Shooting Innovations Some of 2004's smartest firearms products

Digitally Gauge Your Trigger's Pull

The trigger pull of any type of firearm is an important factor in how well you can shoot it, which is why I constantly rant and wail about gunmakers who deliver rifles with ridiculously heavy pulls. Though a number of factors contribute to a good trigger pull, the most measurable is the actual finger pressure on the trigger required to fire the gun. This pressure is commonly expressed in pounds and ounces (kilograms in the metric world) and is easily measured with trigger gauges. Typically, these gauges have a trigger hook attached to a spring that indicates the pull weight on a calibrated scale. (Naturally, you test this with an unloaded gun.)

Since trigger pulls are seldom uniform from pull to pull, it is necessary to make several test pulls and to take an average to determine trigger weight. This is just one of the reasons why Lyman's Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge is a big and very welcome improvement over old-style spring gauges. The Lyman gauge reads pounds and ounces in big, easy-to-read LCD numerals and is accurate to a tenth of an ounce. It also automatically calculates the average weight of up to 10 pulls. ($59.95; 800-225-9626; www.lymanproducts.com)--Jim Carmichel

Cut Out The Lawyers

The battle between precision-minded shooters and the lawyers of gunmakers continues to escalate, with the legal departments apparently resolute that the triggers of their rifles be hard to pull in order to forestall potential lawsuits. One of the results of this ongoing failure to communicate has been the introduction of aftermarket trigger mechanisms that replace factory triggers and can be adjusted to pulls that are measured in ounces rather than pounds.

The Timney Manufacturing Company, one of the oldest and best-known replacement trigger makers, now offers a trigger mechanism for Remington Model 700 rifles that is easily and safely adjusted down to a pull weight of about 3 ounces. (The sample I installed on a Model 700 could be adjusted from 2.5 ounces to 15 ounces.) The unit also fits certain other Remington rifles, such as models 40X, 721 and 722, as well as the numerous specialty actions designed for Remington Model 700-style triggers.

The Timney unit has independent adjustments for weight of pull, overtravel (backlash) and sear engagement. A gunsmith is not needed to install this trigger mechanism. The Timney unit does not have a safety, a matter of scant concern to varmint or target shooters. ($128.50; 602-274-2999; e-mail: timneymfg@aol.com)--J.C.

NO. 9 AND THEN SOME

Now in its 101st year, Hoppe's is still celebrating its centennial. Its most recent introduction is the Elite line of gun-care chemicals, which includes Gun Cleaner liquid, Bore Gel, Gun Oil and an all-in-one Field Cleaner. Hoppe's won't reveal exactly what's in these new secret formulas, but it says the Elite products were originally developed to clean F-16 fighters for the U.S. Air Force, so customers are in good company. The products are the result of a partnership with Pantheon. ($7.20 for a 2-ounce bottle of Elite Gun Cleaner; $6.78 for a 2-ounce bottle of Elite Gun Oil; 503-722-5797; www.hoppes.com)

A Shorter .25/06

Once again, Winchester Ammunition has come out with a new super-short cartridge. The .25 Winchester Super Short Magnum (.25 WSSM) has ballistics comparable to the .25/06 yet is nearly an inch shorter. The cartridge is available in Winchester's Supreme line in 85-grain and 115-grain Ballistic Silvertip bullets. The 85-grain load will achieve muzzle speeds of 3,470 feet per second and the 115-grain will go 2,990 fps at the muzzle. The .25 WSSM is available in Browning's A-Bolt rifle line. ($29.45 for 20 Supreme Ballistic Silvertip cartridges; 800-945-1392; www.winchester.com)

Speedier Rimfire Cartridges

The venerable .22 Long Rifle (LR) has a new competitor. The .17 Mach 2 (left), developed by CCI and Hornady, is a rimfire cartridge that propels a 17-grain bullet at 2,000 fps at the muzzle (depending on the load, the .22 LR exits the muzzle at around 1,100 fps). CCI necked down its Stinger .22 LR case to create this darling little squirrel round. The cartridge is due out by late summer. (Around $8 for a box of 50; 800-627-3640; www.cci-ammunition.com)

Speaking of speed, that other .17-caliber rimfire, the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR), is out in a faster load. Remington Premier .17 HMR ammunition is now offered in a 17-grain AccuTip bullet that has a muzzle velocity of 2,550 fps. This new offering surpasses the .22 Win. Mag. and the .17 Mach 2 by over 500 fps. (Around $17 for a box of 20; 800-243-9700; www.remington.com)

It's What's Inside That Matters

Back when there were no gray hairs in my mustache, I was of the innocent notion that I could peer into the ends of a gun barrel and pretty well judge its condition and overall quality. But the first time I looked at the real inside of a bore through a magnifying borescope, I realized that my education on why some barrels shoot well and others don't was truly about to begin.

A borescope is an optical instrument with lenses inside a slender rod that lets you peek into places you couldn't see otherwise. It's essentially the same tool that doctors use for endoscopic surgery. The first time you look into a gun with a borescope, you don't see the shiny surfaces you expect. Instead, you see the rough edges and tool marks that come from manufacturing, improper cleaning and accumulated powder and copper fouling. Most of all, a borescope shows how good the chamber and barrel actually are.

Until recently, borescopes were mighty expensive gadgets. The one I bought a few years ago set me back over six grand. There's no longer any need to spend that kind of money. A fine borescope called the Hawkeye starts at a suggested retail of only $585 ($785 for the top model). The Hawkeye comes in a fitted hard case and is a professional-grade instrument in every way. (From $585; 800-536-0790; www.gradientlens.com)--J.C.

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