heroes

By Ian McMurchy

My buddy and I originated in Quinter, Kansas in an old building that used to house a movie theatre. A small group of craftsmen formed our bodies by cutting long pieces of copper pipe into small tubes. Then they ran the tubes of shiny jacket material into a variety of sizing dies and punches.


After one operation, we suddenly had forward and rear sections separated by a heavy midsection of copper. Then they inserted round chunks of lead into each section and ran us through more dies. At one point our upper portions went through an excruciatingly hot bonding process. We were placed into the links of what looked like an old motorcycle chain and dragged through blue flame! Then they dumped us into water to cool us down. After drying, they ran us back into more dies and punches for our final shaping.

After all the manufacturing abuse, we were tumbled for hours in a huge drum filled with sawdust. In fairly short time we were shiny and looked very fine. We were piled into a large box and taken into a quiet room. Then some ladies counted us into boxes and sealed the lids. Seems to me we went for a series of trips. I am not sure since I was sealed inside the cardboard box with forty-nine other A-Frame bullets.

I don't recall much until suddenly the lid was opened and I could see a sign on the wall that said SUPERIOR AMMUNITION. A gentleman took me out of the box and carefully placed me on top of a large cartridge case. He pulled a handle downward and I went up into a dark round cavern until my tip hit a hard object. Although I stopped, the case kept moving and suddenly it was gripping me very tightly up to my midsection. I felt something pushing me from below also, so tightly that the kernels of powder squeezed their shape into my exposed lead bottom core.

At the same time, the mouth of the cartridge suddenly tightened on my midsection. The top of the case crimped into my canelure so tight that there was no way I could move. Then we dropped down, and I was taken out of the reloading press. I realized I was now a part of a loaded .416 Rigby cartridge. The man stood me up in a wooden cartridge block and continued making more ammunition.

Along with nineteen buddies, I was placed into a big black plastic box with individual slots for each cartridge. Then the lid was dropped over us and I rested for several weeks. I recall some more travel, including a long trip by jet airplane. The next time I saw daylight was when some guy pulled the lid off our case, but I was pointing downward and could not see where we were. He slowly took one of my buddies out of our plastic box. A few minutes later there was a huge explosion that rattled all of us in the plastic box. Then he took out another cartridge, and again we were startled by the huge noise. This went on for several shots.

Then he took the cartridge right beside me, but there was no explosion. Suddenly, he reached down and pulled me from my stall and pushed me into an elastic holder on the stock of a strange rifle. The stretchy cloth held me so tightly I could not move. My buddy was right beside me. I could see mountains, water and snow. Later, we went into a tent and the light slowly softened until darkness took over. I heard a wolf howl, and the sound of the wind in nearby trees. The guys in the tent snored in their sleeping bags. They each got up in the middle of the night to go outside for a few minutes.

Next morning, the rifle was leaned against the outside of the tent while the guys ate breakfast. Then we went on several interesting hikes and boat rides. Sometimes I was grabbed and pushed into a tight-fitting chamber, but only for a few hours at a time. Sometimes my buddy got stuffed into the rifle, and I got to wait my turn.

When I was pushed into the chamber, I could smell gun solvent and see light way ahead down a long tube. Eventually, I was taken back out and slipped me into the snug elastic holder beside my buddy. I still didn't know what was happening, but we were definitely in beautiful country.

On the second day, another of our buddies was pushed down the chamber and we experienced a huge explosion. We overheard a man tell another guy that his "zero was good," and we returned to the camp, where we watched the men make freeze-dried meals for supper. Then we went into a tent for the night. The man kept the big rifle beside the bed for some strange reason.

For several days we got into a strange routine. First the man put us and the rifle into a tough rubber case and we walked for a while. Then we heard an outboard motor roar for about an hour. The ride was very rough some days, and we could hear rain on the rubber case. Then he took the rifle out of the case and we went and hid in a group of huge rocks along the river's edge.

Either my buddy or I would be pushed into the chamber and squeezed into position as the rifle closed. There was total darkness. Apparently the end of the barrel had been covered with tape so nothing entered the barrel, not even a bit of light. We spent hours in the rocks or hiking nearby. Seems we were looking for something. They were always talking about glassing and tracks in the snow and sand.

One morning, we watched the men go about their breakfast routine. As usual, the man had taken his rifle out of the little tent and leaned it on the outside near the vestibule. We were in the stretchy elastic holder on the stock of the little rifle. The way the rifle was leaning had us facing the second tent where the men huddled out of the icy wind.
We saw them start a small stove so they could boil water for coffee, hot chocolate and instant porridge. The youngest guide came out of the tent and sat down with the two older guys. After a few minutes he stood up and looked around the tent and started shouting. Something about bears charging camp!

We saw the hunter running fast straight to us. He grabbed the rifle and headed back to the other tent. After throwing off the big black Scope Coat that protected the Nikon scope he broke the rifle open and grabbed me very hard. He rammed me into the chamber and slammed the action shut. I did not know what was going on, but I could hear lots of yelling, particularly the words, "Hurry up Ian, SHOOT!!!"

Suddenly a terrible force pushed me forward and I was rocketed into the tight-fitting barrel. While my body was squeezed to fit and hurled forward, it was also spun in three hundred and sixty degree circles by the rifling I had to follow. I was pushed so hard the grooves cut into my jacket and I felt like I was scrunching up and getting shorter. My base was so hot I think some of the lead started to get soft. Plus the friction from the tight fitting lands and grooves caused my jacket to heat up several hundred degrees!

Up ahead I could see light as the electrician's tape blew away from the muzzle. Suddenly my nose emerged from the barrel. The heat from the gases dissipated as I spun away. My body expanded slightly and the tremendous heat continued as I smoothly left the rifling at the crown of the barrel. I was flying perfectly straight because I was spinning so fast.

I could see sand below me as I headed across a huge sandbar downstream from camp. I also saw the most terrifying wilderness sight imaginable! Two enormous Alaskan brown bears charging side-by-side straight at me! I was heading straight at the biggest bear, and he could not see me coming! The bears continued their lunging gait. They were enormous and evil looking with tiny beady eyes set in huge faces.

During one stride, I smashed into the huge boar's shoulder. When I hit the bear, I immediately started to slow down. My nose flattened and my jacket started to split as the front lead core expanded against the hide and muscle. I could feel the back core pushing forward, making the mushrooming effect work faster. Suddenly, I hit a massive bone and I spun right through the rock-hard material. My nose was flattened and I got some nasty scars as I passed through the scapula.

I was slowing down but still traveling fast enough to smash another huge bone structure. As I went through the vertebra, I severed the spinal column and started to tip end over end. I continued through muscle tissue and was just about spent when I encountered a tough, stretchy material that stopped my forward momentum. I felt a huge crash as the bear fell to the hard-packed sand.

All was silent for a few seconds. The huge boar tried to breathe and get back to his feet, but he was completely paralyzed. I could feel incredible tension in his body, but he never made a sound. Suddenly, his body rocked as a huge force slammed through his spine and chest. The hydraulic effect was incredible as my buddy passed a foot or so from me. He demolished the spine and lungs, and I felt the hide stretch tightly as he came to an abrupt stop. Then silence. The old boar breathed his last and left the sandbar without a moan or shudder.

In a few minutes I heard a voice ask, "What is your procedure now, Wayne? Just tell me and I will do what you say."

"We hit him one more time before we handle him, Ian. Take him through the backbone into the chest."

There was another explosion and one of our buddies slammed through the spine and blood-filled chest cavity. He stopped inside the cavity a foot or so from the second bullet. The entire body rocked as the energy transferred from our buddy to the hulking mass. Then silence. And stillness.

"OK, Ian. You have an incredible trophy my friend!"

Congratulatory shouts and the sound of high-fives competed with the gale wind as the three happy men let their emotions run their course.

Later, I was aware of a lot of tugging and slicing near my resting place. Suddenly I was plucked up and handed to the shooter.

"Here is your first one, Ian. Perfectly mushroomed. That bullet did a heck of a job!"

"I don't want to lose that bullet. What a trophy of this hunt!" said the shooter as he dropped me into a pocket in his camera bag.

A few minutes later my buddy joined me. We were no longer shiny and smooth. We had lost a bit of weight. We had bulging mushroom shaped noses and scars and gashes. We had blood, tissue and bone stuck in our jackets. We had done the job in true Swift A-Frame fashion. Everyone back at the Swift Bullet Company would be proud of our performance.

Later, the hunter cleaned us up. He removed tissue and gristle from the curled jacket segments with a sharp needle and plenty of hot water. Then he dried us off and admired us for several seconds. He put us in a small drawer in his office, where we rest with several other bullets. Every so often he takes us out and examines us closely. His eyes close, and he returns to that windswept sandbar on the Copper River where we had the adventure of a lifetime.