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By Ron Sabo

            Richard Mertz, President of MOA Corporation has incorporated high level advances in metallurgy, strength of construction and design.  Those of you that enjoy shooting long range pistols that utilize the single action style grip will quickly find favor with the Mertz/MOA. 

           The MOA utilizes the century old falling block design.  This action lends itself to accurate bullet placement. The MOA long range pistol has a strong action (170,000 to 180,000 pounds of tensile strength).  To load this long range pistol pull the hammer back to the rear and cock the pistol.  Push the transfer button to the (S) safe position then simply pivot the lever forward (the action opens very smooth).  This causes the breechblock to slide vertically downward (falling block) which will reveal the chamber. Insert your cartridge then move the lever back to the closed position, this moves the breechblock upwards to lock into place and will seal the chamber.  When you are ready to fire, push the transfer button to the downward position (F).  You are now ready to commence firing.  This is a well made, and accurate long range pistol.  In my opinion it is the most accurate production made long range pistol that you can purchase over the counter today.  This pistol required no “tweaking” of any kind.  The falling block action, due to its light weight and size, lends itself well in the gaming fields.  With the 14 inch 223 barrel and the 6-24 Burris scope this long range pistol reaches only 6-3/4 pounds on my scale.  If you require a little more weight, then on special order, MOA Corp. can install a heavier barrel.  The weight of the MOA with the PPC barrel installed reaches 8 pounds 8 ounces.  So you can have diversity here if you wish.         

           MOA barrels are made by Douglas and they are button rifled.  The Douglas barrels have a burnished finish on the interior and are very easy to clean.  My 223 caliber barrel is chrome moly, polished and then richly blued, the twist is 1:10.  More favorable for the heavier 60 grain projectiles, but as you will soon see, lighter bullets were also excellent performers.

           Changing barrels could not be easier.  A spanner wrench is provided with each barrel making removal simple.  Mertz incorporates a ingenious extension that is attached to the bottom of the receiver, this extension is what the forearm slides onto, thus making your forearm free-floating, this guarantees consistent accuracy through a wide range of fluctuating temperatures.  The forearm for my 223 barrel measures about 1-1/2 inches and the fore end for the 22PPC barrel measures slightly under three inches in width.

           IHMSA competitors have found favor with the precision adjustable sights, the receivers are drilled and topped to accept MOA’s scope mounts.  The MOA maximum has been used very successfully in world class IHMSA silhouette competition and has been in the winners circle for the past ten years and continues to be the long range pistol to beat.

           MOA offers an option for the grips; if you prefer a thumb rest they can make them up for you, left or right handed.  If you prefer a finger groove, this is also available with its 17 degree design.
(Note: Since this article, the thumbrest grips and 17 degree frame have been discontinued.)  The Maximums lever that is used to open the action can also be substituted with a straight lever if you prefer.  Many options are available.  This trigger is fully adjustable, I set my loaner to 10 ounces.

The chamberings that are available are vast, ranging from the 22 Rimfire, up to the mighty .375 H&H Magnum.  This pistol can take it (naturally for the .375 H&H Magnum we recommend the Mertz muzzlebrake).  It is ideally suited for everything from groundhogs to moose to big bears.

Mr. Mertz competed at the Shooters News 2nd Long Range Pistol Championships, hosted at Kelbly’s range in May of ’99.  At the 200 yard competition he had a fine group in the low 3’s. His chambering of choice was the 22PPC, that same barrel is featured in the article. This man knows pistols and what it takes to make ’em shoot competitively.  I requested the loan of an MOA Maximum for evaluation, and his reply was “in what calibers?”.  I requested the same pistol that he used for the competition and an extra barrel in .223 caliber if possible.  Two weeks later I had them in my possession.

Many thanks to Hodgdon powders and Chris Hodgdon for their cooperation, and to Adam Braverman of Sierra Bullets for their supply of 55 grain moly coated bullets.  Sierra has teamed up with seven-time national high power champion David Tubb who offers the Tubb/Neco coating process.  Sierra utilizes the same jacket on the Blitz Kings as on their 224 Match King HPBT bullets.  This explains the benchrest type accuracy that these acetal resin tipped bullets exhibited. Many chucks that fell to this bullet showed excellent results, as long as I kept the velocity at 1900 feet per second at the varmints location.  We must research and take the time to find out any projectiles limits, we owe it to the game we are hunting.  They deserve to be harvested quickly and cleanly.  This 55 grain Blitz King has a ballistic coefficient of .272.

The MOA Maximum in .223 caliber

           A century or century and a half ago our forefathers could never have envisioned the advancements made in today's modern propellants.  Hodgdon Powder Company has been at the forefront of the advancements in smokeless powders for the sportsmen.  Note: Some slower powders that exhibit excellent accuracy may require seating the projectile into the lands/leade, to raise pressures somewhat to increase the propellants burning rate.  Especially for the shorter barrel lengths of long range pistols, also the opposite may be required for the faster buring powders (for example, you will have to seat your bullet to jump to the lands/leade).  The temperature range was 97 degrees to a low of 40 degrees.

While loading at the range, my powder measure of choice for a few years now has been the Harrell’s benchrest measure.  This powder measure is known for its repeatability.  Consequently, when I refer to clicks, it will be with this powder measure.  This barrels preference for bullet seating depth was determined by using the Stoney Point comparater and was measured from the projectiles ogive.  The sweet spot seemed to be .011 from the full jam into the leade/lands. 

  • H335- this spherical powder is the choice of our armed forces for the 5.56 NATO/.223 caliber.  It also is the favored propellant for many sportsmen.  40 clicks = 26 grains and when mated with the Sierra 55 grain Blitz King moved through my Oehler screens at 3,049 feet per second and grouped .498 - .688 - .387 - .511 and a wind driven 1.011 for an agg of .619.  The temperature was 91 degrees.

  • H322- 47 clicks = 25.1 grains with the 55 grain Blitz King and averaged 3,095 feet per second.  Group sizes were .422 - .651 - .711 - .476 and a .520 for an agg of .556 an excellent combination of group sizes and velocity, definitely a solid performer.  Staying with the above load but using the Speer 50 grain TNT (coated) projectile this one averaged 3,126 feet per second.  This combination showed a tight .559 group.

  • H4198 Extreme- with its new shortened grain size, you will find as I have that it meters through your measure much smoother.  For decades this has been the choice propellant for the triple deuce.  It is an ideal propellant for rifles and the T/C Contender/Encore’s chambered in 45/70 Govt. and the 444 Marlin, a very versatile propellant.  41 clicks = 22.1 grains with the Sierra Blitz Kings and averaged 2,996 feet per second and groups averaged .668.  I had a few boxes of the Sierra 52 grain HPBTMK and put them to the test. 42 clicks = 22.6 grains and went through the Oehler screens at 3,089 feet per second and grouped .270.  Four of the five rounds went into a very small hole.  It would not surprise me if the winner of the Super Shoot or the Shooters News Long Range Pistols Competition was using this projectile.  If you haven’t tried this one you are doing yourself a disfavor.

  • H4895 Extreme- this propellants versatility is unique, for the fact that from the very popular 17 Remington up to and including the powerful 458 Winchester Magnum and those chamberings in between, this one will find your favor.  44 clicks = 24.5 grains with the 55 grain Sierra Blitz Kings averaged 3,049 feet per second and grouped .458 an excellent balance of accuracy and velocity.  The temperature was 96 degrees.

  • Varget Extreme- I will be using much more of this propellant in the future, its applications are many.  I enjoy its versatility, it has found favor in more of my long range pistols.  49 clicks = 27.5 grains with the Sierra 55 grain Blitz King, and averaged 2,939 feet per second and grouped .422 the temperature was 86 degrees.  This combination accounted for several difficult shots in the gaming fields.  Some woodchucks thought they had the benevolent protection of higher soy beans but fell victim to the MOA and these components.  Be advised that the above load is compressed and a longer drop tube is in order.

  • The MOA Maximum proved to be more accurate then expected. Many shooters were impressed with this pistol's performance and ease of handling at my home range (Kelbly’s, the host of the Super Shoot).

    The 22PPC barrel- the barrel  length is 14” and its O.D. is 1.265.  For reasons I simply cannot figure out, the 22PPC seems to be a minority in the gaming fields.  The combination of accuracy and velocity attained with this short squat cartridge is impressive.

  • Varget Extreme- the best accuracy was indicated to me with very slight marks on the projectile from the lands. Using my Stoney Point comparator the measurement from the ogive was 2.685, all bullets were subsequently used at this measurement.  52 clicks = 29.2 grains this mated with the Sierra Blitz King 55 grain bullet averaged 3,094 feet per second.  Groups averaged .631 and the temperature was 79 degrees with 31% relative humidity.  52 clicks = 29.2 grains with the Berger 52 grain MEF (coated) and averaged 3,182 feet per second and grouped .465, excellent combination of accuracy and velocity. Another combination that worked well was 55 clicks = 31.1 grains with the Nosler 40 grain BT (coated) projectile, this averaged 3.326 feet per second.  This combination grouped .686 and was successful in the gaming fields.

  • H335- was successful both on the bench and in the gaming fields.  The temperature was 76 degrees.  43 clicks = 27.5 grains with the Sierra 55 grain Blitz King, and averaged 3,065 feet per second and grouped an outstanding .264 for the smallest group with theMOA Maximum with either barrel.  45 clicks = 28.9 grains with the Nosler 40 grain BT and averaged 3,348 feet per second and grouped .699.

  • H322-  was an excellent performer, it also accounted for the largest group of this series with a wind driven 1.102. But it soon proved itself.  48 clicks = 26.7 grains with the Sierra 55 grain Blitz King and went through the screens at 3,046 feet per second and grouped 1.102 - .488 - .385 - .427 - .520 for an agg of .582.  I found another box of Sierra 52 grain HPBTMK projectiles and gave them a go as well.  48 clicks = 26.7 grains with the Sierra 52 grain HPBTMK and averaged 3,086 feet per second and grouped .397. The benchrest jackets that Sierra utilizes for the 52 grain HPBTMK and the 55 grain Blitz King certainly helps account for their repeatability in groups the quality control is impressive.

  • H4198 Extreme-  43 clicks = 23.3 grains with the 52 grain Berger MEF (coated) and produced 3,036 feet per second and grouped .711 - .640 - .361 - .297 and a .514. Good combinations of accuracy and acceptable velocity.  46 clicks = 24.8 grains with the 40 grain Nosler BT went through the screen at 3,463 feet per second and grouped .514.

  • Unfortunately I had depleted my supply of the Sierra 55 grain Blitz King’s. I had even used up the supply that my Editor had given me some months before.

  • H4895 Extreme- 50-1/2 clicks = 28.3 grains and averaged 3,065 feet per second with the 52 grain Berger MEF and grouped .479.  Using the 40 grain Nosler BT with 52 clicks = 29.2 grains, this combination averaged 3,311 feet per second and grouped .511.  50-1/2 clicks = 28.3 grains mated with the Hornady 50 grain SX averaged 3,085 feet per second and grouped .526.

  • I spent the summer of 1999 on the bench evaluating many powder and bullet combinations.  The gaming fields were a peaceful and relaxing retreat and I found much solace there.

    Thanks again to Richard Mertz, President of MOA Corporation
    (307)283-3030, Adam Braverman from Sierra Bullets 800-223-8799 and Chris Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powders 913-362-9455 for their cooperation in making this article possible.

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    Phone Number (314) 832-4360


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