The 308 Marlin Express – New 400 Yard Lever Rifle?


Marlin has come out with the 308 Marlin Express. The 308 Marlin Express has ballistics that are comparable to the .308 Winchester. This means we know have a lever action rifle capable of reaching out and touching that buck at 400 yards.

Since this is a new blog and most of you don’t know me, I’m gonna start early with a confession. I love lever action rifles. I can still remember as a pre-Kindergarten kid looking through my Dad’s Sears and Western Auto catelogs at the rifles and drooling over the lever actions. I can also remember looking at his Glenfield Model 30 30-30 on the gun rack of his bedroom and dreaming of the day I could shoot it.

I’ve probably killed more deer with a lever action rifle than with any other type of weapon, even bolt guns. Oh yeah, most of those deer were taken with that Glenfield Model 30! I have that gun now and it goes with me when my more expensive and better shooting bolt guns stay at home.

The Marlin 308MXLR

Marlin has chambered two rifles for the 308 Marlin Express. The first one is 308MXLR. This lever gun features a 24 inch stainless barrel with a full pistol grip and a black-grey two toned stock. Sharp looking gun. You can check it out by clicking here.

This new lever action weighs in at 7 pounds and comes with a 5 shot tubular magazine. It goes without saying that this new rifle comes with buckhorn sites and is tapped for a scope.

The Marlin 308MX

The Marlin 308MX is the blued version of the 308MXLR plus it comes with the standard pistol gripped Walnut stock. It also comes with a 22 inch barrel instead of the 24 incher on the MXLR.

The 308 Marlin Express

As I stated earlier, this new round will have nearly the performance of the .308 Winchester. According to Hornady, the 308 Marlin Express had to have a case shorter than the .307 in order to use a longer bullet, thus giving the 308 a higher BC.

Developed as a medium pressure round that equals the power and range of the .308 Winchester, the .308 Marlin Express features a 160 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity of 2660 fps, making it a perfect round for bagging a deer up to 400 yards away for hunters who desire a more challenging shot since most deer are shot at 150 yards away and under. While the .308 Marlin Express round performs similarly to the .308 Winchester round, the latter round’s cartridge is too long for Marlin lever actions and too high of a maximum average pressure, which could be a problem for rifle performance. With the .308 Marlin Express, Marlin lever action rifle users can rest assured they have a proper round suitable for hunting everything up to and including the size of an elk.

The ballistics on this round are excellent. I’ve also been hearing good things about the Leverevolution bullets that Hornady has been cranking out for other lever calibers like the 30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington, so I have no doubt the 308 Marlin Express will be more than capable of dropping your buck under 400 yards.

It’s truly a reliable cartridge that makes one wonder what Marlin and Hornady will come up with next.

a man using a rifle with scope while lying on ground

How To Adjust A Rifle Scope To Improve Your Accuracy And Precision

Understanding how to adjust a rifle scope is an important step to achieve consistently accurate shots. Adjusting, or sighting, the scope is not difficult if you understand the right way to do it, beginning with properly mounting your scope.

Nothing is more important than your scope because it is the most responsible piece of equipment for hitting the target. A well-adjusted scope and some practice can result in precise accuracy that is not possible without a scope or with a scope that has not been adjusted and sighted. It pays dividends to learn how to adjust a rifle scope.

Sighting a Scope

a man wearing a cap looking through the scope attached to the rifle

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Sighting your scope, also referred to as “sighting in” a scope, is crucial. If you install without making proper adjustments to sight it, you will ultimately have a useless scope. It is more accurate to use an iron sight than an unsighted scope.

Follow these steps to understand how to adjust your scope.

  • Install the scope but do not fully tightening it.
  • Be sure the rifle is stable.
  • Line up your reticle with your target.
  • When you are confident with the alignment, tighten the scope.
  • Fire test shots to measure accuracy.
  • Adjust as necessary until your point of impact matches the target.

Before considering the process of how to adjust a rifle scope in more detail, it is important you understand your scope.

Understanding Your Scope

Scopes are primarily the same among brands and types with a few extras here and there. It is important that a good scope be simple for quiet and quick operation on the hunt. They also need to be sturdy enough to the woods and elements of bad weather.

Scopes are rated by power, and their power can be a fixed or variable measurement. A scope will usually have a power of 20 or less. A military scope is usually between 8 and 10, so anything beyond 20 is probably exorbitant.

At the end of the day, the scope’s job is to aim through magnification.


Every scope magnifies. You have to understand how much magnification you prefer. But understand as you learn how to adjust a rifle scope that your scope will only be accurate at the magnification you use when sighting your scope.

Changing magnifications after sighting the scope will leave it unreliable. So be sure you know what magnification you want. Biggest is not always best.

Remember, a more magnified scope will be less bright, and even the military rarely uses more than 10 power. It does no good to choose a high magnification if you do not have an objective lens with the size and coating needed to provide appropriate light.

Parts of a Scope

In learning how to adjust a rifle scope, it is important to note that your scope likely comes with critical adjustments for wind and elevation. They help you adjust for the difference between the reticle and the bullet’s launch trajectory as well as the wind patterns.

The wind adjustment moves your reticle left or right as needed, and the elevation moves the reticle up and down. Together they can help ensure that your bullet meets at the crosshairs of the reticle.


Turrets are knobs on your rifle used to execute your wind adjustments and elevation adjustments. The windage turret controls your left and right movement while the elevation turret controls up and down movement.

Sometimes there is a side-focus parallax turret to focus the reticle, but not always. Sometimes the turrets are easily accessible and other times they are covered with protective caps. One style offers ease of use and the other offers protection. It’s a personal preference.

The turrets do nothing to adjust the bullet flight or direction. That is dictated by your barrel, and there are no adjustments for a barrel. Turrets actually move the reticle in your scope. You need the reticle to be aimed where the bullet will hit, but the reticle cannot control the bullet in any way.


Windage is measured by Minute of Angles (MOA) and expressed in inches. You can adjust the MOA by turning the turret. The more you turn, the more windage you make up for.

The elevation turret uses the same Minute of Angles principle measured in inches, but this turret adjusts up and down. Minutes of Angles measure the angle very similar to the way degrees are measured. A 180-degree turn is a U-turn, and right angle has 90 degrees. Similarly, the angles of adjustment needed to adjust for wind and elevation are measured by MOA in inches.


If you adjust your elevation you should be sure you have enough bullets to fire test shots while making continuous adjustments. Try to use the same bullets for consistency, and allow the rifle to cool between shots.

Use a similar process for windage adjustments, but remember the wind will vary. It is more of a guess and check technique

If you have a parallax turret, be sure the reticle is clearly in your vision and adjust little by little until there is no movement in the reticle’s relation to the target.

Focus Adjustments

Learning how to adjust a rifle scope means learning how to make focus adjustments. Just like a pair of binoculars, you need to have your scope in focus, This is usually accomplished through by a turning eyepiece or extra knob. This moves your ocular lens into position for a clear focus.

Some scopes also have a parallax focus adjustment to account for eye relief, meaning how far you like to have your eye from touching the scope. There will be more to say on eye relief below as you learn how to adjust a rifle scope.


A scope has two primary lenses, the ocular lens and the objective lens. The ocular lens is the one closest to your eye, and the objective lens is on the target end of the scope.

The objective lens is actually the more critical piece of glass. A large objective lens allows more light into your scope. This is important because magnification will naturally make your scope dim.

A large lens doesn’t increase magnification, but it is needed with increased magnification to allow proper light.

Brightness can also be affected by coating your lens. A good lens coating can also provide clarity by manipulating light spectrums. A coated lens is one with a layer of coating on the objective lens. Others will be labeled as a fully coated lens, meaning all lenses are coated.

Multi-coated lenses have multiple coats applied to the objective lens, and fully multi-coated lens all lenses are coated with multiple coats.


Reticles are the traditional crosshairs of your scope. From the simplest crosshairs to the most advanced high-tech reticles, they come in many types.

Some crosshairs have no additional markings. They are the simplest of the simple. If your scope is properly adjusted, this is often all you need.

Other reticles have partial distance markings. Think of hash marks on a football field. They are generally used for a bullet drop, meaning it accounts for gravity’s force on a traveling bullet.

More advanced scopes have can have any number of extra markings all the way to military-style crosshairs. But if they are beyond your individual purpose, they are little more than a distraction.

Eye Relief

Learning how to adjust a rifle scope involves understanding eye relief. How far your eye is from the scope affects your ability to have a proper view through the scope. You want to avoid blackness around the edges of your vision known as parallax.

Glasses are a variable. Shooter with glasses will need extra eye relief to use the scope properly. This also involves recoil. Rifles recoil when fired, so if you do not have enough eye relief this will lead to a hard knock around our orbital socket.

Field of View

Your field of view is basically the ratio of feet to yards that measures the width of your scope view at a particular distance. In other words, a field view of 10′ at 150 yards means that eying a target 150 yards away, you will be able to view five feet on each side of the centered target.This also plays into your magnification decision, because the more magnification you use, the less field of view (FOV) you will enjoy. The advantage of a broader field of view is being able to quickly locate your target.

Naturally, your eye fixes on a landmark and you adjust accordingly until your target is in your sight. This is more difficult on larger magnifications with less FOV.

Practice Makes Perfect

Sighting your scope and shooting will involve practice. You have to be determined to do more than simply attach your scope and fire. You need to put thought into your scope and make each shot count.

You need to know if your inaccuracy is due to the scope or the shooter, and settling for bad shots in practice will muddy the waters greatly. Did you flinch? Was your trigger squeeze compromised? Or is your scope inaccurate? Slow down and take your practice seriously.

How to Adjust a Rifle Scope

a person holding a rifle with scope

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Now you are ready to sight your scope. Much like you take practice shots seriously, be prepared to take the aforementioned steps to sighting your scope seriously too.

Loose Installation

Install the scope but do not fully tighten it. Get it just tight enough to be sure you have proper eye relief. If the distance from your eye to the scope feels good, you are ready to proceed.


Be sure the rifle is stable. This is a simple but crucial step. Get your rifle on a level, secure surface. To proceed, the rifle must be absolutely stable.

Line It Up

Line up your reticle with your target. With proper positioning and eye relief, be sure your target is squarely in the crosshairs. This needs to be done at a particular distance. By sighting down the bore of the gun to a fixed point at a fixed distance, you can adjust the scope to also aim at the same distant object.

Tighten It down

When you are confident with the alignment, tighten the scope. Ask yourself one last time if you’ve done everything carefully and with purpose. Also, be sure your target is on an essentially level plain.

Go as far as to level your scope by ensuring it is level to barrel before you tighten it down. An unlevel scope will destroy your precision and the overall reliability of your scope. The longer your shot, the worst it will be.

Much like carpenters use levels to keep their structures plum, leveling kits are available to help make sure your scope is level.

Test Fire

Fire test shots to measure accuracy. Shoot small groups from your stable position and see if they go where you think they should. If they do, great. If not, you will need to continue making small adjustments.

Again, make every shot count and be sure adjustments are needed due to the scope and not to the shooter.

Patience, Patience, Patience

Adjust as necessary until your point of impact matches the target. You may be realizing by now that one of the most important aspects of how to adjust a rifle scope is being patient. Taking your time and making the necessary adjustments will pay dividends in the long run.

It is easy to spend time asking how to adjust a rifle scope and forget the main reason you are doing it. You do not want to miss that trophy buck or other targets because you were impatient. You need an accurate weapon.


a man using a rifle with scope during target shooting practice

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Your scope is meant to make you a better shooter, but it is up to you make your scope the best it can be. There is a give-and-take that is well worth the effort.

It is not much different than a man who wants to be able to read road signs from farther away. If he is wearing his glasses and cannot see the signs, he stands no chance of being able to read signs farther away until his prescription is adjusted.

Adjusting the eyeglass lens prescription is analogous to properly adjusting your scope. The better your scope is sighted, the better longer and more accurate shots will be equipped to make.

You already have elements such as wind, terrain, gravity, and slope to deal with. You do not need any unnecessary factors to add to your task. To make the most accurate shots, you need the most accurate scope. That can only happen on a properly installed and adjusted tool.

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What Is the Best Scope for Boar Hunting?

Click here to see the Best Scope for Bear Hunting available in 2017!

boar hunting scopeBoar hunters insist that boar hunting doesn’t require scopes. It’s more of a close-quarter engagement kind of deal, or perhaps one that deals with stealth, wiliness, and cunning (as well as loads of baits and traps).

However, for the last 150 years, scopes have advanced so much to allow for boar hunting applications. Optical sights have become so ubiquitous that even the U.S. Army, known for its conservative stance, has begun using them. At any rate, here are some boar hunting scopes for you to choose from. 

The Best Scope for Your Money When It Comes to Boar Hunting 

  1. Nikon Buckmasters 4×15 Mil-Dot Riflescope

For those who are used to shopping or reviewing for scopes for a living, it should come as no surprise that Nikon found a way to get to this list. Nikon products are renowned for their light-transmission excellence and versatility in hunting, military, and law enforcement applications due to their cost-effectiveness.

This is a best scope for hunting boar candidate because of its fixed 4x magnification and 15-millimeter objective plus mil-dot range-finding reticle. It’s particularly advantageous to variable magnification because you don’t have to turn the dial for the right magnification every time. 


  1. The Burris Full Field II 2-7x35mm Riflescope
Burris Fullfield II 2x-7x-35mm matte Ballistic Plex
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars from 23 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

This is a highly recommended riflescope because of its cost-effectiveness. For its price, you’ll get a German #4 type reticle that allows for shooting at any light, whether it’s low light, bright light, and so forth. Your light transmission is completely controlled.

This is also the best scope for boar in its own way becauseshoots well with the likes of the Ruger Hawkeye in .338 Federal. It’s a perfect fit with many a gun, particularly when you consider its scouting range to mid-range shooting capabilities. You can really get a drop on the boar even up until pointblank range at 2x to 7x with a 35-millimeter objective. 


  1. Bushnell Elite 3200 2-7x32mm Riflescope
Bushnell Elite Multi-X Reticle Riflescope, 2-7x32
Rated 4 out of 5 stars from 3 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

If you want to hunt boars effectively, then you should know full-well that they’re easiest targeted from afar, when you get the drop on them or if they’re charging at you and you’re within scouting range to shoot with 1x to 4x magnification.

You don’t usually snipe at them unless you’re introducing bait into the scenario that keeps them still while you eliminate them with a caliber of gun that’s enough to take down a rhinoceros.

With the Bushnell Elite 3200 2-7x32mm Riflescope, you’re give an accurate scope that might not have as good an eye relief as a Leupold line, but is still excellent in all other aspects regardless.


  1. Leupold VX-7 1.5-6x24mm Riflescope: 
Demo,Leupold VX-7 1.5-6x24mm Riflescope, Satin Finish, XT Duplex Reticle 113192-DEMO
Not rated. Click the image for prices and reviews!

Boars, unlike lions (specifically the national treasure and protected lion of Zimbabwe, Cecil the Lion, which was killed by American dentist and game hunter Walter Palmer) are an invasive species in many countries, so hunting actually helps in controlling their population somewhat.

You can help thin out the boar pest population in your area with this best boar hunting scope candidate and the appropriate firearm.

It’s a perfect fit with many a scout rifle and assault rifle for sure, with its scout-rifle-range of 1.5x to 6x magnification and decent 24-millimeter objective. If aperture or open iron sights aren’t enough for your boar hunting needs, bag them with the Leupold VX-7 1.5-6x24mm Riflescope.


  1. Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Riflescope: 
Leupold VX-3 Handgun 2.5-8x32mm
Rated 5 out of 5 stars from 5 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

If you’re a young, spry hunter of the age of 20 to 25 years of age, then hunting boars with iron sights is enough. However, the inevitability of age affects all men, so if your visual acuity has been reduced, then you’ll need something than the usual open sights or peepshow sights; you should instead have the best boar hunting rifle scope. 

The Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Riflescope, as opposed to the Leupold VX-7 1.5-6x24mm Riflescope, has superior upper magnification range at the expense of a compromised CQB (Closed-Quarter Battle) range and a bigger 24-millimeter objective lens size. It also has an extended twilight lens system and Multicoat 4 lens coating to maximize light transmission. 


  1. Leupold European 30 1.25-4x20mm Riflescope: 
Demo,Leupold European-30 1.25-4x20mm Riflescope w/ Duplex Reticle 113360-DEMO
Not rated. Click the image for prices and reviews!

With this scope, you might not be too familiar with it compared to the VX line.

Regardless, the Leupold European-30 1.25-4x20mm, 2-7x33mm Riflescope retains all the excellence of its VX brethren and remains in and of itself an excellent boar hunting choice specs-wise with its scout riflescope type of features such as a 1.25x to 4x magnification power range and 20-millimeter objective that gets the job done because of its topnotch glass and light-maximizing lenses that ensure excellent light transmission even in the dim jungle or forest where boars usually hide.


  1. Weaver Classic V7 2-7x32mm Riflescope: 
Weaver V-7 2-7X32 Riflescope (Matte)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars from 14 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

Although Leupold doubtlessly dominates the boar hunting market it hasn’t by any means cornered it. There are still some excellent Leupold alternatives to choose from in case you can’t afford any of the Leupold recommendations on this list.

The Weaver Classic V7 2-7x32mm Riflescope is an excellent choice because of its hard coating on the exterior lenses and edge-to-edge clarity that allows you to shoot that boar true before it could even gain enough momentum to charge at you in full force thanks to the scope’s Dual-X Reticle with ¼-inch adjustments at 100 yards and nitrogen purging that ensures moisture-free and fogproof operation.


  1. EOTech Holographic Hybrid Sight II EXPS3-2 with G33.STS: 
Eotech HHS l (EXPS3-4 with G33 3x Magnifier)
Rated 5 out of 5 stars from 28 customers. Click the image for prices and reviews!

As for EOTech’s Holographic Hybrid Sight II EXPS3-2 with G33.STS, it’s probably the most high-tech sight in this list since it makes use of holographic technology to project the reticle from inside the scope and give you a clear, unimpeded look at your wild boar target without having to deal with glass-etched crosshairs.

It also features fixed 3x magnification within scout rifle range and a large viewing window for eyes-open shooting at a magnifier-increased target, thus it becomes easy to aim at the boar’s vital spots this way. It’s also ideal for whitetail deer and predator hunting on top of dealing with boar.


In Summary

These scopes present some excellent values in today’s market of boar hunting, particularly the Leupold line that practically filled half the list with its different scout riflescope offerings.

There are times when iron sights aren’t enough to deal with your hog-hunting requirements. The best scope for boar hunting need not be the most powerful scope around in terms of magnification, since boars aren’t the type of animal you engage from afar and snipe. Also remember that a scout rifle (and scope) is a hunter’s best friend as far as quick reaction accurate shooting is concerned.

Click here to see the Best Scope for Bear Hunting available in 2017!

How To Clean A Shotgun

best shotgun scopePlanning to collect some hunting stuff such as rifles or shotguns? Choose the best shotgun in the market, and learn how to clean or maintain it in the easiest, most convenient, and fastest way possible.

Shotguns are great investments for recreational activities. They also serve as protections for families living in secluded areas. Most of them are moderately priced so every individual of legal age could own a licensed shotgun.

What are the aspects to consider when purchasing a shotgun? The weight, type, and fit are the most important things to consider. No one ever wants to utilize a shotgun that is too heavy to carry in forests or in shooting fields. Lightweight guns though tend to have heavy recoil. To own a gun conveniently, choose one with a barrel that is around twenty-eight inches.

The fit or structure is quite similar in many shotgun types, but there are actually huge differences that could be seen among them.

Types of Shotguns

Here are the different types of shotguns based on their built or structure.

  • Double Barrel Gun

This is a type of sporting rifle that are considered as traditional. It could be a side-by-side or over-and-under type of gun. It is highly reliable as a hunting gun because it is very easy to use and maintain. A lot of experienced hunters recommend it to novices because of its plain but operational features.

  • Semi-Automatic Shotgun

This boasts of a large magazine and reduced recoil, so it can be utilized for multiple shots before reloading. It can fire up to five to seven shots. It is widely used by many cities and countries even if it only has one barrel and one choke. It is quite tedious to clean though, so one must be an expert or take all precautionary measures when cleaning the unit.

  • Pump Action

It is quite similar to a semi-automatic, but it is less costly and safer to use compared to the latter. In terms of cleaning the unit, it also needs some expertise on cleaning its various parts to make it more durable or to make it last a long time.

  • Single Barrel Gun

This literally means having just one barrel, so individuals need to make sure to aim at their targets accurately to shoot perfectly. This is also great for training newbies in shooting or hunting since it is inexpensive and practical to utilize.

How To Clean a Rifle or Shotgun

Whether you are going to use your shotgun for recreational activity or home defense, it is necessary to learn how to clean it properly and safely. When a shotgun is maintained improperly, it won’t be able to function appropriately when needed.

Just like any equipment or gadget, a shotgun or rifle can be rusty and old which can definitely affect its efficiency or performance. To make it brand new even after using it for a long time, clean it in the most efficient and effective way possible as well.

Here are the most important steps to take note of when cleaning a rifle. Just make sure to do the cleaning on a well-ventilated area to comfortably accomplish the steps on how to clean a handgun.

  • Unload the shotgun safely.

For a pump action shotgun, hold the firearm properly and safely. The muzzle must be pointed in a clear or safe direction where no one could be in front of it. Make it a point to keep your finger or hand away from the trigger as well. Then, press the bolt release that is located either on the front or back part of the trigger guard. Cycle or move the pump action until it is unloaded completely.

For an auto-loading shotgun, remove the shells by pulling the bolt grip back and releasing it for many times. Make sure that the gun is also unloaded completely to make cleaning safe.

  • Keep the shotgun separate from the ammunition while cleaning.

To avoid shooting accidents at all cost, create a distance between the shotgun and the ammunitions. If possible, keep the ammunitions in a box or in a drawer while cleaning the main gun.

  • Focus on the bolt part when cleaning.

Stripping the gun from its various parts need not be done unless it has undergone a very intense and muddy action field. Open the bolts and wipe down all of the parts of the shotgun using a paper towel or cloth.

  • Wipe the ejector and the chamber area efficiently.

Some of the areas in the chamber could make a paper towel black or dark. This serves as a signal to everyone to clean or wipe it or focus on it more.

  • Spray solvent on all dirty parts of the gun.

Choose a solvent that is environment- and human-friendly, such as the M-Pro 7 gun cleaner. This product removes layers of dirt and embedded carbon easily, and it significantly cuts the time for cleaning different types of guns. Spray a liberal amount to make sure that every component of the weapon is efficiently cleaned.

  • Leave the solvent spray in the gun for a few minutes.

Let the solvent stay and dry a bit in the gun and mix with unburnt powder, carbon build-up and dirt.

  • Use a brush to scrub the gun.

Use soft bristles. Never use metal bristles as it will create friction and destroy the physical ruggedness of the weapon. Scrub every corner of the weapon, especially the hidden spots of the gun.

  • After brushing the gun, wipe it using lint-free cloth.

Wipe every part where you have sprayed solvent for many times until every does not turn your cloth dark.

  • Use a pick to clean the chamber of the gun.

Some corners of the chamber usually suffer from carbon or powder build-up, so use a pick that has a pointed structure.

  • Clean the gun barrel using oil and solvent-soaked cloth.

Move to the barrel part of the gun and clean it using a coat of oil. This prevents the barrel from oxidation or rusting. Put some oil on the parts that need lubrication as well such as the rails and the bolts. Avoid putting oil on the firing pin housing because it could prevent the gun from firing efficiently and smoothly.

  • Wipe the whole gun and remove any excess oil.

Oil can cause dirt build-up easily, so remove any excess oil. Wipe the various parts of the gun in one direction to make it easier for you to remember the parts that are already cleaned.

How Often Should You Clean a Handgun

This is one of the most common questions raised by handgun owners and shoppers. The frequency should actually depend on the type of gun you have and where do you usually use it. As different people use different guns for different reasons, there are different timeframes for cleaning this recreational and defensive weapon.

Here is a simple but clear guide on how often should one clean a particular type of handgun.

  • If the gun is always exposed to moisture, water, and other damaging elements, it has to be cleaned right after using it.

Rain is unexpected, and you are still hunting with your friends. Do not ever forget to clean the gun right after using it even if it is made to be water-proof, fog-proof, or weather-proof as rainwater could clearly affect the overall built or structure and performance of the gun. Stainless materials are sensitive to moisture and this could lead to premature barrel wear.

  • Guns used for target clays, punching holes in paper, or plinking can be cleaned every two to four months.

These are light activities, so the reliability of the gun is not expected to be so high. Cleaning the gun may be done after two, three or four months or after at least four trips to the range lapse before cleaning it thoroughly and efficiently.

  • For guns being utilized for personal defense, keep it clean, oiled and ready to go regularly.

When you need to rely on your gun for personal defense, do intense cleaning on your gun regularly. It could be monthly or after using it for a few times or days in the field. A double action trigger is usually prone for carbon build-up. Using some oil is very important to make the cleaning effective and efficient.

Best Shotguns For 2015

Make hunting a remarkable sport to unleash the competitiveness and adventurous mindset in you. Here are the most popular shotguns to add to your collection or to give to your loved ones. They can be utilized for different reasons or activities such as deer or waterfowl hunting, clay target shooting, and self-defense.

  • Remington V3

It is the whole new version of shotgun that boasts of many amazing features such as a unique magazine cut-off in front of its trigger guard and its athletic handling and pointability. Individuals may choose from the sport synthetic camo, sport walnut, or sport synthetic design. The unit is also very easy to clean and inspect because of its smaller action springs.

Many people utilize the unit for hunting ducks, geese and pheasants. With the best scope, it also works perfectly in wild forests or competitive deer hunting.

  • Beretta A400 Left Hand

This is an all around good shooter, and it is the mirror image version of the three inch Action gun. It is very reliable in any shooting or hunting activity, and it mainly designed for males because of its enhanced wood or fake grain feature.

  • Winchester SXP Trap

This is one of the affordable shotguns in 2017, as it only costs around five hundred dollars. It is integrated with a thirty inch barrel and thirteen inch length of pull. For youth clay target shooting, this is the most recommended shotgun to have. It is also designed with a soft Inflex recoil pad, so it is very convenient to utilize by both men and women.

  • Benelli M2 Performance Shop Waterfowl 20-Gauge

This features an oversized bolt handling, lengthened forcing cone, and paracord sling. It is great for waterfowl hunting, and it exudes a modern Italian design. It is also integrated with a triple threat choke tubes, so it can be utilized for long or continuous shooting. It is a semi-automatic handgun that could be utilized for a long time because of its durability and rugged structure.

How to Select the Best Handgun

When choosing a handgun, consider the following factors.

  • Individual’s Personality

There are individuals who are more particular with design and structure of handguns in these recent times. They want one that is mechanically built with a high level of strength and durability. They also want one that appears elegant and cozy in fields.

If you are planning to purchase a gun as a gift, assess the individual’s personality. Does he focus on too many details in things? Does he value brands and quality? Does he need it as an added collection? Get the gun that a person needs and wants, and not what is just popular or affordable.

  • Use of the Gun

Guns are considered as dangerous weapons, especially if not kept and used properly. When purchasing a handgun or giving it as a gift, consider how it will be used. There are guns that are perfect or designed for clay target shooting. There are also handguns that are designed for long range shooting. Opt for a gun that can be utilized for your preferred activity. There are also multipurpose guns, and purchasing different scopes will make them functional in different types of shooting activities.

  • Cost

Budget should still be considered as one of the most important factors in purchasing a handgun. Some guns may cost from around five hundred dollars or more.

There are also cheaper units, but they are usually of older versions. Ask for recommendations from friends on the best and high-performing handguns so you could make the most of older versions and give your very best when joining hunting activities. For newer versions, they are also great investments and worth everyone’s money because they are definitely made with more improved features.



All About Shotgunning

This was a very long time ago and $2,500 was a bundle to spend for a Parker side-by-side with pretty wood, some engraving, and a very straight stock.

Monty was not doing too well and since he shot for money he viewed an escaping live pigeon with melancholy. The shoot still had a long way to go and was presenting a dark financial outlook. Monty decided his new Parker was shooting too high, a technical problem to be solved by technical adjustments: the tree limbs had to be exactly the right distance apart.

When the barrels bent downward they parted company with the elevated rib, which left them with a brisk snap. The adjustment completed, Monty did pretty well on the rest of the “fliers” and he was still shooting with what he called the “floating rib” 20-some years later. No use to screw up a winning combination. The rib wouldn’t flap until after each shot was fired anyway.

Operation Enduring FreedomSHOTGUNNERY is said to be an art as opposed to the science of rifle marksmanship. I know good shotgunners are possessed because they do not know how they do it and something is guiding them. I am qualified on the subject because I once hit 19 Hungarian partridges straight and missed 19 snipe straight, giving me a cross-section view of the sport.

Most American game shots are slow to attend a shooting school or at least pay an expert instructor. This is a result of the popular premise that all Americans are born good shots. Since most of the best shotgunners don’t have the slightest idea of what is going on, a deadly grouse or duck shot tends to be the worst consultant available. Asking him how to shoot is like asking Catfish Hunter how to throw a slider and then trying to negotiate a major league contract after he tells you. The best shot I go with asks me every fall which is the more open barrel on his over-under.

I think history shows the level of thinking that surrounds scattergunnery. As recently as the 1920s there were articles in outdoor magazines explaining why it was unnecessary to shoot ahead of flying birds and only some other articles explaining mathematically why that lead was necessary kept such a doctrine from standing. Even today a deadeye grouse banger is likely to tell you that the only way to hit a bird is to shot right at it, no matter what direction it is headed. Of course he shoots with a built-in swing-through but don’t tell him or he may miss from then on. In fact, it is wise to avoid any kind of technical talk near somebody who is killing more than his share of birds.

ONE OF THE OBSTACLES in the path of good shotgun shooting is the beauty of various models and the tendency to cling to one that’s pretty whether you can shoot it or not. I finally sold the only custom shotgun I ever owned when exhaustive tests proved I could hit better with almost any other gun I owned or could borrow. That took six years, but I am more logical than my friend Luke. That is not his real name.

Luke decided he could afford a really slick custom-built bird gun and when he asked my help in its dimensions I shouldered him aside and grabbed the order blank. I always have known what’s best for everybody else.

If the makers had followed my instructions things would have worked out. As it was, the guy who did the stock had ideas of his own; he had an eye for beauty but not for Luke’s dimensions. When we rushed to a practice trap with the new gun we found that it had been designed for a very unique shooter, one whose eye was level with his shoulder. Of course straight stocks have a special beauty when the wood is fancy walnut and the sidelock is engraved with everything from lecherous Pans to sensual Dianas.

To hit with Luke’s gun we had to point a couple of feet under the target, a bit of physics that became disturbing since you might become intrigued by another part of the landscape and completely forget where or what the target was. Luke talked to his banker and ran down a new stockmaker because the original was on the other side of the ocean.

The new stockmaker used a beautiful piece of walnut, checkered it impeccably, and charged enough to pay for an armful of pumpguns. However, he said that the measurements we’d given him made the gun look rather sloppy, so he had used the same ones as for the original.

The last time I went hunting with Luke he was shooting very well indeed. After 10 years with it he had become used to the gun and never even had to think about holding two feet low any more. Once I started to suggest Monty’s barrel bending with the tree limbs but thought better of it. I think Luke has accepted the fact that holding two feet low is a small price for a really artistic side-by-side.

ALTHOUGH–IN THEORY–A SHOTGUN’S measurements are concrete mathematical fact, there are mystic qualities about certain guns that attract or repel shooters, especially hunters, whose success or failure is not accurately measured. Like Luke, some cannot believe a double gun with a thousand dollars worth of engraving and perfect checkering can be less useful than a pitted mail-order pump with stove bolts through the cracked stock. Since alteration would reduce the value of a classic, few would consider a little judicial whittling.

My friend Joe found himself at loose ends for a full day in a backwoods sector of the South. He was gunless, the dove season was open, and there seemed to be an overpopulation which Joe felt should be remedied. So Joe borrowed a gun from a friendly sharecropper. When it was handed to him, Joe’s basic good breeding prevented him from declining.

The barrels had a patina resulting from repeated rustings, the bores were pitted like overused macadam, and the once-broken stock was tastefully secured with baling wire. The wood appeared to be weathered scrap from a low-cost housing project. The maker’s name had gone the way of abrasion and corrosion but had been cut shallow in the beginning since the maker apparently preferred semi-anonymity.

Once out of sight of the gun’s owner, Joe carefully inspected the barrels to make sure they were not black powder Damascus and then forced some shells into the chambers, displacing a small spider. At about that time a pair of doves came whistling past in the direction of a field of milo and Joe, purely out of habit, came up with his picture swing and spilled both of them.

While he extracted the empties with his pocketknife, Joe mused that he might be able to get a mess of birds if he was careful and didn’t become too apprehensive of the loose breech. (Although I have tried to maintain some suspense, I am aware that by now even a reader who moves his lips could finish the story.) With increasing amazement Joe unfailingly killed doves near and far, regretting that his usual gunning friends could not witness the slaughter.

Much later and back in his distant home, Joe suddenly sat up in bed and realized he probably could have bought the treasure for ten dollars. His Holland & Holland never seemed the same again and Joe quit shooting shortly afterward. He couldn’t remember the sharecropper’s name and couldn’t bring himself to tell his wife he was going to cross the continent to look for a ten-dollar gun.

BUT YOU CAN’T TELL ANYWAY. Such bargains must be stalked with finesse and carefully feigned boredom. Take the time Phil and I found the 32 Remington on the Indian reservation. We’d just stepped outside a little general store; one of those placed where you gradually see that the stock is enormous and varied, even though it looks like junk at first.

“There’s a 32 Remington standing in a corner with a bunch of crowbars and shovels,” Phil hissed. “I’ll offer him 50 bucks after I work around to it.”

This was in the late fifties and the discontinued Remington 32 over-and-under was already being sought diligently by gun nuts. Phil went back into the store and bought some chewing gum and then mentioned that he could see an old shotgun standing over there in the corner. The rustic proprietor handed it to him and just as Phil was about to offer his 50 bucks the old guy yawned, scratched himself, and said he didn’t think he wanted to sell.

“Feller offered me $1,500 for it last week,” he mentioned.

But back to the guns with magic.

Keith came furtively into our house carrying a shotgun as if he had just shoplifted it and was hunting a fence. A gun type who likes pretty ones, he prefers rather costly doubles. The one he was smuggling was a cheap autoloader that had traveled on a fast assembly line. He had tried to make the stock look better and it looked as if someone had tried to make it look better.

“Let’s measure this thing!” he said furtively.

I had already guessed his story. He was shooting the auto better than any of his good guns and it made him queasy just to look at it. He’d gotten it for home protection and at first hunted with it just for a brief novelty. We worked out all of the measurements but we had to ignore the occult features which were undoubtedly more important.

THERE IS A STRANGE THING about strange guns, ruefully reported by good trap and skeet shooters. When things aren’t going too well it is logical to suspect the gun. The logical thing is to borrow another one and the likely thing is that immediately scores will rise. Gun club psychologists have that all figured out: The shooter’s subconscious is sloppily handling his old gun with occasional embarrassing lapses. Then along comes this strange gun and it requires a little more attention so the nervous system snaps to attention and smokes a string of targets, after which the shooter keeps his old car and buys the borrowed winner. A few targets later the subconscious relaxes and he’s back where he started, only the new gun may not be quite as good as old Betsy. This phenomenon delights the builders of gun cabinets, some models of which cover entire walls.

Anyone having trouble with his shooting can usually find helpful advice but should beware of those who call out his shots for him. For example, if an observer tells him repeatedly that he is shooting high at practice targets, even though he points lower each time, he should run a little experiment and fire into the ground immediately below the target. If the observer calls out, “High again!” his coach’s credibility is in question.

There are a great many experienced coaches who can see the shot in the air (it looks like an out-of-focus swarm of gnats) and quite a few less-experienced coaches who say they can but they can’t. We all have our pride.

SHOTGUNNERS HARDLY EVER CONFESS to buck fever but their nervous systems produce something remarkably like it. I am reminded of Paul, the fine skeet shooter, who, nevertheless, had never broken 100 straight. It became known around the club that as the magic number was approached Paul tended to take off the pressure by missing a target by three or four feet.

Came the day when he seemed to be on the way, the clays disappearing in little puffs as he approached the final stations with what appeared to be complete confidence. Tragedy struck at Station Six where he swung on a target and heard only a click. It developed that Paul had loaded a cigarette instead of a cartridge.

But then, Alice was crossing a fence in South Carolina when she noted a pair of rigid pointers just ahead and hurried a little with her reloading, then attempted to drop a quail with her 20-gauge lipstick in her L. C. Smith.

First-timers at plantation quail gunning with shooting wagons and mules behind mounted dog handlers are understandably shaken at first at the formality of the situation when someone calls, “Point!” and he is handed his shotgun by a guy with a flushing whip. I will not even use a fictitious name for the poor soul who scored a double on mules after one of them sneezed.

TYPES OF SHOTGUN ACTIONS have furnished fuel for argument and the British have taken this very seriously indeed for the past 75 or 80 years. Generations of new Englishmen have come on with new argument on the old subject.

The traditional shotgun, of course, is a side-by-side double and I am surprised that the British have not had other types legally banned. And although trap and skeet shooters now view side-by-side as a novelty, the British can stand there in their tweeds and slap down driven grouse with discouraging consistency, using side-by-sides. Some of them insist on calling those upstart guns under-and-overs instead of over-and-unders, the only thing I really resent about English shotgunnery. The British make photos showing how a double (no elevated rib) gives a better view of the target under various light conditions.

Of course “repeaters,” whether pump or auto, have never been accepted in the upper crust of British shooting, even if they bear an engraved image of the Crown. At first, the impression is that repeater pointing is associated with game hoggery, but using a skilled loader to hand him another gun as needed, a top hand can shoot faster than anybody could with an autoloader over the long haul. He never has to stop to reload.

There is a romantic notion today that virtually all of the old market hunters used double guns. That they did until things like the 1897 Winchester pump came along, whereupon most of the more serious commercial types set their old doubles in the corner. Then when the autoloaders began to stop jamming they, too, got a big piece of the action.

Despite the proven fact that in modern shotguns the velocity difference between a 24-inch barrel and a 40-inch barrel is barely measurable and certainly never noticed by any species of bird, there is still sale for goose probers with snouts difficult to conceal in a blind. It has long been known that shotgunners would rather not be confused by facts.

Some who shoot successfully for money are a bit set in their ways and it is difficult to dispute a fellow’s habits when he goes home with new silverware each weekend. One of those guys had a special rack built in the engine compartment of his Cadillac and kept his trapshooting ammunition there, explaining that a little heat increased the potency of his shells.

Efforts at mechanical aids for shotgun pointing have hardly ever been dramatically successful. There were things like the optical device that showed the place to point, the low-powered telescopic sight, the tube device that placed a colored dot where the shot would go, and the elevated rib. Only the elevated rib has proved its worth for experienced shooters and only a few years back a champion skeet shooter said he did better without it for a few rounds. The obvious conclusion is that he was going through the “new-gun” phase that causes temporary marksmanship and I am sure he’s back to the ventilated ribs by now.

Completely logical but of limited value were the “sighting arms” attached to rifles during World War II. The idea (it had been tried before that, I understand) was that by unfolding some little arms bearing front sights you could shoot the right distance ahead of an enemy airplane. However, rifle fire from the ground has never been a major hazard for aircraft. Evidently hitting an airplane with a rifle bullet is much harder than it looks and such things mounted on shotguns haven’t led to new game laws. Besides, they catch in the brush.

Although they still haven’t produced a mechanical aid to the nervous system I think today’s shooter may be better than the old timers. Legendary tales of the 19th-century market hunters and competition shooters of that time have lost little in long repetition but the common remark that “you can shoot at all the clay targets you want to but no game shooter can get as much practice as the old timers,” is no longer valid.

For a price, an American gunner can travel to Central or South America and wear out his gun on endless flocks of doves. I doubt if even Adam Bogardus or Dr. Carver killed more than 200 birds a day very often.

But that doesn’t make it a science.

You Too, Can Be a Master Shotgunner

I missed the same quail four times on a single rise. I did this with a 20-gauge over-under Browning shotgun, which is unusual although I am sure many quail have been missed four times with autoloaders or pumpguns. By telling you how I missed the quail I hope to explain why I have long been interested in shooting schools and instruction and have become an authority on them.

I had known where the covey of quail lived for some time. They were what I call “swamp quail.” Now swamp quail are not really a different species, but are simply bobwhites who have learned they are safer in swamps. There is a rumor that they always walk or wade and cannot fly but this is a silly idea since a swamp quail can fly like hell, being able to circle a cypress trunk in a tight bank at roughly 125 miles an hour. This is the reason why many swamp trees are mutilated by shot charges.

Quail living in really tight cover usually don’t find much to eat back there and they generally come out to the edge to feed, probably in both morning and evening. If there is plenty of the proper seeds and greenery at the edge of the thick stuff a quail can comfortably fill his crop in a few minutes and scuttle back into the shadows. The covey I knew about was one of quite a number that hung out not far from town. I could not show you the place today because there is a shopping center there. I have tried to figure the exact spot where I missed the quail four times and as nearly I can make out it is now the kitchenware section of a department store.

I used to take my old Brittany out late in the evening when the quail were outside the rough stuff and packing in the weed seeds. Old Kelly had it pretty well wired, figuring they would be within 50 feet of the edge, and he didn’t waste much time farther out. Where he located the birds that evening they were at the border of a broom sedge field with no trees. Kelly specialized in suspense. When Kelly made game he did it with a breathless, conspiratorial attitude likely to reduce a nervous gunner to quivering protoplasm. After you followed him for a few vibrant yards he’d turn his head slowly toward you and check you over. The implication was: “Man, they’re here and you’d better be ready!”

He did that along the edge of the broom sedge, and since I was no rookie at this business I had things figured out. If the birds hadn’t already heard us coming and scooted back into the woods they’d be sure to fly in there when they flushed. The first thought is to get between them and the heavy cover to cut them off–but that isn’t so smart because they’re probably pretty close to the edge and probably will fly right at you, freezing you with their beady little eyes and roaring like artillery shells. By this time I am sure you have perceived that bobwhite quail have my number–more so than ruffed grouse, Canada geese, or intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Anyway, I walked straight to where I figured the birds would be waiting, and they were, going up pretty well together, and although it appeared there were a couple hundred of them I think a dozen is a more accurate estimate. Most of them bored into the forest while I was sorting out the controls, finding the safety and trigger, and getting a hazy view of the rib. But one bird was really stupid and so shook he didn’t know which way to go. He headed right out across the broom sedge field about nine feet high.

My sub-conscious (the instructors explain that’s what you shoot with) took charge at this point, noted that the open shot would be easiest and diverted my attention from the main covey and to the single boring off out of what is now the Kitchenware Department and over the Children’s Wear Section. I was more than ready and missed him at approximately 11 feet, saw I had been in too much of a hurry, and then missed him very carefully when he was almost out of range.


My reflexes broke the gun, the ejectors worked and I was subconsciously stuffing in two fresh shells when I saw the quail had noted his original error. Somewhere over Sporting Goods he realized he was alone and that he was passing no protective trees so he made a 180-degree turn and headed straight toward me and the thick stuff. Disconcerted at this turn of events, I fired too soon while he was still pretty well out, then was very careful with my fourth shot, missing at about 11 feet again. At 11 feet and closing a flat-out bobwhite rooster can look menacing.

WHILE ALL OF THESE MISSES are excusable, I thought they should be mentioned as a background for my studious approach to shotgunnery, my attendance at shotgun schools, and my attention to the experiences of a wide variety of shotgun masters. Not only am I obsessed by literature on how to shoot but I even love to watch the hotshots at work on skeet or trap fields. This sure beats a weakness for professional football or boxing as the seats are free and easily found. Shotgunnery isn’t a spectacular sport but I don’t think golf is either. All those people are confused.

When a trap or skeet shooter runs more than a thousand targets without missing I am impressed since I can’t tap the end of my nose with my finger that many times without missing. And some of the game shooting achievements are almost as spectacular.

In a quail shooting tournament, Rudy Etchen killed five birds on a covey rise with his Remington pumpgun–and although I understand a good shucker can work one faster than an autoloader, I am disturbed about the pointing part. I have a pretty good Remington pumpgun with a figured walnut stock and every time I hear about things like what Etchen did I get it out and look at it. I know Etchen, and I have studied him carefully too, but except for being pretty big he looks like other people.

Gough Thomas, whose real name is G.T. Garwood of England, and who has written a lot of good stuff about shotguns, tells how Percy Stanbury, using a pumpgun, had five dead pigeons in the air simultaneously in the Teign Valley. Of course I had to buy Percy’s book on shotgunnery and it’s good, but the part that bothers me is that Stanbury was using a pumpgun in the first place and I have long thought that the British figured pumpguns and poisoned corn are in the same category.

The British, when shooting driven game, do not approve of repeaters ordinarily but have “loaders” standing behind them to hand up charged double guns as needed. This keeps a lonesome Purdey or Holland from getting too hot to handle, and while a repeater is considered a hoggish contraption a good loader can keep your double supplied with loaded chambers until either the birds or your shoulder gives out. I do not have a loader.

The Second Marquess of Ripon (England) kept track of his shotgunnery and killed more than half a million birds, dying of a heart attack in 1923 after knocking off his 52nd grouse of that day. My personal feeling is that the Maker had decided that was enough shooting for one guy, even a marquess.

Fred Kimble, using a singleshot muzzleloader, shot 1,365 ducks in 19 days, which was a heck of a stunt back in that other century, but when modern gunners shake their heads and say that no one can get that much game practice these days without living in England and being a duke or something they’re just copping out. For the price of a vacation in the Black Hills you can go to Central America or South America and shoot at doves until you or your gun breaks. I have watched pretty good shooters knock off more than one hundred in a morning or evening shoot in Honduras, and in Colombia, where I never went, they say you needn’t ever quit unless it gets dark. Some of those shooters get well over a thousand birds on a single trip so the Marquess of Ripon may have been outdone by eager-beaver dove poppers who don’t keep track or report their sources, possibly because they don’t want to keel over after batting down one last bird.

Now Captain A. H. Bogardus, who admitted to being the world’s greatest at the time, would bet you that he could kill 100 snipe with 100 shells. Maybe he’d shoot two at once after a miss. I never had enough shells to kill 100 snipe.

NOW, SINCE CURRENT HIGH-JUMPERS and weightlifters seem to have little trouble in outdoing those of years ago, I have no doubt that some of the shooters of today could wipe out the old timers, especially if they used modern guns and shells. Some skeet and trap shooters have such long runs of hits that a single tournament-losing miss may rate a whole page in their publications. Although most of them are pretty vague about how they do it I have unashamedly followed their instruction. Sometimes it is pretty humiliating.

Bob Carter has been a very discouraging contact concerning shotguns. I have avoided shooting where he was close enough to hear me but Carter was once a member of a world championship skeet team. He did his career in the Air Force and was a pilot. I have found that fliers, whether they are gunners or airplane drivers, are likely to be disgustingly good at winged game since they have been coached in “deflection shooting” and may have spent a great deal of time near skeet and trap ranges with unlimited ammunition. They have also had the incentive that involves being shot dead if they didn’t shoot pretty good and pretty fast. I got the dope from Carter while bonefishing with him. As usual with such people, I asked questions regarding his reloading equipment, his experiences in competition, and finally, his choice of guns for quail shooting.

Bob said he used a full-choke shotgun for quail, even in Florida brush, and I needed more information since the usual disagreement is whether a quail gun should be bored cylinder, skeet, or improved cylinder. He explained that he shoots the first bird with just the edge of the pattern, then gradually moves in as the birds get farther away, finally centering the long ones with the pattern center. I knew something about this because I have always shot all quail with the edges of the pattern but had personally preferred improved cylinder. I am sure there were other things I could have learned from him but at the time I couldn’t think of any more questions. I believe a bonefish came by. He can’t catch bonefish any better than I can although he once trained a German shorthair to drive pheasants out of posted property for him.

I BUILT A CRAZY QUAIL PIT many years ago–a clay pigeon trap located in a hole so that the targets can be thrown out at any angle, high or low. It was wonderful training but even the good shots made poor scores most of the time and one trap champion threw his custom over-under in the mud after missing eight straight. Finally, I was left alone with the setup, not because I was good but because nobody else would face the poor scores. Experts, I note, like to see them break.

So I mounted a practice trap where I could pull it myself with a long string and shoot from all angles. That was more than 20 years ago and I am now on my ninth practice machine. That first year I was getting ready to write a book on hunting upland birds and thought I had better learn to shoot. After shooting something like 14,000 rounds I could pull the string and break about two out of three. After 20 years of practice, I can now pull the spring and break about two out of three.

I went to skeet and trap ranges and listened to instruction, learning that shooters don’t necessarily know how to teach although some do. Like a football coach who has never played football, it is hard for a bum shot to get the respect of his pupils. I got the full treatment from Fred Missildine, a trap and skeet champion, who runs his own school and really teaches instead of handing out rumors and telling how he did it. Fred helped me a lot and broke me from fooling around after I had a target lined up, which translated into faster shooting. Fred shoots American style, which means his left hand is fairly well back. The British teach you to shoot with your left hand (for a right-hander) pretty well extended and they swing the weight of the arm instead of the barrel–a fine distinction I have heard no one else mention–but if you’ll practice it you’ll see what I mean.

The British have the reputation of being the world’s greatest game shots, largely because they shoot a lot of birds if they can afford it and shooting is pretty social over there. They say the fore-end of a double is just to hold the gun together and they often use a leather-covered handguard on the barrels so they can reach way out there toward the muzzle with a left hand without burning it.

Bruce Bowlen, who wrote the Orvis Wing-Shooting Handbook, sort of crosses the English dope with American systems. A veteran U.S. uplander who I thought would sneer at anybody’s instruction, even if it appeared carved in stone during lightning flashes, memorized the Bowlen text and swears it has boosted his kill percentage, which was already sickening. It sort of louses up a hundred years of British scorn for the provincial American “riflemen with shotguns” but the two systems are getting pretty much alike, taking some fun out of the whole thing.

Anyway, the British are long on gun fit, stressing subconscious pointing and no attention to things like ribs and sights. There are, of course, marksmen who swear they never see the gun at all in wingshooting but, of course, they do see the barrel or barrels subconsciously or they couldn’t hit with a strange gun.

The greatest tool for gun fit is the “try gun,” which has an infinitely adjustable stock so that you can turn screw adjustments until it feels right. Unfortunately, an occasional stock fitter will sell somebody thousands of dollars worth of custom gun the customer must use for home defense while he goes back to hunting with the one that has rust on the receiver. I once knew all about gun fit and had all of mine (I have quite a number of shotguns, not because I collect them but because I kept thinking a new one would solve my problems) worked to the same dimensions. I had all sorts of tracings drawn on wrapping paper and had the drop at comb and heel, point of balance, and stock length all figured out. Still, some of these guns wouldn’t shoot a damn for me. I bought a custom Italian gun, which was made to my measure but wouldn’t kill birds very well.

It was after the Italian gun and its pretty engraving had been sold for a miserable price to a friend who didn’t really want it, that I discovered “pitch.” Before then I’d known that pitch was the angle at which the barrels leave the stock. Lean the gun against the wall with the butt flat on the floor and the pitch is measured in the distance of the barrel from the wall. Since a little change in the recoil pad shape or a little mud on it can give an impression of great alteration in pitch, I figured it wasn’t too important.

Then I got a gun that didn’t match any of my custom whittled marvels in drop at comb or heel. Before I had it altered to the magic formula I went out and discovered I shot better with it than I did with most of the others. No changes. Then I checked the pitch and found there wasn’t any. None. Then, while tossing fitfully, I realized that pitch can change almost anything and that bending a stock is likely to be just as good as carving it. I no longer tell my friends what kind of stock they need. I don’t know what kind of stock I need.

And I concluded the way to get a gun that fits is to put it up with your eyes closed and then open them. If it’s pointed in the general direction you are looking it ain’t bad and drawing outlines on wrapping paper is a lot of work. Stock and fore-end bulk is seldom considered but is likely to make a big difference in how you shoot. This means that you may shoot a lot better with a light but bulky 12-gauge than with a toylike 28 that you lose somewhere in the folds of your vest when you’re in a hurry.

I morosely consider that I, myself, think I could help most shooters with their problems, convinced that although I can’t do it myself I know how it should be done. Since almost everyone owning a shotgun feels he is a competent instructor, it is essential that those seeking shooting secrets be good judges of alleged experts.

I once went to a pretty big skeet shoot, planning to write something about it, and the management gave me the red carpet.

“I’ll get someone to help you with anything you need,” the man said, whereupon he produced a beautiful young lady carrying a shoot program and a devastating smile. She accompanied me to a good place on the bleachers (they’re never crowded) and wanted to know if I’d like a cup of coffee.

In most circumstances I’d have been entranced by such companionship but in this case I was just a little miffed, feeling the host should have handed me over to some well-known competitor for a few minutes so that I could collect a quote or two of shooting wisdom. Instead, he’d obviously felt a girl-shaped girl would keep the old fud happier. Anyway, I muttered along with a monologue concerning my learned opinions on skeet shooting and the lady listened with wide-eyed attention.

“Of course,” I expanded as I warmed to the subject, “the 28-gauge scores can’t be expected to match anything done by the 20-gauge.”

“Well, gee,” she said, “I don’t know. I broke a hundred with the 28 when I took it at Phoenix last week.”

THERE IS A SPECIAL HUMILITY that comes when I receive unsolicited instruction from someone I know is short on credentials but sees I am in need of help. There was the time in Honduras when I started slow at a dove shoot. My pickup boy (I should call him a secretario to show I’m a real international sport) had rushed me to a good spot before dawn and the birds were moving well. Other shooters banged away happily and doves were falling all over the place while pickup boys darted about noisily.

I believe I missed the first six birds. Anyway, my secretario was standing in a cloud of gloom at my side, looking forward to three days of embarrassing misses by his sport and wishing he were somewhere else. Finally, he yelled something in Spanish and held out his hands for my gun, which I surrendered. He then swung it to his shoulder and raked the sky briskly, shouting “Bang!” at intervals. Then he handed it back to me with words which obviously meant, “See what I mean?”

Now just what gunning breakthrough he was demonstrating I do not know but it happened that I got the next dove that passed and did pretty well for the rest of the morning–for me, which means maybe one bird for three shots. Every time I stole a look at the secretario he was beaming with fatuous self-satisfaction, sure he had taught the fundamentals to a rank beginner. Every paloma he picked up was a personal triumph for his instructional system and each hit came with enthusiastic cheers and congratulations.

I know all about shotgun teachers.

Comprehensive Guide to Rifle Scopes


Rifle scopes are optical sighting devices that enable a hunter or gunman to see long-distance targets telescopically, thus even from afar they’re able to shoot or “snipe” at them with eerie precision. They’re essentially a combination of lens, eyepieces or oculars, reticle markings, illumination technology, and so forth.

Nowadays, many firearm users have some kind of scope on most of their rifles and even pistol handguns and shotguns. It’s better than shooting with an open sight because there is increased accuracy in your shot and whatnot. These scopes exist and are selling like hotcakes in the gun field because they simplify things.

If a target moves, you can adjust by reflex and fire with a scope rather than reset everything you’re doing and attempt to put it in your sights again. Advanced scopes can even give you “HD” quality pictures of your target, whether it’s a clay pigeon or a real one. Scopes eliminate the frustration of switching from rear to front sight focus of a non-lens iron sight without a scope.

With that said, you should always use the right tool for the job. Don’t just buy the most powerful scope and think it’s like a Swiss Army Knife that can suddenly adjust itself for you depending on the situation. A 3x-9x scope is enough for the average deer rifle.

Rifle Scopes Explained

Rifle Scope ViewRiflescopes magnify your target like a telescope, make them appear closer, and line up your shot easier so that you can get more accurate shots. The difference between a scope and an open sight is like the difference between a traditional bow and arrow and a crossbow. A red dot sight or a scope is easier to aim than lining up an open iron sight perfectly. The one with the scope has an automatic advantage. At any rate, although scopes kind of slow down the action and an iron sight plus reflexes with additional bullets in your magazine can get the job done, there’s no substitute for their support for long ranges and low lighting conditions.

Metallic sights require you to line up your rear sight with the front sight and your target, which means they can be quite the nightmare to shoot at a moving target because there are so many things you have to do to keep your shot straight, especially at a long distance. A scope magnifies your target relative to your sight so that you can aim at a seemingly bigger target. Your scope’s reticle or crosshairs does all the aiming for you most of the time. They’re the only things you need to line up before firing, plus it’s easier to learn how to shoot with a riflescope than an iron sight.

Rifle Scope Adjustments

rifle scope adjustmentsMaking the right riflescope adjustments requires you to have the right type of scope in the first place for your specific application. Less is more, actually. Instead of being wowed by bells and whistles like bubble levels, lighted reticles, and giant turrets, you should pay attention to the scope’s main ability to make your every shot count. Rifle accuracy is measured by MOA or Minute of Angle. In one degree, there are 60 “minutes” or smaller fractions of the degree. One MOA is 1/60th of a degree. Three MOA are 3/60th or 1/10th of a degree. You should make adjustments to the angle your shot will go in light of the MOA of your scope. For 100 yards, expect to shoot a three-shot group in an inch diameter circle.

Aside from adjusting for the MOA, you also have to adjust the lens for windage and elevation. You adjust the elevation knob in accordance to how far away your target is and how much gravity will affect the bullet. Even a bullet that’s shot out of a rifle will have to go down sooner or later, although its initial propulsion allows it to stay in the air longer. The farther away the target, the more you need to adjust your scope to take into consideration gravity, allowing you to shoot up and adjust. As for windage, that’s the dial you tinker with when faced with loads of wind that drag the bullet down. By compensating on the inaccuracy caused by the wind, you can adjust your aim and calculate the trajectory of your bullet accordingly.

For more information on Adjustments, read our article on sighting in a rifle scope.

Rifle Scope Manufacturers

Here are the top manufacturers of riflescopes you should probably remember when “hunting” for the right scope for your rifle, with their websites included and all.

The cream of the crop of riflescopes will have you realize that the best among them are those that take the guesswork off of using your riflescope. The most popular of these manufacturers are Nikon, Leupold, and Schmidt & Bender. Nikon, usually known for its cameras, is also the king of the hill in the riflescope realm. It has the fullest range of products that should suit whatever purpose you might have. The best rifle scope brands around should be judged not by their popularity but by their relevance to you and your unique circumstances. If you want high-end scopes, go with Schmidt & Bender.

If you can’t afford a high-end Schmidt & Bender scope, you can go get viable alternatives from manufacturers like Bushnell, UTG, and newcomer Vortex. If even their offerings aren’t satisfying your budgeting needs, there are countless other brands to choose from, ranging from the high-tech and cutting-edge to the low-tech but practical. Meanwhile, Leupold is the manufacturer that actually made loads of innovations like the nitrogen-filled fog-free scope. Nikon has everything from budget solutions to high-magnification scope for the true marksmen out there. The company is also a vanguard when it comes to improving other aspects of scope specs, like illumination and better MOA.

Rifle Scope Parts

There are many parts of the riflescope you need to keep track of such as the tubes, the lenses, the bells, the eye piece, the exit pupil, and whatnot. Currently, riflescopes make use of maintubes that are 30 millimeters in size because they offer more elevation, windage, and strength. It makes it easier to zero-in on the range, particularly for long-range shooters since these tubes allow you to dial up and adjust in accordance to how far away your target is. The objective lens is the lens that’s aimed at the target. On the opposite end of it is the exit lens and ocular lens, which is where you put your eye at in order to see the target better. Typically, the elevation adjustment dial is located in the middle of the scope.

Here is a diagram that will help you understand the main parts of a scope:

rifle scope parts

As for the windage adjustment, it’s the dial that’s on the side near the elevation adjustment. Meanwhile, the windage bell is near the objective lens. As for the power ring, it’s located near the exit pupil. As discussed earlier, the objective bell is the one that houses the objective lens. What’s more, riflescopes essentially work like telescopes. The ocular lens is the lens that magnifies the light from the focal point after it passes through the objective lens. The image you see when you look at a scope through the exit lens is the light that passes through it. Another part of the riflescope is the reticle, which was discussed at length earlier. This crosshair makes targeting easier and can even be adjusted in terms of MOA or Minute of Angle.

Rifle Scope Magnification

A higher magnification isn’t necessarily a good thing for a scope. Not only does it detract from your available light and exit pupil size, it’s also hard to take close shots from the low end of a high magnification scope. To concentrate too much on magnification means you’re sacrificing your close range game.

As mentioned earlier, 3x-9x is enough for a decent scope. Hunting scopes can never be over 6x because anything over that magnification tends to be wobbly (not to mention you have to take into consideration parallax, which will be discussed later). Only a long-range marksman with perfect vision and under perfect conditions could shoot above 9x. What’s more, a variable magnification power scope can sometimes shift the image while a fixed power scope with only one magnification mode doesn’t.

Here is a maginfication comparison so you can get an idea of the differences between each value:

magnification comparison

3x is low and good enough for your rifle. It provides great field of view and a large enough exit pupil for close shots in most situations. Meanwhile, 9x gives you all the magnification you need for those real sniper-grade long shots. Going for 14x, 20x, and more isn’t necessarily a good idea if you don’t need them.

More often than not, opting for these high-powered, high-magnification scopes is a big mistake. The specs that you should really pay attention to when it comes to scopes are the ones relating to their optics (the clearer they are, the more expensive they get). You should also pay attention to waterproofing or fog-proofing and make sure that the scope has a substantial warranty when all is said and done.

Rifle Scope Bells and Tubes

The objective bell houses the objective lens of the scope. This is what’s attached to the tube so that it’d connect to the objective lens. The riflescope bell isn’t just part of the bells and whistles of the scope. It’s actually an integral part of the scope. It’s like the optic nerves that connect your brain to your eye and gives you sight at the same time. Without it, the objective lens won’t be able to collect the light that goes into the scope and illuminates the images projected into it. The objective bell also dictates the diameter of the objective lens, which in turn influences scope magnification: The larger the lens, the higher the magnification of the scope because it should compensate in size to get the right exit pupil size.

Meanwhile, the tube is the main body of the riflescope and it comes in two main diameter sizes: 30-millimeter tubes and one-inch tubes. You should be aware of the diameter of your riflescope tube in order to put in the right mounting rings when attaching the scope to your gun. The tube is important when considering the type of scope you should get because it’s the body of the scope. It dictates how lightweight or heavy the scope can be. A riflescope is essentially tubes inside tubes. The inner tube has lenses that refract the light while the outer tube is the protective shell of the inner tube and serves as the mount of the objective bell and the eye piece.

Rifle Scope Lenses

Riflescope lenses are important because, when you think about it, riflescopes are nothing more than tubes housing lenses that magnify an image when you put your eye on the same optic plane as the image you’re looking at. These series of lenses are the things that bend light rays to achieve that optimum and clear magnification.

In accordance with the laws of physics, the more high-powered the scope, the bigger the lenses and the longer the tubes. In turn, the more low-powered the scope, the smaller the lenses and the shorter the tubes or the body that houses the lenses. The lens glasses used for riflescopes are carefully chosen based on optical-engineer-specified optical requirements and their function within the riflescope itself.

The glass used on these lenses are cut and polished to remove inclusions, scratches, and imperfections that could compromise the passage of light through the scope, ensuring a clear image of your target every time. Layers of metallic compounds used to magnify the transmission of light are then put in special multiple coats on the lens. The best scopes out there have unsurpassed brightness and clarity even during low-light or foggy conditions.

Nowadays, it’s much easier to know the difference between brown underbrush and a tan game coat that it was mere decades or a whole generation ago. It’s because of these advancements in lens technology that all these have become possible. Some even have anti-glare protection through blackening the lens edges and intensive grooving from the scope tube’s interior allows light to be channeled properly.

Rifle Scope Reticles

reticle-DEVisibility is your primary concern when it comes to your scope, especially when dealing with low-light conditions. Meanwhile, reticle choice is aided by visibility although it’s ultimately a preference dictated by personal preference than anything objective. Leupold invented the Duplex flexible reticles a good four decades ago. They lead the shooter’s eye in a natural fashion to the aiming point’s center, thus they’re the best when it comes to shooting in heavy cover or at close range. There have been finer or lighter variants of this reticle that offer different benefits, such a providing a fine aiming point for long-range shooting and offering a good range estimation for you eye. Reticles have evolved to become more complex yet capable in improving range-estimating, especially the reticles available nowadays.

Reticles like the Horus Vision or Mildot have been designed for more tactical operations while other reticles have variations in shape, in placement, in visibility, in complexity, and in practical simplicity all for the sake of making sure you get as accurate of a shot as possible and even with a long range scope, you can calculate the MOA well enough by the crosshairs alone to make your shot count. Every reticle is blessed with aiming points or grids to make the truly faraway targets easier to hit. Great hunter-friendly reticles include the TDS reticle, Varmint Hunters reticle, Boone & Crockett Big Game reticle, and Ballistic Plex reticle because they have simple yet effective visual crosshairs that make hits at even the longest ethical ranges as though you’re the American Sniper Chris Kyle or the White Death Simo Hayha.

Rifle Scope Reticle Types

UnknownThere are four types of reticle. The basic reticle offers an aiming point at most. Manufacturers can market or call them anything—Heavy Duplex, 30-30, Nikoplex, Duplex, or fine crosshairs—they all mean the same thing. They all offer a central aiming point while the thicker reticles of this type are preferable when handling low light conditions or hunting targets amidst busy backgrounds like foliage. This is because they draw your eye towards your field of view’s center. As for the BDC or Bullet Drop Compensating Reticles, they’re the one that you use in light of bullet trajectory. A bullet fired horizontally with a gun will drop to the ground at the same time as a ball that’s dropped by hand due to gravity. This reticle works by giving you gravity compensating leeway.

227521i_tsThe reticle indicates how high you should aim in order for your bullet to hit a target that’s far away so that you can compensate for the gravity that will always make your bullet hit the ground first the farther away your target is. The Mildot or MilDot reticle is the crosshairs you use for distance calculation. Mil in this context means milradian, which is 1/1000 of a radian. A radian is the angle formed at the center of the circle by two radii cutting off an arc that has the same length as the radius. Finally, illuminated reticles are lighted reticles that work best in low light. Some of them even have adjustable lighting controls so as not to disturb your eyes’ own night vision.

Rifle Scope Eye Relief

If you put your eye too near the scope, the recoil of the gun will have the scope hitting your eye. You could develop a black eye at best and a damaged cornea at worst. In turn, eye relief refers to the distance between you and the eye piece wherein you can still a clear image. The right amount of eye relief will keep your eye from being damaged from rifle recoil when shooting.

Of course, eye relief also happens with binoculars, microscopes, spotting scopes, and telescopes. As long as the distance you’re looking through the scope’s eye piece gives you a full viewing angle of what you’re supposed to look at, then that’s within the eye relief of the scope in question.

Outside-the-distance viewing will result in a reduced field of view every time. For a concept that’s relatively simple to grasp, calculating the eye relief for any kind of scope, especially ar 15 scopes, is quite complex. As a rule of thumb, you’ll get a shorter eye relief the larger the intended field of view and the higher the magnification of your scope. In turn, the lower the magnification and the smaller the field of view, the longer your eye relief will be.

With that said, do not confuse the exit pupil width of your scope with the eye relief property. You should also be warned that the given eye relief on your product specs doesn’t always offer an accurate view of what to expect. Some lens mountings don’t allow as much eye relief as theorized by your product’s specifications.

Rifle Scope Parallax

Parallax isn’t a feature of riflescopes but a common problem that top scopes have ways of dealing with as part of their specs. This is a common issue for high magnification scopes, in fact. Unfortunately, many users are confused or they outright misunderstand what this subject is all about. Parallax happens when an apparent movement of objects from within the field of view happens relative to the reticle of your riflescope. The images move not because your target is escaping but instead because of a phenomenon in high magnification scopes where what you see starts having movement that’s not supposed to be there, like from an optical illusion induced by a magic eye picture. This happens whenever the object’s “primary image” is formed either behind or in front of the reticle.

Needless to say, this distorts the image and makes it so difficult to aim you’d have difficulty shooting the broadside of a barn. They induce sighting errors and thusly require some sort of parallax adjustment spec (on the optical system’s objective part) to combat this problem. If your eye moves from the scope’s optical axis, you’ll also get the parallax effect. Parallax safeguards in scopes essentially find ways to make sure that the primary image of the object being targeted is formed at the same focal plane of the reticle. These riflescopes also ensure that your eye is positioned on the scope’s optical axis. Regardless of the primary image’s position, as long as those two conditions are met, you will not receive parallax.

Rifle Scope Fog Proof Construction

A riflescope can be constructed in such a way that it ends up fog-proof when used. Again, Leupold was ahead of the curve in this department by developing the first nitrogen-filled riflescope in 1947. Long story short, the nitrogen inside the scope gets rid of the possibility of fog within your lenses. This innovation in riflescope technology came about due to the common complaint of fogging in lenses. Fogging has plagued many scopes; from riflescopes to even the centuries-old telescope. It’s especially difficult to clean out fogged lenses from within the scope because this entails taking the scope apart or waiting for the condensation on the inner lens to dissipate altogether. Scopes up until that time weren’t dependable in the field.

They had a mostly fair weather kind of disposition. What this meant is that depending on the weather, they can be extremely useful or extremely worthless. If humidity in an area picks up, you won’t see anything from the cloudy lenses at all. Thanks to Leupold& Stevens, a new industry standard was created, thus riflescopes were able to be used in the field and the scope was able to purge the oxygen inside it by filling it with nitrogen. Today, nearly all scopes (except perhaps the really budgeted or bargain bin scopes out there as well as antique pre-war scopes) have some sort of fog protection added to them. This is an important spec because the overall outside field performance of the scope hinges in how fog-proof it really is.

Rifle Scope Mounting Instructions

In plain terms, MOA means the farther away your target; the more “off” your aim would be to your crosshair. For 200 yards, it’s 2 inches, for 300 yards it’s 3 inches and so forth. It takes a professional marksman to adjust in accordance to the MOA of the scope, but in the field, even the most expert of marksmen can fall short due to a number of circumstances, like moving game or the wind going against him. It still helps to have a scope and to calculate how much offside you expect your shot will be the farther away your target is, so you need to adjust where you aim that reticle to better get that proverbial bull’s eye. You don’t need to be as accurate as a surgeon, but the more you know about MOA and adjustments, the better your results will become.

The MOA was explained at length in this portion of the article because it’s highly relevant to your mounting instructions for your scope, which can be tapered or flat. If your scope has 85 to 120 MOA of internal adjustment, a flat base is all you need. You should only get a tapered base if your scopes feature less MOA adjustment in order to reach accurate shooting capabilities beyond the 600 or 700 yard mark. In short, if your rifle has a scope that can easily adjust itself for MOA, then you don’t need that extra tapering to compensate and a flat mount is fine.

Here is a video that will teach you how to mount your rifle scope:

Rifle Scope Types + Sizes

The riflescope types you should familiarize yourself the most with are the variable and fixed scopes. There are subtypes to choose from too, like night vision scopes or scopes you can use during low light conditions, scopes with laser sights to better line up your shot through a projected laser beam and red dot sights, or sights with a reticle on them. If, for example, you ended up with a 5-12×42 scope. The first two numbers refer to the magnification capabilities of the scope. A 5-12×42 riflescope has 5x to 12x magnification, meaning you can see a target five times to twelve times larger than it would appear to your naked eye through the scope. This also means that you have a variable type of scope.

This means that you can vary the magnification of your scope. Usually, when you have a 3×40 riflescope, then this means you have a fixed scope that can only magnify the image you’re looking at three times its original size. Fixed scopes simply mean scopes that have a fixed magnification and you can’t go any lower or higher than its specified settings. As for the 42 in the 5-12×42 riflescope or the 40 in the 3×40 riflescope, these numbers refer to the size of the objective lens. For the 5-12×42 riflescope, it is 42 millimeters and for the 3×40 riflescope, it is 40 millimeters. The size of this lens will give you an idea of how much light it’ll be able to transmit to the ocular lens then to your exit pupil. The larger the objective lens the more

Rifle Scope Sizes

The bigger the riflescope, the longer its range and magnification: It also makes it heavier and harder to lug around. You might as well tape a telescope onto your shotgun if it gets too big. However, the real question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you need loads of magnification at all. You should use the right scope type and brand for the right circumstance. Huge, powerful scopes when you don’t need them result in wounded game and loads of missed shots. Always buy the appropriate scope. You won’t shoot necessarily farther or more accurately the more powerful your scope is. It’s also more important to know how low your scope can go instead of how high. After all, you can always shoot far with low magnification or have enough time to turn the scope up in order to adjust it.

However, up close you can’t shoot with high magnification because your field of view and exit pupil is too small, so having that low magnification power leeway is a must for your scope. It’s always better to get the right size of scope that has around 3x to 9x of magnification that offers the right amount of utility for all your hunting and shooting range requirements than to go with the biggest, longest, and most powerful scope you can find yet still end up with something more complicated, less reliable, and less usable than a scope that’s just the right size and has the right specs all throughout. After all, aside from magnification, you also need to take into consideration eye relief and field of view to complete the elements of the optical triangle.

Rifle Scope Accessories

rifle scope accessoriesThere are many accessories to choose from that you can buy and put with your scope in order to enhance its magnification and long-range shooter capabilities. First, there’s the Laser Bore Sighter, which is a battery-powered laser that allows you to bore-sight with extreme precision that’s perfect for 0.22 to 0.50 caliber guns. As for the Magnetic Bore Sighter, it eliminates the need for arbors when using it because it magnetically attached itself to the muzzle and even comes with etched glass reticles to boot. Speaking for arbors, you need these in order to fit non-magnetic bore sighters unto a muzzleloader or shotgun shooter.

You can also buy protection for your scopes, from sunshades to covers. Other accessories include the aforementioned scope mounts, which can either be a World-War-II-grade tapered mount or a more common flat mount that’s more of a perfect fit with today’s more advanced, MOA-adjustable riflescopes. You can also buy kits for these mounts, like the Torque Wrench Mounting Kit that allows you to tighten the torque of your mount so that you won’t have to reset and remount your rifle after every shot. There’s also the battery holder for your riflescope that enables you to have a spare battery handy and safe at all times.

Rifle Scope Prices

Leupold Mark 4The prices of the scopes you wish to buy will depend on their quality and the popularity of their brand. For under $500, you can buy something like the Nikon Buckmasters 6-18x40mm Mildot, which is dollar for dollar the most cost-effective scope you can buy at such a cost-advantageous price.

For $500 to $1,000, you can get your own Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot, which is a scope that has the ability to help you hit game at around 1,000 yards or more. You will be amazed at the capabilities of this Leupold model for something so relatively low level in terms of pricing. Then there’s the $1,000 to $1,500 range, which allows you to buy the Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm Mildot and the Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5-21×50 G2DMR.

Check out our rifle scope guides based on price:

The Leupold Mark 4 is a nice scope with nice adjustment range that gives competitive shooters the edge they need to compete. The Bushnell Elite Tactical is a popular mid-priced scope with a Horus-style reticle and high 21x magnification offerings for those who need it. On the higher end of the price scale are the $1,500 to $2,500 scopes like the Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50mm MOAR that offers high-speed turrets and a zero stop option. This is the shooter’s scope through and through. Then you have the Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD. Although Vortex is a new manufacturer, this actually gives them the edge because they only use the latest technology on their HD scopes. Finally, if money is no object for you, then you should definitely get the Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 P4 Fine, which has all of the advantages of the above and more plus none of their drawbacks.

Rifle Scope Warranty

A good warranty serves as an indication by the company that they’re perfectly confident about the longevity and durability of your product or you’ll get a replacement right away. If it’s a warranty that lasts two years, then expect your riflescope to last at least two years. Naturally, the best warranty is an unused one, but during rare occurrences that a scope does give out, it’s good to have some sort of insurance and product service that will deliver to you a new scope for free by friendly, reliable, and fast couriers. With that in mind, which manufacturer has the best warranty?

Is it the ever-popular Nikon, with its scopes that cover the entire price range, from budget offerings to high-end scopes that give even Schmidt & Bender a run for its money? Is it Leupold, with its Golden Ring Guarantee that ensures if the scope doesn’t function as advertised, they’ll do everything in their power to fix it? Hands down, in the opinion of this reviewer, it’s Vortex. The newcomer manufacturer is making a name for itself not only through its high-tech scope offerings, but also for its VIP, no questions asked, and no receipt lifetime warranty that’s transferable and serves as an assurance that your Vortex product will be replaced or fixed for any reason at no extra charge of the customer.


In light of everything you’ve discovered about riflescopes through this article, it should be abundantly clear to you by now how important they are in the world of guns, sharpshooting, artillery accessories, and hunting. Therefore, when shopping for the right riflescope, you should know the ins and outs of it so that you can compare your needs to its capabilities and find a perfect match. You don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles if you’re a novice learning to shoot long-range during hunting season, after all.

Just as you don’t use a sledgehammer for finishing nails or a claw hammer to do demolition jobs with, you should have the right magnification power and type of scope for your specific needs. Uninformed hunters and gun enthusiasts should avoid thinking that the more powerful a scope is; the better it automatically is unless you’re aiming to become the next American sniper or something. Don’t buy powerful scopes only to shoot with a whitetail deer rifle with a target that’s within a hundred yards away from you.

Air Rifle Owners Guide – Information you MUST Know

hunting rabbits with air riflePeople often ask me “how can I become more accurate with my shooting” my answer is a boring one and I can always see the person’s disappointment straight away and that’s you’ll never become an accurate shooter without practice.

Now this answer is a little simple but I will explain the reason why I give it and that’s that most people who ask this question have never picked up an air rifle or gun and they want to be a sharp shooter from their first shot this is never going to happen.

There is a little more too accurate shooting than just practice a good air rifle scope will make accurate shooting a little easier once you have your air rifle scope sighted in.

Our Air Rifle Info

  1. Best Air Rifle of 2015 – Top 5 Air Rifle Reviews
  2. Air Rifle Target Shooting For Accuracy
  3. How To Set Up An Air Rifle Scope – Zero In Scope
  4. Air Rifle Safety Tips
  5. Hunting Rabbits With Air Rifle

Air Rifle Target Shooting For Accuracy

Once you have your air rifle and your scope all setup then it’s time to get your targets set at different distance because if you ever do plan on hunting with your air rifle you will want to be able to shoot at different positions.

Targets come in all different shapes and colours from animal outlines to simple circle target and one is not better than the other I just recommend one that you can keep track of your shots. When you first start out it can become a pain paying out for targets they are not all that expensive but anyway to save money is good and I print my own from a brilliant site who allow you to choose a target you like download it and print it from your printer.

Shoot with pellets that are not going to break the bank when I say this people say but don’t all pellets shoot different so when I come to shoot with my hunting pellets I won’t be as accurate. To some extent this is true but you will be learning to become accurate and learning how you move your body effects where your pellets end up. So before you go hunting have a couple of shots at a target with your hunting pellets and if you are a little out you will have learnt how to adjust your body to get it spot on and I don’t really subscribe to one pellets is much more accurate than another. I have known people to use the cheapest pellets on the market and never miss a bull. You may find with very cheap pellets that you will get what people like to call flyers this is just the odd 1/100 go way off.

People will give you advice how to stand/sit/lay and how to hold the air rifle but I just say get in a position that you feel relaxed and how to air rifle that it feels right and take your shots you will become much more accurate this way over seating in a position that you feel awkward in.

Most of all the learning process should be fun don’t beat yourself up if you are not hitting the centre of the target each and every time it will come and it won’t take that long.

How To Set Up An Air Rifle Scope – Zero In Scope

You have just got yourself a new air rifle scope, you have fitted it and your pellets are going nowhere near the point of aim?

Unfortunately it’s not just a case of attaching your scope and you will be upping your accuracy but getting it so you can up your accuracy you will need to zero in scope of your air rifle.

People like to overcomplicate the whole process if you ask me and I fell into the trap for many of years when I would be adding a scope to a new air rifle but those days are gone with this simply method.

To help with this method you will need a solid surface and an air rifle rest you can use some old socks filled with sand to rest your air rifle on but for greater accuracy I would suggest an air rifle rest and they are not that expensive here is one on Amazon for less than $30.

Step 1 – Setup your target at around 10 yards. (This is best done in a windless place and make sure the surrounding area is safe in case you miss the target)

Step 2 – Place your air rifle on the rest if you have a zoom scope fully zoom your scope and focus your eyepiece.

Step 3 – Load your pellet aim at the centre of the target and take your shot. (It’s more than likely well out)

Step 4 – Now put the cross hair back into the centre of the target and using the cross hair adjustments move the cross hair until it matched with the hole you just shot. This is where the air rifle rest comes into its own you will need to keep the air rifling as still as possible.

Step 5 – Now point the cross hair back to the centre of the target and take your shot it should now be very close to the centre if not repeat the above process until its bang on.

That’s the whole process done and you now have a fully zeroed in air rifle scope despite the little long explanation with this method you could have an air rifle scope fully zeroed in within minutes. I would always recommend an air rifle rest this will help keep your air rifle really still and lead to greater accuracy.

There really is nothing worse than a scope that is not accurate and I hope this method helps you zero in your air rifle scope for much better shooting and a lot more fun if you need any help drop us a line and I am more than happy to help with anything.

Air Rifle Safety Tips

You should always remember that your air rifle is not a toy and can cause serious damage and even kill. You should tread your air rifle as a live firearm and use it in a safe responsible manner. This air rifle safety tips is to help the beginner to drill into you the safety aspect of air gunning.

Above all what you should remember is always know where you are pointing the air rifle and never point it in an unsafe direction and when you do shoot make sure you know were the pellet will end before you finally pull the trigger.

Air rifle handling

Treat it like its loaded – Always treat the air rifle like it has a pellet in it, never point it in a person direction even when it’s not loaded.

Don’t load – Never load the air rifle until you are ready to shoot, it’s so easy to forget you loaded an air rifle this is when accidents happen so never load until you are sure you will take a shot

Safety on – Always put the safety catch on even when the air rifle is not loaded but don’t rely on this to make the gun safe as although not common things can fail the only safe air rifle is an unloaded air rifle.

Don’t put it down – You should never put the air gun down once it’s loaded to put the air rifle down discharge the pellet.

Unattended air rifle – You should never leave your air rifle unattended you don’t know who’s going to pick it up.

Check – When you first pick up the air rifle always check that the air rifle is unloaded this is something of a habit you should get into.

Pellet destination – Before you pull the air rifle trigger think were your pellet is traveling and were it will be hitting or if you miss the target where will the pellet end up. When you think it is all safe then pull the trigger.

Air rifle storage

Loaded air rifle – When you put your air rifle into storage never leave it loaded.

Pellets – When you store your air rifle I always recommended that you store your pellets in a different location if someone who shouldn’t be using it finds your air rifle they won’t have any pellets.

Out of sight – When you store your air rifle never leave it in sight so people can easily see it also when carrying your air rifle in your car keep it covered.

There are some basic tips when you are using your air rifle and when you come to store it always keep in mind your air rifle is not a toy and can kill this should stop you from taking risks as the consequences can be fatal. An air rifle is a great item to own and you can have many hours of enjoyment with it but keep safe and keep others safe.

Hunting Rabbits With an Air Rifle

Hunting rabbits is fast becoming a sport that the air rifle is fast becoming the weapon of choice to take the clean shot. Hunting rabbits with air rifle can be a tricky sport but a very fun one as rabbits are fast movers and are alerted very easily. We all have different reasons for hunting rabbits some hunt because rabbits are becoming a pest and others hunt for the pot. Within this post we are going to be covering all the key elements of hunting rabbits.

What air rifle to use when hunting rabbits?

A .177 or .22 is the ideal air rifle for taking out a rabbit you would ideally be looking for a velocity 500+ and hitting the rabbit in the kill zone will lead to a humane kill. It’s also recommended that you use hunting pellets I recommend a dome headed pellet.

What is the kill zone on a rabbit?

When shooting a rabbit you should NEVER shoot it in its body this will just wound it and lead to unnecessary pain, you will need a head shot for a humane clean kill when looking at the rabbits head aim for just behind the eyes and just below the ears. This is the rabbit’s weakest part of the skull and will ensure a clean kill.

Was it a clean shot?

Once you have taken your shot wait for around a minute and retrieve the rabbit hold it in your hands for 5 seconds if you feel any movement you will need to take a shot to the head or break the rabbits neck to cause an instant death this shouldn’t happen very often if you hit the shot in the correct spot.

Help taking a clean shot

An air rifle scope will make the shot much easier and much more enjoyable, before you go hunting with the scope you will need to zero in your air rifle scope to make sure its accurate also I recommend that you zero in your air rifle with the pellet you will be using to hunt. An inaccurate shot can lead to wasted hunting day and worse a wounded rabbit.

Hunting help

So now you know how to take the clean shot and were to shoot as rabbits a spooked very easily so you will need to keep still for a long time so if the weather is bad you will need to wear clothing that will keep you warm. Wait in position until the rabbit comes out load the air rifle with a pellet keep the rabbit in your sights or scope if you are using one for a minute. This will give you time to get your breathing under control (the excitement can make you breath heavy) take the aim in the kill Zone and take your shot this should result in a clean kill.

Make sure you take the shot 2 yards from the hole as the rabbits nerves will make the rabbit jump and could end up in the hole wasting the rabbit.

Other rabbit hunting tips

  • Don’t just turn up on someone’s land taking shots ask permission.
  • Always go for the kill shot and if do happen to wound the rabbit ease it’s suffering as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you don’t shoot people so follow some basic air rifle shooting safety tips.

How To Sight In A Scope

scope sightHow many different methods have you heard of when it comes to how to sight in a scope? Probably a lot, just as we have. There are a lot of opinions on how to sight in a scope, but there are a lot of different needs for sighting in that scope. Some folks want to punch paper, some folks want to know how to sight in a scope for hunting, and some folks need to know how to sight in a scope for tactical use.

We’re somewhere in the middle with our approach to how to sight in a scope. We don’t shoot in the benchrest or tactical disciplines, but we have fairly demanding needs for high degrees of accuracy and repeatability for things like varmint hunting and longer range big game hunting so we need a good, logical routine for how to sight in a scope for our purposes.

First, we generally use a paper target at a rifle/pistol range along with a chronograph to gather some ballistics information to help us as we’re deciding on where we want our bullets to impact the target. Due to our extensive experience with chronographs, we’re partial to both the CED M2 chronograph and the Shooting Chrony Beta chronograph based on their quality, ease of use, flexibility and reasonable prices. Both of our CED M2 chronographs live in CED carrying cases because we like how everything fits perfectly and is protected by the heavy duty, yet reasonably-priced nylon case – our Shooting Chrony Beta has its own factory case as well and is very compact and dependable. A chronograph is something you’ll want to take good care of to maintain top measurement accuracy.

We’ve also used other chronographs successfully and if you use another brand, we’re OK with that. The idea is to get velocity information that is statistically repeatable to help you decide best how to sight in a best rifle scope properly for your personal use. We highly suggest that you don’t guess on your ammunition’s velocity due to variations in firearms and ammunition.

It’s highly unlikely that even if Fedremchester 30-06 180 grain, soft-point spitzer ammunition says on the box it should deliver 2,820 fps when fired that it will actually produce that velocity in your firearm. Be smart, be safe, be knowledgeable and use a good chronograph to know more precisely what your actual average velocities are.

Keep in mind that ammunition may be affected by temperature variations and that it may produce vastly different velocities when exposed to different temperature extremes in the field (i.e., winter cold and summer heat). Handloaders and users of custom-loaded ammunition should be particularly careful of possible dangerous ammunition pressures and pressure spikes when firing ammunition in the heat of spring and/or summer temperatures that was considered safe in the cool fall or cold winter temperatures when a firearm was actually sighted in. Handloading and reloading are separate major subjects and we suggest that you seek expert advice in those areas from qualified, expert sources and references.

We recommend that (for general hunting and shooting) you shoot no less than 20 rounds of the same ammunition and we heartily recommend that you shoot at least 40 rounds of the same ammunition across your chronograph’s sky screens at a consistent distance of 12-15 feet to get a solid idea of how that particular ammunition will perform velocity-wise. Later, we’ll take a closer look at the accuracy of the ammunition as we examine the process of how to sight in a scope.

It goes without saying that any scope should always (and ONLY) be sighted in for its intended purpose with the ammunition that you will be using for that specific hunt, for that particular match or even for a given tactical purpose which may be ongoing. This applies whether you’re shooting factory ammunition, custom ammunition or handloaded ammunition. If you’re shooting factory or custom-loaded ammunition, try to ensure that you have the same lot numbers on your ammunition boxes or containers for consistency. You handloaders out there should always record your loads faithfully on the ammunition boxes or containers so you’ll know exactly what ammunition you’re shooting. Again, seek expert and qualified advice for further information.

There are many free ballistic resources on the internet that you can use to help develop a suitable ballistic table for your rifle or pistol and the scope you want to sight in. You can just type “freeware ballistics software” into your favorite browser to get started finding a suitable program. We use NECO QuickLoad© and don’t mind giving that product a plug because we have depended on it so long. It’s not cheap, but it does what we need it to do and it works well on our laptop when we’re at the range. There are many free online resources available in the area of ballistics calculators and ballistics tables.

Now that you’ve set up your chronograph it gets easier. We recommend using a bore-sighter if you have access to one to save a few cartridges at the range. If you don’t have one, set up your sight-in target at 25 yards to start with and begin your sight-in process from there. If you don’t have a laptop computer to take to the range then you can print several ballistics tables in advance to take with you.

Check several reloading manuals or online sources to determine what your range of bullet velocities is likely to be. As an example, say you want to know how to sight in a scope on your Savage Model 116 in .223 Remington. You check both online and in several current reloading manuals you have available and determine that the load you will be using could produce from 2,900 fps to 3,400 fps.

Knowing the information above, you can easily and quickly print out 6 ballistic tables if you only want to use even 100 fps increments (i.e., 2,900, 3,000, 3,100, etc.). . .or 12 ballistic tables if you want to use 50 fps increments (i.e., 2,900, 2,950, 3,000, 3,050, etc.). Simply determine the average velocities of your cartridges from your chronograph information and choose the ballistics table that most closely matches your ammunition’s velocities. An alternative to this method is to use two separate trips to the range, the first to develop velocity information with your chronograph and to get your bullets onto the paper target, and the second trip to actually adjust your scope to place your fired groups exactly where you want them to be at the appropriate distance after you have determined the correct ballistic table to use (i.e., 100 yards, 150 yards, 200 yards, etc.).

Now, for the actual shooting portion of the process and the easy way to sight in your firearm with the fewest shots. Let’s assume that you are shooting at 25 yards at a standard ten-ring target. Since you used a bore-scope, you are at least on the paper but although you aimed correctly at the target center with your cross-hair reticle, the bullet struck the target 3 inches to the right and 2 inches high.

At this point, do not chamber another round yet and place your firearm in as close to its original firing position as possible and place the cross-hair exactly on the target center just as you did before and hold the rifle as steady as possible (it helps to have a friend or fellow shooter help you hold the firearm immobile here). With the cross-hair remaining exactly centered on the target to start with, just as you did with the first shot and with the rifle remaining immobile, begin to move the scope adjustments so that the intersection of the cross-hairs moves exactly on top of the first bullet hole (the gun must remain immobile during this process).

Now, you may fire your second shot – this is how to sight in a scope with very few shots required at a given range. Aim by placing the cross-hairs exactly on the target center as you did with your first shot, but now your second bullet should come very close to, if not exactly impacting, the center of the target. This assumes that you kept the firearm completely immobilized in the position that it was in while you sighted on the center of the target before you began to adjust the cross-hairs to intersect with the first bullet hole.

This may sound a little complex, but in practice it takes only a few seconds, particularly if you have a good assistant to help you hold the firearm still during the reticle adjustment after the first shot. After you try it a time or two, you’ll be giving lessons at the range. . .heck, you might even make a little money. . .or not!

At this point, you should find it very easy to extend your target to either 50 or 100 yards to further fine-tune and adjust your scope to place your fired groups just about anywhere you like. We always prefer 5-shot groups for consistency and we always like to shoot at least 5 groups of 5 shots for maximum confidence in our sighting procedure.

We hope this article on how to sight in a scope will help you streamline your sight-in process and make your range time more efficient. It sure helps us save range time so we can have more field time. . .we would always rather be hunting than sighting in our scopes anyway. . .and we really like scopes here at

Survival Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Survival

Hunting and Survival Tips

The key to survival is preparation. Oftentimes, however, being in a survival situation means that you may not have the necessary tools or equipment at your immediate disposal. Proper survival training and know how allows you to use the items in your environment to your advantage. Such knowledge is invaluable and can be the difference between life and death!

One may think that these skills are only important to outoorsmen, campers, fishers, and the like. This is a common fallacy. Everyone can benefit from basic survival skills! Imagine – you are on a relaxing hike in the woods, when suddenly you realize that you are lost. Everything starts to look the same, and you are not quite sure where to go or what to do. Panic starts to set in. What will you do? With survival skills such as small shelter building, fire starting, how to find potable water, and navigation, chances are you will make it out of any situation – alive and well

Finding Water for Survival

Water is essential, without it you will simply die. In a nutshell without water your chances are less than zero. This is true in all climates whether hot or cold . The human body looses a tremendous amount of water in hot climates. and even larger quantities when exertion enters the picture. Cold weather is no exception, your body still requires at least 2 quarts of water per day..Considering that the human body consists of mostly water, it must remain hydrated, or all of its functions will deteriorate rapidly. Unless water level is maintained illness will follow and possibly death. The simple act of eating should be avoided if water is not available. Remember the digestion of food takes water. If water supplies are low do not eat.

Many times finding water may prove difficult. obviously this can be a problem in the desert. Also the oceans can present a difficult time supplying fresh water as well. Just because water is in abundance does not mean it is consumable.

Streams and lakes are not generally a problem, If it is available disinfect it and drink it. When in hilly areas look in the valleys between the hills. The larger the hills the larger the watershed will be. You might have to dig a hole in the lowest area available to locate water. Dry creek beds can also be a source , as well as rock depressions, When looking in dry creek beds dig into the bank with the direction of water flow as low as possible and let water seep into hole.

In desert or mountain areas that have large rocks depressions. The rocks will sometimes act as cache basins. Always look in these spots.

You must keep in mind, water never has been crystal clear and pure. Any and all water in the wild areas of the world have always been contaminated with micro organisms. Only in the fantasy world of Hollywood and television commercials has pure water existed. The one possible exception would be subterranean spring water. Impure water has been responsible for killing millions of people due to diseases like Cholera and Typhoid, These are deadly threats to life and have existed in the water in past years..Even today in the computer age people should still Consider all water suspect. Meaning unless it comes from a known pure source it should be considered unsafe and contaminated unless treated. Rain water is an exception rain water is nothing more than evaporated and condensed water. If captured in a clean container it may be consumed as is. Drinking salt water must be avoided, Salt water puts a heavy strain on the kidneys and will cause them to eventually stop functioning. The result of this is death.

Regardless how overpowering your thirst may be. Do Not drink impure water. If you do, Chances are disaster will quickly follow. This is a problem you do not want in a survival situation, Waterborne diseases are dangerous and may include Typhoid, Cholera, or Dysentery and many types of bacteria or cysts.

Water may be treated with various methods to render it safe to drink. Boiling is always a safe bet, There are also chemical methods of treatment that are also safe. Iodine based disinfectants are easy to carry, long lasting and do a good job.


Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance, but can also spread disease. They seem to come out of nowhere by the thousands at times. The buzzing alone is irritating, but the bite can bring potential long lasting illness. And once bitten the itching can be unbearable and seems to last a long time. Mosquito’s are a prime food source for bats and many birds. They keep many of these animals well fed.

Only the female mosquito bites, the male is content to live on the juice of trees and plants. The female is on a life long quest for blood. She needs this protein for egg production. Unfortunately in her quest for blood she may bite a sick person or animal and transfer diseases from one host to another. Once a mosquito is infected with a disease it will last the duration of her life. These diseases are no trivial thing, they include West Nile disease, yellow fever, encephalitis and approximately 70 additional others types of disease.

Mosquito’s like water; stagnant water is a prime breeding area. They thrive in the decay of brush and grasses. Empty or eliminate any areas of standing water, this will help reduce the population. There are two classifications of mosquitoes. The Anopheline and the Culicine. It is the Anopheline type, which is the malaria carrier. The Culicine type, which also includes the common house mosquito, and the yellow fever carrier. Both types of mosquito can present serious health issues.

The female may live from a week to 30 days or more. In this period of time she will lay several batches of eggs. Ranging in quantity from 50 to in excess of 200. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist long to determine this can turn into a population explosion rather quickly. Birds, bats, dragonflies are all mosquito predators. Without them we would soon have a very serious problem.

The tiny mosquito is well armed to hunt its prey. They see in a different light spectrum than we do, They are extremely sensitive to carbon dioxide and lactic acid. They seem to prefer dark colors and blues the best. Each time you exhale a breath, you surround yourself with carbon dioxide. To the mosquito its as though you are ringing the dinner bell. Also they zoom in on lactic acid. Sugar products when mixed with saliva create lactic acid. Eating sweets is like waving a red flag. When you exercise or stretch and strain your muscles also create lactic acid. This is a normal function, but to the mosquito it’s a sure-fire way to locate a good meal. The only defense against them without any repellants is to lock yourself away or to cease living. I find neither of the choices very appealing.

Many years ago, a product was developed to repel these small bloodsuckers. It has been used worldwide for many years. There are people that will not or cannot use this product, yet to this day it seems to offer the best defense. The name of this product is “N.N-diethyl-metatoluamide” or commonly called “DEET”.

There are many debates over the concentrations of DEET and what percentages work the best. It seems that 100% is no more effective than 17% as far as repelling goes, although the time frame between applications is much longer with the higher percentages. One company in particular has figured out a time release formula. This formula works very well. The US military forces are currently using this formula. TC.

How to Build a Compass

In our lifetimes few things are more consistant than the sun. It follows the same pattern day after day and year after year. It is so consistant that clocks are designed to use its precise timing. Our planet Earth rotates on its axis extremely close to 15 degrees per hour. This precise timing allows us to make a compass using shadows cast by the sun. We can then use these shadows to find north and south.

From this baseline we are able to determine directions with more than a fair degree of accuracy and consistency. There are several ways to determine cardinal directions by using the sun and shadow methods. But, I shall only give single example in this article. As we have been taught for many generations, the sun rises somewhat in the east and sets somewhat in the west. It also crosses the southern sky. By using this easterly and westerly rise and setting of the sun, we are able to use shadows cast by the sun to build a crude but accurate compass of sorts.

To build a compass using this method, you will need only a few items and patience. A short straight stick, several small stones, a smooth area and a sun that is bright enough to cast a strong shadow.

To build a shadow stick compass such as shown in photos, you will need only the items listed below and patience.

  1. A short straight stick.
  2. Several small stones.
  3. A smooth area, and a sun bright enough to cast a strong shadow.

First, you will need a straight stick approximately 12 inches long. push this stick into the ground so it is in an upright position. Hopefully the sun will be bright enough that it will cast a strong and distinct shadow. Next set a small rock on the ground at the end of the shadow. Every half hour or so, again you will place a different stone at the end of the shadow. As the sun moves a cross the southern sky the end of the shadow will be at a new location on the ground. After you have set several rocks in place, you will notice they will be in somewhat of a straight line. This line of rocks will be indicative of your east / west line. If you stand with your left foot on the first shadow that is cast, and your right foot on the last shadow cast, you will be facing a northerly direction. And your back will be facing a southerly direction. From this basic north south position you will find it easy to determine the other directions. I recommend showing this little trick to your children, they will love it, and as a bonus it may prove useful one day.

Ash Cake Cooking

Food takes on a whole new meaning in the wilderness, and generally a whole new taste as well. Most people will eat things in the wilderness that they wouldnot even consider eating at home. Food that is burnt and hard or even cold seems appealing to them. And why not? It’s different, most generally, unusual In taste and texture. Many times it even looks disgusting to some. Think how many campers seem to long for bacon and eggs cooked over an open fire, in a cast iron skillet. Granola bars are good, and easy to pack, but lack that special taste that seems to say “hhmmmm, camp cooked’. In this letter I will be writing about different cooking methods, some easy and some a little unique. all work well. The photographs you are seeing show bread being baked on a hardwood stick and Ash cakes cooked in a pile of hot coals.

The above photos show the baking of bread being baked on a stick. When baking bread in this manner it will prove to be easier, if a forked stick is driven into ground and the baking stick is set in the fork. This method will allow easy rotation of the bread.This also provides bread that is more uniformly cooked. I have a tendency to over cook most foods, including my breads. If bread becomes a bit dark, simply scrape off the over cooked areas. It is possible to cook this bread into a golden brown and tasty treat. your baking stick should be made of hardwood and dry. Avoid resinous woods as they will impart an undesirable taste to bread

These photos show ash cakes being set directly onto the hot coals for cooking. This method will always burn the outer layer of the bread. This is not a problem for some people. The ash will wipe off the bread and the parts that become burnt can be scraped or cut away. Or you can simply break open and eat the bread inside. I like these cakes. Always, use only hardwoods for the fire and let burn to a bed of coals. By adding sugar and, or a touch of cinnamon the bread is a special treat. Kids love the taste of this bread.

As you can see in these photos, the bread is being cooked on aluminum foil and on a hardwood slab. both methods tend to keep ash and burning to a minimum. The bread likes to stick to the aluminum but I have discovered that a thin layer of flour seems to help and minimizes sticking. I must again stress, use only hardwoods. A flat thin rock that has a fire built on it is also a great cooking platform.The rock will hold heat a very long time. Build a large fire. Find a clean flat rock and set the rock on the fire. Place hardwood onto the top of rock. The wood will burn and heat the rock. Brush coals to the side, so a clean area is exposed in center of rock and place bread dough on rock. let bake until firm, then rotate often for even baking. I have baked potatoes in the same fashion.

Cooking In A Baggie

Cooking foods such as soups in a plastic baggie would seem impossible. It would seem ridiculous to apply heat to a thin plastic bag without destroying it. Yet as strange as this may seem, the baggie not only acts as a suitable container for food storage, but it also makes a suitable cook pot. I recommend carrying two one gallon freezer type baggies in your survival kit. These freezer type storage containers are made of a thicker plastic than their counterpart, the lightweight and conventional storage bags.

Steps to cook in a baggie.

If a container of some sort is available to support your baggie when it is full of water then by all means use it. If none are available then a hole dug in the ground offers the needed support to hold the baggie in a vertical position. The size of this hole should be only large enough to hold bag in a secure upright position. The next few steps are easy enough to follow. first locate approximately 6 to 10 golf ball size rocks, these rocks should be smooth. Wash the rocks thoroughly in clean water. This is necessary to remove any dirt or mud. Now start a hardwood fire and let the fire burn to a bed of hot coals. keep this fire strong by adding wood until you have an abundance of hot coals. Use a blow tube to direct air into fire. this will increase temperature considerably. Add your golf ball size rocks to fire and let them sit in hot coals. After 20 minutes or so, remove the rocks one at a time and add them to your water filled baggie. Use green sticks to remove rocks from fire. Cut a flat end on each stick , this will help greatly in holding rocks in place. Be sure your baggie already contains the appropriate amount of water and your chosen ingredients for your soup.

Be very careful when handling these rocks, DO NOT touch them with your hands. These rocks will be extremely hot. Under most conditions, about six of these rocks added to soup mix will normally bring solution to a boil. Be careful, as these rocks will stay hot a very long time, When you believe the rock has lost most of its cooking heat,add another, and so on. Only a few medium size rocks will bring water too a very high temperature. If you happen to have aluminum foil in your survival kit, then insert a folded piece in bottom of the baggie, this will be helpful in the prevention of holes from sharp rocks. A layer of Dandelion leaves will also perform same function. Your baggie is worthless if it becomes punctured or torn. I have used two of these freezer type plastic bags at the same time. Insert on inside of the other, add a small amount of water between the two. then fill the inner baggie with your soup mix and water. I once had some doubt as to whether this would actually work the first time I tried it. But it does work. Our minds tell us that the hot rock will destroy the thin plastic. As of yet, I have never melted or burned a hole in the baggie. Although I have punctured one. My recommendation is to use the smoothest rocks you can find. Always avoid creek bed rocks. The internal pressure from steam will cause rock to crack and many times actually explode. Rocks are pourous and will absorb water. When these rocks are heated, steam builds up internally and in many cases, causing them to explode.. Good luck on this method of food preparation. The lowly baggie may not be the best cook pot, but then again its not the worst by far.

Wilderness Cooking

Cooking in the outdoors whether for survival purposes or just for the fun of it, can be very enjoyable or a real hassle. There are many factors and variables that can turn the best of intentions into a gourmet nightmare. Obviously, if you have all of the cooking equipment you need with you, then your chances for a culinary delight are greatly improved. But in a survival situation, the reality is ‘It ain’t gonna be no Pic Nic’. Let’s face the truth, when you are scrubbing for grub it should be easily prepared, contain the necessary nutrients your body needs and hopefully have a taste that is reasonably palatable. I realize some types of foods are going to taste bad enough that they could gag a maggot. Although we are able to make them taste better, or at least a little bette

The first item on our list will be fire. Cooking fires to be more precise. Not all types of fires can be utilized efficiently for cooking. What we need for cooking is a good bed of hot coals. In the majority of cooking cases it will be the coals and not the fire itself that should be utilized. That is, unless you are browning, toasting or reflecting the heat of the fire. Always try to use hardwoods for cooking since they burn slower and hotter than softwoods. Always avoid evergreen trees if possible. The resins in the wood will cause the fire to burn inconsistent and will often impart a bad taste to roasted foods. Always have a bed of coals large enough to cook your foods. Heat regulation is very important. A good rule of thumb are the hand and second count method. Place your hand approximately four inches above the coals and count the seconds before you have to remove your hand from the heat. This may seem like foolish thing to do. But unless you have hands of steel you won’t linger to long. The length of time you are able to hold your hand near the coals will give the approximate temperature of the heat. A simple chart is below:

1 second or less=450-500 degrees F.
2 to 3 seconds =400-450 degrees F.
4 to 5 seconds =350-400 degrees F.
6 to 8 seconds =250-350 degrees F.

There are many efficient cooking methods and all will get the job done, some are simply easier to use than others. Ash cooking for example is a very old method and works well. I must stress again, always use hardwoods for ash cooking. By simply laying food on top of the coal bed it will cook just fine. Very little if any ash will stick to the food. Besides, a little ash will not hurt you anyway..The early mountain men and pioneers would prepare dough and roll into balls or flatten. They would then lay this prepared dough directly on the hot coals. Often the outside will burn somewhat,but this does not create a problem or ruin the bread. After baking, break open the dough ball and eat the soft inner bread. If the crust is not to brown, brush off ash and eat the hard outer crust. Or dip in coffee. Everyone should try this. I have a complete article written specifically for ash cake cooking. Take a look and read.

Meats can be cooked in the same manner, the heat of the coals will sear the outside of the meat and trap the inner juices. After cooking, the ash will easily brush off the meats. This meat will be absolutely delicious. Potato’s and tubers can be buried in the coals and left to cook. They will also develop a hard outer crust while cooking. To eat, simply cut open the hard crust and eat the contents. Potatoes or tubers may also be packed in a layer of thick mud or clay and buried in a bed of hot coals then left to bake for approximately 20 minutes or longer. After cooking, break off the mud or clay shell and eat the prepared foods. Many types of foods may be prepared in this manner. In the months ahead I will describe other types of cooking methods. In the meantime, try the methods described above. You will be surprised at the delicious meals you are able to prepare using very little. Good luck.

Bivy Sacks

The very word Bivouac, means (a temporary encampment). But in the eyes of the outdoor enthusiasts, it means a temporary encampment in a micro shelter. These new breed of miniaturized tents are extremely small and weigh very little. Some weigh barely over 2 pounds. They will fit easily in a small day-pack and are designed to handle the worst of weather conditions. These are far superior to the old style cotton bivy sacs that were once issued to American military personel. These old bivy sacks were little more than sleeping bag covers. The newer models that are currently being used by the U.S.military are very high tech. These are manufactured using a very grade material and laminated with waterproof breathable fabrics. The outdoor enthusiast market offers sleeping bag covers that are not only waterproof and breathable but can be zipped completely shut to seal off even the harshest of weather conditions. Some models are little more than tiny tents. I have used both types. If a person is claustrophobic then these shelters will not suit their needs at all. After all, they are very restricted as far as room goes. But as a emergency survival shelters, or for use on extreme lightweight backpacking trips, there shelters are hard to Beat.

The quality of these shelters is superb. and the ability to seal them off from heavy rain or snow is very good. I once slept comfortably through a blizzard in northern Michigan a few years back in one of these bivy sacs. The wind along with blowing snow was ferocious that night. By morning I was covered in several inches of snow, yet none of the snow or wind penetrated my small nylon fortress. Many bivy sacs have micro screen netting sewn into them for extra breathability along with offering insect relief. Most of these models can be seal completely off to the outside weather.

I have even slept in the northwoods of America, where the mosquito population is huge and they have proven to be relentless blood suckers. These mosquito’s simply will not let up. I have zipped myself inside the bivy sac and slept thru the night while hundreds of mosquito’s were trying desperately to get at my warm blood. These shelters are by no means inexpensive, although a decent nights rest is worth a great deal. The photographs show various brands and models. All of the brands shown are worth considering. If you are able to deal with this type of shelter. Keep in mind they are small. Try one, you might like it. I sure do.


Sleeping Pads

I have stated many times in the past that only a fool sleeps uncomfortable when they do not need too. In this Letter I will focus on commercially manufacture sleeping pads. I realize these pads are a long shot from pine boughs or a moss and leaf bed. But none the less, they are out there on the market for sale, and they do work. Most are relatively inexpensive. Extemely functional and pretty darn comfortable. In the very cold regions of the northern United States and Canada, These pads can save your life. When I am on a backpacking trip into the Cold northern regions, I always carry two pads. Sleeping on two pads, even on a frozen lake has proven to be very comfortable. By using two pads, I have never felt the bite of cold even while sleeping on ice. The insulation value changes of course depending on the thickness and type or pad used. There are several types available. I will attempt to list the most popular types along with the positive and negative sides of each type.

Sleeping pads perform two important functions. The first is to provide a comfortable bed. Even when sleeping on hard or uneven ground. Secondly, they provide an important insulation barrier between you and the cold ground. This barrier will prevent heat loss from your body to ground through conduction. They function much like a sleeping bag by trapping and holding non-circulating air. Dead air is an insulator, moving air is not.

There are several types of pads available. Many are very light and offer borderline comfort on rough terrain, yet maintain remarkable insulation qualities. A few are exceptional at both yet still weigh very little. Then there are the self inflating open cell foam pads, they are heavy by a couple of pounds, yet offer supreme comfort and tremendous insulation. They are bulkier and take a few minutes to fully inflate. much longer in cold temperatures.

Lets start with air mattresses. I consider these a poor choice. Air mattresses may be ok in fair weather for car camping and floating around the pond on, but avoid them as a winter or wilderness choice. Air mattresses are heavy and require effort to inflate. They puncture and tear easily. the air inside is free to move when you do. This alone makes them a poor choice as an insulation barrier.

Open cell foam pads. Open cell foam pads are lightweight and inexpensive. They are constructed of millions of tiny foam cells. These cells tend to restrict air movement which makes them a better insulator than the air mattress. These pad are very comfortable, yet tend to be bulky. Another negative is the foams ability to absorb moisture in wet conditions. Open cell foam must be cut four times as thick as closed cell pads to achieve equal insulation.

Closed cell pads are constructed of very dense foam filled with tiny closed air cells. These pads are very inexpensive. The will not leak, impossible to deflate. have almost no air movement in thev pad. They weight next to nothing and can be cut into smaller sections for sitting pads. On the negative side, they are thin, stiff and firm and offer less than perfect comfort and rocky ground.

Self inflating pads. These seem to have most of the good qualities, and the negatives are not hard to deal with. And This type of pad offers great comfort, this type of pad also comes in a variety of thickness. They are constructed of open cell foam, yet they are sealed into a nylon cover with a valve built in for inflation. The nylon case holds trapped air with the foam restricts its movement. These pads will self inflate, after valve is left open. After inlation simply close the vale. A few puff of additional air may be required. The cover is easily cleaned with soap and water. They will puncture in the field, nothing is unbreakable. Although they can be easily repaired . On the negative side, they are more expensive, can be punctured or ripped, and some tend to be a little bulky to carry. A pad of this type when used in conjunction with a closed cell pad, will offer supreme comfort and insulative qualities. Here is a workable suggestion… Sew a sleeve that will allow you to insert both type pads into it. Leave one end open, this will allow you slip both pads into one container. This simple sleeve will keep both pads together. If you do not do this, you will find both pads tend to move about, leaving you on the cold ground.


Thistle is a plant that is hated by many farmers. Thistle is considered to be an invasive plant that spread quickly in disturbed soils. Once entry is gained into unused fields, it is very difficult to eradicate them. They compete for space, water and nutrients in the soil. They grow very well where conditions are favorable for them. The thistle will grow in patches or singularly. The thistle plant has a worldwide range. Thistles can be found growing in dry rocky or moist sandy soils, such as forested meadows, clearings, prairies, roadsides, river and stream banks. It seems to thrive well in most areas. Its prickly leaves and straight stem make it easy to recognize the plant. The flower heads range from a beautiful purple, white, pink, or yellow.

Bees, moths and butterflies often frequent the colorful flowering head. Stinging ants, wasps, even bumblebees have a fondness for the nectar. Songbirds eat the seeds and the flowers. Even the tiny hummingbird may be seen eating insects on the flower head or collecting the down for their nests. The common thistle, although regarded by many to be a nuisance plant and noxious weed by many is a storehouse of edible food. Virtually all parts, less the spines can be used for food. It can be very useful in survival or wilderness living.

The roots, stems, young leaves, flower buds and even the seeds can be eaten. The roots can be eaten raw or cooked into a table vegetable such as a tastey turnip substitute in prepared foods such as soups. The roots can be dried and ground into flower or used as a stew extender. As a sugar substitute, roast the roots in an oven at low heat and extract the sugary syrup. It has a slightly bitter taste and is caramelized in color. This syrup can be used as a sugar substitute. The roots can be peeled and boiled then pickled in brine or soaked in sweetened cinnamon sugar syrup for a tasty sweetmeat. This is a traditional and tasty side dish in Armenia.

The peeled stems have long been considered to be wilderness thirst quenchers. The peeled stems are a nice treat to the knowledgeable woodsman, hikers and survivalist. The stems are juicy with a sweet taste and work well as a satisfying thirst quencher. Even the flowerless young stems are edible. Peel off their sharp prickly spines along with the hard outer rind filled with fibers and eat raw like celery. They can also be used as a potherb or made into a candied treat or pickled. The basal and stem leaves can be despined and eaten raw in salads or cooked as a vegetable. A hot tea can be made from the leaves. Eating the raw leaves is an acquired taste. Use only the young leaves, as the mature leaves are unpalatable. A hot tea can be made from old and withered leaves as a wilderness medicine such as an emetic (a vomit producing agent) to treat mild cases of food poisoning. The list of uses for thistle is quite impressive. The list is far greater than the limited room I have in this newsletter to write about. As a survival food, its uses are indeed impressive, and as a medicine the list is equally impressive. So the next time you come across the lowly thistle plant, consider it your friend instead of the noxious enemy many have always considered it to be. The thistle plant has far to many good qualities to be considered a lowly weed.


Cattail, a most unlikely food source, or so it would seem. Actually there are four species of the American cattail, all of which are edible. Early settlers and Native Americans all used the cattail plant year-round as a source of food and fiber. Cattails are easily recognized by their tall and stiff flower stalks, which arise in clusters with long sword, shaped and pointed leaves. The flowers at the top of these stalks have the appearance of two sausage like sections. The pollen-bearing male flowers above, and the seed producing female flowers below. Cattails grow in the shallows of lakes, ponds, rivers and estuaries throughout the country.

The humble cattail has many delicious edible parts. Unlike many other plants the cattail does not have an acquired taste. The cattail is a storehouse of food no matter what time of the year you choose to use it. In fall and winter the mature flower head can be used as excellent insulation when used in clothing. It also works well as tinder for fire starting.

In early spring cut the young (18”) sprouts close to the rhizome. These may be peeled and eaten raw or slice and boil like green beans. The taste resembles cucumbers and the texture similar to carrots. In early summer cut the young flower heads just as they are beginning to turn from green to yellow. Remove the husk and boil, eat them, as you would corn on the cob. From mid fall to mid spring use the starchy rhizomes (the underground stems connecting plants). These make a great potato substitute or can be dried and ground into flower. To harvest, dig between plants with a digging stick and break off section of rhizome. Save the tiny green sprouts known as Russian asparagus. Boil in salted water. Peel away the rhizomes spongy outer husk and use only the white pithy inner core.

Cattail leaves are not edible but can be dried bundled then used as a cooking fuel. The leaves can be used year-round for weaving mats or baskets.


I am not to confident in the fact that anyone knows where the first snowshoes were developed. I have heard many opinions as to their origin. But none of that speculation really matters. The design of the snowshoe is pretty much the same today as it was countless years ago. The major difference is in their size and the materials used. Early snowshoes were very large in comparison to the models of today. Many of the older types would often reach seven feet in length. These shoes were designed for large open spaces and fast travel. these were called,Alaska’s, Yukon’s, and Pickerels. These shoes were quite long and not very maneuverable in wooded areas. Today’s snowshoes are made mostly with very high tech plastics, aluminum and composite materials. The overall length has shrunk considerably. These new models are very lightweight and offer tremendous strength. The sole purpose of a snow is to offer floatation on snow. All snowshoes will sink somewhat into the snow. The depth of this penetration will be determined by the snows texture, the overall size of the shoes and the total weight the shoe must support.

The above photos show three different types of snowshoes. The far left is the more traditional wood and rawhide lace. These shoes are considered by many to be the best and the most attractive. Middle photo shows a pair of U.S.military magnesium framed snowshoes. These snowshoes have plastic coated stainless steel cable for lacing. I like these shoes. The far right are aluminum tube frames with synthetic decks. These snowshoes are very lightweight and offer great strength and floatation. This is pretty much the current trend and style being manufactured today. Many different manufactures offer similar models. Prices vary according to bindings, materials and size.

This set of shoes are constructed with a solid deck being molded around aluminum tubing. This type of shoe is a little heavier but extremely strong. They also come in varying sizes. This type of shoe is also becoming more popular each year. s. This set happens to be a little shorter than the top right pair. Never wear a shoe that is larger than what is needed. Always keeping in mind that a backpack or any equipment other than yourself will require a larger shoe. On the far right are the small Swiss army snowshoes. These work well with limited weight and on hard packed snow. And they are very cost effective, generally under twenty dollars a pair. snowshoes are worthless unless they can be fastened firmly to the foot. It seems every manufacture claims to have the best bindings. I have used many different bindings, The all seem to work pretty well. The new synthetic bindings are easily fastened even while wearing gloves or mittens. A note on wooden and rawhide snowshoes is in order. When winter ends and it is time to retire your snowshoes until the next year. Consider giving the a thorough cleaning and coat them with 2 layers of shellac or clear varnish. I have used the new polyurethane coating with success.

There are many good books on the market that offer substantial information concerning this winter sport. Read a few. They all offer good tips. If you have never walked on snowshoes then by all means try the sport. It is very hard work, but the rewards of going into places no other can with them is a lot of fun. The winter sights are awesome. Try it, you may just love it.

Making A Spoon

Eating utensils can be easily made even in the wilderness. The common spoon is by far one the most practical and useful choices of utensils to make. And soups are much easier to eat with a spoon, Soup dishes are not only easily prepared, they are nutritious as well. In the wilderness, a spoon may be made by using a knife and dry wood. The center is easily burned out to a rough shape using the hot rock method. Heat rocks in a bed of coals,Then using a forked stick or two small green sticks set hot rock on wood to burn to shape. Bowls can also be made in similar fashion. Once a general shape is formed only time and effort are required to finish the bowl or spoon. Scraping and shaping is easily accomplished with a knifes edge or sharp rock. A smooth finish is easily obtainable using sand or finely crushed rock dust. use the dust as you wood sandpaper. The finish product will not only be a beneficial item, but it will aid in helping to relax the mind and will keep a persons thoughts focused.

These spoons are not only easily made but will last many years. Not to mention a possible souvenir. And perhaps a reminder of an experience that not many people have. Try to build this spoon, I believe you will find it enjoyable and very gratifying.

Sleeping bags

A sleeping bag is our personal micro shelter. It has the ability to provide wind protection and offer a snug warm bed and a good night’s rest–that is of course, depending on whether you are using the correct bag for the temperatures your are in. Keep in mind, a sleeping bag does not act as a heater, it simply has the ability to trap and retain the heat radiated by our bodies. Many factors will determine the appropriate bag for individual use. Obviously the type and amount of insulation material is a primary concern when choosing a bag. The type of insulation used will determine its climate use. It’s ability to dry rapidly and compresses easily are factors that must be considered. Down has been considered the ultimate insulation of choice by mountaineers for years. Mountaineers can use down because the areas they operate in are dry. Cold yet very dry.

Many backpackers also prefer down. It has the ability to loft quickly and maintain its loft for many years. It is lightweight and will compress into a very small bundle for carrying. The single most negative quality of down is its ability to absorb moisture. Once wet or moist it can take a very long time to dry again. Bottom line is, wet down has zero insulation properties. I have used down for many years. I love it. I have never encountered a problem with a damp sleeping bag. Several companies are making the outer shell material from waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabrics. If this is an option when purchasing a sleeping bag, then by all means do so. Cheap sleeping bags will not get the job done. You may encounter a situation where staying in a bag for an extended period of time may be necessary. Never cut corners when purchasing a bag. A good quality down filled bag will last many years. There are currently many synthetic filled sleeping bags on the market. These modern synthetic bags are reasonably price and offer a long list of excellent qualities.

The biggest drawbacks are their weight and lack of compressibility when carrying on a backpack. On the positive side, they are moisture resistant and may be purchased with same shell fabrics as expensive down sleeping bags. When purchasing a sleeping bag choose a darker color for the outer shell. It has the ability to absorb the sun’s solar energy and will aid in quicker drying times. Always purchase a sleeping bag with a good hood, draft tubes and shoulder collar. The hood will be greatly appreciated when air temperatures plummet. Draft tubes run the internal length of the sleeping bag alongside the zipper. Their purpose is to prevent heat loss thru zipper and prevent drafts from penetrating bag. The shoulder collar or muff is designed to cinch around neck and prevent heat loss thru top of bag. This is a big positive when outside temps is low. All sleeping bags are not created equal.

Unfortunately there is not a usable scale to compare one brand to another. ALWAYS use a sleeping pad under a bag. The cold ground will strip your heat quickly. Avoid air mattress use in cold environments. Air mattresses do not offer adequate insulation from ground. Each time you move the air in mattress moves redistributing cold air internally. I prefer the self-inflating foam core sleeping pads. They offer comfort and tremendous insulation. Buy one. Also offered is the dense closed cell foam sleeping pads. These are excellent. They do not offer the comfort of a self inflating foam core pad, but are much lighter and considerably less expensive. If you choose to purchase, or already own a sleeping bag that does not have a water repellant shell, consider purchasing a cover. Some are reasonably priced while others are designed for extremely harsh conditions and are priced accordingly. Above all, remember the heat our bodies create is dependent on a fuel source; food is our fuel source. Stay fed and hydrated and your furnace will continue to put out heat. Any questions you may have about sleeping bags, I will happily answer for you. Just email me with your question and I will promptly reply. Check out the list of web sites below if you are in the market for a new sleeping bag. This list is made up of what I consider to be the best there is in sleeping bags. List is in alphabetical order.

Survival knives

It seems that when we hear the words survival knife. We conjure up mental images of huge razor sharp Bowie knives. These mental images may even include large fierce looking saw teeth on top edge of knife blade. While larger knives will always require less time and energy to perform most survival related tasks, they are by no means the only style of knife to use. Many knives that are considerably smaller may accomplish a wide variety of survival related tasks. It is therefore a mistake not to include a good pocket knife in your survival equipment. Small tasks, such as cleaning fish or game are accomplished easily with a small sharp pocket knife. Try peeling an apple with a ten inch Bowie knife, and you will soon understand what I am saying here.

The Large Bowie style knives shown in above photographs are handmade and extremely strong. These large knives will make many hard to do tasks much easier. I personally feel that any knife that is to be used in a survival role should have a blade length of 6 inches minimum and a maximum blade length of close to ten inches. I realize there are many excellent knives on the market with blades in excess of ten inches. If such a knife interests you, then by al means purchase it. When considering the purchase of a knife, try to stay with models that have full tags. A full tang knife is simply constructed as one piece of steel from tip of blade to end of handle butt. This knife will normally have handle slabs bolted or riveted to the tang. This type of knife is very strong. Hollow handle knives are not my cup of tea. This type of knife was very popular a few years back, when many believed you could carry enough supplies in the handle to keep one alive in the wilderness indefinitely. For the most part hollow handle knives lack the strength to handle prolonged abuse. There are exceptions to this rule of course. I know of at least one manufacture that creates his knives from a solid single piece of steel. These knives are a work of art. I suspect I will get a bushel of email telling me how wrong I am on this subject.

Another consideration should be saw blade teeth found on many survival knives. While these teeth appear as though they are capable of cutting anything into two pieces, most simply do not work well. They knife industry is saturated with this type of knife. I have found the small Swiss army knives to have excellent saws, including an assortment of other useful tools. These small saws actually do work, very well in fact. They are perfect for building snares and a wide variety of other survival requirements and tasks. When purchasing a new knife, your decision may quickly become clouded and very confusing. Especially with the wide selection of steels that are available today. Many of us have heard stories concerning the difficulty in sharpening a knife made of stainless steel. I find that this notion is total nonsense and not a problem anymore. The new breed of diamond sharpeners will do a superb job of restoring a knife to razor edge sharpness, plus they are very durable and will last many years. Ceramic knife sharpeners are also an excellent choice. These ceramic sharpeners will last a lifetime and work very well. When the pores become clogged with metal, they are easily cleaned with scouring powder and running water. I own many knives made with various types of steels. I find each of them performs very well. whether the blade is made of some exotic combination of steel or plain old carbon steel, they all perform the same function, they simply cut.

One of my favorite knives is manufactured by a company that offers a video demonstrating the effectiveness of their product line. I own one of their large knives, and it not only cuts well but edge retention is simply amazing. I like this knife very much. There are many other companies that offer outstanding and high quality knives at very reasonable prices. I feel there is no reason in this day and age to not own a superior quality knife. Many custom made knives are very good, although the prices for hand crafted knives may seem a little high for some wallets. You must keep in mind these are hand crafted and require considerable effort and skill to make. These knives shown in accompanying photographs are all handmade. These knives have been hand forged using a coal fire forge, anvil and hammer. Plus many hours of sweat and hard work. These knives may or may not be better than many manufactured by large companies. One of the benefits of owning a handmade custom knife is pretty simple. It will be the only one of its kind in the world. They may be similar knives but each will be different. Regardless of which type of knife you choose to own, always purchase the best you can for the amount of funds you are able to spend. Above all, try to avoid tricky or gimmick knives and included items. Always avoid any knives that are questionable. If even slightly in doubt, avoid purchasing the knife.

I recommend taping a pouch to the sheath. This small pouch when taped to the sheath will allow you to carry a considerable amount of survival related equipment. Far more in fact then could ever be carried in a hollow handle. I recommend avoiding double edged knives as survival tools. Double edged knives make far better weapons than tools. Plus the likelihood of an accident is greatly reduced. Many knives come with a false top edge. Which is merely an unsharpened top edge. This reduces weight, enhances cosmetics and may be easily sharpened if so desired.

Handle design and material are critical. The design of the handle must be comfortable enough to be used on a long term basis without creating blisters. I feel that knives with round handles tend to roll in the hand when using them for heavy chopping, such as shelter building. Even though the knife may be of top quality, they can still be a problem. The old style coffin handles are very comfortable. They do not roll in the hand and they do not slip. Many come with synthetic handles and are resistant to numerous chemicals, plus they will not slip even when wet. Above all never select a knife because a friend has one like it, or it is just plain “cool” to look at. If I were to do such a thing, I would own hundreds of cool looking knives. Consider the knife a tool foremost and keep it sharp, clean and well oiled. If you do these things, the knife will last you many years. Who knows it may even save your life one day.


Pemmican is a combination of ingredients that offer a very good and long lasting food source. There are many recipes for pemmican, but the original, and still the best, was used by Native Americans for generations. To make real pemmican you need to start with very dry jerky, rendered fat, and dried blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. First step is to render the fat; this is very easy to do. Cut fat into small pieces and heat in a skillet until juice is released from the fat. Discard the chunks. Pour the rendered fat juice into glass jar and let cool for later use. Second step is to use beef or deer jerky, or any lean meat such as elk, moose, bear etc. The meat should be very dry. Begin by cutting the dry jerky into small pieces and pound until thoroughly pulverized. Next put pulverized jerky into a bowl. Now mix in the rendered fat using even proportions of jerky with the rendered fat juice. Be sure to mix thoroughly. This mixture should have the consistency of sausage. If not, add dried jerky until the mixture takes on the feel that you would like. Now you can add dried berries at this point if so desired. Be sure to mix berries in well, always making sure to maintain sausage consistency. After taking on the texture that you prefer, roll into small balls about the size of large marbles. This is a high level and nutritious food. The Native Americans would use Pemmican as a long lasting and nutritious staple on long hunting trips and war parties. Be sure to store in plastic baggies and freeze until needed.

A modern day version of an old recipe that some may find a little more palatable:

5 oz. dried, crushed beef
1 1/2 cups of raisins
1 3/4 cups of chopped nuts, peanuts, cashews, or nuts of your choice
1 cup of dried fruits–apples, peaches, dates, apricots, or whatever you want
2 1/2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Put dried, crushed beef in mixing bowl. Add raisin, nuts, and fruits. Mix well. In sauce pan, slowly heat honey and peanut butter until the melt together. Stir. Mix with dry ingredients in the bowl. Roll into balls. Put into baggie.

Bushcraft Knives – Buying the Best

If you intend to truly experience the nature of a genuine hunt, to track animals through the wilderness for days and experience the thrill of adrenaline as your hunt comes to a climax, you need to go prepared. Being prepared means having the right kit. If you are going to be hacking through the undergrowth, building your own fires, killing, skinning and cooking your own food, you need a tool that is up to the job.

Bushcraft knives and multitools are a hunter’s best friend. A bushcraft knife needs to be able to do a multitude of things. You can use it to get past otherwise un-passable obstacles, gut a fish, make a shelter and, if you were to find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to, you can use it to defend yourself. With this in mind, you want a tool that is sturdy, hardwearing and most of all, reliable. This is not the time to go cheap and save a few pennies.

The best bushcraft knives are somewhere between 3.5 and 6 inches long. Any shorter and it’s useless, longer and you are looking at risking blade breakages and injuring yourself if you use it for smaller more delicate job. It’s all about the balance. Whilst most jobs can be done with a decent knife, the variety of multitools on the market today mean you can have a miniature saw, a pair of pliers, a can opener (let’s face it – berries, nuts and small dead animals are not for everyone) and a whole host of other useful tools at your finger tips. Of course, the multitool is not for the purist bushcrafter but it has a time and a place in the hunting world. Whatever tool you choose to go for, make sure it is high quality, that it covers your needs and that you keep it sharp, safe and close to hand!