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Twice the Experience: Antelope Hunting With the Next Generation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Perfectly rare antelope tenderloins were delicious

Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon 6.5 Creedmoor

When I first saw the Browning X-bolt Hell’s Canyon at SHOT Show, I remember thinking to myself that many folks were going to eat it up. And as years have passed it surely has become one of the most talked about hunting rifles out there. So when I finally got a chance to check it out myself, I was eager to see if all the hype was well founded. I had already been playing with a different X-bolt model, so I was pretty familiar with it before I even opened the box. What I didn’t realize was just how deep into Hell’s Canyon I would descend.

First Impression
My very first impression of the rifle was not unlike my feeling when I saw it at SHOT Show, it was just a plain handsome rifle. A bronze colored Cerakote job and similar A-TACS camo pattern clearly sets this rifle apart on the rifle rack. The fluted barrel and it’s inconspicuous muzzle brake flow seamlessly into the receiver, all of which is set nicely into the camouflaged composite stock. A nice soft recoil pad at the back was a welcome feature, as was the detachable box magazine. And like other X-bolts I’ve shot, it was just smooth. The sixty-degree bolt design makes shorter and faster operation, and the gold-plated trigger breaks as clean as most any hunting rifle I’ve ever pulled from a shelf. The X Bolt action features a bolt release button to unlock the bolt when the safety is on, a very cunning and intuitive design. If this rifle shot as good as it looked, I was going be hard pressed to let go of it.

Setup
I wanted to get straight to the range with this rifle, but first I had to get a scope mounted. I went with a one-piece scope base that uses eight screws to hold it down to the top of the receiver. I found this to be a superior mounting system than the traditional four screws that most manufacturers use to mount scope bases.

I tried a couple different mounting systems and riflescopes, first a Nikon 4-16 scope which worked great, but was too high. I ended up with the system that seemed to work the best, a Crimson Trace 3-12 mounted in Warne rings and bases.
I had a small amount of Hornady American Gunner 6.5CM ammo that I could test in the rifle, but I wanted to try more than one thing just in case the rifle didn’t care for it. So I sat at my loading bench to crank out another couple options hoping at least one of them would provide me with the exceptional accuracy I was hoping for. After that, I installed a Harris bipod so I could get this rifle into the field and shooting.

Continue Reading Here…

More Guns, or Multi-caliber Guns?

We can all agree that firearms are as addicting as any hobby, the only part we might argue with is how long it takes for the newness to wear off from our latest new toy. And as soon as it does, we find ourselves again seeking to justify reasons for another. I often draw a parallel to women’s shoes; sure, any pair of shoes will cover your feet, but ladies often have a different pair for jogging, walking, the gym, fancy walking or walking the dog. And those of us with a firearm addiction might have a similar situation with our guns, we might have three different rifles for deer hunting depending on how we plan to hunt any particular day.

One rifle chassis, untold options

This may be a luxury for some, and a dream for others. But today we are going to talk about how multi-caliber rifles can make that dream a luxurious reality.

Most of us could probably get by with a handful of firearms, for example; a deer rifle, a shotgun, a .22 and maybe a varmint rifle like an AR of some sort. But let’s be honest, none of us would be completely satisfied with a humble collection like that. Most firearm aficionados have many more than a few in similar categories, and others have piles of rifles of every kind.
But today we are talking about multi-caliber rifles, a rifle that can switch from one caliber to another. Multi-caliber rifles have been around for some time, but they have become extremely popular over the last decade or so.

But how can a multi-caliber rifle make your life better? Continue Reading Here…

Beretta Silver Pigeon

If your lucky enough and work hard you can become one of those financially secure adults that we all imagined becoming as children. And its about that time in a firearm enthusiasts life that he or she decides to start buying up guns that they want more than they need. While that statement could describe nearly any firearm, today we are discussing one in particular. Beretta is well known for making excellent shotguns, many of which I’ve been lucky enough to play with on the range. The Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon is yet another fine example of Beretta’s prime production, but this one brought up some interesting reflection. Continue Reading Here…

Why Hunt with a Suppressor?

New and exciting technologies keep entering the hunting market, whether its electronics, optics, or some other new development, it can be hard to keep up with the times. But one of the fastest growing trends is hardly new, its actually very old technology.
People have been using suppressors for a very long time, perhaps the only reason they have recently seen a surge in popularity is perception. The laws surrounding suppressors are strict, and regulated at the federal level. Many people are still under the impression that they are illegal entirely, which was a popular but inaccurate concept propagated by years of ignorance.
In today’s discussion, we are going to talk about suppressors and how they can be a very useful tool when hunting.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Why are Tipped Bullets 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.

You may ask yourself what is driving this movement towards more and more differently tipped bullets? After all, man has used non-tipped bullets for centuries. Do you really need a bullet that was digitally carved by a modern aerospace Michael Angelo to knock over a deer in the next pasture?

Technology has caught up to and even surpassed what most of us consider standard shooting gear, and the bullet-tipping madness is a direct result of this ballistic renaissance. Competitive shooting, and particularly long-range competitive shooting, has driven the demand for perfection into overdrive. People regularly shoot distances that were unheard of as little as a decade ago. I shot a distance of 2100 yards yesterday, just because it was Tuesday. The market has allowed for some very impressive enhancements in our projectiles. Among them, as you might have guessed, is our bullet-tipping subject.

WHY TIPPED BULLETS?

The shape, weight, and profile of a bullet have everything to do with how it flies. The tip of the bullet has an especially critical impact on a bullet’s flight and its behavior upon impact. The very first projectiles were quite rudimentary, but our forefathers kept improving on the design. Each revision became better than the one before it. If you could separate the tipped generation of bullets, the generation just before them would probably be the cup and lead-core soft-tip generation. It was a great development that is still popular today, but it is quickly being overtaken by its plastic-tipped offspring.

Many shooting enthusiasts probably don’t need a bullet with a perfect profile, but the bullet manufacturers are happy to market them to you and praise their superior performance. You could argue either way depending on the application. If all you need is to whack a deer one or two hundred yards away, then using bullets designed 50 years ago is not going to make or break your hunt. But if you are trying to hit a target that is 1,200 yards away in a stiff wind, you would be much better served using one of today’s high-performance tipped bullets.

MATCH GRADE

The plastic (or other) tipped bullets have a much more uniform and consistent shape, unlike lead-tipped or hollow-point bullets, which can get dinged or damaged before you even purchase them. Because of their lightweight front end, tipped bullets also change the balance of the bullet in flight. With a more balanced center of gravity, the trajectory can be improved. For match or competition applications, these aspects of tipped bullets make them superior for accuracy and long-range shooting.

HUNTING

For hunting purposes, not only do you get the inherent ballistic advantages, but also good terminal performance. Tipped hunting bullets are designed to have the tip driven into the core of the bullet to ensure proper mushrooming of the bullet. These properties help improve all types of ammunition when tipped bullets are used.

In my experience, tipped bullets have better results than their soft lead-tipped predecessors. They have worked well for me in every facet of shooting, whether it was paper, steel, or meat. That said, I do not shoot them exclusively. I will not be leaving my boat-tail hollow-point bullets just yet. They also have their place in my repository. Tipped bullets can do a lot of great things. But for shots that are way out there, I trust a good hollow point with its easily ruptured tip to open up when a tipped bullet may not.

CONCLUSION

Tipped bullets are everywhere. They have filled a spot on every retailer’s shelf and in every category. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, as the performance they bring is typically superior to the alternative. Whether you have a nice buck picked out or you are trying to break a distance record, there is probably a perfect tipped bullet for you. Do not be afraid to give them a try. You may never look back.

-CBM

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

The Canik TP9 Elite Combat 9mm Pistol

Good friends can often be the catalyst we need to try something new. Whether it be a new activity, or way of thinking, some of our best practices are simply learned from the good people we surround ourselves with.
Im a rifle junkie, always have been. But due to the good influence of friends, I have been exposed to all kinds of additional shooting enterprises. One of them being IDPA style pistol shooting, which if you haven’t tried, you should.

Having tried it a few times, mostly as an informal competition between friends, I was immediately hooked. Steel targets, and fast reloads just seem like the best kind of practice for having a good time. But I needed a good pistol for it, being a rifle junkie, my pistol inventory was very superficial and necessity based (CCW). So I began the search for something that fit the bill.

What do we have here?
It was SHOT Show 2018 that I first noticed Canik USA firearms, they are imported by Century Arms from Turkey. My initial impression was they looked great, and I wanted to run a few mags thru one, but much time would pass before I would. A friend let me handle one, and I immediately fell in love again. It was the TP9 Elite Combat model, which draws on several aftermarket parts from Salient Arms International (SAI). The TP9 EC uses a fluted threaded barrel, trigger, +3 floor-plate, and flared mag-well from SAI. The styling and custom look only enhance the graceful lines of the TP9. The Canik is a striker fired 9mm, with double stack magazines. I purchased the pistol as a kit from Century, which included a host of additional goodies. Two magazines, one of which had the SAI +3 floor-plate boosting its capacity to 17+1. Two different grip back-straps to choose from to better fit your hand. A polymer holster to fit the pistol to your gun-belt. It also comes with the slide pre-cut for sighting devices, the kit included a Vortex Optics Viper red dot, and with several other baseplates, I believe you can mount others as well. The threaded SAI barrel is suppressor ready, mine came with 13X1 left-hand threads, but apparently the newer ones are 1/2-28 right-hand threads.
The EC also has a chamber indicator on the top of the slide, when a round is chambered, the red indicator is clearly visible. The chamber indicator is also tactile, you can feel it either in the dark, or while looking towards your next engagement. Also on top of the slide is the fiber optic sight (rear sights removed to install the Viper red dot). The fiber optics are interchangeable with others included in the kit.


Several other things are included in the hard-case, trigger lock, tools for assembly and cleaning, as well as different mag release height options you can customize.
I wasted no time, and literally within minutes of delivery, I was pumping magazines through the TP9.

The Vortex Viper was easy to mount, and zero. I was amazed at how accurate the gun was, I wasn’t shooting particularly far, but once zeroed, I could put a whole magazine thru a less than two inch hole at 10 yards. And if I can hold steady enough, whatever you put the red dot on within 30-40 yds, gets hit.
The trigger overall is pretty good, though I was a little bit let down, as mine wasn’t as good as the ones I had felt prior to purchase. The take-up has a bit of stickiness to it that I didn’t feel on other guns. The break and reset however is clean and very crisp. I have taken it apart several times to see if I can clean up the trigger pull, We’ll see if any of that helps.
The EC also comes with an oversized mag release, which I found to be very good for dropping the magazine. And despite its prominence, never caused an undesired mag drop.
Underneath the muzzle there is a pretty standard accessory rail, perfect for mounting lights, lasers, etc.
The magazines themselves are manufactured by Mec-gar, a well known manufacturer of great aftermarket magazines. There are several different models available including an 18 round and a 32 round stick mag.
The holster is about what you would expect from a manufacturer, nice enough to use, but leaving you wanting more. It’s serviceable, but I dont care for the release. Instead of pressure to the side releasing the pistol, you curl your trigger finger in the same action as you would to pull the trigger. This seems a little unsafe, in that once clear of the holster, if your finger continues the curling motion, it could find the trigger before your on target. This is probably just a training issue, but I didn’t care for it none the less.

Shooting the TP9
I mentioned the accuracy of the TP9,I’ll add that the functionality has also been almost perfect. I say almost perfect because I have had a couple malfunctions, nothing a tap, rack, bang wouldn’t fix. And more than likely due to the low budget ammunition I was shooting at the time.
Even so, with the cheap ammo I find it very easy to hit what I’m aiming at.
The flared mag-well made mag changes easy to feel into place, though I wish the flared part had at least two points of contact. As it sits, the mag-well flare is attached by a single screw at the rear, not a huge deal, but it has caused me to re-engineer it in my head.
I bought the gun with the plan of using the red dot on it, though I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I figured if I didn’t, I could just run the iron sights on it and sell the Vortex. But as it turns out, I really enjoy shooting with the red dot. So much in fact that I’m considering doing the same to another pistol I love and shoot quite a bit, my Taurus TX22. I have since run a couple other red dot optical sights on the pistol, and I settled on the US Optics DRS 2.0 Enhanced, I found it to be a superior option to the other two. One thing that I absolutely love, is the way this Canik feels in my hand. It’s a perfect fit with the larger grip back-strap, and it points so nicely and naturally. The way it draws from the holster and lines up perfectly for the shot gives me some undeserved confidence.

Suppressed
With a threaded barrel it was only a matter of time until I ran the Canik with one of my suppressors, and I was very happy with the results. I used two suppressors from Yankee Hill Machine, the first one and my favorite of the two is the Nitro N20 shown above. It is a modular can that has a short or long configuration and is built with extremely light materials. In the short configuration it is so light I barely noticed it when shooting the pistol, and the sound suppression was amazing. There was a slight uptick in the felt recoil, but I was expecting it. Not so much as to feel pressure against your hand, you could just feel the pistol cycling harder.

Conclusion
It may sound like I’m ragging a bit on the TP9 Elite Combat, but to be honest I really do like it. I’ve never been much of a gun snob, so when it comes to minor issues I tend to look right thru them. I love shooting the TP9, and intend on becoming much better with it, might even take a few classes or training courses to save myself the embarrassment in public.
I think despite the little issues I’ve brought up, the gun is a great option. I may get another holster for it, and I will definitely be getting a bunch more magazines, and ammo.
-CBM