Feinstein’s “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act” Might Make Replacement Triggers Illegal

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Almost immediately following the wake of the tragic events in Las Vegas, Diane Feinstein has already introduced a bill that could have devastating impact on the aftermarket parts industry, and on all shooters. Here’s what we know so far…

feinstein

SOURCE: TheTruthAboutGuns.com, Nick Leghorn

Just this morning [October 5, 2017] we heard that Dianne Feinstein had introduced her “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act,” a bill which would ban bumpfire stocks like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting among other things. In an attempt to make her new law apply as broadly as possible she not only specifically wants to outlaw bumpfire stocks, but also any modification that makes a firearm fire “faster.” But what exactly does that mean?

Here’s the relevant section:
Except as provided in paragraph (2), on and after the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, it shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a trigger crank, a bump-fire device, or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.

The issue is in the definition of “accelerate.” Bumpfire stocks are an obvious step, and are specifically named. The same with hand cranks for triggers. But the bill wants to make anything which increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle illegal, yet it doesn’t do a good job of outlining exactly what that means.

For semi-automatic firearms the rate of fire is completely subjective. An untrained shooter and legendary speed demon Jerry Miculek will be able to achieve two very different rates of fire with the same firearm. The bill thankfully isn’t silly enough to outlaw training sessions and gym memberships — it concerns itself only with attachments and physical devices. Tools like the bumpfire stock are obvious targets, but other factors can have similar effects.

Lighter replacement triggers are a great example. A lighter trigger in a firearm can allow the shooter to fire faster than with a heavy trigger simply because their finger is less fatigued. We reviewed one such trigger years ago, the Geissele S3G trigger, which absolutely increases the rate at which a shooter can fire their weapon. For that reason, according to Feinstein’s bill the Geissele S3G trigger would be illegal to purchase or possess in the United States.

Another issue: what exactly is the baseline for the rate of fire?
The baseline rate of fire that can be achieved with a finely-tuned competition rifle and a bare bones budget rifle are two very different things. Would there be one baseline for each weapon platform against which all other examples would be compared? Would manufacturers be required to install the worst trigger possible in order to reduce the rate of fire? Or would it simply be illegal to modify the trigger from the factory installed version, making drop-in replacements like Timney and Geissele illegal?

On its face, it sounds like Dianne Feinstein’s bill, as written, would kill the aftermarket trigger industry and make it illegal to improve the trigger on your rifle. We’ll have to see whether this bill makes it out of committee, and what (if any) amendments would be added to give some clarity to the situation.

Watch this one closely!

RELOADERS CORNER: Problems Dies Can Have

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Reloading problem? First make sure it’s not your tools… Here are a few things that can happen, and how to correct them.

Glen Zediker

Over years and years (and years) I’ve encountered a few factory-faulty sizing and seating dies, and associated pieces-parts. It’s not at all common, but it happens, or has happened, enough that I wanted to share a few stories as to what these problems come from, and how to identify (and correct) them.

As has been my norm here of late, yep: got a phone call from a fellow having problems with a new 28 Nosler. Took a while to get through this one… Turned out that the sizing die was the culprit. Wasn’t easy to sleuth but there’s a Zen tenet that paraphrases to this: If you’re not sure what something is, then carefully consider all the things that it is not; what’s left is the answer…

forster concentricity fixture
A concentricity fixture is a handy tool to help identify any issues a sizing or seating die has.

By the way, I’m not going to mention brand names for one good reason: I’ve seen or been presented with issues in dies from every major maker.

Sizing die problems I have either encountered first-hand or been witness to via my circle have most often been a full-length die that will not adequately set a case shoulder back where we want to take it. Conversely, it’s much more common to have a die that’s erring on the more extreme end of that, and erring toward “too much” sizing potential is logically a direction a die maker might take to accommodate more circumstances. Once the shellholder is making full and flush contact with the die bottom, that’s all she wrote. Continuing to turn the die body downward does nothing but stress the press and possibly damage the die. To get the case farther up into the die, either thin the shellholder top surface or grind the bottom of the die hisself. Neither are hand-tool operations! Get to a local gunsmith or machinist.

Look at a hair from your head and that’s ballpark 0.004-0.006 inches. It doesn’t take much at all to make the difference between smooth function and a bolt that won’t close.

loaded round runout
Check loaded rounds to point out bullet seater problems. Check sized rounds to point out sizing die issues. Removing the expander and checking neck runout on a sized round usually points out any problem with the die itself. It should spin with no to very little runout.

Check out Midsouth tools HERE

Most sizing dies are reamed one-piece, one-shot like a rifle chamber; however, that’s not always the method. Some are done in two or more steps, using two or more cutting tools. Clearly, consistency and correctness favors the one-piece reamer. Assuming that the reamer is correct and correctly used. I have encountered one die that just wasn’t concentric, body chamber to neck area. I figured that one out by sizing without the expander and checking runout, and also by finding that I could shift off-center axis by rotating the (marked) case and running through again. Normally, sizing a case without the expander in place results in a case that runs flat-line on a concentricity fixture. Reason is primarily because any inconsistency in the case neck walls get “pushed” to the inside case neck. But if there’s wobble in a case that’s been sized sans expander, then, son, you got a die problem.

A bent or bowed expander stem will, not can, result in an expander that’s going to cock the case neck one direction. I watch for that when I polish the expander button. As described here before, that process involves chucking the stem (lightly) in an electric drill and spinning the ball against some wet emery to give the ball a shine. If it’s wobbling during this operation, that’s a problem.

polished expander
With one particular brand of bullets (which were a tad amount smaller diameter than usual) I experienced inadequate bullet grip, insufficient to retain the bullet in the case neck on magazine-fed rounds. That wasn’t really a die problem, but the (simple) solution was to reduce the expander ball diameter. The die maker replaced the stem assembly for me so I didn’t have to apply that extra tension to rounds loaded with my usual bullet brand. When you polish the expander (and you will do that right?) notice if there’s wobble. Don’t accept it.

Seating die issues, in my experience, usually revolve around plain old straightness of the seating stem, and, once, the concentricity of the reamed case body area. If you have a seating die that increases runout compared to what a concentricity fixture showed on the sized case neck, it needs looked into. Additionally, always (always) check to make sure the seating plug (the area that fits over the bullet to push it into the case neck) is deep enough the the bullet tip does not make contact with the inside of the plug. That’s a sure way to get a bullet tipped off kilter.

bullet seating stem check
Always check to see that the tip of the (longest) bullet you use doesn’t contact the inside of the seating die plug. If it does it will get skewed.

Now. Most importantly: What to do if you suspect a tooling problem? Short answer is: SEND IT BACK. Don’t accept it. I know of no maker who won’t profusely apologize and promptly return a new one. The fixes I mentioned are for those who prefer to solve such issues, and also for those who have the means to effect repairs. The point to this article mostly is to be aware that problems can and do exist, and don’t accept them, whichever direction you seek for the solution.

No matter how precisely a die maker produced the parts, there is and will be some gap in threaded pieces. This can disguise itself as a “die” problem, but it’s really not. It’s a set-up problem. I did an article a good while back here on a few ideas on improving tool/case alignment via some set-up tricks, and maybe that should be the next topic under the Reloaders Corner banner.

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

 

REVIEW: Remington RP9 Pistol

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After many, many years without a pistol of any kind, Remington has been increasingly turning out new handguns. And finally: a polymer striker-fired pistol. How good is it? Keep reading and find out…

RP9

Source: Shooting Illustrated, NRA by Duane A. Daiker

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

Since 2010, “Big Green” has been churning out new handguns, including various models of the 1911-style R1, the compact R51, and the pocket-size RM380, but also with some notable missteps along the way. Until recently, however, Remington was still missing a staple of modern handguns: the full-size, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9mm. Since the introduction of the Glock G17 in the 1980s, most of the major gun companies have been innovating by building upon this concept. As a result, the “Remington Polymer 9,” or RP9, enters a crowded market of similar pistols. So, the question: How does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition?

At first glance, the Remington RP9 appears pretty typical. The pistol has a striker-fired action with no external safety, other than the ubiquitous trigger-paddle safety. While polymer-framed guns are often described as ugly or lacking the soul of traditional steel-and-wood pistol designs, the Remington RP9’s smooth, rounded lines give it a distinctly European look. While opinions may differ on the Remington’s aesthetics, the Remington RP9 is definitely a recognizable and distinctive-looking pistol design.

RP9 details
(left) A section of Picatinny rail allows mounting weapon-lights and/or lasers. (center) While the author found the “R” on the grip a touch gaudy, the grip itself proved remarkably comfortable in testing. It also provides excellent ergonomics regardless of the shooter’s hand size. (right) Perhaps the greatest benefit of the RP9 compared with most competing models is the added capacity of its 18-round magazine.

Another differentiating factor with the Remington RP9 is its impressive 18+1-round capacity. The proprietary Remington magazines are slightly longer than typical 17-round magazines in similar guns, which explains the slight increase in capacity. I also appreciate the slightly longer grip frame to accommodate my large hands.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Remington RP9 is the impressive grip. This gun is designed to fit almost any hand. Small hands will appreciate the more rounded grip shape, which seems impossibly small for this full-size, double-stack handgun. Large hands will appreciate the lack of finger grooves, which never seem to fit anyone with bigger-than-average mitts, and the ability to install larger interchangeable backstraps. Each pistol comes with three backstraps, and almost everyone should be able to find a good fit.

RP9 features
(left) The slide- stop lever is small and somewhat difficult to actuate from a shooting grip. (center) The RP9’s trigger has a familiar paddle device for added safety and broke at a respectable 5.5 pounds. (right) In addition to the ergonomically-designed grip, three interchangeable backstraps ship with the RP9 as part of Remington’s goal to have the pistol fit the hands of 95 percent of shooters.

Shooters with smaller hands, in particular, will be very pleased. Aftermarket gunsmiths have created a whole industry of grinding polymer pistol grip frames, but this gun won’t likely need any such work. After passing the Remington RP9 around at the range, no one seemed to find the gun uncomfortable or ill-fitting, from the smallest woman I could find to the largest man.

Left-handed shooters are accommodated well: the magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters and the only other external operating control, the slide-stop lever, can be operated from either side of the frame without modification.

The three-white-dot fixed sights typical, but the rear sight features a flat “fighting surface” to permit one-handed racking of the slide in an emergency. This can be accomplished with a belt, shoe, or similar improvised surface. The factory sights are drift-adjustable in the dovetail, and easily replaced if white dots aren’t your preference.

RP9 sights
(left & center) Both the front and rear sights are dovetail-mounted to the slide and can be adjusted laterally. This also means they can be replaced with potential future aftermarket options. (right) The external extractor also serves as a tactile loaded-chamber indicator.

Disassembly is simple: aafter ensuring the gun is unloaded, employing a single takedown lever enables removal of the slide. From there, removal of the metal recoil guide rod, recoil spring, and barrel is easy. Field-stripping the pistol does require pulling the trigger, but that is pretty common for guns in this category. Use caution.

RP9 disassembly
Disassembly is simple and tool-free, though it does require a trigger pull.

Overall, the design and features of the RP9 are impressive. Remington has included all the features required for a modern, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol design. There is nothing particularly innovative, but there is really nothing missing either; the RP9 is a solid offering in a crowded market of similar pistols.

With any new design, the first question must always be: Does it work? Over the course of several weeks, I put more than 1,000 rounds through the RP9. To make the testing as thorough as possible, I shot a wide variety of factory ammunition, including 115-grain range loads, 115-grain hollow points, 124-grain hollow points, 124-grain +P hollow points, and 147-grain hollow points, along with an assortment of 115-grain commercially-reloaded ammo.

RP9 slide

The RP9 digested it all without a single hiccup. Its reliability was pleasantly boring and made testing easy. During one session the pistol digested more than 300 rounds in an hour, getting uncomfortably hot. Even with such high-volume shooting, there were no functional problems. In fact, the entire testing protocol was done with only a single quick cleaning right before accuracy testing.

The only functional issue encountered was a tendency for the pistol to fail to chamber the very first round of a magazine unless the slide was worked vigorously with the “slingshot” method. Simply pressing the minimalist slide-stop lever to close the slide and chamber a round would not work with all ammunition types. Most trainers would agree that the gross-motor movement of the slingshot method is a better gun-handling habit anyway, and the Remington’s slide-stop lever is a bit small to be reliable under stress, as is true of many modern pistols. With proper pistol technique, the slide-stop lever is rarely used under stress, so it is not a major concern.

Remington emphasizes the “shootability” of the Remington RP9. Frankly, I have always loved this term, but I was never convinced it was really a word, and, well, now I feel like I can get on the bandwagon. The RP9 pistol rates high in shootability for a number of reasons. A major factor is the relatively small and ergonomic grip. The trigger guard is undercut for a higher hand position, and the web of the hand is well protected from slide bite by a generous, integrated beavertail. As said, the Remington seems to fit a majority of people well, and a good fit makes accurate hits easier and makes recoil softer and more manageable.

RP9

Despite its reasonably sized grip, the Remington RP9 as a whole is on the large side, and carries plenty of weight. The size and weight help dampen perceived recoil; even the hottest loads are pleasant and manageable in the RP9.

Shootability is also a function of the trigger mechanism. The Remington RP9 has a middle-of-the-road trigger for a striker-fired gun — not the best, but definitely not the worst. It’s not as “mushy” as a standard Glock trigger, nor is it as crisp as an aftermarket job. The trigger itself has a wide face and minimal overtravel. The reset is a bit long for my taste, but it can certainly be felt (and heard if you’re dry-firing).

Assuming most people will use the Remington RP9 for personal defense, I focused my accuracy testing on self-defense ammunition. In particular, I was impressed with the Federal Personal Defense 124-grain +P JHP, and the SIG Sauer Elite Performance 124-grain V-Crown JHP. Both averaged better than 1,200 fps, with impressive accuracy at 25 yards. The RP9’s performance at the range was quite exemplary.

While the Remington RP9 is high on the “shootability” scale compared with other pistols in its category, its “concealability” is a different issue. Nothing about the RP9 pistol is small, so carrying concealed is more difficult, though it is similar to other duty-size guns. For most people, that means belt carry with a cover garment of some kind. If you want to carry a full-size service pistol, you will have to dress around the gun.

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

The Remington RP9 has an MSRP of $489, which makes the pistol $50 to $100 cheaper than a comparable Glock, Smith & Wesson, or Springfield Armory. Better yet, actual street prices can be considerably lower, with aggressive discounts and occasional factory rebates. At press time, reputable retailers were offering the RP9 handgun for less than $300 after rebates. While such prices may not be available all the time, the Remington is clearly going to be less expensive than most competing handguns.

Remington ships each pistol with two, 18-round, metal-body magazines and the usual accessories, including the obligatory cable lock. Given this price point, Remington packages the gun in a cardboard box as opposed to a lockable plastic box.

So, how does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition? Its quality and performance is similar to all of its most obvious competitors. There are a few factors that favor the RP9, like the accessible grip, and the 18-round magazines, but the Remington’s strongest appeal may be its price. For price-conscious shoppers, a new Remington RP9 with a lifetime warranty may be priced comparably to used guns from other manufacturers. While not necessarily innovative in any particular way, the newest Remington offers an outstanding value in a good quality pistol from a historic company.

RP9

RP9 specications

CHECK OUT THE REMINGTON RP9 HERE
Check out available ammo at Midsouth HERE

How Millennials Are Changing the Gun Industry

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This generation has very different motivations for and behaviors in disposing of their hard-earned cash to satisfy their wants, and this author says that the firearms industry needs to be prepared, or suffer… Read the reasons why.

millennials

SOURCE: NRAFamily.org, W.H. “Chip” Gross

Baby Boomers are those Americans born during the 20-year span from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s — some 76 million people — whose buying power and economic impact have influenced the firearms industry for decades. But things are changing. As the Boomers grow into retirement age and begin passing away, a new generation of Americans — Millennials — is beginning to make its presence felt in many ways, not the least of which is economically.

Not as clearly defined as Baby Boomers, Millennials are also known as “Generation Y,” and are typically described by demographers as those people born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, even stretching into the early 2000s. But no matter how they’re defined, Millennials are very different in behavior from their parents and grandparents, and those differences are rocking the firearms industry.

Rex Gore, owner of Black Wing Shooting Center near Delaware, Ohio, has studied that industry for 20 years. He’s used his knowledge to build Black Wing into a diverse, state-of-the-art, five-star rated shooting facility (as determined by the National Shooting Sports Foundation). And he has some definite thoughts about marketing to Millennials.

“Millennials like experiences,” said Gore. “They will spend money, but they’re not gun collectors as the Baby Boomers were. Instead, they like to have fun and create memories with their friends. They enjoy shooting, but most aren’t hunters.”

As a result of the influence of Millennials, Gore believes there is going to be a dynamic shift in the future of the shooting-sports industry, and those changes are beginning to be seen already.

“I’m continually telling my staff of 35 people that what has successfully gotten us where we are today is no guarantee that we will be successful down the road,” he said. “It’s no secret that Millennials want ‘black and tactical’ when it comes to firearms and accessories. But unlike Baby Boomers, they don’t care much what the brand name of the firearm is they’re buying as long as it will do the job. In other words, they want utilitarian, what works.”

As for what those trends will mean for the future of brick-and-mortar gun shops, Gore says it’s anyone’s guess.

“I’m constantly studying not only the firearms industry but retail sales in general, and Amazon’s approach has changed a lot of things. For instance, Amazon is now gearing up to enter the food industry. And when Kroger and Walmart are scared –they now control much of the grocery business in America today — you know something is set to happen.”

To make his point, Gore cited a company that didn’t listen to its customers and change with the times, and ultimately failed as a result: Blockbuster.

“Customers didn’t like having to take the time to go to a Blockbuster store to rent a video, then return it to the store when they were finished watching it,” he said. “Netflix and other such companies saw an opportunity and filled that niche. And where is Blockbuster today? Gone. I don’t want Black Wing Shooting Center to make the same mistake, so we are constantly asking our customers, particularly Millennials, what they want. And we’re listening and changing.”

One of the changes Gore is implementing is a transition in his gun sales department. “Millennials don’t want to be sold-to,” he said. “Earlier generations liked having a gun counter where firearms were displayed, and they enjoyed having a salesperson behind the counter explaining the good, better, best features of the various guns.

“Millennials aren’t like that. Because of growing up with the Internet and having a smart-phone in their hand from a young age, Millennials have likely done their research about a particular item before they even enter a gun store. So all they really want is help finding the particular firearm or accessory they’ve researched. In most cases, they already know what they want to buy.”

As a result, Gore believes, rather than future sales taking place across a traditional gun counter, the firearms industry is going to transition into what’s termed more “shoulder-to-shoulder” sales. Some gun stores have already eliminated sales counters altogether, replacing them with stand-alone displays or kiosks for displaying firearms. Salespeople then roam the sales floor, assisting customers. Not surprisingly, that same concept is used in cell-phone stores.

Gore also mentioned the selling of firearms accessories and the importance of having them priced right. “Unlike with firearms that must be sold through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer, Millennials are well aware that they don’t have to buy their accessories at a store,” he said. “For instance, if they believe an accessory is priced too high at a store, they will likely have that particular accessory ordered over the Internet using their smart-phone before they even get out the front door; and the item then arrives at their home the next day. That kind of buying power and technology is a challenge to compete against.”

Gore is also counting on the fact that he and other gun-store owners who have a shooting range associated with their stores have an advantage over those gun shops that don’t. “No matter where Millennials buy their firearms and accessories, they will still need a place to shoot,” he said. “Looking to the future, if I owned a brick-and-mortar gun shop that only sold firearms and didn’t have a range, I’d be looking for an exit strategy.”

Gore concluded his comments by sharing the philosophy that has made Black Wing so successful in the past. “We believe we’re in the recreation and entertainment business,” he said, “and we only sell product — firearms and accessories — as a result. That’s been Black Wing’s focus from the beginning. So knowing that Millennials like fun, exciting, memorable experiences, we believe we’re prepared to provide a place for those activities, and that we are well positioned to meet the shooting needs of this next generation of Americans well into the future.”

Only time will tell if Gore has guessed right. But he has an ace in the hole. His son, Mark, currently works as a manager at Black Wing and is expected to take over the helm of the business in a few years. And, yes, he’s a Millennial.

SKILLS: Riflescopes: Adjustments & Variable Power

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There’s a lot to learn to really understand riflescopes and make the best choice. Here’s another valuable lesson. Keep reading…

riflecope

SOURCE: NRA Staff

Windage and elevation adjustments in riflescopes are made with either internal or external adjustment systems. Here’s what that means.

Internal: Most modern telescopic sights have internal adjustment systems using threaded, cylindrical knobs or screws in the turrets. The adjustment screws move the reticle assembly in the optical axis inside the main tube against spring pressure. The adjustment screws have clearly marked graduations around their circumference and many have a ball-detent system that clicks as the adjustment screws are turned. Each graduation or click represents a change in reticle position that moves the bullet strike at the target. This is expressed in minutes of angle (m.o.a.) and normally has a value of 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 m.o.a. per click.

External: Many older scopes have an external-adjustment system built into the mounts and rings. Such scopes remain popular today for certain types of target competition. In this type of scope, the reticle remains stationary within the main tube and the point of the bullet strike is adjusted by mounts having micrometer windage and elevation mechanisms that move the entire scope laterally and/or vertically. These mounts often allow the scope to slide fore and aft to reduce recoil. An advantage of external-adjustment scopes is that the user is always sighting through the optical center of the tube.

As internal-adjustment systems became more reliable and more accurate, the popularity of external-adjustment scopes faded. Today, external-adjustment models are still offered, however the use of such scopes is now generally limited to a few specialized disciplines of rifle competition.

It is important to note that some scope-mounting systems designed for internal-adjustment scopes still incorporate the ability to accommodate some coarse external windage adjustment.

This leads us to the discussion of variable power. Variable-power riflescopes have an internal mechanism to change the amount of magnification within design limits. This consists of an additional set of lenses mounted in an internal tube that slides forward and rearward under the control of a cam attached to the magnification ring. The design of the lens system and its position in the tube controls the amount of magnification.

The popularity of variable-power riflescopes rests squarely on their flexibility. Variable magnification enables the shooter to adjsut the power to suit a wide variety of conditions ranging from lower power (with a wide field of view for fast shots at close range), to higher power (for greater precision at long range). Once considered expensive and unreliable, variable-power riflescopes have become the most popular type as their design has matured and prices have dropped. Todya, the single most popular riflescope is the 3-9X-40mm, which has become a kind of “jack of all trades.” Smaller variables such as 2-7X-32mm remain popular for smaller-caliber rifles, while 4.5-12X-50mm and bigger models are favored for long-range shooting. Despite their flexibility, no one variable fits all applications and that is why there are so many different models.

Despite their popularity, variable-power riflescopes may suffer from certain drawbacks:
ONE: The variable magnification system introduces another level of mechanical complexity and another source for optical error, potentially decreasing reliability.

TWO: The movement of the internal components of a variable-power scope can produce changes in zero as the scope power is increased or decreased.

THREE: Variable-power scopes are harder to seal than fixed-power scopes by virtue of the magnification-adjustment ring.
As the magnification increases, the field of view and image brightness decrease, often substantially.

FOUR: Variable-magnification scopes are substantially heavier than fixed-power scopes.

FIVE: Variable-power scopes are more expensive than fixed-power scopes.

5 Things to Watch Out For in the Dark Woods

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Paying attention and keeping your cool when out hunting before sunup is key to anyone’s success, and safety. Here are a few thoughts on a few things to avoid…

hunting in darkness
Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

by Jeff Johnston

ONE: Sticks and Pitfalls
The most dangerous thing you can do in the woods is to become so nervous that you get tunnel vision and begin “crashing through the woods.” If you do this, you may not notice a rock, a hole, or a steep ravine in your path. One of the common dangers while walking to your stand is to get a stick in your eye. Use a flashlight or wear a headlamp.

TWO: Your Gun or Bow
Make sure your rifle is unloaded and your broadheads are secured and covered while you walk in the dark. The chances of having to use your gun or bow in the dark are not nearly as high as the dangers of tripping with a loaded gun or exposed broadheads. Do not load your gun until you are safely in your stand with your safety belt affixed.

THREE: Tree Stands
Always make sure your tree stand is in good condition before using it. If you notice a loose step or something weird, wait until it gets light to climb and fix the problem, if you can. Never climb if the tree is icy. Always keep your gun unloaded and use a rope to pull your gun or bow up into the tree after you are seated safely with a safety harness attached.

FOUR: Streams
Never take a chance on crossing a deep or iced-over stream in the dark. If it is deep or swift-moving, find a new way to get to your stand in the daytime.

FIVE: Wild Animals
Most people who have been lost in the woods report “wild animals” as their biggest fear. Most of these people, however, never see these animals or come into contact with them because the real problem is their imagination. Sure, animals are in the woods, but they almost always avoid humans. If you are in known bear country, you should be aware of that fact, but coyotes, deer, bobcats, pigs and other animals are not to be feared. If you are in snake country, like South Texas, always use a flashlight to walk to your stand, and consider getting snakeproof boots for peace of mind. Realize that snakes can sense large predators and almost always slither off before hunters see them.

To control fear of animals, adjust your attitude. Instead of hustling to your stand, assure yourself that you, with your gun and your wits, are by far the scariest thing in the woods. You are the top of the food chain, the ultimate predator, and you should act like one. Slip quietly to your stand like you are hunting it. You will be less fearful, and you will see more animals once you get there. If you do see an animal, your best bet is to keep walking to your stand. If you have to, speak out loud. It will almost certainly run off.

Ultimate Reloader: Gavin’s First PRS Match

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Ultimate reloader first precision rifle series
Gavin goes prone!

Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Experience

By: Ultimate Reloader

For a long time I’ve talked with friends about trying out a PRS-style match. Life has been busy, but when the right opportunity came, I decided to give it a try. My friend and shooting partner Jim Findlay offered to help me prepare, and told me it would be “fun to shoot gas guns together”. I decided I would shoot an AR-15, and thought that would be an ideal opportunity to try something new: the 22 Nosler. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting myself into, but that’s typically the way things happen when you’re really trying something new. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about shooting. I also made some great connections and friends during the match. If you are at all interested in PRS (Precision Rifle Series, or just Precision Rifle in general) I would suggest you enter and compete in a match. You most likely won’t regret it.

In this post, I’ll talk about preparing for the match, and the experience of competing in the match. In a follow-up post, I’ll go into more detail on the gear we used, and some of the gear we’d like to try in the future. So stay tuned for that!

Preparing For the Match

There were a few things to take care of before I started practicing with Jim in earnest for the match. I decided on the rifle platform I’d be shooting: it would be the AR-MPR AR-15 rifle, but with a 22 Nosler Upper. While I was waiting for the upper and components to arrive, I started practicing with 5.56 ammunition that I thought would be close to what I’d be shooting with 22 Nosler. I signed up for the match and paid my entry fee, and then downloaded the Practiscore Match App.

Practiscore is great, because you can read about each of the stages in order to prepare for each activity within the match. Here’s an example from the match I participated in:

After reading up on the match, it was time to create a game plan with Jim, and start practicing!

Practicing For the Match

Jim and I spent quite a few range trips preparing for the match, and I did quite a bit of practice up at my place, the “Ultimate Reloader Outpost”. First up was to sort out our gear, and get on target- we started at 600 yards. As I mentioned, this initial practice was performed with a .223/5.56 AR-15 configuration. With distances going out to 700 yards on match day, I chose to load 77 grain bullets for practice in 5.56 cases. At our 600 yard practice distance, these rounds did fine, but I wasn’t as confident about going out to 700 yards as they were getting into the trans-sonic zone.

Enter the 22 Nosler. The added velocity provided by this new cartridge combined with the extreme performance of the 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets I decided to use were a great combination. Here are the first shots I fired at 600 yards after the 100 yard sight-in and testing (see bottom group on target). The first round fired at 600 yards was on-target thanks to the G7 BC supplied by Nosler and Shooter App dope I had calculated. That’s a great feeling!

During our practice sessions, Jim and I focused on prone shooting, barricade shooting, and even shooting at a moving target at almost 600 yards. It was a lot of fun, but 90 seconds (the allowed time for each stage) was proving to go *very* quickly. Would I be ready on range day? I couldn’t wait to find out. Here we have Jim (far) and myself (near) shooting at 400 yards in preparation for one of the stages:

Match Day

On match day, I was fortunate to have friends Eric Peterson and Carl Skerlong running the camera and drone respectively. That meant I could focus on the shooting stages, and final preparations. I had printed out the courses of fire, had printed a dope card and zip tied it to my rifle, had dialed in the shooter app, and had all of my gear ready to go.

Overall, the match was more fun and more laid back than I thought it would be. The guys in our squad were all really helpful, and even loaned me gear to try out when they noticed my gear wasn’t right for a particular shooting activity. One such case was when Ken Gustafson (of KYL Gear) offered to loan me one of the bags he had made. Below you can see me shooting off the infamous unstable tippy tank trap with a KYL Gear bag, and I’ll have to say- it was amazing. It helped me lock down my rifle and get on target. What a great feeling!

I did run into some trouble- I had loaded my 22 Nosler rounds to max charge weight with Varget powder and experienced some failure to feed issues during the match. Initially I thought my bolt needed more lubrication, but after the match I discovered pressure signs on the rounds I had fired to investigate what went wrong. While I didn’t have malfunctions in practice, the match day was between 96 F and 100 F at the hottest part of the day- the same time I experienced issues. I was over pressure! I switched to a slower powder after that discovery (H-380) and found 22 Nosler to run perfectly (and at higher velocity), even in similar temperatures. I learned that you have to test everything you plan to use on match day, and take into account things like weather conditions as well. I also had my bipod fly off the rifle while shooting off a barricade- but continued with the stage and did alright. Even with these challenges, I kept on “giving it my best”, and I still had a ton of fun.

Summary

PRS is all about pushing your rifle skills to edge. You may have to hit targets at four different distances in 90 seconds- and dial in your dope between each shot. These kinds of challenges are super-difficult, but with enough experience and practice, it’s amazing what you can do. I saw guys that were so smooth, steady, fast, and accurate, it was mind blowing! It doesn’t come easy, and the guys at the top of the heap are super-dedicated. One such guy named Sheldon Nalos (in my squad) told me about how he dry fired off scale replicas he made of the T-Post Fox Hunt stage- practicing again and again until he was confident he was ready.

I don’t have the goal to be at the top of the heap within the PRS community, but I do think I’ll compete in more matches- they are super fun to experience, and the friends you’ll make may just last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts of trying PRS, I say “do it”! Stay tuned, because in my next post, I’ll talk about the PRS gear I used (and wanted) and then after that it’s time to go deep into 22 Nosler.

Thanks,
Gavin