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story by Bruce Ingram
originally published in
Whitetail Times fall 2010
Despite its legions of dedicated sportsmen, Virginia is home to relatively few hunting-related businesses, but certainly one of the most inventive is the family run Gunn Innovations in Richmond. Phil Gunn officially began the company in 2004 after he developed the idea of the SpinJag, a free-spinning device that follows along the rifling grooves of a muzzleloader barrel, which results in improved cleaning and loading.
Part of the beauty of the SpinJag is that it easily screws into the tip of a ramrod. But that's not all. One of the most frustrating aspects of black powder hunting is loading the gun, as many times individuals must exhibit great force to inch a bullet down along a barrel. With the SpinJag, though, a bullet glides down a barrel with much less chance for the projectile to be damaged. Gunn adds that the SpinJag eases the loading pressure, minimizing damage to the bullet and sabot and that the device accepts many bullet shapes as well.
"The SpinJag Loader fits the bore so closely that the bullet won't cant [to the] right or left," says Gunn.
Devised with the same principles as the original SpinJag, the loader offers minimum clearance for even more accurate and consistent loading. The result is a bullet that is firmly seated against the power charge.
The SpinJag Loader is different from the original SpinJag in that the latter was designed to both clean and load while the former is used only for loading and seating a bullet. There is no room for a patch on the loader while there is space on the original.
In the past, I have had starters break (because of the force needed) when I was beginning the process of sliding a bullet down the barrel. With the SpinJag Starter, hunters can be assured of a bullet quickly, smoothly, and accurately beginning its path down a barrel. The starter guides the bullet into the bore and then on into the rifling. The rounded wooden starter knob also prevents undue pressure from being place on an individual's palm, especially as compared to a regular ramrod. If you have ever had deep impressions from the ramrod (as I have) imprinted on your palm, you can appreciate the benefits of the SpinJag Starter.
Gunn told me that his device makes sure that any bullet is well-aligned and thus the bullet is not marred (and the sabot is not damaged) when it travels down the barrel and is seated on the powder charge with a SpinJag or SpinJag Loader.
The SpinJag Starter is a wonderful concept, especially for those sportsmen and ladies like me who don't have a great deal of upper body strength. I found it must easier to begin the loading process with this device than with traditional starters.
"With the tighter sabots it's so hard to get a bullet started in the barrel," says Gunn. "Our starter helps a hunter to do just that. The SpinJag Starter is just like the original SpinJag in that it follows the rifling and prevents the bullet or the rifling from being stripped as it moves along."
Yet another use of the SpinJag is as a cleaner. Two of the biggest problems I have had with cleaning my muzzleloader are a patch becoming stuck in the barrel or a jag becoming loose from the ramrod. The original SpinJag helps eliminate both of these tribulations. Gunn says that he has had customers tell him that it takes less time and effort to clean their gun barrels with a SpinJag.
"Let me explain the major advantage of cleaning the barrel with a SpinJag attached to a ramrod," details Gunn. "If you are cleaning the threads of a bolt, you wouldn't run the cloth up and down, you would want the cloth to rotate or spin with the threads.
"With a patch attached to the SpinJag, the patch follows the rifling, insuring a thorough cleaning. There is no skipping like with conventional cleaning devices; the patch stays in the grooves. Visualize what's going on inside the barrel with devices that go straight down and don't spin, they just don't clean as well."
Given the corrosive tendencies of black powder, the benefits of using the Spinjag are apparent.
Gunn Innovations also makes a ramrod, the giRAMROD. The device features the following attributes.
"Our ramrods are made to custom fit the length of the muzzleloaders on the market," says Gunn. "If you put a SpinJag onto our giRAMROD, it won't stick out past the gun barrel and will be out of the way of the discharge. When combustion occurs, the SpinJag is either flush or within 1/8-inch of the end of the barrel."
Finally, the company's Spin Adapter will let smokepolers use their other accessories with 5/16-27, 10-32 and 8-32 threads (brushes, mops, etc.). Other accessories available are extensions, threaded adapters, male and female, and round ball adapters for 32 through 58 calibers.
My wife Elaine and I field tested several of the Gunn Innovations products during Virginia's late muzzleloader season. The first item we used was the SpinJag Starter. After pouring in powder and coating a bullet and sabot with Vaseline (a little "greasing the skids" trick that VDHA member Jerry Paitsel taught me), Elaine positioned the projectile on the muzzle. The starter features a sliding polymer guide which Elaine placed over the bullet and which helps hold the bullet in place. She then pushed downward on the starter's wooden knob. I was very pleased with the ease at which the bullet began its path down the barrel.
Next, a SpinJag was affixed to a giRAMROD, and Elaine quickly and effortlessly slid the bullet down the barrel and seated it. She liked the feel and fit of the rounded wooden starter knob against her palm. After enduring the long ordeal of breast cancer and chemotherapy, Elaine still has not regained all her strength, yet she easily performed a task that has often been arduous for me in the past.
On the subsequent hunt, I was able to kill a Botetourt County doe. Obviously, it would be preposterous to assert that I wouldn't have tagged the whitetail if I "hadn't used the SpinJag." However, Phil Gunn relates that he has received numerous reports from smokepolers (who have loaded their guns while using the SpinJag or SpinJag Loader and SpinJag Starter) that have experienced increased accuracy on the range.
That evening, Elaine and I cleaned the muzzleloader with the aid of the SpinJag. Once again we were pleased with how the device and the cleaning patches followed the rifling and made the cleaning task quicker. I also asked friend and veteran hunter Paul Hinlicky of Catawba to test several products of Gunn Innovations.
"The thing I liked best about the SpinJag Starter was that the process of getting the bullet on its way was much smoother than usual," said Paul. "I also liked how the Starter can be used to help seat the bullet by placing the drilled hole in the wooden ball over the giRAMROD for that final push. And the giRAMROD itself with the SpinJag went down very easily.
"But what I think will be most beneficial to me about the whole system is when I have to attempt a quick second shot. When my adrenaline is pumping, I'm rushing to reload, and I'm trying to keep an eye on my muzzleloader and where I last saw the deer, I think that's when I will most appreciate the SpinJag, the Starter, and the ramrod."
Gunn Innovations is a Virginia based family owned company that is making national hunting news because of its creative products. I emphasize the word family because Phil Gunn's son Craig came to Southwest Virginia for a late December muzzleloader hunt with Hinlicky and me for this story. He asked if he could bring his son Clint and niece Casey for the trip.
Both high schoolers are enthusiastic young hunters, and Casey, in fact, smoked her first deer, a mature doe, on our Roanoke County outing. All in all, Casey's accomplishment was a very fitting end to my introduction to Gunn Innovations and its products.
The Original SpinJag
Consistently Loads A Variety Of Projectiles And Also Cleans Barrel
.32, .36, .40, .45, .50, .52, .54 and .58 caliber available
Minimum Clearance For Even More Precise, Consistent Loading And Seating Of Bullet
32, .36, .40, .45, .50, .52, and .54 calibers available
||SpinJag Bullet Starter
The First Step In Smoother, Easier More Precise Loading
.45, .50, .52, .54 calibers available
The Original SpinJag
has received the
Member Tested & Recommended
Seal of Approval
A sample of the many shapes the SpinJag handles: round-balls, polymer-tipped bullets and other muzzleloader projectiles with or without sabots.
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