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  • October 29, 2007

    Why the .270 Win. and 7mm Rem. Mag. Are Not Created Equal-17

    by

    Some say that sons spend half their lives compensating for the sins of their fathers, and if that’s true then my 6-year-old Merlin will be nine before he gets over this year’s deer opener.

    Merlin had begged me to take him hunting, and we had a great time, camping in the back of my pickup way out in the Montana prairie the night before opening day, looking at the vivid stars in the morning as we cooked cocoa on the camp stove. We planned to walk about a mile in the dark to a knoll where we could put the wind in our faces and wait for other hunters to push mule deer to us.

    I blame what happened next at least partly on Merlin. I was so mindful of his comfort – making sure he was warm enough and that we had enough snacks – that my hunting gear was almost an afterthought. I normally rack a round into the chamber when I’m hunting by myself, but because I was hunting with my boy I loaded three shells in the magazine of my Savage .270 and left the chamber empty. I wondered momentarily why only three, and not the customary four, shells fit in the magazine of the Model 111, but we were in a race with the sun so I slipped another couple of shells in my pockets and started hiking, encouraging Merlin to step lightly through the cactus flats.

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  • October 27, 2007

    Top Guns: Counter Snipers-0

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    Think you got what it takes to compete with some of the best shots in the country? Well, before you puff up like a peacock and say “you bet I do!” consider what it really takes to be a top gun. The FNH USA/Leupold Long Range Precision Competition, held annually at Ft. Meade, Maryland, in June, is designed to demonstrate the dedication, teamwork and marksmanship required to compete at this level. Scott Engen, who works for FNH, wrote a fascinating account of the competition, a portion of which is excerpted below. Sniperday46

    “Many counter-sniper matches are primarily a test of marksmanship skills. It’s mostly hold ‘em and squeeze ‘em while wearing camo BDUs or a ghillie suit. By contrast, the FNH USA Leupold Long-Range Precision Competition rigorously tests the complete counter-sniper in a team event format. In addition to basic marksmanship, the competition measures the team's skills in range estimation, observation and physical fitness.

    “So who are the top guns in the counter-sniper community? In June, 23 of the best counter-sniper teams from several branches of the U.S. military as well as numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation were invited to go head to head and muzzle to muzzle to find out. For five grueling days under a blazing Maryland summer sun each of these teams was pushed to the limit, both physically and mentally.”
    If this is your idea of fun, consider the following:

     

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  • October 26, 2007

    Winchester Model 70 Redux-3

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    Guns When Winchester shut down it’s New Haven plant a year and a half ago it spelled the end of two iconic firearms, the Model 94 and the “Rifleman’s Rifle,” the Model 70.

    Since that day, there has been massive speculation about when (not really if) those two firearms would come back into production.

    As of today, the Winchester Model 70 is back and the biggest news is that it is being made in the United States—not overseas as many had prognosticated—in a factory down in Columbia, South Carolina that makes machine guns and sniper rifles for the military. I got to spend a day at the range with the new Model 70 at its unveiling and came away with the following impressions:

    New Trigger
    The most notable feature on the new Model 70 is its new trigger, one that is adjustable down to 3 pounds, though the triggers will come preset from the factory with a 3 3/4 pound pull. (If a heavier trigger pull is your thing you can set it to break up to a maximum of 5 pounds.)

    The trigger itself is a simple thing, incorporating just three pieces. Winchester calls the trigger the M.O.A., rightly linking the need for a good performing rifle to have a good trigger, which the M.O.A. certainly is. Trigger_rev

    As the illustration shows, the actual trigger, called the “trigger piece” by Winchester, is a lever that bears against a pivot—or “actuator”—that supports the sear, which in turn retains the firing pin. As the trigger pushes against the actuator, the actuator moves out of engagement with the sear. The sear then drops, allowing the firing pin to travel forward. Simple.

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  • October 25, 2007

    Field Report: Zeiss Diarange 2.5-10X50-16

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    Caribou generally don’t require a lot of gun. They are very accommodating when it comes to dying when shot with just about any caliber you like. But there are lots of shooting situations where they require plenty of scope. They are creatures of open ground and they live in places where when the weather turns nasty, it’s nasty. Under these conditions you want to be able to see clear and see far. Bou_3   

    Now the scope on this rifle is not cheap. In fact it is the opposite of cheap. It is worth more than the GDP of many third-world countries. It is the Zeiss Victory Diarange 2.5-10X50, which was introduced this year, and will set you back about $4,200 should you choose to purchase one. And--here’s the scary part--it is probably worth it.

    The hunter pictured is Shannon Jackson, who handles public relations for Zeiss. Her shot on this caribou happened to be pretty easy—she took it with her Savage at about 80 yards with a 130-grain Federal Powershok Soft Point in .270 Win.

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  • October 24, 2007

    Badge of Honor?-9

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    I was at the range the other day, mounting a scope on a rifle, when I started talking to a deer hunter next to me about eye relief. It didn’t take long for us to start trading stories about eyebrow cuts. He told me that years ago he inherited his grandfather’s Model 37 equipped with a scope that had only three inches of eye relief.

    Obviously, his grandfather knew how to use it, but the first time this guy shot the gun--at that time he used only iron sights on his slug gun--the scope slammed into his eyebrow and opened up a nasty cut. Did he get any sympathy from his deer camp buddies? Nope. Just peals of laughter.

    Years ago I was trying to fit a bargain-basement scope onto a new .270. No matter how much I fiddled with it, the scope didn’t quite provide enough eye relief. But because I didn’t want to spend any more money--or admit I bought the wrong scope--I pronounced the fit correct and pulled the trigger. Next thing I know, blood is pouring down my face. But did I call it a day? No. I decided I was going to make that scope fit. I fiddled with it some more…and took another shot. That opened up a second crescent-shaped cut on my eyebrow.

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  • October 23, 2007

    Trigger Man-8

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    The “psycho in the woods” is one of the most enduring (and clichéd) movie plot devices employed by Hollywood. Usually the people who meet Mr. Psycho are in the act of transgressing against societal norms (the college-boy term for behaving badly) when the chainsaw gets fired up—teenagers indulging in drink and nudity is a favorite. This is why once you look beyond the blood and gore most horror flicks are really just prissy morality tales. Serves the little sex maniacs right. (Cue the wood chipper.)

    Well, this formula is being applied to hunters this time in the film Trigger Man, which claims to be based on true events. Now I haven’t seen the film yet, which is in limited release, and I’m not sure I will, though it is getting some good reviews.

    A synopsis of the plot says it is the story of three old friends from New York City who travel down to Wilmington Delaware (at 7:04 a.m. to be exact) for “a day long hunting (sic) excursion.” During the trip, “the hunters become the hunted.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 23, 2007

    Deer Rifle Accuracy Tips-6

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    I was exchanging e-mails the other day with Chris Ellis, who does p.r. for Timney Triggers. I’ve hunted with Chris, and during lunch breaks we often ended up talking about accuracy. Given that deer season will soon kick into high gear around the country I’d like to offer you his thoughts on deer rifle accuracy.

    “1. Make sure the scope bases and rings are tight. I’ve seen shooters blame the scope, the rifle, or the ammo for poor shooting when, in fact, a loose mount was the culprit. If the scope moves during recoil or shifts while you travel in a truck, plane or ATV, the point of impact will shift. And that causes a miss. This just might be the most overlooked part of the accuracy equation, but it’s the simplest to check.

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  • October 22, 2007

    Write Your Own Gun Law!-48

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    Today’s challenge is to come up with ideas for “reasonable” gun control. We know that anti-gunners are always braying about the need for “reasonable” restrictions on our firearms in order to create a crime-free society. Restrictions like getting rid of those nasty barrel shrouds, those nasty .50 caliber projectiles, those nasty Saturday Night Specials, those nasty…well, you get the point.

    The inspiration for this exercise is this post over at Of Arms & The Law about the alarm over the muzzleloader “loophole” in New York State.

    Here are my two suggestions:

    In the spirit of recent news out of California, I vote for mandatory micro-stamping on all bullet molds. You know, to track crooks who like to “roll their own.” (Lee Precision, I’m putting you on notice!)

    My other proposal is for mandatory tattooing of all gun owners. This law would require that we put the serial numbers of all our guns on our forearms. This regulation should appeal to history buffs.

    What other “reasonable” gun laws should we put on the books? Your turn.

    John Snow

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  • October 21, 2007

    A Return to Single Shots-2

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    My first rifle was my grandfather’s Remington Model 510 Targetmaster, as plain and perfect a gun as a 10-year-old could want or deserve. Though I later corrupted it by crudely mounting a $15 scope on its slim receiver, it had all the elements of a first gun: reliable, simple and capable of holding only one precious round.

    That gun taught me about restraint, about judging distance and making a single shot count on squirrels, rabbits, dirt clods and tin cans.

    This fall I’ve reconnected with my single-shot tradition, hunting with one-shot rifles on a pair of antelope hunts. While firepower can be an asset on any big-game hunt, I really didn’t need a backup round. A missed first shot on a West Texas pronghorn didn’t flare the buck, and I was able to slip another .308 cartridge into the chamber of the Merkel K1 and drop him at more than 300 yards.

    Then last week I killed a dandy Montana antelope (pictured) with a single 85-yard shot from my Ruger Number 1 in .243.Mckeanlope

    Both guns are elegant pieces of work and while the Number 1 has nearly two pounds on the Merkel, both are light enough to carry all day over the prairie and nimble enough to facilitate belly crawling for the final stalk.

    But why a single shot?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 20, 2007

    CA Gov. Signs Bullet Ban to Protect Condors-4

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    Last month I wrote about a bill that had been placed before Governor Schwarzenegger of California mandating that hunters must use non-toxic bullets when hunting in areas inhabited by condors. Now, it’s reported that Governor Schwarzenegger has signed the bill.

    According to Safari Club International, “The law, called the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act (introduced by Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara), usurps some of the authority of the State Fish and Game Commission to regulate hunting in the State. The purported purpose of the Act is to protect endangered condors from lead ingestion. The Act mandates non-lead ammunition for big-game and coyote hunting in condor range. The Act defines condor range in an overbroad fashion using deer zones and highways in an area of south and central California.”

    But worse than the very broad range this act effects is that it “requires completely lead-free ammunition, which does not currently exist, according to testimony given to the Commission.” By the way, according to SCI, “violations of the Act can result in fines of up to $5,000.”

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