Tuesday, July 30, 2013

.22's and Monster Stew

Winchester 255 lever action .22WMR
Anyone who has ever faced an attack by a wild animal might relate to this bit of my past experience. Others might learn from it. It involves my first hunt in a remote area of South Mississippi – a place filled with poisonous snakes, swarms of hungry mosquitoes the size of sparrows, and all sorts of other critters and game that are generally a little more pleasant to encounter. That last part, the game, was what I was looking for that day. For me, at age 24, the other stuff seemed to just be the price of admission. I’ll start with a little background.

When I was 15, this Southern boy used the money he had earned and saved to purchase a .22 rifle. Not just any rifle but a semi-auto Winchester Model 77, with detachable 8-round magazine (which I mistakenly called a “clip”) and a spare magazine for urgent reloading purposes. Though I already had a .410 Winchester Model 37 single-barrel shotgun, this .22 LR rifle was my pride and joy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

AllforgunTV Season 1 Preview

All for Gun is a blog by three guys giving their thoughts on firearms and accessories, ammunition, surviving zombies, and other random ramblings on all things gun. Newbies to experts are welcome! And now, we have begun a new addition: the allforgunTV YouTube channel! 

And now, it's finally here! AllforgunTV is active, and we now have the Season 1 Preview up in 720 HD. Have a look, and be sure to watch in full resolution (check the settings under the video, on the little gear emblem) with the sound on for the most fun.

Don't forget to visit allforgunTV on YouTube, too, and give the video a thumbs up, subscribe, and share it with your friends! You can click through to allforgunTV via the link in the menu bar above, or from within the embedded video below.

Upcoming n this season: Jeremy, Jason, and Dave fire 'em up at the range! We include comparisons of three very different .45acp pistols, three different 9mm pistols, a pair of AR-15s of different concept, plus a smattering of wheel guns! Find out what we think of each gun tested, laugh along with us, and maybe learn something, too!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bubba's Area 51

A massive fence surrounded nearly a whole county.
*not actual gate shown
During the late 1960’s while living in Florence, South Carolina, someone brought an article to work about special hunts to be held at the Savannah River Nuclear Plant Reservation near Aiken, SC. It seemed to be a very big deal, the first of its kind, organized by the state and/or U.S. conservation departments. The article revealed that the land there had been closed to the public since the 1940’s for national security. That’s because the nuclear plant produced the stuff that makes atomic bombs go boom, which was apparently a big secret back in the day. As I recall the story, the government acquired most, if not all, of a county and moved the residents out. Only the people who worked at the nuclear plant were allowed inside this very large, secret, fenced-in area of Southern forest – sort of a Bubba’s Area 51.

Why open this secret area up to managed hunts? And why would there be no limits on the number of, or what was killed? Well, it seems that the deer and other critters had multiplied so much over those 25 years that the plant workers could barely make it to the job without hitting a deer or hog crossing the road. At least that’s what they said: Too dangerous for the plant workers. Now, who would have thought that the drive to and from work would be more dangerous than making Plutonium or whatever they had going on there? Regardless, this would be an opportunity of a lifetime! Five of us wanted in on it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"You'll shoot your eye out!" - A Boy's First Gun

Uncle Josh helps Finn hold up his new shootin' iron.
Every little boy dreams about the day they get their first BB-gun, pellet gun, and eventually the real thing. My first was a pellet gun air rifle, probably from china, but still sturdy enough to last multiple years throughout my childhood until I got my first real gun at age 13, a 20 Gauge Remington 870 Express which I still own and use to this day. I don't recall what occasion my dad used as the excuse to get me that pellet gun and my little brother a classic lever action BB-gun, but it was a great day for sure.

I raised lots of hell with that air rifle, and even brought some meat to the table a time or two when I used it to kill a squirrel. I wish I had some idea where it ended up like so many other of my childhood possessions. 

This past holiday season I was able to experience the grandeur of receiving an air rifle once again but through my son as a gun surrogate. He is 5, and by no means mature enough to be trusted on his own with a weapon any fiercer than a foam stick, so when my brother suggested getting him a gun I was skeptical. We talked about it and agreed that if he got him one he'd have to give him lessons on shooting it and keep it put up etc. My wife almost killed me but we made it through it and my son became the proud owner of a Christmas morning pellet gun.

Friday, July 12, 2013

AR-15 Carbine MOE Forend - Bargain Tactical

AR-15 Carbine with Magpul MOE hand guards and vertical grip;
A Magpul Pmag in OD and a Bushnell Trophy Dot sight round it out.
Beginning life a few years ago as a standard off-the-shelf High Standard HSA-15 with a 16" barrel, front-post flattop A3-style carbine, my mil-spec AR-15 functioned well, but left something to be desired, aesthetically. I knew right off that I would be adding an Ergo Grip Original, and that my love of O.D. green (olive drab) that originated from playing soldier in O.D. kid fatigues at an early age meant that my Ergo Grip would have to be green. A socket with extension enabled a quick and easy grip change from the factory standard black plastic stick that I find so uncomfortable. The Ergo Grip is superb. Not too soft, not abrasive, not flimsy or breakable feeling; just right.

The back up iron sights (B.U.I.S.) consisting of the standard front post with elevation adjustment and rear flip-ups from Pro-Mag, I was able to hit the targets, but also wanted an optical sight of some sort. Being unable to afford an ACOG or AimPoint, I considered going with a 1-4 variable scope but couldn't decide which I liked best. Then I stumbled upon an unlikely candidate, at an unlikely sale price.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

TOTD - Passion or Practicality?

I've struggled with this in all aspects of my life for as long as I can remember. Should I go purely with practicality, or follow the urge in my gut that makes me giddy? It's an age old question: head or heart?

Kel-Tec PF9. Solid single-stack 9mm
The Practicality.
Following my head, in terms of what I know I need, I my next handgun should be a slim, compact 9mm pistol that can easily conceal in summer attire. Something such as this KelTec PF9 or a Ruger LC9. Practical, since it fits the needs I am missing and I already have another 9mm, the Glock 19. Some people would say I don't need the single stack compact nine because of the Glock, but it creates quite a lump in a tshirt. I need something less conspicuous.

Now, if I ignore my own brain's advice, above, I would wind up
Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911.
The Passion.
with something I've always wanted: a 1911. There are several good buys on the market now, from Remington R1's to various models from Springfield Armory (such as the Range Officer shown here) that adhere to my tastes in .45's. And sure, there's some practicality in owning one. But is this what I really need now? No, it's not. Is it what makes me giddy and want to go to the shooting range? You betcha.

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, July 8, 2013

TOTD - Hollywood: Making Heroes Look Stupid

"I'm a paladin hero deputy sheriff. I know guns. That's why I told
that other idiot to release the safety on his Glock."
*Not what Rick really said.
I finally gave in and recently added a show to my TV watching time. "The Walking Dead" is a good show, with great characters and tense realism intertwined through its gory premise. It also illustrates well why those of us who prep for apocalyptic scenarios do so, and inadvertently provides some tips to our crowd by showing some things that can go wrong. Whether it's zombies or some crazy monkey flu, pandemic scenarios are nothing to scoff at, and this show brings that forward to the audience in spades.

Despite all this action and emotion packed goodness, it does have some problems. I won't go into all of them, just the one that's pertinent to this site: gun knowledge. Face it, there are LOTS of guns on the show, both seen and used. Being also a sound man, I find myself constantly annoyed at the fake and excessive sounds made by the guns being handled. Someone one-hand draws a gun from a holster ... it makes a slide racking sound. Clinks, slides, snaps, and pings abound every time someone touches a gun at all. However, this is not the worst offense.

I almost stopped watching a few minutes into the pilot, because I became so annoyed at the blatant lack of gun knowledge, or apathy of the director/producer/writer to allow ignorance to be presented as fact. The hero, Rick, tells a bumbling deputy, "Be sure you've got a round in the chamber and the safety is off." Okay, nothing wrong with that, except, oh wait ... that guy has a Glock! There is no manual safety to turn off. And despite the fact that hero Rick should have known this, they made it worse by showing the bumbling deputy mime releasing a safety after he chambered a round! They even added a "click" noise as he passed his thumb over the slide release, which being the only lever on the pistol is what he had to use to pretend he was doing something with a safety.

I mean, c'mon! If that line and action are critical to your plot enough to leave it in - turns out later it kind of came back around - then dang it, get a different prop gun for the actor that actually has a manual safety on it! Don't suck all the zombie preppers out of the action - the crowd who knows a Glock has no manual safety - and ask them to believe something they know is wrong. That's just lazy, and supremely annoying!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Custom Remington 1100 Home Defender

Remington 1100, customized for Home Defense
Finding a used, "well broke-in" example of a gun with a solid reputation for reliability can be like finding a '69 Camaro that's been sitting in a barn for the last 20 years. It's rough, sure. But, boy, does it have potential.

As a project, I had been looking for a good, low cost semi-auto shotgun for a while. I wondered if there was one that would work reliably for people whose arm wouldn't cycle a pump-action on "auto-pilot." But, there aren't many semi-auto shotguns that garner much respect for reliably cycling. I even asked our shop gunsmith what he thought of various auto-loading shotguns' reliability.

"I don't think much of any semi-auto shotguns, actually," was his response. "But if I had to use one, I would go with a Remington 1100 or a Benelli M2 maybe. You have to be sure the 1100's gas passage is in good shape though." I had already thought the same, but his second-opinion made me feel better about my thinking. The gas operation of most semi-autos was known to sometimes jam up after lots of use. The Benellis use a recoil operated system, thought to be more reliable by some people.

When I ran across a Remington 1100 that looked as though it had been hunting every day for the last
ten years, before finally being left lying in a mud hole for the last few months, I knew I had something. After a little haggling, the price came down to shockingly low. I could hardly keep from grinning as I handed the man his money. Unfortunately, there's not a picture of how it looked on that day. The picture below was made after the 1100 had been cleaned up and refinished, back to beautiful.

Used Remington 1100 "barn find" after lots
of elbow grease.
In fact, some linseed oil on the wood (actually a dangerous process), some WD-40, a few Scotch-brite pads, and a whole lot of elbow grease and fine-grit sandpaper brought this fine pup back to what I think is better than new appearance. We didn't leave it at that, though. No, this pretty little 12 gauge was picked up with a singular purpose in mind: cheap, reliable, hard-hitting home defense.

After the weeks of cleanup and refinishing, the other easy modifications came incrementally: 18" cylinder-bore barrel, TacStar magazine tube extension, and a Streamlight TLR-1. All done, this used 1100 is equivalent to a new "tactical defense shotgun" that would run you around $1,200-1,500 off the shelf, but for about 1/3 of that cost. Then consider that I think this one, with the hand rubbed, matte finished wood stock looks way better than the all plastic composite stock "tactical" models. And after checking the gas passages and replacing the o-ring with a simple and cheap parts kit, the result is a reliable semi-auto home defender that's as pleasant to look at as it is intimidating from the wrong end of it.

Watch for a future article detailing the process of this gun's restoration, refinish, and customization.

On a Tangent
Intimidating. That's a tricky area for home defense. With a weapon that's intimidating to look at, it's possible you could avert an attacker without ever firing a shot. That's a good thing. But suppose you do have to fire. Suppose you kill a home intruder with a weapon that's designed to be good at defending your home? You will almost invariably wind up in court, defending yourself against criminal charges for taking a life. An article from the United States Concealed Carry Association suggested recently that if you've used a purpose built machine like this pseudo-tactical shotgun, you're more likely to do time for it, because the prosecution will attempt to persuade the jury that you wanted to kill someone. "Why else would he have a gun that's only good for doing that?" they might say. I agree with the USCCA that there is that possibility. However, I also cry bullshit.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

TOTD - Snakes and Scatter-guns

"It's dark up here!" Jason yelled.

"Hang on, I'll open the door," I said. We, along with his little brother Josh and a friend of theirs, were playing in our grandfather's barn. It was a warm summer day in the mid '80s, and we had made our way to the hay loft. It was dark, and even hotter with the door closed.

I reached for the bailing wire that I knew held the door shut by hooking over a nail. As my hand was almost to it, I stopped. Something didn't look right about the shadows. Then the wire twitched. I stepped back and kicked the door as hard as I could with my 11-year-old legs. It swung open with a rattle and squeak, startling the other boys, I think. But then ...

"Snake!" I yelled. We all hit the ladder heading back down within a second. Some climbed down, some jumped from halfway or more. I don't recall who did what. But, I do recall that big black snake draped over the corner of the hay loft door as it swung out in the air, 20 feet up. We ran, yelling and screaming, up to our grandfather's house.

Daddy Almon, as all the grand-kids called him, had lived his entire life in the rural south. An outdoorsman who loved to hunt birds and rabbits, he always had a shotgun handy. Once he settled us down and figured out what was going on, he walked casually down to the barn, toting the shotgun that lived over the door in his utility room. I'm not sure what gauge it was, or what kind, but I think - looking back in my mind's eye - that it was probably a Browning A5.

"Well, that's just a black snake," he said stoically as he shouldered the shotgun. We all watched as one big boom brought the snake down from the loft door. It hit the ground and started the famous sideways slither with its long body, booking it toward the treeline.

"A black racer! Look at it go!" he yelled, seemingly delighted to watch it run. I don't remember exactly what happened next, or if it was that scatter-gun or a shovel that my older cousin Chris was wielding that ended the racer. That experience cemented two things in my memories, though.

  1. Summer in the south, especially rainy days, means snakes. Always watch where you put your foot in the grass, or your hand in a dark hay loft.
  2. Daddy Almon and a shotgun just went together.
Not my grandfather's guns.
Just a sample wall rack.
When the snake ordeal was over, that scatter-gun went back on the rack in the utility room, likely still loaded. Back then it wasn't a concern so much. It was out of reach of the littlest kids, and by the time we were six or seven, we all knew not only basically how to use guns, but to not mess with them without an adult's help. They were just a part of life in the south, out in the country. They were a part of who we were; part of our heritage and family.

Even now, 17 years he's been gone, and every time I drive past his old house and see that old barn out back, I think about that day, that snake, and Daddy Almon with that shotgun. It makes me smile and chuckle. It makes me proud to come from a long line of tough outdoorsmen, the kind of men for whom shooting at your own barn to kill a snake that scared your grand-kids was no big deal. And ... it makes me want a new shotgun.

Comfortable IWB Holsters? Nate Squared Tactical Says Yes!

The N8squared Professional model, with Springfield 1911.
Nate Squared Tactical (N8squared), a small company out of North Carolina, has a new patented design inside the waistband (IWB) holster on the market, in three versions. The Original, Tuckable, and Professional series holsters represent a good deal in American made products, at $39, $49, and $69 respectively. All Pro series holsters are now available in both right and left hand configurations.

What makes these holsters special? They're comfy. How many of us have had cold steel pressed up against our sides in the dead of winter, or sweat and heat from an IWB holster drive us nuts in the height of summer? These holsters solve all of those issues with the padded, breathable suede backing plate that keeps the skin comfortable by keeping the gun away from it.

Look for a full review of the Nate Squared Original model on AFG soon.


Ugly No More - Turnbull's TAR-40

An older fellow I worked with always referred to the family of AR type tactical rifles as "black uglies." There was truth to it. In the standard base form they are typically all black, and even if you think they look cool, you have to admit, they aren't pretty. But now traditionalists can have their cake and eat it, too.

The beautiful Turnbull TAR-40.
Turnbull Manufacturing is now producing a pretty AR based rifle for the discriminating collector. In fact, they make both an AR-15 (.223) based model, the TAR-15, and a .308 model based on the DPMS LR-308 (A basic AR-10 type platform), which they call the TAR-40 for some reason.

The TAR-40 is a beautiful piece of work, featuring color case hardened, carbon steel upper and lower, flattop (optics ready) carbine setup, gas tube operation, and premium American Walnut furniture. It's gorgeous. And like any supermodel, expensive. The "basic" TAR-40 starts at $4,995. Start adding options like upgraded wood and higher-end scopes from Leupold or Zeiss, and you can have one all the up to $8,995 if you like. I personally know absolutely zero people who would consider or be able to buy one of these. But, it sure is pretty to look at.

The TAR-15 is more "reasonably" priced, starting at $2,750.


Friday, July 5, 2013

TOTD - Cheap Pocket Knives

My latest everyday knife. A nice little Gerber,
given to me by my Dad, Dave.
What's that one thing you always seem to need when you've forgotten it? The thing that serves so many uses and makes you the hero of the moment when no one else has one? That thing that everyone should always have in their pocket or purse? That's right. A pocket knife.

I have so many pocket knives that I don't know where all of them are. But, I always have one in my pocket (unless I'm in a hurry leaving and forget to grab it, later invariably suffering the ridicule of my wife when she needs it). Over the years I've carried a wide variety of styles, brands, and price levels of knives. I've come to realize that my favorites for everyday carry are the cheaper ones. Not the flea-market variety, mind you, but the cheap good ones. They serve well, typically hold up better than expected, and because they aren't $200 Benchmades, don't leave you hesitant to use them for the dirtier tasks that might cause them to mar or break.

The proper way to use a pocket clip.
Don't hang your knife on the outside.
Generally, avoid the no-names or anything under about $10. However, there are many manufacturers who make good quality knives in the $10-30 range that will be good pocket companions for years. Look to Gerber, CRKT, Kershaw, Ka-Bar, Magnum, and others that have a long history of reliability in the business. I find it's best to buy from a retailer that allows you to handle the knife before you buy, to be sure it feels right to your hand. If it's not comfortable, you'll wind up leaving it at home on purpose, and there's no sense in that.

I prefer a pocket clip, easy one-hand opening, and a partially serrated blade for my everyday pocket knife. The clip allows it to be quickly accessible in case of need as a defensive tool, as well as the one-hand opening. The partial serration means it will rip through things like zip-ties more easily, and leave the non-serrated part of the blade sharper for more precision use. You may have other preferences, and equally well thought out reasons. Regardless of those, if you don't have a cheap everyday knife, get one, and carry it!

The .444 and Me

Terry, a young co-worker in the plant called me aside and asked me if I was a deer hunter. Now any Southerner knows it’s what “real men” do. So without hesitating I answered, “Sure. Why?” I thought he was about to ask me to go hunting with him.

“I got a rifle I need to sell,” he said.
The Marlin .444 lever action

“What is it?” I asked.

“A four-forty-four Marlin.”

“A what?” I asked.

“It’s a deer gun – a lever action. Got a scope, too. I bought it last year from my cousin and never got to go huntin’ with it. All this overtime we been workin’.” He cracked a little grin and added, “It kinda kicks. But it shoots real good. My cousin said he’s killed several deer with it and none of ‘em even tried to run after he shot ‘em. It’s a real hoss.”

To make a long story short, I bought the rifle from him the next day when I saw it. It was a beautiful rifle, well made, and it fit me almost perfectly, except for one little thing. That one little thing would come back to haunt me later: I had to raise my head slightly off the stock to get the correct view through the scope.

I assessed it as a heavy-duty deer-killing machine, with heavy being the operative word here. But considering the humongous size of the cartridges that he supplied with it, I figured all that steel must be needed to contain the power of those huge bullets. Most of my prior experience with rifles had been with a semi-auto .22 Model 77, and with my lever-action .22 magnum Model 255, both Winchesters. I considered myself highly proficient with those guns. But this Marlin was in a totally different category.

A few days later I was in the woods near my home with my “new” .444 lever gun looking for a place to try it out. I needed to check the gun’s 4X scope and get a feel for it before taking it hunting. I spotted a big white blotch on the bark of a pine tree about 25-yards from me. The tree was at the base of the hill behind it, providing a good backstop. A perfect place to start, I thought. Not too far away. I should hit the tree even if the scope is off a little. Then I can adjust it if needed. (Being older and wiser, I would now familiarize myself with its ballistics, take it to a range and use a rest and an actual target to sight it in.)

With the full confidence of an experienced rifleman, I raised the rifle to my shoulder, carefully centered that white spot on the bark in the crosshair, and squeezed off a shot. 

I fought to keep my footing in the pine straw and leaves while the blast of the gun echoed again and again through the hills. I wasn’t expecting a kick like that – or the pain of its sledgehammer-like blow to my shoulder. The stock had somehow slammed into my cheek bone as the rifle leapt upward in recoil. Time has erased my exact thoughts at that moment but I do recall that it brought tears to my eyes. That had never happened to me, before or since. No, I wasn’t expecting to be thumped by the butt of my own gun. I wasn’t prepared for that at all. A nice, relaxed stance and grip on this baby was not going to cut it. I was getting the feel of it, and damn!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thought of the Day - 1776

Obviously, being the 4th of July - Independence Day - I've been thinking about the American Revolutionary War. My mind has bounced around everything from what the reasons were for the war, to what a miserable situation it must have been for most involved, to what weapons they used, and how even the latest technology of the day, flintlock muskets, were challenging to use efficiently. Instead of rambling on about it all of these subjects, I decided to show you some cool videos I found on the topic of Revolutionary War weapons. Enjoy! And have a safe and happy 4th!

(With all of these, I recommend selecting the maximum available resolution, which they may not play at by default.)

This video shows of a fife and drum corp as well as a small group of re-enactment soldiers going through the paces.

Aside from his head being cut off for half the video, this is one of the best simple explanatory videos of flintlock operation I've seen out there. Want to know how it works? Watch the whole 4:46.

This one is without dialog at all, but it has some nice closeups of what's going on with loading and firing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thought of the Day - Inline with What?

I severely dislike "modern," inline muzzleloaders. What's the point in it, really? Sure, it slows the
Yep, they say this is a muzzleloader. Nope. Not to me.
reloading time, preventing a hunter from taking a second shot as quickly. But when you have a precision rifled barrel, a high quality scope, and a sabot projectile that's the size and shape of a .338winmag bullet, being pushed by 150 grains of high potency black-powder replacement with velocity and accuracy rivaling current bolt action rifles out to 250 yards ... I mean really. Why?

Stainless barrels, camo synthetic stocks, carbon fiber ramrods. What the hell? This isn't muzzleloading, it's being compliant with laws for muzzleloading hunting. Some areas open special early or extended deer seasons for people hunting with muzzleloaders. The technical definition of muzzleloaders - a gun that is loaded through its muzzle - allows these modern high performance rifles to be used during those special seasons, which were supposed to be for hunters willing to take an extra step at sportsmanship with a self-imposed handicap of hunting with old weapons that are limited in range, accuracy (to a degree), and require more skill and knowledge to use than a bolt action with a scope. Imagine asking the average hunter to assemble his own ammo cartridge before taking a shot at a whitetail? That's muzzleloading. Dropping a couple compressed powder pellets down the muzzle and stuffing a plastic sabot with a ballistic tipped 200 grain jacketed projectile on top of the powder, then using a 209 shotgun primer that ALWAYS fires instantly and always ignites the powder pellets is ... well, that ain't muzzleloading. Sorry if it's how you do it, but stop calling it muzzleloading, especially if your gun has a scope on it.

Give me a Hawken; a Kentucky rifle; a Springfield 1861; anything with a side-lock and iron sights! I like a powder flask, a number 11 primer or musket cap, and a good ol' hunk of lead sitting on top of a greased cloth patch! Give me those open iron sights that are so thin and black that they might as well not exist after 4pm! Give me a wood stock and a brass buttplate! Hell, give me a flintlock! Give me traditional muzzleloading or give me ... well, anything but that inline crap.
A traditional Kentucky Rifle. Beautiful, I think. This is a real muzzleloader.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going Ballistic

Which cartridge is on the money?
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made while helping a customer choose a firearm was allowing myself to get caught up in a debate over ballistics. The debate wasn't with the customer I was helping. My customer was a novice about guns, just learning what was what, and in his early 40's, had decided to take up deer hunting. He was looking for a first ever bolt action rifle. Up till then he only had experience with a .22 lever action when he was a teenager, and had not since owned a gun of any sort. As I stood with him, looking at rifles and attempting to explain in near layman's terms what the practical differences would be between a .30-06 and a .270win, another customer joined the conversation.

"Those are some old-school rounds! What you want is a 7mm Remington short action ultra mag, or a .300 WSSM. I actually prefer the .338 WSSM myself, but I'm not recoil shy. But actually..." He continued on for a minute, rambling about various new (at the time) rifle chamberings, and began quoting ballistics charts and spouting some things about the principles and theories behind the various rounds that I knew to be bullshit. What made this worse was that in the midst of it he dropped the info (which was likely also bullshit) that he was an ex army sniper. What made this whole thing even worse was that my relatively clueless customer was standing there listening to all of it.

Then I made it even worser (as my 5-year-old would say). Instead of politely excusing myself and my customer to the ammo aisle to show him some examples, I allowed myself to engage the blowhard, know-it-all, BS-slinger in a debate over ballistics. By the time we were done, and Mr. Ex-sniper had relented - having to leave because his lunch break from the Jiffy Lube was over - my actual about-to-buy-a-rifle customer was confused out of his mind and didn't know what to think. I was back to square one, and possibly about to lose a sale from "over tech-ifying" the customer. (That's a sales term I coined that more sales people need to learn.)

Not that I was trying to sell the customer on a .30-06 or a .270, but rather I was attempting to teach him the basics of ballistics, in order for him to understand and help me figure out what chambering would work best for him, in his particular hunting situation. Instead I had helped to scramble his brains with tech details that are in all but the most extreme situations mostly pointless. Quickly realizing the problem I had just helped to create, I walked him to the ammo aisle and pulled out some boxes of rifle ammo and began again, with the basics. 30 minutes later I was calling NICS for his purchase of a new Ruger M77 in .243win with a Leupold VX-1 scope mounted and bore-sighted.

Turned out he had a pre-teen son who was wanting to try hunting, too. He decided they could share a good quality rifle at first instead of buying them each a cheaper grade gun like the Remington 710. Since they would be sharing, he went with a chambering of minimal recoil that was good enough ballistically for Alabama whitetail deer at moderate distances, and cheap and plentiful enough to allow them plenty of range time together before hitting the double ladder stand.

Hunting in 1937. Somehow, he still bagged
a deer with that old gun.

What it came to was that I had imparted to him my own philosophy that "old-school" doesn't mean "bad," and shiny-new-to-market doesn't always mean better, or better for you or your particular needs. What will work best in a chamber selection is not as easy as picking the hardest hitting, flattest trajectory, highest velocity round you can find. If it did, everyone would shoot .50 BMG and be done with it. That's absurd. There are more factors at play in selecting a chambering for your gun than ballistics tables alone. My customer had come to understand what his needs were, and with my advice, understood what would meet those needs. Ultimately he purchased a fine firearm that should serve him and his son well for years to come.

Whether you're shopping for a deer rifle, a home-defense carbine that can also pop coyotes in the back-40, or a handgun for concealed carry, targets, camping, or hunting, the variables involved in picking one include things like:


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