All posts by coldboremiracle

Twice the Experience: Antelope Hunting With the Next Generation

Perhaps one of the greatest experiences I’ve been able to accomplish in my life has been to introduce new hunters to the adventure of the hunting lifestyle. Taking a person on their first hunt is not something I take lightly, everything from ethics to shooting skills are things that I enjoy teaching to anyone willing to learn. My oldest son’s first hunt was quite a milestone for me, as was introducing my wife to deer hunting. Her very first successful hunt was everything I could have hoped for, and ended up giving her a bit of her own excitement for fall. And good friends alike have come along with me for their first hunt. Would the persistent experience of taking new hunters continue to enrich my own experience? Or would every new hunt be a little less rewarding, and more repetitious than the past?

This year again I was given the opportunity to take a special young man on his very first hunt. My wife’s oldest son Leo had expressed a great deal of interest in coming along with us hunting this year. Perhaps due to listening to his mother’s experience from last season. Leo had recently enlisted in the Army when the time was drawing near to apply for hunts in our state, but in the very short holiday break while he was home, he pushed through the hunter safety program online and managed to squeeze into the only class available before he had to report back for a few more months.
With his hunter safety completed and armed with his information, I added him to the same list of hunts that we all apply for every year. One of the many applications was for two doe antelope tags in the great state of Wyoming. This hunt in particular is one of my favorites for new hunters, not because it is easy, but because of many opportunities. New hunters frequently make mistakes, even seasoned hunters do it often. The rolling rugged mountains of southwestern Wyoming are filled with antelope, so many in fact that a guy could screw up over and over and still find another opportunity for a stalk.

Alpha Munitions 6GT brass loaded with 100 gr. Cayuga solid copper bullets make a wicked combo

Leo was excited to go, I’m not sure if he was as excited as I was though. But as the time drew near for the hunt, we prepared for the task I was sure we would be successful in. Plenty of practice was in order before we actually pointed a gun at an Antelope, several guns in fact. We were unsure which rifle was the best fit for him, as he unfortunately identifies as left-handed, and yet preferred to shoot a right-handed gun. We practiced with several rifles, but in the end we decided to go with the SRS M2 chambered in 6 GT. I feel no guilt about spoiling my apprentices with exceptional equipment, and the SRS M2 is certainly that. The 6MM GT cartridges were loaded with Cayuga 100 grain copper solid bullets from Patriot Valley Arms. I have used these bullets in several rifles including this one with excellent results, so I was quite confident it would work well for Leo as well.

Day One
As the sun began to rise that first morning, we were already in place. Overlooking an incredible view of brush-colored valleys and flats, the occasional trail cutting through the brush as well as prairie dog mounds scattered about. Antelope could be seen meandering through different shallow drainages, everything felt right.
We decided to move into some slightly rougher terrain, as the barren flats would offer fewer options to stalk into a shooting position. We searched instead for something with a little more topography and brush, giving us a better opportunity to sneak in.
We passed a large herd of animals, mainly because I knew they had already seen us, and with that many eyes on us we never stood a chance. So we continued searching for a smaller more secluded group, which we found about a half hour later. We sat behind a cedar tree, hiding in its shade while we devised a plan to work down a ridge where we could get a closer shot.
With our best plans made, we grabbed our gear and snuck quietly down the tree line. As we closed the distance we kept checking in with the small group of six or so animals, several of them still lay bedded confirming that they were unaware of our approach. As we reached the point we had planned on shooting from, we made one of the classic hunting blunders. Passing into the open between two trees regardless of how slow and quiet was not the move to make, and before we could get setup to shoot, the antelope leapt from their beds and ran for better than half a mile before looking back.
As we watched them off in the distance, I did the old guy thing where you remind the new guy that it cant be that easy. You gotta work for it, and put in your time and learn your lessons before you win. As we hiked back towards the truck, we discussed our next plan. But before we had gotten to the area we had planned on hunting next, we spotted a couple small groups of animals out grazing on a wide flat near a rainwater accumulation. We talked it over, and decided it was certainly worth a try. So we made our way around a rise that lie between us and the herd. We knew that we were going to be crawling for quite a ways, as the ground was too flat to even duck-walk without presenting a significant profile. We grabbed only the essential gear we would need, and began crawling across the dry dirt and prickly ground. Every few yards I’d pop up just enough to see if they were still there.

When we finally reached a spot where Leo could lay proned out behind the rifle and see the herd, we did some preparation. It turned out there was two groups of antelope, a close group of about five animals and a larger group of seven or so further out. There wasn’t enough brush to conceal us if we moved any closer, so the call was made to shoot from right there. After we’d both given the group a thorough good looking, we determined that there was only one mature doe in the group. Keeping our eyes on her to avoid any mistakes, we watched them move along waiting for the right shot.

Leo loaded the rifle, and dialed the elevation correction. We had practiced shooting this far with no issues, so we both had confidence in his ability to make the shot. But for several minutes they moved along a distant brush line, stopping only with her white rump pointed directly at us. They were working away, after checking the distance again we corrected the elevation. It was shortly thereafter that she stopped, Leo whispered that the next time she stops he would dispatch the chambered round. I watched through my own optic as she slowed to a stop and looked around the arid country beyond. Just as anticipated the suppressed gasp from the rifle came, and I watched the trace travel across the six-hundred yard gap between us. The hundred grain Cayuga found its mark, pushing its way through the unsuspecting doe sending her straight to the ground.

We both erupted into a celebratory cheer as the rest of the antelope nearby slowly scattered. We continued watching to ensure that she had expired completely, but a curious development occurred as we watched. The other group of antelope that had been feeding further away seemed to have also been spooked by the excitement, and they moved closer to us as we lay waiting. After just a few minutes they had closed the distance over two hundred yards and they were now slightly closer than the first group had been when we started. Leo and I still laid in the low spot we had chosen for a hide, still concealed and in our shooting position. “Should we take another one?” he asked, and not being one for complicating things that don’t need complication I told him it was his hunt and his call to make. We both inspected this new group of antelope, and again found only a single mature doe mingling among a few juvenile bucks and this years fawn.
We kept track of her, and reset the elevation on the rifle for their location. Again we waited as she slowly walked through the brush, waiting for a shot opportunity where she stood still with her side to us and apart from the other animals. When the time came, we were ready. Again the GT released a burst of gas as the next bullet hastily made it across the five-hundred and fifty yards, and we watched the doe drop to the ground.
Our plan had put us in the right place for a perfect double. We again reveled in our success and shared a hug, no longer concerned with concealment or making noise. We gathered our gear up, and made our way down the drainage towards our prize, the two animals laid only a hundred yards or so from each other.

The 24″ ES-Tactical 6GT barrel pushes the 100 gr. Cayugas at just under 3,000 FPS and 1/4MOA groups are the norm

We gathered them up, and took some pictures. For Leo it was the first time handling a large animal that he killed himself, I watched as he curiously inspected them occasionally pointing out some of the puzzling characteristics of these unique animals.


It was time to give a lesson in gutting though, so with knives in hand we started whittling away. Dark storm clouds rumbled in the distance so I didn’t want to take too long. We made short work of the two animals, and into the truck they went where we had bags of ice waiting for them. We also brought along the hearts and livers to use as much as we could.

Incredibly heavy rain began to pour over the prairie as we rode out, washing blood and dirt from the bed of the truck. But as we rolled down the highway I thought about the fun we’d had and our shared experience that no amount of washing would rinse away. Our clothes on the other hand could use a good torrent and rinsing rain, but we still had work to do. Once home, we hung the two antelope in my skinning tree and skinned them out. A quick wash with cold water to get as much blood and other contaminants from the carcasses before putting them into the cooler on ice for a weeks worth of aging was all that remained.

Once again I was lucky to share the spoils of a new hunter’s prize, we had antelope for dinner the next day and it was good. Not just because of the flavor, but also because of the adventure and satisfaction we shared in getting it. I don’t think I’ll tire of helping new hunters anytime soon, and I cant wait for the next opportunity.
-CBM

Perfectly rare antelope tenderloins were delicious

Ruger American 6.5 Creedmoor

I have had quite a few Ruger firearms over the years, and for the most part my experience with the company has been a good one. My first real rifle was a Ruger, and both family and friends have also used a bunch of different Ruger models over the years. I have always thought Ruger produced a good firearm for the price, today we will be taking my first look at the Ruger American line of rifles. I’m curious to see if they match up to my decades of experience with Ruger.

Go Wild
There are many different Ruger American models, but the one I will be looking at today is the Go Wild model. This model comes with custom Cerakote and camouflage, and its chambered in the very popular 6.5 Creedmoor. As I opened the box I thought it had a handsome look to it, but looks don’t go very far in these mountains so I wanted to see how it performed more than anything.
I lifted the gun from the box, and the first thing I though was it seemed lighter than it looked, if that makes sense. It was noticeably lighter than I expected it to be, and other comparable rifles nearby. This is obviously a good thing in my estimation, as I had planned on having my wife use the rifle during our hunting season. She is quite petite, so smaller and lighter is better.

With the gun shouldered, I ran the bolt a few times which felt better than I expected. The three-lug bolt of the American needs less lift to unlock from the breech, sixty-degrees of lift instead of the standard ninety-degrees. The smooth raceway had the bolt sliding very clean, and with the short lift it made it quick to reload.
The synthetic stock got my attention next, it came as no surprise that the stock felt a bit cheap. Its unfortunate that many gun manufacturers are using these very flexible polymer stocks, but it is also very predictable. And to be fair, if the gun shoots well I probably wont be complaining about the flexible stock too much. The barreled action has a nice Burnt Bronze Cerakote color, that goes well with the camo pattern on the stock. The muzzle of the twenty-two inch barrel is threaded 5/8-24 and comes with a radially ported brake to aid in recoil reduction. The barrel twist is a pretty standard one in eight.
The rifle is fed through a detachable box magazine compatible with AICS type magazines, this came as a pleasant surprise as I have an assortment of magazines I’d like to try in the rifle.
The tang mounted safety was easy to reach and manipulate, as was the bolt release on the left rear side of the action. The simple design was easily understood and in no time I was ready to outfit it. The gun came with a scope rail already mounted which made mounting a scope much easier. I mounted one of my scopes in a pair of Warne low rings, the US Optics TS25X fit perfectly on top of the rifle. Though I think I will also add a stock-pack to get a better cheekweld.

Range time
After getting the rifle setup with a scope, bipod and some ammo, it was time to get it hot. I arrived at one of my shooting spots with an assortment of ammunition, some Hornady Match 120 grain, as well as some Federal 130 grain Gold Medal ammunition. I had also brought some handloads of my favorite hunting load, which consisted of Cayuga solid copper bullets. I’ve used them several times in the past on both deer and elk, and if my better half was to use this rifle for hunting I wanted to see how it shot these bullets.
With a target set up at one hundred yards, I laid on my shooting mat to zero the little Ruger. Using the Hornady ammunition I zeroed the rifle, and fired a quick three-shot group.

I corrected the point of impact to correlate with my point of aim, and then it was time to have some fun. I tested my other ammo selections, and all of them shot very comparable which is always nice. I then turned my attention to the hill beyond my target, surely there was an opportunity to test this rifle at some longer ranges. With my binoculars I picked out a couple targets that were about ten inches in diameter. One of them I ranged at four-hundred and sixty yards, not too far but definitely something realistic for a deer in these mountains. After zeroing the turrets on my scope, I adjusted 2.1 MRAD of elevation to correct for the distance. The wind was dead calm, so I held center on the target, and pressed the trigger.

I hadn’t mentioned the trigger yet, but it was better than I expected it to be. I’m not a big fan of blade safeties on bolt action rifles, but this certainly hasn’t prevented a clean and easy break on this rifle. The trigger had no discernable friction, the only movement I noticed was when it broke.
I watched the bullet impact my target a little high of center, I need to chronograph these bullets from this rifle, as I think they are flying a little faster than I expected. I fired another shot to confirm, and then began a search for another even further target. I found one that measured eight-hundred yards away according to my rangefinder, this was a shot I was confident the little Ruger and I could make. I dialed 5.2 MRAD into the riflescope, and leveled up the rifle on my rear bag. Adjusting the parallax on my scope made a clear image of the target, all that was left was a clean release.
I could do this all day. The Ruger American was just a hoot to shoot, I was impressed with how much I liked it. I made this and several other shots at similar distances, until I was quite sure that the rifle would be suitable for a spot on our hunting team. The fun factor doubled when I installed my Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20, the titanium suppressor added mere ounces to the rifle, and took away the need for hearing protection in this wide open country. Watching and hearing bullets impact at these great distances was very satisfying. Continue Reading Here…


Browning Citori Quail 16 Gauge

You don’t need to be a shotgun connoisseur to understand a nice shotgun when you pick it up. I am neither a connoisseur nor even a serious shotgunner, but I’ve shot enough of the finer ones to know what it feels like. Today we’ll venture into to another story about a handsome Browning double, the Citori 16 Gauge.

The Citori White Lightning
The Browning Citori line of shotguns has long been famous for its quality and performance. A beautiful match of attractive wood and steel are the basis for the gun, matched with a pair of 28-inch sixteen-gauge barrels. The receiver has beautifully engraved patterns to match its clean and smooth lines. Like most over & under shotguns, the gun is opened with a lever on the spine of the action. The Citori features a full-width tapered locking bolt, this makes for additional strength in keeping the gun closed. The locking mechanism is also tapered, allowing it to seat ever deeper with the wear that will occur over decades.
Behind that, is the safety selector. Again, like most over & under shotguns, the safety doubles as a barrel selector. You can slide the safety left and right to choose which of the two barrels to shoot first, and fore and aft to select safe or fire.

The mechanical intricacies are beautiful, the ejector system utilizes a spring to drive up the impact of the ejector upon opening the gun fully. This ensures that spent hulls are thrown clear of the breach, allowing for fast and unobstructed reloads. The ejector springs are only actuated upon firing that chamber, so unfired shells are easily retrieved from the chambers.
This gun featured two and three-quarter-inch chrome-lined chambers, and an elevated rib for better sighting picture against the bead at the end.

Sweet Sixteen
I’d never been fortunate enough to play with a sixteen-gauge gun. I’d shot countless twelve gauges, twenties, .410’s and ten gauge shotguns. But the little sixteen was new to me, and new things are usually a little bit exciting. Being a little bit bigger than the twenty gauge, I figured the sixteen would be great for wing-shooting small birds like those portrayed in the little Browning’s engravings. Doves and quail seem like an obvious choice, but ducks and pheasants would also be a perfect target for this gun.
The first issue I ran into was ammo related, turns out that in our current ammunition situation, sixteen-gauge ammo is a little more difficult to find than others. But I was lucky enough to land a couple boxes of Federal ammunition, one was a fairly standard trap load of 1 oz 8 shot. The other was a hunting load, ideal for a pheasant hunt loaded with #4 shot loaded a bit quick at 1425 fps. I was going to shoot it all to see what I did and didn’t like about this little gun. Continue Reading Here…



Laugo Alien 9mm Pistol

The Laugo Arms Alien pistol has been turning heads since it was first shown to the public, I myself remember working through the crowd at SHOT Show to get hands on it. My first impression was and still is impressed with the design, the odd shapes and lines are combined with some of the most familiar and comfortable pistol features that many of us crave. Today we’ll take a closer look at this Xenomorphic Czech wonder.

Laugo Arms got its start working with Česká zbrojovka (CZ) working on the Scorpion EVO. The stated focus at Laugo is to move beyond conventional designs and to innovate new and better ideas. Their first product is the Alien pistol, named I assume due to its appearance and similarity to the protagonist in the 1980’s horror sci-fi films of the same name. But does this odd pistol design actually deliver enhanced performance, or is it just another gun fit for “the company”.

The Alien
From a very objective look, the Alien is a semi-automatic nine-millimeter pistol. But there is a great difference between the way the gun operates, and what you might be familiar with. If you are a bit of a CZenofile like me, the grip and angle of the pistol will feel quite familiar. The pistol frame is actually two pieces bolted together, and the feel of the grip in my hand is a perfect match. The texturing feels very good and allows better control of the pistol. The all-metal construction of the pistol makes it feel a bit heavier than most, and at 2.4 pounds you know you’ve got something significant in your hand. The 4.8 inch 9mm barrel is nested low in the frame, giving the Alien one of its innovative claims of the lowest bore axis available. The full-sized pistol uses seventeen-round standard capacity magazines, and they are fed into the magwell by a smooth and contoured flare making reloads quick and easy. Other familiar features of the pistol you may expect are quality adjustable iron sights including a fiber optic front sight, and a 1913 standard pic rail for accessories (like a flamethrower) under the front of the gun.
The features you may not know about are where it gets quite interesting. The Alien utilizes a gas-operated piston delayed blowback system, this combined with the extremely low bore axis keeps the Alien more on target during recoil than traditional pistols. In addition, the iron sights or red dot optical sight (both are included) are mounted to the non-reciprocating portion of the pistol which allows the shooter to remain focused on targeting while the Alien reloads itself.

On the Range
I’ve had a couple opportunities to shoot the Alien, and I found it to be very interesting and entertaining. The pistol comes as part of a complete kit from Laugo, a very high quality polymer case, that includes both sight rails with iron and optical sight, extra magazines, a custom holster made by Elornis Industry and a few more extras.
After loading some magazines and feeling the pistol weight in my hand, I actually felt like I liked it more. This may not be the perfect gun to carry around on a daily basis, but it feels great to have it in the hand. The grip fills the palm of the hand perfectly for me, and feels outstanding much like the high-end pistols from CZ. The next thing up for touching was the trigger, which is again all metal and utilizes a blade safety like many modern pistols. Pulling the trigger there was a short take-up and a very clean break. It felt outstanding, comparable to the guns of professionals I’ve been lucky enough to shoot. The recoil of the pistol wasn’t significantly noticeable at first, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. But after shooting it for a while, I began to notice a different pattern. Also while watching others shoot the gun, it certainly seemed to have less muzzle rise than comparable pistols being shot side by side and using the same ammunition.

I did notice that after much shooting, the pistol did begin to warm up perhaps a little more than I had anticipated. Likely due to the gas being captured in the gas block and building heat. But it felt so good and was so smooth shooting I didn’t notice the heat for long.
With the pop of a single captured pin at the front of the pistol, the whole sighting-rail came right off, and it was switched out for the rail-mounted red dot. Easily switching back and forth between the two took only seconds. The removal of the rail allowed the shooter to see the cunning inner workings of the Alien, much simpler than a terraforming reactor. The hammer and sear are actually mounted in the bottom of the sight-rail, and swing down instead of up. The deeply mounted barrel was under the gas block, with the piston and recoil spring assemblies positioned in the block.
The pistol shot excellent with no failures, it was as pleasant to shoot as any pistol I’ve ever shot, I could feel a desire to keep it growing inside. Accuracy from the gun was what you would expect, easily stacking shots on top of each other up close. And predictably hitting targets further out. Continue Reading Here…

Smith & Wesson 629 .44 Magnum Mountain Gun

I grew up watching 80’s films, so revolvers’ always seemed present in my gun repertoire. My father and grandfather both shot revolvers’ whenever they had occasion to shoot a pistol. My taste’s have changed over the years but I can still appreciate a cylinder with holes bored for six.
Today’s subject is one of those classic pistol designs that seem timeless in their execution, the S&W 629 Mountain Gun chambered in the admirable 44 Remington Magnum.

The model 629
Is a more modern version of the gun that made the 44 magnum famous, the model 29. The pistol features double and single action functions, one of the most simple and easy to not screw up designs ever. The cylinder has chambers for six cartridges, and is opened by pushing the left side release actuator. The gun comes with a rubberized grip making it easy to hold onto, and an adjustable rear sight to make sure you hit whatever you are aiming at. The four inch barrel was in very good condition, almost new to the naked eye.

The .44 Magnum
I’ve been loading .44 Magnum since I got my first wheel gun over a decade ago. I’ve found it to be a relatively easy cartridge to load, and in the interests of fun I’ve also loaded up a few .44 Specials. The .44 Remington Magnum offers big bullets going real fast, at least for a pistol. With bullets in the 200 to 240 grain class, you can shoot velocities near double that of the very popular .45 ACP.
Harnessing all this power has been the job of many strong revolvers over the years, but it has also been popular in some lever gun models. Perhaps the ultimate duo, a Winchester 94 in .44 magnum with a S&W revolver to match.

Ammunition
Since buying ammunition these days is still as pleasant as washing stray cats, I decided to use some of my own rolled magnums. Several comfort loads that I’m used to would do the trick. The first is my old standby, a 240 grain cast lead slug with a grease ring. Loaded with some H110 it has always been a soft and accurate shooting load, I’ve been able to reliably hit targets at deer hunting distances in the past. The next load up was some Berry’s 240 grain copper plated flat-points, loaded again with H110 which seems to be the go to powder for many of these pistol cartridges. Once I had a box of each loaded up, I headed to the mountains to see how this Mountain Gun fit in to the scenery.

On the range
One thing I appreciate about the .44 Magnum is that even though its just a pistol, it still has enough energy to shoot further distances than one would typically shoot pistols. Not exactly long range, but I like the idea of a strong handgun that a guy could actually use to sneak up on a deer and take a shot.
I started out shooting at paper targets at approximately fifteen-yards, hitting NRA targets at that range was easy, so much so that I began to try shooting some groups to see just how accurate the gun is.
Once I had convinced myself I could shoot no better at that range, I decided to shoot at a steel target fifty-yards away. A full size silhouette was still relatively easy to hit, and I stacked a bunch of lead on the front of that target for the next few minutes. The 629 seemed to like the lead bullets better than the plated ones, but both loads shot well enough for predictable hits.

The .44 is no slouch, you are quite aware of its presence every time it goes off. The soft rubber grip was very comfortable to hold onto, and its sticky quality made it easier to hold onto under recoil. The short four-inch barrel sure loved to climb, I probably need to work on my pistol driving skills, but I think it wasn’t just me.
Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most was the clean and perfect trigger break. It felt so good it reminded me of a good rifle, I think this also made the pistol so easy to shoot well. I only needed to line up the sights, and apply a touch of pressure and watch the impact through a small cloud of smoke.

There is an allure to cranking the hammer back on these heavy revolvers, like reminiscing from one of those old 70’s movies imagining a quivering villain before you as a cunning threat rolls off your lips. The heavy feel in your hand, and the impressive recoil and noise seems to command attention. Continue Reading Here…

Big Bore ’94 XTR .375 Winchester 1894

This story has been a long time in the making. More than twenty years ago, my best friend walked into a local gun shop looking for a Big Bore 94 XTR chambered in .375 Winchester. I’ll spare you the details about why he was looking for that specific rifle, but he was surprised to find they still had one back on the shelf, still new in its original box. Perhaps more importantly with the original price tag on it as well.
He brought the rifle home, and it would soon become part of the random collection of guns that we would shoot every weekend we could. I made him promise that he would never sell the rifle unless it was to me, but with the closing of the Winchester facility in the early two-thousands, the value and demand for rifles like that one went up significantly. And much like other 90’s fads, the old Winchester fell from favor. At the time I couldn’t pay what it was worth on the market, so despite my broken heart, it left with brown Santa for the state of Wisconsin. I never forgot that rifle, and have longed for one like it since.
I recently made the find of another Big Bore 94 nearly identical to that one. And I knew that the universe had brought it back to me, so out came the credit card.

The 1894
The iconic Winchester Model 1894 has long been revered as a game changer. Over the long century that it has been manufactured, countless game animals have been taken. Chambered in a great many differing cartridges, but very commonly seen in 30-30 WCF. The gun feels fresh out of the old cowboy movies most of us watched growing up.
The Big Bore line of 94’s has a much shorter lifespan, they were made back in the 70’s and 80’s timeframe, before Winchester’s demise. The rifle uses the same lever action as other model 94’s but uses typically larger cartridges like this .375 Win, or something like a .44 Magnum.
The rifle I bought is like new, but almost the same age as me. And much like me, there are certain advantages of being manufactured back in the seventies. The rifle is simple, no safety or locking devices are built into it. It uses the old half-cock safety, and the cartridges are fed through the feeding ramp on the right side of the receiver.
It has a fine set of iron sights, but this rifle also came with an offset scope mount and a similar vintage Bushnell 2-8 power scope mounted. Something I wasn’t sure I would like, but I was certainly willing to give it a try.

Custom made ammunition featuring 200 gr bullets

The .375 Winchester
The .375 Winchester is a rimmed straight-wall cartridge. Its derived from the old 38-55 cartridge from back in late nineteenth century. The more modern .375 Winchester running on smokeless powder can push two-hundred grain bullets around the 2400 FPS mark, which isn’t an insignificant thing. I always dreamed about using this rifle for a sneaky deer hunt, putting the moves on a nice buck deep in the forest. This year instead, I plan on using the Winchesters big 200 grain bullets on a bull elk. The deep and dark woods where we pursue elk in the fall are ideal for a rifle and cartridge like this.

The Ammunition situation
A quick look at the ammunition market gave me the too familiar discomfort that you have likely experienced in recent years. Boxed ammunition for this rifle was outrageous, topping six dollars a round. Even unloaded brass was more expensive than I would allow myself to spend, so I decided to roll some of my own loads. As it happens, I had a set of RCBS dies in my inventory, and a few boxes of Sierra 200 grain flat-point bullets. I could fashion the brass from the large volume of 30-30 cartridge cases I had accumulated over the years. With some sizing grease, some trimming and cleanup, I was quickly manufacturing my own .375 ammo.

To the field
It had been more than twenty years since I’d shot a .375 Win, so I couldn’t wait to see how this dream gun from the past would perform. After testing a few of my handloads for safety, I started shooting at the fifty-yard-line. I was quickly reminded of why I liked this gun all those years ago, its small size and easy handling characteristics make it a piece of cake to shoot. And yet when the hammer drops, there is a deep thunderous roar that lets you know this isn’t a 30-30.
I made some scope adjustments, to correct the zero of the rifle with my loads. I decided to zero it at about seventy-five yards, for the following reasons which may or may not be mistaken; This is certainly not a long-range rifle, the flat-nosed bullets are nowhere near as efficient in flight as our more modern bullets. And despite their muzzle velocity of near 2400 FPS, much of that velocity is spent by the time it reaches two-hundred yards. I figured that though I could shoot beyond three hundred yards, I probably wouldn’t with this rifle. And even more likely it would be used inside a hundred yards, the thick forests where our elk hide can get you into archery range if you are sneaky enough. Continue Reading Here…

Winchester Model 12

I don’t find every old firearm to be interesting, but there are the occasional ones that grab my attention for any number of reasons. The Winchester model 12 just happens to be one of the few that did pique my interest, and today I’m here to tell you a little bit about my experience with it.

History
The Model 12 is a pump action twelve-gauge shotgun, iconic in that it has the classic features that make a pump-gun so appealing. And it may not be the first, but it certainly trained generations how to shoot airborne game among many other things. The Model 12 was also used by the US Military, making it an actual war weapon unlike your AR 15.
My father grew up shooting an old model 12, barely a teenager when it was given to him by my grandfather he used it for hunting pheasants and ducks in the marshy wetlands beyond grandpas pasture. As a child I remember seeing Dad tinker with it amongst his other guns.

The model 12 uses traditional wooden furniture, with an easily identifying ribbed front grip. A shallow rib runs the length of the barrel, with a targeting bead on the muzzle end. The barrel itself is a thirty-inches long and has a three-inch magnum chamber. It features a familiar safety at the front of the trigger guard, and an action release just behind it. The tubular magazine holds six 2-3/4 shot-shells, and it is clamped to the barrel at the front of the tube.
I looked up the serial number and if the internet is to be believed, this gun was manufactured in 1917, making it a hundred and five years old.

In the Field
After some inspection and thorough familiarizing myself with the gun I decided it was time to see how it shoots. I loaded up some clay targets and a few boxes of shells and headed to the hills. The family and I spent a good part of the afternoon shooting the model 12, smashing clays and pumping fresh shells through the gun.
This model 12 in particular appears to be in pretty good shape, and yet we did have just a few hiccups with it. The trigger on the gun doesn’t reset when pumped, you can literally hold the trigger down and pump shot after shot like the old western revolvers. A couple times it felt as though the trigger followed the bolt home and didn’t go off, leaving a dead trigger. This is likely as much a result of my children’s inexperience with shotguns as anything. On a couple occasions the bolt felt stuck in battery, requiring an extra shove from me to extract the spent shell.
Despite these hiccups, we still had a great afternoon on the mountain. The barrel was made way before interchangeable chokes, so you get what it came with as far as that goes. I imagine it is set fairly tight, as the shot pattern seemed much smaller than I expected. This made shooting the hand-thrown clays a whole lot more challenging. We were shooting one-ounce loads from Winchester and Fiocchi, both using 7.5 shot.
I am certainly not the best wing-shooter, but I did feel like I was cheated out of a few hits by the model 12. Shots I am very confident I’d of made if I were shooting one of my guns. Continue Reading Here…

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Sig Sauer Kilo 10K Binoculars

I’ve been severely hooked on both hunting and long range shooting for more than a few decades, so laser rangefinders are nothing new to me. I still remember saving up what seemed like an eternity to purchase my first one, an LRF I could barely afford but would actually hit a thousand yards and beyond reliably. All these years later my laser has migrated into a good pair of bino’s which are a must have for spotting animals in these Rocky Mountains. But the me from twenty years ago would never believe just how much else has migrated into the binoculars I carry.

Sig Sauer Optics
Sig Sauer jumped into the optics market with both feet, and like their products or not they have been innovating all over the optics world. They worked hard enough to earn my business a few years back when I bought one of their Tango 6 5-30 riflescopes. I have had the good fortune to sample a broad spectrum of Sig Sauer’s Electro-optics, enough so to become quite confident in giving them more hard earned money. The Kilo 10K is that latest purchase, a pair of consumer grade binoculars that feature arguably military grade functions. I decided that I was due an upgrade, and spent the money.

The Kilo 10K Binoculars
I have been using another pair of 10X42’s for the last few years, but a friend bought a pair of the Kilo 3000 binoculars and I quickly noticed they seemed better to my eyes than the binos I was using. The Kilo 10K is a significant upgrade from the 3000 model, with so many features I’ll have to keep it short to avoid this page taking all day to load.
Besides Sig’s standard features such as their Ballistic Data Exchange (BDX) and their various lens coatings and armor, the real juicy details are all encoded inside. The Kilo utilizes second generation Lightwave DSP ranging engine that has various ranging functions that allow you to range reflective targets as far as 10,000 yards away. I was dang sure gonna try that out.

Some of the data displayed in the Kilo 10K Heads up display

The onboard system also has all the sensors needed to calculate real time ballistics via Applied Ballistics Elite ballistic calculator, and instead of pairing to your phone application the Kilo does it all inside and gives you an incredible array of information right in front of your eyes. All this without ever taking your eyes off the target.
The internal systems of the Kilo also have compass and GPS functions, you can see compass headings and such right in the binocular heads up display, angles of incline are also displayed. And you can mark waypoints in your travels using the Basemap application.
The aforementioned Applied Ballistics (AB) software allows you to store up to 25 different profiles in the binoculars using their complete bullet library, so you can always have you favorite load cued up. The Kilo 10K reads all the relevant atmosphere information to give you a corrected firing solution with current density altitude conditions, and even includes a wind meter for accurate wind speed measurement.

Lets Figure this out
I was a bit apprehensive about having the brainpower to figure out and run everything the Kilo 10K offered. After reading through the manual a few times, I was less so.

The Kilo can be configured using the buttons controlling it, or using the BDX phone application. I went about changing a few of the settings to better fit what I thought I would like, it didn’t take long to figure out. The menu allows easy switching from meters and yards, as well as MOA to MRAD. The onboard sensors provide the air pressure, temperature and humidity. You can configure the system to automatically measure the temperature or you can input the temp manually if selected. You can also select manual input of other atmospheric data using the app on your phone.
The heads up display on the Kilo 10K is incredibly informative, giving you distance (both actual and angle corrected) shooting angles, and wind corrections as dictated by the bluetooth connected wind meter. I was very please to see that even a milling reticle can be chosen to aid in spotting for corrections.

Ballistic data is displayed both through the binoculars as well as on the phone display, this could enhance a fire teams ability to make quick shots

After several trips into the hills to simply play with and look through the Kilo 10K, I decided it was time to get serious.
I replaced the factory preset data that came set for a .308 175gr SMK, and entered in all the data for the 6mm GT I was planning on shooting. All the data is easily entered via the BDX app, and no sooner had I input my data, the Kilo synced everything up with the tap of a button.

The AB calculator uses a bluetooth wind-speed anemometer to capture the speed of the wind, temperature, humidity, angles, and all the other pertinent information is captured and fed into the system. One slight complaint I had was from the wind meter itself, it measures the wind just fine. But the direction of the wind has to be put in either through the app on your phone (faster) or you can also do it through a quick access menu on the Kilo itself. The quick switching nature of the wind makes me wonder how challenging that data point might be to maintain accurate. I was hoping there was a way to index the wind direction using the compass heading from the GPS.

There are a great deal of customizable options to change how the data is conjured before your eye. The heads up display menu was clear and quick to cycle through despite having to do everything using only the two external buttons on the binos. I have used AB for some time, so my confidence in the ballistic calculations were good. I wanted to see how the interface with the Kilo lined up, to see if it was as simple as point, laze, and shoot.

Hunting Country
On a blustery summer evening, I made my way into the Wasatch Mountains to do some additional testing of the Kilo’s capabilities. The storm front threatened to bring rain, but for the most part all I got was gloomy cloud cover. The high winds carried a visible amount of dust and debris, which had me concerned at how well the laser would reach. But I was quite surprised to see the Kilo light up with just over five-thousand yards, over two-point-eight miles away.
I decided to hit something even further still away, from my perch at over six-thousand feet (9,189 DA according to the Kilo) I could see my house below. I figured the siding would be reflective enough to hit at significant distance, so I pressed the button until it came back with a reading, and it did several times. Nine-thousand three hundred and fifty-one yards it read, that’s five point three miles away as the crow flies. I checked my Basemap app, to see that the waypoint popped up marking my house. Had I needed to, I could have just walked home in the dark using the Basemap as a guide.

I did some truing of the data in AB for my 6GT load to see that it lined up with confirmed data I already had saved. It was absolutely brilliant to see a firing solution populate in a second or so, with almost all the data I needed to make the shot. The GT shoots very well out to fifteen hundred yards or so, and I wanted to see how quick I could go from spotting targets to seeing impacts at various distances. So I played my mock hunting game where a suitable sized target is picked out, and I engaged it as fast as possible as if it were escaping. The trued data from AB via the Kilo lined up beautifully, allowing me to make hit after hit with minimal delays between shots.
If the system was utilized between a shooter and spotter team, you could put an amazing rate of fire on targets. With a spotter using the Kilo, you could range targets and have the firing solution show up on the shooters phone screen without so much as saying a word. Both could see the live data displayed, and as soon as the next target is identified that data would pop up on the shooter’s screen. You can even actuate the rangefinder from your phone through the app. Once paired, you can touch the range button on your phone screen to activate the rangefinder remotely.
I created a second profile for my favorite twenty-two inch 6.5 Creedmoor, just to see how to cycle between profiles. As with other operations inside the Kilo, it was quick to pull up the menu and switch between profiles and other settings. As I used the internal menu of the Kilo I got much better at changing rapidly the settings. Continue Reading Here…