Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boys will be boys... Ruger 10/22 Take-Down

Decided to take the family out for dinner Friday night.  We headed a county south to catch one of our favorite steak and buffet places... which just happens to be near a favorite gun store of mine.  Town and Country Department Store is one of those great places that time forgot.  You can stop in and try on some Rocky boots, let the gals check out some new clothes, pick up a furnace filter or a set of every-day dinnerware, and of course... check out the hundreds of guns, accessories, hunting supplies, and stock up for your reloading needs.

While the gals tried on some new shirts, I meandered back to the gun counter and ran across one of those new-fangled Ruger 10/22 Take-Down rifles that was just announced the day before.  I couldn't help it, I was like a kid back in W. R. Thomas' Five-n-Dime again with a crisp $10 bill in my pocket from a birthday card.  Just as I thought about pulling my wallet out, the clerk said, "we got two in, sold the first one and this one's mine... just leaving it out for people to look it over."

As a kid growing up in the 19?0s... well let's just say a long time ago, I wanted an Armalite AR-7 Explorer the instant I saw one in the hands of James Bond in "From Russia with Love".  Never quite had the chance to pick one up for use in my day-dreamed secret squirrel missions back then.  Henry makes a modern .22 rendition of that magical ".25 caliber" secret agent take-down rifle.  Gun nuts and James Bond fans will understand the .25 caliber reference.

Then in high school, I was at a local gun shop one day and saw a beautiful Marlin Papoose take-down .22 rifle in a bright red case.  It had a shortened wood stock and weighed next to nothing, plus the case even floated when dropped in water.  That would have been perfect for cuttin' the rapids in a canoe along the river on my way to hunt big game like rabbits and squirrels and such.  Marlin still makes a Papoose model with a synthetic stock, stainless-steel barrel, and that floating case in bright blue instead of red.

Now we need another .22 rifle in the house about as much as I need a sixth toe, but that inner boy just takes over occasionally.  If you folks follow my blog, you already know I'm kind of partial to those Made in America Rugers, and I've long ago forgiven Bill, Sr. for his misguided comments on magazine capacity limits.

A Ruger 10/22 take-down rifle right from the factory... why I need one of those for each of our Bug Out Bags, one for the truck, another for the motorcycle, one in the trunk of the wife's car, and... wait... the wife says I can have one... JUST ONE... someday... not now.  But... but... but... how will I save the world on the off chance that zombies attack while I'm canoeing the river on a secret squirrel mission?

What can I say... boys will be boys... and every boy needs a Ruger 10/22 Take-Down.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Freeze-Dried Food for Feast or Famine...

Prepping for the Zombie Apocalypse can and should be balanced with practical planning for more probable situations.  You might find yourself without power for a few days or maybe your luck runs out and you find yourself between jobs.  Having a prepper's mindset can help in many situations short of the Zombie Apocalypse.

If you're starting into the prepper mindset or even if you're already underway... it can feel like you're looking at Mt. Everest on your first hike up the hill.  While there are many aspects and approaches to prepping regarding provisions for short and long-term food needs including gardening, canning, MRE's, grain, animals, and a lot of other considerations... many of the current freeze-dried offerings can help you bridge short-to-long-term food and nutritional needs for your family while offering a very long shelf life to provide a return on your investment.

We've tried various freeze-dried foods from several manufacturers over the years and for the most part we have preferred the products from Mountain House and Wise Company.  While there are plenty of reviews on the web, my thoughts today are more to encourage you to at least think about your family's situation and do something.  If you've already set aside three-days worth of grub, great!  Now start thinking ahead and take the next step.

It might take some time to build up your stocks and supplies, but you'll find piece of mind knowing that even rough times from things like unemployment can be eased if you supplement your daily needs with food from your preparations while easing your tight budget, then build your stores back up when times are better.

"They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.  This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine."  ~Genesis 41:35-36

The gals and I have found that the Wise Company often has unadvertised specials that are only available if you call them and some of their products have a shelf life of twenty-five years in optimal storage conditions.  They also pack their products in mylar pouches that are then packed in sealed, food-grade buckets.

So as you're making your preparations, you might just consider stocking up on some... Freeze-Dried Food for Feast or Famine...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Standard Rifle

While the tactical black of so many rifles seems to be popular these days, I still have a special appreciation for a traditional, bolt-action rifle with a quality wood stock and and a leather sling that rides comfortably over your shoulder.  Most modern classics in the bolt-action rifle category owe their heritage to the Mauser Model of 1898.  Some subsequent designs and variants include the Springfield Model 1903, the Winchester Model 70 introduced in 1936, the Remington 700 introduced in 1962, and finally the Ruger M77 introduced in 1968.

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye is the third major variation of Ruger's bolt-action platform and was introduced in 2006, following the M77 Mark II which had been introduced back in 1991.  The Hawkeye retains the three-position safety of the M77 Mark II, which allows you to operate the the bolt handle with the safety on, and also introduces the LC6 trigger system.

My experience with Ruger triggers on the M77 Mark II series was that they are usually crisp, with a slight bit of creep and trigger pull that could be used at a local tractor pull.  Our traditional and all-weather, stainless M77 Mark II rifles are now perfect after some quality trigger work.  The LC6 trigger system of the Hawkeye is by far one of the crispest triggers I've ever pulled out of the box, but the four to five pound trigger pull is still a bit heavy for my personal taste.  This gun isn't a precision bench-rest rifle, but in the field I prefer a two to three and a half pound trigger pull to balance safety and precision.

The steel floor plate is nicely contoured to the underside of the stock and the flush floor plate release is set into the front of the trigger guard where it is easily, but not accidentally pressed.  Being a life-long Ruger fan, I couldn't help but add Ruger's traditional, padded leather sling to the sling studs.  I also like that the knob on the investment cast one-piece bolt and bolt handle is easy to grab and manipulate, but doesn't stick out to far from the side of the action.

The American walnut stock is well-finished, with good quality checkering on the forearm and pistol-grip style wrist... I just love the wood grain of a good looking walnut stock.  Ruger adds their red, soft-rubber recoil pad which does a nice job of letting you firmly mount the gun while softening the recoil, depending on the caliber you're shooting, which in this case is .308 Winchester.

Some folks are not big fans of Ruger's proprietary scope rings, but I have found that when a scope is properly mounted and they're Lock-Tite'd in place, there is nothing short of destroying the gun that will cause those rings or the scope to move.  This rifle has a Bushnell Elite 5-15x 40mm scope with a one-inch tube mounted on it.

Now... I'm no Carlos Hathcock or Chuck Mawhinney... but we've had our Ruger M77 Hawkeye in .308 Winchester for three years now and it is sighted in at 200 yards with Federal's Vital-Shok ammunition using 165 grain Sierra Game King Boat-Tail Soft Point (BTSP) bullets.  This gives us about a two-inch high hit at 100 yards and about a nine-inch drop at 300 yards.  While the gun does excellent from a bench rest... setting the the forend of the rifle on a fence or log... This ol' guy can keep five shots in three...or so... inch groups at 200 yards all day long... and that is good enough for me and white-tail deer or similarly sized game.

There are a lot of good bolt-action rifles out there, and I've been looking forward to seeing how Ruger's new American Rifle stacks up against the Savage design and others... but if you're looking for a classically styled rifle built like a brick outhouse with precision, state-of-the-art manufacturing technology...

You should head out to the field with a Ruger M77 Hawkeye Standard Rifle...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Black Hole of Death...

The gals and I are fortunate to have our own range out behind the barn.  With a concrete, covered shooting line... it's convenient even if it does have some limitations.  Fortunately, we're also just a ten minute drive from our local gun club which also has good facilities for pistol, rifle, shotgun, and archery activities... especially when I need to practice some long range shooting.

The only problem with other shooting ranges is sometimes you run into folks that just don't understand basic gun safety, let alone range rules.  I think I'm a fairly polite guy and I enjoy helping or instructing others in a fairly humble manner, but I can't abide by folks who want to keep to muzzling me, even after a polite and friendly, "Hey guys, be careful where you're pointing the business end of a gun."

Don't make me go all Range Ranger on you... Not sure how you folks feel, but I don't like to stare into...

The Black Hole of Death...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm thankful to start a new week...

Life has been too busy 'round here.  I've been getting hit from more directions than a condemned man in front of a circular firing squad.  My goal was to post on the blog twice a week, but this past week has been crazy with life's things, and the first three days this next week are filled from morning 'till night.  It's not good to be too busy.  It creates stress and reduces the quality of life.

There have been a lot of decisions to make in the family and we've been seeking out information and doing a lot of research.  I may need some surgery in the near future, the sixteen year-old gal is applying to college for her senior year of high school (she's out of courses to take at our rural high school), I'm considering a significant career direction change in the next eighteen months with many implications, 4H Shooting Sports has started for the season, and someone keeps giving his college students far too many assignments that he has to grade.

Fortunately, I've got a terrific gal I'm married to and a good group of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to help with advice and work over ideas... even if we can't publicly discuss all the details.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
~Proverbs 27:17

As for being too busy, it's cyclical... but we're still weeding our schedule and commitments, trying to simplify life in a thoughtful process.  I may cut back on some of the NRA and CCW training this year while maintaining the 4H Shooting Sports commitments... as those kids are the next generation of gun owners.  We just have to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and even God took time to rest.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea,
and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
~Exodus 20:11

There are four or five blog posts I've been working on the last couple of weeks that involve some thoughts on long-term grub, a classic-style hunting rifle, and some more Sheepdog 101 thoughts... so stay tuned... 

...does anyone even tune a television anymore?

Well, this past week is over and I'm thankful to start a new week...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tactical wear for country folks...

Fashion tips are not typically my area of expertise, but as I see more and more of the tactical clothing going mainstream for concealed carry, practical preppers, couch-potato warriors, and mall-ninja wanna-be's... I thought I might offer some tactical wear fashion tips for country folks or others who may be interested.

Photo by John Vachon, May 1938. Library of Congress
First, I recommend sticking with proven technology.  It's hard to go wrong with bib overalls.  They are versatile, adaptable, and the ideal camouflage for rural, farm, and other country areas.  You'll blend right in among everyone else.

Like any good tactical vest, the bib has plenty of attachment points depending on your daily S.O.P.s and other needs.  The adjustable shoulder straps allow you to customize the positioning while the lower bib protects the abdominal padding (for those of us who've added it around our waist-line) from additional damage.

There's plenty of pockets and accessory pouches for all your tactical gear including flashlights, tools, and even rations (or grub as we call it around here).

Planning ahead for your various daily encounters should include medical and first aid supplies.  I've chosen the combination bandage, tourniquet, dust mask unit in don't-lose-me-red.  If you do have to go all tactical on some criminal element from the city that's wandered out too far into the country... you can also use it as a head-band for the "Rambo" effect.

For those of you concerned about those times when the SHTF, like when our neighbor called after five coyotes showed up about midnight, two nights ago... there is plenty of ammo storage available in the side pockets.

If you're in the market for some new tactical outerwear, you might want to check out Dickies, Carhartt, or Key... as the Hercules and Toughskins bib overalls previously marketed by Sears and Roebuck, Inc. during my youth are no longer available.

So if you're considering any tactical maneuvers, covert ops, or bugging out to the rural, country areas when TEOTWAWKI occurs...  you may want to be prepared in your clothing and outerwear choices.

Next time we'll look at ACUs and MultiCam vs. Coveralls and Realtree... interviewing key players for both the military's perspective and the whitetail deer's viewpoint... when we further discuss... Tactical wear for country folks...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

CCI 22 LR Shotshells for Pest Control...

Pest control can be a concern, especially out in rural areas and farm country.  Of course, my wife's favorite pests are the ones that slither... er, not really.  Then there are those pesky little critters like mice and rats that can chew through wood, plastic, wiring harnesses on tractors and vehicles, and build nests that can cause all kinds of problems.  I even remember a Chevy Caprice catching fire under the hood one spring back in the 1980s after a mouse nest ignited on the exhaust manifold.

Sure, you can use poison and traps to deal with pests, but they have their drawbacks.  You have to be careful with poison such as d-CON if you have small children, cats, or dogs around.  Mouse traps and rat traps work well, but sometimes you need a more immediate solution.  While I did see a black snake get caught in a rat trap years ago, dealing with pesky snakes is another concern, especially if you live out west where they rattle.  That's when you may want to consider some .22 long rifle shotshells.  Specifically, CCI 22 LR Shotshell for Pest Control.

Over the years, I've tried .22 long rifle shotshells from Winchester and Federal, but I've had the best results with CCI and the little blue, transparent tips that let you see the shot inside are pretty cool too.

CCI uses #12 lead shot, as do the other .22 LR shotshell offerings, but you can see that apparently size #12 is a little bit relative as there is a distinct difference in the size of the lead shot in the picture.

This ammunition is definitely a close-range solution.  You can see from the eight-inch Shoot-N-C targets... there is pretty good coverage of pellets at 2.5m (about seven to eight feet), but out at 5m there are only six shot pellets hitting within the center three-inch ring.  At 10m (about thirty feet), the shot pattern is spread out so much, it's pretty much useless.  I've shot these from both rifles and pistols... barrel length seems to have little effect on how tight the shot pattern is.

As far as lethality, I've used this type of .22 cartridge to kill mice, rats, snakes, and even bats in the rafters of barns.  CCI claims 1000 feet per second velocity.  While that's comparable to traditional .22 long rifle cartridges, these don't have the power to cycle most semi-auto pistols and rifles... and CCI doesn't recommend their use in semi-auto firearms although I've used them in Ruger Mark II and III pistols, Ruger 10/22s, and Marlin 60s loading one round at a time and hand cycling for ejection.

You don't have to worry about over penetration as the #12 shot dented, but did not penetrate the tin can at a distance of about six feet.  Safety glasses or other eye-protection is definitely recommended as those little pellets and can really ricochet around if you have hard floors or other surfaces around like you might find in a barn.  I'd also mention that for larger pests or snakes, CCI also has shotshell offerings in several center-fire cartridges too.

One final word of caution... if you're using these shotshells, DO NOT carry any regular .22 long rifle ammunition with you... it could hurt your backside.  Many years ago, I joined up with a posse (friends and cousins) to hunt down the bats in the barn rafters during the early morning hours before dawn.

One of our posse brought regular .22 lead round-nose cartridges instead of shotshells... and after shooting bats in the rafters for an hour or so... the sun began to rise... and there were little streams of daylight coming down through .22 size holes in the roof.  While I was not at fault, let's just say that butt-whupping was an equal-opportunity... spread the wealth... kind of proposition in our family.

So if you've got some pests to get rid of and they're not related to your spouse... try some CCI 22LR Shotshells for Pest Control...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sheepdog 101: Work on the weak side...

The good Lord blessed most of us with two good hands, but we tend to use one for about ninety-percent of our daily routine.  While I've seen a lot of good write-ups and discussion about practicing and shooting with the weak side hand, I've not seen a lot about developing daily routines and use of the weak side hand.

For example, think about self-defense with a firearm for concealed carry... you're walking through the parking lot chattin' on the cell phone when Mr. Mugger decides to use you as an ATM for his cash needs... he pulls a knife or gun and you do a quick, perfect strong side draw from concealment... just like you've practiced... except that now your cell phone is skating across the parking lot because you tossed or dropped it from your strong side hand as you did that quick, perfect strong side draw from concealment.

Yes, we should probably refrain from using our cell phones and reducing our awareness while finding our way through a parking lot, but we still do it anyway.  Is the gun more important than the cell phone at the moment of truth... sure it is, but the cell phone would still be good to have afterwards.  Maybe substitute something else for the strong side cell phone in this scenario... your keys... your bag of groceries... your child's hand.

We are in the habit of using our strong side hand and arm.  It's natural, it's easy, it's more coordinated.  Our tendency is to reach, grab, grasp, push, carry, hold, touch, pull and do almost every daily task with our strong side.  If you think you've got the weak side mastered, that's cool... now use your weak side to use your computer mouse or track pad for the next hour and see how you do.  

I'd like for you to consider consciously, purposely, and strategically using your weak side hand throughout your daily routine... every day.  You may need it to free up your strong side or occasionally even replace your strong side hand due to an injury.

Strengthen your weak side.  I regularly exercise my grip for strength and purposely do more "reps" with my weak side hand.  Using my weak side hand has become routine to leave my strong side hand open and available for more important tasks... like shaking hands and drawing my gun from concealment.  My daughter even knows to walk on my weak side.  She's been holding my weak side hand almost all of her sixteen years and she knows why.

A lot of folks in the shooting sports practice, practice, and practice to build muscle memory and good skills through repetition and consistency with their firearms and equipment... so why wouldn't the same apply to every day tasks, especially to us... us creatures of habit. 

So in addition to practicing with your weak side at the range... your off-the-range homework assignment from today's class of Sheepdog 101: Work on the weak side...