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  • July 16, 2008

    Ruger SR9 Recall Update-13


    This just in from Ruger:


    More info here.

    —John Snow

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  • July 15, 2008

    Massachusetts Gun Owners Under Fire-9


    It's like a game of anti-gun one-upmanship. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, perhaps inspired by Washington D.C.'s gun-hating mayor, has announced that if he can't take away his citizens' firearms that he sure as hell is going to make them pay dearly to own them. This is from a bulletin put out by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF):

    On Sunday, July 13, the governor filed a special budget appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008. The bill calls for increasing the licensing fee for Massachusetts firearms dealers – a move that could ultimately force many of the state’s retailers out of business. The proposed fee change would increase a three-year license from $100 to $450.

    The governor is also proposing to increase license-to-carry fees on law-abiding citizens, both resident and non-resident. The license fee for residents will go from $100 for 6 years to $200, while the non-resident license will balloon to $250 a year from $100.

    “Governor Patrick feels he can now try to supplement the budget deficit on the backs of small mom-and-pop businesses and law-abiding gun owners,” said NSSF Director of Government Relations Jake McGuigan. “Clearly, the goal of this administration is to further restrict the rights of its citizens and businesses through a hefty Second Amendment tax.”

    Sadly, you can't say this comes as a surprise.

    The NSSF is urging all "Massachusetts sportsmen, hunters, firearms enthusiasts and retailers" to contact their local representatives and senators. In addition, nonresidents can call 617-725-4005 to voice their concerns.

    —John Snow

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  • July 15, 2008

    Thanks For Nothing Mayor Fenty-5


    Washington D.C.'s politicos haven't quite embraced the meaning of the Second Amendment even in the post-Heller era.

    Proposed legislation is laughable for how restrictive it is. My favorite:

    Firearms in the home must be stored unloaded and disassembled, and
    secured with either a trigger lock, gun safe, or similar device. The
    new law will allow an exception for a firearm while it is being used against an intruder in the home.

    Gee, thanks.

    —John Snow

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  • July 13, 2008

    A Cop’s Views On Concealed Carry-9


    Cowtown Cop, who as far as I can tell just started blogging, offers his perspective, as a law-enforcement officer, on concealed carry permits. His verdict? He says during the course of a traffic stop when someone handed over his or her CCW permit his feeling was one of relief.

    Imagine the relief when the driver hands you a drivers license and a CCW permit. Those two things tell you a lot about a person. One, I can know for certain who this person is and two, this person has subjected themselves to a criminal background check and the State has said yes, we trust you with a concealed weapon. This is probably not a bad guy here.

    He also reinforces the common-sense notion, which rarely seems to occur to anti-gun folks, that the only person who can protect you, is you—and not the police. 

    Don't let anyone tell you that the police are responsible for your safety because that simply is not true. When I started in law enforcement we averaged about 1 officer for every 1200 citizens. Now that number is more like 1 officer for every 1500. Can you ensure the safety of 1500 people? Neither can I. Also remember that of those 1500 people that need protection a significant number of them are criminals who will not cooperate with you and will actively try to harm the others.

    Worth remembering.

    —John Snow

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  • July 10, 2008

    An Inside Look At The Army Marksmanship Unit-3


    The Army Marksmanship Unit has a fascinating history. It was started in 1956 as a way to counter Soviet dominance in elite shooting events during the Cold War. Today, as then, its mission is to train Olympic-level shooters.

    A feature in today’s New York Times (of all places) offers an inside look at some of the AMU members and their day-to-day duties.

    One of the most important missions of the AMU is to instruct their fellow soldiers:

    During the Vietnam War, the unit’s shooters traveled to Southeast Asia to set up sniper schools and sometimes fought on the front lines. Gunsmiths at the unit’s firearms shop used their expertise to help develop the M-21 sniper rifle during that time.

    More recently, shooters have left the unit to serve overseas, including in Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea. In 2005, a group traveled to Iraq to train soldiers, although now they do most of the coaching before deployment.

    Training 3,000 soldiers a year is the work that gives many of the unit’s members the most satisfaction, they say. What better skill can a deploying soldier learn, after all, than to be a good shot?

    “You can see it on their faces, some of these guys,” said Sgt. First Class Tom Tamas, a rifle shooter who competed in two Olympics but did not qualify this year. “They’re not getting it. And we can pick that up, help them out.”

    Even though one of the AMU’s primary jobs is to bring home medals in international competition—and here’s to hoping the AMU does just that in Beijing—it is good to know that the Army has created a system where the skills of the country’s best shooters are harnessed and passed along to other soldiers going into harms way.

    —John Snow

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  • July 9, 2008

    Hard Focus-5


    One of the most simple ways to become a better shotgunner is to learn how to correctly focus on your target, whether it is made of clay or feathers. The term often used is “hard focus” but what is it and how do you do it? The idea is that instead of looking at the pheasant, you concentrate instead on the pheasant’s beak. Or, with clays, instead of looking at the whole target you look at a portion of it, say the leading edge.

    This is easier said than done but there is a trick you can use to put the concept of hard focus into practice. Take a straightforward crossing target moving from left to right, for example. If you picture the target in the center of a clock face you want to pick a specific time, in this case 4 o’clock, as the spot where you’ll focus your eyes.

    Try it without shooting at first. Let one bird sail by while you just look at the target without hard focus. Now, call for another bird and fix your eyes right at 4 o’clock. The sensation should be quite different. The target will be more clear in your vision and, as if by magic, it will also appear to move more slowly.

    Shoot that one target repeatedly while concentrating your eyesight on the 4 o’clock position. You’ll soon be able to judge the shots where you had “hard focus” and those where your focus went soft.

    With other presentations you simply need to determine where on the clock face you need to concentrate. With enough practice it will become second nature and you’ll break more birds.

    —John Snow

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  • July 7, 2008

    Two Leaky Holes-1


    I like to recover bullets from game as much as the next guy—maybe more, in fact, given the hours I’ve spent up to my elbows in animals searching for twisted bits of copper and lead.

    But I’m never disappointed when an animal I’ve shot gets two leaky holes when the bullet passes through. To my way of thinking, two blood trails are always better than one and, assuming the game was shot through the chest with an expanding bullet of some sort, you will have inflicted a tremendous amount of tissue damage across the entire width of the animal’s body while perhaps further immobilizing it with a broken shoulder or two. No animal hit this way is going to go very far.

    From time to time I hear guys mention that a pass-through in an indication of “wasted” energy from the bullet—that somehow the shot is inferior because of the unspecified number of foot-pounds of remaining energy aren’t transferred into the animal.

    This is wrong-headed thinking. Simply put, energy doesn’t kill animals. Tissue damage is what kills animals. We’ve used energy and other mathematical calculations as proxies to understanding the killing potential of a given cartridge (and have argued endlessly over the validity of energy versus momentum versus whatever in the process) but the fact is neither energy nor momentum is what does an animal in. If your bullet inflicts sufficient tissue damage on the animal it is going to die and that tissue damage cannot be determined simply by looking at the energy of the bullet on a ballistics table.

    —John Snow

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  • July 4, 2008

    Sako A7: A New Standard For Accuracy-5


    One of the most interesting new guns we looked at during our annual gun test held in February near the Tennessee home of shooting editor Jim Carmichel was the Sako A7. The family resemblance to its older, and more expensive, siblings in the Sako line is unmistakable. But where the Sako 85s are all metal throughout their receivers, bolts and magazines, the new A7 features plenty of polymer parts. (You can see all the new rifles and shotguns we tested here.)

    The goal was to lower costs and create a Sako for the masses and with a list price of $850 (versus the $1,575 MSRP for the Model 85) the company has certainly done that.

    The more remarkable accomplishment, however, is the accuracy guarantee that the rifle comes with. All A7s are guaranteed to shoot sub-1-inch, 5-shot groups.

    I had a chance to hunt with the rifle, in prototype form, in Kansas last December while the kinks were still being worked out of the platform. My rifle, in .300 WSM, wasn’t shooting that to that standard, but the rifle we got for the gun test, in .243 Win., did with its smallest group measuring .873 inches.

    I have taken delivery of another A7, in .308 Win., and am curious to see if it will live up to the performance of the rifle we shot in February.

    In any event, this is a remarkably high standard to set for a factory rifle. As anyone who has done a lot of shooting knows, there is a world of difference between rifles that will hold to an inch-sized group for five shots as opposed to the more common three-shot groups one sees touted in various accuracy guarantees—particularly for the more potent big-game calibers.

    Do we need that level of accuracy from a big-game rifle? Rarely. But it always feels good to know that your rifle is equal to the task.

    —John Snow

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  • July 1, 2008

    Showdown In Atlanta-1


    Do cities have the right to ignore state gun laws? Looks like we're about to find out in Atlanta.

    —John Snow

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  • July 1, 2008

    Moose Guns: How Much Is Enough?-14


    I was just writing up an account of a moose hunt I did last fall in Newfoundland and was recalling a conversation I had with one of the hunters in camp who had traveled from New York to go for his first bull.

    We were getting ready to check our zeros at the makeshift range outside of camp and as he uncased his rifle, a Browning A-Bolt in 7mm Rem. Mag., he was genuinely concerned that he was undergunned. Seems his buddies back home had told him a .338 Win. Mag. as the “minimum” for moose.

    That’s nonsense, of course.

    Yes, a moose is a large animal but any deer caliber—starting with the 6.5s—shooting a bullet designed for deep penetration is plenty of gun.

    I shot my bull with a .338 Federal—not a .338 Win. Mag. by any stretch—and both my shots (with 185-grain Barnes Triple Shocks) completely passed through the bull’s chest. A hard-kicking magnum would have added nothing to the proceedings.

    Our outfitter confessed that of the more than 70 moose he’s shot over his lifetime more than half fell to his .30-30, which is about as far as you can get in a big-game chambering from the .338 Win. Mag.

    And, not to beat a dead bull here, our Scandinavian sporting brethren kill a godawful number of moose each year with their beloved 6.5x55 Swede. The moose don’t seem to know that those bullets aren’t supposed to turn their lights out.

    —John Snow

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