121. SLICK UP YOUR SHOTGUN MOUNT If the butt pad of your shotgun snags on your clothing as you mount it, attach a strip of duct tape over the pad; it will make the pad slide more easily.
122. NO-BRAINER SCOPE ALIGNMENT A rule of thumb that has worked well over the ages is to align the rear of a scope’s eyepiece with the rear tip of the tang of bolt-action rifles such as Mausers, M-70s, M-700s, etc.
123. WEATHERPROOF YOUR MUZZLE To keep water, snow or mud out of the muzzle of your gun, simply cover it with a strip of waterproof tape. The tape will be blown away when you fire and won’t interfere with the flight of the bullet or shot charge. Another way to protect the muzzle is with waterproof rubber finger guards, available at drug stores.
124. USE THE RIGHT TARGETS
If you’re sighting-in a scope-equipped firearm, the best aiming point is a white square within a black box. The black reticle of a scope against a square white target background assures the most precise aiming and target definition.
Avoid blaze orange and other colored targets, especially gimmicky ones or the confusing diamond-shaped targets.
125. RESIZING CASES When you reload ammunition for hunting, it’s a good idea to full-length resize the cases to ensure smooth and easy fit into the rifle’s chamber. Also, when you load ammunition for hunting, be sure that the overall cartridge length fits into the magazine box and feeds smoothly. Cycle hunting ammunition through the magazine and chamber to ensure free operation.
126 Estimating Range A quick way to estimate the range of a game animal is to visualize the number of football fields between you and the target.
127 Hold Your Mount Learn to keep your rifle mounted when cycling the action for a follow-up shot. Don’t make the mistake of lowering the gun to admire the shot. It is also a good idea to practice shooting while wearing the gear you plan to hunt with afield.
128. RETICLE FOCUS When you’re focusing the eyepiece to make the reticle sharp and clear, look at a neutral background such as the sky.
129. DE-GUNKING A TRIGGER If your trigger mechanism has become stiff and gummy because of accumulated grease, grit and fouling, clean it by dousing it with lighter fluid.
130. PROPER SCOPE POSITION
Scopes mounted too far rearward on high-power rifles sometimes result in a bloody condition known as “Magnum Eye.”
This can be avoided by mounting the scope about an inch farther forward than you initially think it should be. We tend to lean farther into the rifle when we actually shoot than we do when we casually look through the scope in a comfortable, head-erect position.
131 ID Problem Bedding Accuracy problems with bolt-action rifles might be caused by improper bedding of the action in the stock. To be sure:
1. Tighten the front guard screw only. 2. With the tips of your fingers pressed against the barrel and top of the stock, you can detect movement of the barrel as the rear guard screw is alternately tightened and loosened. 3. Repeat with rear screw tightened first. A bit of movement is normal, but excessive motion indicates a bedding problem.
132. SECURE YOUR MAGAZINE
The foreplates and magazine boxes of some heavy-caliber rifles have the habit of coming loose when fired, dumping cartridges on the ground at the worst possible moment.
To avoid this, tape the foreplate or magazine closed with duct tape at the beginning of your hunt.
133. USE SMALLER SWABS AND PATCHES If your cleaning patch or swab fits too tightly in the bore, it squeezes out the cleaning solvent, making a mess in the action and not getting enough solvent into the barrel. Avoid this by using three or four loose patches to wet the barrel, followed by a snug patch to wipe it dry.
134. JELLY UP YOUR DOUBLE GUN White petroleum jelly is an excellent preservative and lubricant for the hinge and water table areas of break-action shotguns and rifles. Lay on a heavy coating and wipe off the excess that squeezes out when the action is closed. This trick comes from Holland & Holland, and who could be more particular about gun care?
135. USE A BALLISTIC ‘CHEAT SHEET’ To help get your bullet on target at different ranges, print a trajectory table of your caliber and ammo and tape it to the stock of your rifle for quick reference.
136. LEATHER PAD PROTECTION To avoid damaging gun parts when you hold them in a vise, pad the vise jaws with pieces of thick leather before clamping the parts. The leather will conform to the shape of the work piece, allowing it to be held firmly without being marred.
137. PVC ROD HOLDERS
A strong protective case for storing cleaning rods and other such items can be made from PVC pipe.
Simply cut the pipe to the desired length, glue threaded adapters to either end and use threaded PVC caps for lids. The project will take no more than a half hour to complete.
138. RACK ‘EM UP
Amateur gunsmithing requires a large variety of screwdrivers. Make finding the right size simple by building a rack that keeps screwdrivers off the bench and out of the way, yet visible for quick selection.
The rack can be as elaborate as you like, or as simple as a two-by-four with holes drilled for the handles so that the screwdriver’s blades are easily seen.
139 Get Organized For positive identification of your reloads and a professional, personalized look, make your own stick-on box labels using the label makers available at office supply stores.
140. PROTECT YOUR STOCK To protect the butt stock of a rifle from harmful solvents or rod abrasion damage, cover the comb with a soft and tough hood made from the tanned hide of your elk or moose.
141. THE BEST CLEANING KIT A tackle box also makes a great storage kit for gun-cleaning supplies. The dividers in the lure trays neatly separate different sizes of bore brushes, swabs and patches. Be sure to get one with plenty of room for bottles of solvents and other necessary cleaning gear.
142 Use Your Reticle as a Range Finder If you use duplex-type reticles, learn the MOA subtension between the crosshair and the top of the lower duplex post. This can be extremely handy when judging the necessary elevation, or holdover, for long shots.
143. FRONT SIGHT TOUCH-UP
Handgun sights that have worn bright or are otherwise difficult to see clearly may cause aiming errors because of the glare.
Front and rear sights can be darkened temporarily with the soot from a match. Be sure, however, that the sights are metal and not plastic or some other meltable material.
144. WATERPROOFING WOODEN STOCKS
Wooden rifle stocks that aren’t completely waterproofed may absorb moisture and swell, causing a change in the rifle’s point of impact.
For a quick cure, apply a heavy coat of soft paste wax to the barrel channel. Swab it in thick enough that it squishes out around the barrel when the action is replaced and the guard screws are tightened. This ensures that no water will enter the barrel channel, even during a heavy downpour.
145. FRONT SCREW FIRST When you tighten the guard screws of bolt-action rifles, tighten the front screw first.
146. BEDDING BUGS Accuracy problems can develop when the recoil lug of bolt-action rifles is too tightly bedded into the mortise of the stock, as frequently follows a glass bedding job. The cure is to cut a small clearance in front and under the recoil lug.
147. SCOPING UP FOR LEFTIES
Scopes are almost always mounted in a “right-handed” position. There’s no rule that says southpaws can’t rotate the scope 90 degrees to the left for more convenient adjusting and general use.
Just remember that the adjustment for “R” (right) becomes up and “U” (up) now becomes left.
148. TWO RODS FOR CLEANING A smart idea for shooters who do a lot of gun cleaning is to buy two cleaning rods, one for brushes and the other for patches. This saves a lot of time and mess.
149. DENIM SANDBAG You can make an inexpensive but quite good sandbag by cutting a section from the leg of an old pair of jeans and sewing or tying an end closed. Fill the leg with sand and seal it up.
150. BARREL RESTORATION
It’s possible to restore barrels and chambers that are long neglected, heavily fouled or even rusted. Wrap fine steel wool around a bronze brush and apply elbow grease.
Sometimes this treatment miraculously restores barrels that appeared beyond saving. Small exterior rust patches can often be removed by a judicious application of fine steel wool and oil.
151. UNLOCKING SCREWS Screws that have been locked in place by red Loctite or another permanent-type thread locker are tough to remove, but they can sometimes be loosened by applying heat. The tip of a hot soldering iron is ideal for this.
152 Find a Scope’s Center
Some models of telescopic sights offer maximum definition and brightness when the reticle is in the “optical center” of the optical system. The optical center of the scope can be found by rotating the scope in a simple cradle made by cutting v-notches in a cardboard box.
If the reticle is out of the optical center it will appear to circle around a target as the scope is rotated. Make adjustments until the crosshairs remain fixed on the target as the scope turns.
Mount the scope using shims and windage adjustment bases so the reticle remains near the optical center when the rifle is zeroed.
153 Where to Put Lefties and Righties When two or more shooters hunt upland game, put the right-handed shooters on the left side of the party and lefties to the right. Right-handed shooters swing more easily to the left, and left-handed shooters swing best to the right, making the party more efficient.
154. WHICH EYE IS DOMINANT?
Wing-shooting problems can often be traced to eye cross dominance.
You can check your eye dominance simply by pointing a forefinger at a spot on the wall several feet away and alternately closing your right and left eyes.
If your finger remains on target with your right eye open it means that you are right-eye dominant. If the alignment tends to jump to the side, it might indicate left-eye dominance.
This can be corrected in most cases by placing a patch over the lens of the offending eye of your shooting glasses.
155. MEASURING THE DROP The “drop” of a shotgun’s stock at heel and comb can be measured by positioning the shotgun upside down on a flat surface and using a ruler to measure the clearance at heel and comb.
156. USE HARD RESTS When you’re sighting-in a rifle, avoid using springy or cushy rests such as rolled-up sleeping bags. These provide uncertain support and tend to make the rifle bounce when fired, causing erratic shot placement and uncertain zero.
157. SECURING SCOPE BASES
When you attach a scope base to a rifle, pistol or shotgun, check the tightness of each screw independently, to make sure the base is secured.
Occasionally, overly long screws will bottom out in the receiver, giving a false impression that they are tight when in fact the base still remains loose.
158 Right Angle
When you drop into a sitting position to take a shot at long-range game, be sure to angle your legs and body so that you’re at about a 45-degree angle to the target when you bring the gun to your shoulder and aim.
The 45-degree angle is where the sitting position is most steady; it also provides more flexibility for shooting at moving or running game.
159 Sling It Tight
The sitting position is one of the most efficient and accurate shooting positions a hunter can master. The trick is to have the rifle’s sling adjusted so it is tight on your arm and completes the “triangular brace” between forearm, elbow and knee.
Adjust the length of the sling before your hunt so that it has the desired tightness when you drop into a fast sitting position.
When the sling is properly adjusted for the sitting position, it’s also right for shoulder-carrying your rifle.
160. EVEN UP YOUR SCOPE RINGS When you clamp a scope in cap-type rings (Ruger, Leupold, etc.), tighten the ring screws alternately, so that the spacing between the top and bottom halves of the rings is equal on both sides. This trick assures not only a professional look, but even pressure.
161. CLEAN OUT YOUR CHAMBER Even when the bore of a firearm is carefully cleaned, the chambers are often neglected. A .45-caliber wool mop attached to a pistol rod is great for cleaning and lubricating the chambers of most rifles and the cylinders of many revolvers. Use larger sizes for shotguns.
162. STAGGER YOUR BRASS
Stagger the cases in your reloading block when you spray case sizing lubricants; there should be ample clearance to apply the lubricant completely around the cartridge case.
Repeated use of spray lubricants can form a gummy residue on a loading block, so it’s a good idea to use a separate block exclusively for spray lubing.
To make a spare block, simply bore holes in a strip of wood. Space the holes far apart enough to ensure ample spray contact from all angles.
163. HOW TO CLEAN SLINGS Leather rifle slings, holsters and scabbards that have become soiled and grubby can be cleaned with some Murphy’s Oil soap. It works better than saddle soap and can even be used to spruce up dirty gun stocks.
164 An Easy Trigger-Pull Gauge
A cheap but effective trigger-pull gauge can be made by attaching a known weight, or weights, to a hooked length of rod or a stiff wire.
For example, attach wheel weights until it totals 3 pounds.
With the gun held vertically and the weight gauge hooked over the trigger, you can tell if the release weight is more or less than 3 pounds.
Make several of these weights with different values, or make the weights removable.
165. QUICK PRIMER SEATING CHECK
Insufficient primer seating depth is a common flaw in reloaded ammunition; it can cause accuracy problems and even malfunctions with some firearms.
Ideally, the primer should be flush with the base of the case or slightly below flush. A quick touch will indicate proper seating depth.
Another test is setting the primed case base-down on a smooth plate of glass. If the case tends to rock side to side instead of standing straight and still, the primer is not seated to sufficient depth.
166. FORGET MULTI-PIECE RODS Avoid jointed cleaning rods except for occasional use in field or camp situations. For your home shop, buy the best one-piece rod you can afford.
167. EXERCISES FOR HANDGUNNERS Competitive shooters like to strengthen their hands and wrists by squeezing a rubber ball. Do this while watching television or for 10-minute stretches throughout the day, and the steadiness of your handgun aim will improve considerably.
168. DOUBLE UP ON EAR PROTECTION When shooting from a bench or in any other practice situation, be sure to use both earplugs and earmuffs. Not only does this protect your hearing, but it’s one of the best ways to prevent flinching.
169. USE BRONZE BRUSHES ONLY Many barrel makers recommend that you not use stainless steel brushes, especially in stainless steel barrels, which scratch easily. Use only bronze or stiff nylon-type brushes in your pet barrels.
170. BUFF AN EDGE Charging buffing wheels with polishing compound is a convenient way to put an extremely sharp edge on chisels and other carving tools.
171. HOMEMADE GRINDER Electric motors salvaged from home appliances can be converted to a power source for polishing, grinding and buffing by mounting an attachment arbor to the motor shaft.
172 Brace Your Wrists
Extended shooting sessions with magnum handguns can leave the hands and wrists feeling tired and weakened.
You can avoid this by using Pro-Aim braced shooting gloves. They not only lend support and recoil absorption to the hand and wrist but also brace the wrist for a steadier aim. If you don’t have braced gloves, wrap your wrist and upper arm with an elastic bandage.
173. SMART SOLVENT BOTTLES Laboratory-type squeeze bottles are excellent for storing cleaning solvents and conveniently applying the solvent to cleaning patches.
174. TRY EXTENSION BASES Use rings or extension-type front bases when mounting riflescopes that have a long forward overhang, such as target and varmint models.
175. MAKE A CHAMOIS WIPE
A handy gun wipe is a 6-inch square of soft chamois leather impregnated with RIG grease or Sheath rust preventives.
A real chamois cloth, available at most auto supply shops, leaves no lint, wipes gun surfaces clean and leaves an even coating of your rust preventive. Store it in a Ziploc bag.
176. USE A ROD GUIDE
A misused cleaning rod can damage a good barrel and ruin accuracy.
When you clean a bolt-action rifle, use a rod guide that centers your cleaning rod in the bore, preventing damage to the delicate throat area of your barrel.
177. MOVE THE BAGS, NOT THE RIFLE When you reposition a gun that is resting on a sandbag, a good technique is to move the bag rather the rifle.
WHAT WERE WE THINKING?
January 1923 “Flipping Bullets” During the War, the Germans pulled the bullets from their regulation cartridges, reversed the bullets and shot them tail-end at tanks. Because of their penetration power, these reversed bullets make far better killers on live meat than the same sent sharp-end first.
WHAT WERE WE THINKING?
March 1916 “Cleaning the .22” All the advertized solvents that I have tried seem to be good, but plain stronger ammonia is still my favorite. Pour a little of it in a saucer and moisten the cleaning rags with it.