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When a 10th isn’t a 10th

Almost everything we do with a precision rifle involves a rifle-scope, whether it is target identification or adjusting for come ups and such. We have become so dependent on them that the idea of using iron sights on a precision rifle seems almost foreign or backwards.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I spend a good portion of my time peering through scopes. But how many of us have stopped to think about that expensive miniature telescope we so carefully mounted to the top of our rifle?

Most of you are probably quite aware of the proper way to mount a scope, we take extreme care to ensure the scope is perfectly level, and properly torqued and such. But I’ll bet just as many of you have never done thorough testing of your scope to see if it does what it says it does. I hope you’re not scratching your head wondering what it is I’m talking about, but just in case you are, I’ll explain. Continue Reading here…

Elusive Rifles for More Elusive Prey

Many of those reading this story probably have some experience hunting, whether it be whitetail deer, black bear, or another one of the incredible game animals available to hunt in North America. But what you hunt every year, could be somebody else’s unicorn. I am lucky to hunt elk every year, spotting them, tracking them, eating them, watching them through a scope and so on. But if you’re a guy from Florida, the idea of seeing an elk or even hunting one may be just a pipe dream of the distant future. Today we’ll embrace the dream, and jump down the rabbit hole with both feet, how far we go depends only on your ambition.

A ghost in the clouds
My dream hunt might be different than yours, but I’ll bet it shares some of the same attributes. It begins at the very end of the world, up around the tree line where the air is thin and weather uncertain. High country strewn with dark wet clouds filled with sinister motives, and country so remote you may question the safety of every step. And yet so beautiful nothing can keep you from cresting the next hill to see what lies ahead. I dream of a Dall Sheep hunt up north, the romantic draw to such a wild place consumes the dreams I still have left. I’ve been lucky to experience some of the wildest country the lower forty-eight has, and just enough of Alaska to want everything it has to offer.Continue Reading Here…

X2 Dev Group Orion X suppressor

Imagine being born before the age of manned flight, and then witnessing man walk on the moon. We live in an exciting age for sure, but even so there hasn’t been any earthshaking developments in the firearm industry for some time. But that doesn’t mean folks aren’t trying to innovate. Today’s subject is about one such product from a group of people with innovation on the mind, the Orion X suppressor from X2 Dev Group. But is the innovation all it’s hyped up to be?

The Orion X
The Orion X is a sound suppressor for centerfire rifles, it is a baffle-less design made from stainless steel, inconel, and aluminum. It is available in three calibers according to their website; 556, 6.5, and 7.62. Instead of the traditional baffle stack that reduces the speed of exiting gasses, the Orion X instead uses their Quantum Flo technology. The gasses that exit the muzzle are directed through a series of passageways that slow the gas down, while allowing the bullet to pass through to do it’s dirty work. The modular core of the Orion X is made of several pieces that amass inside the outer tube, the threaded end that attaches to the host is part of this core, and the outer tube with its threaded end-cap go around the core.

The disassembled Orion X (from manufacturer website)

First Impressions
When I first picked up the Orion X, the weight was the first thing I noticed. It wasn’t particularly heavy, and its light construction made it seem lighter in weight than it really is. I have lighter cans for 556, but this one is by no means heavy. The next thing I noticed almost made me think something was wrong, the outer tube of the Orion X is machine-fit to the core. The tube has the slightest movement between it, and the core. The tube is prevented from turning around the core by a square boss at the rear around the mounting point. I could feel a slight rattle when shaking the suppressor, apparently this is all part of the design for no matter how tight you snug the end-cap with the supplied tool the fit is the same. The end-cap itself features a series of vent holes, where the redirected gasses are released. The model I tested had a nice FDE Cerakote, but it is available in other colors.

To the Range
As usual, I was eager to get this new suppressor to the range. I ran the suppressor on a couple different carbine rifles, all in 556. The first rifle had a sixteen-inch barrel, I threaded on the Orion X and got straight to shooting. One of the many purposes of baffle-less suppressor designs is to reduce backpressure to the host firearm, this is accomplished by allowing the gas somewhere to go without spiking the pressure up to unreasonable levels. The obvious benefits to this design is to avoid altering the function of the host, allowing it to function as designed. It also helps keep the host from becoming excessively fouled, which is a common side effect of suppressors.
That being the case, I left the gas setting of my rifle right where it always is. The first few shots through the Orion X went off exactly as expected, the rifle cycled as it always does and no additional effects were noted. If anything the recoil impulse was subdued slightly due to the additional weight and diffusion. Unfortunately I was at a public range which meant I had to wear ear protection, this robbed me of the opportunity to hear the report made by the Orion X. But I would soon get another chance.
With the Orion X in hand, I took another rifle into the country to see what kind of performance I could expect, both rifles this would feel the heat on this trip. With nothing but the trees to hear me, I put the Orion X through several shooting positions and several magazines worth of ammo. The sixteen-inch rifle was much more pleasant to shoot than the eleven-inch one, the bullpup configuration of my Desert Tech MDRX brought the muzzle closer to the ear than a traditional AR style rifle. With the ejection port in front of the face a few inches, and the muzzle of the rifle at least sixteen to twenty inches in front of that, the Orion X was quite tolerable. Rifle function was flawless with zero adjustment to the gas system. But when the shorter bullpup rifles were used, it was a little less tolerable. The sixteen-inch rifle had a fairly loud first-round pop, but was fine after that. The eleven-inch rifle on the other hand was another story, with the ejection port just under the ear and the muzzle only a foot or so from your nose, it was unbearable without ear protection. That’s no surprise I would say, but it is unfortunate because I think that configuration is where the Orion X would shine. And I love it when host/suppressor combinations allow for open ear shooting.

Aftermath
After shooting enough ammo to make my wallet hurt, I decided to check out one of the other interesting features of the Orion X. The tool provided with the suppressor allows the user to completely disassemble the suppressor, giving you the opportunity to see how it works, and clean out any carbon buildup. Holding the square host-end of the suppressor in a vice, I used the tool to engage the end-cap and loosen it off. You can then remove it from the vice and pull the core from the front of the suppressor, and disassemble the various stages of the suppressor core. It is a fascinating design, almost like a puzzle for guys. You can see the way gasses are directed around the inside of the suppressor, and out the muzzle end of the can. I hadn’t shot enough to make cleaning the suppressor necessary, so after figuring out the reassembly I tightened the cap back down for the next range trip.

Final Thoughts
The Orion X is a great example of innovation in our market. While it may not be an earth-shattering development like rail-guns or case-less ammo, it is still a step into the next generation. I can only wonder what the next step beyond these type of suppressors will be. With an MSRP of $1195.00 it is not an entry level suppressor, but it would be an great addition to your NFA collection to run on your hosts that may be sensitive to suppressors.

-CBM

The Arc of the Pronghorn

You probably read my last story about pronghorn antelope hunting, but if you didn’t I recommend you read Pronghorns and Prodigy Hunting after you finish this one. My wife had two doe pronghorn tags in her possession, and this is the story of one of those two. The day started out on the wrong foot, but who knew things would come back around our way.

It was September, and the cool air that covered the desert prairie was heavy with anticipation. The sun had just crested over the distant hills and as we had planned, we lay there looking over the sagebrush covered flats watching antelope roam. With her shivering hands cupping a warm drink, she smiled an eager smile. She is no stranger to the trigger, but just to make her feel extra confident, we took a few minutes to ensure she was comfortable shooting. The weapon of choice that day was the Desert Tech MDRX, ‘ol meat in the pot as its come to be known. Today the MDRX carried the newest conversion kit I had put together, with the help of ES Tactical I had fashioned a bolt and barrel in Hornady’s Six-millimeter ARC. You can read more about the caliber conversion kit here.
With the MDRX in her hands, and a magazine full of Hornady 105 BTHP ammunition, she lay down on the dusty ground. We had picked out a couple targets in the hillside opposite, where she now placed her aim. She fired a couple shots at three and four-hundred yards, all of which hit deadly close to her point of aim. With just the confidence she needed, we gathered up our gear, and set out to find a group of pronghorn we could hunt.

The MDRX with the 6mm ARC conversion kit

As the day would progress, we would face defeat after defeat. The wind never slowed down, and the jumpy antelope were ready to clear the county at the first sign of attention. But we pressed on, missing several opportunities for a kill. We made our way around the valley, trying to find a small secluded group that were tucked in somewhere. The wind would nearly peel open your eyelids on the open prairie, so we focused on the deep draws that offered some protection. We were doing great at finding antelope, but they were all nice bucks for which we didn’t have a tag. As the afternoon turned over to evening, clouds began to cover the landscape. The wind that had blown hard all day had brought us in a cold front, and with it was a bit of a calm. As rain drops began to lightly fall around us, we continued our search for a group of does.

We finally spotted a small group at the top of a steep draw, probably four or five does with a nice little buck. I had that feeling, you know the feeling when you just know its going to work out? We scrambled in the direction of a good shooting position, getting our gear out as we moved. While she got behind the rifle, I got my spotting scope up, and ranged the group. The distance was just under four-hundred and fifty yards if I remember right. While I watched the antelope feed on the hillside, she loaded the rifle and prepared for the shot. I could tell she was excited, her hands shook as she moved.
Once she was ready, we focused on the group, and picked the best target and waited for a good broadside shot. The excitement grew as the seconds passed and rainfall continued to escalate. The shot found its mark, hitting the doe and breaking the off-side shoulder. We watched as she stumbled across the hillside, startling the rest of the group who then followed her escape. She didn’t make it far, and we headed down, then up the draw to claim our prize. The Arc had done a fine job, as did the shooter, and we were going to make the best of it.

After dragging the doe to the truck, we cleaner her out and filled her with ice for the ride home. Where she would be skinned and washed before a long and cold rest until it was time to hit the butcher table.

We enjoyed every piece of that antelope, whether its steaks, roasts, or ground into burger. My wife has even taken to finding her own burger in the freezer to make into lovely dinner dishes for the family like meaty lasagna. It is truly a great way to live, sharing the experiences and the tasty prize with family. Thanks for coming along, we’ll see you on the next hunt.

-CBM

Bruised Egos, and Knees

Improving your skills is a way of life. Its often said you can either work on improving, or let your skills deteriorate. If you’ve ever felt that your skills have plateaued you know exactly what Im talking about. I have wanted to test my mettle for some time, and see just where I am, I enrolled in a rifle/carbine course put on by Bruiser Industries.

Bruiser Industries

Bruiser Industries is a small company that specializes in teaching shooting tactics and techniques, specifically from the perspective of Law Enforcement and Military. Their Instructors come with backgrounds from SEAL Teams, competition shooters, and specialized law enforcement.

Education

Most of my knowledge base is self taught, I spent a lot of time reading and playing around on the internet. Listening and practicing what was available was coupled to my insatiable desire to get better, and this became my learning curve. I probably wasted a lot of ammo doing it over the years, but Im not sure I would change it after all. Lessons learned on your own sure seem to last longer, and root deeper in your mind.
I wanted to compare what I had self taught, to what was being taught to professional marksmen in the Military and SWAT community. Part of me was afraid I was going to feel like some redneck with a mullet being embarrassed by a bunch of seasoned pro’s. Lucky for me though, it turned out not to be the case.

The Course

The class I was attending was four days, focusing the first two on shooting accurately with a carbine scoped with an LVPO. We discussed the technical side of it in a classroom situation for a good portion of the day, talking about ballistics, wind, rifle setup ect. This was great for me because it doesn’t matter how much you think you know, you can always benefit from someone else’s experience or perspectives. It was very nice to have something I knew and understood, explained again by someone else with their version of the same thing.

It was then time to head to the range, and get our rifles hot and dirty. The southern California heat was brutal, the sun beat down with a vengeance that could be felt right through your clothes and sunblock. The discomfort added to the learning though I believe, doing this stuff in your comfort zone makes you a comfortable shooter. But when you are trying to stabilize a rifle from a tree crawling with biting ants, and your sweaty cheek sliding around the hot rifle and razor sharp grass cutting into your knees or elbows, breathing heavy and trying to read mirage through the scope it adds another level of pressure to you as the shooter.

During the course of the first two days we spent a good deal of time engaging targets from everything EXCEPT conventional shooting positions. Barricades, barrels, trees, tripods and anything else was used to build different shooting positions. We engaged steel targets from up close out to beyond six-hundred yards, all from these non-prone and self built shooting positions. It felt like a cross between a PRS match and sneaking across a prickly Mexican border fence.

I of coursed used a Desert Tech MDRX in 223 Wylde for the carbine portion of the course, and just to be safe around the massive California LE community I ran my twenty-inch barrel, you know because 16 inch barrels are deadly. On top of the MDRX I had mounted my US Optics TS8X LVPO, it is a FFP 1-8 scope, with a drop compensating reticle built specifically for the 5.56. One of the many valuable things we learned in the class portion was to find corrected values for the so called drop compensating hold points on the reticle. Things like atmosphere and temperature change, so the drops listed are not always correct. But you can take live data from the moment, and find the correct values for these points. So while the four-hundred yard hold point may not be actually four-hundred in real time, but you can figure out what it actually is, and assign it a new value like four-hundred and twenty-seven yards. Armed with this new data point you can more accurately engage your targets.

Precision Long-guns

At the beginning of day three we were back into the classroom for additional discussion on ballistics, reticles, and more. We then headed back to the range, prepared to make our long guns fit into every uncomfortable or awkward shooting position we could make. Again the focus was to learn how to shoot from real world positions, instead of the traditional proned out on the shooting-mat.

Perhaps my favorite part of the class were these exercises of learning to build a solid shooting position using whatever you had available. Whether it was essentially lashing your rifle to a post with the sling, or using a tripod leg for rear support to make a near perfectly solid position, I picked up a lot of tricks that helped me feel more confident when making a good shot.

For the long-gun portion of the class, I brought along my latest love which is the Desert Tech SRS M2 sporting it’s brand new 6MM GT barrel. One of the latest craze cartridges to hit the competitive rifle shooting circuit. The M2 is absolutely the best rendition of the SRS to date, the optics rail is awesome for those that need it, though I rarely do. The ARCA Lock rail from Area 419 on the bottom however is a must have for anyone who shoots from a variety of positions using all the bells and whistles that go with it. I chose to run an Atlas bipod on the ARCA rail as well my favorite US Optics scope, the Foundation 25X. The internal bubble level makes for quick leveling of the rifle without ever moving from the shooting position.

We first zeroed our rifles, then moved to truing our ballistic data (cross-referencing the ballistic coefficient with velocity, then confirming against actual drop & wind). With a solid foundation to move forward from we started doing some drills on building positions in assorted places, then engaging targets at various distances. Another valuable lesson I learned at this point was a variation of one I often recommend myself. My version of the lesson is; If you don’t know why you missed or hit, you are just wasting ammo. The new lesson I learned at the Bruiser course was almost the reverse engineered version of the lesson; If you make a good hit after building a position, don’t waste ammo shooting it again. Rebuild a new position and make another shot. This was a great lesson to learn, rebuilding your shooting position and firing solution after every hit will make you an absolute monster when it comes to hitting targets in the field and on the fly.

We did an assortment of shooting drills moving around from one place to another, learning how to bracket the targets, and utilizing the whole target. This was another highlight for myself, if you know the wind and elevation estimates there is no excuse for not making use of the whole target. In plainer terms look at it like this; if you know the wind is going to blow your shot at least half a target’s width to one side, then you have no business wasting half the target by aiming center. Making full corrections is another easy mistake that many of us make, often trying to walk it in. Another lesson galvanized under the California sun was that, if it looked 1.2 Mil’s right, then correct 1.2 Mil’s! Much of making hits is analyzing the conditions, distance, and target, and evaluating where your highest probability of bullet impact is, then making sure that point is at the center of the target. The second half of that equation is the execution, a solid and steady shooting position, with a good trigger press and follow through. If you do it all right, you not only hit the target, but you’ll watch it happen in real time through your scope.

We did some long-range shooting as well, taking shots clear out to 1600 yards. The 6GT did quite well out to 1400 but the last few target made for some very difficult spotting splash. I will say this though, the GT did exceptionally well shooting against 308’s (big surprise right?) Evaluating my dope and wind holds as compared to everyone else’s did make me feel like perhaps I was cheating a bit, but the lessons were the same regardless. Most of the guys there had never shot that far before, probably never needed to either.

I also picked up on a few things I wouldn’t do by watching others. I noticed that many of the guys regardless of the range to target would zoom out to find the target, and then zoom all the way in when they’d found it. This seems like waste of motion and time for me, not to mention you don’t need 27X when shooting a man sized target at 300 yards. I also saw a lot of use of safeties, not that there is anything wrong with safeties but it again was a huge waste of time to load the rifle and engage the safety only to break your final shooting position slightly to disengage the safety seconds later. This perhaps could be just the way these guys had been instructed in the past, and everybody should use what works for them I suppose. The lesson I took away from this was to get everything ready, and make chambering a round the last thing you do. That way there is little to no use for breaking your final shooting position.

Afterthoughts

An experience like this one has been a very positive and beneficial one for me. Gaining knowledge and perspective is only part of it, having your form critiqued a little may take some humility but you’ll be better for it. I approached this course with an open mind and turned the humility up to ten, and with that attitude I was able to distill the best parts of the course I needed. Leaving your ego behind is a great way to learn.

My worries about being inadequate or under-skilled were completely unfounded. it was great to be surrounded by professionals who were also humble and eager to learn made it an overly positive experience for all. I think we all enjoyed every minute of the torture and all the hits. So if you get the opportunity, go out and train with the best, as you might imagine, I would recommend Bruiser Industries.

-CBM

The Best Duck Hunting Shotguns

In my younger days, I spent a great deal of time in the duck marsh. Showing up late to my first class in high school was not unheard of, neither was disappearing from my last class. Where I come from, if the weather is right, nothing can stop a determined duck hunter from getting knee deep in cold, icy and muddy waters in hopes of a limit of birds. My swamp was on the shore of the inland sea that is Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the smelly mud-bowl surrounded by marshlands is a waterfowl’s dream come true. To this day when the wind blows out of the west, and that familiar pungent smell is carried in on a breeze, it takes me back to those early mornings and late evenings trying to ID ducks against the pale gray backdrop as the sun set. continue reading here.

Why are Tipped Bullet so Popular?

You may have noticed a trend over the past decade or so, not the gradual return of high-waisted jeans or a familiar form of music past. The trend of which I speak is at the cutting edge of much of our shooting, and it brings more than just a bold new look.
Tipped bullets are quickly becoming the standard from many bullet makers, by tipped I mean they feature a uniform front end that is typically made of some kind of polymer, but can also be another material like aluminum or something else. The purpose of the tip is to increase the bullets uniformity and efficiency, which translate into more consistent and accurate shots. As well as bullets with higher ballistic coefficients which allow them to retain their energy and reduce the effects of wind. Read the rest of the article HERE

Magnum Legends: 300WM vs. 7MM RM

Is there anything more soothing than a campfire surrounded by a relaxing group of hunters vigorously discussing the pros and cons of one hunting cartridge to another? How many times have we entertained each other with heroic stories of hunts past, and how “that old magnum” or something similar saved the day with an unbelievable take down on a monster buck?
Well stoke up the fire folks, and draw near, as we’re about to analyze two of history’s greatest contenders.

Read the complete story here on Guns.com