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  • March 28, 2008

    Lead-in-meat ‘study’ unnecessarily alarmist-15


    As much as it sounds like an April Fool’s gag, the news this week from North Dakota was serious as a funeral. Or medical malpractice.

    The Associated Press reports that a North Dakota dermatologist and self-described “long-time hunter” found microscopic lead fragments in about 60 percent of the packages of ground venison he collected from local food pantries.

    The story quotes the Bismarck dermatologist, Dr. William Cornatzer, as describing the fragments as “lead dust” and recommends that meat from deer shot with high-velocity lead bullets not be eaten.

    State health officials subsequently told food pantries that received venison through the Sportsmen Against Hunter program to throw out the donated meat because of its alleged health implications.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 26, 2008

    Divided House-3


    As we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the handgun ban in Washington, D.C, Second Amendment proponents are hopeful that the court will strike a blow for the Second Amendment. But even if the Supreme Court does rule that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to bear arms, don’t expect the issue to go away. Many legal experts expect the ruling—whichever way it goes—to be so narrowly focused that it will only foment more debate, more division and more legislation.

    One of the more interesting articles I’ve read on what’s going on comes from the monthly newsletter of the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers. What struck me was that the current administration, which has been very gun-friendly is, on this issue, a house divided against itself.  See for yourself.

    “Pro-gun scholar John Lott notes that whatever the court decides, no one expects the decision to end gun control or the gun control debate. If the D.C. ban is upheld by the court, it is unlikely that any gun regulation around the country will ever be struck down on Constitutional grounds. If the court strikes the D.C. law, where the courts draw the line on what laws are considered ‘reasonable’ regulations will take years to sort out.

    “The District of Columbia has made essentially a simple argument in their case: ‘banning handguns saves lives.’

    “Lott points out that the Department of Justice has actually sided with the District in certain important parts of the case, as Solicitor General Paul Clement will argue that an ‘unquestionable threat to public safety’ from unregulated guns requires a lower standard must be adopted in defending the right than is used to defend the rest of the Bill of Rights.

    “The DOJ constitutional argument is similar to that of the District’s. It argues, incorrectly, that since the government ‘bans’ machine guns, it should also be able to ban handguns. And they claim that D.C. residents still retain a right to self-defense because the city doesn't ban locked shotguns and rifles.

    “One problem with the DOJ argument is that the federal government does not ‘ban’ machine guns, it severely regulates them but they can, of course, still be possessed under federal law. The other problem with the DOJ’s arguments is that long guns become illegal as soon as they are unlocked or assembled. This means that the District can prosecute anyone who uses a rifle or shotgun in self-defense--even if it was kept locked before the incident causing its use.

    “What underlies the DOJ arguments, of course is government retaining its power, i.e. the DOJ would lose regulatory power if the ban were struck down. As the DOJ lawyers note in the brief, striking down this ban could ‘cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation.’

    “Meanwhile, for the first time in U.S. history, an administration has provided conflicting briefs to the Supreme Court. Vice President Dick Cheney, as president of the Senate, has signed onto a Congressional friend of the court brief in support of the individual rights view of the Second Amendment. The brief, signed by 55 members of the U.S. Senate and 250 members of the U.S. House, has the largest number of co-signers for a congressional amicus brief in history.”

    So, our own government would like the ruling to go against us because it’s afraid of losing power?

    —Slaton White

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 24, 2008

    Elk Hunt Check List-4


    I’m one of those people who are forever hurrying to pack—usually the night before I’m supposed to be some place. Last elk season, an outfitter friend sent me this handy checklist, which I have tweaked a little. I keep it on my computer so it’s easy to print out a clean list each time I go someplace. Might even be a good idea to tape one up inside your closet.

    Todd Smith


    2 boxes of cartridges
    Spotting scope

    Small day pack or fanny pack


    Rain gear

    Small canteen or plastic bottle that fits in pocket, belt, or pack

    Waterproof matches, lighter, fire-starting materials

    Camera and extra batteries

    Sleeping bag -20 degree rated recommended

    Chap stick

    Good flashlight and head lamp, extra batteries

    Hunting license




    Personal kit, soap, shampoo, toiletries, prescriptions

    Wash cloth

    Small towel


    Warm long underwear

    2 wool shirts

    2 light shirts

    1 wool pants

    2 light pants

    2 pair heavy socks

    4 pair light wicking socks

    1 pair warm pack boots

    1 pair waterproof hiking boots

    Warm hat

    Liner gloves

    Heavier outer gloves/or mittens

    1 light coat, fleece, and vest

    1 warm coat and/or coveralls

    Fluorescent orange vest and hat

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 19, 2008

    True Grit-3


    Years ago on a Texas dove hunt I shared a spot with a competitive trap shooter. When I asked how he handled the pressure of an event, he said, “When I get to the line, my blood turns to ice water. I’m cool, I’m calm. Nothing bothers me.”

    I’ve yet to reach that stage. I’m not sure I ever will. That kind of focus, that kind of intensity, is the hallmark of a great athlete. In competition my biggest enemy is…me. And even though I know you’re not supposed to worry about misses and focus only on the bird before you, the mind under duress can play truly evil games.

    Here’s just one example. A friend of mine got to the last station in a Sporting Clays event and found he was leading the field. He said to himself, ”This is an easy station. I got this thing won.” Whereupon he promptly dropped eight out of ten and lost.

    All this came to mind when I heard that Olympic champion Kim Rhode just qualified for the USA Olympic shooting team in International Skeet. It was a nerve-wracking ordeal, and Rhode won by a single target. To seal the win, she had, under enormous pressure, to break her final two targets. That in itself is a major accomplishment. But consider this: International Skeet really isn’t her game. She took the gold medal in Women’s Trap Doubles at the 2004 Olympics, an event that was dropped after the games ended.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 17, 2008

    A Hunter’s Story-8


    Scott In June 1995, Captain Scott O’Grady, piloting an F-16 as a member of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, was hit by enemy fire while on patrol over the “No-Fly Zone.” His plane went down, setting the stage for an extraordinary story of courage and faith. For six terrifying days and nights, O'Grady eluded an array of Serbian patrols who desperately wanted to find him. Relying on his survival training and his deep religious faith, and fighting hypothermia, immersion foot (trench foot) and exhaustion, O'Grady hid from his would-be captors. He was finally able to make contact with U.S. forces and was rescued by an elite U.S. Marine expeditionary unit. To this day, O'Grady credits his "brothers in arms" with saving his life.

    Since his dramatic rescue and return to the United States, O'Grady has authored a best-selling book entitled Return with Honor and has become a leading inspirational speaker and media spokesperson. O'Grady has appeared on numerous network cable television news programs and has utilized his celebrity to benefit a number of charities (especially children's groups such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the Special Olympics and the Make a Wish Foundation). He has just received his Master of Theology degree from the Dallas Theological Seminary.

    He was in New York City recently, where is has joined the “We Are Ellis island” campaign to rehabilitate the famous island’s buildings and grounds. As a lifelong outdoorsman, he wanted to see the offices of Outdoor Life.

    O’Grady was born in Brooklyn, New York. But from age nine he lived in Spokane, Washington, where he hunted pheasants, chukars, grouse, duck and geese as well as varmints.

    He credits his military training, as well as the collective experiences growing up hunting and camping, for helping survive his ordeal in Bosnia.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 17, 2008

    Supreme Court and the Second Amendment-3


    This might be a historic week for gun rights advocates as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the D.C. gun ban case. In the event you haven’t been following the news, the Washington Post had a summary of the issue in yesterday’s paper that is worth a look.

    For my part, I’m going to vigorously exercise my 2A rights by sending a lot of lead downrange today. I’m up in New Hampshire (Live Free Or Die: Does any state have a better motto?) at the Sig Academy.

    I’ll be running through a carbine class getting some trigger time with the Sig 556. I also plan on putting the new Sig P250 through its paces. Look for full reports here in the coming days. All in all, hard to imagine a better way to start the week.

    —John Snow

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 14, 2008

    Taking Stock-0


    Rugerbullbarrel Here’s something for fans of Ruger’s popular 10/22 semi-auto .22.  Last year S&K Gunstocks (which for years has supplied stocks for several mass market rifle manufacturers) launched its own Ultra Walnut replacement gunstocks. The Ruger 10/22 stocks sold so well that this year is adding a stock to fit 10/22s with bull barrels.  The new stock is the same as the sporter barrel model--except for a wider and deeper barrel channel to accommodate the larger-dimension target barrel.

    Because newer 10/22 models have only one take-down screw, the Ultra Walnut bull barrel stock has been engineered and machined for a secure fit. Like all Ultra Walnut stocks, it is drop-in ready with no semi-inletting or gunsmithing required. It also features 18 lpi checkering patterns on the grip and forend panels.

    Each Ultra Walnut rifle stock is made of two blanks of hand-selected high-grade walnut sandwiched around two carbon fiber splines with a center mahogany spacer. The carbon fiber, which is eight times the tensile strength of steel, gives the hardwood stock greater strength and durability.

    The Ultra Walnut bull barrel stock is available in fancy ($300) and extra fancy grade ($400). The stocks also are available with satin or high-gloss finish. (

    –Slaton White

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 13, 2008

    Who--or What--is FNH?-2


    08_psr_i_blackRick DeMilt is a man on a mission. As senior vice president of sales and marketing at FNH USA, he wants to raise the profile of this firearms manufacturer.

    “Who is FN?” he asked, in a commanding voice at a recent FNH seminar. “Too many people have no clue what we are! The fact is, we supply seventy percent of the U. S. military’s small arms, including the M240, M249 SAW, and M16; we have a manufacturing facility on U.S. soil in Columbia, South Carolina; and Browning and Winchester are part of the FN Herstal group.”

    Soon, everyone will know what FNH USA has to offer, if this industry veteran has his way. As DeMilt notes, for more than 100 years Belgium-based FN Herstal has made acclaimed high-performance firearms for a worldwide market. The U.S. arm, FNH USA, opened its doors here in 1998. “Since then, we’ve offered a wide spectrum of innovative, versatile, value-packed, high-quality firearms.”
    “We know our customers love our product,” he says, “but we haven’t done enough to really get the FN name out there.” He intends to fix that with a new ad campaign designed to educate shooters to what FN does so well.

    And what FN USA does well, according to DeMilt, is build quality firearms. “I don’t care about cost; I care about quality and ultimately, performance. And when you buy FN, you get both.”

    He believes that too much attention to cost-containment measures is hurting many firearms manufacturers. “It’s just one of the root causes that forced USRAC [United States Repeating Arms Company, a company that produced Winchester-brand firearms under license] to finally close its doors,” he said. “When you drive seventy percent of the market to a big box discount store, then that is where your market will forever lie. You don’t do that! All that does is ensure products of lower quality and limited durability: The brand will suffer, erode and eventually fail. And it did.”

    Though he acknowledges that handguns and black rifles are where the money is today, he also believes you can’t rely on law enforcement sales only. “I always felt commercializing the line was essential to advancing to the next level in market share. We needed a brand new line of FN rifles in calibers for precision shooting applications. Guess what? We now have them, and we’re seeing the results.”

    As an example, DeMilt holds up the SPR rifle. “This is not a hunting rifle per se; it’s a precision shooting rifle.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 12, 2008

    Interested in Gunsmithing? Brownells Can Help-2


    When I was a kid, the most eagerly awaited catalog in my house was the Sears Christmas toy catalog. I would drool over the toy soldier and train sets…as well as The Great Garloo. These days, the drooling begins with the arrival of the Brownell’s catalog. The one on my desk right now weighs in at 500 pages, and it’s chock full tools, accessories and “must-have” doo-dads for die-hard shooters.

    Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the Brownell family. Like so many other folks in the shooting sports industry, they constantly look for a ways to give back to the industry and their community. 

    Given that so much of the catalog space is devoted to gunsmithing tools and accessories, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Brownells wonder where the next generation of gunsmiths will come from. We know this: they won’t just materialize out of thin air, and most public schools don’t exactly encourage this line of work.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 12, 2008

    Gun Test-1


    I just returned from our annual Outdoor Life gun test last week. As usual, we gathered at Jim Carmichel’s where, for nearly a week, our team of experts tested all of the latest rifles and shotguns. We have a very dedicated team of shooters, whose credentials, be they riflemen or shotgunners, are truly impressive. Everyone there really knows his stuff, which is why I feel our gun test is the most comprehensive (and honest) out there. (But I’m not biased.)

    Two things struck me about this year’s test. First, just how cold it can get in Tennessee. Conditions our first day on the range was cool and breezy, but at least the sun was out. By day 2, however, heavy rains had set in and temperatures plummeted. By day 3 we were dealing with near-blizzard conditions as winds whipped up snow squalls. Looking through a riflescope reminded me of gazing into one of those snow globes you shake up and watch as the flakes swirl around inside.

    Despite the conditions, we managed to get some very good groups shot over the course of several days. What struck me was just how good factory guns (even the less expensive ones) have become and just how good factory ammo is.

    Lots more to come in the next few weeks. John Snow and I shot a batch of 30-second gun reviews on video, which we’ll post here shortly. And the entire test will appear in our June/July issue. So stay tuned.

    Todd Smith

    [ Read Full Post ]
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