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How the British Establishment took away the Guns from their Subjects

Dunblane massacre

The Dunblane school massacre took place at Dunblane Primary School near StirlingStirlingshire, Scotland, on 13 March 1996, when Thomas Hamilton shot 16 children and one teacher dead before killing himself. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in British history.[1]

Dunblane massacre
Dunblane Primary School - geograph.org.uk - 190900.jpg

Dunblane Primary School
Location Dunblane, Scotland
Coordinates 56°11′20″N3°58′27″W
Date March 13, 1996; 22 years ago
c. 9:35 a.m. – 9:40 a.m. (GMT)
Target Pupils and staff at Dunblane Primary School
Attack type
School shootingmass murdermurder–suicide
Weapons
Deaths 18 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
15
Perpetrator Thomas Watt Hamilton

Public debate about the killings centred on gun control laws, including public petitions calling for a ban on private ownership of handguns and an official inquiry, which produced the 1996 Cullen Reports.[2] In response to this debate, two new Firearms Acts were passed, which outlawed private ownership of most handguns in Great Britain.

Contents

ShootingEdit

Deaths[3]
  • Victoria Elizabeth Clydesdale (age 5)
  • Emma Elizabeth Crozier (age 5)
  • Melissa Helen Currie (age 5)
  • Charlotte Louise Dunn (age 5)
  • Kevin Allan Hasell (age 5)
  • Ross William Irvine (age 5)
  • David Charles Kerr (age 5)
  • Mhairi Isabel MacBeath (age 5)
  • Gwen Mayor (age 45) (teacher)
  • Brett McKinnon (age 6)
  • Abigail Joanne McLennan (age 5)
  • Emily Morton (age 5)
  • Sophie Jane Lockwood North (age 5)
  • John Petrie (age 5)
  • Joanna Caroline Ross (age 5)
  • Hannah Louise Scott (age 5)
  • Megan Turner (age 5)

At about 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday 13 March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, aged 43, was seen scraping ice off his van outside his home at Kent Road in Stirling.[4] He left soon afterwards and drove about 5 miles (8 km) north[5] to Dunblane. He arrived on the grounds of Dunblane Primary School at around 9:30 a.m. and parked his van near a telegraph pole in the car park of the school. Hamilton cut the cables at the bottom of the telegraph pole, which served nearby houses, with a set of pliers before making his way across the car park towards the school buildings.[4]
Hamilton headed towards the north-west side of the school to a door near the toilets and the school gymnasium. After entering, he made his way to the gymnasium armed with four legally-held handguns[6]—two 9mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith & Wesson M19 .357 Magnum revolvers.[4] He was also carrying 743 cartridges of ammunition.[3] In the gym was a class of twenty-eight Primary 1 pupils preparing for a PE lesson in the presence of three adult members of staff.[7]
Before entering the gymnasium, it is believed Hamilton fired two shots into the stage of the assembly hall and the girls’ toilet.[4] Upon entering the gymnasium, as he was about to be confronted by Eileen Harrild, the PE teacher in charge of the lesson, he started shooting rapidly and randomly. He shot Harrild, who was injured in her arms and chest as she attempted to protect herself, and continued shooting into the gymnasium.[4][7] Harrild stumbled into the open-plan store cupboard at the side of the gym along with several injured children. Gwen Mayor, the teacher of the Primary 1 class, was shot and killed instantly. The other adult present, Mary Blake, a supervisory assistant, was shot in the head and both legs but also managed to make her way to the store cupboard with several of the children in front of her.[4]
From entering the gymnasium and walking a few steps, Hamilton had fired 29 shots with one of the pistols, killed one child, and injured several others. Four injured children had taken shelter in the store cupboard along with the injured Harrild and Blake. Hamilton then moved up the east side of the gym, firing six shots as he walked, and then fired eight shots towards the opposite end of the gym. He then went towards the centre of the gym, firing 16 shots at point-blank range at a group of children who had been incapacitated by his earlier shots.[4]
A Primary 7 pupil who was walking along the west side of the gym building at the time heard loud bangs and screams and looked inside the gym. Hamilton shot in his direction and the pupil was injured by flying glass before running away. From this position, Hamilton fired 24 shots in various directions. He fired shots towards a window next to the fire exit at the south-east end of the gym, possibly at an adult who was walking across the playground, and then fired four more shots in the same direction after opening the fire exit door. Hamilton then exited the gym briefly through the fire exit, firing another four shots towards the cloakroom of the library, striking and injuring Grace Tweddle, another member of staff at the school.[4]
In the mobile classroom closest to the fire exit where Hamilton was standing, Catherine Gordon saw him firing shots and instructed her Primary 7 class to get down onto the floor before Hamilton fired nine bullets into the classroom, striking books and equipment. One bullet passed through a chair where a child had been sitting seconds before. Hamilton then reentered the gym, dropped the pistol he was using, and took out one of the two revolvers. He put the barrel of the gun in his mouth, pointed it upwards, and pulled the trigger, killing himself. A total of 32 people sustained gunshot wounds inflicted by Hamilton over a 3–4-minute period, 16 of whom were fatally wounded in the gymnasium, which included Mayor and 15 of her pupils. One other child died later en route to hospital.[4]

Emergency responseEdit

The first call to the police was made at 9:41 a.m.[7] by the headmaster of the school, Ronald Taylor, who had been alerted by assistant headmistress Agnes Awlson to the possibility of a gunman on the school premises. Awlson had told Taylor that she had heard screaming inside the gymnasium and had seen what she thought to be cartridges on the ground, and Taylor had been aware of loud noises which he assumed to have been from builders on site that he had not been informed of. As he was on his way to the gym, the shooting ended and when he saw what had happened he ran back to his office and told deputy headmistress Fiona Eadington to call for ambulances, a call which was made at 9:43 a.m.[8]
The first ambulance arrived on the scene at 9:57 a.m. in response to the call made at 9:43 a.m. Another medical team from Dunblane Health Centre arrived at 10:04 a.m. which included doctors and a nurse, who were involved in the initial resuscitation of the injured. Medical teams from the health centres in Doune and Callander arrived shortly after. The accident and emergency department at Stirling Royal Infirmary had also been informed of a major incident involving multiple casualties at 9:48 a.m. and the first of several medical teams from the hospital arrived at 10:15 a.m. Another medical team from the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary arrived at 10:35 a.m.[8]
By about 11:10 a.m., all of the injured had been taken to Stirling Royal Infirmary for medical treatment; one child died en route to the hospital.[7] Upon examination, several of the patients were transferred to the District Royal Infirmary in Falkirk and some to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.[9]

PerpetratorEdit

Thomas Watt Hamilton
Thamilton.jpeg
Born 10 May 1952
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 13 March 1996(aged 43)
Dunblane
Occupation Former shopkeeper
Criminal status Deceased

There had been several complaints to police regarding Hamilton’s behaviour towards the young boys who attended the youth clubs he directed. Claims had been made of his having taken photographs of semi-naked boys without parental consent.[10]
Hamilton had briefly been a Scout leader – initially, in July 1973, he was appointed assistant leader with the 4th/6th Stirling of the Scout Association. Later that year, he was seconded as leader to the 24th Stirlingshire troop, which was being revived. Several complaints were made about his leadership, including two occasions when Scouts were forced to sleep with Hamilton in his van during hill-walking expeditions. Within months, on 13 May 1974, Hamilton’s Scout Warrant was withdrawn, with the County Commissioner stating that he was “suspicious of his moral intentions towards boys”. He was blacklisted by the Association and thwarted in a later attempt he made to become a Scout leader in Clackmannanshire.[11]
Hamilton claimed in letters that rumours about him led to the failure of his shop business in 1993, and in the last months of his life he complained again that his attempts to organise a boys’ club were subject to persecution by local police and the scout movement. Among those he complained to were the Queen and the local Member of ParliamentMichael Forsyth. In the 1980s, another MP, George Robertson, who lived in Dunblane, had complained to Forsyth about Hamilton’s local boys’ club, which his son had attended. On the day following the massacre, Robertson spoke of having previously argued with Hamilton “in my own home”.[12]
On 19 March 1996, six days after the massacre, Hamilton’s body was cremated. According to a police spokesman, this service was conducted “far away from Dunblane”.[13]

Gun controlEdit

The Cullen Reports, the result of the inquiry into the massacre, recommended that the government introduce tighter controls on handgun ownership[14] and consider whether an outright ban on private ownership would be in the public interest in the alternative (though club ownership would be maintained).[15] The report also recommended changes in school security[16] and vetting of people working with children under 18.[17] The Home Affairs Select Committee agreed with the need for restrictions on gun ownership but stated that a handgun ban was not appropriate.
A small group, known as the Gun Control Network, was founded in the aftermath of the shootings and was supported by some parents of the victims of the Dunblane and Hungerford shootings.[18] Bereaved families and their friends also initiated a campaign to ban private gun ownership, named the Snowdrop Petition because March is snowdrop time in Scotland.[19]

New bansEdit

In response to this public debate, the Conservative government of John Major introduced the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, which banned all cartridge ammunition handguns with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons in England, Scotland and Wales, and following the 1997 General Election, the Labour government of Tony Blair introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, banning the remaining .22 cartridge handguns as well.[20] This left only muzzle-loading and historic handguns legal, as well as certain sporting handguns (e.g. “Long-Arms”) that fall outside the Home Office definition of a “handgun” because of their dimensions. The ban does not affect Northern Ireland.[21]

Criticism of the authoritiesEdit

Evidence of previous police interaction with Hamilton was presented to the Cullen Inquiry but was later sealed under a closure order to prevent publication for 100 years.[22] The official reason for sealing the documents was to protect the identities of children, but this led to accusations of a coverup intended to protect the reputations of officials.[23] Following a review of the closure order by the Lord AdvocateColin Boyd, edited versions of some of the documents were released to the public in October 2005. Four files containing post mortems, medical records and profiles on the victims, as well as Hamilton’s autopsy, remained sealed under the 100-year order to avoid distressing the relatives and survivors.[24]
The released documents revealed that in 1991, following Hamilton’s Loch Lomond summer camp, complaints were made to Central Scotland Police and were investigated by the Child Protection Unit. Hamilton was reported to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of ten charges, including assault, obstructing police and contravention of the Children and Young Persons Act 1937. No action was taken.[25]

Media coverageEdit

BooksEdit

Two books – Dunblane: Our Year of Tears by Peter Samson[26] and Alan Crow and Dunblane: Never Forget by Mick North (the father of one of the victims)[27] – both give accounts of the massacre from the perspective of those most directly affected. On 1 March 2006, Creation Books released Predicate: The Dunblane Massacre — Ten Years After by Peter Sotos.[28]

TelevisionEdit

On the Sunday following the shootings the morning service from Dunblane Cathedral, conducted by Rev. Colin MacIntosh, was broadcast live by the BBC. The BBC also had live transmission of the Memorial Service on 9 October 1996, also held at Dunblane Cathedral. A documentary “Crimes That Shook Britain” featured the massacre.[29] The documentary Dunblane: Remembering our Children, which featured many of the parents of the children who had been killed, was broadcast by STV and ITV at the time of the first anniversary.[30] At the time of the tenth anniversary in March 2006 two documentaries were broadcast. Channel 5 screened Dunblane — A Decade On[31] and BBC Scotland showed Remembering Dunblane.[32]

NewspapersEdit

In 2009, the Sunday Express was criticised for an inappropriate article about the survivors of the massacre, 13 years after the event.[33]

MemorialsEdit

Two days after the shooting, a vigil and prayer session was held at Dunblane Cathedral which was attended by people of all faiths.[3] On Mothering Sunday, on 17 March, Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter Anne, Princess Royal, attended a memorial service at Dunblane Cathedral.[3]

Side view of the nave of a cathedral from outside. Tall arched glass windows run along half the length of the nave from the right. Adjacent to the nave, and to the left of the scene is a cuboid-shaped tower with a conical spire. The foreground is scattered with headstones of a graveyard on green grass.

Numerous memorial services have been held at Dunblane Cathedral.

Seven months after the massacre in October 1996, the families of the victims organised their own memorial service at Dunblane Cathedral, which more than 600 people attended, including Prince Charles who was representing the Royal Family.[3] The service was broadcast live on BBC1 and conducted by James Whyte, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.[34] Television presenter Lorraine Kelly, who had befriended some of the victims’ families whilst reporting on the massacre for GMTV, was a guest speaker at the service.[3]
In August 1997, two varieties of rose were unveiled and planted as the centrepiece for a roundabout in Dunblane.[35] The two roses were developed by Cockers Roses of Aberdeen;[36] the ‘Gwen Mayor’[37] rose and ‘Innocence’[38]rose, in memory of the children killed. A snowdrop originally found in a Dunblane garden in the 1970s was renamed ‘Sophie North’ in memory of one of the victims of the massacre.[39][40]
The gymnasium at the school was demolished on 11 April 1996 and replaced by a memorial garden.[41] Two years after the massacre on 14 March 1998, a memorial garden was opened at Dunblane Cemetery, where Mayor and twelve of the slain children are buried.[42] The garden features a fountain with a plaque of the names of those killed.[42] Stained glass windows in memory of the victims were placed in three local churches, St Blane’s and the Church of the Holy Family in Dunblane and the nearby Lecropt Kirk as well as at the Dunblane Youth and Community Centre.
The National Association of Primary Education commissioned a sculpture, “Flame for Dunblane”, created by Walter Bailey from a single yew tree, which was placed in the National Forest, near Moira, Leicestershire.[43][44]

Commemoration stoneEdit

The Dunblane Commemoration standing stone

In the nave of Dunblane Cathedral is a standing stone by the monumental sculptor Richard Kindersley. It was commissioned by the Kirk Session as the Cathedral’s commemoration and dedicated at a service on 12 March 2001.[45] It is a Clashach stone two metres high on a Caithness flagstone base. The quotations on the stone are by E. V. Rieu (“He called a little child to him…”), Richard Henry Stoddard (“…the spirit of a little child”), Bayard Taylor(“But still I dream that somewhere there must be The spirit of a child that waits for me”) and W. H. Auden (“We are linked as children in a circle dancing”).[46]

Musical tributesEdit

With the consent of Bob Dylan, the musician Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” in memory of the Dunblane school children and their teacher. The recording of the revised version of the song, which included brothers and sisters of the victims singing the chorus and Mark Knopfler on guitar, was released on 9 December 1996 in the UK, and reached number 1. The proceeds went to charities for children.[47] Pipe Sergeant Charlie Glendinning of the City of Washington Pipe Band (US) composed “Dunblane,” a tune for bagpipes, which Bonnie Rideout arranged for two violins and viola. It was recorded on Rant, an album produced by Maggie’s Music.[48] Pipe Major Robert Mathieson of the Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band composed a pipe tune in tribute, “The Bells of Dunblane.”[49]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ “Mass shootings and gun control”BBC News. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  2. ^ “Public inquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary School”gov.ukScottish Office. 16 October 1996.
  3. a b c d e f The Dunblane Massacre, BBC. h2g2. 15 May 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  4. a b c d e f g h i The Public Inquiry into the Shootings at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996, 16 October 1996. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  5. ^ Distance between Stirling and Dunblanedistance.to. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  6. ^ Britain’s Gun Laws Seen As Curbing AttacksThe Washington PostThe Washington Post. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  7. a b c d Transcripts of Proceedings at the Public Enquiry into Incident at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996, scotland.gov.uk. 18 October 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  8. a b Barrie, Douglas (11 March 2016). “Dunblane massacre: Timeline of school shooting that shocked a nation”. STV News. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  9. ^ From the archive, 14 March 1996: Sixteen children killed in Dunblane massacreThe Guardian. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  10. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 4, paras. 12–15
  11. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 4
  12. ^ “Dunblane Primary School (Shooting)”UK Parliament. 14 March 1996. Retrieved 16 April 2007.
  13. ^ “Five small coffins laid to rest in Dunblane”The Independent. London: Newspaper Publishing PLC. 20 March 1996. Retrieved 6 March 2016Thomas Hamilton was cremated in secret yesterday far away from the city where he committed mass murder.
  14. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 8, paras. 9–119
  15. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 9, para. 113
  16. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 10, para. 19,26
  17. ^ Cullen Report 1996, Chapter 11, paras. 21, 29–39 and 47
  18. ^ “Gun Control Network, ‘About Us'”. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  19. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-61269305.html
  20. ^ “Britain’s changing firearms laws”. BBC News. 12 November 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  21. ^ “The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997 (No. 3114 (c.116))”. 1997-12-17. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  22. ^ Peterkin, Tom (10 February 2003). “Call to lift secrecy on Dunblane murderer”The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October2012.
  23. ^ Seenan, Gerard (14 February 2003). “Call to lift veil of secrecy over Dunblane”The GuardianGuardian News and Media. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  24. ^ “Order lifted on Dunblane papers”BBC News. 28 September 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  25. ^ Uttley (2006), p. 209
  26. ^ “Dunblane: Our Year of Tears”Goodreads. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  27. ^ “Dunblane: Never Forget”Goodreads. Retrieved 12 March2017.
  28. ^ Sotos, Peter (2006). Predicate: The Dunblane Massacre — Ten Years After. Creation Books. p. 192. ISBN 1-84068-136-5.
  29. ^ “Crimes that Shook Britain”Radio Times. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  30. ^ Sutcliffe, Thomas (13 March 1997). “TV Review of Dunblane: Remembering Our Children”. The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  31. ^ “Dunblane – A decade on”bfi.org. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  32. ^ “Remembering Dunblane, 20 years on”. Evening Times. 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  33. ^ Oliver Luft (2009-03-16). “PCC targets Sunday Express over Dunblane allegations”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  34. ^ Dunblane victims to be honoured Prince will attend memorial serviceThe Herald. 7 October 1996. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  35. ^ Roses named for Dunblane deadThe Independent. 20 August 1997. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  36. ^ Flower power for Dunblane tributeDaily Record. 20 August 1997. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  37. ^ Gandy’s Hybrid Tea Roses – Gwen Mayor, roses.co.uk. Cockers Roses of Aberdeen. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  38. ^ Low Growing Patio Roses – Innocence, roses.co.uk. Cockers Roses of Aberdeen. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  39. ^ Scotland’s Snowdrop fansThe Herald (Glasgow). The Herald. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  40. ^ Galanthus Sophie North Archived 19 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine., rareplants.co.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  41. ^ Dunblane school gym reduced to rubbleThe Independent. 12 April 1996. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  42. a b Dunblane victims remembered, BBC. 14 March 1998. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  43. ^ “Flame for Dunblane”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  44. ^ “Dunblane forest memorial (From Herald Scotland)”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  45. ^ “Dunblane Cathedral”Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  46. ^ “Dunblane Commemoration Stone”Kindersley Studios. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  47. ^ “Dunblane children record Dylan song for Christmas (Reuters)”. Edlis.org. 20 November 1996. Retrieved 13 March2012.
  48. ^ “Bonnie Rideout – Dunblane”. Last.fm. Retrieved 25 January2016.
  49. ^ “Bells of Dunblane – Highland Bagpipes traditional tunes’ stories by Stephane Beguinot”. Retrieved 25 January 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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Mossberg Patriot Bolt-Action Rifle Review


Read more at Mossberg: http://www.mossberg.com/category/series/mossberg-patriot/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=mossberg%20patriot
Editor’s note: A bolt action rifle in February? Absolutely. There’s no better time. There are clearly more relevant times, like just before the fall whitetail season, but this is the best time to buy a bolt gun. Most hunters are just now getting sick of venison in their chili. The gun stores have all cut the prices on the hunting guns they didn’t sell last fall, and GunsAmerica is full of kickass deals. Steals, really. And this Mossberg Patriot may be an even bigger steal as most people don’t associate the Mossberg name with rifles.

A Box Full of Promise

The last time we met at the range, my editor limped over and handed me a box that obviously contained a rifle. We often get to choose the guns that we review, but sometimes we’re selected because we are the best person for a particular gun. Occasionally we are handed a gun because someone fell off the ladder going up to their attic and can’t operate a shoulder-fired weapon currently… which is exactly what happened with this one.
As soon as I got the rifle home I began the unboxing process. Inside the box was a fresh Mossberg Patriot Bolt-Action Rifle in 30-06 Springfield. This one has thin, fluted barrel with a recessed crown. The action is set in a polymer stock. The Weaver mounting rails on either side of the chamber will be familiar to almost everyone. The action itself has a feed ramp for reliability, and the gun is runs from a detachable box magazine. The bolt has a spiral-flute bolt and two locking lugs.

This version of the Patriot has a humble, no frills, aesthetic.

This version of the Patriot has a humble, no frills, aesthetic.

All-told, this is a utilitarian hunting rifle. The 30-06 is a fantastic round for whitetail. The polymer stock is incredibly light. It is easy to carry, almost indestructible, and–as we’ll get to–it helps with the absorption of recoil. The box mag is useful, too, as it allows (if you have more than one) to carry a variety of different loads for different distances, or types of game.

The fluted bolt is the only obvious adornment.

The fluted bolt is the only obvious adornment.

This trigger reminded me more of a Glock trigger than that of a bolt-action hunting gun. I don’t mean that it’s made of plastic, but the safety release in the center of the trigger reminds me of a Glock. I quickly gave the trigger a couple of pulls, and it was noticeably light. I measured it at a consistent 2 lbs., 1 oz. with my digital trigger gauge. There was some creep to the pull, but nothing intolerable.
I topped the gun with a Leupold VX-2 3-9 X 40 scope and rings. While the 3-9 isn’t nearly enough to maximize the long range potential of the .30-06, it is ideal for the Ozarks, where I hunt. I very rarely get terrain that opens up beyond 300 yards, and most of the hunting we do is at close range.
After a little research, I was shocked to learn that the suggested retail price on this nicely-adorned hunting rifle was a mere $386. I think we all know that after the initial rush, the price of a new gun tends to come down considerably, especially for those of us who are dedicated shoppers. Even so, at full retail price this gun is a bargain if it can shoot anywhere close to as good as it looks.

The flutes on the barrel help reduce weight and disperse heat.

The flutes on the barrel help reduce weight and disperse heat.

The forend offers a pebbled texture for a good grip.

The forend offers a pebbled texture for a good grip.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber .30-06 SPRG
Round Capacity 5
Barrel Type Fluted
Barrel Length 22
Sight Weaver Style Bases
Twist 1:10
LOP Type Fixed
LOP 13.75
Barrel Finish Matte Blued
Stock Finish Synthetic (Black)
Weight 6.5
Length 42.75
MSRP $386.00
The back end is equipped with enough rubber to keep the polymer from eating up your shoulder.

The back end is equipped with enough rubber to keep the polymer from eating up your shoulder.

The accuracy that the Patriot offers is rock solid.

The accuracy that the Patriot offers is rock solid.

On the Range

In preparation for a trip to the range with the Patriot, I selected several brands and weights of ammunition. I think it is important to let a rifle tell you what kind of ammunition it prefers. By taking multiple brands and types of ammunition, I was hoping to give the Patriot a plethora of sweet spots to choose from.
When I got to the range, I set my target up at 50 yards and gave it a quick bore sight. It took me about six rounds to align the point of aim with the point of impact. Once everything was in sync, I set out to try the rifle for accuracy. I decided that my methodology would be to fire no more than a total of six rounds before allowing the barrel to cool to the touch. There are some who would prefer to let the barrel cool between every shot–and that may be the most honest assessment. Pencil thin barrels are easy to carry, but heat up fast. This is a lightweight hunting rifle–not a heavy-barreled bench gun. Odds are you will only get one shot that really matters on a hunt. Maybe two.

The heavier Wolf spread out a bit more.

The heavier Wolf spread out a bit more.

I started off with some Hornady Reduced Recoil 125gr SST to establish a good baseline. The gun quickly demonstrated its ability for accuracy. I was able to consistently shoot 1 MOA groups from the bench–not a bad start at all. I switched to some heavier Wolf 180gr copper soft-point brass-cased ammunition, and the accuracy of my shots was greatly diminished. I’m still not sure whether this was an issue with ammunition quality, or with the weight of the bullet. The rifle was still producing accurate groups, but they were much wider than those shot with the lighter rounds.
This is where the box mag could come in useful. Sitting in a tree-stand, waiting for that trophy buck? Rack in a round you know will drop a deer when placed with precision. And if a sounder of swine should saunter out under the feeder, pack in the heavier Wolf rounds and try to pop off as many pigs as you can before their flight instinct wins out.

The light rifle is very easy to carry, and stabilizes well on a sturdy surface.

The light rifle is very easy to carry, and stabilizes well on a sturdy surface.

Let’s take a moment to discuss the Patriot’s recoil. I found the rifle to be light-recoiling, and not at all as punishing and I had expected. Some light 30-06 rifles kick hard, but the polymer in the stock must be flexing and absorbing some of the impact. And the butt pad is thick enough to take out the shock. I had somehow managed to forget my Caldwell lead sled, and was using a range bag in its stead. All told, the whole package seems ideally suited for the caliber, and wasn’t at all hard on the shooter.

Versatility

Whenever I see a gun with a value price but a load of features, I always wonder, “Can they repeat this? Or is this configuration a one hit wonder?” Well, when it comes to the Patriot, Mossberg produces way more flavors than the mere 31 that Baskin-Robbins offers. I stopped counting at 60 different variants based on caliber, finish, stock and optics. That’s a lot of options for such a modestly-priced rifle!
My takeaway from all this is that this rifle deserves a look no matter what your application is for a bolt-action gun. Whether the environment is hunting or tactical, the Patriot must be seriously considered among the bolt-action candidates. This is coming from someone who’s always equated Mossberg strictly with shotguns: not any longer.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a rifle, can you spend more and get more than the Patriot offers? Certainly. Is this gun going to compete with guns at ten times the cost? I don’t think so. But is the Mossberg Patriot going to go toe-to-toe with rifles that cost twice as much? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

The box mag.

The box mag.

Branded well, so there won't be any confusion with other mags.

Branded well, so there won’t be any confusion with other mags.

The safety is easy to access with the thumb.

The safety is easy to access with the thumb.

The Hornaday was the clear winner with the rounds we tried.

The Hornaday was the clear winner with the rounds we tried.

Velocity held steady in the 2,600+ FPS range.

Velocity held steady in the 2,600+ FPS range.

This is three shots, but it is the first that counts, and it was almost dead on.

This is three shots, but it is the first that counts, and it was almost dead on.

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The CZ 550 American Safari Magnum in .375 H&H — Full Review by PHIL MASSARO

  Safari. The mere mention of the word obtains my undivided attention. it is the concept of a hunting adventure in the wild places of Africa. It’s undoubtedly my happy thought.
The word safari is taken from the Kiswahili dialect of East Africa. It simply means ‘journey.’ It represents the challenge of shooting a big-bore rifle.
It also represents being in an environment where there are animals large enough to take your life with ease. The CZ 550 American Safari rifle is, in and of itself, a journey. It has its roots in the Czechoslovakian Brno ZKK 602 rifle, and has come a long way to get to the current inception.
That ZKK 602 is still revered among those who enjoy the big bore bolt-action rifles. The action is considered as rock-solid and reliable as a Mauser 98.
The action itself is very strong, making a perfect platform for the popular rimless safari cartridges: like the .375 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum, the .416 Rigby and Remington Magnum, and the .458 Winchester and .458 Lott. Today’s CZ 550 is a worthy descendant of the ZKK 602.
Because it is a true controlled round feed action, it has the same large magazine capacity as the 602, and offers the reliability needed for those who are among dangerous game on a daily basis.

Bolt Action Rifles

In the last century, bolt-action rifles become the consummate blend of reliability and affordability when it comes to dangerous game rifles. Yes, I am a fan of the double rifle and all of its baggage, including the logistic and romantic virtues.
However, if I need a rifle capable of handling the world’s game and I need it on a budget, the bolt rifle will get the nod every time. The Mauser 98 action, developed at the end of the 19th century, remains to this day a staple among bolt rifle designs.
There’s a good reason for this. Its design is simple, strong, and fully functional at the worst of moments. Mauser 98 clones are still the basis for fine dangerous game rifles. And the CZ 550 action is a proud descendant of that honored German design.
The 550 is a controlled-round-feed action. This means the bolt face uses a claw to grasp the cartridge rim directly out of the magazine and will control that cartridge all the way into the chamber.
While having been debated for decades, this feature is usually a universal requirement among the Professional Hunters who use a bolt-action rifle.
I personally insist on it – though I know those who do not and have lives to tell the tale – for my own dangerous game guns, and the CZ 550 action is properly equipped with this feature, again a carryover from the Mauser 98 design. The 550 also uses a blade ejector, one of the strongest and most reliable designs on the market.
Those two features alone should warrant the choice of a CZ 550 as a safari gun, but there’s much more offered that adds to the list of benefits of this rifle.

CZ 550 Ergonomics

If you prefer iron sights for dangerous game work, and that’s a perfectly viable sighting system, the CZ 550 is well equipped. Express sights, built around a fixed rear sight for 100 yards and undershooting, features a wide V and a vertical white line in the classic safari tradition. Additional leaves, marked for 200 and 300 yards, flip up to extend the range of the rifle.
All these possibilities mate up with a fine barrel-band front sight bead, hooded for protection. The hood has a nice little window cut in the top to allow the natural light to flow to the front bead. The sights align very naturally, and though that small bead can be a bit tricky on a dark background, it allows for precise shot placement.

SPECS

  • Cartridges: .375 H&H (tested), .416 Rigby, .458 Winchester Magnum, .458 Lott, .505 Gibbs
  • Capacity: 5 + 1 rds.
  • Overall Length: 46.5 in.
  • Barrel Length: 25 in. Hammer-forged steel; 1:12-in. twist
  • Trigger: 2 lbs., 4 oz.; single set
  • Stock: Turkish walnut
  • Weight: 9. 4 lbs.
  • Sights: Express three-leaf iron sights, receiver milled for Talley scope mounts
  • Safety: Two position
  • MSRP: $1,215
  • Manufacturer: CZ

Features

The CZ 550 differs from the Mauser design in its safety, which is a two-position affair. Flip it forward to fire. It’s located on the right rear portion of the receiver. The forward position puts the rifle into battery, and allows the operator to work the bolt.
The rearward position blocks the sear and the bolt together. To remove the bolt from the action, a small spring-loaded tab is depressed on the rear left side of the receiver, and the bolt pulls out of the action.
The CZ 550 also has a handy maroon colored cocking indicator at the rear of the bolt. I like these little visual reminders of the status of a rifle, especially when I’m after dangerous game. A hinged floorplate with its release located on the muzzle side of the trigger guard is a smart idea.
It releases the cartridges in the magazine for unloading. That magazine is another of the positive features of the CZ 550. My test rifle was chambered in .375 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum. It held five cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber. That is a very reassuring number.

 
 
 
 
 
The CZ 550 American Safari Magnum uses a 25-inch hammer forged barrel in .375 H&H. The battle is of a rather heavy contour, keeping the weight forward. The rifle’s trigger is a proprietary CZ design and is a single set trigger.
In the standard mode of operation, the trigger breaks at 2 pounds, 4 ounces. When the trigger is pushed forward, you get the ‘set’ mode, where it will break at a mere 11.5 ounces.
A good trigger will make or break a rifle, and the CZ 550 has a good trigger, for certain. Coupled with the capabilities of the .375 H&H cartridge, this makes for a solid setup.

American vs. European Safari Stocks

The CZ 550 American Safari Magnum is designated as such due to the configuration of its stock. The CZ550 Safari Magnum – what I would call the European counterpart – has a significant drop at the heel in comparison to the American Safari Magnum, which is stocked with a straight comb, perfect for use with a scope.
The stock is Turkish walnut, with two crossbolts to combat the effects of recoil. CZ has opted to go with a sling stud on the forend of the stock, rather than the traditional barrel band location.
This could pose an issue with a hard-recoiling caliber like the .458 Lott, but I found it to pose no problem with the lighter recoiling .375 H&H.
A pliable, 1-inch black recoil pad helps to take the sting out of the big safari cartridges. My test rifle had a length of pull measuring 14 ¼ inches, which just so happens to fit me perfectly.
For reasons I cannot firmly ascertain, rifles of European design tend to run longer than do our American rifles. I’ve found they fit me better, especially in serious cartridges.

One Complaint—

If I had to file a complaint about the CZ 550 American, it would be in the size of the stock. Simply put, it’s huge.
Now, when it comes to a hard-recoiling rifle, I’d certainly want a stock that’s too thick than one that is under-built and would risk a break or crack at the most inopportune time, but I firmly believe the CZ 550 would balance and carry much better if the stock were put on a diet.
It feels, well, swollen, for lack of a better term. It feels a bit thick through the wrist and pistol grip, and is certainly bigger than any of the other safari guns I’ve spent time with. Again, mechanically this poses no problem.
I usually like things over designed, but in comparison to other stock designs, it’s definitely shopping in the plus-sized department.
I suspect the stocks for the whole line are cut to the same dimensions, so on a .375 H&H it would feel large. That said, the overall shape of the stock, if chunky, is good, and helps to keep recoil to a minimum.

Mounts

The CZ 550 action uses an integral scope base cut into the receiver. This is good, as less moving parts equals less opportunity for something to shoot loose or for a screw to be sheared off. For my dangerous game guns, I like Talley rings. They have tight tolerances, and when they machine apart, they machine it right.
I’ve yet to need to lap their rings.  The detachable models, as I installed on the CZ 550, return to zero each and every time. I’ve used them on rifles as big as the .500 Jeffery and .505 Gibbs and they’ve yet to fail in any aspect. In those Talley rings, I mounted a Riton 1-5x24mm riflescope, with a 30mm tube and an illuminated reticle.
Now Riton isn’t exactly a household name, but I’ve seen their scopes around. I was as eager to test their glass. I’m usually not much of an illuminated reticle guy, but considering the caliber and the possible uses of this firearm – Cape buffalo, which are a black target in the shadows, or perhaps a leopard at last light, or even black bear – I thought it’d be fitting.

Off to the Bench

The .375 H&H Magnum has the reputation it does for very good reasons. It is, in the opinion of this author, the single most useful cartridge ever developed. It was designed to use bullets weighing between 235 grains and 300 grains, all at respectable velocities. With a good spitzer bullet, the .375 H&H will mimic the trajectory curve of the .30-’06 out to any sane hunting range.
It will do so with considerably more horsepower. Modern bullet developments have done nothing but augment the capabilities of the cartridge, including monometal designs, and commercial heavyweight offerings up to 350 grains. I grabbed a pretty diverse selection of factory ammunition for testing, wired up the ol’ Oehler 35P, and headed to work.
For testing, I chose the Nosler Custom with 260-grain AccuBonds, the Federal Cape Shok Premium Safari with 300-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, Norma American PH with the 300-grain Oryx bullets, and the Norma African PH ammunition with 350-grain Woodleigh soft points and full metal jacket bullets.
This covers a pretty broad spectrum of hunting situations, from plains game, elk or moose out to 300 yards. It could go even more with the 260s, general hunting with a .375 with the 300 grainers. The pair of Woodleighs would be absolutely perfect for hippo, buffalo and elephant. Well, it turns out this CZ 550 is a shooter.
First, all the ammunition both fed and extracted perfectly, a very important point for a dangerous game rifle. Even unfired ammunition cycled out of the rifle without issue, which is something all hunters should check in their rifle, should you have a misfire that needs to be cleared quickly. Recoil was more than manageable, and I’ll attribute that to a rifle on the heavier side of average and a well-proportioned stock.

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