Western Rivers Mantis Pro-400 Electronic Call

Electronic calls have become very popular over the last decade or so, hunters of all types have found value in the ease and convenience of simply pressing a button. Of course there are die-hard’s that must use mouth calls or something more natural, and there is certainly some additional skill and finesse with that approach. But for those of us who live fast and hunt hard, there is something to be said for the modern convenience of an e-call.

I have a somewhat perplexing past when it comes to hunting coyotes, I’ve tried my hand a calling them, ambushing them, and even downright chasing them. There seems to be a kryptonite like shield between me and coyotes, I usually miss ten for every one I do shoot. So I was intrigued with the opportunity to try out a new tool in my efforts to land another.

The ability to drum up any animal call you want on demand has obvious advantages when hunting. But would a device that claims to do just that for hunters actually work in the field? Or is it just a fancy gimmick? I decided to give it a try with the compact, remote-controlled Mantis Pro 400, which I recently tested in the field on some actual hunts.

The Western Rivers MP-400
The Mantis Pro is a compact remote controlled call. The remote controller fits easily into the palm of your hand, when it is not snapped into the main housing of the call. The Mantis Pro boasts quite few features that I hadn’t expected to see, but the more I found out about it the more I liked it. It can be powered by AA batteries, or plugged into an alternate 12v power source, And it can also be plugged into other call units or external speakers to give multiple sound emittance. In addition to the sounds that come pre-installed on the MP-400, you can add your favorite sounds using an SD memory card. The sounds on the card can be arranged and edited via a micro USB port, and if that wasn’t enough, you can also bluetooth connect the MP-400 to your phone and play whatever sounds you might have stored there. The MP-400 also has a port for a decoy (sold separately). Continue reading here…

Browning X-Bolt 6 Creedmoor

Even though I’m a bit of a rifle junkie, the Browning X-Bolt is a bit of a stranger to me. I’ve shot a few of them over the years, and even had good luck loading ammo for them for friends. That said, I’ve never owned one myself. Browning is a common name down our way, the man himself was born just a few miles north of where I sit as I write this.
The X-Bolt rifle has plenty of clout in the rifle world, so I knew not to underestimate it as I prepared myself for this project. I was giddy with excitement to get my hands on this one.

The Browning X-bolt Target

The Target model of the Browning X-bolt comes in a McMillan A3-5 stock with an adjustable comb, as well a a match grade heavy profile fluted barrel. The muzzle is threaded 5/8-24 to attach any muzzle devices. In addition to those add-ons, the X-bolt receiver has an extended bolt handle, and a 20 MOA pic rail mounted on top. There are a few other little extras as well, such as QD sling swivel studs, and a bipod pic rail mount. I pulled the rifle from the black Browning box, and was instantly in love. The fit and finish of this rifle were superb, and as soon as I put the Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad to my shoulder I knew it was going to be a good match. I adjusted the cheek piece to fit my hold, and ran the bolt and trigger a few times. I love the 60-degree bolt throw, it is shorter and faster than the alternative. And the smooth bolt stroke on the X-bolt feels much like a nice custom. The Trigger in this rifle is as good as any factory trigger I’ve felt, The Feather Trigger as Browning calls it, is adjustable from three to five pounds, and has a tang mounted safety. The detachable box magazine is Browning’s own design, it is an all polymer rotary magazine that holds four rounds. It fits flush with the bottom of the McMillan stock. Continue Reading Here…

Marlin 1894 357 Magnum

What seems like forever ago, my little brother snagged a Model 94 Winchester from the local gun shop. It was chambered in .44 Magnum, and lets just say we all fell in love with that short and sassy little lever-gun. Ever since then I have been dying to get something similar for myself, but life has a way of dictating your gun purchases doesn’t it?
So when the opportunity to get a Marlin 1894 in .357 Magnum came my way, I was not going to let my dream go unlived. But would it be everything I had hoped for?

The Marlin 1894
Since the late nineteenth century, Marlin has been manufacturing leverguns and other firearms for the American public. It has seen several ownership transfers over the past decade or two, and the latest one will hopefully be a good and final one. The 1894 is perhaps one of Marlin’s most popular models over the years, but there are many others that have also graced the shooting public. The 1894 is like many of Marlin’s firearms, a lever action repeater. Probably the most distinguishing feature of the model is it’s side ejecting receiver. This has made Marlin leverguns very popular with users of riflescopes, as it allows a more generous mounting area. The rifle has an eight round tube magazine that loads from the side of the receiver through a loading chute. Continue Reading Here…

Yankee Hill Machine R9 :A great first or fifth suppressor

One of the biggest questions when buying a suppressor, is selecting one out of the hundreds of options. I’ve been through a bunch at this point in my life, so let me shed some light on the subject for you. What caliber? what configuration? And so many other questions you’ll be asking yourself. With so many options how can you pick one that is best for your purposes? The right answer is that there are always too many good choices to pick only one, but today we are going to look at the subject as a first time suppressor buyer, and a suppressor that might just cover all your bases.

The YHM R9 mounted direct on a Browning X-bolt 6 Creedmoor

Why the YHM R9?
What makes the YHM R9 a perfect can for an NFA Greenhorn? I’ll get right into it. Todays gun owners come from every walk of life, our modern world has given them overwhelming opportunities for firearms and accessories. That said, there’s a good chance that most firearm enthusiasts looking into a suppressor probably have an Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) of one kind or another. That rifle is probably chambered in the extremely popular 5.56, or one of the other calibers that are growing in popularity like 300blk, 6.5G, 6 ARC, etc.
The R9 from YHM is ideal for using with any of these calibers, it can suppress large frame cartridges too, like the 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester. It is rated to suppress pretty much anything under 308 Winchester really, even with limited amounts of full auto. But Wait! There’s more! The R9 is also a perfect fit for a 9mm pistol or carbine, it’s stainless construction is more than enough to retain pressures generated by the cartridge, and other 9mm rifle cartridges like the 350 Legend.

The way I see it, it is pretty damn likely that your apprentice level prospective suppressor purchaser would benefit greatly with an R9. One could swap it back and forth from various rifles, and install a booster and run it on their Glock as well.

The R9 is ideal for the Desert Tech MDRX and its assorted calibers

Adaptation
YHM is one of many manufacturers that has embraced the uniformity of threads. The threaded rear end of the R9 can be fitted with a direct thread cap (1/2-28 or 5/8-24), or it can fit a Nielsen booster assembly and run with one of various piston manufacturers. It doesn’t end there, it can also use YHM’s Phantom QD system, which allows rapid swapping of the suppressor from various YHM muzzle devices. Further still, the can uses the same threads as other major manufacturers like Dead Air and SilencerCo, so you could also install those devices. I have all three options for my R9, I have both thread caps that I use when shooting the R9 on my precision guns, and I also have the QD mount so I can swap it back and forth on my carbines as well. I run a Rugged suppressors piston inside my Nielson Booster assembly, which makes my Canik TP9 quiet and smooth as ever I could ask.
The R9 is only threaded on the breach end, the rest of it’s construction is solid baffles welded together making it simple and no non-sense. The provided tools allow the user to tighten down the various assorted mounting options, and perhaps more importantly disassemble them after being used.

Shooting with the YHM R9
The very first shots I fired through the R9 were with my pistol. It was the first mounting adaptor in my possession so I went straight to the range to try it out.
The R9 tamed all the sounds produced by my pistol, adding of course its due weight and a bit of added backpressure. But the heavier muzzle sure made the pistol smooth and even more controllable. Shooting the pistol in closed quarters was very tolerable, the sound reduction was everything I’d hoped for, and the function was flawless.

The R9 seen mounted direct on my SRS M2 6mm GT

Shortly thereafter I received the 5/8-24 direct thread adaptor, and the R9 went straight to my SRS M2 chambered in 6mm GT. It stayed there for quite some time, hundreds of rounds sent through the R9 from fifty to seventeen-hundred yards. The accuracy of the rifle was if anything enhanced by the presence of the R9, this is typical in my experience. Cartridges like the 6mm GT were easily suppressed by the R9, making precision even more pleasant.

The QD mount for the R9 is perfect for running the suppressor back and forth between rifles. I ran the Phantom flash hider on my 308 carbine threaded 5/8-24. and on my 5.56 chambered carbine I use the Phantom Turbo 556 muzzle brake. This made it easy to swap the R9 back and forth between the two rifles, both of which sounded great when suppressed with the R9. With the gas turned down a notch on both rifles, they functioned perfectly without gassing me out at the breach.

Carbines like this 350 Legend are a perfect host

First or Fifth?
Ya, I said first or fifth. The reason I put it that way is because even though I have a dozen or so cans at any given time, the R9 is still an excellent addition to my collection. It is very useful on better than half of my gun collection, and with an MSRP of only $494.00 it is pretty economical compared to many other cans.
I’m at a point in life where I seldom go places without a rifle, and much of the time I have two or three rifles. Having an additional suppressor that will fit most of my rifles makes it an easy choice for me.

Conclusion
If my positivity is hasn’t been obvious enough about my feelings about this little suppressor, let me make it clear; I think this is the perfect suppressor for a first time NFA victim. It has everything most people need, multi-caliber, adaptable, tough as nails, and all at a very reasonable price. If I had to say something about the R9 that I dislike, you’d really have to force it out of me. The only issue I’ve ever had was keeping the thread caps tight, this was almost certainly due to me not tightening them on using the supplied tools as I’m a lazy ass. But I wouldn’t put that at the feet of the boys over at YHM.

So there you have it, the R9 is nearly a flawless purchase in my opinion. Short from needing magnum capabilities or a bunch of machine guns you need to suppress, this is an excellent suppressor for your typical firearms consumer. Best get yourself one.

-CBM

Ammunition Prepping


Just a few days ago, the fools in our government once again took another bite out of our ability to enjoy our rights as firearm owners. Curtailing the imports of modest priced (if there is such a thing) ammunition will only further drive up the demand and price of the ammunition that we can buy.
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty prepared person, I keep the Scout motto somewhere near the forefront of my mind. So as soon as I was old enough to reason (probably about 25) I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start my career as a prepper. It wasn’t food stuffs, MRE’s, and cans of beans, though there have been a few of each stashed under my roof over the years. No, my focus was directed at something far more valuable than bagged Vietnam era pork with rice in BBQ sauce. I had enough foresight, and knew myself well enough that I would need lots of ammo in the future. Precious metals like lead and copper have an incredible value on a stressed market, and if things get bad enough that I find myself tearing open that brown bag of pork, I image the value will quadruple overnight.

I’m sure every one of us has thought about building a time machine, and traveling back to the nineties and filling a U-Haul truck with $80 cases of 7.62X39. I still find myself wanting for the good old days like that. But the secret to living well, and by that I mean plenty of ammo, doesn’t involve time machines or wishes, It’s all about action.

Guns without ammunition are useless, with that in mind I present my first rule of Ammo Prepping.

Buy When You Can, Not When in Need
The middle of an ammo crunch is the worst time to buy, if you find yourself searching for stores for your favorite ammo, you’ve already lost. Buy ammo when it’s cheap and plentiful, I remember when ammo was everywhere I would swing by the ammo counter anytime I went in a Walmart. Typically I’d score a brick of .22 or something similar, but there is also the occasional pound of powder there or something.
There are also lots of smaller outlets like small town hardware stores and such. In my former job I did a lot of traveling, and I’d take advantage to swing by every little sporting goods store out in the country. I got quite a few deals on old bullets, and other things that they would have in stock because nobody bought it there.

Make what you cant buy
When I cant buy ammo, I buy components. Handloading is an incredible value to those of us who do it, every good prepper should know how and have the means to make his own ammo. I apply the same rules here as I did to ammo, buy it when you can. Ammunition components are everywhere, and it never hurts to stock up on whatever you can. There is only so much of the stuff, and it will never be worth nothing. Become the range troll that picks up all the brass, I have done quite a bit of trading and come out ahead every time. I have a huge spectrum of components, dies, brass, and other things for firearms I don’t even own. This works out really nice because I can trade for things I can use, or help out friends when they are in a pinch. You can never have too much.

Buy in bulk
It’s probably been over a decade since I bought a standard box of twenty rifle cartridges, and even that was likely an anomaly. Same thing with buying components, I try not to buy boxes of a hundred. When I buy a box of bullets its usually by 500 or more. Of course you might be thinking; anybody can do that if you have enough money, which is true. I always try to set aside a little ammo fund so that when the occasional good deal pops up, I can splurge where it counts, in bulk. You’d be surprised how far your money will go when its spent in the right places.
Whether it be a yard sale with a case of primers innocently underpriced, or a wholesale opportunity, or some other opportunity, be prepared.

Make sure you keep mainstream
By this I mean make sure you have mainstream chambered firearms. If you’ve followed me for long you are probably aware of all the bastard wildcats and oddities I shoot. But I also have several rifles in the commonest of cartridges, I’ve got two precision 223 Remington’s, and of course my MDRX that also shoots 223 like a house on fire. Not only that, if I had to survive the rest of my life using only 223 chambered rifles, I certainly could. And the same goes for 308, I’ve got several precision rifles as well as semi-autos that shoot this extremely common cartridge.
And it never hurts to have multiple rifles in these common chamberings. I purchased two rifles back in the good ol’ days, chambered in 7.62×39, one is an AK variant, and the other an SKS. At the time, I paid just over $400 dollars for the pair, which is amazing by todays standards. But what I wouldn’t give to go back and buy more ammo for them, luckily the Coldboremiracle of the past was smart enough to buy several thousand rounds for each of them.

Get preppin
Hopefully you’ve learned your lesson during this last ammo crunch. Start making preparations for the next one, because it will surely come. Learn how to handload, find alternative suppliers, create a pool of ammo that could see you and your family through the apocalypse. That’s been my goal, if the world as we know it ended today and I had to live the rest of my life with what I have on hand, for the next forty years I could shoot a couple deer, a whole den of marmots, and a dozen or so zombies if they lined up just right, and still have a couple left over for blue-helmets if needed.

-CBM

Winchester Model 70 Target

As time passes, both our guns and our tastes evolve. Perhaps our shooting styles change a bit and a gun we were once giddy over has fallen to the back rack of the safe, perhaps never to come back out except to be sold. Or maybe that favorite rifle got tuned up with a new barrel and scope, maybe a dashing Cerakote paint job and a better trigger. Either way, the firearms of days past seem to lose their luster as new ones are brought to market. But a rare few seem to hold on to a charming and nostalgic following, today we are talking about one of those.

The Model 70
The Winchester Model 70 has been perhaps America’s most prolific bolt action rifle. Generations of hunters and other marksmen have put the various configurations of the Model 70 through countless trials.
The ninety-degree bolt action of the Model 70 has been used in too many configurations to mention here. Both long and short actions are made, featuring a bolt-shroud three position safety. And a simple and robust trigger that is well known for immaculate breaks.

The Target Model
The Model 70 Target was available in an assortment of calibers but they had the same features. A high quality heavy profile barrel, and a wide and flat-bottomed walnut stock. The rifle also came drilled and tapped for a variety of sighting options, you could either mount a scope like the Unertl scopes that were often seen on these rifles in the past, or aperture sights that were mounted to the receiver and muzzle. I believe the military version of the rifle as used by legendary shooters like Hathcock, was very similar in construction, using a more streamlined and less obtrusive stock. Continue Reading Here…


WHAT GEAR DO I NEED FOR AN ELK HUNT?

Elk hunting is a dream hunt for many of us and I am lucky enough to have had the chance over and over throughout the years. If an elk hunt is on your list of must-do hunts, I have put together my thoughts on the gear you won’t want to be without when you go. Of course, a good gun and the right ammo are always the right start, but there’s other gear you’ll also want to have on hand.

The Rocky Mountains are a bountiful and impressive place to hunt, whether you are after monster mulies, elk, or one of the other beautiful species herein, it can be quite a job. Today we’ll speak specifically about the elk hunting side of it and the differences you should know between elk hunting and smaller animals like deer. Continue Reading here…

Impact Velocity, and its effects.

Don’t miss the video at the end of this article

With modern rifles and bullets, the distances we shoot at animals keeps creeping further and further out. But as bullets travel further away, they lose more and more velocity. How much they lose, and how fast they impact is a very important subject when it comes to cleanly killing an animal. We’ve killed many animals over the years, and its an interesting and important subject. And one particular instance is one I’d like to discuss today.

Last fall, a friend of mine shot a small deer at 900 yards with a 6.5 Creedmoor using a 143 ELDX. This was certainly towards the end of the envelope of energy and velocity for that combo, but it did the job as good as one could hope. The deer took a single shot quartering away, the impact hit just behind the rib cage and passed completely through the animal, exiting through the front of the chest. The heart was punctured, and the deer made it about forty yards before tumbling down the hillside. Everything looked textbook as far as killing it cleanly and quickly. The impact velocity was right around 1800 FPS which according to Hornady should have been enough to open the bullet.

After much hiking to get to the deer, we found a massive blood trail and a perfectly perforated buck. We retraced his steps, as well as the video we recorded looking to see all the details. I was absolutely amazed when as we stood there recounting the events, I looked down to see the bullet laying there in the dirt, not far from where the deer lay dead. The bright copper shown against the damp hillside. Even though the bullet had hit a rock after exiting the deer, it had come to rest nearby. Our immediate impression was “that doesn’t look right”. The bullet had barely opened at all, it had only lost its plastic tip, and bent the front of the bullet off to one side. On further inspection back at the house, the bullet weighed 142.3 grains. Probably just the weight of the lost plastic tip.

The recovered 143 ELDX weighed 142.3 grains

Despite the bullet not opening as best we could tell, it still did plenty of damage. But it seems the 1800 FPS in this instance wasn’t enough to cause sufficient deformation of the bullet. This is one of the reasons I like to use “softer” bullets when shooting long-range, they are much easier to rupture.

Note the hole through the heart of the deer mentioned

Impact velocity greatly effects the bullets ability to do damage. I have found several bullets in elk over the years, that obviously didn’t do the job. Whoever shot those bullets may still be scratching their head wondering what happened. Bullets can fail to perform just like anything else, which is one reason why I stress shot placement so often. This event is a perfect example why, even though the bullet did not rupture as designed, it still made a hole through the most vital of organs, causing a quick death for the animal in question.

Distance to the target, and the impact velocity of any given bullet is just one of the many things marksmen need to take into account when evaluating a firing solution. Another anecdote featuring the same bullet; a friend of mine shot a cow elk at approximately 600 yards, the bullet impacted broadside passing through both lungs and stopping in the offside shoulder. Again this one had lost its tip, and barely opened. The cow made it into the trees a few dozen yards, where it lay down and expired. In this case one would surely expect the bullet to have opened, as the impact was likely in the 2200 FPS range. And again, due to good shot placement, it worked despite the bullet not opening.

These are of course a couple of anecdotal examples, and surely not a full representation of this particular bullets performance. But it is certainly food for thought, and something to keep in mind. I have gone into much more detail on the subject in this article about shot placement, I’d invite you to read that one as well, and we can carry on the discussion.
I hope these discussions are helpful, the game we hunt deserve the best skillset we can prepare to avoid undue suffering.

-CBM