The Column, No. 18:

The Death of Short Magnums?

By Randy Wakeman

As covered extensively by Chuck Hawks throughout Guns & Shooting Online, the many "Short Magnums" that have proliferated are hardly new at all, and many create more problems than they claim to solve. The general hunting and shooting "benefits" are dubious at best.

As reported by retailer surveys, the short magnum genre has failed to capture the hoped for sales, with the future of several "short" and "short-short" magnums currently in jeopardy. Added to the mess is a situation reported by several sources around the time of the SHOT Show.

The Outdoor Wire of February 2, 2006, reported a situation of well-known gun writer Rick Jamison (John R. Jamison) which reads, in part:

"Jamison's offering a legal settlement in avoidance of a lawsuit. According to these letters, Winchester purloined Jamison's intellectual property in their short magnums. He sued, winning a decision in a Missouri court (his state of residence). Winchester, the letter states, settled the claim as has fellow short-magnum rifle manufacturer Browning and Olin Winchester ammunition. In the heretofore unreported letters, Jamison is reportedly seeking a monetary "cure" from each manufacturer, in addition to an ongoing royalty for the sale of each rifle in the contested calibers."

Sources indicate that there was a confidential, out of court settlement. Apparently, the tiff arises from a string of patents issued to Mr. Jamison, the first patent #5,826,361 granted on October 27, 1998 from application #818440 of March 17, 1997.

Prior art is any body of knowledge that relates to your invention. Prior art would include previous patents, trade journal articles, publications (including data books and catalogs), public discussions, trade shows, or public use or sales anywhere in the world. Another necessity for a patent is novelty or "newness."

Your invention is not new, as defined by U.S. patent law, if:

  1. An identical (or too similar) invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before your invention was; or
  2. Your invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to your application for a patent in the United States.

The short magnum concept is quite old. Commercially Roy Weatherby offered them back in the 1940's for his 257, .270 and 7mm Weatherby Magnums. Later, 1964's .350 Remington Magnum was apparently the first "mainstream" short magnum, giving performance equating to 1922's .35 Whelen in a case designed for short actions.

P.O. Ackley's 1962 Copyrighted Handbook for Shooter and Reloaders, Vol. 1 details a wide spectrum of short magnums. The .30 Howell was built for the old pattern 14 Lee-Enfield; the list continues including the ".30 Short Magnum No. 1 and No 2 by Ackley, the .300 Mashburn Short Magnum, and the .30-.378 Arch. The idea of short magnums and variations are quite obvious to anyone skilled in the art, as well you would think with a production short magnum readily available from Remington over 40 years ago.

You would think that the owner of the Winchester name, Olin Corporation, with annual sales exceeding that of all the firearms and ammunition in the United States (some $3.4 Billion), would save themselves the embarrassment by doing their homework. What they actually did or did not do remains a mystery.

More to the point, the non-belted, non-rebated rim short magnum has been in commercial production since well before the first of the several continued and linked Jamison patents were so much as applied for.

John Lazzeroni's "Patriot" is a non-rebated rim, beltless short magnum designed to work in short actions. After wading through the claims, my opinion is that the Lazzeroni Patriot embodies every single claim in the elongated, legalese-filled patent string.

Holt Boddington wrote in Guns Magazine:

"In 1995, I started hunting with the commercial cartridge that really started the short magnum ball rolling--John Lazzeroni's 7.82 (.308) Patriot. In fact, the New Mexico mule deer I took that fall was the first head of big game ever taken with the Patriot. With an overall case length of 2.050 inches, a 30-degree shoulder, and a head size of .580 inch, the Patriot looks ever so much like a blown-out PPC case formed on a 416 Rigby body.

The Patriot ranks as the hottest .30-caliber shorty going and easily pushes a 180-grain bullet along at 3,184 fps. Building on the success of the Patriot, Lazzeroni has expanded his short magnum line to include the .243, 6.5mm, 7mm, .338, and .416 calibers. In terms of sheer velocity and performance, the Lazzeroni short magnums lead the pack."

The Lazzeroni Patriot not only existed, but was successfully being hunted with long before any Jamison patent application was filed. You would think that things could be invented only once? I always thought so. Someone is greatly confused. Perhaps the parties with standing can figure it out, before more people discover the super short magnums aren't so super.

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Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.