All posts by coldboremiracle

A Ten Year Old Texas Legend

I was very lucky as child, I got to go on so many adventures that I often felt like a modern day Huck Finn. One of the largest contributing factors to these adventures, was my Mother. Her job and the nature of it frequently took her to some wild places, and whenever possible, she would let me or one of my siblings tag along. She was a brave Mother, not just for allowing us the freedom to roam, but allowing us near her employment.

A nice carp I shot with my Dad’s old fishing bow.

Whether it was driving boats along a three day journey up the amazing Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or a weekend watching movies in a ski lodge in the high Rocky Mountains, we always had fun with Mom.

One of these trips yielded me a whopper of a fishing story, and unlike all the other whoppers you’ve heard, this one is completely true!
It was back in the eighties if I recall, in South East Texas. A beautiful lake named assumedly after the nearby town of Conroe. My Mom had allowed me to come along on a work trip, and while she was busy working through the details of resort management, I was busy trying to get a fish on my line. The lake shore came right up near the back of the condominium where we were staying, and there was sort of a wooded boardwalk along the edges covered by trees.

Now keep in mind, though I was but a pre-teen fishing geek with knee-high socks, I was a fishing legend amongst my peers. Despite my young countenance, I had read many books, and some of Dad’s bass fishing magazines, and I knew the kind of monster fish that lurked in the warm and muddy waters of the south.
I could hardly wait to get my bag carelessly tossed into the room, and snap my Zebco rig together so I could get deep into the fishing. I wasted no time getting to the water’s edge.

After several hours, things were not going as planned.
For the first time in my fishing career, I was dumfounded. It was as if these haughty Texas fish didn’t know who they were dealing with. I tried all my old tricks, the things that made me a legend among the channel catfish at Lake Powell. To this day, those fish associate the muddled sound of my voice with hot dogs and warm anchovies, and they come running.
None of that seemed to matter at Lake Conroe though, all I wanted was to hook into a big, ugly, monster catfish. And even for all my wishing, and my stellar career in fishing, I found myself sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, watching families feed the disheveled ducks who looked like they’d escaped a homeless shelter. Not a single fish to my name, I too looked like a confused duck sitting in the hot Texas sun.

I have never been one to get skunked fishing, there are few things I hate more. So I doubled down my efforts, and kept after it. And just a few moments later, something happened that I myself wouldn’t believe had I not been there.

As I sat there, rod in one hand, and bait in the other, I watched as the ducks continued to feed on the bread they had been tossed. The murky water stirred by the impatient kicking of their feet, but there was something else there, my fishermans eyes saw it. And it took my mind a few moments to catch up.
There, only a few feet away from my rod tip, there was something lurking just under the surface, my eyes squinted as I tried to focus on two dark shapes. Time slowed, the dark shapes I was so focused on were infact the eyes of a slipery leviathan. His skin was almost the same color as the muddy water, and as my jaw dropped slowly to the ground, I witnessed him gulp down a chunk of floating bread. Both the homeless ducks and I jumped when we realized what was swimming amongst us, though the excited stain left in the water was mostly from them.

I was imediately terrified of the pressure of the situation I now faced, my whole life had led up to this point. Every fish I had ever caught was just a warmup, for now, feeding right before me, there was a true monster. A fish so big he could fit my He-Man lunch box in his mouth, and a whole ham sandwhich was just the bait I needed.

As sweat ran down my face, I quickly baited my hook with a healthy wad of bread. Then shewing the ducks away, I gently set the bait on the murky water. I knew it would only be a few seconds until he returned to the surface, to inhale another gallon of bread laden water.

I mentioned I had a Zebco right? Just like every other kid. Probably had some junk six or eight pound line on it, tied at the end was a crumy hook with dried catfish bait on it, tied with a kid’s knot. And of course a bobber, you couldn’t fish in the eighties without a bobber, that was required equipment by Fish & Game.

Well luck was not with me, my bait had sunken out of sight, and I sat there watching that bobber like as though the earths continued existence depended on it. At long last, a tiny ripple, and then the bobber dipped out of sight pulling away from me. Not being a rookie, I let him have it, better for him to think he got the better of me. After a moment or so, my line began to tighten, and like a seasoned pro, I pulled the hook right into his lip.

I couldn’t have fathomed that my high performance professional grade Zebco would fail me, but just as I felt the weight of the fish come on to my rod, the line broke. The limp and curly line lay there on the water lifeless.
I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that the biggest fish Id ever seen, had just skunked me harder than I even knew you could get skunked. I sat there in the evening sun, filled with disbelief, thinking about my escaped trophy.

I was feeling a lot like Chief Brody in the movie Jaws, and just like in that scene in the movie, I suddenly noticed my bobber out in the water. At first I thought it had come free, but then I saw it disappear under the water again. Several times I saw it surface and go under, and it was moving against the wind.

I decided I wasn’t going to be skunked after all, and I devised a plan. I searched out a rock of the appropriate size, and I tied it to the end of my line. The plan was to cast past the bobber, hoping to entangle it with the rock and line, then retreive my monster. I knew it was a long shot, but this was the ninth inning here and I had to do something.

One cast after another until I finally landed the rock just past the bobber, I let it sink hoping to cross the line beneath. And to my delight, I felt and saw the bobber move as I reeled it in. But was my monster cat still there?

I felt some resistance, but it was nothing like a big cat would pull. I figured he had gotten off, perhaps tangling the line in something. So I reeled the line all the way in, and when I finally had the bobber in my hand, I lifted on the line below it. There was still something there, but it was no monster cat.
At the end of my line, was a little baby ham sammich eatin bullhead catfish. Maybe eight inches long, and growling up a storm like catfish do.
I kinda chuckled a little at the situation, I had gotten my tackle back, and I was no longer skunked, my reputation and honor intact. But the growling little catfish seemed to be laughing at me, but the joke was on him because I eat catfish.

But not that day, I let the little guy go. I dont remember much else from that trip, but these old stories about ham sammich eating monsters are what keep us comming back to our favorite fishing holes. And maybe thats better than catching em anyways.

-CBM

Elornis Industry Back Pack/Drag Bag

I frequently get the chance to check out some cool new gear, and this is about just such a thing. Elornis Industry is a manufacturer in the Czech Republic, they make steel targets, hardware, textiles, Kydex, and many other great products for shooters. I managed to get my hands on one of their BackPack/ Drag Bag‘s, and I was very impressed.
The bag is a smaller one, for carbines and bullpups like my SRS. It serves as either a simple soft case for transporting your rifle to the range, or as a backpack to carry the rifle and accessories all over creation. It also works as a traditional snipers drag bag, to tow a marksman’s kit safely.

First I must say, the quality of Elornis Industry products is second to none. Quality materials, stitched firmly with good quality fasteners present a top notch case. The extra large zippers used in the case are smooth and strong, almost feels like you could zip a finger up in them.

The backpack straps are well padded, and adjust to fit the user. They also can be stowed inside the pack if not used as a backpack, as can the waist belt and chest strap.

There are additional storage compartments both inside and outside the case. Allowing for gear organization, there are even different colored zipper tabs to help distinguish. Inside the case, there are three zippered pouches made of mesh. On the back outside of the pack there are also three pouches accessed by opening the three way zipper.

The rifle compartment itself has a soft interior lining, a couple straps can be added to help support and stabilize the rifle inside.

The pack also has a built in rainfly that deploys from the top. It fits over the pack with a small bungee around its circumference to keep it tight.

Other handy little things like well positioned handles for carrying, velcro strip for adding patches (you know the ones, so that everybody at the range knows your blood type), these features round this pack out as just a great bag. I think it is ideal for a full day deployment for something like a shooting match, or a day chasing rock chucks in the Rockies.

If Elornis Industry makes all their products like they did this one, then I need to order more of them. Definitely intuitive products built for shooters by shooters.

-CBM

Watch the video here

Nikon Black FX 1000 4-16X50 Riflescope

What a time to be alive! Shooters have so many good options to choose from these days, the variety makes this fat kid feel like he’s in a candy shop. Today I’d like to tell you about another great product that followed me home, it wouldnt be as significant if it hadn’t kicked out a long time inhabitant of my safe.

Ive said it before, the optics game is a vigorous one, but thats good for consumers like us. With so many great companies fighting for our dollars, there is almost without question a good option for every budget and application.

I bought my first Nikon Rifle scope many years ago, it was a slightly used Buckmaster 4-14. I mounted it on my old 25-06 and used it to kill both my first deer and my first elk. I hope your sitting down, but in my humble and true opinion, Nikon has always made some great optics. There have been times where they were behind, and they may not have had the best offerings, but for the most part what they made was of good quality. For a long time, Nikon was the best I could afford, and I made do with what I had.
Thank goodness times have changed, and like the times, Nikon has stepped up their line of scopes. I was introduced to the newest Nikon tactical scopes (the Black line) a year or so ago. It was an event for writers to see some of the new products. Nikon showed up with the Black FX 1000 line of scopes, they feature a 30mm tube, first or second focal plane reticles, and they are also available in either MOA or MRAD subtensions. Not only did they have these more modern features, they also brought the always high quality Nikon glass lenses that they are so famous for. That day we shot and killed steel at 1800 yards with the Black 6-24 mounted to a .375 Cheytac.
I could barely wait to get my hands on one, the scopes had everything I wanted in a sub $1000 price range. And even better than that, they were priced well below comparable scopes from other trusted names.

Setting the zero-stop

When I got my FX 1000 4-16 in the mail (after chasing down the UPS driver) I hastily opened up the package to get this party started. I already had a rifle and rings ready to go, it was a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 7 WSM, it’s sole purpose in life is to make elk into elk steaks. Within a few minutes I had the scope mounted, and I took it outside to bore-sight it.
Another great feature of the FX 1000 is the zero-stop, if your not familiar with a zero-stop, you need to be. After zeroing your elevation turret for whatever your zero distance is, you set the zero-stop. This is accomplished by loosening the three allen screws around the turret grip area, and lifting the turret itself off the top. Underneath you will find another knurled ring with another three allen screws holding it tight over a threaded stud. All that is required is to loosen the screws, and then turn the knurled ring down until it stops. Once you’ve done that, you retighten the allen screws and re-install the turret aligning it at the zero mark.

This feature makes it simple and reliable to return your scope to zero after dialing elevation for distance. The Nikon zero-stop is fast, strong, and clean. I say clean because it doesnt use shims or blocks like other scopes. These types sometimes can cause a slow buildup of friction as they lockup, causing a mushy zero, and unessesary effort to start or stop turning. The Nikon is completely opposite of that, it turns until it stops, exactly on zero, every time.

This young moose made good eye candy while testing my scope.

The FX-MRAD reticle is much simpler than many of the hottest reticles on the market today, and thats just fine. The reticle has plenty of detail for real use, without getting too busy or complicated. Subtensions with .2 MIL and a hollow spot on the half MIL marks is very handy when doing holdovers or wind doping. Numbered marks on the even MIL marks are also handy when you start getting further away from the centerline. Reticle’s have advanced just like scopes, many shooters like the “Christmas tree” type reticles that are popular these days. While I personally prefer them, I dont mind using a standard milling reticle such as this either. And for those who like an uncluttered perspective they are probably better.

With the scope now mounted, I was ready to hit the range, which for me is up into the snowy and clouded Wasatch Mountains.
My bore sight job was close enough to get us on paper, and with a couple quick reticle measurements, I had the rifle zeroed. Even with a zero cant scope base, the rifle still had 18 MRAD of its 25 available MRAD to correct up. On this rifle 18 MRAD will get me out to approximately 1600 yards, which is beyond where I would ever anticipate using it, so no worries there.


With ten MRAD per revolution turrets, its easy to keep track of which rev of the turret you are on. Even so, the turret base has markings for you to keep track of, something all manufacturers should do.
Speaking of the turrets, they are just stiff enough, and have a crisp and audible click. With a rifle as flat shooting as this, the scope will likely never dial more than seven or eight MRAD, but it’s nice to have more if you need it.

I also tested the turret values, I did this by measuring out 100 yards exactly, and bolting the scope into a vise. Then measured the click value against a yard-stick. The results were very pleasing, especially since I am so bad at math. The turrets were very consistent and repeatable, always returning to the same spot when I hit the zero-stop. And over the course of the 18 MRAD from zero to topped out, there was as little as 0.3 MRAD of disparity between what was dialed, and what the reticle actually moved. I’m no Galileo, but thats close enough for what we do around here.

The parralax adjustment was pretty close to the aligning numbers on the focus knob. I usually disregard the numbers and just turn it to where the image is clearest, and minimum parralax, so its pretty nice when they are at least close.

Lens quality is exactly what you would expect from Nikon. All images were bright and clear, even in lower light conditions as the sun faded. Very minimal aberration around the edge of the sight picture regardless of magnification setting.
And despite the cold blowing snow of the high Rocky Mountains, the scope never fogged up on me, though I did need to blow the accumulation off the glass now and then.

A great companion to any good rifle is the Nikon RangeX laser rangefinder, you can read more about it here.

Shooting with the FX 1000 was what you would expect from a good scope. Targets are easily identified, and the reticle was very useful for measuring corrections at distance. The texture of the magnification ring and turrets was a very agressive, I like the firm purchase it gives to your hands. And the firm audible clicks would make it easy to use even when wearing gloves.

I took the rifle all the way out to 1150 yards, I was hitting a little high at that distance, but using the reticle to measure the deviation, it was easily corrected. The 4-16 magnification range is great for these distances, enough to clearly see targets, trace, and impacts. While not being so magnified as to darken the image, and exacerbate every small movement.

I’ve tried to come up with something about this scope that I dont like, and to be honest I’m having a hard time doing it. The price point of this scope puts it in prime position for guys who want a reliable and tough riflescope, but who dont want to spend four digits. It comes with the prestige of Nikon, and their no fault lifetime repair/replacement warranty.

If you are working on your next rifle build, and your optics budget is around $600, you’d be ill-advised to not check out the offerings of the Nikon Black FX 1000 in either 4-16 or 6-24. I told you at the beginning that this Nikon replaced an old standby scope, the particulars aren’t as important, but I paid significantly less for the Nikon, and I feel its superior in every way.

I have used and played with many high end scopes, and it’s very refreshing to find such satisfaction at this price, for that I give Nikon a near perfect score.
That old Buckmaster was the best I could afford at the time, but the new FX 1000 will serve on many of my rifles because it is a perfect fit, irrespective of its cost.

-CBM

Nikon Black RangeX 4K Rangefinder

A good laser rangefinder is an essential tool for any marksman who regularly shoots any significant distance. Personally I learned the value of a good laser many years ago, and have carried one ever since. I’ve had a chance to use many of the most popular models, and today another one joins my collection.

Nikon Sport Optics has long provided quality optics to the hunting and shooting community, so I was happy to see one of their newest product show up at my door, the Black RangeX 4K rangefinder.

The RangeX features an OLED display, it has several brightness settings which include an auto adjust for surrounding light conditions. Simliar to many of its competitors, the RangeX also will give the user an angle compensated distance should it be selected. The RangeX has an available Arca Swiss compatible tripod mount, allowing the rangefinder to be quickly mounted and used from the sturdy perch of a tripod.
The response time of the display is very fast, not quite as fast as the laser itself, but .3 seconds is close enough for me. It uses a single CR2 lithium battery for approximately 9000 uses.

The display as seen through the RangeX, the X around the crosshair shows when the laser is activated.

Perhaps the most celebrated feature of the Nikon RangeX, is its distance capabilities. For some time, ranging beyond 1200 yards or so was relegated to higher priced LRF’s. But as the market has grown, there are more and more great options that will go well beyond what folks are used to. The RangeX is advertised as a 4000 yard maximum range, that is a very impressive statement, and one I planned on testing.

In my experience, the lower the price point on a rangefinder, the less likely it was to hit its maximum advertised distance. Unless you spent upwards of six or seven hundred dollars, you basically had a thousand yard rangefinder, and sometimes not even that. The best rangefinders are the ones that will range not only their advertised distance, but even beyond it sometimes.

To be completely fair though, once a rangefinder hits the two thousand yard mark reliably, I dont really care if it goes beyond. At least not for civilian use.
The vast majority of recreational shooting takes place inside two thousand yards, and those few that need more range know how and where to get it.

I started out the RangeX with basic simple ranging tasks, shooting down the road, across town etc. The simple stuff like inside a thousand yards was lightning fast, and targeting was easy. The narrow beam divergence of the RangeX (Vertical 1.8MRAD by .25MRAD horizontal) allows the user to shoot through gaps in trees, and between closer obstacles. This is a very handy feature for those like me who hunt in wooded forests and mountainous terrain.

The first time I took the RangeX into the mountains to shoot, I decided to stretch it out a little further. It was a cold February afternoon, heavy clouds hung tight against the Wasatch Mountains. Snow was falling at about 6500 ft, which wasn’t too far above my shooting spot that was tucked back into a deep and jagged canyon. Therein was plenty of real world ranging opportunities, rocks, trees, deer, etc. And all at whatever distance you wanted to try and hit them at.

I tried out the angle correcting feature of the RangeX, first measuring the distance to a target, then again with an angle corrected distance. Regardless of how far the target, the display popped up faster than I expected. The furthest I was able to range that day was 1978 yards, which was pretty impressive considering how much precipitation was in the air. Looking back down into town from my Rocky Mountain post, I ranged some buildings that were 2240 yards away.

Ive tried it several other times since, and have been able to reach out even further. The best I can do on rocks and trees is still about two thousand yards, but good reflective targets like cars, windows, and especially road signs, I have hit as far as three thousand eight hundred yards.

The tripod mount made the RangeX very stable, and easy to focus the reticle on targets. And with the various mounting solutions it could be configured however you want it.

The Nikon RangeX is a fantastic buy for the committed shooter, it gives outstanding performance at a very reasonable price. It is lightweight, waterproof, compact, and it gives accurate range readings very quickly. I haven’t hit the magic 4000 yards with it yet, but I’m at least several thousand yards from the park that Nikon knocked it out of.

-CBM

Reflected Majesty

Warm rays of sunshine, long awaited since the cold darkness of early morning, poured through the Pinion pine trees. At first they were weak and shallow, but they soon began to warm the soft brown soil beneath me. Shadows retreated, and that familiar sensation of sunlight beating down against your back brought comfort to my half frozen body.
As my watery eyes wandered through my binoculars, my minds thoughts also wandered through heaps of memories, dreams, and expectations.

As I paused my glassing to blow into my fingers, I noticed the contrast of the sunlight and shadow. The rays of sunlight beat down, and it’s waves absorbed by everything it touches. So much more to absorb awaited us that day, my trembling hands would soon find.
It was November, and I was lucky to be along-side my Brother Spencer on a limited entry bull elk hunt. I say lucky because my Brother had waited fifteen years to accrue enough points to draw a tag, and in my eyes, there is nothing more exciting than hunting the biggest of Rocky Mountain Elk.
This late season hunt had the elk down from their summer ranges in the nearbye high rockies, they were now spread across their wintering grounds which consisted of a desert-like landscape, though still seven thousand feet above sea level. Sagebrush, Ceadar trees, and Pinion Pine’s covered miles and miles of country, all the way up to the pinetrees and aspens that grow above.
It was there in this landscape that my Brother and I waited, looking for the elk who’s tracks and sign were spread through the draws and hills.

With the help of some friends, we had wasted no time in getting close to the herds of bull elk that typically gather together after the rut. We had hiked several miles everyday, looking at elk, figuring out their patterns and bedding habbits.
We’d even had a look at several good bulls, but not long enough to make a play on them.

I knew this hunt wouldn’t be easy, nature has a wonderful way of testing you. Elk are an extremely tough animal, and bringing one down is no small task.
Today was our fourth day looking at elk, and trying to find one that would make all the time and effort worth it. And perhaps even more importantly, one that thirty years from now will still remind us of the amazing adventure and privilege it was to get him.
This particularly cold morning started out with a bit of a bust. We had moved to a slightly newer area but still close to where we knew the bulls to habit, and in a hasty move we were busted by two bulls who were paying better attention than we were.
Elk can be both like ghosts, and like a plague. So many times they have surprised me by being nowhere, anywhere, or at least somewhere besides here. And then suddenly, out of thin air, they appear.
In hopes that it had been just the two, and confiding that they would make their way off and hide. We continued our plan, moving slowly towards a high point that would give us a good outlook towards known elk territory.
The biting cold was just starting to loose its grip on our day, either that or the rush of blood and adrenaline took it from us.
We walked over the last of what seemed like endless highpoints, and there before us stood the ghost we had been searching for. He walked slowly up a clearing about five hundred yards from us, and as far as we could tell, he had no idea we were there.
We watched his antlers glistening in the sun, and my brother got into position behind his rifle.
It wasn’t just any rifle either, it was there for a reason. Years of diligent practice had paid off, and there was no doubt that my Brother could park a bullet right through the boiler room.

The rifle is a custom Remington with a Bartlein 260 Remington barrel. It road in a KRG Whiskey 3 chassis, upgraded with a Trigger Tech Diamond, a Vortex Optics Gen one Razor, and a Thunder Beast suppressor. Hornady 140 gr BTHP match bullets is all it eats.

It happened so quickly that I barely had time to get all my gear ready. I was hoping to spot the shot through my spotting scope, but instead watched through my binoculars as I fumbled blindly through my pack.
Everything went quiet as we anticipated the shot, the bull stopped his walk, and stood broadside to us, his beautiful color shining in the warm sunlight.
I watched silently as the bullet trace arched through the air, conditions were ideal for spotting the trace. Time slows as it often does in these tense moments, and I watched the trace disappear as it hit the bull. Seconds later, as the bull staggered, we heard the report come back to us. The sound of a bullet hitting flesh is a very recognizable one, and sure to get a hunter’s blood pumping.
The big bull continued to stagger about, as he forced himself to run, almost directly at us. Looking through my binoculars I thought his right front shoulder was broken, then I finally put hands on my spotting scope and pointed it at him. As he slowed down to stop, his legs looked buckled, his elbows almost touching. He crashed forward into the sagebrush, and lay there, head still up and looking for the threat.
Round two was hot on its way by then, again I watched the trace rise and then fall. The bull was laying down facing us, Spencer aimed the kill shot to go right inside his shoulder. The impact was severe, and the bull instantly dropped his head to the ground, leaving his mighty crown laying sideways in the brush.

We made our way over to the big bull, and as usual it was absolutely surreal. The size of these animals always impresses me, as does their beauty.

There is something majestic about every one of these animals, each one a fighter, each one a champion of his environment. This bull had actually broken his leg, either by accident, or someone broke it for him. But this incredible animal survived, and healed. His shoulder wasn’t broken, his right leg was crooked, it had healed at an angle.
Majestic almost doesn’t do honor to these magnificent creatures. Their strength, and their endurance is beyond impressive. Their instinct and natural wisdom, born of an unimaginable series of lifetimes that led right up to this one. Not only do I feel an incredible debt of gratitude for all of these merits, I feel inspired by them. Much the way the sunlight is absorbed by everything it touches, the merits, memories, and all that this animal is, will soak into our minds and memory.

Love, honor, and respect for these animals. It takes a lot of work to get the best of one, they live here everyday, they fight to survive, simply put, they are better at it than we are. The only way to feel good about besting an old warrior, is to be the best of yourself. Living right on the razor’s edge of your dedicated hard work and skill, and the utter failure of loosing him. And then, having triumphed, recognize the lesson, the hard work, and even the luck. You can see now why I said lucky before, lucky and grateful to have had such majesty, reflected upon us.

-CBM


Remington Bartlein KRG Whiskey 3 Trigger Tech Vortex Optics Thunder Beast