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Sometimes, things in life don’t work out like you planned. I’ve learned that fact in many situations in life, but especially in my repeated attempts at hunting elk. I like to consider myself a person who achieves the goals I set for myself. God has a way of delivering humility; as year after year I came home meatless. Ironically, those attempts only strengthened my resolve to achieve success. This year, I set out on my sixth attempt to harvest an elk.
Hunting elk on public land is not easy. It is by far the most demanding hunting I’ve experienced to date. The elk just won’t cooperate, and they do not live on a schedule. Native Americans called elk Wapiti and referred to them as the ghost kings of the high country; meaning they hide, so you must hike all over to find them and then go to them. It seems easy, but you can’t just take a direct route to them…nope, you must read the wind, and often hike beyond where you see them, to come in with the advantage of elevation and surprise. The elk hunts I’ve been on in Montana average hiking eight to ten miles daily; climbing steep grades that seem to be straight up at times; leaving well before daylight and returning well after sunset; in weather conditions from freezing cold, scorching heat, thunderstorms, snow storms, wind storms, dry or muddy ground; and in all kinds of terrain from grass fields/parks, to mountain peaks and everywhere in between. For six years, I’ve put in the work.
This year, I was unable to archery hunt; so, I took a rifle, a Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter, 300-win mag and a Bushnell Engage scope that provided clarity on a longer shot. This rifle was extremely light and had way more range than my bow. One of the things I look forward to most during an elk hunt, is sitting on the side of a mountain, with one of my best friends, Donna McDonald. Donna owns Upper Canyon Outfitters, she and her husband, Jake have welcomed me year after year as I continue my quest to harvest an elk. This year, Donna was convinced I would get a Bull. I wasn’t so sure, but I had my hopes up.
On the first day of hunting, I set off with my guide, Rocko. I was eager to get out and hunt, and the laziness in me wanted to get it done day one, so I could relax a few days before heading home. This is probably the least prepared I’ve been for hunting Montana. I normally will begin building up my strength and endurance to handle the long hikes; however, this year I barely got on the treadmill once a week. I would love to blame my schedule, but the truth is I didn’t prioritize exercise….big mistake. Right out of the gate, we started our climb. It was dark, and that saved the mental debate I normally have with myself as we climb from the bottom to the top of a mountain, with it’s always just a “little bit more” if you ask any guide. It was so amazing to be at the top of a mountain and see the sun peek over the horizon and light up the mountain tops to the west of us. The scene was absolutely beautiful and took your breath away…or was that because I was lacking oxygen from being out of shape? This was opening day of rifle season, and very different from opening day of archery season. I have never seen so many hunters. Orange dotted the landscape and made it difficult; especially when we had a hunter come and set up in the middle of where we were hunting. It was “game over” that day, because we could not have taken a safe shot at an elk. I am amazed that there isn’t a “hunter’s etiquette” guide, because we got there first, so in my mind we had dibs. That morning we saw five moose, and a couple of cow elk. We headed down after sunset, and the hike down was much easier than the hike up.
Day two came earlier than I expected, but I eagerly got up to head back out to get an elk. We had a plan; so Rocko, Keren (a newer guide) and I headed out and up. We started out the morning on an easy hike to a point that looked across a mountain range at no more than 400 yards for a nice shot. We were there; the elk were not. So, we moved on. The guide wanted to get to a lookout point to have lunch, get some rest and hopefully find some elk to make a plan. On the first day, my body was in shock. It was saying to me, “what the heck is happening here, but ok let’s move.” However, on the second day, my body was shouting, “Oh, Heck No”, but my mind overruled and we pushed through. Honestly, this is where preparation for the hunt or my lack thereof really hindered my chances for success. As soon as we sat down at the lookout point, Rocko spotted an entire herd of elk, sunning themselves on the peak of the mountain within hiking distance. I ate fast, the adrenalin was pounding; and when we started a brisk hike towards what seemed an impossible climb, my body doubted its capability and my mind was buying in. The day was very hot, and I started out in layers of Sitka gear, and my rapidly consumed lunch, coupled with the heat was not a good combination. I asked the guide to stop, and I quickly took some layers off.
Rocko and Keren were strategizing a plan…a difficult plan. One course of action was to climb all the way down the mountain we were on, and then all the way back up the other mountain. This course of action had risk, the elk would surely notice us on a direct approach. The other option was to climb to the very top of the mountain we were on (we were pretty close), and then skirt around to the other mountainside so we could sneak in. There were risks with this option too. The mountainside was covered in shale rocks, or as I like to call them, boulder mine fields. The entire time, I was telling them that I honestly felt I couldn’t make it from point A to point B in such a short amount of time as we were racing the sun. As luck would have it, or not luck since the goal was to hunt an elk, as we deliberated, the elk got up and moved. We would have missed them anyway. The good news is that they started bugling. An elk bugle is one of the most amazing sounds to hear; and they were screaming their fool heads off. As we watched, spike bull after spike bull move around, suddenly the grand daddy appeared. We decided to hunt our way back down and see if we could intercept them as they might be headed to a stream for water. Once again, they did not cooperate.
Day three came faster than any other day, and I was extremely excited because Donna was going out with Rocko and myself. I was excited to sit on the side of a mountain and catch up. We started out the day hunting the same range as the morning before. Once again, no elk nearby, but Rocko spotted them in the exact spot they were the previous day. We made a plan and started our hike. Straight up the mountainside we went. I felt great, though tired, my body and my mind had acquiesced to the reality that we were doing this. Donna had a hurt knee, and she still out hiked me. We hiked all the way to the top of the mountain we had seen the elk on the day before. I had the biggest sense of accomplishment to reach a spot where honestly not 24 hours earlier, I thought I physically and mentally could not get to. Victory was mine, but there were still no elk. They were gone. So, we hiked back down. We arrived to the side by side to head back to the ranch. There were mule deer everywhere. Of course, I had a big game combo, but we were in an area that needed a draw tag I didn’t have. Rocko stopped the Polaris and glassed the top of the mountain. He said, “Donna, look at the size of that one.” Before I could even get my binoculars up to my eyes, Donna yelled, “That’s a bull elk, get out, Get Out, GET OUT!”.I jumped out of the Polaris, ran to take a shot and chambered a round. The elk didn’t cooperate, he ducked down the other side of the mountain. Donna and Rocko yelled at me to run. I remember running, concentrating on keeping my gun pointed in a safe direction, and saying, “Gun is on safe!” The elk suddenly popped back to our side of the mountain, Rocko said, “Shoot him.” I knelt down, used my knee for support, went to squeeze the trigger, the gun was on safe. I took the gun off safe, guessed my yardage at 200 yards, and pulled the trigger. I didn’t hear it, but Rocko did and he told me, “Good hit.” The elk dropped on the backside of the mountain again, and we ran toward it. Once again, he reappeared, and I took another shot. I hit him in the leg with the second shot, and totally missed on the third shot. I had guessed he was now 400 yards away; in fact, he was 120 yards away; so, I shot over the top of him. We started sprinting up the mountain. My body and my mind were not thinking in terms of “I can’t”, but instead I was like a five-year-old whose Grandma gave him too much candy. We scaled to nearly the middle of the mountain before we heard Donna saying, “come on”. Having spent her life on these mountains, Donna wanted to get around the mountain for a better vantage point to see where the bull went. The leg shot actually helped identify him, because he was limping, and the elk was seen going onto private property. He was headed towards a herd of elk, but suddenly he broke away from them, and was staggering back and forth in the middle of a field. We had two factors to consider that night, we had to request permission to go on the property, and the private land had hunters on it, who might see and shoot my elk. At first, I thought “well that stinks”, but a friend explained it to me. He asked, “Karen, if you were hunting and saw a wounded animal, would you let it suffer or would you take it?” Well, every hunter I know would do the right thing and take it. The other thing that had completely escaped me, as I was hoping to get on the private land, was that it had turned to night. Even if we got on the land, if I needed to take a shot, it was well past shooting light. Jake called and got us permission to go in the next day, but not until after 10:00 a.m. in the morning, because they had hunters hunting there.
Back at Upper Canyon, I was exhausted. I felt a sickness in the pit of my stomach, repeating the days adventure and hoping the animal would be there in the morning and not be suffering. I ate a good dinner and fell asleep pretty quickly. Sleep didn’t last long, at 12:30 a.m., I woke up, worried to death about the outcome of this hunt. I did not want my hunting to be over, and I certainly didn’t want to lose an animal I had shot. I struggled to get my mind in the middle, and then an overwhelming urge came over me to pray. I pulled up my phone and read bible verses on worry and faith. I prayed that God would not let the animal suffer, that we would find him, and that no matter what the outcome, I would be thankful. Then I started wondering, what do elk do when they are shot. I started reading articles published by Outdoor Life and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on elk hunting. I found one written by my friend, Dr. Wayne VanZwoll. He wrote that elk were some of the toughest creatures. He stated when shot, elk will flinch (Rocko had told me the elk did that), even with a good shot, elk might circle back and look at you, wondering what just happened (this elk did that too), and he pointed out that an elk about to expire will separate themselves from the herd (this elk did that too). I felt confident that we would find the bull the next morning. I still didn’t sleep much that night.
The next morning, Rocko and I were out at sunrise, glassing the field on private land. I felt like it was my duty to keep looking the only way we could at the time. When 10:00 a.m. finally came, we entered the private property. We walked a long way down a fence line looking for any sign of the elk. We found nothing. I walked off to the other side of the fence. I was getting discouraged, but the bible readings came back to me. I prayed to God again, and I promised I would be thankful no matter what the outcome. I think that is the hardest thing to do, is to praise God when times are tough, but that is the true definition of faith. In all honesty, keeping things in perspective, this hunt is really not tough at all. I felt truly thankful. I walked back to Rocko. Jake and Donna had come to help look. Rocko told me to get in the side by side with Jake and go to the opposite fence line and look for sign. We started off, and not 20 feet in, I shouted, “stop, stop, blood, blood, blood!” We found the blood trail. Rocko, Donna and I started following it. It wound around, jumped a fence, and stopped at a river. Rocko stayed on the bank, as Donna and I went to the other side of the river, so we could see where the trail last was. As we worked our way around, Rocko said he thought the elk was just ahead of us. Donna and I worked our way to the river. I wish I had a picture of this, because the elk was standing in the middle of the river, so magnificent, the fall leaves on the trees behind him, and the clear water around him. Donna told me to shoot him, and I did.
After hunting elk for five previous years, my immediate thoughts were not of joy. An appreciation and sadness for the animal swept over me, and I thanked the elk and God for the experience, for letting me share it with Donna and for the harvest. Finally, I have provided elk meat for my family.
Karen Butler is the President of Shoot Like a Girl, a company dedicated to growing the number of women who participate in shooting sports by empowering them with confidence.
Originally posted by Burris Optics. Recipes by Jesse Griffiths.
The rich flavor of wild ducks pairs very well with oysters in a gumbo, and if you have some less desirable ducks, such as shovellers or diving ducks, this is a great use for them.
3 wild ducks, plucked and gutted, or use 12 skinned breasts
1 cup lard or oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
4 medium onions, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 dried bay leaves
1 quart shucked oysters, with their liquor
Salt and pepper
Chopped green onions
Cover the ducks with cold water in a big pot and bring to a simmer. Skim the pot and cook the ducks until tender, about 4 hours. Remove the ducks from the pot, pick the meat from the bones and pass the stock through a fine strainer. Reserve 3 quarts of duck stock and all of the duck meat.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Melt the lard in a cast iron pan and stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 30 minutes or so, until the roux is a deep chocolate brown.
Place the hot roux in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the smoked sausage, onions, pepper, celery, parsley, thyme, oregano and bay, stirring often. Cook the vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes. Slowly add the stock into the roux, stirring constantly, until it is all absorbed and thickened. Cook for 2 hours over low heat. Add the cooked duck, oysters and their liquor and cook until the oysters curl at the edges, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with rice, hot sauce and chopped green onions.
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Curious to know Brett Joy’s four criteria he uses to grade a rifle based on the hunting he does? Check out his review of the Mossberg Patriot, chambered at 6.5 Creedmoor, which was his rifle of choice this past season, lasting him all of 2020. From accuracy testing the factory loads to size and ammo specs, check out the latest Whitetail Tech Tip video to learn more.
Under the cover of darkness coyotes yipped, yapped, and yodeled in just about every direction. The temperature hovered in the mid-30s as we gathered around the warming campfire at Hargrove Ranch. At the suggestion of our host Craig Archer, and fellow hunter Eddie Stevenson, I threw another log on the fire. Embers ascended skyward as if offerings and in the glow of the flames I could see Gary and Steve Roberson smile.
The ‘morrow’s morning came grudgingly, gray and frigid. In a hushed voice, Gary Roberson spoke, “If a coyote or bobcat comes in to the right of that tallest cactus almost straight ahead of you, take him Larry.” I nodded. Gary Roberson waved toward the left, “Eddie, if one comes in to the left of that cactus, he’s yours.” He continued, “I’ll watch behind us, just in case one tries to slip in.” Then added, “I sprayed a bunch of Texas Raised Hunting Products’ Predator Death Grip on the bushes next to the speaker. That should hold a coyote’s or bobcat’s attention and give plenty of time for a shot.”
Moments later Gary turned on the Rogue, his new electronic call which replicates exactly the same high pitch sounds made by a distressed rabbit — sounds no other electronic call can achieve.
In less than 20 seconds, a coyote appeared below me running through waist-high weeds, weeds I had grown up calling “wolf weed”. He weaved back and forth through the tall vegetation, heading towards the speaker positioned in Eddie’s area. I watched. Seconds later Eddie shot and the coyote crumpled.
Gary let the electronic call play a couple more minutes hoping another coyote would respond. When none did, Eddie retrieved his take. I walked toward Gary and Steve Roberson. Steve is Gary’s son and ace cameraman for their Carnivore television series which appears on Pursuit Channel.
“Well done!” said Gary, as Eddie dragged the coyote up to where we waited for him. “Load him up and let’s find another place to set up. Maybe we can call in another one before lunch” added Gary, smiling.
Before our morning’s coyote foray was over, we indeed shot two more. Our plan to reduce the Hargrove Ranch’s predator population to boost the whitetail and mule deer fawn survival rates was working.
As a wildlife biologist who long worked on wildlife management programs for whitetail, mule deer and other native wildlife, including non-game to song birds, I had suggested reducing the coyote population during winter and then again in early spring before fawns are born. In winter, because it is not uncommon for coyotes to pull down mature bucks suffering from the rigors of the rut, and in the spring/summer before fawns start hitting the ground.
February and early March are great times to hunt coyotes as well as bobcats. In some states the taking of bobcats is restricted or there is a fur season during which they can be taken, so always be sure to check your local regulations. Coyotes can pretty well be taken in most places at any time of the year.
The Burnham Brothers’ revolutionary and unequaled Rogue electronic call is the best tool I have ever seen used to take predators. And of course, I too have my ever-present Burnham Brothers C-3 mouth-blown call with me, whenever and wherever I hunt.
Over the past few years, Gary Roberson of Burnham Brothers Game Calls’ has done considerable research into what levels of sounds coyotes and bobcats can actually hear, which he has measured in hertz.
Research demonstrates humans can hear up to 23,000 hertz, coyotes up to 45,000 hertz and bobcats up to 64,000 hertz.
The standard electronic call with their speaker system and using recorded sounds take sound levels up to about 20,000 hertz, far below what coyotes and bobcats hear when a real rabbit squeals in distress. This is one of the reasons why if an area has been called to several times, coyotes and bobcats tend to no longer respond like they did when they heard the recordings for the first and second time. The sounds simply are not right.
Gary and his technical team developed not only a recording system that actually records to the level of a distressed rabbit and other distressed prey animals, but they also developed a speaker which presents and broadcasts those real sounds to their actual hertz levels. This is something no other electronic game call can currently do. He trademarked those techniques and equipment, so it will be years before another electronic game call company can come close to duplicating the process.
Actually, mouth blown calls, like the Burnham Brothers C-3 I carry with me everywhere, produce more hertz, beyond those produced with any current electronic call. This is one of the reasons I have often called in coyotes and bobcats in areas which have previously been called to, where predators were stated to no longer respond to calling.
The end result is that the Burnham Brothers’ Rogue electronic call works far better at calling in predators than any other system. As mentioned, calling in coyotes and bobcats where most serious predator hunters were previously convinced they could no longer be called in.
Using the world’s best and most unique electronic game call, the next step is simply choosing a firearm. My choices in these important missions have two constants, Trijicon scopes and Hornady ammo. I love hunting predators with rifles. My primary choice usually comes down to one of several Ruger №1’s, including a 257 Roberts, 270 Win, 30–06, 300 H&H Mag and possibly some bigger caliber rounds like the 405 Winchester and maybe even a 450–400 NE 3-inch. Too, I recently procured a Henry 30–30 Win single-shot, as well as a 30–30 lever action, which are both topped with Trijicon Huron scopes. Using Hornady 30–30 Win 160 gr. FTX LEVERevolution, these two are extremely accurate and fun to shoot.
Regarding bolt actions, those will likely amount to a 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser, shooting Hornady 140 gr. SST, a 275 Rigby shooting Hornady 140 gr. SP InterLock and a 280 Ackley Improved, shooting Hornady Precision Hunter 162 gr. ELD-X. Those three are Ruger M77 Africans. Then too, I have a 300 Win Mag in the same configuration that I plan on hunting with this year both for predators and big game, with it I’ll be shooting Hornady 200 gr. ELD-X Precision Hunter. Oh yeah, I also need to mention my Ruger M77 Guide rifle, topped with a Trijicon AccuPoint and shooting Hornady Outfitter ammo, loaded with 250 gr. GMX.
It is difficult to narrow myself down to a single rifle. I guess that means I’ve got to do a lot of different predator and big game hunts this year…
Do those rounds sound a bit big for less than 40-pound animals? Not to me. I like hunting coyotes and predators with the same rifles, scopes and ammo I use when hunting bigger game. Doing so is a great way to learn more about my hunting guns, and my abilities with them. And in my world, there is no such thing as over kill or too much gun!
Before heading out on a predator hunt, or for that matter any other hunt, I spray down with Texas Raised Hunting Products’ Scent Guardian. That includes clothes, hat, gloves, boots, binos, firearm and all other gear. The only other thing I usually take with me beyond my binoculars are shooting sticks, where I can rest my rifle for making a precise shot. Quite often I make these myself by cutting three sticks or relatively straight limbs about 40-inches in length and tying them together about four or so inches from one end. This length or height suffices since most of the time when I am hunting predators, I will be sitting down with my back against something to break my outline. If you have commercial shooting sticks, that too, is great. I have learned over the years everyone tends to shoot a lot more accurately with a properly rested firearm, no matter the target.
I guess all that’s left to say is it’s time to head to the coyote woods…
As a waterfowl hunter, the question often arises as to what is better…3” or 3.5” inch waterfowl loads for 12-gauge. Although this can be a personal preference, it’s best to understand exactly what you’re getting with each before you make the decision.
First, figure out if your gun can handle 3.5” inch shells. Once this has been determined, the next decision comes with cost and recoil. With a 3.5” inch load, you will spend slightly more and also have increased recoil. For me, I usually base it off the quantity of shooting I foresee on the hunt. If there will be lots of shooting, I almost always go with the 3” option. This is both for the cost and the amount of kick I can handle in one day.
The good news about using either 3” or 3.5” inch Winchester Blind Side is the fact that they’ve used a ton of new technology to give you the most bang for your buck. For example, they use a hex six-sided shot. Not only does this provide increased trauma and wound channels, it also allows pellets to stack better in the shell itself. The hex pellets in the same space give 15% more just because of the shape. So even if you choose 3” shells, you’re getting 15% more pellets than conventional round shot.
Another piece of technology Winchester has utilized to give you better results is the diamond cut wad. This maximizes the pattern performance of the hex shots. In fact, it provides consistent patterns that increase kill zones up to 25%. So again, the amount of new technology that Winchester has put into Blind Side gives amazing results regardless of what you choose.
Lastly, I always recommend getting a box of each and heading to the range. This way you can determine what is best for you and your gun. It’s very important for you to match the choke, load and gun at the range to get the best results and also learn what your effective range is. There is no magic way to just know – I’m a firm believer of knowing what your limitations are before ever hitting the field.
For example, I’ve seen people who think just because they are shooting 3.5” inch shell they can take much longer shots. As a hunter, you need to know your own limitations and stick to them. You will get denser patterns with more pellets when using a 3.5” shell, but you really need to test it out of your own gun ahead of time.
Spending time at the range patterning your gun is a great way to learn what you’re capable of, and once that’s all set do a little practice with clay pigeons and trap loads as well. You’ll be amazed how just a little practice before heading out will help knock down those late season ducks!
Osso Bucco, meaning ‘bone with a hole’ in Italian, utilizes a part of a bear that would typically go to the grind pile. In this dish, we are using the shank, or lower part of a bear leg. This meat would not typically be used by itself because of all of the connective tissue, tendons, and sinew running from the knee down to the paw of the bear.
The ingredients for Osso Bucco are common and cheap, so that’s a big win for this guy. That combined with the flavor and how the meat falls off the bone after cooking makes this a new go-to. Oh, and it’s made with only seven ingredients, too. It is easy and at the same time unique enough to be a hit in any environment. I’m definitely going to try it with other wild game as well because only the best of friends will be getting it with bear; it’s too good.
Osso Bucco is traditionally paired with risotto, but a bed of grains or noodles of some kind would do just fine too. You don’t have to put it on anything with a lot of flavor; the flavor of the meat and sauce will make up for that.
Black Bear Osso Bucco Ingredients:
1 bear shank, cut into cross cuts
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 cup white wine (we used pinot grigio)
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1-2 sprigs fresh herbs (we used parsley)
Step 1: Cut the bear shank into cross cuts (Ours were about an inch and a half)
Step 2: Chop the onions, carrots, and garlic
Step 3: Set the Instant Pot to Sauté on high. Brown the meat on both sides with oil, butter, and some fresh herbs if you have them. Salt and pepper liberally on both sides.
Step 4: Remove the meat & let it rest. Sauté your onions, carrots, and garlic in the same pot for a few minutes until they are soft. Then add your wine and cook another few minutes until the wine reduces by half.
Step 5: Add in the crushed tomatoes, fresh herbs, and bear shanks. Put the lid on and set it to cook on high pressure for 1 hour (If using a crockpot, you will need to cook it most of the day)
Step 6: Plate over some cheesy risotto and enjoy. You can make the risotto from scratch or make it from a box!
Risotto Ingredients: 1 box of chicken broth (32 Ounces)
5 tablespoons of salted butter
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup of arborio rice (any short-grained rice will do)
½ cup of white wine (we used pinot grigio)
1 handful of baby spinach
½ cup of parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1-2 springs of fresh herbs (we used parsley)
Step 1: Heat up the broth in a small pan while melting the butter (keep a little to the side for later) in another pan on medium-low heat
Step 2: Once the butter is melted, add in the leeks and cook until tender while stirring. Then add the garlic.
Step 3: Continue to stir and add in the rice. Stir & allow to cook until it becomes translucent. Next, add in the wine and continue stirring until the wine is cooked out.
Step 4: Continue stirring, add in about a half cup of the warm broth and let the rice absorb it. Continue this process until it becomes thick and creamy.
Step 5: Continue stirring and add in the spinach until it starts to wilt
Step 6: Add the parmesan, lemon juice, nutmeg, and remaining butter… salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
More people own guns now than ever before, but there are things that anyone new to gun ownership should know. Whether it’s something as basic as gun safety and shooting tips to cleaning your firearm and essential accessories, you’ve come to the right place to get started!
Safety is Key
Many gun-related accidents are due to improper handling or a misunderstanding of firearm safety, so this is the first thing you should ever know when owning a gun. However, gun safety isn’t just for you but for those around you as firearms can quickly end a life.
The most important lesson is that guns aren’t toys, which is often overlooked. Guns are weapons of devastation and should be treated accordingly. That means keeping them holstered until you’re ready to shoot and make sure it’s at something you’re willing to lose. That said, there are four firearm safety rules:
All guns are always loaded.
Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Let me explain each one.
Whether you’re about to clean the gun, getting ready for the range, or going through your closet, assume that every firearm has a round in the chamber. If this is your first gun, understand that a magazine can be empty, and the gun can still be loaded.
The latter is why you should always aim down and away from anyone else until you’ve been able to confirm your gun isn’t loaded. Even then, it’s a good habit to just keep with these rules as well as keeping your finger away from the trigger.
Guns are just machines without the trigger pulled, so your finger is the single greatest safety. Even if you have the safety feature on, the trigger guard is there for you to rest your finger on unless you’re ready to shoot.
Lastly, always know your surroundings if you have your firearm on you. Bullets travel with such a velocity that they can penetrate a target, meaning that your bullet may pass through anything or anyone. Most ranges will have sandbags, sand, or dirt behind the targets for just that reason.
Aside from knowing what’s behind your target and keeping your finger off the trigger, there are some basic tips for anyone new to shooting. If this is your first gun, it’s a safe assumption that you might not have experience behind the gun.
The best way to get better with your new firearm is to familiarize yourself with the weapon. That means spending time at the range consistently because it’s not like “riding a bike.” No champion shooter started that way, but practice doesn’t make perfect.
What does work is perfect practice, which is to say being able to consistently hit where you aim within a tight picture. In order to do that, it depends on whether you’re using iron sights or a scope of some kind.
With iron sights, line up the rear sights closest to you with the point at the end of the barrel and gently press the trigger. If you squeeze or pull the trigger, you’re likely to jerk your aim at the last second which is all it could take to throw off your aim.
Shooting with a scope is different because you’re not lining it up with the barrel. Scopes have a reticle of some kind, whether it’s a dot or LED shape in the center or a crosshair with lines going out that might have smaller notches. Those are either going to be MIL or MOA.
To learn more about that, there are some great tutorials on Youtube but the basics of shooting with a scope are to fire three test rounds and adjust your scope and aim. If you hit to the left of the target by an inch, click your scope one to the right if it’s in inches.
Also, for long-range shots, you’ll need to master your breathing and heart rate. Exhaling a few seconds before a shot can slow your heart rate, which affects the vein in the meat of your shoulder where the buttstock should rest.
Remember, when you make the scope adjustments, aim away from anyone nearby. That’s an easy way to get banned from a range and it’s easily avoidable, not to mention it could incite a reaction from someone deeming it as a hostile gesture.
Cleaning Your Gun
You don’t need to do it every time you use your weapon, but whether you’ve just gone to the range or returned from a hunting trip you’ll need to know how to properly clean your firearm. The first thing you’ll need is a gun cleaning kit.
Unless you need a cleaning kit that’s specifically for your weapon or caliber, a universal kit like the one linked should do the trick. That’s because most firearms follow a basic set of instructions that you can generally apply.
The first thing you should always do, and this can’t be stressed enough, is to make sure your gun isn’t loaded. Eject the magazine and check the chamber to visually confirm it’s empty. If you can’t remember if you checked, check it again.
With the slide locked back, run a bore brush from the chamber to the muzzle and pull it out. This will loosen up any built-up metal or other material.
Locate a cleaning patch, which will look like a small bandage for firearms, in your kit. Dip that in the cleaning solution provided and place the patch on the end of a cleaning rod.
Do the same thing with the rod that you did with the bore brush, running it from the chamber to the muzzle.
Once that’s had time to soak into the bore, which usually takes around 10 minutes, run the bore brush back through.
Wrap the end of your cleaning rod with a clean patch and push it through the bore until it comes out clean.
Gun oil should only be used for whatever pieces of your gun move, like the action. Don’t forget to clean the magazine and spring. Where to use gun oil and magazine aren’t universal, so follow your gun’s manual, but be careful about too much oil.
Put your gun back together, making sure that the slide and trigger are where they need to be. Remember: Your gun is a machine and machines need everything in a specific place to function.
Wipe off your gun with a cloth and let the slide go. Knowing your gun isn’t loaded, try dry-firing the weapon to make sure you put it back together right. Basically, that means cocking it and pulling the trigger without a bullet.
Lock your weapon away until you’re ready to bring it out again. Keep in mind that you might need to clean your weapon again before using it if you don’t shoot it for a long period of time.
There are a number of gun-related resources that any beginner should be aware of, whether you use them or not. The first, and most important one, is where to buy ammunition because you can’t use a gun without bullets.
One of the best resources for a new shooter can be a range membership. Experience really is everything when it comes to being a better shooter and the more familiar you get with your gun, learning the weight and recoil or how to clean it quicker, the better you’ll become.
Having a range membership will also introduce you to other shooters who might be able to help you, though never feel like you need to compete or rush. Experience isn’t learned overnight. If you want to take it one step further, though, you can take a class or get a license to carry.
Either one can provide you with knowledge on gun laws in your area, your rights as a gun owner, or potential legal scenarios you might encounter. These can all prove invaluable, even if you live in a state that allows open carry for everyone.
Whatever you choose to do, find a routine that works for you and stick with it. Whether it’s for protection or you’re going into law enforcement in the future, always follow the rules of gun safety and treat your firearm with respect. Good luck at the range!
Jennifer Pearsall- Originally Posted on Hoppes.com 5/24/21
When I was shooting competitive sporting clays, I was the Imelda Marcos of choke tubes. Couldn’t get enough of them. Stainless and ported, black oxide and with a color-coded constriction inset, knurled and short—I had ’em all from open to XXFull and dozens in between. The only one I never managed to get hold of was a jug choke I coveted for rabbit and other in-your-face target vaporization. You can’t have everything, I hear.
What you can have is clean choke tubes. Or at least cleaner choke tubes.
Choke tubes require more attention when it comes to cleaning than your barrels and most of the other parts you disassemble for cleaning. The two factors affecting this are the threads and the plastic buildup from wads.
Before I found the time-cutting solution I’m going to tell you about in a minute, my preferred way of cleaning choke tubes was to fill a small Mason jar full of Hoppe’s No. 9 and let the tubes I’d used that day soak. My version of dinner dishes in the sink for an overnight swim. I’d clean the rest of my gun, and by the time I was done the built-up plastic was easier to remove with a copper bore brush and some patches. Stubborn spots got the soft plastic or copper bristle utility brush, as did any ports, knurled ends, and the threads.
Thread grit is your enemy. It can ruin the threads of both chokes and barrels, and it can be a serious disruptor to fully seating your choke to the bottom of the threads, something that poses a possible firing hazard. A very careful, thorough wipe of your choke tube threads to ensure no grit remains between the highs and lows is the first order of business. The barrel threads are then treated to the same care, swishing around lightly lubed and then dry patches until they came away clean. Some like an extremely light lubricant on the choke tube threads before screwing them back in, and that can help get them unscrewed when you’ve got hot barrels. Just remember that too much can have your tubes unscrewing themselves as you shoot, something you do not want.
This detailed cleaning ritual worked, but it was tedious. More than a little elbow grease was needed when there’d been a long practice week followed by a two-day tournament in which cleanings were neglected until returning home Sunday night or the next week. Shoot 1,000 or more rounds a week without cleaning your tubes, and that plastic buildup will have you cursing. In addition, built-up grime between the threads can become cement-like—and there will be grime between the threads, I don’t care what brand of choke tube or gun you’re using. Trust me, the last thing you want to discover when you move from Station 7’s sets of 25-yard following pairs to Station 8’s 50-yard simultaneous minis is that you’ve left your choke tube wrench in the truck and you’re stuck addressing Station 8 with a Skeet II constriction. That doesn’t help rack up the “Xs” on the ol’ scorecard.
You only need to leave that choke wrench behind once to make sure it always has a place in your on-course range bag after that. An improvement over that, I’d say, is to carry a Hoppe’s Bore Snake with you.
I started packing one in my shell bag every time I went on course, running it through both barrels of my over/under every couple stations or so. You can do it with a semi-auto or pump, too, and without disassembly. Just drop the weighted end of the Bore Snake into the open receiver (unloaded gun, of course) and down the barrel. Next, pull it through from the muzzle end as you would if the barrel were off the receiver assembly, though you may have to help some of the Snake through the narrow receiver as you won’t be pulling it in a straight line until the entire device is in the barrel.
Did this render my gun spotless at the end of a tournament weekend in which I might fire 400 rounds? No. Did it reduce my overall cleaning time? Yes it did. More important, the chore of choke-tube cleaning became much easier. No more long soaks in a Mason jar of Hoppe’s. No more scrubbing at the tough spots. Even the holes in my ported tubes had reduced residue buildup. A quick swab with a bore brush, patch with solvent, a dry patch or two, and a thread cleaning were all it now took to have my tubes back to squeaky clean.
Do yourself a favor. If you spend any time shooting trap, skeet, five-stand, sporting clays, or F.I.T.A.S.C., stuff a Hoppe’s Bore Snake in the side pocket of your shell bag. When it comes time for the after-shoot breakdown and cleaning you (and your choke tubes) will be glad you did.
If this is your first long-range competition, you may not know how important proper breathing technique is when it comes to winning. If you’re not paying attention to your breathing, then you won’t be getting the most accurate shots that you can. It seems simple, but it’s not. It takes practice and concentration to perfect the way that you breathe.
Of course, breathing isn’t everything. The quality of your scope and rifle are essential too. If you’re looking for the best long-range scope money can buy or the best upgrades for your AR-15, then check out these links. But if you’re looking to improve your breathing technique, then keep reading to learn everything you need to know to win your next long-range shooting competition.
What is Breathing Technique? In the simplest terms, your breathing technique is the precise way that you control your breaths when you’re getting ready to fire your rifle. Exhale at the wrong time, and you’ll ruin your shot.
It sounds dramatic, but the way that you inhale and exhale, and more importantly, when you do it, is crucial to increasing the accuracy of your shots. When you inhale or exhale, your chest expands or relaxes. That causes your whole upper body to move. It happens all day long to the point where you don’t even notice it happening anymore. When it happens as you’re trying to aim your shot, though, you’ll start to notice when your shots aren’t hitting the target. In some cases, it may be your scope or mounting that’s off. More often than not, though, it’s going to be your breathing technique.
So Why is Breathing Technique Important? Most people haven’t learned that there are different ways to breathe. Unless you were in band, choir, or something like track and field, you probably don’t know the difference. The majority of people associate breathing with your chest and lungs. That’s not wrong, but it’s not the whole picture. When you breathe with just your chest muscles, you’re getting more oxygen and more air than you should be. This causes short breaths that raise your shoulders. That’s the kind of stuff that’ll cause your rifle to move and throw off your aim. These short breaths can be refreshing, but they can also give you the jitters because of the sudden rush of oxygen to your brain. On the other hand, when you use your diaphragm to breathe into your stomach, you’ll have longer, steadier, and more calming breaths. Not only does that help you relax and focus better, but it stops your upper body from moving all over the place. That’s going to increase your accuracy immensely. It’ll also help keep you relaxed so that you don’t tense up right before pulling the trigger.
Getting those short, quick breaths from your chest isn’t always bad, though. Sometimes, especially after a long round of shooting, taking a few of those quick chest breaths can help energize and stimulate you. They can be beneficial if you feel overwhelmed or feel like you’re starting to lose focus. To prevent fatigue and get the best shots consistently, it’s important to know when to breathe which way. Just remember, slow and steady before the shot, quick and excited after you’ve nailed the shot.
How To Train Your Breathing Technique So now you know how important your breathing is to your accuracy, it’s time to fix it. One of the first things you need to learn how to do is breathe from your stomach. First, make sure that you’re breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This allows for more controlled breathing and filters and warms the air that you breathe in.
Now, there are two main schools of thought toward breathing techniques. The first one says that you shouldn’t hold your breath or pause your breathing at all. Instead, you should continue to breathe in and out as you line up your shot and shoot just as you usually would. The only difference in your breathing will be that you are breathing from your stomach and taking slow, deep, measured breaths instead of quick chest breaths. You’ll still have to focus on keeping your breathing even and measured, so it will still take some practice to master. Pay attention to your body, and you’ll know when it’s time to take the shot. This technique works for some long-range competition shooters and for taking regular shots.
The “relaxed shot” is the other breathing technique that is easy to learn and widely used in long-range competition shooting. For this, you’ll be breathing in cycles. Breathe in and out as you naturally would as you begin to line up your shot. During the pause in between breaths, you’ll hold your breath for 3-5 seconds. This is when you slowly squeeze the trigger and take the shot. Rinse and repeat. The idea is that when you fire during the pauses where you’re neither inhaling or exhaling, your body will be at its most relaxed. You’ll always be at your most precise when your body isn’t tense. There is an important caveat to this, though. Don’t try to find your shot while you’re holding your breath. So, when you pick up your rifle and you’re finding your target, that’s when you inhale. When your front sight is pointed at the target and you’re lined up, exhale and stop breathing until you have fired your shot. This pause in between breaths where you don’t breathe for a few seconds is known as the Natural Respiratory Pause or NRP. Try not to think of it as holding your breath, but rather as taking advantage of the break that your lungs take by themselves; you’re just going to be more aware of it.
Now, which breathing technique should you use? That’s up to you. Give them both a try and see which one works best for you. Changing your breathing technique isn’t going to be an instant fix for your accuracy, but the more you practice it, the more precise you’ll become. It seems like a straightforward thing but pay attention to how you’re breathing the next time you head to the practice range. I’m willing to put money on the fact that you shoot better when you control your breathing.
I’m Breathing Differently, Now What? Again, it’s not going to be an instant fix. You’re not going to know exactly how to breathe the right way the first time you try. After a few times of actively trying to control your breathing, though, I guarantee that you’ll notice a difference. Keep practicing it every time you’re at the range, and soon it will become second nature.
If you’re still not noticing a difference after fixing your breathing, then it may be time to look at your equipment and make sure that you’re using quality gear. Make sure that you’re using the right kind of rifle for the shooting that you’re doing. You probably shouldn’t be using a break action rifle for intense competition shooting, for example. From there, make sure that you’ve got the correct optics, iron sights vs. red-dot sights, and any other accessories (such as a suppressor to reduce hearing damage) that you might want. Accessories aren’t one size fits all, so make sure that the one you’re eyeing is going to work on your firearm before you buy it.
From there, it’s all just trial and error and practicing until you’re great. Good luck and remember to breathe!
To perfect any art, regular and even rigorous training is a must. The same is true for rifle and pistol shooting. It’s easy to prioritize the shooting itself, but mental training is equally important. Experts recommend experimenting with different physical exercises to improve shooting accuracy.
For shooting, training your body is a must. Training your mind is also important, and one of the most important skills is building muscle memory.
Muscle memory is a skill that is gained by repetitive movement. To achieve the same square several times, you’re required to assume the same shooting position, which results in improved shooting accuracy. Experts recommend exercising in training and competition environments to help you adapt to different conditions.
It’s important to build muscle memory in your hands, arms, shoulders, and chest, which makes it easier to move the gun easily and accurately.
Developing Muscle Memory
You can only build muscle memory by assuming the same position repeatedly. This way, it becomes easy to aim your shot because you know where the bullet is coming from and where it will ideally strike. As we all know, practice makes perfect. By repeating the same movement, it will become easy to assume the same position whenever you’re shooting.
Starting each shot with unique positioning does the opposite. It confuses your body and makes it difficult for your procedural memory to repeat the action. This will prevent you from taking accurate shots.
One of the most effective methods of building your muscle memory is through dry firing. Wind and other factors affect shot accuracy. Some factors that are within your control are how you hold the firearm and the position you assume when taking the shot. Dry firing comes in handy in developing a solid shooting position and creating muscle memory, which makes it easier to take accurate shots. Once you master dry firing, you won’t need to visit a shooting range to perfect your shooting.
Once you’ve mastered dry firing, consider using real ammunition. This will help you gauge how it reacts to different characteristics, and you’ll then be able to adapt your body to any movement of the trigger.
The Fundamentals of Dry Firing
It’s estimated that it takes 10,000 repetitions to build muscle memory. This requires a lot of time and ammunition. Dry firing solves this complexity.
Before you shoot, ensure that all the guns are unloaded. This is a necessary safety precaution and also the point of the exercise.
Then work towards correcting the errors. When you have mastered accurate shooting, you can start using live ammunition.
While shooting, it’s important to pay attention to every action that’s taking place including the firing sequence and holding the sight picture. Breath in and squeeze the trigger as you breathe out.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are several reasons why dry firing is so helpful for building muscle memory.
No Recoil, Less Flinch Firing a gun is difficult because the brain tries to resist actions it considers dangerous. The loud noises and jolts make it hard to achieve an accurate shot when you’re handling a gun. The body reacts to the loud gun noises and jolts with reflexive action, which can cause the eyes to shut or look away. We know this as flinching.
When you dry fire, there are no loud noises. You won’t flinch, which makes it easier to learn how to shoot a gun safely and effectively.
Building Confidence Learning to achieve a perfect shot can frustrate anyone, especially when you’re trying to hit the bullseye to no avail. That, coupled with the cost of ammunition, can frustrate even the calmest shooter. Thankfully, with dry fire, there are no holes in the target that show missed shots. This is a tremendous morale boost for the shooter because they are likely to remember what they did right instead of focusing on their failures. They can also identify areas of improvement.
Practice Non-Shooting Gun Skills There is more to shooting than taking the actual shot itself. Shooters must also master the right positioning, gun drawing, reloading, one hand shooting, and aiming a shot while moving.
There is Less Trigger Jerking Jerking the trigger prevents the shooter from making an accurate shot. Two things can cause this: failure to master trigger control and taking the shot too quickly when the shooter thinks the target is at the perfect position.
Dry fire helps a shooter practice firing a gun without experiencing the nuisances of trigger jerking.
Hear It From a Pro!
In a Nutshell
Dry fire helps build muscle memory which helps improve your shooting accuracy. One of its advantages is that shooters get to practice without using ammunition which translates to lowered costs. Besides, new shooters learn gun handling techniques after which they can proceed to use real ammunition. To improve your accuracy, we highly recommend trying the dry-fire exercises recommended above. Happy shooting!
Did you know that archery’s popularity is steadily growing? Bowhunting is catching on in the mainstream, school archery programs are expanding, and cities across the nation have archery leagues.
And there are several reasons for this explosion in interest. Social interaction, enjoying the outdoors, and the sport itself benefit those who shoot.
For instance, spending time outside is often an activity taken for granted — but the mere act of being outside is good for you, from fresh air to vitamin D exposure. This is one of the most important vitamins for us, as it supports our bones, improves mental health, and even strengthens our immune systems. A day spent at the range is a day well spent!
But did you know that there are plenty of other reasons archery is such a healthy activity? Archery has such benefits for the human body, as it:
Let’s delve into how you and your family can experience these significant benefits if you take up this sport.
1. Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
Your success in archery depends greatly on how well you coordinate your movements. When you shoot a bow, you must be able to transmit cues to your brain about adjustments necessary in your stance. Over time, your hand-eye coordination continues improving and becomes second nature. Given enough time, your reactions to visual stimuli will become faster.
There aren’t many sports in which this trait is as important to develop. Proper hand-eye coordination allows you to complete tasks in your daily life, like driving your car. If you practice regularly, archery can improve your efficiency in those daily tasks, too.
2. Strengthened Muscles
If you’ve ever drawn a bow and arrow, you know how much upper body and arm strength it requires. Every day you spend in practice strengthens all the muscles involved in the action. As time goes by, drawing the bow becomes easier and easier.
Some of the muscle groups involved in drawing a bow include:
In fact, after a long day of shooting, you’ll feel it. It’s quite the workout!
3. Improved Heart Health
Just the workout you get from practicing archery should be enough to convince you that this sport is well-worth the effort. What many people don’t know is that archery, because it is so body-intensive, also has incredible cardiovascular benefits. You might think of treadmills or going for a good run when you think cardiovascular, but shooting arrows is also great for your heart.
We explained above all the muscle groups involved in practicing archery — this physical exertion boosts your heart rate. Walking back and forth from the shooting area to your target to retrieve your arrows also gets the blood pumping. In conjunction, this activity even burns calories at a much higher rate than other sports. But the best part? You’re exercising, and it’s enjoyable! It doesn’t feel forced like so many other activities, such as running or jogging.
4. Relieves Stress
It’s a well-known fact that stress wreaks havoc on the body and is one of the leading causes of medical problems such as:
High blood pressure
Archery just happens to be a fantastic way to exercise and the perfect way to blow off some steam, cutting much of life’s daily stresses to a minimum.
One of the most significant reasons archery relieves stress so well is that you can escape the rat race of city life and head for the great outdoors. If you don’t get much time in nature, this can be a rejuvenating experience. Decreasing your stress levels not only helps ward off the above medical issues, but it can even lengthen your life and decrease potential future illnesses.
5. Boosts Patience
You might think archery is simple — build up stamina, practice, aim, hit the target, and voila! You’re an archer! While the sport is relatively easy to learn, it’s quite difficult to hone. Of course, it’s fun, but there are times when it can be really frustrating, too. The more you practice — and the more you goof up — the more patience you develop, which is essential if you want to be an archer in the long term. It takes fierce determination, and skill, to repeat an action perfectly over and over. But this practice is exactly what makes you better — at archery and at life!
You might dread having to get up and head to the gym before work, but it’s highly likely you’ll spring out of bed before the alarm to spend some time out in nature shooting arrows at targets. The passive nature of archery is one of its most wonderful qualities.
Taking the time to learn, hone, and perfect archery promotes your physical and mental health. This isn’t whimsy, but reality. Just ask any archer!
Writer byline: Jennifer “J Lynn” Cameron is a freelance writer recently transplanted to the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she dreams of world travel. With coffee.
B&P Gordon Hull: How and Why Does it Absorb Recoil?
author Federica G
Since the introduction of the Gordon Hull in the early 1990s, its recoil reduction has been greatly appreciated by shooters and hunters alike. It has represented a major innovation in how to soften the recoil caused by the energy unleashed when firing a cartridge.
What is the Gordon Hull? The Baschieri & Pellagri Gordon Hull is recognizable by its unique, shock-absorbing base wad. The base wad closes the bottom of the shell casing while at the same time anchoring the end plug tube and serving as the primer seating.
Together with the metal end plug, it creates a solid structure that resists the shock of the firing and extraction phases. In addition to this, however, and unlike other paper or plastic base wads the Gordon shell casing also absorbs recoil.
To understand this better, let’s start with how and felt recoil works and feels In a physical sense, recoil is a consequence of the third law of dynamics which states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In the case of a firearm, the gas pressure generated by the gunpowder ignition propels and accelerates the bullet or pellets along the barrel as they exit the muzzle. This, in turn, creates an equal and opposite force in the shell casing against the breech of the firearm and the shooter’s shoulder or hand. The force produced by this energy is called technical recoil.
So, technical recoil is the result of this expended energy and is what causes the classic kick to the shoulder.
Technical recoil depends mainly on two factors: 1. The cartridges: The pellets’ weight and speed must be taken into consideration. These two factors determine the kinetic energy generated by the cartridge which will, therefore, also affect the firearm’s recoil.
2. The weight of the shotgun: The weight of the shotgun opposes the energy generated by the shot. The greater the weight of a firearm, the smaller its recoil will be. This explains why target shotguns generally weigh more than hunting shotguns which are designed to be carried longer and shot less. The reason is again due to the laws of physics– simply stated, the opposite force towards the breech of the firearm needs to move a greater weight (that of the shotgun).
This is the technical recoil of a firearm. But how is this different from felt recoil? Even though the energy of the recoil is equal to the kinetic energy generated by the shot it is, however, possible to manage how this energy is distributed and absorbed by a system combining factors comprised of the shooter, the shotgun, and the cartridges.
In fact, felt recoil refers to how the shooter literally physically feels the energy that is discharged into their hand or shoulder and the body during the recoil of a firearm.
What is the underlying implication of felt recoil? Taking into consideration the shotguns and cartridges, the energy of the technical recoil cannot be canceled out. How it is absorbed can however be managed, thus changing the shooter’s perception. In this case, we are talking about felt recoil.
How the Gordon Hull acts at the time of the shot As soon as the shot is fired, the gunpowder inside the cartridge becomes high-pressure gas. Due to the radial resistance of the steel barrel this gas can expand only axially, that is to say forward onto the pellets and backward onto the shooter’s shoulder.
The wadding acts on the energy released onto the pellets The force on the pellets is effectively dampened by the springiness of the wadding, which acts as a shock absorber that collects the impulse and distributes it not only over a longer time, thus slowing it down. It also is affected by a larger uniform surface (the whole section of the barrel), thus decreasing the impulse on the pellets. In this manner, the pellets are deformed much less.
The Gordon Hull acts on the energy directed towards the shooter’s shoulder With a conventional shell casing, there is nothing to absorb the backward force of the gases, so the impact on the shoulder is perceived in all its violence.
When using the shock-absorbing Gordon Hull together with an active base wad, the impact of the gases in the direction of the shooter’s shoulder will be in part absorbed by the shock absorption of the Gordon Hull and in part by the springiness of the wadding. In this manner, it offsets this force and thus generates a much smaller recoil effect.
That is why we discussed felt recoil before!
What is the final result? If you have ever fired cartridges with a Gordon Hull, you probably already know the ultimate feeling of shooting softness and comfort even with large shot weights such as 28 grams in skeet shooting or 38-42 grams for hunting.
These Gordon Hull cartridges are specially designed to minimize the recoil felt by the shooter and are unique in offering two distinct dampening systems in two different sections of the cartridge.
In one direction the Gordon Hull acts on the perceived pressure to the shooter’s shoulder and in the opposite direction, thanks to the wadding, there is less strain on the pellets which allows them to better maintain their roundness. The result is in a more compact and uniform shot pattern and better penetration.
6 Things to Do to Prepare for a Backpack Hunting Trip
Backcountry hunting is usually a single-day affair. Hike in, hunt, hike out. Backpack hunting, however, adds in at least camping overnight. This adds in a plethora of complications, from food to where you will sleep. With the proper preparation and the right gear, like Redfield scopes for your rifle, iodine tablets for water, and a map to your campsite, you can have a fun, successful hunt.
Get Ready to Be Alone First, you are likely going to be alone for this hunting trip. Bring a book and get ready for solitude. You will be alone at night, which for the first night can be unnerving. Every snap of a twig can sound like something getting close to the tent. Try to ignore most of it, so you wake up well-rested.
Pack the Right Gear You will need to carry every item in and out, with the added weight of an animal when packing out. You should know how much food and water you will need, as well as clothes that cover every part of your body. Be sure to have comfortable boots and socks. Bring all the accessories you need for your rifle, from Bushnell scopes to monopods. You will want water purifiers or iodine tablets to ensure you are drinking safe water. Bring tools to clean and repair your firearms and a field dressing kit for the game. You will also need a sleeping system, such as a shelter like a tent or a bivy sack, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad.
Be Realistic If you haven’t been regularly hitting the gym, don’t expect to hike for miles at a high elevation. Instead, hike in a manageable distance, knowing you will have to haul a heavy animal back out. You shouldn’t expect a four-course meal every night, as packing food and something to cook with takes up space that you will need to manage.
Keep Your Boots Dry One of the worst things that can happen during a backpacking hunt is to hike with wet boots. You’ll quickly get blisters, making the rest of your hunt miserable. From creek crossings to dew on high grass, it’s easy to get your boots and socks wet. Bring extra socks and have a way to dry your socks. Protect your boots as much as possible and keep your feet dry. You can prepare for your hunt by waterproofing your boots.
Make Sure You Are Hydrated Keep drinking water throughout the day. If you are thirsty, you already need water. Bring either a water purifier or iodine tablets. You may want to consider bringing a water bladder, though refillable water bottles can also work at the cost of weight.
Pick Out a Camping Spot Beforehand Do your research beforehand. Find a spot for camping that is protected from the wind and close to a water source. Camping in the wrong spot can mean risking you being able to reach a vantage point, not hearing elk at night, or being too far from water.
Find firearms parts and accessories and hunting supplies for your backpack hunt at www.natchezss.com
7 Steps to Making Your Grandfather’s Rifle Hunt-Ready
You just found your grandfather’s old rifle, and you want to restore and take it to the range or use it for hunting. The problem is that it’s old and unused. Does it still shoot? Does it have cracks in the wood? Does it only have iron sights and could use an upgrade to one of the Redfield scopes? Here are some steps you can take to take an old rifle and make it usable.
Take It to a Gunsmith Your first step should be taking your rifle to a gunsmith. They can tell you whether the rifle is still shootable, and if not, what it will take to make it usable again. They can identify what parts need replacing, whether the pitting in the metal is too much, and whether cracks in the wood are fine or will break open more if you fire the rifle.
Disassemble and Clean Once you know what you need to do, you will need to disassemble the firearm. If you don’t know how, try to find a video that breaks down the rifle step by step. If it’s an antique rifle, it might be very old and hard to disassemble due to dirt and grime building up over the years. Once disassembled, you will want to clean what you can. Use non-corrosive cleaning agents to avoid damaging the rifle.
Restore the Finish Once you have given the rifle’s parts a once-over, it’s time to restore the finish. For the wood, use sandpaper to remove the old finish. Try to leave the areas where the action is fitted untouched, or you could have problems with fit later on. After the old finish is gone, you can use a finish like boiled linseed oil to bring the wood to life. You can stain the wood as well. Be warned that, left in the open, rags with boiled linseed oil can spontaneously combust.
Replace Parts Next, replace any broken parts. Some parts may be hard to find, especially with older rifles. Surplus rifles may be easier to find parts for, and some popular guns have reproduction parts that you might find at modern suppliers.
Consider Upgrades You may want to consider upgrades at this point. You can sporterize old firearms, though this will decrease their value. You may want to add modern optics, such as Bushnell scopes. You can also add other features, such as trading out parts from newer models that are still compatible.
Blue the Metal You can cold blue any metal that was blued already but has lost the bluing. Cold bluing mostly restores the look and only provides minor resistance to rust. If you want the metal hot blued, you will likely need to visit a gunsmith, as it involves using boiling caustic liquids. If your firearm was not originally blued, you can skip this step and move on to reassembling.
Find Ammo Once your rifle is reassembled, you’ll need to find the right ammunition. This can prove tricky for older rifles. You may consider crafting your own rounds to either lower expense or make it easier to have rounds to fire. Modern ammo is often more powerful, but there might be ammo for your caliber still manufactured.
They’re the civilian version of the military’s M16. The only main difference being that you can’t fire in three-round bursts or full-automatic.
But while it’s just as versatile, accurate, durable, and downright dependable as the one trusted by the uniformed services, the one thing you can do with an AR-15 that you couldn’t dream of doing in the military is customize the heck out of it. Think of Legos — but for grown-ups. Entering the vast and colorful world of rifle mods can be overwhelming at first, and it will take some time to make sense of it all. So to help, here’s a list of the top 5 upgrades for your AR-15…
Optics Optics are a no-brainer. It’s one of the best upgrades you can do to improve your accuracy — especially with long-distance shooting. The three different types of sights are the iron, red-dot, and telescopic sights.
Iron sights come standard on your rifle and are less accurate than a scope and can delay your reaction time. The upside is that they provide a reasonable degree of accuracy, and because they require no batteries, they are more dependable.
Red-dot sights are great because they superimpose a red dot over the target without actually emitting any beam or light. The dot is true, which means that even if your eye moves around, the round will hit exactly what the dot marks.
Telescopic sights are either fixed or variable. While a fixed magnification can limit you to a certain range, it is often superior to a variable sight adjusted to the same power. While the variable gives you more versatility, some say that a fixed sight performs better in its intended range. Again we see a balance between versatility and performance.
As with every other feature, you have to make your selection based on the intended use. A telescopic sight is bad for close-quartered tactical maneuvers, and holographic sights probably won’t be ideal for that buck downrange. There are many balances to be struck — cost versus quality, versatility versus performance, utility versus comfort — so how you accomplish that is a solo journey that requires trial and error.
Handguards The handguards are what protect your non-firing hand from the barrel as it heats up from shooting. As it heats up, not only can it burn your hand, but the accuracy diminishes significantly as well. Compounding that problem, hot barrels are more likely to warp over time. This creates an obvious need for handguards.
But while your AR-15 comes equipped with them already, there is quite a bit of latitude in how well they do their job. When you research handguards, you’ll come across the two types:
Drop-ins are two pieces that you can install without having to remove any other components, such as the D-ring or front sight post. This is likely what your rifle already has installed. And while they do a reasonably good job, there is a compelling reason to get yourself free-floating handguards instead. When you fire a rifle, there is a nearly imperceptible oscillation and vibration — we’ll refer to these as ‘barrel harmonics’ — in the barrel that requires expensive instruments and cameras to detect. Just like skyscrapers are built to sway and aircraft wings are built to flap, the barrel is built to move in its own way. A free-floating handguard allows it to do its thing without any interference whatsoever because it slips over the barrel and makes absolutely no contact with it. This translates to improved accuracy.
The anatomy of your rifle will determine how easy the installation is and what size you need, but once you’ve determined those you can then decide between the fit and feel of the various options out there. There are two types of free-floaters — M-Lok and KeyMod — and both are fantastic. They both do the job while allowing for a wide array of gadgets to be easily attached. How many rails you want is entirely up to you, but try and get a feel for it before you make your decision. Utility and comfort is an important balance to strike. If you need help deciding between M-Lok and KeyMod, I can save you some trouble:
While up until now it has been a matter of personal preference, a clear winner has emerged following extensive testing conducted by USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command): The M-Lok won out.
There are plenty of good products out there, but the Bootleg Camlok handguards are a solid choice because they’re M-Lok compatible, much easier to install (takes seconds) than the others, and they weigh next to nothing. They even come in different sizes to fit different barrel lengths.
Trigger Your weapon already comes with a mil spec trigger that is durable and reliable. The problem with it is that the break point (the point at which the hammer is released), the pull length, and the trigger weight are all inconsistent.
They vary ever so slightly, but once you shoot with an upgraded trigger, you’ll never go back. There are two types:
The single-stage trigger works by applying a consistent force in a singular movement until the trigger breaks and the rifle shoots. Two-stage is more accurate because it splits up the force needed to fire.
Instead of applying, say, four or five pounds of pressure to the trigger until it breaks, you can apply two pounds until you hit an easily discernible “wall,” at which point just two pounds more of pressure will break and the rifle will shoot. You can then reset to the second stage for a quick successive shot. The only downside is you need to practice with it first to familiarize yourself.
Stock Your AR-15 probably already comes with a fixed buttstock. While it serves its purpose, there is plenty of room for improvement. The two other types are the more versatile adjustable stocks and the minimalist stocks for the more aesthetically minded.
A collapsible stock can be adjusted to be longer or shorter. This is important for a weapon that will change users often if the size of the shooter changes (if you’re bundled up for a freezing morning in the woods or wearing body armor, you’ll need to adjust the length accordingly), or how tactical you need to be (for target practice, you can keep it long to fit your frame comfortably; for the tactically minded who need to operate in close quarters you need it collapsed).
Either way, aim for a stock that is lightweight, comfortable, and durable. Just be mindful of your local laws, as some places restrict their usage.
Muzzle Brakes When you fire, the gas created in the explosion pushes backward as it expands outward from the barrel. This process is known as recoil, and my guess is that you’re no stranger to it.
In a nutshell, a muzzle brake allows the gases to disperse more efficiently. This translates to a reduction in vertical/horizontal movement and recoil, meaning greater accuracy and quicker realignment of the sights after each shot. The downside is it adds to the length of the barrel and can be noticeably louder than the stock option. Muzzle brakes are easy to install and are on the cheaper side of upgrades (less than $100).
This article by Richard Douglas originally appeared here.
As the weather starts to change and the leaves begin to fall, many are busy working on prepping their land for the upcoming waterfowl season. It seems to always be a frantic time of preparation, hope, and excitement for what the season will provide. In southeast Tennessee, the past several years have been a roller coaster of too much rain, too little rain, or any other combination of catastrophe that seemed to tilt the odds ever so slightly away from the waterfowl hunter. It was those memories and concerns that made several of my friends and I jump at a chance to hunt a property in central Mississippi in early January 2020.
The thought of getting a fresh start on a property with proven success excited us with the possibilities of aching shoulders from the weight of our game straps filled with waterfowl. We spoke of how the season had not worked in our favor in past years but this opportunity could right those wrongs. Some would even say that this could be the launching pad for a tremendous year in the field, pursuing various game from January to December, with experiences that would revival the hunting icons of the past. It was this same excitement that would occupy our minds for the 5-hour truck ride to Mississippi and even consume our thoughts as we sat in our hotel rooms prepping our gear for the next morning.
The morning of the hunt, I looked at the buzzing alarm thinking, you’re late my friend, as we had been up for nearly an hour getting ready for the day’s adventure. The air was cold and crisp as we left our hotel and piled our gear into the truck for the short drive to the property through the back roads of Mississippi. We each spent the drive discussing the items we had left at home and the possibilities of there being time to stop for coffee as we drove down the dirt and clay roads until finally, we had arrived at the gate of the property. We barely waited for the truck to be parked before jumping out to greet the landowner and guide with various jokes about one another and handshakes.
We had met this landowner and guide many times before and we knew that this trip would be nothing short of exciting due to their pure joy of the sport. They both helped us to stow the rest of our gear and ourselves into the waiting minitruck that towed a small jon boat and then instructed us to hold as we drove into the dark abyss of the morning. The ride seemed to only last a few minutes before stopping and hearing the landowner say, “Well, from here it’s by foot, due to the water levels being up tremendously.”
Several of us stripped off our jackets and loaded the jon boat with decoys, firearms, ammo, and other gear in preparation for the hike that leads us to the blind. It did not take but just a few moments for the ankle-deep water to turn into waist-deep to chest-deep water as we struggled to keep our balance walking the now submerged access road. The feeling of the cold water compressing the legs of our waders was a welcoming feeling as we continued to strip off layers of outerwear during our march to the blind as we found ourselves questioning each layer we removed. We took turns towing the small jon boat for a rope tied the bow thru the water while the others used the small boat to keep themselves stable through the forest of submerged trees, mud, and roots that grabbed at your feet seemingly waiting for you to trip for the amusement of the trees.
After several minutes of maneuvering through this maze of trees, the woods opened up into a flooded plain that seemed to be the backdrop from the latest waterfowl magazine with just the very beginnings of the night’s sky turning a slight blue. You could feel the party’s excitement growing as we pushed towards the waiting blind that was starting to take shape from the surrounding vegetation. We chatted amongst ourselves discussing the various tasks that needed to be completed once we arrived to ensure a speedy setup.
It did not take long for our entry into the blind to be forgotten by the local wildlife, as the various birds and squirrels started their day of foraging for food when we heard our first distant duck. We immediately stopped whatever we were doing to listen and gauge from what direction the call had come from. “I think it came from behind us,” said one of the guys as he was still trying to chew his donut. Another said, “Maybe it came from the East?” pointing in a roughly Easterly direction with a hand still clinging to his coffee.
However, none of these directions mattered because only moments later we had a small flock of ducks land perfectly in the middle of decoys. We all looked to our guides waiting on the nod to open fire, knowing it was still just a little too early. “Shhhh…….let’s see if we can get some more ducks to fall into these decoys.” said one of the guides as they both started to speak to the waterfowl in the area with their calls. It seemed to be only minutes later and here came another flock and then another. Our hearts pounded ever more rapidly with each bird that landing on the water.
“Look!” loudly whispered one of my friends, “we have another grouping coming from behind us!” “Let’s get these ducks in close and you guys be ready.” said one of the guides. Time seemed to crawl as we watched the birds circle our blind once, then twice, finally cupping their wings as they committed to our set up. “Alright guys……..NOW!” said the guides, as we fired upon the waterfowl in the air.
The ducks fell as we emptied our shotguns and struggled to reload. Our excitement was hard to contain and only when we were told that another grouping was coming from the distant tree line, did we quiet down and crouch like cats getting ready to pouch on a mouse, “Get ready boys….here they come…” Suddenly, a sound that could only be described as miniature jet fights comes roaring from behind us right into the decoys, “TEAL!” exclaimed one of the guides, his excitement exceeding our own, ”Take them!”
We shouldered our shotguns and opened fire as they began to drop into the spread. Again firing as quickly as our trigger fingers would allow and even sometimes miscounting how many shells we had left in our firearms. “Quick!” we would exclaim, “I need more shells!” franticly trying to reload to not miss out on the ducks that were trying to stay close to the decoys. This scene was repeated again as another flock of ducks came from the right of our blind before being met with our waiting trigger fingers.
It was only after this rush of excitement and ducks had slowed that we realized the task that lay ahead of us. In our eagerness of the morning, we failed to ask the question of how the fallen ducks would be retrieved throughout the hunt. We looked at each other almost expecting someone to break out the time-honored game of rock, paper, and scissors to decide who would play bird dog for this round of birds. However, before the first of us could offer this as a solution, one of our guides leaped from the blind to wade across the waist-deep water to collect birds on behalf of the group.
We watched as he waded through the decoys chasing down birds before they were carried away by the slow but relentless current. It was not long after watching his struggle that we decided to clear out the blind and assist in what would become the most unusual Easter egg hunt to be played. Each of us took turns recounting where we saw birds fall or where they were pushed to by the current until we had collected all the birds from the morning’s shoot. We hurriedly waded to the blind to reset for the next grouping of ducks that we felt sure were just out of eyesight.
This action continued for most of the morning, as we would listen to the ducks answer our guide’s calls, and then waiting almost impatiently for one of them to let us fire upon the flocks that had landed and circled the decoys. Finally, topped off with a “field trip” out of the blind to collect our winged prizes in the water, then resetting again with smiles that would revive a child’s at Christmas.
It was not until we had a slight lull, that one of my friends said, “These donuts are great but a real breakfast would be even better” that we were all reminded of our own stomachs that were also craving just a little more than the coffee and donuts we had much earlier that morning. Without missing a beat, the landowner said, “We can go to the big blind and I can make breakfast if you want?” The looks on our faces must have spoken volumes to the landowner with our excitement and puzzlement of a blind that was bigger than what we were currently using, “Yeah, I have a larger blind that has a kitchen and porch.” We could not believe what we were hearing and had to at least see this blind that held the possibility of food.
We loaded our gear and left the blind heading for the levee at the edge of the field, still keeping one eye towards the sky in case another group of ducks had planned on dropping into the decoys. Our waders sank into the clay and mud as walked closer to a large grouping of trees that started taking shape into a giant treehouse. As we walked up the steps of this “blind”, I could not help but think how impossible it was for us not to see this massive structure earlier in the morning and day. It had a large room with a table, chairs, and stove with a porch on two sides of the building that had been brushed in for hunting.
Each of us walked up and down the porch watching for ducks as we stretched our legs while starting to unwind from the morning’s pace of waterfowl hunting. The only thing keeping us from aggressively pursuing more birds was the intoxicating smell of breakfast being cooked inside and the thought of it being gone before you could retrieve your bird. Soon we were told that breakfast was ready and after a pause for a moment of reflection, we began to eat the simple but delicious meal of eggs, bacon, and biscuits. We talked about our hunt and the success that we had and we complemented our host on thinking of everything that would make this hunt second to none.
After finishing our breakfast, the time had come for us to load up the gear and start the hike back towards our trucks for the journey home. We walked through the same woods that seemed to test our determination earlier in the morning but now those same trees seemed to openly accept us as if we had proven our worth to them earlier that day. The silence of the day being broken by the sound of us walking through the water and recounting our adventure to one another until we reached our vehicles.
We spent our time at the vehicles, removing our waders, jackets, and extra gear to prepare ourselves for the drive back home. Our hosts helped us to stow away any last-minute items and also offer ideas for preparing the waterfowl that we had all worked so had to obtain. After we had all had a chance to thank our landowner and guide for the outstanding hunt, we piled into the truck for the journey back to our homes. As we drove down the road, I reflected on the time that we had spent in the woods and how amazing these opportunities are to experience the natural world.
We all know adding an optic to your AR-15 will enhance your shooting. However, which one should you choose: A red dot or a scope?
You’ll find out by the end of this guide. Let’s dive in!
What Is A Red Dot?
Simply put: It’s an optic with a red (or green) LED dot in the center. They’re light, parallax-free, fast, and contain a glowing, simple reticle. The best part?
You can keep both eyes open while firing. Even better, you can use an iron sight alongside the red dot (known as co-witnessing). This allows you to aim from a variety of angles — perfect for close quarter combat (CQB) engagements. On the other hand, you may be wondering…
What Is A Magnified Optic?
It’s an optic that can ‘zoom in’ on faraway targets. They have larger power levels, more advanced reticles, and increased long-distance accuracy.
The best part? Magnified optics (or LPVOs) can do both: engage short-range and long-range targets…at the SAME time. This is very convenient — especially on the field when you’re lugging around tons of gear. But, it does take a little longer to ‘zoom in’ short-range compared to red dots.
How much longer? That’s what Lucky Gunner sought to answer when they ran a…
Red Dot Vs. Magnified Optic Speed Test
The experiment was simple. Test both optics head-to-head in a speed and distance test. Starting from 7 yards all the way up to 300 yards. The end goal was to see which optic was faster for each range. The result of the experiment?
From 7 yards up to 50 yards, red dots outperformed magnified optics by tenths of a second. That may not sound like much, but the truth is that’s quite a lot.
Why is that? When you’re engaging in close-quarter situations, tenths of a second could mean life or death. However, from 100 yards and up, the magnified optic won by a few long seconds (sometimes up to 30 seconds). Again, not a surprise since magnified sights are designed to hit long-range targets. And red dots are designed for short-range targets. With all that said, I wouldn’t make a decision yet until you look at the…
Cons For Each Optic
Red Dot Cons
There are two problems with red dots.
The first is astigmatism. This is a biological eye problem that can affect your ability to use a red dot. Why is that? Astigmatism means you’ll see the red dot as a blurred, weird shape — even making it unusable in more extreme cases. But the big problem with red dots is it’s only designed for short-range. To overcome this, some people use a magnifier with a flip mount or an ACOG.
In either case, you’ll be spending some extra coin (sometimes going up to $1000+). If that’s the case, you may want to start looking at the…
Magnified Optic Cons
The biggest con being short-range target acquisition speed. As we’ve seen from Lucky Gunner’s test, magnified optics take longer to ‘aim down’ targets from 7 to 50 yards. It’s also much heavier to use a magnified optic over a red dot. That said, you get a lot more freedom with magnified optics over red dots. In fact, low powered variable optics (LPVOs) can do the job of a red dot and ACOGs…without the expense.
So now that we’ve covered the cons, it’s now time for the final verdict…
Which Optic Is Better For You?
Here’s the straight-up answer: It depends on your usage. If you only shoot close-range (between 0-50 yards) or use your gun for home defense, then go for a red dot. It’s lighter, faster, and easier-to-use. Yet, if you’re shooting close-to-long range (over 100+ yards), then go for a magnified scope. It’s designed for longer range shots.
Simple enough, right? Now it’s your turn…
Which Optic Will You Choose For Your AR-15?
Will you go with a red dot? Or maybe a magnified optic? Either way, let me know in the comments below.
This article by Richard Douglas originally appeared here.
I have to admit: Being slapped with a $200 tax stamp and a couple months wait-time to get a suppressor sucks. However, it’s worth it. It’ll upgrade your shooting game to whole another level — just like if you were to upgrade a standard AR-10 rifle with the best AR-10 optic on the market.
The question is: Why should I use a suppressor? Well, you’re in for a treat because today I’m going to give you five reasons why you should shoot suppressed.
Let’s dive right in.
Reduces Hearing Damage
A helicopter flying at 500 feet. A police siren zapping right past you. A rock concert playing at full blast. A jackhammer piercing through a boulder. A jet taking off at full blast. What do all of these things have in common?
They’re quieter than the sound of a gun being fired. Seriously. For example, firing an AR-15 is about 165 decibels (dB) whereas a jet’s engine is approximately 130 dB. The problem?
Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage your hearing, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). And get this: most firearms produce noise that is over 140 dB. For example, a small .22 caliber firearm can produce noise around 140 decibels (dB); a .223 Remington rifle 155 dB; .44 Magnum revolver 164 dB. You get the idea — unsuppressed firearms are dangerously loud.
Use a suppressor. Here’s why: Suppressors significantly reduce the sound level of supersonic firearms by 15 to 45 decibels, depending on the setup. How? By redirecting the flow of high-pressurized gases through a system of chambers and baffles to slow and cool down the pressure. So if you equip an AR-15 with a suppressor, it could reduce the firing sound by 30 to 35 dB. As a result, the AR-15’s firing sound will turn from a deafening 165 dB gunshot into a quieter 135 dB gunshot.
That’s below the dangerous hearing threshold (140 dB). And that’s exactly why you should use a suppressor, especially on home defense firearms like the AR-15. But suppressors don’t only reduce the sound of the shot at the muzzle. It also…
Let me ask you this: Why do most people shoot a .223 Remington better than a .338 Winchester Magnum? Because it has lighter recoil. And guess what? Suppressors reduce recoil.
I could go into the full technical explanation of how suppressors reduce recoil through countering the gas pressure. But that shouldn’t be needed. All you need to know is that suppressors lessons the kick of a firearm.
Some would recommend using a muzzle brake to reduce recoil. And you should use one if your sole intent is to reduce recoil. However, muzzle brakes dramatically increase muzzle blast. Suppressors don’t. Which brings me to my next point…
Reduces Muzzle Flash
Muzzle flash is the visible light of a muzzle blast. The problem? Muzzle flash can temporarily blind the shooter or give away the shooter’s position — especially in low-light conditions. In addition, the flash signature could ruin night vision, obscure the sights, and make follow-up shots more difficult.
Now, you could use a flash hider which eliminates muzzle flash. Or, you could use a suppressor which does the same thing: eliminate muzzle flash and prevent “blooming” of night vision equipment.
With those three ancillary advantages — noise reduction, recoil reduction, and flash suppression — you’ll begin to notice that suppressors…
Unless the suppressor is improperly installed or mounted, suppressors do enhance accuracy.
Although some suppressors change the point of impact (POI), it’ll be by a very small amount. And despite the change in POI, it’s consistent with the pair. Stack that with less muzzle rise, less concussive effect, and less noise, and you’ll be left with nothing less than enhanced accuracy.
As a result, you’ll be happier with your shots. You’ll also have…
“Happy Neighbor, Happy Life.”
I totally made that quote up. But I just want to make a point:
If you reduce the sound level of a gunshot (by using a suppressor), your neighbors will be happier. And since your neighbors aren’t filing noise complaints, you’ll be happier since you’ll be able to shoot more.
This also applies to shooters at gun ranges. People that live around a gun range simply don’t want to hear loud firework sounds go off every day. So, they’ll file a noise complaint and (sometimes) a petition to shut down the range. And in some cases, they actually win.
That’s why firearms equipped with suppressors will make everyone happy, including neighbors and shooters alike. So if you’re interested in buying a suppressor, here are the…
Requirements to Legally Purchase a Suppressor
Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer;
Be at least 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer (contingent on state laws);
Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation (contingent on state laws);
Be a resident of the United States;
Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm;
Pass an BATFE background check with a processing time of four to ten months;
Pay a $200 transfer tax; and
Reside in one of the 42 states that currently allows civilian ownership of suppressors.
If you pass all the requirements, you’ll need to find an authorized dealer next to you. The dealer will help you fill out a Form 4. You’ll be sending this form to ATF along with the following:
ATF Form 4 (duplicate)
FBI Form FD-258s in black ink
$200 Check to BATFE-NFA
ATF Form 5320.23 (if using a trust)
Alternatively, you can do this all online by following Silencer’s Shop guide on how to buy a silencer. That said…
Will You Use a Suppressor?
I absolutely love suppressors. It protects my ears, reduces recoil and muzzle flash, enhances accuracy, and harbors good neighbors. And I’m sure a lot of people would agree with me if suppressors were easier to acquire. That said, I’d like to turn it over to you:
Are you going to buy a suppressor? Or maybe you already have one and would like to share your thoughts.
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment down below. This article by Richard Douglas originally appeared here.
QUICK CLEAN OVERVIEW
A quick clean – also called field cleaning – can be performed in just a few minutes. The objective is to remove any powder or metal fouling from the bore. This can be done virtually anywhere with little or no disassembly.
With every shot fired, traces of spent powder and metal from the bullet are deposited inside the barrel. Over time this residue will begin to affect your firearm’s accuracy.
During extended shooting sessions, it’s a good idea to stop occasionally to clear the bore of any buildup. Be sure to give your gun a more thorough “full cleaning” later at home.
FULL CLEAN OVERVIEW
A full cleaning involves clearing the bore of any fouling and removing residue and moisture that accumulates on the internal parts of the firearm. It’ll require some disassembly and is usually performed at home after your shooting session.
Each time a gun is fired, small amounts of powder and metal adhere to the barrel. Traces of carbon are also blown back into the action of the firearm. This residue combines with lubricants on working surfaces and forms a sludge that can affect your firearm’s function.
Full cleaning is called for at home after many rounds have been fired. Also, if the gun has been stored for a while it’s a good idea to give it a thorough cleaning to remove any moisture that could damage your firearm over time.
It’s almost fall hunting season, and that means it’s nearly time to hunt deer. Whether you are peering down Redfield scopes from a tree stand, waiting for the perfect shot at a deer, or are carrying a bow or crossbow and hunting in the early season, here are some tips that can help you bring home dinner this fall.
Check Your Gear The first step is to check all of your gear and supplies. Take your rifles to the range and make sure all the Bushnell scopes are still properly secured and zeroed. Clean and lube your rifles. Ensure all of your gear, such as tree stands or blinds, are in working condition and ready to be used. Do you have enough ammo? If not, get more. Do all of your hunting clothes still fit? If not, get new clothes. Make sure you have hand warmers and enough scent blocker. There is nothing worse than getting ready on opening day only to find you are missing something or your stock is low.
Use Game Cameras If you can, do your homework before the hunt. Use game cameras, if possible, to track the movements of the deer. Hopefully, you started in the summer and have already scouted out locations. If not, better late than never. If you can understand why the deer are there, such as food sources, you can pick the ideal hunting spot. If you screw in an extra couple steps into either side of the tree around your stand, you can rest your rifle on the step to help steady the rifle. This makes it easy to look through your Redfield scopes and get a clear sight picture, making it a snap to shoot on target.
Prep Your Tree Stand Blinds are relatively easy to set up, but tree stands require a bit more thought. Hopefully, you’ve done your scouting and homework, and you know where the deer are likely to show up. A great location for the stand is worthless if you aren’t adequately covered, and deer can easily spot you. However, you can use rope or zip-ties to attach fake tree limbs.
Get Rid of Scents Scent control is vital, as human scents can spook deer, ruining a hunt. Take showers with scent-free soap. Wait until you are at the stand and spray. Don’t cut corners or get lazy, and spray everything you can. That includes gear such as rangefinders and any calls. Keep spraying multiple times throughout the hunt, as you will sweat. When you are done, spray down the tree stand, and spray yourself down before you leave so you don’t leave a scent trail. Wash your hunting clothes consistently to keep the human scent off them as much as possible.
Get everything you need for the fall hunting season from Natchez Shooters Supplies at www.natchezss.com
If you’re looking to mix up your usual fishing routine, this post is for you. Oftentimes, we stick to our “go-to” good fishing spots whether out of habit, predictability, or some unique perk (like onsite restrooms or your fave restaurant nearby!), but when’s the last time you tried somewhere new?
It’s time to shake things up and add a little adventure to your summer to-do list. Trying new places can challenge your mind and awaken your senses that tend to go dormant when you fall into a mindless routine. Chances are, there are many local fishing spots near you that you have yet to discover for yourself. Here are some ideas for tracking down those good fishing spots.
Start by checking out our interactive Places to Fish and Boat map powered by FishBrain. You’ll find localized fishing maps, what species you can catch, best times to fish, where to buy gear or fishing licenses, and more. The map also marks other points of interest such as boat ramps, marinas, and bait shops for your convenience.
To get even more specific, go where other local fishy folk hang out. Social media groups or online forums are common areas for sharing knowledge, local fishing spots, tips, and photos. You can also ask your local bait and tackle shop for intel—perhaps one of the best resources for real-time local knowledge like no internet search can provide.
You could check into listings on your state outdoor agency’s website or simply do it the old school way—take a road trip! Drive around your town until you stumble across good fishing spots that interest you. Expand your horizons outside of your usual routine and you’ll have no shortage of new, fun things to do outside this summer. Tight lines and good fishing!
If you have just bought your first rifle and don’t have much experience with firearms, you may be wondering what you should do next. Are Redfield scopes better than iron sights? Do you know the four rules of firearm safety? These tips will help you learn more about your rifle and what you want or need, all while keeping you safe.
1. Take a Safety Class First, it’s a good idea to take a safety class at your local range. Find a class for new shooters that will help you learn the safety rules of firearms, as well as how to be safe while at a range. Instructors will also likely go over how your firearms work, giving you a good overview of the functions and mechanics of guns. This first step, education, is the foundation for the rest of your skills. Knowing how to stand, how to look through sights, how to hold your hands, and more are fundamentals to learn properly before you start practicing bad habits.
2. Head to the Range On the matter of skills, the only way to improve them is to get some range time. Practice with your Bushnell scopes, or use iron sights for shorter-range target practice. You will also need to zero the rifle to your sights, adjusting the sights until they’re aligned. You should work on the basic mechanics of the firearm and practice reloading. If you have a bolt-action rifle, practice working the bolt. If you have a semi-auto, practice using the bolt release after emptying a magazine. You will want to practice both dry-firing without ammo and with live rounds. You will need a lot of ammunition, which you can find online, depending on your location. Learn the ins and outs of your rifle, and what you might like to change down the line.
3. Accessorize and Customize Next, once you have some time with the rifle, you can accessorize. Some rifles, such as an AR platform, are easy to swap out parts, from the trigger to the handguard. You might want Redfield scopes to extend your effective range with the rifle if you only have iron sights. You can also get your rifle customized by a local gunsmith, who can fit your rifle to you. A different trigger can lower the amount of pressure it takes to squeeze and activate it, while a compensator can redirect gasses to help with recoil.
4. Keep Practicing and Try New Ammo Finally, get more range time and keep practicing, especially as you swap out parts. You can also try using different types of ammo, such as various grain counts, or make your own ammo to customize it to your rifle and needs. Keep increasing your skills, and don’t let your new rifle collect dust in a closet or safe.
Picking Up Brass: Reasons You Should Load Your Own Ammo
If you have been considering loading or reloading your own ammunition, you might be wondering what the benefits are. While it can be a bit of work and an upfront cost, the benefits can greatly outweigh buying factory ammo. Here are some of those benefits and why loading your own ammo might be right for you.
Cheaper Costs Over Time The upfront costs of starting to load and reload your own ammo are high. A press is the most expensive part, but as long as you continue loading your own ammo, you will find it cheaper than buying factory ammo over time. Some calibers, such as .22 LR, are much cheaper to reload than others, such 9mm. While the margins for 9mm are not great due to how plentiful 9mm is, if you go with rarer ammunition, you will see greater savings. While reloading is more work than loading, thanks to the brass slightly expanding after being fired, you can also recycle used brass, saving even more money in the long run.
Make Special-Purpose Ammunition Imagine looking down the Redfield scopes of two identical rifles, one with factory ammo and one with ammo you have loaded. You have a long-distance target. The factory ammo falls short, thanks to a number of factors, such as wind. There was not enough powder, which means not enough energy to go fast enough to ignore wind as a factor. If you load your own ammo, you control the powder, the type of bullet, and the primer. You can make special-purpose ammunition, such as rounds that fly faster and farther, perfect for target shooting or hunting. It’s not uncommon for competition shooters to make their own ammo in order to give them an edge when allowed.
Ignore Ammo Shortages Is there a shortage of factory-made ammo in the caliber you need? Just like everything else, ammo is vulnerable to sudden changes in buying habits, and there have been several shortages in recent history; unless, of course, you made your own. That meant work, getting each of the components, and putting it together yourself. The payoff, however, was ignoring the ammo shortage. For future shortages, this means getting out to the range or going hunting without worrying that you will not have the ammo you need, even if it’s hard to find on store shelves.
Make Ammo For Your Gun If you took the time to look through a selection of Bushnell scopes for your rifle, finding the perfect one for you and the rifle’s purpose, then it only makes sense that you would take the time to create your own ammo specific for your rifle. Whether it’s because the twist rate in your barrel isn’t common, or you are simply trying to make the most of a revolver with an oversized bore, you can load ammo specifically made to do well with your guns.
It’s Fun Reloading is a great way to relax. It’s repeating actions, which can help you get into a zen-like state. You can have fun experimenting with different bullets, casing, the amount of gunpowder, and so on. The money on supplies spent can directly translate to both skills in creating rounds, and shooting those rounds will make you a better shooter over time.
Get the ammo loading supplies you need Natchez Shooters Supplies at www.natchezss.com
Father’s Day is coming up, and it’s time to upgrade your dad’s day at the range with some help from Natchez Shooters Supplies. Whether it’s adding Leupold, Trijicon, or Bushnell scopes to his arsenal or getting him a classic Miami Vice-style shoulder holster, these welcome additions make great Father’s Day gifts.
Rifle Scopes to Extend His Range Extend your dad’s effective range at the range with Redfield scopes for his rifles. Whether it’s an AR-style rifle or a bolt-action rifle passed down from your grandfather, adding a scope will help your dad be more accurate at a distance. Plus, they are great for hunting. A scope such as a Redfield Revolution with a 3-9x variable magnification will help spot deer or targets downrange.
A Miami Vice Shoulder Holster to Carry What’s Needed Did your dad love Miami Vice? Then get him the shoulder holster they used on the show. The Galco Miami Classic Shoulder System can hold a handgun and two magazines, or pouches for revolver speed loaders. Be sure to get the right version for whichever handgun your dad has, such as a Glock or Sig, as the holster uses different molds. They are great for concealed carry but be warned that, as they are leather holsters, they need time to break in. After they are broken in, however, they offer a buttery-smooth draw. Plus, who doesn’t want to feel like Don Johnson?
A Bipod to Steady His Aim A bipod can help steady your dad’s aim if he has a table, bench, log, or any other reasonably flat surface available. It’s a great help for longer shots, especially when looking through Vortex, Burris, or Bushnell scopes. Some bipods are fixed, while others are adjustable for slanted surfaces and for height. Be sure to get the right bipod for his rifle, paying attention to whether, for example, it’s a Picatinny rail or an M-LOK.
A Chest Rig to Hold Mags Instead of keeping loaded mags on a table or in a range bag, your dad can keep them close at hand with a chest rig, like the Blackhawk! Split Front Chest Rig. It offers webbing for attaching mag holders, pouches, and accessories, as well as space for water tubes from a backpack as well as pockets for extra storage. It will make for faster, tactical reloads while keeping accessories close at hand.
A Sling to Keep the Rifle Close Looking for a great sling for your dad’s rifles? Try the Blue Force Gear Vickers 2-Point Combat Sling, developed by legendary Delta operator Larry Vickers. Connecting at two points on the rifle, the Vickers sling features an easily adjustable slide for pulling the rifle in tight for long-range shooting and can slide back when your dad is ready to go hands-free but keep his rifle close at hand.
Shop for Father’s Day gifts for your dad at Natchez Shooters Supplies at www.natchezss.com
There are a million different things that can cause a shot to miss its target. Like many skills, shooting takes time and experience to master, but there are a few tricks that can help you along the way. Here are seven mistakes that are quick to fix and can help improve your shooting accuracy, whether it’s a metal target or a deer.
Improper Ring Alignment If you have been aligning scope rings by eye and slapping Bushnell scopes on your rifle, you are doing a disservice to the optics. Trying to align by eye will undoubtedly result in poor alignment. The rings in front need to be in alignment with the rings in the back. Do not estimate, as an incorrect alignment could damage your scope when firing. It can cause dents, making it harder to adjust the scope while also distorting the reticle. Instead, use a level to ensure the scopes are in alignment, and your accuracy should improve.
Over- & Under-Tightening Screws You need to strike a careful balance when attaching a scope to your rifle, or your shooting will suffer. Overtighten the screws, and you could damage the scope, snapping your optic. On the other hand, under-tightening means the scope can move ever so slightly, throwing off your accuracy thanks to recoil. If possible, use an adjustable-torque screwdriver and set the scope to the manufacturer’s recommended amount of torque.
Not Zeroing the Scope You just added Redfield scopes to your rifles, and you’re going hunting this weekend. If you haven’t zeroed out the scopes, your aim will undoubtedly be off. Take the time to zero the scope and take the time to do it properly.
Shooting Too Fast You see the target and, channeling the Call of Duty games, quickly bring up your rifle and take the shot, barely looking through the scope. Rushing will only decrease your accuracy. Slow down, focus on your breathing, use the reticle, and take the shot. If you lose sight of your deer during the window, wait for another opportunity—it’s better than missing and spooking the animal.
Poor Trigger Technique Poor trigger technique will ruin a shot every time. Jerking the trigger will jerk the rifle, throwing off your aim. Instead, use an even pull with the pad of your finger instead of the joint. Consistent pressure is key. It is more of a controlled squeeze than a true pull. Practice dry firing and remember to follow through on the trigger squeeze.
Fear of Recoil & Scope Bite While fear of recoil, much like practice, is something that takes training, you can eliminate scope bite, or scope eye, by properly placing your scope. Proper cheek weld will help, but if your scope is too close to your face, it could still hit you on recoil. Your scope should have generous eye relief, and the rifle should be properly fitted.
Forgetting the Follow-Through Fight the urge to look at the target immediately after shooting. Raising your cheek from the rest can result in a larger grouping. Only move your head after reacquiring the target through your optic.
About Natchez Shooters Supplies Natchez Shooters Supplies was founded in 1979 by two families to supply shooters with quality products. An all-in-one shop for outdoorsmen, they value hard work, integrity, and offering an exceptional selection of goods, from scopes to reloading supplies. Just like their customers, the Natchez Shooters Supplies team consists of outdoorsmen, sportsmen, and hunters. Their goal is to make the shopping experience personal and tailored to customers’ needs. Natchez Shooters Supplies offers everything from firearms parts like Redfield scopes to ammunition and reloading supplies, as well as supplies for shooting, hunting, fishing, camping, and survival gear for the wilderness. If you need to find a solution to your sporting needs quickly, their expert team is always available to help.
Are you just getting into shooting and bought a rifle, but don’t know what you need now? Natchez Shooters Supplies is here to help you get everything you need, from Magpul PMAGS to Bushnell scopes, so that you can have a fun time at the range or hunting.
Magazines & Ammo First, you will need magazines and ammo for your new rifle. Magazines hold the ammunition, but having spare, loaded mags is never a bad idea. This also makes quickly reloading possible. With only one mag, you will have to constantly load the magazine, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming without tools to help you fill the mag. Which ammo you need is dependent first on your rifle. Your rifle may be able to use multiple calibers, such as 5.56 and .223. However, other considerations include grain count, which can affect the speed of the bullet.
Optics Whether you are going for Vortex red dot sights or Redfield scopes, you will likely want to upgrade from iron sights to optics. Red dot sights give you a better sight picture and make aiming easier at shorter distances, while scopes help you with shooting at longer ranges. Which you decide to go with is determined by what and how far you want to shoot. For target shooting, you might want a red dot sight, while hunters may gravitate towards scopes.
Ear & Eye Protection Before pulling the trigger, you will want ear and eye protection. Ear protection includes earplugs, such as the Howard Leight Quiet Band, and electronic earmuffs, such as the 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100. Electronic earmuffs use microphones and cut out sound when a gunshot is detected.
Gun Case You will need a gun case for transporting your rifle to and from the range. There are two types of cases you can get: Hard and soft. A soft case is usually a type of fabric, and useful for carrying your rifle around. However, because it isn’t a hard case, accidentally dropping a soft case could break any Bushnell scopes or red dot sights you might have attached to your rifle. A hard case, which includes padding, provides more protection at a higher cost.
Cleaning & Maintenance Many rifles can go through quite a few rounds before needing cleaning, but all firearms do eventually need to be cleaned. You will need cleaning solvents and lube, as well as brushes or patches. Bore snakes are another popular option. You can either get individual pieces or a kit. Be sure to get a cleaning mat to protect surfaces while cleaning your firearm.
Get all of your shooting, hunting, fishing, camping, and survival essentials from Natchez Shooters Supplies at www.natchezss.com
Whether it’s your first hunt or your hundredth, don’t leave home without these hunting essentials. If you aren’t sure which is the best for you, let the professionals at Natchez Shooters Supplies help you sort through Redfield scopes and ammo reloading to help you have the best hunt possible.
The Right Type of Ammunition First and foremost, bring enough ammo. If you are shooting waterfowl, that means bringing boxes of shotgun ammo. For rifles, it means plenty of either detachable mags or boxes of ammo. If you are reloading, be sure to mark different loads for quick identification.
The Right Scope for Your Expected Ranges If you are using rifles, don’t forget your Bushnell scopes. Deer and other game may be in your line of sight but at a distance. Scopes can significantly increase your accuracy over longer distances, especially compared to using iron sights. If you are not sure which scope is best for your rifle and your game, let the experts at Natchez Shooters Supplies help you decide which is right for you.
Knives for Utility and Dressing Game Bring at least two knives: a multipurpose knife for any odd jobs you might have to perform, and a knife specifically meant for dressing game. These hunting knives are used for skinning and processing game, and while they also perform other functions, it’s best to keep the two separated.
Calls and Decoys to Attract Game For waterfowl and turkey hunting, you’ll need decoys. Bird, deer, or elk hunts need a call to mimic the animal’s sounds and attract them to you. They can be the difference between landing a deer or bird and having a completely unsuccessful hunt.
Scents and Attractants to Hide Your Presence
Scents can help cover your own scent, creating a barrier between you and your target. For example, doe and fawn urine can not only cover your scent but be applied to a decoy to increase the decoy’s effectiveness. You can also get scent eliminators, reducing your scent and eliminating odors so as not to alert game to your presence.
A Rangefinder and Binoculars to Gather Information Binoculars will help you find a target. They can also help you track a faraway target. Some of the top-end binoculars are combined with a rangefinder, and some account for uphill and downhill shooting angles. A rangefinder performs a simple but essential function: determining the distance between you and your target. This can help as you won’t have to guess the distance when looking through Bushnell scopes, and can instead immediately compensate for distance and other conditions.
A Ballistics Weather Meter for Greater Accuracy While you may know the distance and can compensate for bullet drop, a ballistics weather meter measures wind, altitude, and other critical variables to help you calculate an accurate aim point, important at long range. You won’t have to throw a handful of grass to determine wind speed: this device does it for you.
There are so many options in the world of hunting rifles today. If you didn’t grow up shooting and hunting like I did, all of these choices can be overwhelming.
Today we’re going to discuss the best rifles for new hunters.
First Things First
Most states now require some type of hunter’s safety course before issuing a license to hunt. This is not a replacement for hands-on firearms training! Before you shoot a firearm by yourself, take a firearms safety course from a licensed instructor.
Most gun ranges offer them for a nominal fee, sometimes free. Not only is this your responsibility as a hunter, but you’ll also be able to focus on the hunt instead of not blowing off your toe!
We have a family friend who has the computer from his car with a hole in it, mounted on his wall like a deer’s head, complete with a plaque stating where and when he “killed” it. This experienced hunter accidentally discharged his rifle while loading it into his trunk, sending a bullet into the cab and straight through the body control module underneath the passenger seat! It’s a funny story (and true!), but if someone would have been in the vehicle, they could’ve been injured or killed.
Best First Rifle
Rifles come in several types and many different calibers. No matter what you plan on hunting, I think you should go ahead and buy a Ruger 10/22 right off the bat. Ruger has been making these rifles for over 50 years and has sold millions of them, and they start around $200.
As long as you properly maintain it and use decent high-velocity ammo, it will be very reliable and last a lifetime. The .22LR caliber is very inexpensive and does not kick at all, so you can practice for hours without hurting your wallet or your shoulder.
I highly recommend staying with iron sights at first. Learning to shoot with iron sights is a must if you’re going to learn to shoot properly. Once you have enough experience, then you can upgrade to a red dot like the Bushnell TRS-25 or a riflescope. I shoot my Ruger 10/22 for fun more than any other gun I own, and I squirrel hunt with it regularly.
A Good Bolt Action
While a .22 rifle is great for practice and small game at close range, it lacks the oomph needed for anything larger than a rabbit, and it loses power and drops quicky out past 50 yards or so.
For most hunting, you’re going to need something with more power and range. I highly recommend a bolt action rifle for more serious hunting. There are other types out there that are great, but none is more practical than a decent bolt action.
They are very easy to clean and maintain and are very accurate and reliable. Their simple design makes them relatively affordable, and there are plenty of quality models out there for less than $500.
Of course, the right caliber for you depends on what you want to hunt.
Everyone has their own opinion about what caliber rifle is best for a given application, and this topic can quickly turn into a heated debate among hunters. There are some cool newer calibers out there, like the Winchester Short Magnums and others, but they are typically more expensive and harder to find.
Imagine heading out into the boondocks to the hunting club and realizing you’re low on ammo. The local small-town Wal-Mart may not carry anything but the most common calibers. Some of the newest calibers may not catch on at all, and you could end up with a rifle that is nearly impossible to find ammo for.
The practical advantages that these newer calibers offer are minimal, and really don’t outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion. I recommend staying with the more tried-and-true common calibers for now. If you want to get one of the newer ones down the road, then go for it.
For smaller game like varmints, up to predators as large as coyotes, I recommend the .22-250. It’s very accurate at long distances and packs plenty of punch for anything up to a big coyote.
A step up to .243 will still be small enough for large varmints, but can drop a decent-sized deer out to 200 yards or more with the right ammo. You can kill much bigger game with a .243 at close to medium range with proper bullet placement, but I don’t recommend it.
This may be the most versatile choice if you have to pick just one rifle and you’re not planning on hunting anything larger than a medium-sized deer very often.
If you’re planning on taking down big game on a regular basis, then I’d recommend a .30-06. This caliber is accurate and effective on even the largest game in North America out to 300 yards or more if used properly. I’ve dropped whitetails in their tracks over 400 yards out with mine using regular store-bought ammo. There are much more powerful calibers out there, but they can be overkill for smaller deer and recoil will be significantly higher.
Like I said, everyone has their own opinion and gun enthusiasts love to argue about which guns are best for what. Do your research and befriend some experienced hunters. Ask plenty of questions and read some reviews. There is no perfect rifle for every situation, but the choices I’ve laid out here should at least point you in the right direction. Remember: BE SAFE and Happy Hunting!
Author Bio: Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews various optics on his Scopes Field blog.
If you aren’t shooting small, tight groups when you fire your rifle, it could be an error with the firearm, your setup, or your technique. Make sure, for example, your Bushnell scopes are mounted correctly, your rifle is clean, and you slow your breathing. The following tips will help you get back to staying on target.
Clean the Rifle First and foremost, clean your rifle. A clean rifle is an accurate rifle. If you haven’t cleaned the barrel, for example, carbon or copper buildup could affect the ballistics of the bullet as it travels down the barrel, which may reduce accuracy. Make sure the rifle is cleaned and properly lubricated.
Mount and Use a Scope Correctly If your Redfield scopes aren’t mounted correctly, your accuracy will be off. Use quality rings and mounts, and don’t over-tighten the screws. If you use a lower-quality mount or ring, recoil could shift the scope, requiring you to zero in again.
Adjust the Trigger Pull You want to have a crisp, clean trigger pull with a consistent break. If there’s too much creep, you won’t know where the break point is, leading to inconsistency and lower accuracy. Technique is essential, as well, as too many people pull a trigger incorrectly. You should be able to move the trigger straight to the rear of the rifle without disrupting the sight picture. Try putting a small object on the rifle and keep practicing until you can pull the trigger without moving the object.
Fit the Rifle to You The stock, or bedding, should be fitted to you. Hunting rifles, for example, greatly benefit from a custom-fitted stock. This often requires a trained gunsmith and could result in a long wait, but the accuracy improvement is worth it.
Use the Right Load Know the ballistics of your load. Whether you are using ammo you formulated, or that you bought from the store, you should know how it will behave as it comes out of the barrel. Test different loads to see how each works with your specific rifle and reload yourself if you can’t find a store-bought load that works for you. It requires trial-and-error but can significantly increase your accuracy if you know how each load behaves and how to zero for your preferred load.
Control Your Breathing Just by breathing, you can throw off a shot. When you are ready to shoot, take a deep breath, and exhale about half of it. As you squeeze the trigger, hold your breath. Don’t hold for too long, however, as this can speed up your heart rate, increasing your pulse and causing the rifle to move. If that happens, start over. For the most accurate shot, pull the trigger between heartbeats.
Follow Through You may want to admire your shot and see if you hit the target directly after firing. Instead, you will want to keep looking through the scope. Follow through with the recoil, and then look.
About Natchez Shooters Supplies Founded in 1979 by two families, Natchez Shooters Supplies aims to supply shooters and outdoorsmen with quality products. The best all-in-one shop for those who love being outdoors, the company values hard work and integrity. They take pride in offering an exceptional selection of goods, from ammunition to camping supplies. The Natchez Shooters Supplies team, just like their customers, consists of hunters, outdoorsmen, and sportsmen. The brand’s goal is to make the shopping experience personal and tailor it to customers’ needs. Natchez Shooters Supplies offers everything from firearms parts and accessories like Redfield scopes to reloading supplies such as brass and powder, as well as supplies for shooting, camping, hunting, fishing, and survival gear for the wilderness. Their expert team is ready to help you quickly find a solution to your sporting needs.
Professor Plum. In the billiard-room. With the revolver. Or is it a pistol? Are those the same thing? It’s for sure not a rifle or shotgun. Right?
What’s the difference between all these firearms anyway?
Okay. So most likely you’re not playing an actual real-life classic board game wondering these things. It’s more likely you’ve seen many kinds of guns in movies or TV shows you’ve watched. But there are definitely differences you’ve noticed about the guns and those differences are actually quite pronounced.
You notice different styles. Different sizes. Different calibers (like the best home defense .45 ACP carbine). But which is which? How do you tell the difference? What characteristics make each gun appropriate for a certain task or situation?
Here’s the first thing you should know…
There are three main types of guns:
While each type can have similarities to the others, there are distinct and unique differences that put each into its own category.
So what exactly are those characteristics?
Read on to find out…
Let’s start with the smallest.
Generally speaking, a pistol is a handgun with a rifled barrel that is less than 16 inches in length and which a shooter does not support from the shoulder. It is fired from one hand.
A revolver — which is indeed the gun used in the classic version of Clue ‒‒ is classified in the pistol category. However, a pistol can also be a semi-automatic.
If you’ve ever seen an old western movie duel, you’ve likely seen a revolver — probably a Colt.
A rifle, by contrast, requires two hands to shoot as well as shoulder bracing.
Its barrel ‒‒ which is 16 inches or greater in length ‒‒ has rifling.
Rifling, or the grooves within the barrel which give a rifle its name, force the bullet to spin which results in greater distance, accuracy, and stabilization of the bullet.
One bullet is ejected from this firearm with each trigger pull. A rifle can be either semi-automatic or bolt action. Hunters often use rifles. Snipers, (think Mark Wahlberg in Shooter), do too.
If you’ve ever seen an action movie (and let’s face it, there are plenty out there to see!), chances are you’ve seen a shotgun.
Like a rifle, a shotgun must be braced against the shoulder and also requires two hands to shoot.
Where it differs is that a shotgun’s barrel is typically smooth and thus lacks rifling. It also differs from a rifle because it can fire different kinds of ammunition. For instance, a shotgun can fire “shot,” which is generally composed of pellets that scatter when shot from the gun.
It can also fire a “slug,” a solid projectile which has immense force and leaves a deeper wound than shot. A shotgun is also 18 inches or longer. Additionally, out of the three categories of guns, the shotgun’s barrel has the thinnest walls.
But like a rifle, a shotgun also has two subsets:
The characteristics of each gun make it useful for different situations. Before selecting a gun, think about what you need it for and how the characteristics of that gun-type will help or inhibit your purpose. Here’s a general guideline:
Pistols (or handguns) are mostly used for self-defense/home-defense. The reason? They’re small, compact, and easy to maneuver with.
Rifles could be used for about anything you can think of:
Lastly, shotguns are primarily used against small moving targets (for example, birds). It could also be used for home defense and hunting.
And that’s it! Next time you’re playing Clue, be the expert at the table. Don’t just call it a gun.
Call it what it truly is:
Author Bio: Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews various optics on his Scopes Field blog.
After all, improving your accuracy will save you time, ammunition, and even your life. The question is: How do you improve shooting accuracy?
Easy. Just slightly adjust a few small tweaks in your shooting form. For example, I first struggled with hitting the bullseye at 500 yards with my Ruger Precision Rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
But with a few minor adjustments, like equipping my rifle with the best 6.5 Creedmoor scope and following these tips I’m about to cover, I was able to nail targets like never before. That said, here are three tips that’ll help you go from shooting like a Stormtrooper to John Wick in no time.
1. Stances and Grip
It’s no secret that how you position your body and hands will have a tremendous impact on accuracy. Get it wrong, and it’ll affect your sight picture and comfortability — two key factors for accuracy. Let’s start with stances:
Your stance will dictate stability, control, and how the force from the weapon is distributed to your body when shooting. The good news? There are a variety of stances you can pick from — the most popular being Weaver, Chapman, and Isosceles. To determine which stance is ideal for you, simply try each one out with a variety of firearms and see which one feels the most natural to you. It becomes far easier to shoot accurately when you’re in a comfortable position.
With the stance in place, it’s time to talk handgrip. The way you hold your firearm will affect two things: recoil and control. Here’s how to properly grip your gun: First, you want to grasp the gun with your dominant hand firmly. Then, wrap your non-dominant hand around your dominant hand to create a firm hold on the firearm. Doing so will ensure less movement from the firearm and thus, more control.
When firing a pistol, in particular, you want to line up your forearm with the weapon. This will help control recoil, as the force from the pistol will be distributed straight through your forearm, rather than your wrist.
2. Press, Don’t Pull
A common mistake many rookie shooters make is improper trigger technique. Many individuals pull the trigger too hard, rather than carefully pressing on it. This sudden force on the trigger will cause the firearm to jerk. Not good.
Instead, you want to press on the trigger slowly until the shot breaks. With the firearm remaining in a stable position, it becomes easier to follow up with additional shots afterward with far greater accuracy. Again, keeping control of the firearm here is key.
3. Dry Fire
“Practice makes perfect.”
How many times have you heard that quote? Probably a lot. After all, if you want to get good at anything — including shooting guns accurately — you need to practice continuously. And one of the best ways to practice shooting is dry firing (or the process of shooting your weapon without any live ammunition inside it). Here’s why you should dry fire:
No additional expenses for ammunition
No safety hazards risk
Enhances trigger control
Helps build the muscle memory needed to shoot accurately consistently
A little practice each day is all it takes. Honing in on those skills is important to refine your technique over time. If you are already an accurate shooter, dry fire practice will help you stay at the top of your game.
Here are a few essential rules to keep in mind when dry firing:
The firearm must be unloaded
Dry-fire in a dedicated area that has a safe backstop in the direction the gun is pointed
No live ammunition is allowed in the designated dry-firing area
Wear eye protection
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
Use snap caps. This will protect your gun’s firing pin or striker from unnecessary damage
Wrapping it Up
Let’s quickly recap everything we’ve learned so far:
Stances and Grip: Choose a comfortable stance and practice with it. Also, properly grip your firearm by placing your non-dominant hand around your dominant hand.
Proper Trigger Control: Don’t use a lot of force when pulling the trigger. Find the right amount of trigger by trial & error.
Dry Fire: One of the best ways to practice. Dry fire as much as you can.
Practice these tips daily, and you’ll see shot improvements in no time — I guarantee it.
Author Bio: Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared on large publications like The National Interest, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, SOFREP and more. In his free time, he reviews various optics and guns on his Scopes Field blog.
Having come from an extended family of hunters, I grew up shooting scoped rifles. Despite my familiarity with optics, rings and bases that mount a scope to a rifle always intimidated me. Evidently, my father was also wary as he always took our rifles the local gun shop and had their guy mount them up. I talked to my dad recently about this. He told me it always seemed like it would be too difficult which was bizarre coming from a man who once taught jet engine mechanics in the Navy. It wasn’t until I went to work in the shooting/hunting industry that I got past this fear. Once you have a grasp of the basics, it’s very easy to order the correct pieces as well as install them yourself.
Most rifle manufacturers make bolt action rifles in 2 primary action lengths, short and long. There are other action sizes like “micro-mauser”, “super-short magnum” and “medium” but these are most often a proprietary size to a particular manufacturer. For our purposes today the only thing we need to remember is that short actions are usually designed around the .308 Winchester cartridge. This means anything with an overall cartridge length of 2.80” or shorter is a short action cartridge. Long actions have traditionally been built around full sized rifle cartridges like the .30-06, and if a cartridge is longer than 2.80″, the rifle that shoots it is generally a long action gun. But are we talking about the rifle or the cartridge? The reason this is confusing is that some manufacturers don’t strictly adhere to this rule. For example, the .22-250 cartridge has been built on both short and long actions. It can be confusing. Before shopping for scope mounts you should know what action size your rifle is. Speaking in general terms the “. 308 rule” is usually accurate. This only really matters when talking about 1-piece ring mounts and integral mounts. 2-piece ring mounts bolt separately to the front and rear receiver rings and thus don’t have to match the overall length of the action.
One of the more straightforward types of mounting system is the ring mount. Many manufacturers build rifles that forgo the need for bases with receivers that are machined to accept proprietary types of ring mounts. Ruger has half moon cutouts. Sako has a tapered dovetail. Many rimfire rifles and air guns will have a 3/8” or 11mm dovetail depending on country of origin. Ring mounts are very easy to install.
The last kind of mount, and one that’s growing in popularity, is the integral mount. Incorporating the base and rings into a single rigid piece (usually made from tough aircraft grade aluminum) the integral mount is easy to use and install, but doesn’t always offer a lot of adjustability like a traditional ring/base combo does. Often this style of mount is marketed as “tactical”, with the ability to mount directly to a Picatinny rail on your favorite modern sporting rifle. DNZ offers a wide selection of integral mounts for traditional bolt actions and several of our experts have used them with excellent results.
With the diversity of scope mounts on the market, it’s easier than ever to purchase the correct hardware and install it yourself, especially if you use our ring & base finding tool. If you still find yourself in a quandary over what brand or style to purchase, never be afraid to consult an expert. You can even give us a call at 1-800-251-7839 and talk to one of our experts.
The Precision Rifle Market is exploding right now and it seems like every manufacturer is coming out with some kind of chassis rifle to fill the demand. One key component of these rifles is the detachable magazine system that they employ. This detachable bottom metal or DBM, was first introduced by Accuracy International, but is now used in almost every notable precision rifle on the market.
The AICS DBM used to be an aftermarket upgrade unless you were willing to drop thousands of dollars on an Accuracy International Rifle System. Badger Ordinance is most famous for making the bottom metal to use these magazines in a bolt action rifle, but needed to be installed by a gunsmith to function properly. Fast forward to 2017 and many chassis systems are now available to use the AICS magazine system, as well as others manufacturing DBMs to be fitted in fiberglass stocks.
In 2016, Magpul started shipping their Precision Hunter stock for Remington 700 rifles. Along with that came their DBM and polymer AICS magazines, built to the legendary PMAG standards. Why is this such a big deal? Before this, an AICS magazine would run anywhere from $70-$80 depending on where it was purchased. For someone shooting PRS competitions, this would get very expensive having to purchased 5-6 mags for competition. An AICS PMAG is roughly $35 and comes in 5 or 10 round flavors just like the original from AI, and they work.
Just like other PMAGs, this magazine has a removable floorplate for cleaning that can be easily removed with a bullet tip. They feature a Paint Pen Dot Matrix for applying identifying marks to the magazine body. Both the 10 round version and the 5 round version have durable polymer followers. The five round version has a tab on the inside of the floor plate that limits the magazine to five rounds. According to Magpul, part of this tab can be easily shaved down to allow 6 rounds to be loaded in the magazine. This is a pretty cool feature for those not limited by state hunting regulations and also does not compromise the reliability of the magazine.
I have been using the 10 round version in short action for some time and I am very pleased with their performance. Not only has function been 100% reliable but they are easier to load and insert in the bottom metal than my more expensive AI magazines. I also don’t have that cringe factor when they are dropped on concrete that comes with a $70 magazine.
For me its a no brainer, but there are reports of some small issues with actions other than Remington 700s. Of these reports, it seems that some Custom actions or Tikka actions may require some fitting. Due to the polymer construction, the feed lips may be too thick in some areas and my need to be sanded a bit to fit properly. Not a deal breaker in my opinion but worth noting.
Like other Magpul products they are proudly made in the USA and are backed by some of the best customer service in the industry. It doesn’t happen often, but in this case you could say that cheaper is sometimes better.
Are you looking for an affordable carry load? A lot of top-shelf defense ammunition costs top-shelf prices. I would wager that many folks who carry firearms for self-defense are carrying ammo they have rarely or perhaps even never shot. If I had to guess a reason the obvious answer would be the cost. Does this sound a little crazy? Wouldn’t people want an idea of what kind of accuracy to expect from their carry ammo? There are some very valid reasons why police departments insist that their officers shoot for qualification with the ammo they carry on duty. Full metal jacket practice ammo with not have the exact amount of recoil as the carry ammo and of course, there’s the accuracy issue. Carry ammunition you’re unfamiliar with is like a blind date. Things could go wrong.
Starfire is PMC’s line of premium defense ammunition. Starfire bullets utilize a very deep cavity featuring PMC’s patented rib and flute design to create expansion of nearly 100 percent. Consistent expansion along with a 9 to 14-inch average penetration helps make Starfire’s case. All PMC Starfire ammo is manufactured to exacting standards in a state of the art facility. Starfire’s strongest attribute is accuracy, producing better groups than rival defense loads costing over twice as much.
The advantages of being able to practice with your carry ammunition are immediately obvious. Defense ammunition, in general, tends to be more consistent than target ammo. Starfire’s consistency means no variations in recoil or muzzle flip allowing the shooter to more easily develop muscle memory. Range training with your carry ammo allows you familiarize yourself with trajectory and point of impact at varying distances. With PMC Starfire you can do all this for a more economical price. My dad always told me not to complain about a cheap date. She just might be a keeper.
In 1976 I was seven years old. I had up until that year had no real concept of what Independence Day was or why we celebrated it. In the year of our bicentennial celebration patriotism was in the air. Living in a military town only served to amplify the sentiment. Pop culture in 1976 was fixated on the bicentennial. America was immersed in the story of The Declaration of Independence and how our founding fathers had fearlessly stood in the face of tyranny and triumphed.
All that was well and good, but at 7 all I really cared about were the fireworks and the ice cream. My father had an ancient hand-crank ice cream maker that we had to help crank if we wanted any ice cream. The fireworks were plentiful and cheap in those days. We had bottle rockets and Roman candles along with an array of snakes and sparklers. The thing I was not allowed to touch was the M80’s. These were real M80’s and not the latter-day wannabes.
We had hamburgers and hotdogs with baked beans and potato salad. There was watermelon and apple pie for desert. Most of the adults were responsibly enjoying their adult beverages while sugary drinks and candy powered the kids.
My Dad was still in the Navy back then as were many of our neighbors so when our neighbor from across the street played the national anthem on his old record player, all of these sailors in civilian clothes snapped to attention and saluted the nearest flag. It was a profound sight to see but it wasn’t until years later I understood the power in it.
When 2076 rolls around I will be long gone. If my son is still around he will be 86. My granddaughter will be 63. I hope that these people I have tried to influence in my life will understand the meaning and significance of the Tricentennial anniversary of our independence. I am confident they will.
Despite the fact that my father is getting old and frail, he is still fearless and tough as nails. He always says exactly what he means because he figures he doesn’t have time for beating around the bush. When I picked up my new Smith & Wesson J-Frame, my father pretty much demanded that I take him to shoot it. It had been years since we had been to the range together. We determined the best position for him to shoot from was sitting using a sand bag as a rest. It had been literally a couple of decades since he had fired a handgun. His frail hands gripped the revolver as best he could with fingers contorted by arthritis. His first shot was a bad pull. I noticed his hands shaking and put my hand on his shoulder. “Just like you taught me” I coached. I could hear him begin to regulate his breathing. He was remembering how to do this. His second shot was on the paper. His third, fourth and fifth shots were in the silhouette. I loaded several more cylinders for him. With each shot, a little more muscle memory returned and his groups got smaller. Standing over him coaching him brought back a memory from roughly 40 years earlier when he taught me how to shoot a revolver. I remember being terrified by the size of the gun, as I was a small kid. I was resting on a phone book he had given me when he saw I was having trouble holding the gun steady. With some instruction, I was eventually hitting bowling pins. The click of the hammer on an empty cylinder brought me back to the present. “I think I’m done,” my father said as he handed me back the revolver. He was getting tired. As we made our way back to my car I found myself almost overcome with a sense of gratitude. I was grateful that my 77-year-old father could still come to the range with me. It’s far more than that though. He is still present in my life. His wisdom and “pull no punches” style of advice can still help prevent me from making bad decisions. I’m so grateful that my dad is here for me. I think it’s difficult for a child not to take a parent for granted. I think we’re built that way.
Memorial day originated as Decoration Day in Decatur Illinois. A veterans group who sought to honor veterans who had given their lives in all of America’s wars founded the event in 1868. By 1882 the name had begun to morph into “Memorial Day” and the event had slowly become more of a national day of remembrance. On its 99th year of observance, Memorial Day became an official national holiday in 1967.
At the time of this writing, America has lost 1,354,664 lives to war since the fight for independence began in 1775. Unfortunately, freedom does not come cheap. Those lives are the real cost. We should never forget the blood and the tears that won us this freedom. We owe it to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
How should we observe Memorial Day? There are many ways from attending your local Memorial Day parade to participation in the National Moment of Remembrance. Boy Scout troops and civic organization organize cleanup events for old war monuments. Even if your observance is as simple as some quiet time at a national cemetery for contemplation and gratitude, it is important that the meaning of this day is not lost. It’s far more important than just a Monday off.
Editor’s Note: Here’s a few cheap and easy ideas from our resident “fix it for less” expert, Andy Merciers. As always, follow your firearm’s instruction manual and we’re not responsible for what you do, so be safe out there.
Have you ever purchased a new riflescope and ordered Butler Creek flip open scope caps at the same time that turned out to fit a little loose? Despite Butler Creek making the caps in 56 sizes, you will occasionally run into scopes that don’t quite fit right. While a rare event this does occur. Butler creek manufactures the caps with some pliability allowing them to stretch several hundredths. The less common problem is having caps that are too big. About 20 years ago I go the idea for a quick and easy fix for this problem. A couple of wraps of plain white Teflon plumbers tape can fix the wiggle. A few thousandths are usually all it takes. The good thing is that this type of tape has no sticky film and leaves no nasty residue on the scope and best of all it stays hidden under the edge of the scope cap.
Have you ever tried to set up a rifle as a dedicated long-range gun only to find that your scope ran out of elevation adjustment during set up? The easy answer is to put a shim in the scope ring to gain enough elevation to overcome the issue. Very few shooters have the brass shim material just lying around the house. The easy solution could be as close as your trash can or recycle bin. If you’re a cheapskate like me you can simply use a carefully sized piece of aluminum from a drink can. You will notice that soft drinks, beer, and energy drinks all come in cans with varying degrees of thickness in the aluminum itself. This is a good thing as it allows you to micrometer each type of material to determine which thickness is appropriate. There can be some trial and error in this process so be patient and think of the money you’re saving.
A childhood friend of mine enlisted in the Army after we graduated high school. He was a cavalry scout in the first Gulf War and was awarded a Bronze star. Years later he was telling me about the problems with sand storms and other issues involving keeping his M-16 fully operational in a harsh desert environment. That was the Army’s first real test in a desert setting so they were forced to improvise when dealing with conditions. One of the improvised tools was a simple piece of 550 para cord about 5 feet long. On one end of the para-cord, there were 6 knots tied about every 3 inches or so. He would then pull this contraption through the rifle’s barrel. What the knots did was to remove any sand buildup in the bore. What my friend did all those years ago was to create a crude sort of bore snake years before Hoppes ever introduced such a thing. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.
Have you ever been hunting and gotten annoyed with the racket your traditional steel sling swivels were making? The obvious solution for many folks is to simply replace the steel swivels with Quake or Butler creek polymer swivels. For the traditionalist who doesn’t like plastic, I have a solution. The heavy-duty produce rubber bands you see on broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts are perfect or silencing steel swivels. Wrap the rubber band around the swivel where it connects to the stud on the rifle, and you’ll need to either remove the sling or disconnect the swivel to do this. It works well if the rubber bands are the smaller diameter, but if you’ve only got the bigger diameter rubber bands, a doubling up can work too. The best thing is that they are free with your broccoli or lobster!
If you carry concealed, you probably have a plethora of holsters that fill your closet. Mine is filled with holsters that are specific to each handgun and to how I want to carry that handgun. Some of these holsters were not cheap and don’t really get much use. But there is another holster I recently purchased that is working out great for daily concealed carry.
I’ve been using the Stealth Operator Compact Holster for a few months now and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. Not only is it comfortable, but it fits my Glock 19, Glock 43, Smith & Wesson M&P9C, and also my old Smith & Wesson 4006 TSW. It truly is a one size fits most holster. All four of these guns fit securely in a way that I have carried them all day at the office.
Being an open top design, retention is centered mainly around the trigger guard. When holstering a medium sized pistol, like the Glock 19, you hear and feel the gun snap into place. It feels secure with no worries about it accidentally coming out on its own. The smaller Glock 43 also fits but it isn’t as snug. The trigger guard is still fat enough for it to snap into place, I just don’t know if I would fully trust it if I were to go for a run in the park or something.
According to the manufacturer, the holster will not lose its shape over time due to its injection molded nylon construction. Nor is it affected by temperature which is good. The other advantage to this type of construction is that it is very inexpensive. With a price around 20 bucks, for a holster that fits multiple different handgun models, it’s hard to beat.
Did I mention it was comfortable? Not only is it light and sturdy, but it can be worn all day without digging into your midsection. This may not be a concern for many, but for those of us with some extra weight on our guts, a holster has to be comfortable to wear all day. The Stealth Operator Compact Holster also does a great job of keeping the pistol tucked in close for maximum concealment. This is something that a lot of OWB holsters fail miserably at. Its nice to have a less expensive option that actually works.
Now for the bad. Well there isn’t much, but the 1911 guys might want to look elsewhere. A standard 1911 will still fit in the holster but there is not much retention around the trigger guard locking it in place. This is probably due to the relatively skinny trigger guard on the 1911. So keep in mind that even though a whole lot of pistols will work in this holster, the medium size polymer frame guns work best.
At the end of the day, its another great option for those who like OWB carry, and don’t want to invest a lot of money in a holster.
In 2010 the Precision Rifle Optics market was taken by storm by a little known company called Vortex. Now I hear what you’re thinking, why is a Burris review talking about one of its competitors? Well, to fully appreciate the Burris XTRII we have to first look back at when the Vortex PST was created. Back then, this segment of the market was dominated by Leupold and Nightforce. There really was no “budget” tactical scope on the market, especially a full-featured one for around $1000.00. Vortex released the PST and customers were thrilled with them from day one. The demand grew from there and other manufacturers took notice. After all, competition is a good thing.
Many manufacturers started cranking out similar products in the next few years trying to get back part of their market share. Burris instead completely redesigned the XTR series and improved not only on what they had done before but also on what Vortex was doing. The Burris XTRII production was moved to the Philippines and is under strict watch according to Burris reps. They do a final quality control check here in the US before the scopes hit the shelves and it shows. These XTRII’s are some of the finest optics to come from the Philippines. The fit, finish, feel, and functionality rivals scopes costing twice as much.
There are plenty of models to choose from in the XTRII line. Magnification choices range from a 1-5 all the way up to a 8-40. I have been using the 4-20x50mm G2B Mil-Dot for a couple years now. At the time I purchased mine, the Mil-Dot was the only reticle choice available in 4-20x but there are now more choices available and even MOA versions available.
The first thing that stands out about these scopes are the turrets. Unlike some of it’s competition, the elevation turret has an actual zero stop that is a hard stop and not just a shim kit that will get you close. They have a very tactile feel and are not overly easy to turn. The windage turret is also rotation limited so you will not get lost in over rotating it as well. Both are secured by small set screws that are nicely hidden in the attractive knurling of each knob. The zero stop is so simple in that all you have to do is zero the scope, loosen the turret, re-set it to “0”, and tighten the screws back down. That’s it.
Glass quality was also a pleasant surprise for this scope. It is easily better than the competition it sought to destroy. It is very good in fact. Not quite as good as scopes costing double and triple but not far off. For most of us using this type of optic the glass in no way will hold you back. The only way you would need something better is if you changed hobbies to bird watching.
So we’ve talked about the nice features, but what about the important stuff? Tracking and repeatability. This is the most important factor in using a scope of this type. When shooting at extended distances, if the scope does not track true to its measurements, you will not get consistent hits. Like many others have reported, my example of the XTRII tracks dead on all the way out to its elevation limit and returns to zero each time. Burris got it right. I frequently use this scope at extended distances and it still tracks as good as the first day out.
Long term durability is something that is a concern with tactical scopes. This is another area where Burris tried to improve on what the competition had done. They market the XTR II as a hard use product and there have been very few reports to the contrary that I have seen. This new line has only been out a couple years but so far durability is looking good. Only time will tell how well they hold up, but if you experience a problem, Burris stands behind their product and will make it right.
Some other notable feature of these scopes are 34mm tubes, fast-focus eye pieces, illuminated reticles, and now the ability to choose from capped or uncapped turrets with the new MAD turret system on some models. All of the functions of the scope operate smooth and precise and give an overall feeling of a quality build. The scopes are shipped with a very nice of flips caps also if that’s your thing.
So what are the negatives. Well they’re aren’t many. But if I was being picky its that these scopes are overbuilt. Some models weigh more than I would like even though the 4-20 is pretty comparable to other similar scopes. There have been some reports of a less than forgiving eye box at max magnification. This has mostly been reported with the 5-25×50 model, my 4-20 has a fairly large eye box at max magnification. There are only a few different reticles to choose from which may be a negative for some. Some users have also reported Cromatic Abberation in the glass but at this price level some is to be expected. Again, it’s no worse than some scopes costing double the XTRII’s price.
So if you are looking a purchasing a scope for long range work and have a modest budget to work with, these scopes are going to be one of the best on the market. Given the quality and features you receive for a comparatively low price you would be hard pressed to find a better deal on the market today. The future of this market looks great and I for one and excited to see what comes next.
The Chickamauga creek empties into the Tennessee River on the western side of the Chickamauga dam and 8 or 10 miles up that creek was my stomping grounds. It was where the creek splintered into a strange kind of delta with small sand bars everywhere. The small branches of the creek in this area were in most places only 4 or 5 feet wide. You could jump from sand bar to sand bar without getting wet. This was where I hunted a lot as a teenager in the 1980s. The tree cover is so dense in this area that it was always dark. Even in late fall and winter, the evergreen canopy blocked out the light and kept the woods in shadow. It was here that I first learned how important good camouflage was.
In the mid-1980s the selection of camouflage hunting clothing was dreadful. Most of what was available were goofy splotches meant to ape military woodland camouflage. The problem was that it had colors that were too light or too bright for where I was hunting. Light green and tan stood out like a sore thumb in my delta. This all changed when my father brought home a pair of camouflage coveralls in a brand-new pattern called Mossy Oak Bottomland. They looked like nothing I had ever seen. The darker colors that mimicked the soil and tree bark were perfect for my secret hunting spot. The problem was that the coveralls weren’t for me. My dad had bought them for himself. In those days my dad worked 6 or 7 days a week so “borrowing” his new coveralls was fairly easy.
The Bottomland Camouflage made a big difference. Its funny that I had never really given camouflage much thought. The first trip out with the Bottomland coveralls a doe walked right under my stand. That fall I hunted almost exclusively in the Bottomland coveralls. The deer that were cautious before didn’t see me at all now. Hunting got a bit easier that fall until my dad demanded his coveralls back. Under his strong suggestion, I purchased my own Bottomland camouflage coveralls.
My secret hunting spot was mine for a couple more years until I grew up moved out on my own. I’ll never forget the feeling of being able to virtually disappear in my tree stand on a small knoll overlooking my delta. Every day there was a good day. I had everything I needed. It was me with my bow and the power of invisibility.
This year we are excited that Mossy Oak is re-releasing Bottomland Camouflage. Bottomland Camouflage has been a time-tested pattern for over 30 years and has been used with great success. This pattern is perfect for those who are seeking a more subdued pattern for blending in to darker environments. Using a mixture of varying shades of brown to mimic dirt and bark, it is perfect for any hunter who prefers to lay and wait for his prey.
The appeal of shotguns is their ability to be useful in many situations. From shooting clay pigeons with a multi thousand dollar over and under, to Grandpa’s single shot for deer hunting. Shotguns can and have done it all.
Shotgun ammunition‘s basics are fairly easy to understand, but like many things in the shooting world, can become complex very quickly. Shotgun ammunition consist of a primer, a hull (shell case), wad, and shot. The shot is what make the shotgun such a versatile firearm. Shotgun ‘shot’ comes in sizes from 12 (.05 inches) through OOO Buck (.36 inches), and also includes slugs (typically large single projectiles). The smaller shot usually translates to more pellets per round. Shot can also come in different shape pellets and be made of lead, steel, and even bismuth. In the case of slugs they can be designed for smooth bores or rifled barrels and often with weight in excess of an ounce.
One of the more archaic parts of shot shells is the use of dram equivalents. Dram equivalents were a comparison of black powder loads with modern smokeless powder. This term is still used today, but is fading out of popularity. Depending on the gauge, drams are often seen between 2.5 dram to 4 dram equivalent. In the past one would refer to shotgun shells as high brass or low brass, denoting how much charge was used. More often, modern ammunition is listed by it’s velocity and may not have high brass.
One of the overlooked items with shotguns is the wad. The wad is three basic parts, the powder wad, the cushion, and the shot cup. The powder wad is designed to provide a seal between the powder and shot, and to keep the two from mixing. Next the cushion is generally a plastic buffer to reduce damaging or deforming the shot. Lastly the shot cup is a slotted ‘cup’ designed to hold the shot as one unit and to protect the shot as it travels down the barrel.
One of the confusing aspects of shotguns is the gauge. Most shotguns use a volumetric measurement to denote size. A gauge is the number of lead spheres that are required to equal a pound in a given volume. A 20 gauge would require 20 to equal a pound and a 12 gauge would only require 12 and is larger. Although some shotguns are in bore diameter, such as the .410.
It’s probably safe to say that most of us started shooting with a .22 LR. Whenever I take my kids or my wife to the range there is always at least one .22 that comes along with us. It is probably the most common caliber in existence and everyone knows how much fun they can be.
However, there is also another great use for them. Besides my .22s that I have for just general plinking, I also have another .22 Rifle that is set up specifically as a training rifle. Every long range shooter knows that this segment of the market can be astonishingly expensive. Centerfire match ammo can easily eclipse $1 per round and that’s just the short action calibers. Reloading will save a little money but rifles and scopes are still quite expensive compared to other forms of shooting sports. Building a training rifle allows you to shoot more for less and maybe even learn a thing or two in the process. There are even some decent budget friendly long range scopes that are available now for purchase. Put one on top of something like a Savage 22 and you are in the game with a minimal investment.
So the next question is: “What can shooting a .22 LR really teach me”? The first thing is how to read the wind. Have you ever shot a 22 out to 400 yards? It will teach you how to read the wind pretty quick and it will also humble you. To do this successfully you have to pick the right scope with a huge amount of elevation travel. A canted base also helps to maximize your scopes travel at that distance. Ammo also plays a big part. If you use supersonic ammo you will likely lose a lot of accuracy as the round transitions below the sound barrier. On really windy days it can be frustrating at best, but in the end its still extremely cheap to shoot, so it’s still better than a day at the office.
The other great lesson is about Fundamentals. This is helpful for target shooters and hunters. Proper trigger control, sight picture, breathing, and body position takes repetition to become second nature. A .22 is a great way to practice these while reducing fatigue to achieve your goal. Shooting 4000-5000 rounds a year of .22 LR is also a fraction of the cost compared to what a centerfire round would cost.
The last lesson from the king of rimfires, is they are just plain fun. No matter what the distance is I always enjoy shooting them. Even when I shoot out to extended distances and really challenge my skills, it’s still fun no matter what the results are. I guess you could say its my form of therapy. Perhaps Drake Clark from Magpul said it best. “When life seems confusing, overwhelming and just plain stupid I find comfort during therapy via firearms. Burning powder. There’s no other substitute for venting as my problems disappear as I reset under recoil.”
– Brian Futch
Editor’s Note: We’ve had a lot of comments about what rifle/scope this is, so here’s the specs as given by Mr. Futch.
This year the .308 Winchester cartridge will turn 65 years old, but retirement is nowhere in sight for perhaps the most versatile rifle cartridge ever created. The .308 Winchester was the commercial offspring of post World War 2 military development in 1952 to produce a more compact, manageable .30 caliber replacement for the .30-06 Springfield. Built off the .300 Savage cartridge, the .308 Winchester (Or 7.62×51 NATO in military guise) quickly became a hit after being introduced in Winchester’s Model 70. The .308 cartridge is manufactured in bullet grain weights ranging from 110 to 220 grains and is suitable for a whole myriad of jobs from varmint to target to big game and dangerous game animals.
While no rifle cartridge can really do everything, but of all the rifle calibers on the market today, the .308 Winchester comes the closest to being the North American universal cartridge. It was Colonel Jeff Cooper who famously stated that the .308 Winchester cartridge was powerful enough for any big game animal up to 1000 pounds on any continent. Most experts and hunting journalists disagree with this assertion, arguing there are several animals in North America alone that the .308 isn’t stout enough to take down. I have a friend who went to British Columbia to hunt moose. He packed his .338 Winchester magnum “moose gun”. His hunting guide carried a Remington Model 7 in .308 Winchester and stated it was plenty powerful enough for the B.C. The caliber argument is destined to rage on.
As for my opinion on the .308 Winchester cartridge, I know what I have seen with my own eyes. I’ve seen .308 take down a massive trophy whitetail buck. I watched my older brother take down a good-sized feral hog with a .308. I’ve personally used the same Savage model 10 in .308 to hunt coyote with 110-grain bullets and whitetail deer with 165-grain bullets. This particular rifle has a 1 in12 rate of twist with a 24” barrel and shoots both bullets nearly identically at 100 yards.
Years ago an engineer from Sierra bullet company tried to explain to me why .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO were such inherently accurate cartridges. A lot of what he said went over my head but what stands out most about our discussion was him talking about how .308 in 165-168 grains hits the “sweet spot” as far as projectile weight, velocity, pressure and ballistic coefficient. This goes a long way to explaining why service rifle competitors and police snipers swear by that configuration.
Doing a little research, I was shocked to find out what a popular hunting caliber .308 Winchester is in Europe. According to Norma, it’s in the top 5 most popular rifle calibers they manufacture. My research pointed to inherent accuracy and ease of obtaining reloading dies and components as the 2 most likely reasons for the popularity of .308 in Europe.
Over the years I have owned several rifles chambered in .308 Winchester from my Savage Model 10 to a L1A1 sporter, and a junky old Ishapore Lee-Enfield and I must say I am a fan of the caliber. While I can’t picture myself hunting grizzly bears or wildebeests with a .308, I certainly have no reason to doubt the accounts of the hunters who have. Effective hunting, after all, is about proper shot placement and of course, proper shot placement is dependent on accuracy and that is why .308 Winchester isn’t going anywhere.
As a small child, Christmas meant storming the living room at 6 AM to find what treasures awaited. The scene was fairly typical with a frenzy of shredded wrapping paper and hoots of joy from my brothers and me. As my brothers and I got older our Christmas morning tradition changed. The catalyst for this change was a new hunting rifle for each of us one year. For the next half-dozen Christmas mornings, I was in the woods before daylight. We had permission to hunt the Vandergrift farm, which was only a couple miles from our house. We could be in the woods by 5 AM and out by 9. A few minutes later we would be home around the breakfast table. Gifts came after breakfast. It was during these years that Christmas was special and family was everything.
The Christmas morning hunt remained a tradition in my family until I was 17 or so. Year after year, I sat in my stand in a sweet-gum tree next to the Vandergrift’s apple orchard. It wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me I never saw any deer on these Christmas hunts. To this day, I don’t believe my dad or my brothers ever saw a deer, much less shot at one. It was more about the camaraderie. We could have found a better place to hunt than that old orchard but being close to home seemed more important. Getting to Christmas breakfast on time was a good reason not to stray too far. There’s something to be said for sitting down to a big country style breakfast after a few hours of enduring the cold in a tree stand. My mother always made the best homemade biscuits and gravy. We would linger at the breakfast table telling hunting stories, joking with each other and laughing. All these years later when I think of Christmas or what it means to me, my mind returns to that breakfast table. It’s not about tinsel or lights or extravagant gifts. It’s way simpler than any of that. Christmas is about family. The biscuits and gravy are a bonus.
When I was a kid learning to hunt whitetail deer here in the South it seemed like all of us youngsters hunted with short-action rifles and the grown men hunted with long-action rifles. The easy explanation is that calibers that fit short actions tend to have relatively tame recoil compared to calibers that long action guns were chambered in like .30-06 and .270. Like my father, I eventually graduated to a more powerful long-action cartridge because I had “outgrown” the caliber I hunted with as a child. In the years since then, I have learned a lot about ballistics and now realize that many long-action calibers are overkill for whitetail in this part of the country. In most deer hunting scenarios in this region, I would prefer a short-action caliber hands down. The following are a few of my favorites.
.243 Winchester The.243 Winchester has been marketed as a “youth” caliber for 60 years now because of its soft recoil. Originating as a wildcat built on the .308 casing, the .243 Winchester is very versatile with bullet weights typically ranging from 55 to 100 grains. This means hunting varmints, predators and whitetail deer with the same rifle is a viable option, even for grownups.
7mm-08 Remington Another wildcat built on the .308 Winchester casing, the 7mm-08 Remington is one of those overlooked and sometimes underestimated calibers. Like its .243 sibling the 7mm-08 is a somewhat soft shooting caliber but has a more focused mission than the .243. Typical projectile weights are 140 to 150 grains traveling at about 2700 feet per second making it ideal for southern whitetail. One of our experts has dropped 3 nice looking deer where they stood with a 7mm-08 Savage this season.
.35 Remington I grew up hunting with a Marlin 336 in .30-30 Winchester and fully understood its limitations. If I knew then what I know now, I would have begged my dad for a lever gun in .35 Remington instead. Obviously, I’m a fan of the big slow bullet and the .35 Remington delivers that in spades. The only deer I ever shot and could not find was shot with a .30-30. I can’t help but wonder what kind of difference the extra weight and energy of the .35 Rem would have made.
.22-250 Remington, I know a retired Airline pilot who got into hunting late in life. He lives in east Texas and uses his Remington model 7 chambered in .22-250 to hunt everything from wild pigs to whitetail to prairie dogs. For his trip to Tennessee last year he had a custom ammo loader make him some 64-grain power point loads. He had no problem knocking down a 120-pound doe.
.308 Winchester At 2.8 inches overall length, the .308 Winchester is the gatekeeper between short and long actions. Anything longer is considered a long action caliber. Dating back to 1952, it is the most popular hunting cartridge world wide with a huge selection of factory ammunition for nearly any medium sized game. The .308 Winchester comes closer to being the perfect all-around cartridge than any before or since its introduction. No caliber can be all things to all hunters but the .308 Winchester comes the closest so far.
On the short boat ride to the USS Arizona memorial, the enormity of the wreckage just below the water surface didn’t strike me until I was standing in the memorial looking down at it. I was stricken with a palpable mixture of sadness and gratitude. The weight of it on my heart was incredible. 1777 sailors perished right where I stood. The vast majority of the 2403 souls lost in the Pearl Harbor attack were right here. For 75 years now there has been a constant leak of fuel oil from the wreckage. When the waters in the harbor are calm you can see the black trail before it diffuses into a sheen on the water surface. Locals explain the continuous flow as black tears wept for the lost sailors. I bit back my own tears as I considered the true cost of freedom.
The last official estimate of the number of surviving Pearl Harbor veterans was in December of 2014 and the number was between 2000 and 2500. At the time of this writing, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are only 620,000 or so World War II veterans still alive and we are losing approximately 372 veterans every day. Bearing these numbers in mind, there could be fewer than 2000 Pearl Harbor vets left since the last official estimate.
In his 1998 book, ‘The Greatest Generation’ Tom Brokaw points to Pearl Harbor as the catalyst that brought all American together to unite behind a single cause on a scale that has not been seen before or since World War II. Men enlisted to fight because they thought it was the right thing to do and the rest of America rallied behind them.
Pearl Harbor is still an active Naval base serving as the home of The Pacific Fleet as well as Hickman Air force base. Pearl Harbor is home to a half-dozen major World War II memorials including the USS Arizona memorial as well as many other museums and smaller memorials across Honolulu. The people of the island will certainly never forget that day 75 years ago. I hope that “the day that will live in infamy” is never reduced to a historical footnote. To the surviving veterans of that horrible day, I wish peace and grace. They’ve earned it.
Although stalking deer in this part of the country is all but unheard of, I have always been fond of the lighter weight, easy carrying deer rifles. Perfect for a long hike to a distant tree-stand or scouting a ridgeline, these rifles won’t wear you out, especially when paired with a good sling. To be clear, lightweight does not necessarily equate to easy of carry. A rifle that feels good to carry can make you not notice a little extra weight, the same way that an unbalanced gun can make itself feel like an anchor. The following are a few classic rifles I wouldn’t mind lugging around at all.
Winchester Model 94 Trapper: Like many other youngsters, I cut my teeth deer hunting with a lever action .30-30. At 34 inches long and weighing in at around 6 pounds the Model 94 Trapper is an ideal brush gun. The .30-30 is plenty enough caliber for whitetail deer and in a pinch works fine for feral hogs or the wayward coyote one might encounter. The best characteristic is the rifle’s balance. The 16-inch barrel prevents the rifle from being front heavy, making one-handed carry comfortable.
Remington Model 788: My older brother went to a yard sale about 20 years ago and walked away with an old Remington 788 for $100. Chambered in 7mm-08 the gun is super accurate and pleasant to carry as I found out on a family coyote hunt a few years back. The unique bolt design uses three rows of three lugs on the rear of the bolt meaning that lock-up occurs to the rear of the mag-well. Offered with a carbine length barrel, the 788 was an inexpensive gun that still shot well and carried even better.
Harrington & Richardson Handi-Rifle: It all started 16 or 17 years ago when I made myself the punch line for the weekend by showing up to hunting camp without a rifle. The 2 things I learned that weekend was the importance of a checklist and what a delightful little gun the Handi-Rifle is to carry. The .243 example I borrowed from a friend was feather light and easy to carry. For lack of a better word, it was “Handi”.
Savage Model 99: In the late 19th century Arthur Savage addressed the one glaring flaw in most lever action designs up to that point. The tube magazine is what relegates lever action rifles to flat nosed cartridges to prevent the tip of a bullet from hitting the primer in front of it. The fear of accidental detonation of spire pointed rounds was no longer a concern with Savage’s advent of the rotary magazine. Elimination of the tube magazine also made for a more balanced rifle. In the very capable caliber of .300 Savage, the model 99 is a deer killing machine.
Remington Model 600 Mohawk: The Mohawk was intended to be a budget variant of the Remington 600. The Mohawk featured an 18.5” barrel without the vent rib the standard 600 was known for and tipped the scales at less than 5-1/2 lbs. The one from my childhood was chambered in 6mm Remington and weighed an even 6 pounds with a 4-power Tasco scope on it. A cousin of mine still owns this rifle. He assures me it’s still a joy. The Mohawk was made from 1971 to 1980 and while they’ve definitely increased in price, they’re still available on the secondary market.
There’s nothing quite like a little surprise gift to make someone’s holidays a lot better quickly. Here’s 10 easy gift ideas that won’t break the bank and will help you share a little more holiday cheer this winter.
Kershaw gift set: I think it’s nearly impossible to be an outdoorsy person without having at least some appreciation for a good knife. Here’s a good knife, backed up by a keychain tool and a slick little multi-tool. All for less than a movie and popcorn.
Ruger Cleaning Kits:These are great kits for any gun owner, not just the Ruger fan in your life. Built out of quality brass components, these kits are ready to go and affordable. Just add your favorite flavor of cleaner.
MTM EZ-Throw Clay Thrower: Automatic clays/skeet machines can be expensive and bulky, but this handy clay thrower travels well and the elongated handle mean you can throw more clays, further, with less effort.
Streamlight MicroStream: Nobody likes slipping and falling in the dark evenings that seem to come far too soon this time of year and a good flashlight can help prevent a nasty spill.
Tannerite Rifle Targets – 1/4lb: Start the new year off with a boom! Perfect as a surprise for a shooting buddy’s new rifle, these exploding rifle targets add a ton of excitement to a range trip.
Ammo! I’ll admit, this one’s an easy one. A little extra ammo makes a range trip to test out that brand new gun even sweeter and we’ve got a great selection of budget oriented handgun ammo.
Peltor Safety Glasses: I don’t know about you guys, but if I had a dime for every pair of safety glasses I’ve misplaced, lost or accidentally broken, I’d have enough to buy another pair of safety glasses. Go ahead and get an extra pair for the stocking.
Allen Rifle/Shotgun Socks: Give them the pair of socks that they actually want. These soft knit rifle socks will protect firearms from moisture and damage.
Paracord: The most versatile item in my camping backpack, paracord is perfect as a gift. With a little effort and a Youtube guide or two, paracord can be turned into handmade gifts like slings, survival bracelets or hammocks.
My whole childhood I pined after one rifle; the M1 Garand. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1997 when I finally got to shoot an M1 Garand. It was a pure delight. So often a lusted after item turns out to be a disappointment compared to the daydreams, like finding out that classic Lamborghini from the poster in your room actually is a cantankerous, malevolent piece of junk hellbent on killing its driver. This was not at all the case with the Garand. Did I mention it was a pure delight? The two things that struck me immediately were how solidly heavy the rifle was and how accurate it was.
My coworker, the owner of the Garand, and I were shooting at a private range that he had an agreement with. Despite the agreement the county deputies always questioned us every time we shot there and that day was no different. The deputy rolled up and immediately recognized us. He started to say something but stopped mid sentence; “Is that a Garand?” he asked. This led to a lengthy discussion about the rifle. The deputy went on to tell us about his father who had been an MP in the army in the late 1950s. It had become obvious that the deputy really wanted to shoot the Garand so we gave him a full 8 round en bloc clip and let him shoot. His grin was ear to ear as he handed the rifle back, which seems to be the response of anyone shooting a Garand. I’m sure I had a similar look after my first clip through the Garand.
Over the years Garands have gotten very expensive. Despite having nearly 20 years to get it done, I still don’t own one. The Civilian Marksman program is my best option at owning a piece of history with “field grade” rifles at around $600 at the time of this writing and M1C sniper variants going for over $3000. I have always said I wanted a pretty nice one but I may have very well procrastinated myself out of one as there is a finite number of these guns left. I need to get on the ball.
It was General George S. Patton that famously called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised”. I can’t speak to that as I’ve never been to war. When holding a Garand, I can only marvel at the mettle it must have taken to lug one of these beasts across Europe or through the Pacific. Those were some tough men. I can most definitely see how a soldier in World War II would have been grateful for the technology he was carrying. The GI’s knowledge that the enemy was still carrying bolt-action rifles while he was armed with the fast and accurate Garand must have been a morale booster.
Once or twice a week for nearly a year now I’ve seen people on social media websites rejoicing because they are under the impression that silencers are going to be de-regulated at any minute. These “news” headlines read as if it’s a done deal when in truth nothing has changed since 1934. That was the year that the National Firearms Act (commonly referred to as NFA) became the law of the land. To this day there is a great deal of confusion about silencers and the legality of ownership. To be clear, silencers were never outlawed. They were simply regulated and taxed to the point of being extremely difficult to acquire. In the1930’s it seems that silencers were equated with organized crime and thereby included on the NFA list of items subject to the $200 transfer tax, which was a massive amount of money in 1934.
The reason some folks on social media are excited is because of House Resolution 3799, or as its more commonly known, The Hearing Protection Act, put forward to Congress in October of 2015. Initially sponsored by 74 republicans and 2 democrats, the bill seeks to remove silencers from the NFA list and reclassify them as a firearm subject to a standard 4473-form submission and background check like any normal firearm. I can’t speak for the folks on social media but I myself am excited at the prospect of hunting with a silencer.
I was brought up in an era where nobody used ear protection of any kind while hunting. Tree-stand hunting here in the south requires you to listen closely to your surroundings. I remember being around 15 years old and graduating from a 30/30 lever action to a bolt action 7mm Remington Magnum. I took a shot at a 4-point buck and took him down clean. I was so amped up on adrenaline I didn’t notice the ringing in my ears but after several minutes I couldn’t hear a thing. It was later that evening when the ringing finally stopped. A silencer would have protected my hearing.
So what happened to HR3799 you ask? Since the day of its introduction, the Hearing Protection Act has been tied up in committee. What does that mean? The bill being tied up in The House Ways and Means and Judiciary committees means that for now its “out of sight, out of mind” existing in a sort of purgatory. Does the Hearing Protection Act have a chance? For it to happen silencers must overcome 82 years of stigma from being considered a criminal’s tool and instead be viewed as a safety device. It could happen, but I’m not holding my breath no matter how upbeat folks on social media are.
The shooting sports industry is rife with would-be entrepreneurs and innovators trying to re-invent the wheel or build a better mousetrap. Every once in a while there will come along a real game changer. This, however, is the rare exception. Most new things to come along in this industry are simply derivatives of something that already existed. This could not be truer than with ammunition. As a result of this, there are many cartridges that have faded into obscurity within a few short years of their introduction. This not only applies to wildcat calibers developed by some custom hand loader but also major factory efforts that have nose-dived after introduction. It is not necessarily because these calibers were bad or didn’t perform as advertised. It simply comes down to the American public. You can build the best product since sliced bread but if the consumer doesn’t care then it’s over.
Anybody remember the bottle-necked .440 Corbon or its little brother .400 Corbon? Both were intended as semi-auto pistol hunting cartridges with impressive ballistics. Another misadventure into the bottleneck pistol cartridge arena is the .32 NAA and .25 NAA. While both of these diminutive cartridges were developed for pocket gun self-defense, a lukewarm response from consumers mean they have headed the way of 9×25 Dillon and .30 Wildey Magnum. .357 Sig nearly landed in the same scrap heap until the Federal Government became interested. With Secret Service and the Air Marshals both using .357 Sig, it’s unlikely to disappear but most of the buying public just doesn’t care about it.
I can vividly recall the buzz surrounding the 7mm STW. Federal Ammunition and Shooting Times Magazine had a huge ad campaign touting its many virtues. It was supposed to be the end-all, be-all cartridge for North America. It took several years to flop but flop it did. I know of a 7mm STW rifle that’s languished in a local pawnshop for over 5 years. In the mid-1990s I had a co-worker who read an article and became so enamored with .257 Scramjet that he ordered a custom barrel for his contender in that caliber. He bought all of the brass Lazzaroni had, which he is still loading to this day. It’s a good thing too, as he might be the last person in America to shoot that caliber.
The good news is that sometimes obscure cartridges mount a comeback. This usually happens at the behest of a gun company. A few years ago .300 Savage was teetering on the edge. Then out of nowhere Remington chambered a couple of 700’s in that venerable caliber. Now 5 different companies are manufacturing that cartridge.
My best advice for anyone who finds themselves owning a firearm chambered in an obscure or extinct cartridge is to take this as an opportunity to get into reloading. If reloading isn’t for you there is the possibility of changing the caliber. This is especially plausible in bolt-action rifles; many obscure or abandoned calibers are based on more common cartridge casings. If the bolt face matches then it’s a simple matter of re-barreling the rifle. It’s not cheap but it’s a better plan than using the rifle in the garden to stake up tomato plants.
I can remember wishing I had kept my mouth shut. I was about 15 years old walking out of the woods with my brother, my dad and his hunting buddy Jerry. Off in the distance I heard an odd sound I had never heard in the woods. I asked my dad what was making that racket. When he said it was a turkey, I was hesitant to believe him. Turkeys were something my mom cooked a couple of times a year after she bought it frozen at the store. Sheepishly I asked “ wild turkey?” “What else would live in the woods”, Jerry chimed in. While the grownups had a chuckle at my expense I remembered reading something about turkeys and an actual turkey season in my hunter’s safety course. The problem I could not get past was the fact that I had never seen or heard a turkey in the woods. When I questioned my dad and Jerry, I was surprised to find out that both men had never actually encountered a wild turkey. Both men were in their 40’s and were both life-long deer hunters but thus far had only heard wild turkeys. How elusive could these creatures be?
In the thirty-odd years since, wild turkey have made a miraculous comeback. Back in the 1980’s wild turkeys were recovering from near extinction as a result of un-regulated hunting in the early 20th century. The explosion of the wild turkey population is proof positive that conservation works. Like deer and coyote, the turkey population seems to be out growing its habitat. I sometimes see whole flocks in highway medians near where I live. I recently sighted a whole flock of turkeys in the median of a busy highway. There are communities throughout America where wild turkey have become nuisance animals. In the San Francisco bay area, reports of turkeys being aggressive toward humans are becoming commonplace. Ecologists on the west coast are deeply concerned, as wild turkey has become an invasive species and pose a serious threat to other ground foraging birds.
One obvious solution to the wild turkey over population would seem to be harvesting more of the birds. We should get out and turkeys hunt more. That sounds incredibly simple. One problem is much of the wild turkey population exists in suburban and semi-urban areas where hunting is not allowed. Several city and county governments in Maryland, New York and California have proposed alternate hunting methods like nets, slingshots and bolos. It will be interesting to see how these cities deal with their turkey problem.
Here in Tennessee we are doing our part. Like most other states we have spring and fall turkey seasons. The problem (for me anyway) is that turkey hunting is difficult. Turkeys are cautious and sneaky birds. I’ve heard gobblers that sounded as though they were right on top of me but I could never see them. I have spooked turkeys I didn’t know were there until they ran off. The casual observer might assume I’m just a lousy at turkey hunting. This could very well be the case, but I’ll keep trying. I’d hate to think the only way I can bag a wild turkey is to swerve into the median.
It’s strange what I remember from childhood. What’s even stranger is how a casual conversation can take you back to a childhood memory that had been forgotten for forty years or more. It’s funny how the mind works. It was one those random conversations that made me think of Boadie the Amazing Three Legged Raccoon.
Boadie wasn’t even fully-grown when a wheel of my dad’s boat trailer ran the poor fellow over. The young raccoon had a badly mangled right rear leg. We made a place for him to convalesce in an old doghouse. Over time, three things happened. First, the elderly Filipino man across the street named the young racoon “Boadie” and Boadie’s damaged leg dried up and fell off. And, possibly because of his leg, Boadie got mean. Despite Boadie’s unpleasant disposition, my father loved him because he shared my father’s dislike for cats. What differentiated the two is that my father didn’t go around the neighborhood chasing down cats and cause a ruckus. The carnage left in Boadie’s wake is ultimately what led to his exile. It’s a shame Boadie couldn’t chase down squirrels. They were far too plentiful and no one would have cared.
Speaking of squirrels, it’s a shame nobody squirrel hunts anymore. My formative years were spent getting a sore neck looking up into the trees. We would stand, watching squirrel nests for hours. As a younger child, I used a single shot .410 shotgun. Later on, I graduated to a .22 rifle. A squirrel is hard to hit with a .22 so I suppose it was a good thing I hunted with a Marlin Model 60 so I could fire a quick follow-up shot or two. Back then we would skin them and fry them up like chicken. They were good eating but you had to be mindful of stray number 8 shot that still might be in the meat.
Back in those days, Fall also meant epic backyard football games. We preferred Nerf footballs because they were kid-sized and easy to throw. The only downside is inevitably they would get left outside and a dog would chew them up. With only minor canine damage, they were still good to go but you could no longer throw that perfect heroic spiral. Another downside was that whoever showed up with the new Nerf always insisted on being quarterback even if he was horrible. Nonetheless, we would play until dark and you could hear our mothers yelling for us to come in for dinner. Those were the days; I didn’t have mortgage payments or deadlines and life was simple. If things weren’t going my way, I could simply take my Nerf football and go home.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s a flashlight was something that sat in a drawer most of the time and rarely worked when you needed it to. During a power outage, we would grope around with a lighter till we found the candles. I didn’t see a flashlight as much more than a toy when I came to work for Natchez in the early 90’s. It was around that time that I was introduced to the concept of a tactical flashlight.
The idea of a flashlight as a defensive weapon seemed absurd until a training demonstration of a high power tactical flashlight changed my mind. The original Surefire 6P would blind someone with a mere 60 Lumens. Those were the days before LED’s and all flashlights used an incandescent bulb. Tactical lights with their high performance bulbs were energy hogs, and would eat batteries like popcorn. The situation with the bulbs wasn’t much better. They burned out frequently and were expensive to replace. Some lights even required new reflector assemblies when the bulb burned out. The expense was the number one argument against high-intensity tactical lights.
Twenty-odd years later and flashlights have come a long way. There’s a wide selection of excellent tactical flashlights, all for under $50. They have high output LED’s that are nearly indestructable, have long battery life and tend to be built like a tank. And every hardware store and gas station has a bucket full of not-so-excellent LED flashlights, usually for under 10 bucks. My everyday carry light is a Streamlight PolyTac with a maximum output of 275 lumens, was affordable and has a lifetime warranty. These days a light should be part of your everyday carry equipment alongside your pocket knife.
There’s a few things to look for in an EDC tactical flashlight. Modern, quality defensive/tactical lights are built to be durable enough to withstand a drop or be used as a last-ditch bludgeoning weapon. If the light is cheaply or poorly made, it might fail when you need it most. The light should be small for ease of carry and should provide at least 100 lumens of light. The light should also be waterproof and easy to operate. I myself prefer lights that utilize 3-volt CR123 lithium batteries for their long life, plus I know they won’t corrode or leak acid in my pocket. There are plenty of lights that use AA and AAA batteries, which are a little easier to find and cheaper than the CR123 battery, but can leak acid.
The important question here is why. Why carry a light every day? The most obvious answer is the everyday simple things like looking for the keys you dropped in the driveway or rooting around in the shed, but a quality flashlight is a powerful defensive tool to have. A tactical light alongside a handgun utilizing proven techniques can be the way out of a bad situation and makes identifying threats possible in less than optimum lighting conditions. Once you become accustomed to having a light in your pocket you’ll wonder how you made it without one.
In the world we live in today everyone should carry a flashlight. Life can be unpredictable with natural disasters, and man-made emergencies. Bad things happen all of the time. Whether used alone or as part of a weapon system, a good flashlight can save your life.
When I was a kid, I used to love to listen to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” on radio. I had always wondered where the stories came from. The one particular installment of “The Rest of the Story” that stuck with me for years was regarding coyotes and how they proliferated in North America. Mr. Harvey went on to tell of how in the 19th century the aristocracy had hunted a few species of fox to near extinction and how an enterprising merchant got the idea to go to India and import golden jackals to the U.S. The assumption was that they could be hunted in the same manner as fox and when that proved to be untrue the jackals became an invasive species often confused with but not quite the same as the North American coyote. Mr. Harvey went on to tell of how modern day Coyotes were descendants of a century of cross breeding between the golden jackals and coyotes. There was no Internet back then but I had no reason to doubt any part of the story. It was, after all, Paul Harvey.
Some 15 years later was a young, fresh-faced sales rep for Natchez. I was hired for my knowledge of hunting and shooting but lacked knowledge on predator hunting because it was not yet popular in the eastern U.S. It became my mission to learn about coyotes. After reading of the significance of the coyote in Native American religion and folklore I was intrigued. I also read much of a veterinary textbook on canines but the most help came from talking to a state game warden. Based on what I could learn from all these sources, Paul Harvey’s coyote tale seemed to be dead wrong. I was mortified because I had repeated that story for years. It was, however, a more interesting story than the truth. Coyotes crossing the Mississippi river over interstate bridges to become nuisance animals in the eastern states would have never made it to radio. It’s just not that interesting.
Today, some twenty odd years later we do have the Internet to check facts quickly. We also have DNA testing. Biologists have determined that there is only a 4% genetic distinction between North American coyotes and the Eurasian golden jackal. What does this mean? While they are similar, the coyote is still as American as apple pie and you can’t believe everything you hear on the radio.
Any of you who have carried a gun every day for years probably know the feeling of naked vulnerability you feel from being in public without one. There is an antidotal story of Teddy Roosevelt giving an interview with a reporter while strolling the grounds of the Whitehouse. When the two left the front gate and stepped out onto Pennsylvania Avenue, Roosevelt started frantically patting his vest and coat pockets declaring “Good God man! I’ve forgotten my pistol” and allegedly would not finish the interview until he retrieved his Colt. With Roosevelt’s ascension to the office due to President McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt wasn’t going down without shooting back.
Most people are unaware that Ronald Reagan carried a .38 revolver while in office. This was revealed by his biographer and confirmed years later by a retired secret service agent. The natural assumption is that it was after his assassination attempt in 1981 that Reagan felt the need to carry. Reagan actually started carrying the .38 after death threats from the Black Panthers in 1967 while he was the governor of California.
Other historical figures went openly armed. All through the second half of the 20th century Yasser Arafat was photographed with a revolver in a leather holster on his belt. During his famous 1974 UN General Assembly speech he declared he had an olive branch in one hand and a gun in the other. At the opening of the Yasser Arafat international airport in the Gaza Strip, he was armed with his trusty revolver despite the fact that he was standing next to then-president Bill Clinton. General George Patton is another historical figure who carried not one but two large revolvers on a regular basis. The ornate, ivory-gripped, nickel plated and engraved Colt Single Action Army he carried on his right hip. On the left, he carried a 3 ½” barreled Smith and Wesson model 27 (.357 Magnum) that the general referred to as his “killing Gun”.
Many celebrities carry guns these days. Howard Stern, Marc Anthony, Robert DeNiro, and Donald Trump all possess the rare and difficult to acquire New York carry permit. Other Celebs who have reportedly packed heat includes Bruce Willis, James Earl Jones, and Gary Sinise. Food Channel star Alton Brown reportedly carried a Walther PPK because he worked odd hours and the Food Channel’s Atlanta studios were in a “rough part of town”. Of all of the famous folks who openly support the second amendment, I like James Earl Jones’ view best; “The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise, they will win, and the decent people will lose.” I can hear that deep baritone voice in my head. It’s somehow comforting.
Over the years various friends and family members have asked my opinion on gun cleaning products. Invariably the question will arise about what brand I myself prefer. This is the point where, without fail, I will lie about what I’m currently using and just say Hoppes. The ugly truth is that at any given moment I’m using whatever was the cheapest. Just about every company that makes cleaning supplies will pass out samples to the sales staff so we can familiarize ourselves with their products. For 22 years I have been using whatever odd conglomeration of cleaning equipment and chemicals I can score for gratis because I’m a cheapskate. My policy of frugality means I’ve tried just about everything and have a little insight on what’s worth using. The following are some products that I know work extremely well and I might actually even pay for some day.
Barnes CR-10 Bore Solvent: This is wicked stuff. It’s extremely powerful and works very quickly on lead, copper and powder fouling. This is the only solvent that I’ve heard someone complain about being too strong.
Hoppes Bore Snake:When these were hitting the market in the 1990s I got one as a freebie for a .50 caliber muzzleloader. I still have it. Its perfect for the type of fouling you get in a modern day muzzleloader burning synthetic powders and shooting plastic sabots.
Lyman Essentials Maintenance Mat: This is the perfect work surface for cleaning or working on a firearm. The non-skid rubber is chemical resistant and protects your firearms finish and the kitchen table.
Butch’s “Triple Twill” Patches: I remember being skeptical of the notion of one patch being so much better than the rest. Now I’m a believer. The “Triple Twill” design of these patches mean better contact with the lands and grooves in the barrel thus more efficient cleaning.
Tetra Gun Action Blaster:I’ve been guilty of shooting “dirty” hand loads because I was using cheap powder. If you come home from the range with a crud covered gun this product cuts right through all of it.
Birchwood Casey Foaming Gel Bore Scrubber:Early attempts at a foam bore cleaner were disappointing but Birchwood Casey nailed it. This stuff stays exactly where you put it. You can completely fill a barrel with this stuff and it won’t ooze out like lesser products. It does what foam is supposed to do.
MTM Site-in-Clean Rest & Case:This thing is awesome. If you’ve ever tried to clean a scoped rifle on a flat surface you will see what I mean. On warm days I will carry mine outside to the picnic table. Everything you need to clean your rifle can easily be stored in the case.
Frog Lube CLP: The concept of a cleaner, lubricant and preservative all in one is nothing new. Frog Lube CLP didn’t choke me up or fume up the whole house, which honestly caught me off guard. An afternoon with a really grungy AR-15 and a 4oz. bottle of Frog Lube CLP gave me a clean rifle and convinced me that CLP doesn’t have to be toxic. Good job Frog Lube.
Break Free CLP Weapon Wipes:A plastic dispenser with gun wipes pre-soaked with Break Free’s combat-proven CLP solution. I can’t believe they didn’t think of these 30 years earlier. It’s 20 pre treated multi surface wipes ready to go, perfect for a range bag, go bag or hunting backpack.
Otis Special Forces Dry Lube:Nothing works quite like this dry lube. When I first read about it I remember thinking it was a contradiction in terms. When I got a sample can and tried it I was a believer. It works especially well on waterfowl shotguns in wet conditions.
Iosso Bore Cleaning Compound Paste:I’ve always been fond of paste bore cleaners because they clean fast without making a big mess. The Bio-Based Iosso removes carbon, lead, copper and powder fouling quickly and easily. It’s definitely a best buy.
Kim Rhode never had any doubt about what she wanted to do. At 13 she won her first world championship title in women’s double trap shooting. At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics she became the youngest female gold medalist in an Olympic shooting competition. More Olympics lead to more medals; from Sydney to Athens and Beijing, to her stunning performance at the 2012 London games, Kim Rhode has raised the bar in Olympic Shooting competition. The recent Rio Summer Olympic games and three bronze medals mean that Rhode is the first American athlete to medal in 6 consecutive Olympics and the only summer Olympian to ever manage this impressive feat.*
To celebrate her achievement, Winchester is making a limited run of AA target shells with Rhode’s picture on the box. Of course I can’t speak for Kim Rhode but I think it’s far cooler to have your face on a box of Winchester shot shells than a box of breakfast cereal. That one’s already been done.
Winchester has been the exclusive shot shell sponsor of the USA Shooting Team since 1999 and they’ve been winning medals ever since, thanks to athletes like Kim Rhode. This is a testament to both Winchester’s commitment to our athletes and the athlete’s unfailing loyalty to the best competition shot shells money can buy.
– Andy Merciers
* Editor’s note: The only other athlete to accomplish this amazing feat is Italian luger Armin Zöggeler, with 6 medals in luge. We’re looking forward to the 2020 games to see Kim Rhode break another record.
“It was a pleasure to burn”. The opening line of Ray Bradbury’s novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ says it all. Last weekend some friends and I burned through a serious amount of ammunition and it was great. We went shooting like it was the old days, and when I say old days I’m only talking about 8 years ago when we bought ammunition to actually shoot instead of stacking it in the garage or in the closet.
I have to admit that blazing through 500 rounds of .22lr through my buddy’s integrally suppressed Ruger 10/22 was big fun. I put 100 rounds through my ancient Marlin model 60 and broke out my antique Lakefield .22 and made a coffee can dance at 100 yards using iron sights.
I brought a half dozen handguns and plenty of ammo that day. It was nice to get in some much needed practice with my array of carry guns. I even shot 50 rounds of .44 special in my Charter Arms Bulldog. My Sig P220 was so popular with my Nephews, they ran to town to buy more .45 when all mine was gone.
Next came the modern sporting rifles. My brother had bought an amazing deal on .223 at an estate sale so we had ammo to burn. With six AR’s rocking and rolling, our stash of ammo was depleted quickly. It was time to let the rifles cools down and pick up some brass.
Later that evening I was reflecting on the day’s festivities; I had almost forgotten what it was like to shoot until I was tired of shooting. It had been years since I had went through that much ammunition with happy abandon. In that afternoon at the range I honed my skills as well as hung out with friends and family. The day took me back to simpler times when ammo was cheap and plentiful. Not only is shooting therapeutic but it’s a great family activity. Buy some ammunition and take the family to the range. You’ll be glad you did.
I recently had the opportunity to buy a Smith & Wesson Model 13-3 revolver for a great deal. Despite having a pristine bore, cylinder, and solid mechanicals, the finish was in dreadful shape. It was painfully obvious the gun had spent decades in a holster because the bluing had worn off down to bare metal on both sides of the barrel and on the muzzle end of the cylinder along with several other points of contact. The Butler Creek rubber grips (circa 1980’s) were worn out and ready for the trash.
My thought when buying the gun was to have it re-blued, but like many regions in this country, there are hardly any gunsmiths around anymore. While I save my pennies and come up with a plan for the gun, I thought it would be prudent to protect the bare metal to avoid rust. A co-worker suggested the Birchwood Casey Presto Gun Blue pen. I have used that brand of gloss and flat black touch up pens on everything from riflescopes to AK-47’s but I had never used the Presto Blue Pen.
That evening I sat down with the Presto Blue pen, some Birchwood Casey cleaner/degreaser, and some 0-grade steel wool. It was a simple matter of following the instructions on the package. Apply the chemical, rinse, pat dry and buff. The most important part is the buffing with the steel wool.
I’ve got to admit my expectations were pretty low considering the Presto pen’s low price. It is an understatement to say I’m pleased with the results. In normal lighting conditions at arms length, the gun looks pretty good, and only under bright light and intense scrutiny can the refinished areas be seen. I’m not exactly sure what I expected but what I got was far and away better than anything I could have hoped for from an inexpensive touch-up pen. I’m a sucker for an easy solution, especially one that worked this well.
Over my years of selling optics it has always puzzled me why some folks are so reluctant to scope their rifles with fixed power optics. To me a good fixed power scope is hard to beat. Growing up hunting deer in east Tennessee and north Georgia with a Marlin 336 lever action might be the reason for my fondness for a fixed 4-power scope, as it seems to be just right for this terrain and the .30-30’s effective range.
A fixed 4-power scope is also ideal for teaching youngsters to use optics. Keeping it simple to start with is always the best answer for beginners. Variances in magnification create variances in eye relief, parallax and field of view, which can be distracting to the novice shooter.
Militaries and law enforcement agencies are also believers in the usefulness of fixed power scopes. A fixed 4-power scope is an excellent option for today’s tactical carbines. Enough magnification to positively identify targets at carbine ranges, and a wide enough field of vision make the 4-power a powerful tactical contender.
The following are some examples of the great options for fixed 4-power scopes across a broad price range.
Bushnell Banner 4x32mm
This is the closest modern equivalent of what I had on my old .30-30 as a kid. It’s a tried and true recipe. Many deer have fallen in these crosshairs. One of the best deals in a 4×32 scope. Period.
Trijicon ACOG 4x32mm
Our armed forces use this scope because of its rock solid dependability and build quality. Available in a wide variety of ballistic reticles, colors and both tritium and battery lit versions, the Trijicon ACOG might be the perfect tactical midrange optic.
Tasco 4x15mm Rimfire
It’s time for your child’s first 22 rifle. It’s as simple as a riflescope gets. It makes a great training scope and definitely won’t break the bank.
NIKON Buckmaster 4x40mm
This scope is at home on a high-power bolt action or your grandfather’s old lever gun. What you get is Nikon’s optical quality and low light performance at a great price.
Weaver K-4 4x38mm
All of my friends and co-workers know this is my favorite scope of all times. I own a modern one and one from 1954 and wouldn’t trade anything for either of them. Clarity, durability and repeatability are a few reasons but mostly it’s the simplicity. And I’m a simple kind of guy.
Tom Mix was by all account Hollywood’s first western Mega Star appearing in some 291 films, mostly in the silent film era. His trademark 10-gallon hat was instantly recognizable.
Around 1926 USC head football coach Howard Jones approached Mix for a favor. Jones had a football player named Marion Morrison who had recently lost his football scholarship due to a broken collarbone from a surfing accident. In trade for USC tickets, Mix agreed to help the young man and subsequently introduced him to director John Ford. Young Morrison quickly found work as an extra and a prop man. Because Tom Mix had taken a shine to the young man, Morrison was soon included in the weekly poker games attended by other members of Hollywood royalty like Henry Fonda, William S. Hart and living legend Wyatt Earp.
In the 1920s Wyatt Earp enjoyed his wild west celebrity and often worked as an advisor on movie sets. Many famous actors were star struck by Earp and it’s said that Charlie Chaplin was speechless in Earp’s presence. The former law man, horse thief and entrepreneur indeed had a imposing presence few men before or since had managed. Even as an elderly man, there was a sense that Earp was dangerous.
In 1929 Wyatt Earp died, just as young Morrison was landing a leading role in ‘The Big Trail’ for which he received a new screen name. Fox studio chief Winfield Sheehan came up with the name ‘John Wayne’ without even consulting Morrison. As it turned out the name stuck and became synonymous with the old west and grit. By the 1950’s John Wayne admitted that his whole persona as a cowboy tough guy was simply an act of imitating his hero Wyatt Earp. From the slow deep voice and deliberate annunciation to the swagger and even the walk, Wayne copied Earp because Earp was the toughest dude any of them had ever met. Earp was the real deal and copying Earp in turn made John Wayne the real deal.
When I came to work for Natchez in 1994, I’d never reloaded and had no plans of starting either. It looked too technical and too expensive for me. I had grown up hunting and owned several long guns and one handgun and factory ammo was OK with me. My mentor Bill got me interested in IPSC shooting which was convenient for him, as he happened to have a used Caspian .38 Super race gun for sale. When I picked up the gun, Bill handed me a big plastic bag full of .38 Super brass and said, “by the way, your going to have to learn to reload this caliber.” Bill sat down with me that afternoon and taught me to reload .38 Super for IPSC.
On Saturdays I would trek out to Oak Ridge to compete and during the weeknights I would reload my .38 Super cases. Bill loaned me a press and equipment and I began to build the bare minimum to reload the one caliber. I started out with a LEE hand-priming tool and a set of LEE .38 super carbide dies that came with a shell holder and a powder dipper came next. The desire for more consistent powder charges led to the purchase of a LEE powder scale to ensure accuracy when dealing with fractions of grains of powder. Because my inherited collection of .38 Super brass was growing old, some of it had to be discarded and the rest had started to stretch and needed trimming. Again I went for the the budget solution. I already had a cordless screwdriver with a drill chuck so the LEE cutter and lock stud along with the .38 Super case length gauge did the trick for less than a nice dinner. At this point I had everything I needed but the press. The LEE hand press turned out to be just the thing. With some primers, projectiles and a bottle of Accurate No. 7 powder, I could shoot IPSC on the cheap and all of my equipment would fit into a shoebox. The situation was copacetic until Bill convinced me I needed to switch to a .45 ACP Para Ordinance race gun. He just happened to have one for sale.
Over my 21 years manning the Natchez phones I repeatedly referred to LEE as the “poor-man’s” reloading equipment brand, which made some LEE fans rais their eyebrows until I explained my love for the brand. If it were not for LEE Precision, many people would have never gotten into the hobby. I was on a budget and managed to shoot competitively on the weekends because LEE made good quality equipment that I could afford. LEE’s reloading manual is one of the more user friendly and is perfect for the beginner. If you need technical help, the folks in Hartford are there for you. Dollar for dollar LEE is the my favorite reloading brand.
A couple years ago I acquired through some trading a nice Smith & Wesson Model 66 with a 2-1/2″ barrel and the old style thin wood grips. When I went to shoot it, I was dismayed. It bucked, squirmed and generally did everything but stay in my hand. Constantly re-adjusting my grip after each shot made the gun useless as a carry gun and not much fun for range use either.
Since I can’t swap my gorilla sized hands for a smaller size, I swapped the grips for something a bit larger. A Pachmayr Gripper grip was easily installed with a screwdriver and a week later, I was back at the range. The gun was easy to control, even with .357 Magnum, but when I went to carry the gun, the grips felt a little too big to carry. I decided to try the Hogue Bantam grip. It installed a little differently but soon I was ready for the range. While the recoil was a little harsher, it was still very easy to control. The Pachmayrs were so nice to shoot at the range, I kept them around as an excuse to find a nice 6″ K frame. With one little change, that revolver went from a greased pig to one of my favorite carry guns.
Aftermarket grips are one of my favorite firearm accessories. Just like gloves, not all guns will fit your hand, but aftermarket grips can change that.
It all started Christmas morning 1974 with a brand new Roy Rogers Cap gun set. It featured 2 die-cast nickel-plated cap guns along with genuine leather drop holsters mounted on a Roy Rogers signature belt. The cool thing about the holsters was that a lot of toy guns I already had would fit into them. In no time I was fashioning the toy into a shoulder rig for when it was time to play Starsky and Hutch. I even modified one of the holsters to make it fit my new Han Solo Blaster. I was fascinated with holsters. Looking back, it’s no surprise I ended up in the shooting sports industry.
Since the mid 90’s I’ve been carrying a handgun. Over this period of time I have carried a diverse selection of pistols and revolvers. In these 20 years of daily carry, I have purchased many holsters. Some might even say too many holsters. Others may even use terms like ridiculous or excessive to describe my holster habit. There has even been talk of an intervention. Because of my unique ‘qualifications’ I can give advice on what not to do when choosing a holster.
Don’t shop for a holster without deciding where on your body you intend to carry. (Hip, shoulder, small of back, inside the pants etc.) Once you have this sorted out the rest is easy. Study up on what will work with your body type.
Don’t purchase a holster without considering your comfort. Regardless of what looks cool you will have to wear it day in and day out. Comfort is paramount.
Don’t rush into buying a holster without asking yourself one of the most basic questions. Do you want leather or synthetic materials? If you want a leather belt holster, be aware of how quickly perspiration breaks down even the most expensive leather.
Don’t buy high-end leather without understanding fitment /break in issues associated with leather. Higher end leather will barely fit the firearm initially. Break-in before carry is a must.
Don’t buy a holster just because your favorite primetime TV detective wears one. I call this the PDQ effect. In 1994 actor Jimmy Smits wore a Bianchi PDQ on ‘NYPD Blue’ months before they hit the market. Demand was through the roof. The minimalist design looked great on a TV cop, but was too minimalist for real law enforcement.
Don’t buy a holster just because you saw it on social media and it has a tough sounding name. You see this every day. Watch out for the guy who ‘re-invents the wheel’. All of these guys aren’t crooks. All I’m saying is buyer beware. Look for reviews on the product first.
Don’t be shy about asking for help. We have a sales force of guys who carry every day. The odds are pretty good they’ve heard your question before so don’t be bashful. We’re here to help, so give us a call at 1-800-251-7839.
Over my years in the shooting sports industry, I have seen handgun-hunting surge and wane in popularity several times. This is often times tied to the success of new handguns being introduced into the market. When Taurus first introduced the Raging Bull revolver in 1995, handgun scopes surged in popularity. A similar reaction happened with debut of Smith & Wesson’s massive X-frame revolvers in 2003. Handgun scopes are most closely associated with big bore hunting revolvers. I don’t believe most shooters realize how fun it is to shoot a handgun equipped with magnified optics. The most fun I’ve ever had with a pistol was a Browning .22 Buckmark with an inexpensive Simmons 4 power scope.
When choosing the right handgun scope there are several factors to consider. Many of the single shot hunting pistols are chambered in rifle calibers and require a more robust scope with variable power. Modern day hunting revolvers provide plenty of punch, but traditionally have been used with fixed power scopes, probably because they get more of their stopping power from bullet weight rather than velocity. Plinking with a .22 doesn’t require as serious a scope and there’s a few great options that don’t break the bank. Here’s a few scopes worth taking a look at.
Simplicity and durability are what this scope was built for. Fixed power means no variability in eye relief and extreme durability. It’s a perfect all-around scope for the hunter who wants to mount the scope, zero it and forget about it.
This is my favorite handgun scope we sell. It will stand up to a massive amount of recoil and hold perfect zero, all with excellent eye relief and the crystal clear glass Leupold is known for. It’s made in American and warrantied forever. What more could you want?
About a decade ago my co-worker Charles showed up one day sporting a shoulder bag made out of OD green ballistic cordura with many pockets, snaps and zippers. It had a pistol compartment with a one-size-fits most nylon holster. I thought the bag was pretty cool. He had everything he could possibly need crammed in there. Immediately the old timers on the sales floor started in with their jokes and taunts about a tactical man purse. I however was sick and tired of carrying around 5 pounds of crap in my pockets and on my belt. Between my Glock 22, my wallet and my knife there alone was three pounds or more, add in a spare mag and other pocket necessities and my belt was struggling. After years of struggling to keep my pants from falling down, the prospect of a man purse didn’t seem like a terrible idea. I never got around to it and nearly a decade passed.
In 2014 I suffered an injury and had to quickly come up with an everyday carry solution that didn’t involve heavy loads on a belt or in my pockets as I was temporarily relegated to wearing sweatpants. The obvious solution was a carry bag. My first attempt was crude but ultra frugal. It was a Vietnam era surplus gas mask bag and my second attempt wasn’t much better. By the third time around I had purchased an affordable “tactical” bag with a dedicated pistol compartment lined with Velcro. This pack worked well but I was constantly fighting quality issues like zipper seams failing and zipper pulls fraying. I was always repairing and modifying the bag to make it better. After a year or so my $40 tactical carry bag had undergone several mods and worked pretty well. The problem was that its purpose was pretty obvious. What I wanted in a carry bag was something less conspicuous and higher quality.
In early 2015 Natchez Shooters Supplies began selling the Vertx line of tactical bags. The first thing I noticed was the elevated level of build quality. The material itself is a super tough ultra lightweight cordura. The grade of Velcro that lines their bags is of the highest quality as are the YKK zippers. When you look closely at the stitching on a Vertx bag or the quality of the buckles, straps and zipper pulls, you begin to understand the value you get for your money.
After months of research I decided on the Vertx Transit Sling as my every day carry bag. This sling is the perfect size to carry a full size pistol along with the carry essentials (Leatherman tool, Surefire light, extra mags, knife) as well as a small laptop, a light windbreaker, a first aid kit and my lunch. A hideaway front flap reveals a covert MOLLE panel for rapid deployment of tools or magazines. The Transit Sling is the perfect size for my needs. The odds are pretty good that Vertx makes the perfect bag for you as well. There are many personal carry bags on the market today that provide adequate value for the dollar, but may not have all the same features. This of course begs the question: who’s willing to pay for overbuilt and superior quality? Answer: this guy.
Get out there and celebrate freedom! We’re looking forward to the coming July 4th weekend and plan to follow John Adams’ advice to celebrate “with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more”.
One of our favorite special occasion range items is Tannerite. A 2 part binary explosive, when used correctly, Tannerite can safely add a big boom to your next range trip. The rough rule of thumb we’ve always heard was to never use too much (a half pound pack will make a watermelon disappear) and keep at least 100 yards away per pound used. And never put it in or on metal, glass or other heavy items, as they can become shrapnel and fly much farther than you’d think*.
Celebrations should end happy, so be safe out there and have a blast!
*Always follow all manufacturer’s recommended usage. We’re not responsible for your actions, so be safe out there.
When is dry firing ok and when should it be avoided? Dry firing, or pulling the trigger without a cartridge or dummy round in the chamber is something most of us have done. Maybe it was to test a trigger at a gun shop or maybe it was to disassemble a pistol like the Glock, but it’s something most firearms owners have done. But is it bad for the gun? The answer is a little complicated.
Some firearms can be damaged by dry firing. Without the cushion of a snap-cap or primer in a live round, some firearms are susceptible to damage. I’ve got a Colt Lawman Mk. III, a fine shooting .357 Magnum, that cannot be dry fired. The firing pin can be broken by dry firing and to replace that critical part requires a trip back to Colt. Same thing with many rimfire firearms. Because rimfire “pinches” the rim of a case between the chamber and firing pin to fire, when dry fired the firing pin can damage the chamber mouth. Long term, this can lead to missfires or even an out-of-spec chamber.
The good news is most modern firearms are designed to be safely dry fired. You’ll need to check your owner’s manual to be sure, and be aware that it does cause some wear. Ruger has even designed many of their rimfire firearms to be safe to dry fire! Dry fire is an excellent way to practice trigger control. It’s not as good as going to the range, but it can help you learn how to cleanly pull a trigger, increasing accuracy.
The best answer is snap caps. Built from brass, aluminum or polymer, snap caps are inert rounds that protect your firing pin from damage and are usually brightly colored so you don’t mix them up with real ammunition. With snap caps, it’s safe to practice with my old colt.
*Safety Warning: Always follow the basic safety rules and your firearm’s owner manual. Always make sure your firearm is unloaded and live ammunition is put away before practicing any dry fire exercises. We’re not responsible for your actions.
When you hear “he never set out to be hero” in reference to a man who distinguished himself on the battlefield it sounds so cliché. Carlos Hathcock most definitely set out to be a hero. He knew what he wanted to be very early on. He had honed his skills with a hunting rifle growing up in Arkansas. As soon as he turned 17, Carlos enlisted in the Marine Corps.
In a very short time Hathcock established himself as a premier marksman, winning the prestigious Wimbledon shooting cup in 1965. Soon after, Hathcock was deployed to Vietnam. Initially a Military Policeman, word of Hathcock’s skills with a rifle spread and he was re-deployed to the Marin 1st Division Sniper Platoon. Using both a sniper rifle and a M2 .50 Cal machine gun with a scope mounted on it, Hathcock went to work, with 93 confirmed kills with an estimated 200 to 300 more kills during his time in Vietnam. He wore a white feather in his bush hat as a sort of taunt to his Vietnamese counterparts. This earned him the name ‘Long Trang’, or White Feather, and prompted a $30,000 bounty on his head (Which would be nearly $200,000 today). Vietnam ended for Hatchcock in 1969 when the personnel carrier he was riding in hit a mine. Carlos was badly burned pulling 7 other injured Marines to safety. Hathcock was recognized for his heroism with a Silver Star in 1996.
The remainder of Hathcock’s military career, despite being diagnosed with M.S. in 1975, was spent helping to establish and subsequently instructing at the Marine Scout Sniper School in Quantico Virginia. Hathcock’s principals and techniques are still taught there to this day. In his post military life Hathcock still managed to instruct snipers freelance for many agencies as well as the US Navy Seals despite his medical conditions. Even as his health was failing, Hathcock’s commitment never wavered. He was teaching snipers literally until the end.
Its Ironic that popular culture didn’t embrace Carlos Hathcock as a hero until after his death in 1999 but I think Mr. Hathcock would have been OK with that. Those who knew him best say he took no joy from killing. He measured his success by how many American lives he saved in the process of taking out the enemy, one shot at a time.
It was one of those strange windless winter days with the sun shining brightly that almost let us forget how bitterly cold it was. It was a good day for shooting. We had brought several guns, including my Marlin .22 but the gun I was most excited and nervous about shooting was my dad’s old Sears, Roebuck & Co. Long Tom. It was a massive single shot 12 gauge with a 36 inch barrel and engraved on the left side of the receiver in capital letters were the words LONG TOM. As long as I could remember my father owned it and he’d killed everything from jackrabbits to geese with that gun.
When it was finally my turn to shoot LONG TOM I was nervous and fearful. Besides the beginner’s fear of recoil I was afraid of the humiliation of not being strong enough to shoulder the monstrous thing. It was the late 1970s and I was only 10 and scrawny. But the fear that I couldn’t articulate was of the shotgun itself. It had sat dark and brooding in the corner of my parents’ closet my whole life, forbidden and mysterious. It had always been on the ‘don’t touch’ list and now my dad was handing it to me.
With both my brothers and a couple of cousins watching, the thing I feared the most was happening; the shotgun was too heavy. As I was struggling to level the gun at the target I felt my dads left hand cover mine on the forend as his right hand found my right elbow. His chest pressed up against my back steadying me. As he coached me over my shoulder I could smell the faint mixture of coffee and Old Spice. The Dad Smell was comforting and it meant everything was OK. I steadied the big gun, pulled back the hammer, sighted the target and squeezed the trigger.
My dad knew exactly what it was that I needed that day. He saw that I was struggling so he steadied me, propping me up as he did over and over through the years. He was always there. Even when I thought I didn’t need him he was there. As I approach 50 he approaches 80 and he is still a stabilizing force in my life. I realize my time with him is limited but for now he is there, as solid as a rock. For that I am truly grateful.
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the stars and stripes as our national flag on June 14th 1777. This day also represents the birth of our Army as the Continental Congress formed the American Continental Army on June 14th 1775. Despite common folklore taught as history, neither George Washington nor Betsy Ross had anything to do with the design of the 1777 flag. It was Francis Hopkinson, a Naval flag designer and a signer of the declaration of independence who conceived the 1777 flag that is very similar to one we salute to this day. The Betsy Ross legend didn’t become common mythology until some 90 years later when told to biographer by a relative of George Washington.
An interesting fact is that prior to being officially declared a national holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, several Americans had on their own volition chose to celebrate Flag Day. As early as 1861 individuals like George Morris, Bernard Gigrand, William T.Kerr and Elizabeth Gillespie all tried to organize the public around this holiday with little success. The commonality between all of these individuals is that they were all educators who understood the importance of our national history.
When I was a wee lad in grade school we learned about our flag and what the stars, stripes and colors represented along with the history of the flag. This history was reiterated and reinforced through the Cub Scouts, 4H club and later JROTC. I was always taught the 13 stripes symbolize the 13 original colonies and that the white stood for purity and innocence while the red symbolized hardiness and valor. The blue field represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. The stars represent the 50 states. As our nation has grown our flag has been modified some 26 times since 1777 but it still represents our nation. Our flag still has the power to give me chills. Despite the tenuous relationship between history and mythology and how radically our Union has changed, liberty and justice for all is as relevant a concept as it was in 1777.
The AR platform is America’s most popular rifle. Its modular design makes fitting the rifle to the shooter easy, especially with collapsible stocks. Recently I added a collapsible stock to an AR, and needed a buffer tube. But which one? With commercial, mil-spec, rifle and pistol buffer tubes, along with a few exotic tubes like Troy’s PDW stock tube, there’s a lot of potential for mistakes. Here’s a handy walkthrough the world of AR buffer tubes.
What is the buffer tube? Simply put, it’s where the recoil spring sits on the AR. It’s also a handy place to hang a stock.
If you’re building or upgrading an AR, chances are you’re building it with a collapsible stock, which means you’ll need either a commercial or mil-spec buffer tube.
Commercial buffer tubes are thicker and have a diameter of 1.17″. This extra thickness doesn’t add any strength, it’s a side effect of the extrusion manufacturing process. Many also have an angled rear surface. Commercial tubes tend to be a little cheaper because they’re cheaper to manufacture, and most mil-spec stocks won’t fit on them.
Mil-spec buffer tubes measure in at a svelte 1.14″ diameter and are milled from a solid block of aluminum, unlike a commercial buffer tube. If you use a commercial stock on a mil-spec buffer tube, it’s probably going to rattle, and nobody likes a sloppy stock, so match your mil-spec stock to your mil-spec buffer tube and avoid issues.
If you’re one of the thousands of Americans that like the idea of a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) but hate paperwork, the pistol AR is probably for you. Pistol buffer tubes are designed to not take a stock and tend to be 1.16-1.18″ in diameter, but there’s no standardized pistol dimensions. Many of them will fit an arm brace or cheek rest, but there are no “mil-spec” or “commercial” pistol buffer tubes.
If you’re into full length stocks, a Rifle buffer tube is what you should be looking for. It only goes in a standard fixed length stock and isn’t particularly exciting. But for those of us in the know, the A2 stocked rifles are some of the most comfortable ARs to shoot.
1990 was a big year for me. My son was born and Smith & Wesson introduced the .40 S&W cartridge. It was also the year that Glock introduced the model 22 in .40 S&W, which I somehow convinced my wife I needed. It was my first handgun. I could hardly wait to shoot the thing.
My first impression was that the recoil and muzzle flip were harsh compared to the 9mm Glocks I had shot in the past. Like every other .40 convert at that time I rationalized that at least it wasn’t a weak 9mm. In 1990 the tragic 1986 FBI Miami shootout was still fresh in people’s minds. The law enforcement community in this country had a simultaneous knee jerk reaction and suddenly the “Wonder 9” of the 80’s was underpowered for police work. They quickly switched to the 10mm and when that proved too much gun for law enforcement use, the .40 S&W was developed.
The proliferation of the .40 S&W cartridge was swift. The new century saw mass adoption of .40 S&W in almost every Federal government agency as well as a significant percentage of police departments throughout the country. The .40 S&W became a popular civilian caliber as well. Gun magazines were ardent cheerleaders for the new caliber because it offered some of the best characteristics of a 9mm while delivering more energy through a heavier projectile. Many touted the .40 S&W as the perfect compromise between 9mm and .45 Auto.
Despite the rise of the .40 S&W in U.S. civilian use, the 9mm still enjoys worldwide dominance as the most commonly used pistol caliber. Originating as a German police caliber in 1901, the 9mm, also known as 9×19, 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum quickly became popular globally following World War I. The 1935 introduction of the Browning Hi Power served to foreshadow the direction of modern high capacity pistols. In the first half of the 1970s manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, CZ and Beretta all introduced 9mm pistols with high capacity magazines. By the mid 70s law enforcement agencies were starting to abandon their revolvers for the new high capacity 9mm pistols. It was around this time that firearms author Robert Shimek coined the term “Wonder 9” which quickly became part of the vernacular with gun people. By the end of the 1980s semi auto pistol had all but replaced the revolver as the standard for law enforcement and most were 9mm.
Things have changed markedly in ammunition manufacturing here in the 21st century. Powder technology is the main reason. Companies like Hodgdon now produce smokeless propellants that increase velocities while reducing muzzle flash.
The benefits of powder and bullet technology are evident in many smaller pistol cartridges today. The result of these advancements is a higher pressure, faster and ultimately harder hitting 9mm round. Despite this some still argue that nothing was wrong with the 9mm cartridge in the first place.
I personally own two .40 S&W caliber Glocks and a 9mm S&W M&P. I’m totally confident with all of them. I’ve done my best to avoid the caliber argument, but my friend and Suarez International staff instructor Randy Harris says it best; “No-one makes a magic bullet. Nothing stops the bad guy like good shot placement. The bad guy doesn’t care if he was shot with a 9 or a 40. Shot placement is what matters”. Well said.
For years I have said that I know just enough about knives to be able to sell them. Don’t get me wrong, I like knives but I’m not a knife nerd. When the blade experts I work with start talking about different grades of steel, my eyes glaze over. For me, I’ve got 4 simple criteria for picking an every day carry (EDC) knife.
It has to be good looking:The Kershaw Scrambler in my pocket right now is great looking with a nice Blackwash™ finish.
It has to be durable: My every day knife needs to be able to hold a good edge and stand up to abuse.
It must be affordable: It was after losing an expensive knife that I vowed to only carry sub $50 knives.
It must be able to be opened one-handed: Sometimes your other hand is busy with what you need to cut.
Whether it’s peeling an apple or defending your life, a good knife is an important part of EDC. Being a Connoisseur of inexpensive knives means you might see me carry anything as long as the price is right. Two things are certain; I’ll always carry a knife tough enough, and I’m probably going to misplace it at some point. I’d better buy a spare!
For nearly 60 years now Clint Eastwood has enjoyed his spot at the top of the A-list of Hollywood tough guys, even as he turns 86 today! Others have come and gone but Eastwood has remained a constant. At 6 foot 4 the 86-year-old Eastwood is still an imposing figure. With 68 films to his credit as an actor and a multitude more as a producer, director and about everything else, a significant number of these have featured some really cool firearms. In chronological order, here’s this gun nerd’s favorite Eastwood films.
Eastwood’s big break came in 1959 with the TV show Rawhide. Eastwood played Rowdy Yates, a slow of wit but fast with a six-gun cowboy. Yates’ weapon of choice was a Colt Single Action Army with a sterling silver grip inlay of a coiled rattlesnake. When Rawhide was canceled in 1965 Eastwood took the Colt with him where it subsequently became the sidearm of “The Man with no name” in the Spaghetti Western Fistful of Dollars. Eastwood and the Colt P frame reprised their roles in the sequel For a Few Dollars More. Colt single action revolvers were featured in many more Eastwood westerns including High Plains Drifter and Two Mules for Sister Sara.
In The Outlaw Josey Wales Eastwood carries a massive Colt Walker cartridge conversion revolver capable of supernatural accuracy as displayed in the river ferry scene. In Pale Rider Eastwood’s character The Preacher carries a cartridge converted Remington 1858 New Army along with several extra loaded cylinders he uses like modern speed loaders.
The 70s brought us Inspector Harry Callahan of the San Francisco PD. Callahan A.K.A. “Dirty Harry” carried a Smith & Wesson Model 29, which he lovingly refers to as “the most powerful handgun in the world,” adding “Blow your head clean off”. Inspector Callahan remained loyal to his big Model 29 throughout the entire film franchise but did from time to time dabble in exotics. The best example is the AMC .44 Automag pistol, now a scarce collector’s item.
Though Eastwood’s movie characters are more closely associated with handguns, a bigger stick is sometimes needed to get the point across. In The Outlaw Josey Wales our hero gets some payback with a Gatling gun. In The Enforcer, Inspector Callahan teaches a lesson with a M72 LAW shoulder fired rocket. And who can forget the wild eyed M1 Garand wielding Korean War vet Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino.
Although there are many fine gun-free Clint Eastwood films from Play Misty for Me to Million Dollar Baby, it is the gun-centric movies that make him a cultural icon and cement his place in Hollywood history. It’s the gun-rich flicks that feature the best Eastwood one liners like “Go ahead. Make my day” or “Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” My personal favorite is from Unforgiven when Eastwood’s character Bill Munny finds his friend Ned’s corpse on display in front of a bar he gives Saloon owner “Skinny” a point blank blast from a 10 gauge double barrel. When called out for shooting a unarmed man, Eastwood quips “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.”
It’s the great one-liners and cool guns that keep me coming back for more of Mr. Eastwood’s work and I can only hope he continues making movies. I can imagine Clint as a freshly turned 86-year old Dirty Harry blowing away a dirt bag with his Model 29 then waxing philosophical to deliver the catch phrase of the decade. It could happen.
The Chattanooga National Cemetery is a good place to sit and reflect with its 121 acres of rolling hills and ancient majestic oaks. There is an undeniable military precision with which the identical white marble tombstones stand at attention in perfect rows. I’ve used this place for quiet reflection since I was was a young man. Perhaps it’s the order of this place that draws me here. There is comfort here. Over 50 thousand people have been interred here since 1867 and many of them died providing freedom that we often take for granted. It’s important that I continue to visit this place lest I forget the cost of my freedom.
– Andy Merciers
The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.
If you’ve been following us at our old blog site, you’ll be happy to know we’ve integrated the blog into our website. Now NatchezSS.com is a one stop source for all your hunting, shooting or reloading needs with great products and reviews, guides, tips, and tall tales about the deer that got away.
If you reload ammo, you probably fall into one of two camps, handloaders and reloaders. A handloader is someone who loads their own ammo for maximum accuracy, power and consistency. These are the guys who track down single lots of brass, use incredibly accurate scales and keep notes on loads that make NASA jealous. On the other hand, the reloader is the one who did the math on how much money reloading can save, worked up a safe and reliable load and then cranks it out by the ton. Both are great ways to get the most out of your shooting experience. I started out as a reloader, spitting thousands of rounds of .38 special wadcutters out of a progressive press, but I’m starting to handload since I love odd calibers and guns.
If you’re a reloader, here’s a few things I’ve found useful:
•While it might not make for the cheapest load, try to find a powder/charge that will almost fill the case. That way a double charge is very very obvious, and ignition is consistent as powder charges that don’t use enough of the case can cause hangfires.
• Plated bullets are awesome. Less expensive than FMJ but without the lube and potential lead exposure of lead bullets, plated bullets are a great way to shoot more. (or you could cast your own lead if you’ve got the space)
• If you’re reloading pistol cartridges, buy carbide dies. The cost difference will make itself up in just ease of use. Plus, you don’t have to lube the cases!
If you’re a handloader, here’s a few things I’ve learned the hard way:
• Primer pockets matter. Square them up, clean that flash hole and make sure everything is clean.
• The more accurate your scale is, the better your load. Lee dip cups are fine for lots of things, but to get the best accuracy, get a good quality digital scale.
• If you’re only reloading for one gun, get a neck sizing die. It keeps the case body the same size as your chamber, increasing accuracy. Plus, only resizing the neck is much gentler on the case and you’ll get more loads out of it.
We’d love to hear about your reloading experience and any tips you’ve picked up! Hit the comments or let us know on facebook.
One of the few things that’s usually left out of most premade reloading kits is dies (RCBS’s AR Kit is an exception). Dies come in a dizzying assortment of sets, sizes, types and materials. Let’s get the easy differences out of the way:
Size: Outside of shotshell dies (which we’re not covering), oddball things like Dillon’s proprietary pistol dies, and antiques, dies come in two sizes, identified by their thread pattern. The standard size of reloading die is 7/8-14 and 99% of the dies on the market use this size. If a die isn’t identified as being something else, it’s pretty safe to assume it’s a standard size. The other common size is 1 1/4×28 and is used in oversized presses for reloading .50 BMG and other very large calibers.
Materials: Dies are either hardened tool steel or carbide. If you’re reloading pistol, buy carbide if it’s available. Carbide pistol dies allow you to resize without using lube, removing two steps from your reloading process, and last almost forever. If you’re reloading a bottlenecked rifle cartridge, stick to steel unless you’re reloading for Rambo.
Both carbide and steel rifle dies need lubricated cases, carbide dies just last longer. Considering most people never wear out their first set of steel dies, the advantages of carbide rifle dies are not usually worth the cost. As a side note: tool steel and carbide dies are both very strong, very precisely ground and they’ll all rust like crazy given the chance. If you’re like me and live in a humid environment, it’s a good idea to invest in airtight containers for them (either purpose built or tupperware) and some desiccant packs. I already keep a dehumidifier system going in my safe, so I store my dies in the safe when not in use. Between that and a light coating of oil, they stay rust free.
If you missed out on part 1 of our reloading series, you can find it here.
This is too cool not to share, stop action animation of an AR assembling itself!
I recently had a good laugh remembering my first AR-15 build. I didn’t own a headlamp back then so I was reduced to holding a Mini Mag light with my teeth as I crawled around my living room floor searching for the tiny detent spring that had launched itself minutes earlier. The ghost of Eugene Stoner* was chortling smugly in my ear.
In those days (1999 or so) I was an AK man and I still considered AR-15 building a kind of dark alchemy. I was only building an AR because a co-worker had given me a used lower, thereby forcing my hand. In that era parts were still expensive and the selection was limited. A missing spring was a huge setback then. I eventually gathered my components and finished my “parts gun”. I was amazed at how accurate the rifle was. Within months I had decided I needed another one.
Today everything is different. A friend recently supervised as his 10 year old daughter built an AR by simply watching a YouTube video. During her build there were zero flying springs because the video had all the tricks to avoid these problems. It’s truly a wondrous age we live in.
These days a truly custom rifle is easily attainable as the number of component manufacturers and options have increased exponentially. New designs in gas systems and monolithic upper receivers have eliminated some of the complexity of these rifles while increasing the reliability. The advent of the “lost parts kit” means your build is no longer derailed from the loss of a tiny spring. In short, building an AR-15 is much easier than it used to be. I like to think Mr. Stoner would be pleased.
It’s Christmas time again, and we’re looking forward to snuggling up with a hot mug of cider and putting on our favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard. It’s got everything a real Christmas story should have; Explosions, one liners, a cheery ending and a laundry list of droolworthy firearms!
We hope you have a merry Christmas this year, and we’ll be resuming posting after the Holiday weekend.
These days my christmas wishlist looks like the deranged sanskrit writings of a madman. As I build yet another AR, wondering how I ended up with a list of parts, prices, weights and alternate options in case I change my mind for the 60th time today about which optic, stock and forend my AR “needs”, I wish for a simpler time, when a Red Ryder BB gun was all I wanted. This devolves into thought about how to mount a picatinny rail on the BB gun… my friends think I need help and I’m inclined to agree.
Since I’m building my AR from a stripped receiver, I need a lower parts kit, but this is going to be a hunting AR, so I’m thinking about going for a good quality kit and then swapping out the trigger for a crisp CMC single stage trigger.
I’ve got an upper that I’ve used for varmint shooting, but 5.56 is a little on the anemic side for popping hogs, so I’m going to upgrade to a .300 Blackout barrel. I’ve already picked that part up, I just have to find where Santa’s elves have hidden my torque wrench.
My choices of hand guards are dizzying. The Midwest Industries Lightweight KeyMod hand guard is still on my wish list, I just have to hope I’ve been good enough this year to add it to the already monumental pile of parts I “need”.
And don’t even get me started on optics. The intermediate-range tactical benchmark is the Trijicon ACOG and it works well for hunting hogs in this area too. The Leupold Rifleman Series is a good choice for hunting with an AR-15, and won’t break the bank either.
These days, the AR is adult Legos®. Snap on a new handguard and optic and you have a tactical gun. There was a time when all AR-15 rifles pretty much looked the same. The most exotic thing you would see was an M4 with a shorter barrel and telescoping stock or perhaps the occasional flattop. Today there are so many accessories from so many manufactures that it is easy to personalize your AR-15. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find my Red Ryder BB gun to clean out this elf infestation.
In 1964 Sturm, Ruger & Co. created the 10/22 semi-automatic .22 LR carbine. They had no way of knowing that it would enjoy 5 decades as the perennial best seller and spawn a multi-million dollar cottage industry in aftermarket parts and accessories.
By the late 1970s aftermarket companies like Clark Custom were building heavy barreled 10/22s, which were exquisite in quality and accuracy but cost prohibitive to most sportsmen.
The 1980s saw an array of folding stocks and high capacity magazines along with the occasional muzzle brake. One of the best accessories of the 1980s was the weaver TO-9 scope base which allowed the consumer to use Weaver style rings and most importantly, afforded them the opportunity to deposit the universally hated factory scope base in the nearest trash can.*
The 1990s marked a turning point for the 10/22 aftermarket as the misguided 1994 Assault Weapons Bill put an end to folding stocks and high capacity magazines. Instead, several companies started manufacturing accurate, heavy barrels for around $100. These new heavy barrels required new stocks to accommodate their larger diameter, and just like that, the new focus was affordable accuracy. Performance trigger groups and action parts became the hot new ticket.
In 2004, as we cheered the expiration of the 1994 AWB, manufacturers jumped at the chance to build tactical accessories once again. Today there are so many directions you can go. Several companies offer picatinny rails to better accommodate electronic and tactical scopes. The lines have been blurred between tactical and target 10/22s as there are now tactical style stocks to accommodate heavy barrels. You can even dress up your 10/22 to look like other guns. The options aren’t limitless but it’s close.
Volquartsen Custom Offers a wide variety of upgrades for the 10/22
After 50 years, the Ruger 10/22 is almost chameleon like in its flexibility. In another 50, who knows what new tricks it will have learned.
* Anyone who owned a 10/22 from before 2000 knows what I’m talking about. Folks criticized the factory scope base until Ruger changed the supplied base to a weaver type in the early 2000’s. It was a running joke for 30-odd years.
Countless times over the years I have talked to new gun owners who asked me what they need to buy with their new firearm. The first order of business was trying to determine what they had and what they were doing with it. This proved to be the easiest way to figure out what they needed and was in line with the Natchez philosophy of helping the customer find what they need. Since most first-time gun owners buy handguns that’s what I want to address today.
The first thing is the security of the firearm. No matter what, a locking storage solution is important, but if you’ve got children in the house, a secure biometric container for your “bedside” gun is a worthwhile upgrade over a basic security box. If you plan on building a collection then perhaps a full size safe is the right move for you.
The next concern is the transport or carry of the handgun. Are you going to simply carry the gun back and forth to the range or will you be traveling with it? Is the gun going to be lawfully carried on your person? If you are going to carry, does your state specify open or concealed carry? Knowing the rules will prevent you from ordering the wrong product and getting into legal trouble.
Cleaning equipment is one of the most important purchases as being proactive about cleaning keeps your firearm in working condition. Periodic cleanings, even if the gun has not been fired, are a good idea as they prevent rust, especially here in the South. Caliber specific kits are a great starting place and can be added to as needed. Modern clean/lube/preserve (CLP) products are a one product solution, and many are non-toxic.
Anytime you shoot a firearm you should protect your eyes and ears. Shooting glasses don’t need to be fancy or fashionable but they should be rated for protection (ANSI Z87+). You don’t need the latest and greatest electronic hearing protection but a good noise reduction rating (NRR) is important. Most ear-plugs also offer excellent NRR. Some folks that are noise sensitive will want to use both ear-plugs and over-the-ear protection.
To carry your gun and all the related gear you’ll need a range bag. Range bags come in all shapes and sizes to fit your individual needs. It’s a good idea to get one larger than you think you will need to leave room for extra ammunition.
There are many more items worth considering like targets or mag loaders as well as training aids like Snap Caps and Laser Trainers but we’ve pretty much covered the basics. As you get deeper into the hobby, there will be many things you’ll find you can’t live without. The most important thing is to be safe and have fun.
Halloween is almost here and what better gun than the legendary Colt Vampire Detective Special to bring a night of spooky scares!
Created in 1972 by Colt Master Engraver Leonard Francolini, the Vampire Detective Special was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Bram Stoker’s vampire masterpiece. Covered with bats, gargoyles and even the rampant Colt symbol dancing on a coffin, the Vampire Detective special oozes ghastly elegance.
But no Vampire hunter would be complete without his stake and Leonard Froncolini included an ebony stake, holy water vial and, in case that stake didn’t work, 6 sculpted silver bullets.
I’m not about to go trick or treating with an engraved masterpiece of a colt, but I will be bringing a high power flashlight along with a fully charged cell phone (I’m not about to make that mistake twice) and a couple of bandaids for skinned knees.
– C Beatty, Editor
All photos are courtesy and copyright of the National Firearms Museum.
In my 20 years in sales I have been asked many times to recommend riflescopes. I would ask the standard questions about the rifle, the type of hunting and where they were hunting. Since 3-9 scopes are ideal for most deer hunting in continental United States that’s the power I most often recommend. Then came the money question. For years my recommendations were easy because price pretty much dictated quality. Nowadays it’s not that easy. Riflescopes have gotten better. Today, your optic dollar goes further today than it ever has before and scopes in the $100 to $200 range are better than the best scopes 20 years ago. In no specific order, here’s six of my favorite 3-9’s under $200 that are worth every cent.
Sightron SIH: A very good example of big bang for low bucks. The SIH features super bright multi-coated optics and a fast-focus ocular bell along with one of the best warranties in the business.
Redfield Revenge: As a part of the Leupold family, Redfield brings 100 years of optics research and development to the table. The Revenge scopes are all individually shock tested and built like a tank.
Burris Fullfield E1: The E-1 proves quality ballistic reticles and 50mm objective lenses don’t have to be expensive with its revolutionary cascading windage and elevation dots. Superb quality and Burris’s Forever Warranty make the E-1 a solid choice.
I recently read a deer hunting blog where the author referred to the decision between a ground blind and a tree stand as an age-old question. I found this amusing. I couldn’t help but think the author was a young guy, new to hunting or both.
As a boy learning to hunt in the hills of Tennessee, I had never seen or heard of a ground blind for deer hunting. Blinds were for duck hunting. My formative years were spent shivering on homemade platforms built in trees. Store-bought tree stands were common but I didn’t own one until I was grown.
In 1994 I went to work in the shooting sports industry and got a chance to sample some of the best tree stands made. I was in my twenties and still years away from arthritis so I preferred the freedom and portability of a good lightweight climber. It bears mentioning that we (Natchez Shooter’s Supplies) didn’t even offer deer blinds at that time.
As the years wore on and the pounds accumulated, I figured it was a good idea to go with a good sturdy ladder stand. It was easy to get up and down and my arthritic knees took far less abuse than trying to use a climber. It was around this time that purpose built deer blinds started appearing on the market. I was skeptical at first but friends and coworkers didn’t share my doubts. It turns out they were right.
With a new century came a diverse selection of blinds of different shapes, sizes and camouflage patterns. There are even chair blinds that afford you your own cozy little hunting pod. It was during this time that tree stand manufactures started going away. Today there are roughly a third of the tree stand manufacturers there were twenty years ago.
Thanks to silent fabrics and advances in scent control, a lot of traditional arguments against the ground blind have lost relevance. With Baby Boomers easing into old age and us Gen-X’ers becoming rounder and more breakable every day, ground blinds are here to stay.
I would offer to my young blogger friend that its not an age-old question but an old-age question. Climbing trees is for young men.
I was recently asked to quantify what can be learned from hunting. That’s a huge question. I didn’t immediately have an answer. Instead I became lost thinking of my own formative years learning to hunt.
Perhaps the first thing hunting taught me was how important a mentor was in my life. My Uncle Bill taught me and my brothers to hunt on his farm in north Georgia. I didn’t realize at that time just how important his lessons would be.
Patience, humility and discipline were things that hunting taught me the hard way. It takes all three to sit quietly for hours on end, only to leave the woods empty handed day after day. It took all three to face criticism for the time I devoted to this seemingly fruitless activity.
Then there are the lessons I learned triumphantly finally killing that buck and learning there was a prize for my tenacity and discipline. I gained respect for the game I hunted, and the habitat that sustained it. I gained an appreciation for life and developed a moral responsibility to help preserve it and that conservation is more than a word used by politicians.
To say that hunting teaches compassion raises the ire of those who believe it’s a mindless blood sport, but its true. Killing a large animal is a transformative experience. Life feeds on life. This realization leads to compassion for the animal. The sacrifice of the deer’s life made me grateful for my own.
Courage and self-reliance are skills hunting taught me. As a young boy, heading out into the dark woods was frightening. Overcoming that fear affected a change in me. Going out and harvesting my own meat made me understand what I was capable of.
I sometimes feel sorry for people who never experienced hunting and the important life lessons it teaches. I was lucky. Hunting taught me a lot of things but most importantly it taught me about my nature. These are lessons I will carry around forever.
When I was growing up in Tennessee every hillbilly worth his salt had a Remington 742* chambered in .30-06. Why .30-06 you ask? Because that was the best all-around caliber you could buy and I’m prepared to argue that it still is. After 109 years .30-06 still remains the 1st or 2nd most popular hunting caliber in the U.S. depending on which survey you believe.
The .30-03 Springfield debuted as the new standard U.S. Military caliber along with the 1903 Springfield battle rife in 1903. It quickly became evident that the new .30-03 cartridge was inferior when compared with what European countries were developing. Not wanting to be left behind, in 1906 the military switched it from a 220 grain round-nose bullet to a 150 grain Spitzer and renamed it the .30-06. The .30-06 remained the U.S. standard through 2 World Wars and the Korean War before being replaced by 7.62×51 NATO in 1954.
With manufacturers making a good selection of .30-06 hunting ammo and surplus 1903 and 03A3 rifles on the cheap, the retired military cartridge quickly became the big game hunting caliber in America. By the 1950’s, almost every gun manufacturer had a .30-06 offering.
One of the main reasons for America’s love affair with .30-06 is the versatility of the round. Whether you’re hunting elk in Montana or Key deer in South Florida, there is a .30-06 load for the job, and it’s usually available from your favorite ammo brand. In a pinch, .30-06 can even serve as a varmint caliber pushing a 110-grain projectile over 3500 feet per second. Reloading your own ammunition broadens the possibilities even further.
Over the years manufacturers and individuals have developed many new calibers. Several of these have been 30 caliber magnum cartridges intended to be a better hunting round than the venerable .30-06. There are plenty of faster, higher energy 30 caliber loads out there, but .30-06 soldiers on. I’m convinced none of these have that magical combination of diversity, availability, shootability and adaptability the .30-06 has offered generation after generation. If I make it to 109 years old my hope is to be as vital and relevant as the .30-06. Somehow I doubt that will be the case.
* And why a Remington 742? Only KMart offered lay-away in this area at the time and they carried two Remington models; the 870 pump shotgun and the 742.
Here at Natchez Shooters Supplies, we sell a fair bit of ammo (and we use a fair bit too, I’m convinced some of my coworkers get paid in ammo). After all the ruckus about “Green Tip” being banned earlier this year and getting more than a few questions about the difference between it and other kinds of jacketed bullets, here’s a brief guide to full metal jacket bullets that are commonly available.
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): The original recipe – regardless of shape, regular full metal jacket is a copper jacket wrapped around a lead core. Sometimes these are labeled with the shape of the bullet as well, so FMJ-BT just means it’s a boat tail bullet. This bullet won’t expand and is very tough. Handgun FMJ usually has a small area of exposed lead at the base, while rifle rounds are often fully enclosed.
Total Metal Jacket (TMJ): Concerns about lead contamination on indoor ranges lead some manufacturers to offer a fully enclosed FMJ bullet in pistol calibers. Other than that minor difference, TMJ is identical to FMJ.
Bi-Metal Jacket: Here’s where it starts getting weird. Mild steel is much cheaper than copper, so Soviet military ammo was often made with a thin plating of copper over a mild steel jacket, all wrapped around a lead core. The upside? Well, most of this ammo usually comes with a steel case because, surprise, steel cases are cheaper to make than brass ones and results in a very inexpensive round. The downside? Don’t use it at most indoor ranges. When a steel bullet hits a steel backstop, it can create sparks, igniting unburnt powder on surfaces in the range and starting fires. I like shooting lots of places, but inside a burning building is not one of them. I use Bi-Metal Jacketed ammunition out of my AK’s, SKS’s and anywhere cheap outdoor training/practice ammo is needed.
Steel Core: Most of the steel core ammo is coming out of eastern Europe and quite a bit of it has been banned over the years as “armor piercing”. But it’s, for the most part, not armor piercing, and has just been banned for political reasons. It’s just a standard FMJ (or Bi-Metal Jacket) that’s had part of the lead replaced with mild steel. And mild steel makes for a very poor armor piercer. It does make for a bullet that’s even less expensive than lead-cored Bi-Metal Jacketed, and depending on how it’s built, more prone to tumbling on impact.
Green Tip: Here’s the tricky bit about green tip, also known as XM855 (civilian market), M855 (US Military) or as the standard 5.56 NATO loading; it was designed to be armor piercing. The front of the bullet is harder steel that was supposed make it better at going through a Russian helmet at 300 yards than the previous 55 grain bullet. It does that, but in reality, it’s not much better at armor piercing than plain old FMJ, but it does tumble better on impact, increasing effectiveness. That’s still been good enough for the US military since 1980 until very recently when they switched to a more environmentally-friendly bullet. Because of the commonness of the round it has an exemption from armor piercing restrictions (the fact it’s not really “armor piercing” helps too). It still should be used only at ranges that allow steel in bullets, as it has many of the same problems with sparking that bi-metal jacketed bullets have, but it’s one of the best training/plinking rounds available since it’s both inexpensive and produced to extremely high standards. It’s what I use in my AR for just about everything but hunting.
Oh and “Metal Casing”…. that’s an old Union Metallic Cartridge company term for FMJ and causes more confusion and bewilderment than it has any right to. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.
Remington 541T: It’s the rifle that I’ve always pined after. It’s the most accurate rifle I’ve ever shot. I actually know a man in Virginia who held world records in BR-50 using a 541T. The gun was discontinued in 1999 and is difficult to find used for a reasonable price, which means my love shall remain unrequited.
Colt Woodsman: It’s the first pistol I ever shot and I shot it quite well. At 10 years old I fooled myself into thinking all handguns could be shot with this level of telepathic accuracy. I was terribly wrong.
Ruger 10/22: No .22 list would be complete without this venerable best seller. The aftermarket goodies for this gun are mind blowing. You can build it into a heavy barrel target rifle or a folding stock tactical carbine. Ruger’s dependability and baked in goodness make this rifle a natural choice.
Winchester Model 62: It’s the dainty little rifle folks refer to as a “Gallery Gun” as it was used in shooting galleries during the 20th century. My uncle Bill had a 62A (22 short) that I learned to shoot squirrels with. Vintage model 62s and 62As are hyper expensive (editor’s note: I think there’s a pattern going on here). A Rossi Gallery gun is an inexpensive alternative.
Marlin Model 60: When I was a child growing up in Tennessee all the kids had one. They’re dependable. They fire .22 shorts, longs and long rifles. They can take abuse and most importantly, they are dirt-cheap. My early 80’s example was $79.99 at Western Auto. And today they’re still a great bang for the buck, pun intended.
– Written by Andy Merciers, Natchez Sales Specialist
– Picture of Remington 541X (Military version of the 541T) courtesy of Rock Island Auctions. They’re a veritable cornucopia of guns we want. – Editor
For some of us in the south, sighting in for a season is a pleasant afternoon’s shooting. With nothing larger than a big buck or a hog, we’re spoiled by light recoiling, short range brush guns for the most part. .243, 7mm-08, .308 and .30-30 are popular choices for hunting close to home. But if you live where the buffalo roam or where the elk and moose frolic, your caliber of choice might be significantly more punishing. 20 rounds of .30-06 out of a light gun isn’t fun, and if you’re hunting moose or grizzly and you’re sighting in a .375 H&H, your shoulder is in for a bruising. So how do you tame the recoil and keep from developing an unwanted flinch at the bench?
We’re big fans of the Caldwell Lead Sled® series of bench rests here at Natchez Shooters Supplies. Designed to tame magnum recoil, they’re perfect for sighting in that hard recoiling magnum. One of our experts uses a Lead Sled® Solo for sighting in an older Remington Model 81 since it’s got the original steel buttplate, but he’s of the opinion that for anything truly magnum, stepping up to the Lead Sled® Plus is the way to go. Either way, preventing the thump of lightweight magnum rifles is the best way to ensure a great hunt. Without the possibility of a flinch developing, you can focus on what’s most important; getting the perfect shot. And the Lead Sled is a great way to introduce a young shooter to a centerfire rifle. Without the chance of dropping the gun and surprising recoil, they can be gently ushered into their first deer hunt or shooting event.
10. Shoot ‘Em Up 2007. Over the top oooey-gooey gun goodness describes it best. The hero (Clive Owen) is pursued by Desert Eagle wielding bad guy (Paul Giamati). This flick features more than it’s fair share of obscure 1990s guns including a Colt Double Eagle and a Browning BDM.
9. Last Man Standing 1996. Bruce Willis is a prohibition era hired killer who carries two 1911s. The movie features epic gun fights and a glimpse at the super rare Colt Monitor. Of course Willis is the last man standing. As always Christopher Walken is awesome as the villain and he’s a 1911 man too.
8. The Wild Bunch 1969. A band of washed up outlaws looking to rob the railroad. Set in 1913 Texas the movie features a new generation of high tech guns like the Springfield 1903, the Winchester 1897 and of course the brand new 1911.
7. Enemy at The Gates 2001. This is a loose portrayal of Vasily Zaytsev (Jude Law) the Russian sniper and national hero. The guns in this movie are all spot on period correct from Zaytsev’s 91/30 Mosin Nagant to Major Konig’s (Ed Harris) K98 Karabiner.
6. Tombstone 1993. Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) in the classic OK corral shootout story. Many cool old guns are featured including The Buntline Special carried by Earp as well as a Colt 1878 Double Action. Holliday sports ivory gripped peacemakers with a matching dagger. He’s your huckleberry.
5. The Matrix 1999. Keanu Reeves is Neo, the leather trench coat wearing savior of Zion. All the guns in this movie seem to come in pairs whether its a pair of Micro Uzis or a pair of Beretta 92s. Neo is hunted by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) , a clean cut fellow with dark glasses and an even darker Desert Eagle.
4. Saving Private Ryan 1998. In WW2 Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) leads a squad of soldiers to find Private Ryan (Matt Damon). Who isn’t thrilled by the sound of an empty en bloc clip being ejected from a Garand. Throughout the whole film you hear PING, PING, PING. Enough said.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014. Captain America (Chris Evens) takes on The Winter Soldier with help from The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and her pair of Glock 26’s. Even the bad guys have cool guns in this flick. There’s a hand held M134 Minigun and very rare COP 4 barrel derringer.
2. The Expendables 2010. Stallone. Statham. Lundgren. That pretty much sums up the plot. Throw in a ton of exotic firearms and you have a top notch action film. The Atchisson AA-1 and the Serbu Super Shorty shotguns are featured. The Brugger & Thomet MP-9 is carried by Jet Li.
1. Heat 1995. Niel (Robert DeNiro) and Chris (Val Kilmer) are thieves. Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is the cop determined to stop them. A botched bank robbery leads to the best shootout in movie history. Pacino carries a stylish looking Colt Series 80 officers model with Ivory grips and uses FNC80 in the bank robbery shootout. Very stylish indeed.
In 1996 Tennessee started issuing handgun carry permits so naturally, I had to get mine. Permit in hand, the question of a holster had to be addressed. My only holster at that time was a well-worn Uncle Mikes Sidekick that was perfect for knocking around in the woods but not so much for daily carry. I was determined to carry a full-size 1911 so effective concealment was going to be tough. Working in the industry and having access to a dozen holster lines, my options were dizzying.
The next couple of years involved a parade of holsters. Several times I bought holsters that I thought were end-all, be-all to my holster quest. I tried pancake holsters, belt holsters, paddle holsters and shoulder holsters as well as a couple of inside the pants option. As each new holster was purchased, the previous holster would end up in a box. A group of co-workers staged an intervention; the consensus was that I had a holster addiction. This was clearly nonsense, so I bought a cross-draw holster.
By the end of the 90s I had an epiphany. I needed a Glock as my carry gun. The holster search was on again. Kydex was the hottest new thing and I just had to have a holster in Kydex. Once again, a plethora of holsters followed. Several more epiphanies were had. There was the S&W Sigma era, the revolver era and the Browning Hi-Power era and of course each era came with a few more holsters. I could have stopped any time I wanted to.
Today my primary carry gun is a Smith & Wesson M&P 9. I’m proud to say I only own 2 holsters for it. One of those holsters is in danger of being thrown into the box. I haven’t owned a Hi Power or a K frame in years but I have nice leather for both. Why hang onto this stuff? Why indeed. The way I see it, owning these holsters is justification for going out and buying the guns to match them. It makes sense to me. Seriously, I can quit any time I want to.
– Written by Andy Merciers, Natchez Sales Specialist
Dove season is less than a month away for us here at Natchez and more than one shotgun has shown up along with plenty of talk about what loads to use and who’s got a good field picked out for opening day.
When you head to the range, you might be leaving something important at home. Here’s our top 5 things we’ve been guilty of forgetting to bring.
Batteries –Electronic earmuffs are probably the best way to protect your hearing at the range and still hear range officer commands. The only downside? Finding out you left them on and drained the batteries.
A Pen – Even if you’re not filling out waivers or keeping notes on your latest handload, a pen is useful for marking groups and can often be used in a pinch as a makeshift disassembly tool.
A Knife – I keep a small Leatherman in my range bag, but even an inexpensive pocket knife can be used for breaking down boxes, pulling staples or cutting out a good group out of a target for bragging rights.
CLP – If you’ve ever run an AR hard, you know the answer is often slathering the troublesome beast up in some sort of lube when it stops running. I don’t clean my rimfires as often as I should and sometimes a little extra CLP will keep my range trip running smoothly.
More Ammo – Because after all, who wants to have a short trip to the range?! If you’re sighting in your deer rifle, bring along the .22 or your favorite tactical rifle and get a little plinking in too.
It was a gorgeous spring day in 1995. I was headed north on highway 127 in eastern Tennessee. I was a fresh-faced sales rep for a shooting sports wholesaler armed with catalogs, business cards and boundless enthusiasm. My mission was to beat the bushes looking for new accounts.
Near the Kentucky state line I happened upon a little town where some sort of spectacle was afoot. It was a turkey shoot! Despite it being a weekday there was a fair amount of spectators. The shoot was being held in a huge circus type tent on the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly market. I had to stop.
Growing up in Tennessee I had heard about turkey and ham shoots but had never seen one. The basic premise is shooting shotguns at small paper targets (cards) with tiny #10 shot. The object is to “shoot out” the image in center of the paper card. Distances can differ based on local custom but is typically 50 to 60 feet. Traditionally the winner takes home a ham or turkey but higher stakes are not uncommon. Twenty years ago at the Piggly Wiggly they weren’t simply competing for groceries. Those guys were playing for serious money
Today competitive card shooting is even more specialized and the shotguns have become marvels of Appalachian engineering. The “Outlaw” class of shotguns can have 48” barrels, custom chokes and high-end optics. Even the “stock class” guns are dedicated competition pieces. The days of being competitive with Pappy’s old 870 are over.
Turkey Shooting was once a staple in the south as ubiquitous as cornbread or sweet tea. Churches and Masonic lodges have used shoots as effective fundraisers for charity. For years fairs and carnivals held turkey shoots. Nowadays I have co-workers in there 30s that have never heard of turkey shoots. Is turkey shooting a dying art? Of course it is. But it’s a slow death. The good news is that other competitive shooting sports have survived near death experiences. Perhaps turkey shooting can make a comeback by returning to its roots. Imagine ordinary folks with ordinary shotguns paying a couple of bucks for a chance at a juicy turkey. It makes me hungry thinking about it.
– Written by Andy Merciers, Natchez Sales Specialist
When I was growing up my step-dad didn’t hunt. He wasn’t opposed to it, but like some dads, he had more important things to do with his time than spend it in the woods. He worked hard to keep food on the table for three teenagers and a wife. He did encourage me to hunt, even though he wasn’t the biggest fan of guns.
So it was with a zero understanding of how to hunt, that I started my adventures in hunting deer. I grew up in South Carolina. The deer hunting in that part of the country can spoil a person. The hunting season began mid August and ran through January 1st. There is something about rifle hunting in shorts and a t-shirt that I will always cherish. I can still name most of the things that buzz, bite, and sting from memory and personal experience. If you missed a spot hosing down with bug repellant the bugs would find it.
Most of my ideas about hunting came from reading magazines like Guns and Ammo, Peterson’s, and American Hunter. This was long before the internet, and all the ‘experts’ that one has access to online. I loved reading the stories of Keith, Col. Cooper, and Grisham just to name a few, but these fine writers were also the bane of my early hunting forays. I would read these wonderful articles about hunting wapiti, deer, and other large game. Great stories that told about the cold mornings, the long wait, the pounding hearts, and the harvest. What I didn’t read was the long arduous process of scouting. Sure those writers would mention the scouting, but not how many hours, or even months went into a single hunt.
Thanks to these stories, I imagined all I had to do was head out to the woods and the animals would line up for my shots. The woods were teeming with animals of all kinds, easy pickings for any hunter. Well, it didn’t take long for that myth to get dispelled. After the first dozen times heading into the woods I was convinced that the deer were rolling on the ground as I walked out of the woods. They were, in my mind, always just out of sight laughing at my attempts. I could almost hear the snort and wheezes from the darker corners of the fields and hedgerows.
To add insult to injury, I had to walk past my grandfather on the way back home. He would be working on this or that, piddling as he called it and see me walking with my head hung low, rifle slung on my back, covered in that “army gear” that he called my camouflage outfit. Sometimes he would smile and say nothing, but most of the time he would offer a pointed jab about coming home empty-handed. He would comment that I didn’t need all those deer horns to rattle, or the snort/wheeze callers to get deer to come. “Heck, all you have to do was get in the middle of a field and crank up an old bow-saw, two or three deer will come see what all the commotion is about,” was one such comment. Needless to say, my first deer season produced nothing but entertainment for him.
I learned a lot that first season. Mainly, that chiggers hurt, my grandfather’s sense of humor was evil, and that hunting wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Like any good hunter my first thought was to review my gear. I surely was missing some gadet or device that would make hunting easy. I poured over my magazines and books, bought new scents, scent removers, scent masks, and camo paint. I practiced with my rifle and watched enough hunting shows to make my family sick. I was going to be ready for the next season.
Pouring over my books and magazines I finally had that epiphany. I was missing scouting. I needed to know where my prey was, how they moved, where they moved, where they ate, and where they slept. Problem was I had no clue where to begin. So I started walking. I walked the woods. I walked the fields. I walked the swamps. I got pretty knowledgeable about the woods around our home. I still didn’t see any deer, but I got good about finding were they had been. I could see that something had bedded down in the tall grass of the field. A few times, I would even see steam coming up from were something warm had laid down just a short while earlier.
I had scouted, built a tree-stand, and had even seen deer leading up to the season. I knew where they were coming and going from our field. I was ready. But as any seasoned hunter will tell you, deer are smart, and I was only starting to figure this out. They have been hunted a long, long time. They know when season is in, and when it is perfectly safe to wander around your front yard, eating the garden. Once the season opened up, the deer vanished. No tracks, no signs, nothing.
As I came back empty-handed from my second or third trip after the season had begun I was prepared for the ribbing that I was going to get from my grandfather. He had seen all the work and effort I put into this season and instead he explained that deer knew when they were being hunted and shifted their normal behaviors, especially in areas that saw plenty of hunting. If I wanted to see deer, I needed to hunt where they didn’t expect me. He didn’t give me any suggestions other than that, but he smiled as he watched the wheels slowly turn in that thick noggin of mine. It was time to scout again.
The deer had all spring and summer kept close to the fields. The woods behind our field were only about 40-50 yards deep before they dropped into a swamp that butted up to the backside of our property. The deer had used this ledge to move between places, but as the season started they had moved down the embankment to straddle the waters edge and the land. The idea came that I could hunt from the water. If I was a deer, I would never expect someone or something to be stupid enough to sit in the water!
The following weekend I was able to return to the field and walked down past the field into the woods. I carefully made my way down the embankment and waded out into the water. About 50 feet from the shoreline a cypress tree had fell over facing the shore. I climbed up on the trunk and sat against the upturned roots. The whole morning I sat on that tree wondering if I had lost my mind. But determined not to go home empty handed, I gave it a second try that afternoon.
After sitting on the tree trunk for only 30 minutes I saw movement. Easing down the water line was a buck. A small spike, but in my eyes it was huge. I experienced my first taste of buck fever. I could hear my heart beating in my ears. My breath was short and I couldn’t tell if mosquitos were still biting me. My whole universe was focused on that deer. Easing my rifle to my shoulder as slowly as I could, I continued to watch the deer. Every once in a while he would stop moving and glance up the hill. He never once looked back towards the water. I knew at that moment, I had made the right choice.
I caught my breath and eased the safety off as quietly as possible. The audible click sounded like a cannon shot in my ears. My vision slowed and I took aim. Envisioning where the heart was I aimed and gently pulled the trigger. To this day I never remember hearing the sound. I watched as the bullet struck the deer just behind the shoulder and the deer dropped like a sandbag. I remembered reading how deer can sometimes get up after being shot and to wait before running toward them. I quickly reloaded my rifle and waited the longest five minutes of my life.
I never imaged how heavy a rifle could be, just trying to keep it on the deer for that short length of time. My heart was pounding and my head felt like it was going to float off my shoulders. Finally I ran down the trunk and towards my first deer. Taking the tip of my barrel I prodded the deer and confirmed that it was indeed dead.
One of my cousins had heard the gunshot and had driven to the edge of the woods to investigate. He helped me drag my deer up the embankment and into the back of his truck. As we drove past my grandfather, I’m sure he could see my smile from over a hundred yards away. My dad and grandfather helped me dress the deer and later turn that deer into a stew. To this day, that stew is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten and I will never forget the lessons I learned.
A house is only as good as the foundation that it’s built upon. It’s hard to argue with that, and the same can be said for trying to shoot the best groups your rifle possibly can. You can have the most expensive custom rifle, finest glass, and a handload that you have spent hours developing, but you’ll never know how well your rifle can actually shoot unless you have a solid and sound shooting position. Now we could talk all day about the details of what makes for a perfect shooting position, but the one overwhelming thing that you must incorporate for the best results is a relaxed body.
When you’re trying to shoot the best group your rifle can shoot, you want every muscle in your body loose; no part of you should be tense or uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable, that’s what you’ll be focusing on, not on your trigger and your target. You want to be able to settle in behind that rifle and become so relaxed that you could fall asleep if you wanted to. I like to lean forward with my right arm around the gun and my hand resting against the grip, and my left arm wrapped under the gun resting on the table with my hand on the rear bag to apply pressure for small elevation adjustments. With this position you will be loose and relaxed, the rifle should feel like an extension of your body, and you will be focusing on nothing but touching off that perfect shot.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, wild turkeys are causing quite a ruckus.
“They’re proliferating like crazy and they’re causing a lot of problems for a lot of people,” said Madonna Luers, public information officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Spokane.
Complaints include feces, vehicle damage because tom turkeys see their reflection in cars and attack them, turkeys roosting and breaking tree limbs, noise and intimidation of small children and pets, Luers said.
The response is as unusual as the problem. Volunteers and Wildlife officers will be collecting, destroying or addling the eggs, hoping to control the population. Because it’s within an urban, densely populated area, hunting of the birds is against the law and with such close proximity to humans the birds have become adept at avoiding traps.
I’m a sucker for strange and exotic firearm designs. And it doesn’t get much weirder than this one, courtesy of Ian from Forgotten Weapons.
The same features desired today in a handgun were being advertised 100 years ago. Light, reliable, and lots of rounds. Some things do change… hip shooting is no longer king.
Does anyone else remember the 16 gauge? It seems these days it gets passed over for soft shooting semi-auto 12 gauges or the 20 gauge, but all I want to do is shoot my Sweet 16. That and have more time for skeet.
How it Worked, Why it Worked and How it Changed our Culture
The second generation Glock pistol came out in 1988 just in time for its introduction into the American civilian market. Widespread misinformation had created a mystique about Glock pistols. Pop culture had gotten into the act. In the 1990 thriller Die Hard 2, Bruce Willis’s hero character John McClane states “That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It’s a porcelain gun made in Germany. Doesn’t show up on your airport X-ray machines, here, and it cost more than you make in a month.” Virtually nothing in that statement is true but it drove an already intense interest in the guns. By the early 90’s Hip Hop artist were rapping about Glocks. Market insiders have speculated that early misinformation about the Glock may have been deliberate marketing.
One move that was definitely deliberate was Glock’s very aggressive pursuit of the law enforcement market. The company’s owner Gaston Glock hired uber salesman Karl Walter in the early 1980s. Walter did not disappoint. Through some very unconventional means, Walter managed to have a very firm foothold in the law enforcement market by the early 90’s. It was not uncommon for Karl Walter to host a meeting with procurement officers at strip clubs. Whether it was extremely attractive terms or unbelievable trade-in deals, Walter did whatever it took to make the sale. Today Glock enjoys 65% of all domestic law enforcement business.
Another part of Glock’s strategy was product placement. In the 90’s Glock began showing up in primetime. Law and Order and NYPD Blue were early to embrace Glocks. Many other cop shows followed. Production companies wanted to be realistic when portraying law enforcement. This proved easy, as Glock was willing to provide their guns to Hollywood prop house for free or nearly free. Glock was doing whatever it took to make sure their guns were seen.
Today Glock is a ubiquitous part of our culture. Because of “first person shooter” video games and various other media, many non-enthusiasts can visually identify a Glock. The silhouette of the gun is very distinct despite recent copycat designs of rival companies. Some consider the Glock to be ugly. Wouldn’t that serve to make the gun even more memorable? Glock has accomplished in 30 short years what other manufacturers have not but aspire to accomplish. Glock is indelibly part of “Americana”, our story. How? Marketing.
Over the long history of the firearm, more than a few quirky, strange or downright amazing guns and inventions have popped up. Here’s a few of our favorite strange and interesting examples.
Handicapped parking was hotly contested in the 1880’s
Shotgun gauge refers to the number of bore diameter lead balls required to equal a pound of weight. Except the .410, which more accurately is a .410 bore, and was developed in England and France for “naturalists and cane guns”.
High capacity semi-automatic rifles have been around for over 100 years
The first military to use a semi-automatic rifle was Mexico in 1908, beating out the mighty Garand by almost 30 years! The Mondragon rifle was a piston driven design with excellent accuracy, but poor quality ammunition in Mexico doomed it to failure. It found a second life in the German Airforce during WW1 as a spotter’s weapon.
Mr Slights had never heard about a bag limit
A punt gun was a shotgun so large it needed to be mounted on a boat. Used for commercial waterfowl hunting, they had bores of 2″ or more and could shoot over a pound of shot at a time. Recoil was so stout they would push the boat backwards when fired.
For scale, the smaller round on the left is slightly larger than a .45 Auto cartridge
Speaking of stout recoil, the Mars automatic pistol of 1900 held the title of “most powerful pistol” for quite some time. Available in a “long” .45 round, it spit a 220 grain bullet downrange at over 1200 feet per second and was similar in power to a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum! When tested by the British navy, the captain in charge of tests of the Mars at the Naval Gunnery School in 1902 observed, “No one who fired once with the pistol wished to shoot it again”. Shooting the Mars pistol was described as “singularly unpleasant and alarming”.
Mr. Puckle did not believe in slow fire
The Puckle gun was a 32mm ship mounted gun that could fire about 10 rounds a minute… in 1718! Even stranger was the bore. Two versions existed, one with a normal round bore and one with a square bore.
In 1915, the average Parisian cafe was the european equivalent of a biker bar
The Apache street gang in Paris had a weapon of choice; a combination of a revolver, brass knuckles and a dagger! The gang was so tough the only way the police could handle them was to send them to the front in WW1!
If this wasn’t impressive enough, it mounted a 16″ bayonet
They might have been tough, but not American leatherneck tough. When American soldiers showed up in WW1 with the mighty 1897 pump shotgun designed by John Moses Browning, the Germans were so unpleasantly shocked by it’s effectiveness in trench combat that they sent a diplomatic protest in response.
Patton surveying the battlefield, his ivory-handled Colt SAA visible
General Patton’s two ivory-stocked revolvers are iconic. The Colt SAA .45 was the gun he used during the US Army’s fight against Pancho Villa. After a gunfight with Pancho’s second in command, he realized reloading a single action isn’t the easiest thing and ordered a S&W .357 Magnum. Patton knew sometimes the fastest reload is a second gun.
These shooting positions are no longer taught by the NRA
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a flat shooting, long range round named after the NRA’s first range. Opened in 1872, it was located on Long Island New York. Imagine a rifle range in New York City now!
Turkey season is upon us again and many of us are practically chewing the camo off our shotguns in anticipation. Once we get a bird, how do we remember the hunt? There’s a couple great options for keeping trophies off a turkey, including ones that can be done at home.
The most impressive and expensive option is the full bird mount. Save this for that monster tom, a quality turkey mount usually costs $500 or more and requires careful handling of the bird. The best advice I’ve heard about sending your turkey off to a taxidermist is to send the bird on monday. If you send it later in the week, it might get held up in a package processing facility over the weekend.
Next in size is the cape. The cape is the entire back plumage (and skin underneath) attached to the tailfeathers and displayed in a flat wall mount. This is a great way to show off particularly nice looking plumage or a big bird without the cost of a full mount. This can be done at home, but will require a little skinning work and use of a curing agent like salt or borax, or you can pay a taxidermist a hundred or two to professionally do it for you.
The tail mount is one of the most popular options. It can be done at home, but there’s some fiddly work when curing the tail and considering it usually costs around $50-$100 from a taxidermist, you could be spending that time eating the turkey instead!
The smallest and the most easy to do trophy is the spurs. Unlike antlers, turkeys don’t shed their spurs each year, instead they grow over the life of a turkey. On trophy sized turkeys these can reach 2″ each or more (The largest ever recorded were 2 1/4″ in length!). The leg can be cut on either side of the spur, the meat & tendons removed and the spur preserved for use in everything from necklaces to quiver decorations. It takes an afternoon’s worth of work and results in a trophy that will last a long time.
And there’s the best way to remember a turkey hunt. With friends or family, around a campfire or fireplace, spinning a tale about the monster tom that got away!
The endless battle, almost as old as .45 vs 9mm. Is 2mm of case length worth all the fighting or is .380 just as valid of a choice for self defense as 9mm?
Externally, 9mm and .380 are very similar. Both are .355″ diameter, they’re only 2mm difference in length and both are over 100 years old. Bullet weights are roughly similar too. So why is .380 dismissed by many while 9mm gets the nod and stamp of “serious ccw approval”?
Pressure. 9mm operates at 35,000 pounds per square inch, while the .380 operates at 21,500 pounds. Before you scoff at the .380’s puny pressures, here’s a third number for your consideration; at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, the pressure is a steel crumpling 15,700 pounds per square inch. What this means is the .380 produces less than half of the energy that the 9mm produces.
Not only is it uglier than a GLOCK®, it makes a lousy handgun.
Before you go dumping your .380 in disgust, that increased pressure means some negatives. Sure it results in much better ballistics, but it also means increased recoil, noise and necessitates a larger gun. .380 is generally the largest caliber safe in a blowback pistol, so a 9mm handgun is usually a little more expensive. If you’re recoil sensitive or looking for the smallest gun you can get, a .380 is still a great choice. But if you’re looking for a bedside gun or a full sized carry gun, the larger size suits the 9mm far better. 9mm is also considerably cheaper to shoot and is available in a larger variety of handguns (heck, there’s even 9mm revolvers). So the answer is…. yes… 9mm is better than .380 if you’re looking at a full sized handgun.
But before you get out your .380 and pitchfork, remember, a handcannon in the safe gets beat by a mousegun in the pocket every time.
Normally, when my wife is watching a cooking show I tend to tune it out to background noise. Last night the cook said something I thought was pretty neat. He said the only one task tool in his kitchen was a fire extinguisher. Everything else had to perform multiple jobs in order to earn it’s keep. Can we apply this standard to prepping?
Call it a bug-out bag, a go-bag, or whatever the latest term is, a go-bag is just a kit of tools and essentials that could be useful for a quick exodus. We’re not talking hollywood blockbuster “end of the world”, but inclement weather, natural disasters and social unrest are a fact of life and might require you to leave the homestead and head for higher ground, and a go-bag is supposed to make that a little easier. But seeing the lists of contents of some bags makes me wonder; is it easier to go when you’re hauling a bag that weighs more than you?
Here’s 3 multitaskers for your bug-out bag:
Used since WW2 by the military, Paracord is a true multi-tasker. Use it to tie down repairs, make a lanyard, rehandle a knife, make a belt, make snares or traps or just about anything else that rope can do. But what makes it special is what’s inside. Inside are thinner cords and string that can be pulled out and used for sewing, fishing and many other tasks.
I’ll admit, this one is a no brainer. It may not do all the tasks as quickly or as well as a tool designed for just one (a Leatherman saw isn’t going to cut down a forest anytime soon, but it will cut a branch to make a shelter) but it can, in a pinch, do nearly all of them.
In the old days, if you owned one gun, it was a shotgun. The days change, but the flexibility of the shotgun has stayed. With the right load, it can secure food in nearly every natural environment, protect you from predators and provide a potent source of self defense. Yes, the ammunition is naturally a little heavier than pistol or rifle, but the flexibility means you don’t have to carry more than one gun. Shotgun ammunition is readily available as well and a well made pump shotgun won’t break the bank.
Be careful out there, especially when using blackpowder or when reloading. This is the result of using smokeless powder instead of blackpowder in a muzzleloader according to the Indiana DNR. The shooter was badly injured and the muzzleloader destroyed.
It’s a good idea to never have more than one powder out at a time. I use a dry erase marker to write what’s in the powder dispenser every time I reload and I never have black powder and smokeless out at the same time. Using preformed blackpowder pellets is another great way to make sure you don’t use smokeless powder in your muzzleloader.
With the explosion of the AR market, it seems every company out there has 31 flavors of 5.56 or .223 and many of the 5.56 varieties carry dire warnings about use in .223 marked guns. So what’s all that about? If you use 5.56 ammunition, is your .223 Remington gun going to do it’s best grenade impersonation or is it all hype?
The real answer, of course, is complicated. The 5.56×45 NATO cartridge came along around 1957 during US Army testing, based off the .222 Remington round. Loaded to about 61,500 PSI (measured by a pressure load sensor near the mouth of the case) and the barrels have fairly long throat length. In contrast it’s sporting twin, the .223 Remington (introduced because Remington knew a thing or two about what kind of cartridges sell) has its pressure measured by a different method and maxes out at 55,000 psi as measured by SAAMI protocol. That 11% pressure difference and shorter leade (the space before a bullet engages the rifling) on the .223 can lead to dangerous overpressure in .223 guns if 5.56×45 NATO ammunition is used. This can show up as a hard to open bolt, pressure signs on the case and primer, inaccuracy and increased recoil.
Here you can see the length of the leade on a .223 (left) and 5.56(right) chamber, the 5.56 is over twice as long.
Now for the fun part: Non-US manufactured ammunition is often marked .223, however, almost all of it is loaded to 5.56x45mm NATO specs because the european system does not differentiate between the two and only uses the earlier military load specs (CIP Standards). The same goes for most guns manufactured outside of the US, they may be marked .223 but they’re often actually a 5.56 chamber. So if you have a gun with a very short leade in .223, you’re probably better off using American made .223 Remington marked ammunition. If you’ve got a 5.56×45 or .223 Wylde (a sort of hybrid chamber, designed to get the most accuracy out of 5.56, thanks JB for the correction!), you’re good to go with American or foreign, and don’t worry about it.*
Plus, most .223 guns run a slower twist rate for lighter bullets, while 5.56 tend to have a quicker twist rate so they can stabilize heavier bullets.
*Legal Disclaimer: We’re not holding your gun, we’re not a gunsmith and what you do with your firearm is your own responsibility. Before using any firearm and ammunition, have it checked by a qualified gunsmith. Your fingers will thank you.**
**We’re also not your fingers’ lawyer and as such can neither confirm nor deny the happiness of said fingers.
We here at Natchez Shooters Supplies would like to thank all who have made the choice to serve our country. Their sacrifices and bravery have protected our freedom since the founding of this great nation. So no matter when or where our soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors have served, we thank you.
The last couple of years have been hard on those of us who like a relaxing sunday afternoon of punching holes in a paper target. With disappearance of .22 LR, it’s hard to get the plinking itch scratched. Or is it? With a simple reloading setup, wadcutter rounds like the one pictured above are easy to load and don’t beat up the wallet. They’re quiet, low recoil and best of all, leave a nice, clean-edged hole in whatever you’re shooting at. My favorite load is the Speer Hollow Based Wadcutter over a light load of Bullseye in .38 Special, it’s perfect for shooting paper or steel targets.
You say festive decoration, I say reactive target.
Halloween is upon us and rather than regale you with scary stories of amateur gunsmiths with angle grinders and priceless guns, we’d like to wish you a fun and safe Halloween. Be careful out there when you’re having fun. Bring a flashlight, make sure your cell phone is charged and be aware. Don’t let ordinary trouble ruin an evening of imaginary monsters.
Taking someone to the range can be very rewarding for all parties but there’s some serious safety considerations to be aware of. Many people who have never shot will be taking their gun handling from movies or television shows.
Going over the Four Rules and explaining why they’re important is probably the most important step and one that should be done at least once before the trip and again before a single gun is fired.
Let them know that they should never turn around and point the firearm anywhere but down range. I’ve seen a firearms novice fire their shot and turn around with a big grin and a loaded gun pointed square in my direction. Unnerving to say the least.
Let them know about the safety gear that is needed and you’ll be wearing at the range — Eye protection, hearing protection, and possibly a high collar shirt.
Let them know about your range’s specific rules; rules such as staying behind the firing line during cease fires, do not go down range unless the safety flag is up or safety light is on. Most ranges have their specific rules posted so they shouldn’t stress out if they can’t immediately remember all the rules.
Then and only then, you can discuss how to shoot, and the shooting basics of sight alignment, grip, and trigger squeeze. I used to over-explain this part, but trigger control and grip aren’t important for a new shooter. The only really important thing they need to know is how to be safe. Everything else is just gravy.
Things to bring with you to the range:
Ear muffs for you and for them. Electronic muffs are best because you will be able to hear questions or comments from your friend and keep track of what the people around you are up to.
Ear plugs to go with the ear muffs. Some people are more sensitive to loud sounds than others. Double protection can make the experience better, but be prepared to yell yourself hoarse.
Eye protection for both of you. Basic prescription glasses are not generally good enough. Get a pair of protective glasses that fit over the Rx ones. Make sure the eye protection has decent side shields to keep the brass out.
Small caliber gun. A .22 is ideal. 9mm is better than .45 — at least in this context! A .38 special is a good choice too. Stay away from super-lightweight guns, however. Handing someone with no shooting experience a handcannon or lightweight rifle is never a good idea. Worst case, it can lead to serious injuries or a severely damaged gun.
Hand wipes to clean up with. Lead contamination is easy to control, and a new shooter will appreciate the attention to detail.
Your most patient attitude. The new shooter is going to do some things “wrong.” Don’t try to fix everything at once! Focus on safety issues — those are the only issues that really matter for the first outing.
Things to leave at home:
Your own plans to shoot. The first outing is all about your newbie. If things go well, you might have a chance to shoot a little; if they don’t, you won’t. Understand that going in and you’ll be a lot happier if your new shooter needs more help than you expected.
Arrogance. The attitude you want to convey is that you want to share your world with them, and that safety is important — not that you know everything there is to know about guns and that you are the source of all shooting wisdom. If they asks a question you don’t know the answer to, tell them you don’t know.
For some of us, the lucky ones, shooting was learned with a family member at a young age. But for many shooters, their shooting experience started in their 20’s or even later. I’m in the latter group; my parents were extremely anti-gun and I had no exposure to firearms or hunting until my early 20’s. The first step towards learning how to shoot and use guns responsibly was a trip to a local gun store that helped me learn the basics of safety and firearm use. Their welcoming attitude and generosity was the first step towards a lifelong love of shooting and hunting. As a shooter, I’ve taken many other new shooters to the range and changed a few opinions with those trips. Later this week we’ll be doing a two part on how to safely introduce shooting to a friend safely.
A friend of mine remarked the other day “I hate wildcat cartridges”. Being a fan of obsolete firearms and cartridges, I was a little taken aback. He then regaled me with the tale of trying to feed a very nice older rifle in a cartridge not produced commercially. After much time and a not small expense he ended up having the gun rebarreled into 8mm Mauser for use as an all around hunting rifle.
Wildcat cartridges are both a blessing and a curse for outdoorsmen. On one hand, some of the best cartridges started out as wildcats. 7mm-08, 6.8 SPC, .454 Casull are all well pedigreed wildcats, now tamed and put to work. Many other cartridges benefit from wildcatter experience, .44 magnum, .300 Blackout and .204 ruger being some notable names. At the same time, trying to feed an older firearm in some obscure cartridge can be a nightmare. Imagine when your gunsmith spouts off the following, “Oh, that’s a .44/.30-06 Jones Deerslayer, you just need a custom set of dies and 17 steps to produce one cartridge. By the way, there’s only load data for a single powder and bullet, and the bullet hasn’t been produced since 1963!”
As for me, I’ll be over here hoarding .300 Savage so I don’t have to spend those 17 steps producing it on a press out of .308 brass.
I was going to use a pun in the title, but that would have been unbearable.
Nothing quite is as exciting as finding pictures on your trail cam of a full grown bear nosing around within 50 yards or so of your house. When you’re not using your trail cameras to spot game, seeing what makes the rounds near your home can be a real eye opener. Even in a suburb like where this picture was taken.
Even if you’re the most experienced shooter or hunter, there’s a few things that bear repeating. From dove hunting to self defense competition, the rules are there for a reason. Part of enjoying the shooting sports is being responsible with firearms. So without further ado, here’s the rules every shooter should know.
Rule One: Treat all guns as loaded. This rule means that no matter what, you will always treat a firearm with the respect you would give it if you knew it were loaded. You never do anything with an unloaded gun that you wouldn’t do with a loaded gun. More than that, the first rule is a mindset. Never treat a firearm as a toy or “joke around” with it. The number of people shot each year with “unloaded” guns each year is astounding.
Rule Two: Do not point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. This rule applies whether the gun is loaded or not! (See Rule One…) This one is about being aware of what’s in front of your muzzle. After you shoot, be aware of where the muzzle is pointing. Toes, legs and the guy to your left at the range all don’t need an extra helping of accidental lead.
Rule Three: Keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are on target. Putting your finger on the trigger before you’re on target is the start towards a negligent discharge. And “off the trigger” also means “outside of the trigger guard.” This one has double benefits. If I had a nickel for every time a hunter or shooter puts their finger on the trigger early and spoils a shot, I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be at my personal range behind my billion dollar mansion on my private island.
Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what’s beyond your target. Make sure there’s nothing between you and your target, too — and if you’re not sure the area behind the target is clear of people and will stop a bullet, don’t fire. According to the people who know these things, a .22LR bullet retains enough energy to be lethal more than a mile down range.
A brief note: There may be variations or condensed versions of these 4 rules, the NRA has a 3 rule list for example. But all of them are about how to prevent accidents and negligence.
Call it a suppressor or call it a silencer (Hiram Maxim, well known firearms inventor called it a silencer in 1909 when he invented it), according to figures released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives earlier this year, there were, as of March 2014, 571,750 legal suppressors are listed in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR). For the sportsmen who live in the 39 states that allow their possession, suppressors are a great way to help protect hearing and reduce noise.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the firearms industry, has long held that legal suppressors can help prevent hearing loss, help make shooting ranges better neighbors, make great tools for hunting, and do not increase crime in states that allow their possession. On the crime thing: unlike the movies, suppressor don’t silence a gun, just reduce the noise to a hearing safe level. A gun fired with a suppressor still sounds like a gun, just slightly quieter.
I’ve never hunted with a suppressor, but thanks to a fellow gun enthusiast at my local range, I’ve gotten to shoot a couple, and the reduced noise really helps mitigate the “appearance” of recoil and makes everything a little more pleasant. Kind of like the muffler on a car. I’m probably going to continue buying hearing protection and never go through the process of getting a suppressor (The ATF needs fingerprints, an extensive background check, several hundred dollars and a signature from your local law enforcement for the registration of a legal suppressor), but I can appreciate their effect.
The most important part of my preparedness plan is this snazzy hat.
September is National Preparedness Month and with hunting seasons fast approaching we thought about what being a outdoorsman can bring to our ability to handle an emergency. From finding a way with a map, to making a fire and securing food, the outdoor life helps us to be prepared for when life doesn’t follow the rulebook. So take a look around and make sure you’re prepared for those days where the sun doesn’t shine. A knife, light, fire source and some other essentials should be accessible when you need them.
Recently Burris Optics has discontinued the old XTR tactical line and replaced them with the XTRII. The most notable difference between the two lines is the country of origin. The original line was made in the USA, whereas the new XTRII is made in the Philippines. At first glance these scopes are very similar but as you compare them, you will find they are very different.
When I first heard production had been moved overseas I was a bit disappointed. I have owned other Burris products that were made overseas and while they were decent quality, they were not top quality scopes. I have heard that Burris actually owns the production facility where the XTRII is made,so quality control can be closely regulated. They also have a team of quality control agents in the US that look over every scope before it hits the shelf. Because of these extra steps they’ve taken, I decided to take the plunge and purchase the 1-5×24.
Now the old XTR 1-4 was a good scope in its own right. I have used it a few times and was able to borrow one from my Father for a comparison. I quickly learned that the new XTRII was even better. Every feature of the new line is better. The build quality, glass, reticle, turrets, and the illumination have all been improved with the new model. The magnification was bumped up to 5X instead of 4X while still being a true 1x on the low end. The field of view is larger on the low end as well. All while keeping the new scope a little shorter length than the old version. The only negative I can see with the new scope is that it is about 5 ounces heavier than the old scope. In my opinion 5 ounces is not going to break it for me so it’s a non-issue.
Most of the extra weight is probably because of the new turret design. Burris teamed up with Steiner to design the new turrets and they are great. They are 1/10 MRAD adjustments with a zero stop function. The zero stop is a “hard stop” not a shim system like other scopes in its price range. They are the easiest to set I have ever used. Once you loosen the elevation turret cap and set back to zero, tighten the two screws back down that hold the turret cap on. That’s it. You have just set the zero stop. Now when you dial out past your zero, you can quickly dial back to zero without thinking about it. The windage turret is marked both left and right directions as well as being rotation limited. You cannot dial past one revolution over your zero. This is a nice feature as I personally will never touch the windage turret again. Once I zero, I prefer to dial my elevation and hold for wind.
Not only do the turrets function great but they feel good also. They have a nice knurled texture that is easy to grip but does not feel too aggressive. They are tactile and audible when making adjustments. They also turn just stiff enough to not have to worry about them getting bumped out of adjustment but without being too hard to turn.
This particular scope appealed to me because of the exposed MRAD turrets and matching reticle. I chose the CQ MIL reticle, instead of the 5.56 BDC reticle, that Burris also offers. I feel that a reticle matching the adjustments of the scope is very important and also gives a lot more flexibility when shooting different loads and different conditions. The reticle in this scope is a huge improvement over the old design. The original XTR had hash marks for windage and elevation that were too large and thick in my opinion. They drowned out the main part of the reticle which is the upside down horseshoe in the center of the reticle. The new XTRII still has the same horseshoe design but the windage and elevation hash marks are appropriately sized in relation to it. The center horseshoe stands out better as the primary way to acquire your target quickly. The center dot is also small enough for a precise aiming point even at distance. So far I have used the XTRII from 50 to 300 yards and found the reticle design works great at all distances in between. The windage and elevation holds are fine enough to use effectively but are not so small that they are hard to see. This was the major complaint I had with the Vortex PST 1-4 that I used to own. The subtentions were so fine they were hard to use. The Burris XTRII has done a great job finding the right balance needed to use the reticle at extended distances. This feature is pretty important to me in this scope and what I will be using it for. Even though it has exposed turrets, I will mainly be using this scope within 300 yards. It is mounted on a 14.5” carbine so I will probably hold using the reticle most of the time rather than dial a correction into the turrets.
The illumination is also better on this new line of scopes. The old XTR’s highest setting is equal to a setting of 5 on the new XTRII. After that you have another 6 brightness settings above the old model to use. To say they are “daylight bright” is an understatement. Fortunately it can also be adjusted low enough to use in low light situations as well. The illumination settings of this new scope are probably the widest and most effective range of brightness settings that I’ve seen on a rifle scope. Kudos are due to the designers of the illumination.
While comparing these two scopes I tried to keep an unbiased opinion as to the glass quality. Without an objective way to measure the differences this is just my opinion, but what I noticed surprised me. The new XTRII glass was better than the old US made version. It was brighter and the images were clearer and crisper. I was glad to see a scope in this price range, made in the Philippines, deliver as good of an image as it did.
Build quality was also a welcome sight. All of the controls turn smooth and precise as it should with no complaints on how they feel. I guess if I had one complaint about this scope it would be the magnification ring. It is smooth in feel but it cannot be turned up from 1X to 5X as quickly as some other scopes I have used. I find myself having to turn it halfway and then reposition my hand to make another turn to finish adjusting the magnification. Again it’s not a deal breaker as I am being very picky with this complaint. I know there is at least one aftermarket company already making a “cat tail” throw lever for these scopes to combat this.
As Burris’ new flagship line of scopes, the XTRII is said to be tough, durable and dependable. Only time will tell, but it looks like they have a real winner on their hands. I am glad they choose to move production and give us a better product at a competitive price.
For years, Leupold has relied on the success of their Mark 4 line of scopes to fill the needs of Precision Rifle shooters around the world. It has been said, they have fallen behind the times, and have been overpassed by other companies who have been making better scopes to compete in the marketplace. Companies like Vortex, Nightforce, and Bushnell have captured quite a bit of the market share as of late and sent Leupold back the drawing board.
In response, Leupold created the Mark 6 and Mark 8 lines of optics. They boast a 6x and 8x power ratio respectively, have vastly improved the glass quality, and are now offering features that many shooters are looking for today. Features include First Focal Plane reticles, matching reticles/ turret adjustments, and many different reticle choices.
I have been using a Mark 6 for a few months now and I have to say I am very impressed with this optic. The glass is exceptional. Clarity and resolution are on par with many other high end tactical scopes costing $2,000.00 to $3,000.00. The size and weight of the Mark 6 is what really sets it apart. At just 11.9 inches in length and just 23.6 ounces it is one of the smallest and lightest scopes in its class. It also has a 44mm objective lens which allows the user to mount the scope low if needed. All of these features are built on a 34mm maintube which allows for 100 MOA of elevation adjustment.
The model I chose, is part number 115943, and has Leupold’s TMR reticle. This has become my favorite reticle out of any tactical scope I have used. It is a Gen2 style, Mil-based reticle with hash marks every .5 Mil. There are also 4 sections of hash marks that are spaced at .2 Mils for more accurate measurements with the reticle. Each section is placed at the outer edge of the vertical and horizontal lines of the reticle. The TMR also has an open center aperture for a precise aiming point. Previously, I had no experience with an open center reticle, but I have really grown to like it.
The Mark 6 has a lockable diopter adjustment on the eyepiece and a side-focus parallax adjustment. Both have a smooth feel and are easy to adjust. The eyepiece incorporates a large, 1 ¾ inch long, magnification ring that is very easy to manipulate. The adjustment ring has multiple coarse flutes that run the length of the ring. These flutes aid in making adjustments with or without gloves quickly.
The turrets on the Mark 6 are one of the things that attracted me to this scope. They are .1 Milliradian adjustments to match the subtentions of the Mil-based reticle. Their design was something I was looking for in a scope since I often deer hunt with the rifle it was for. Leupold designed it as a Military and Law Enforcement scope with features that also work well for hunting.
The windage turret is capped which is a feature I prefer. Most Precision Rifle shooters will dial their elevation adjustments and use the reticle to “hold” for windage adjustments while shooting. Wind is something that is constantly changing while shooting at longer distances. Instead of trying to make adjustments on fly it is faster to hold with the reticle. Once the scope was initially zeroed, the windage cap was screwed into place and has stayed in there for the remainder of its use.
The elevation turret uses Leupold’s pinch-lock system for making adjustments. It is a double turn, 10 Mil turret, that also features a revolution counter to let you know when you are on the second revolution. After rotating the turret to the second revolution, a small nub will protrude through the top of the turret. Once you dial back to the first revolution the nub will disappear back into the turret.
The lower indicator ring is resettable for zeroing the scope. Leupold also offers custom rings from their Custom Shop when your load data is provided. The elevation turret also features a “zero stop” which allows you to return to zero after making adjustments. To get back to zero there is no need to look at the turret when dialing back down. Simply pinch the turret locks and dial down until the turret stops.
The locking turrets were a big factor in choosing this scope over others on the market. After using it for a while I have found it works but it is somewhat complicated. Due to the design of the pinch sections of the turret, I have found there are times when you have to reposition your hand to make an adjustment. Depending on where the turret is turned when you make an adjustment, it may not be in a natural position to do it quickly. It has audible clicks as you make an adjustment but does not feel as tactile as other scopes I have used. As you turn the turret, it just seems to glide through the adjustments. The feel of the turret is something that has to be experienced to know if it may be an issue for the individual user. There was also a little bit of play I experienced in the turret as it is locked. Without pinching the locks you can wiggle the turret a bit. It does not affect what place you are in on the dial, as it does not change the adjustment of turret, unless you pinch the locks to turn it. I have seen others report this same issue with their samples of the scope, but none have reported any problems.
I have found that despite the intricacies of the elevation turret, the scope tracks accurately and returns to zero as it should. The very minor issues I have with the elevation turret could also be attributed to the limited experience I have with locking turrets. I have found that the more I use it the more comfortable I become with it. Leupold also offers other models with a more simple elevation turret, but they include features such as illumination and reticle choices that cause the price to skyrocket.
Overall I think the Mark 6 scopes are a big improvement over the aging Mark 4 line of scopes. They offer a lot of new features and glass quality that puts in competition with scopes such as Schmidt & Bender, US Optics and more. It’s good to see Leupold stepping up to the plate and giving customers what they have been asking for.
Reblogged with permission from andsandgroovesblog.wordpress.com
There are a lot of different optics on the market these days. Prices vary for every budget imaginable. While choosing the right one may seem like a daunting task, in reality it’s a good thing. There are more options today than ever before and quality overall is better than ever.
So how do you pick the right one? I break down my needs into three main categories. Budget, Necessities, and Features Wanted.
If it’s an everyday carry knife, can I call my iPhone my EDC phone? And is there an app for that?
All joking aside, most of us have a set of things we carry. Most of us have a cell-phone, wallet and keys that go in our pockets every morning, and probably a knife of some kind. Some of us make our belts and pockets do extra work and expand that to include things like a fire source, a flashlight, handgun, reload, mini first aid kit, loaner knife (because we all have that friend who will try to use a good knife as a bad screwdriver), pepperspray, scissors, multitool, and portable fondue set. If I had a job outdoors, I would probably carry more than my basic 5: Phone, Wallet, Keys, Knife and Gun.
Hopefully, what you carry in your pockets is dictated by your day to day needs.
There are many great reasons to get into reloading. Cheaper ammunition, hard-to-find calibers and increased accuracy are the three most common. But where do you start? Is it worth jumping in with both feet or is it better to spend some time in the shallow end learning? What are the pitfalls of reloading? We’re going to try to answer some of those questions in the following “intro to reloading series”.
Kits are a great way to start, and are usually everything you need except dies and components. If you don’t get a kit, you’ll need the following:
Scale (or other powder measurement device)
Components (Bullet, Primer, Powder & Case)
The most important part of reloading is your mind. “Winging it” is a recipe for disaster that can cost you a gun, your hand, or in the worst case, your life. Published load data from reloading manufacturers has been thoroughly tested and is within safe limits. Besides, “this gun isn’t powerful enough” is a great excuse to buy a new gun!
But just like flavors of ice cream, there’s a million options, and figuring out which flavor can be hard. What kind of press? There’s everything from Lee’s Hand Press that can be slipped into a pocket all the way to electronically monitored and fed progressive presses like Hornady’s Ammo Plant that can really crank out huge amounts of ammunition. Generally, when you’re first starting out, there’s 3 options: Single Stage, Turret and Progressive.
Single Stage Presses are the simplest and have the highest potential for accuracy. Because there are less moving parts, the best accuracy is often obtained from careful use of a single stage press. Single stages are also usually the strongest press style and least expensive. The downside of a single stage press is speed. Each cartridge will require multiple trips through the single stage press, usually between 4 and 6.
Turret Presses are somewhere in between the single stage and the progressive press. Multiple die mounts allow for less die interchanging and setting, but the turret press does have more moving parts than the single stage and does not automatically advance the cartridge to the next die.
Progressive Presses have multiple die stations and a shell plate that holds a shell for each station. Each time the handle is pulled, the shell plate rotates, moving the cartridge to the next operation. Progressive presses are very fast at producing ammunition, an experienced reloader can easily crank out several hundred rounds an hour, compared to the 20 or 30 a single stage user can reasonably expect. If you’re shooting handguns, modern sporting rifles or for high volume competition, a progressive press is going to be your best option.
Next time we’ll cover dies, components and press accessories.
I was watching a certain well known show about a pawn shop when they had a gentleman come into the shop with a very early Colt Revolver. His hopes were crushed though when he found out the wire wheel he used to strip all that nasty rust off the gun also stripped it of its value.
That got me to thinking, how many of us have unintentionally destroyed the value or looks of an older gun with improper cleaning techniques? Here’s some easy to remember tips when dealing with older guns.
1) Use the right screwdrivers. Guns use very tight tolerance screws and using the wrong size screwdriver will “bugger” the screw, and can often slip, leaving a gouge across the surface of the gun. Use good quality hollowground screwdrivers. They’ll cost a little more, but can save you a great deal of heartache later.
2) Don’t use steel brushes. This is the number one cause of finish damage on older guns. The fine patina an older gun builds up is softer than the steel brushes and will scratch and disappear with the dirt. This can take a gun worth many thousands of dollars into something only valued for the parts or needing a pricey refinish. Use a stiff bristled nylon brush or a soft bronze brush.
3) Know your cleaning product. Many fine gun cleaners are very good at removing copper fouling and other metal deposits. But use one of these on a nickeled or chromed gun and you could be looking at a disaster. On guns with plated finishes there’s a thin layer of copper “gluing” the Nickel on, and that copper eating cleaner will ruin the finish. Same goes for abrasive cleaners. These are great at removing dirt and grime from stainless steel, but can destroy a fine blued finish very quickly. Same thing goes for wood stocks & grips. While you can dump a modern polymer stocked gun into most strong cleaners without a worry, a wood stock’s finish can be badly damaged by the wrong cleaner and the wood can be ruined by being soaked by oil.
That sounds like a lot of doom and gloom but cleaning an older gun isn’t hard. Start by making sure it’s unloaded. Once you’ve done that, make sure it’s unloaded. Disassemble it or field strip the firearm and then use a soft clean cloth with a safe cleaner ( I personally use MPro-7 from Hoppes, it’s non-toxic and odorless and does not remove copper, only carbon and dirt) to wipe down the gun. Use a small amount of cleaner and a stiff nylon brush to remove hardened deposits. If you’re going to need to clean around the stock or grip, remove the stock or grip first, and clean it separately gently with a cloth and furniture cleaner if it needs it. After cleaning, wipe everything down with a clean cloth and then apply a light oiling using a quality gun oil to all metal surfaces. Don’t use too much, excess oil will attract dirt and dust.
With a little effort and the right tools, it’s easy to keep heirloom and collectable firearms looking great.
Most of us know what a classic duplex reticle or German #4 reticle look like, but some of the current generation tactical reticles look more like cross-stitch samplers than a reticle. But are all those marks useful? And can you use them to improve your shooting in other areas?
The short answer is, yes. The same system that lets an Army sniper do his job can help you get a clean shot on trophies.
Tactical scope reticles generally fall into two categories; Bullet Drop Compensators (BCD) and
mil-based or MOA (Minute of Angle)-based reticles.
Bullet drop reticles are calibrated for a specific caliber and load at specific atmospheric conditions and have marks that match where the round will land at a given range. Finding the range is usually done using either a shape that is compared against the target or by using a rangefinder. These are great for hunting as long as you’re using .223 Remington or .308 Winchester, the 2 most common “tactical” rounds. Other calibers are most likely going to need a custom reticle. Using different velocities and bullet weights can also vastly change your ballistics, resulting in point of impact changes, so care must be taken to use the correct ammunition.
The other common reticle uses mil-based marks or MOA based marks(Like the Nightforce MIL-R™ Reticle above) and can be used to both provide ranging information and holdover marks. There’s a lot of math and angles involved but what it all boils down to is simple. If you know about how big your target is, and can do a bit of high school multiplication and division, you can put your first shot on target at any range without needing anything more than a bit of knowledge. That’s great if you’re not hunting from a tree stand and have to carry everything yourself.
Many tactical reticles feature illumination. This is great for low light or shade because you’re not trying to find a black crosshair against a dark background, giving you more time to shoot accurately. In bright sunlight, the illuminated reticle may be a hinderance, some less expensive illuminated reticles can “wash out” in high intensity light and become hard to see.
As Francis Bacon once said, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about the shot you’re going to make, the likely you are to make the shot. Tactical Reticles are here to stay, our armed forces trust them and personally, I like anything that gives me a better shot at meat in the freezer. Especially bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon.
Here at Natchez Shooters Supplies, we’re all outdoors and shooting enthusiasts of one kind or another. We’d like to share some of our love for the outdoors with you with blog posts from some of our most experienced and knowledgable employees.