P.O. Ackley – The Gunsmith
Parker Otto (P.O.) Ackley was Guns & Ammo’s tell-it-like-it-is gun sage whom readers trusted with their technical firearms questions. Joining the technical staff for the October 1959 issue, G&A’s first monthly edition, his first feature introduced Dick Casull’s .454 Magnum — the most powerful handgun cartridge at that time — in November 1959. Ackley contributed until his last “Gunsmithing” column appeared in the October 1974 issue.
He wasn’t a prolific writer, but he often worked behind the scenes on a number of projects. For example, while working with Technical Editor Robert Hutton, they attempted to break the 5,000-feet-per-second (fps) barrier with a wildcat based on a .378 Weatherby Magnum. In jest, it was named the .22 Eargesplitten Loudenboomer.
Long before doing cartridge development and ballistics studies for G&A, Ackley was first a gunsmith. He had run his own shop since 1936 and built a nationwide reputation for making great barrels, through which he tested and was credited with producing more than 30 different wildcats or improved cartridges, many of which are still finding their way into hunting fields.
As the father of wildcatting and cartridge improvement, Ackley had an unique approach. He required the firearm for any new cartridge be able to shoot the factory round that it was originally chambered for. He didn’t want shooters to be out of options if their wildcat ammunition ran out.
Ackley’s legacy lives on through several published works, including the “Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders”, which are considered must-reads for aspiring gunsmiths and reloaders. Ackley-improved cartridges are still found chambered in some custom and factory rifles. He passed away at 86 years of age, on August 23, 1989.
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