Small-Niche Needs: Gary Reeder’s .257 Raptor Wildcat

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Small-Niche Needs: Gary Reeder’s .257 Raptor Wildcat

We take a look at .257 Raptor Wildcat, a custom wildcat cartridge from Gary Reeder that fills a small niche.

Several years back, I needed a different front sight and a good trigger job on a Ruger Blackhawk. Gary Reeder at Reeder Custom Guns sorted that revolver out for me. He also sent me several of his custom guns to look at: Two were revolvers he’d given a full custom treatment to, and they were exquisite firearms. But the gun that really got my attention was a custom Thompson Center Contender. Not so much because the custom work was all that special, but because the handgun was chambered for one of Gary’s custom wildcat cartridges.

Reeder has developed more than 50 wildcat cartridges, ranging from 0.224 to 0.610 caliber. He’s done this by reshaping cartridge cases, from the .32 H&R Magnum to the .577 Snyder, and just about everything in between. If you like revolvers or single-shot handguns and want something that is a bit unique, there’s no better place to turn than Reeder Custom Guns.

The little TC single-shot Reeder sent me to test, though it had some limited engraving on the barrel and action, wasn’t all that fancy. It was mostly a utilitarian handgun topped off with a Leupold 4x handgun scope. But what made it interesting was that it was chambered for Reeder’s .257 Raptor cartridge.

257-Raptor-Wildcat-TC-Contender
Gary Reeder offers custom Thompson Center single-shot handguns and barrels for a wide selection of his wildcat cartridges.

I’ve always been a fan of .25-caliber cartridges, and the .257 Raptor, which is based on the .204 Ruger cartridge, had my attention. Reeder also provided some handloaded ammunition and dies. With 25.5 grains of IMR 3031 powder, that little 10-inch barreled (8 inches of rifling) TC would squirt out an 85-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet right at 2,000 fps. Recoil was very comfortable, and at 100 yards, five-shot groups averaged just a tad more than an inch. I’ve tested some bolt-action rifles that wouldn’t deliver that kind of precision.

257-Raptor-Wildcat
Out of the short-barreled Thompson Center single shot, the .257 Raptor cartridge delivered near MOA, five-shot groups at 100 yards.

Admittedly, this gun/cartridge combination fills a small niche, but that could be said for all the gun and wildcat cartridge combinations Reeder offers. The thing is, some shooters have small niche needs and wants. This .257 Raptor Contender would be excellent for deer out to 100 yards or so. Though I’d probably go with a different bullet like the 90-grain Sierra GameKing HPBT, which would work a bit better at .257 Raptor short-barrel velocities. For varmints and such, Sierra’s 75-grain Varminter HP at about 2,300 fps should be about ideal out to twice that distance. For those interested, Hornady offers custom dies for this cartridge, and Gary Reeder is the source for reloading data.

Gary-Reeder-custom-revolver
Though Gary Reeder is well known for his wildcat cartridges and single-shot handguns, he builds some magnificent revolvers for hunting or self-defense.

Reeder custom Contenders are available with barrels from 7 to 15 inches, in a wide array of chamberings to suit just about any need, no matter how niche or broad it might be. Additional pistol-length and rifle-length barrels are available as well. Check out what Gary Reeder has to offer. You won’t find a more experienced handgun hunter or wildcatter—anywhere.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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