Depending on your profession, you might call it a battle belt, gun belt, or some other belt variation. Today we are going into the detail of putting a gun belt together, something I recently finished.
As I navigated through all the different options, I figured this might be something others would do, so I documented the process in the hopes of saving you time and money.
Shooting has become part of my profession. While you may or may not need a gun belt for your daily work, I hope that by the time I’m done sharing my experience, you will have a good idea of how you would do it yourself.
Unless you do any professional soldiering, law enforcement, or security, a gun belt will likely be recreational for the most part. It will likely be another part of your equipment when shooting at the range or in competitive events like two or three-gun matches.
I am by no means a competition pistol shooter, but I do enjoy practicing the skill. A proper gun belt is extremely useful for becoming proficient in shooting pistols and any kind of tactical discipline.
WHY USE A BATTLE BELT?
Battle belts are designed to help carry the weight and force of waist-bound shooting equipment. Not only do they carry the weight, but they also help distribute it with a degree of comfort.
A good belt also helps keep vital and life-saving equipment where you want it to be. Besides just your pistol, battle belts also have room for extra ammunition, knives, and other tools you may need depending on the task before you.
A good belt is customizable to fit the accessories and tools you need in the places that best fit your practice. With practice and time, you will likely change and adjust it until it perfectly fits your needs.
FIRST THING: THE ALL-IMPORTANT PISTOL & HOLSTER
Find a quality holster that properly fits your pistol. There are many good options from companies like Safariland or Blackhawk.
Remember, these are not CCW holsters; they are for retaining your pistol under heavy movement and activity.
Good retention holsters are not exactly cheap, nor are they particularly compact. But they are well worth their cost and come in various styles and retention designs to keep your pistol safely at your side.
SELECT A BELT
There are a great many good choices to be had for a gun belt. Safariland and Blackhawk make belts for their holsters, but there are plenty of others like Blue Force Gear or Crye Precision.
With so many options, you may want to handle a couple before choosing one. After looking around, I decided to go with a 1.75-inch belt from the guys at Lead Devil.
There are two-layered and single-layered belts. I went with a two layered belt. They work by using a velcro under the belt that goes through your belt loops on your pants. The outer belt then attaches outside your belt loops by velcro to the inner belt and buckle in the front. It is a very robust system.
The outer belt has molle loops around the circumference to install whatever accessories or gear to the belt and the inner belt keeps your pants up and serves as a foundation for the load-bearing outer belt.
When selecting a belt, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on measuring yourself. A proper fit is vital to both function and comfort. Remember the size of your belt when selecting accessories. You can’t put 1.5-inch accessories on a 1.75-inch belt. The belt should fit fairly snug to keep your pistol and other gear from flopping around as you move.
Note: wearing a gun belt properly may be all the inspiration you need to get in better shape. They fit and work better when your “middle area” is trimmed.
Gun owners chose their firearms depending on many differing criteria. Size, looks, caliber and so on can all be the deciding reasons why someone selects one model over another. Today I wanted to go over a subject that will help narrow some of the selections and make it easier to pick out your next firearm, or pair of firearms.
I have several firearms chambered in the same cartridge, if you are reading this you probably are in the same boat. Having multiple firearms chambered in the same cartridge simplifies a few things for gun owners. The most obvious way that occurs is through uniformity, instead of buying ammunition for each individual firearm, you can buy for two or more guns. If you have an AR-type rifle for defense training, and a bolt action varmint gun both chambered in 223 Remington its easy to feed them both from the same box.
Today I want to specifically take that thesis out of your gun room, and into the wide open spaces where your guns are likely to be used.
Identically chambered guns can simplify things when in the field. If you are a cowboy, or perhaps just a modern rancher you might find yourself frequently armed with both a pistol for short work, and a rifle for more significant things. Having a pistol on your hip is a valuable tool for many of us, but it’s often not enough in big open country. Having a rifle or carbine on your horse or ATV in case a pesky coyote should give you an opportunity can be a lifesaver.
If both of these firearms are chambered in the same cartridge it will simplify and speed up your daily loadout. A .357 Magnum chambered revolver is more than enough for pistol range shots, and a handy little lever-action rifle chambered in .357 as well is certainly enough for dispatching the occasional errant coyote.
A handy little pistol like the Ruger LCR .357 magnum is easily carried and less intrusive for someone with work on their mind. And to go with it, a short and quickly fired lever gun like the Marlin 1894 gives more range and power for things that are beyond pistol distances. The two of them together make a great pair, giving you options without complicating things with multiple cartridges, magazines and such. Both firearms could also easily shoot .38 Special ammo, to further lighten the load for someone with a job to do.
A Bigger Set
Perhaps you don’t live in flat Texas ranch country though, and maybe you have bigger worries than two and four legged coyotes. Suppose you live in the cold north, where bears and wolves roam as freely as you and I. For such an outpost, I think I’d be a little more comfortable with something a bit more stout than a .357.
Keeping the theme of our first pair, I would feel much better with something like a .44 Magnum. The heavy hitting Magnum loads carry more energy should you need to defend yourself, or if you happen to get the opportunity to take a game animal unexpectedly. I love the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan for this role, its short, robust and carries enough power to kill just about anything. It’s also comfortable as far as big revolvers go, which is a must if its a firearm you intend on having on you at all times.
As a companion for the Redhawk, I chose the Winchester 1894 Saddle carbine chambered in the same 44 Magnum. The short and quickly pointed rifle is easily brought along on most any activity where you’d want a rifle. Its easily kept in a vehicle or stashed on an ATV, whether you are guiding a river fishing trip or cutting firewood the little rifle can provide an extra measure of security. As with the .357, the .44 magnum can be downloaded, or even shot with .44 Special loads for increased economy. Continue Reading Here…
If you spend any time in the precision rifle shooting world, it won’t be long before someone mentions MOA. We’re going to dive into a full guide on minute of angle.
Some people call it weaponized math, which I like. But MOA is a shortened acronym used to describe a Minute Of Angle.
A minute of angle is an angular measurement similar to a degree. We know that there are 360 degrees in a circle, and we can use a compass to pan a certain amount of degrees right or left, just like when you learned orienteering in boy scouts as a kid.
A Minute Of Angle (MOA) is 1/60th of a degree, so it’s just a finer scale of measuring an angle offset. An MOA can be cut up into sixty seconds of angle, but that is getting so fine we probably don’t need to go into it.
As an angular measurement, shooters use the fine-scale to adjust their sights. In the same way pilots use degrees to adjust their flightpath, we use MOA to adjust the flight of our projectiles. I’ve been playing in that realm for a few decades now, so I’ll do my best to explain this dangerous math as best I can.
What Does MOA Mean?
As I mentioned, MOA stands in for the mouthful; Minute Of Angle. There are several other ways that shooters measure shooting corrections and deviations, the more popular being MRAD (abbreviation for Milliradian) and IPHY (Inch Per Hundred Yards). But let’s not muddy the water and stick to our subject, MOA.
MOA and Target Distance
As an angular measurement, the size of a minute of angle gets bigger as it gets farther away from you.
Imagine it like a very long orange traffic cone. When you look through the hole at the small end, it may only be one inch in diameter. But the same cone at the big end, maybe ten or more inches wide, the angle of that increase IS an MOA.
So keeping with our example, if the small end of the cone was two inches in diameter, then to maintain the same angle at the other end, it would have to be twenty inches in diameter.
Back in the old days, before laser rangefinders, people with less hair than me would use these mathematical calculations to estimate distance. If you know an average male is about six feet tall, you can use an MOA scale built into your riflescope reticle to measure how many MOA tall he is and reverse the math to figure out roughly how far away he is.
Once you know your target’s distance, you can use the exact same measuring scale to correct for the drop of your bullet at that distance. Now you might understand why they call it weaponized math.
MOA is the most common method of measuring or stating the accuracy potential of a rifle. If your rifle shoots five shots at one hundred yards that measure one-inch center to center, then you can call that group a 1 MOA pattern. If your group measures 1.5 inches, you could call it a 1.5 MOA pattern.
As I mentioned before, an MOA is an angular measurement that increases with distance. One MOA at one hundred yards is about an inch, but it measures over ten inches at one thousand yards.
To be precise, one MOA is not one inch. One MOA is actually 1.047 inches at one hundred yards. And 10.47 inches at one thousand yards, but until you are shooting well enough to notice a ½ inch difference in your groups at one thousand yards, you can just work with the inch measurement.
How to Use Minute of Angle While Shooting
As soon as a bullet leaves the muzzle of a rifle, it begins to drop due to gravity and aerodynamic resistance. The further away the bullet travels, the more it drops, which requires corrective action to “hold over” the target high enough to hit it. But how much should I hold over, you might ask?
Long-range rifle scopes have corrective mechanisms to adjust for that drop. It is accomplished by either holding over the target using the same MOA scale you used to measure this guy, or you can use the turret of the scope to dial the corrective angular adjustment. Continue reading here
Who doesn’t love a good cartridge debate? Whether its sitting around a campfire in the cold autumn woods or typing furiously back and forth on internet forums, we seem to revel in the pros and cons of different approaches to hunting. I’ve sat through several of these types of debates, and have prepared some thoughts for today’s topic; Is a .223 Remington suitable for hunting deer?
The .223 Remington
The 223 has been around for a long time now, and it has seen use in nearly every shooting application people can find. The small case Remington shoots .224 caliber bullets typically in weights between 40 and 75 grains. Though recent bullet developments have broadened that spectrum to include bullets as large as 90 grains as well. Many rifles chambered in .223 Remington feature a 1-9 twist which allows for shooting most bullets that fit in the traditional 40 to 69 grain category. While many of the newer rifles chambered thus utilize faster twists like a 1-8 or 1-7 twist barrel, which allows to shoot seventy-five and eighty grain bullets. The more specialized eighty-plus grain bullets likely need a 1-6.5 twist in order to stabilize the long and heavy for caliber bullets.
The .223 has enjoyed a great deal of attention in the varmint, predator, and small game hunting circles, shooting the typical 50-55 grain bullets it achieves fantastic velocities in the neighborhood of 3200 to 3400 fps depending on load. As bullet weight increases, the velocity decreases generally speaking. But the larger and more efficient bullets often carry their energy better, and further. These heavier bullets are ideal for shooting further, and delivering higher energy on target. (remember that, we’ll come back to it later)
Perhaps the oldest and most celebrated hobby of American’s is that of pursuing deer to feed their families. Every year we all prepare with excitement for the annual event, even as I type this there is dried deer blood on the backs of my hand from earlier this morning. The smaller members of the deer family typically pursued by American hunters consist almost entirely of the two most prolific species found in North America; the Mule deer, and the Whitetail deer. Even a large deer of either species can be handily put down if enough energy is put in the right place, countless deer have been killed by a diminutive .22LR to the head. (though I wouldn’t recommend it)
Deer are typically targeted in their vital organs which are mainly the heart, lungs, and liver as a distant third. Deer are certainly not bulletproof, even the meatiest and ‘big-boned’ of deer can be penetrated by modern bullets fired at reasonable velocities. The bone structure surrounding their vital organs can either be perforated by powerful bullet impacts, or circumvented by cunning shot placement. Continue Reading Here…
Many was the time that I woke up early in the morning, grabbing boots and other gear as I fumbled out the doorway into the winter cold. Though I was not the exceptional scholar my parents had hoped for, I eventually made it to school hours later but not after shooting up a limit of ducks in the muddy marshes near my home. Hunting has always been a passion of mine, but there came a time as a young man that I often chose other things over my beloved waterfowl. Life often has a way of distracting us from passions and responsibilities, and teenage boys seem to catch the lot of it.
Years later I returned to my old ways, and it seems the absence had only increased my passion for the outdoors and being a part of it. A whole generation later, it would seem that my son is in the same haze of youth we all passed through. He has hunted by my side since he was three years old, and even as a toddler he was always excited to do anything that involved the mountains. But the past few years he has been so busy with the life of a teen, friends and other activities to spend much time glassing the mountains with me. It’s natural I suppose that everyone chooses their own path and eventually decides where to focus their efforts and time, but it warmed my heart when several of my kids voiced a desire to spend the hunting season with me in the high country.
Despite their busy schedules and school, we managed to spend a few days enjoying the beauty of these Rocky Mountains. My son Ridley shew great interest in tagging along to fish, ride ATV’s, and shoot both pictures with his camera and his little Remington that I put together for him years ago.
Being an astute father with a taste for venison, I had ensured my kids would have at least one tag in their pockets this fall. Just incase the freezer got light. We spent a week in the High Uintas chasing after elk and Brook Trout, we celebrated Ridley’s eighteenth birthday up there at 10,000 feet. I could see the excitement of adventure even through the smug teenage faces he would make, and though getting up early was a challenge he still did it most days.
The country was just too beautiful to not have a good time, even though the elk hunting was pretty high pressure and not successful we still came home happy as could be. And laden with fish for the smoker, to be canned and put into storage for a rainy day.
As the deer hunt quickly approached, we prepared our gear and plotted our plans. Ridley ended up missing the first weekend of the hunt as he participated in his High School mountain bike team final race, which ended up being ok, as I had my hands full with my other son’s first deer. Mid-week Ridley caught back up with us, and he was excited as ever. I could see the competitive desire to outdo his friends who might also be deer hunting with their family.
I have found that consistency is what gets me within striking distance of animals. Not necessarily consistently going to the same place or anything, but consistently working hard to be in the best places I can be as often as I can. Furiously glassing and peering over every blade of grass to take advantage of every opportunity we might get.
Taking new and/or young hunters along is often a roll of the dice. I saw deer and bucks every day of the hunt, but it was often when my “pupils” were busy with something else. I passed more bucks this year than any year prior if I’m not mistaken, hoping they would still be there when I came back with my children.
It was a Tuesday afternoon when Ridley, my wife, and I returned up a canyon draw where I had seen several bucks earlier that morning. I carried my gun because I can’t be without it, but I was really there trying to get both of them on a buck. As we climbed steadily I pointed out a knob on a ridge to Ridley, and explained how I had seen a deer disappear there earlier that day. My hope was that him or any other buck was still hiding out in this little canyon, but when I told Ridley of my hopes he quickly shot down the idea saying “that was three hours ago Dad.” As we carried on up the ridge spine before us, the sun poured down over us making it nearly uncomfortably hot. Only a few hours earlier I sat on this same ridge uncontrollably shivering in the ice cold wind of a storm front, driving snow sideways across the mountains and blanketing the whole of it in white.
The contrast was incredible, but my hope for a buck was still high so we carried on. In a simple stop to catch our breath, everything changed quite rapidly. Incapable of turning off, my eyes peered through my binoculars combing the ridges for the sign of a deer. I froze as I turned and looked behind us, as my eyes made out the obvious outline of a buck laying in his afternoon bed. The same knob that I had indicated to Ridley earlier was now the complete focus of all three sets of our eyes. I was astounded that the young buck had simply laid there and watched while we walked right under him on the opposing ridge, and another set of hunters had followed the same path only a few minutes before us. Yet there he lay, confident in his hide. Obviously he didn’t know who he was dealing with, but he would very soon.
With as little excitement as we could manage, both Ridley and my wife lay their rifles across their backpacks to get the right angle for a shot. I feigned disinterest and avoided looking at him, as he was studying our movement. Ridley was in a good shooting position and watched the buck through his little TS8X riflescope while I helped my wife build a solid shooting position on the steep hillside.
Despite my disinterested attitude and the minimal movement, way up on that knob where the buck lay quietly three-hundred and thirty yards away, I think he was starting to get worried. I often think that deer can feel a rifle bearing down on them, like the all seeing eye of Sauron looking into the heart of whoever wears the ring. And with it comes the accompanying discomfort.
I wasn’t looking his direction when he stood up, but Ridley was on his scope and announced it to the rest of us. I immediately raised my binos to my eyes, and not wanting to lose our opportunity I told him; if he is standing up shoot him. As I said those words he was already starting his press. My wife and I watched through our optics as the first shot broke, and the buck jumped as if startled by the noise. Ridley ran his bolt as I told him he had shot just under him, the deer took a few steps towards the other side of the ridge but he stopped to give us one last look. By then Ridley had already sent a second bullet his way, and this one was perfect. I watched through my binos as the bullet impacted, sending a patch of hair into the air and the buck dropped from sight.
We hugged with excitement, and then we quickly made our way up the ridge to the downed buck. I am not one to trust a deer that I can’t see, so we snuck up on the buck who had died almost instantly but looked suspiciously alive. We gave him a moment of reverence, and then spent a few minutes examining what a fine example of a Rocky Mountain mule deer he was. He’d already had a close call during the season, someone had taken a shot at him nicking one of his antlers, but his luck had run out.
Ridley pulled out his knife, a knife my brother had given to him several years ago but he had yet to use it for its intended purpose. As we enjoyed the beautiful afternoon, Ridley did his best to clean the deer and fill his phone up with pictures of it. We didn’t kill any other deer that day, but not for a lack of effort.
I have watched my son grow up, and though he has his own plans it warms my heart to see his success and be a part of it. My greatest hope is that we can continue to share our passions with each other, and if at all possible continue to hunt together for as long as we’re able to. We make a pretty good team.
New hunters come into our midst all the time. Much like generations of deer come and go over the seasons, old hunters slowly fade from our camps every year and are replaced by newer and younger faces.
As sad as it is not seeing old friends and loved ones, the new possibilities of teaching the next generation is the only suitable substitute.
One of the newer faces around my fire this year was Leonardo, my wife’s oldest son. His very first hunting adventure happened only a few months ago. He was lucky enough to draw a pair of doe antelope tags, and we made an adventure out of the opportunity. If you haven’t read that story, click here to read it after this one.
After thoroughly enjoying his first big game hunting experience, Leo was even more excited for the mule deer hunt that would follow. We spend a few trips into the mountains during the summer to practice shooting techniques and prepare for what was ahead. Leo is a level-headed kid, responsible and astute. So I was quite confident we would see success as the sun began to rise that cold October morning.
In a stroke of luck, a storm front passed through our mountains in the early hours of opening morning. It brought rain and snow which was a good thing, but it also brought a fierce wind with it as well. Storm fronts like this one typically get the deer out of their hiding spots, and I was hoping to see them as the first rays of light began to cut through the cold and dark clouds.
My little brother, Leo and I hiked noisily up a steep and rocky hillside. Hoping to sneak into a good shooting position on the downwind side of the ridge. I say noisily because the wind blew so hard it pushed us uphill. None of the breaking of sticks or tumbling stones could be heard over the winds howl.
Just as official shooting light arrived, we had crested the peak nine-thousand feet above sea level. We found some solace from the wind, and we were immediately into spotting deer. A small group made their way over the next ridge a mere two-hundred yards away. After confirming that they were our only prospect, we slowly and as quietly as could be given the conditions, made our way towards the ridge they had crossed. Obviously not where they had crossed, but uphill from there hoping to have a better view of them from above.
My brother would stay and cover other vistas while Leo and I pursued the group.
We cautiously crossed over the crest of the ridge, keeping low and looking over the very tips of the brush as we went. I was very surprised to find the deer only a few hundred yards away from us. And I was also concerned as two of the group seemed to already be aware of our presence. I don’t know how, as it was still too noisy to hear us, and the wind carried our scent another direction, but none the less we seemed to be nearly busted on arrival. As I studied the group cautiously through my binoculars, one of the deer was quite conspicuous as he carried a white face and headgear much bonier than the rest. I whispered to Leo that there was a buck watching us, but it seemed as we had the time to get a rifle up and on him. I say seemed because we had been looking at them for over a minute and they still stood there, many of them eating.
As soon as we lifted our eyes back above the brushline however, they had vanished into the thickly wooded canyon below.
As we hiked back towards my brother, I explained to Leo about one of the rules of hunting.
Oftentimes you gotta screw up one opportunity in order to get in the right state of mind for a proper opportunity. So we chalked this one up to our practice run, and we searched out another stalk.
Only a hour or so later, we sat perched on another high point glassing a draw that we had spotted a few does feed across.
Upon closer inspection, we noticed that one of the deer in that opening was a spike. Being his first hunt, Leo was not exactly particular about antlers.
After a few goings on that ended up moving the deer into thicker brush, we spent almost an hour trying to pick him out in the fall colored cover he was hiding in. Even knowing exactly where he was, it was nearly impossible to make him out. I think Leo perhaps felt a little out of sorts not being able to see or make out the deer. But when another hunter spooked him from his hide, he hopped uphill into an opening.
As several of us struggled to keep eyes on the deer, Leo announced that he had him in his scope. Having previously dialed the proper elevation for the three-hundred yard shot, I told him if you’ve got a shot, go a head and take it.
I watched the hillside through my binoculars excitedly waiting to see how it would go. The chamber of Leo’s rifle carried a 122 grain Cayuga solid copper bullet loaded in a 6.5 Creedmoor case. The rifle itself was a Ruger American that he had practiced with earlier that year. On top of the rifle was a US Optics TS25X riflescope that Leo now had centered on the buck across the draw.
When his shot broke, the blast had been tamed by the Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20. We both watched intently as the bullet cut the distance and hit the deer.
We kept watching him until he went down, where Leo and a friend closed in on him.
From there, we all followed their path to the thorny and burr covered thicket where Leo was already elbow deep in guts. We took pictures and shared congratulations and a hug.
After putting in the work, Leo had his very first buck in hand. We stumbled back down the way we’d come in, dragging the little buck towards our vehicle. I am quite sure that Leo enjoyed his experience and will likely return next season for round two. After hanging the buck in my skinning tree at home, we cleaned him up and made a delicious meal with deer tenderloins as the center-piece. Garden vegetables made it even more delectable.
As Leo and I sat at the table, chewing on the tasty spoils of our days work, I contemplated the conundrum we all find ourselves in. We are destined to spend the first half of our hunting career learning and sharing with familiar old faces of fathers, uncles, and other family and friends. And at some point in our life, it switches to being the familiar old face. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, I can only hope that someday my children will think back to the old days when I taught them and led them through these steep Rocky Mountains. And with any luck they will harbor the same warm feelings I do remembering the great men who showed them to me.
Wisdom often comes with age, at least it used to. As years pass we learn new things and experience new practices, and despite the semi-conservative nature of many gun owners we should never miss out on an opportunity to improve on what we can.
Our equipment can also improve as we learn new tactics and skills, and today we are discussing how you can breathe new life into an older rifle by upgrading the scope.
But why tho?
Why fix something that isn’t broken you might ask? We either are the person or know one that seems to religiously keep one or more firearms in a certain configuration or style. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there are also great gains to be made with upgrades.
Technology has made great advances in a very short time. Modern riflescopes incorporate an incredible amount of features and new tech, so much in fact that a good scope from years past can and have been easily eclipsed by modern designs. It also rings true that they don’t make them like they used to, but sometimes they do it better.
Upgrade to what?
To actually qualify as an upgrade, there needs to be added value or performance by replacing your riflescope. That could mean better optical quality or a different variable power range. It also could mean added features that increase your ability to hit more targets.
A perfect example of this comes from my father’s first hunting rifle. A sporterized 1903 Springfield from the post war era, part of it’s post service alteration was to drill and tap for scope mounting. And Dad had put a 4X Weaver on it much like everyone else did back then, making the rifle into a venerable deer rifle for these rugged Rocky Mountains. The old Springfield can still put five shots into a sub MOA group, making it certainly capable of doing more and better shooting than the 4X scope would allow. Removing the old Weaver scope, and replacing it with something a bit more modern could greatly improve the capabilities of this old rifle.
Installing something like a Leupold VX Freedom 3-9X40, would do several things to improve the rifle’s performance. The greater magnification will offer the shooter a more detailed view of the target and its surroundings, in addition, the newer optical lens coatings will surely outperform the old scope. Furthermore, with the ability to dial corrected elevation for more distant targets the old Springfield could easily reach targets as far as five and six-hundred yards or more. Something as simple as a change in scope can put new life and action into an old rifle.
Another example of what can be done comes from an old model 70 I have. It’s probably had the same Leupold VXIII 3-9X40 on it for the last 30 years or so, its not one of Hathcock’s Model 70’s but it does shoot well. The old duplex reticle that has inhabited Leupold scopes forever can be useful for sure, but I was thinking something a little more useful was in order. I have a little Vortex Crossfire 3-9X40 that would easily drop into the same rings, and instead of the plain jane duplex it has a few added points. The elevation post has 1.5, 4.5 and a 7.5 MOA drop point on it, which give perfect holdovers for 180, 315, and 410 yards for that rifle. Not that you couldn’t shoot those ranges with a duplex, it just makes it more consistent to have a fixed point you can hold for those distances.
Something that simple can greatly effect your ability to hit targets, and we haven’t even had to mess with your rifle or load at all. I could keep going all day about other ways to improve the performance of your old rifle, but we’ll stay on topic.
A discussion on optics upgrades would be incomplete without mentioning some of the electronic advancements that have been made over the past decade. Simple electronic advancements like the Level-plex system from Sig Sauer give the shooter real-time leveling indications to ensure the rifle is on a level plane prior to making the shot. Also from Sig come the BDX riflescopes that include illuminated holdover points that are calculated from a rangefinder’s measurement. There are also night vision and thermal riflescopes that will allow nighttime hunting opportunities that include digital recording and other data hunters will find useful. While many of these gizmos may seem foreign to some, they can greatly improve your old rifles performance and your experience shooting them. Continue Reading Here…
I’ve been called many things in my life, some of those titles I earned and others not so much. There is one label that some would consider an insult but its a badge I wear stress-free, that title is Bullpup enthusiast. My experience with bullpups is not unlike many others, the first time I was exposed to them was back in the 90’s when a friend showed me a hideous Mini-14 in a bullpup chassis. I was appalled by what had been done to the poor unsuspecting Mini-14, and I went back to gazing at the more conventional weapons like AR-15’s. Years would pass before I would again dabble in the occult realm of the bullpup, a friend of mine invited me to go shooting after work and he presented me with a Desert Tech SRS Covert to shoot. Within minutes I was absolutely addicted to the rifle and its impressive accuracy, and before we had even left that dry Montana hillside I swore I would get one of my own.
A man of my word, I kept that promise to myself. And it was the beginning of my trip down the bullpup rabbit hole. I am a gun nut in every sense of the word, I like them all as long as they serve a purpose. So having become a bullpup owner myself, my eyes were opened to the rest of this stubby bullpup community. After years of enjoying my SRS bolt-action precision rifle I jumped into the Desert Tech MDRX with both feet, this only deepened my affinity for these short and effective rifles.
In the term of a short few years, I had gone from a typical anti-bullpup traditionalist into a pure bullpup enthusiast. Having successfully navigated the rabbit hole I began shooting bullpups of all kinds, mainly to see what I liked or disliked about the different rifles.
An Odd Bunch
There are bullpups from every corner of the firearms market, both big names and shops you’ve never heard of seem to have a bullpup model hidden somewhere in their lineup. FN has their FS-2000 which looks like it hit every branch falling from the space-gun tree, I guess there are plenty of people out there who like it but their reasons are known only to them. Perhaps the most well-known bullpups come from Steyr, their AUG rifle has been a stalwart movie prop and service weapon with its unique look for decades.
They continue to be popular with even those who mostly dislike the bullpup genre, but for me their mushy pushy trigger and unique magazine still keep them at arms length. You certainly couldn’t talk about bullpups in America without mentioning the lineup from IWI, they have become so popular that many gun owners are under the impression that “Tavor” is some kind of all-inclusive term for bullpups. I’ve been able to shoot several of IWI’s rifles and they are probably my first choice in autoloading bullpups after my MDRX. The X95 has an incredible amount of aftermarket support and accessories, caliber conversion kits, and triggers (a much-needed improvement in my opinion). The Tavor 7 308 caliber rifle brings similar operation and design to a bigger bullpup. The battle-hardened reputation of the IWI bullpups can be seen in militaries from Jerusalem to Bogotá where I last saw them.
Bullpup rifles can be found in military service all over the world, the Desert Tech HTI is a 50 BMG sniper rifle used in service in the jungle climate of the south China sea and in the current war in Ukraine.
Not all of these bullpup rifles are popular or serve in militaries of the world. But just because a rifle is put into service doesn’t make it superior, the SA80 family of British bullpups has been despised for decades by her Majesty’s finest soldiers. Many bullpup rifles enjoy a life free of military service but still filled with action. The Keltec RDB has been a very popular 5.56 bullpup with American gun owners, it is used for everything from hunting to home defense. And its larger caliber sibling offers 308 power to those looking for a bullpup.
So Why the Hate?
What is it exactly that most gun owners have against bullpups? I think there is a two-sided explanation, and I’ll start with the first half; The engineering required to position the magazine and the action of a rifle behind the trigger tends to get complicated. While this feat does greatly reduce the overall size of the firearm, there are many complications that come as baggage.
Bullpups often have complicated linkages to operate controls, and these systems can be messy depending on the dedication of those who design and build them. These linkage systems frequently add weight and play to controls reducing the quality feel and performance, and there is also the obvious problem of ejection systems that either hit you in the mouth as a lefty or add even more weight and complexity to circumvent the redecoration of your lips.
The second half of the anti-bullpup phenomenon is based almost entirely on appearance. Most gun owners see an AR-15 or AK-47 type rifle and see a near-perfect visage of what an autoloading rifle should be. The same thing could be said about a bolt-action M-24 clone, it has nearly everything a bolt-action guy could want. And when these people see a bullpup, with its weird configuration and often goofy controls they are just immediately turned off.
The complaints about performance and design can be validated against some bullpup models, but there are others that work as good as any conventional rifle. The looks of some of these rifles is a more subjective topic. If a gun looks goofy, then no matter how functional it is many people wont want it. And for that there is no excuse, some bullpup designs are just hideous and can only be mocked from a safe distance. Continue Reading Here…