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Thread: John Ross Bio, Part 1, through age 14

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy John Ross's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    St. Louis, MO

    John Ross Bio, Part 1, through age 14

    Hi all. Ken / aka 45nut, the owner of this site, asked me to tell the members and guests about myself. Some of you know me from other gun boards or for other reasons, but from the number of PMs I’ve received saying “Who the hell are YOU?”, it’s obvious that some background is in order.

    I don't really know on which subforum I should post this, so I'm putting it under "Group Buy Discussion" as I've been here a lot talking about custom .500 molds. Ken, feel free to place it in another forum.

    First Mentors

    My uncle, Graves Gladney, was a champion shooter in all three disciplines. He placed second one year in the Wimbledon Cup before WWII, he won tens of thousands of dollars at live pigeon shoots from the 50’s through about 1970, and competed regularly at Camp Perry in pistol matches. My father, Walter Ross, had no particular interest in shooting but he loved woodworking and making things, and he made gunstocks for my uncle and did other gun-related stuff, building throwers and the like.

    Rimfire Era

    These two men encouraged my shooting interests starting when I was 7 1/2 years old. I pored over the 1965 Gun Digest my uncle gave me and Dad gave me an FN pump .22 for Christmas in 1964. It was none of that “Here’s a .22 and one cartridge, come back with a squirrel and I’ll give you another,” Dad bought me .22s by the case (5000 rounds) and said the way to get good was to get coached by an expert and then practice a lot. So I did. I started with the FN pump and then later a S&W Model 17 revolver from my uncle.

    I did a lot of aerial shooting with these guns. My uncle had been good friends with Herb Parsons and Ed McGivern (both died when I was 2), Ad Topperwein (died when I was 4), and had shot with Delf “Jelly” Bryce in Texas after WWII. My uncle had given me McGivern’s book and I read it over and over to improve my aerial and speed shooting.

    In the next 4 years I averaged about a carton (500 rounds) of ammo a week through these two guns, less than that during the school year and considerably more than that in the summer as our summer house was on 140 acres in the country along the Mississippi river 25 miles south of our house in St. Louis. I got pretty good with those two guns.

    Long Range Centerfires, Magnum Revolvers, Casting, and My First Star

    I graduated to centerfires with a Remington 40X .22-250 carrying a 2” Unertl at age 11 and started my reloading efforts at the same time with an RCBS A2 my uncle gave me. This was in 1968. Long range accuracy became my main interest for a while, as did velocity and consistency issues after I bought a Powley Computer and Dad gave me an Oehler Model 10 chronograph and a Barr & Stroud 80CM rangefinder for Christmas. That same day my uncle gave me both Ackley volumes which sparked a continuing interest in Wildcats. (It was a good Christmas that year!)

    John Buhmiller in Montana had a chapter in Ackley’s book about elephant rifles (including wildcats) and I began correspondence with him about both long range accuracy (he had competed at Wimbledon with my uncle in the late ‘30s) and elephant rifles. I killed a lot of groundhogs and crows with the 40X, using the rangefinder and the advice I got from Buhmiller and my uncle. It would shoot 5 shots into 1 ” at 300 yards with good ammo.

    Although I occasionally shot my uncle’s .38s and .45s, my only handgun was the K22. All that changed on my 14th birthday in 1971 when I went shooting with my uncle. Dad had died recently after an agonizing 6-month battle with pancreatic cancer and my uncle brought a Model 27 and a Model 29 for me shoot, I think to cheer me up on my birthday. When he saw what I could do with the 29, he gave it to me on the spot. We started shooting .44s together almost every week. I reread SIXGUNS and began corresponding with other .44 experts around the country, most notably Elmer Keith, who quickly told me that the most knowledgeable and prolific shooter and ballistic experimenter in the country was Kent Lomont of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I started corresponding with Kent and casting bullets for our guns. I used H&G #503 gang molds and Lyman and Saeco furnaces, these purchases made on the advice I got from Elmer and Kent. I scoured the Shotgun News and bought 4000 once-fired .44 mag bass for $200 delivered.

    When my uncle saw how much time I was spending loading the thousands of rounds we were shooting every month on my A2, he insisted on getting me a Star Universal tool in .44 Magnum. He had used a Star in the 1930s when he was shooting Bullseye competitively and said they were the only way to go for volume loading. Kent told me to call Mock at Star and tell him to set up my press with dies and expander plug of the same specs that he made for Kent. Mr. Mock noted my 14-year-old voice and asked how old I was. I told him and he chuckled. “Another kid that shoots .44s all the time. Call me back when you wear it out. I’ll rebuild it.” He had been doing business with Kent since Kent was a teenager, I think.

    The Star cost my uncle $400 as I recall, and it took about 4 months to get, which seemed like an eternity at the time. I had ordered a Hulme case feeder and Kent sent me a solenoid and microswitch, which I rigged up to yank the loaded round out of the last station when the handle hit the upstroke.

    That tool has now loaded over 200,000 rounds of .44 and needed about $20 worth of replacement parts in the last 40 years.

    I continued shooting rifles for long range accuracy and in 1971 developed a close friendship with bench rest legend Art Freund, who lived about 10 miles from me. Art started doing custom work for both me and my uncle, building up literally dozens of extremely accurate long range guns for us over the years, teaching me to build accurate rifles, and doing all manner of offbeat projects that I would dream up, until his death in 2004 at age 86.

    Big Rifles

    I continued corresponding with John Buhmiller about both long range accuracy and large bore rifles for dangerous game. For Christmas in 1971 my uncle gave me a Model 70 Super Grade (new production) .458. Accuracy, ballistic, and penetration experiments with the big gun began in earnest. The one box of factory .458 ammo I had chronographed barely 1900 FPS, which was way less than the Powley Computer said it should. Buhmiller told me the factories were loading it way down for the break-open double rifles the Austrians were chambering in this caliber, and to load it up using case head expansion and good case life as a guide. My uncle got a friend of his at Winchester to send me 500 once-fired .458 brass and once again I was off to the races.

    More later...
    Last edited by 45nut; 03-16-2011 at 07:00 PM.
    JR--the .500 specialist

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    looking forward to the rest of the details. It always amazes me what good someone can do for a youngster twhen they foster a youths curiosity and willingness to learn.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    Doc Highwall's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007


    Very interesting John. I hope to read some more of your exploits.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    piedmont NC
    I'd like to hear the stories of other people who've been on this forum awhile, boolit designers n such. Maybe we should start a poll and make the winners write something.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    South Africa
    Hi John

    I knew that you were a member here (fansquee!) but I only found this thread searching for Buhmiller.

    Actually, I was looking for information on the 450 Ashurst which jumped up at me while recently re-re-reading UC. Google turns up pretty much nothing so I guess that makes you the expert on this cartridge.

    Any more info?

    (Found the rest of your bio with the search)
    Last edited by Retro; 09-14-2012 at 09:21 AM. Reason: Engaged brain, consulted search engine, solved second problem

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Kaneohe, HI
    Have any idea when the paperback of "Unintended Consequences" is coming out????
    I thought it was suppose to be last year sometime. Can't find it anywhere.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Cant wait to red more.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

    Ickisrulz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Shawnee, OK
    Quote Originally Posted by abunaitoo View Post
    Have any idea when the paperback of "Unintended Consequences" is coming out????
    I thought it was suppose to be last year sometime. Can't find it anywhere.
    The hard cover isn't even in print as far as I can tell. Although this site (publisher) lists a price and announces a paper back should be coming, there is no way to place an order. And the "contact page" doesn't load either. The used market still demands a large amount for this book.

    I'd like to see a Cast Boolits autographed offering.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check