Sunday, December 31, 2017

Driving a Stake in the Heart of 2017!




The complete rig, two Taylors 1872 Open Tops on 1860 Army gripframes, in .44 Russian, completely overhauled by Jeff Ault at Munden's Six-Gun Magic and Will Ghormley's"Flames of Hell" holsters from 3:10 TO YUMA. To say the actions are now "good" is a vast understatement…they are some of the best single action triggers I have ever felt, period. In fact, the trigger is as good as the action/trigger on Wild Bill's 1860 Richard Mason Conversion 1860 Army .44 that I handled at the Adams Museum in Deadwood a few years back.

I thought this was a good image to end the year on. 2017 was not a vintage year. It was a year of business successes and some notable personal losses. That is, I suppose, life.

If you've listened to DOWN RANGE Radio over the years, you know that I'm loathe to do New Year's Resolutions, and I don't think I'll be changing that for 2018. I'm usually spectacularly depressed on December 31, then irrationally exuberant on January 1. A whole new slate! A blank chalkboard! I new piece of paper I haven't doodled all over! A fresh roll of toilet paper…or something like that.

I have big plans for 2018, including the significant expansion of SGO, SHOOTING GALLERY ONLINE (Marshal and I have some surprises in store for you!); the launch of John Carter, Max Prasac and my handgun hunting series; the best season of THE BEST DEFENSE ever…Producer Jeff Murray and I have been cooking up some spectacular "big box" ideas.

Of course, SHOOTING GALLERY will begin filming for Season 19 – imagine that! John Carter and I are already doing some preliminary planning. Competition-wise we're looking at going heavy on the Aguila Cup clays/3-Gun and RIMFIRE CHALLENGE match in Texas, with Jeff Cramblit as one of our crash test dummies. We're also reaching out to the organizers of the big Second Chance bowling pin match in June, headed up by no less than Richard Davis…we've never covered a bowling pin match on SG, even though you can argue that pin shooting was in many ways the true precursor of the practical shooting sports. Watch for our 10mm special and a couple of foreign trips…hopefully, I can take you inside the spectacular Wallace Collection in London, which I visited 2 weeks ago.

I'm going to be continuing along the big bore handgun path on SG. We're also looking at some of the challenges of long-range handgun shooting. Lots of other cool stuff.

Personally, I'm shifting directions a little and getting back to cowboy action shooting. 3-Gun has really died off in Colorado…there doesn't seem to be nearly as many matches as there were a couple of years ago. I know some of the local match directors, and the complexity of 3-Gun matches has just burned them up.

After a couple of years of focusing on my rifle shooting, I'm looking at more of a focus on revolvers, boomers for hunting and DAs for competition. A lot of my personal projects you'll see on SGO.

Richard Mann and I, the Abbott and Costello of the hunting community, will be heading back to Africa in June for Cape Buffalo with 45/70 Marlin Guide Guns, guided by our great friend Geoffrey Wayland at Ft. Richmond Safaris. There's a couple of slots left on that trip if you'd like to join us. Trust me, it will be the experience of a lifetime. I'm scheduled to spend a week at GUNSITE in the spring working with my GP-100. I suspect I'll go back in May and tune up on the African hunting simulation course. As I think I may have mentioned, the guys at Wild West Guns in Vegas are building me a "training rifle," a Marlin 44 Magnum set up like the 45/70 Guide Gun, which uses Wild West parts. I've always got lots of .44 Magnum/Special around the Secret Hidden Bunker and I'm always set up to reload it. Give me a chance to try out some optics options for the Africa trip…again, as I think I mentioned, I'm leaning toward either a tube Aimpoint or the new low magnification Nightforce 1-8X illuminated. With my ass on the line, my inclination is to go with something I trust implicitly.

I have several custom guns in the pipeline in addition to the Wild West Marlin. Hamilton Bowen has a 10mm Ruger Blackhawk withe the spare 40 S& W cylinder. The main cylinder is being rebored to 10mm Magnum, a pretty interesting cartridge, with the other cylinder being cut for 38-40, one of my long-time favorite cartridges. J.D. Jones at SSK Industries is putting a T'SOB scope base on my Ruger Bisley .454…I just didn't like the other options for scope mounts, especially against a heavy recoiling .454. I've used the T'SOB base, and it is bullet-proof. I suspect my old .500 Magnum S&W will end up going to him as well.I have an FN .308 with Short Action Customs being turned into a 6mm Creedmoor.

Despite the repeated encouragements from my pal John Snow at OUTDOOR LIFE, I do not have a 22 Nosler in the works! OTOH, I've reached out to JP at JP Rifles about a .224 Valkyrie, as I have a 6.8 SPC that has been sort of sidetracked. We got it years ago for a specific show, and because the show got delayed we ended up buying the thing. 

I just picked up the full-house Wilson Combat Glock 19, which you'll be seeing pretty soon on SGO. It is a VERY NICE GUN!

Of course you'll see a lot about RIMFIRE CHALLENGE for all the obvious reasons.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

DS#1: The Resurrected Vampire!

DROPPED SHOT

A WEE BIT OF BACKGROUND

Definition of DROPPED SHOT: In the practical shooting sports, a shot that fails to hit the target; a miss.

Sometime in mid-1985 I first wrote those words for the first time, for the newly minted FRONT SIGHT Magazine, the journal of the United States Practical Shooting Association. I was the founding editor, and DROPPED SHOT was my back page column. If you’re willing to wade deep enough into the bowels of the Internet, you can find a picture of my competition rig for that year…it’s the cover of the November/December 1985 FRONT SIGHT. It’s a Wilson Combat, and I still have it.

Over the years, DROPPED SHOT has drifted around from publication to publication and finally to the Internet, as soon as Marshal Halloway invented the concept of a “social media” site for gun owners and shooters somewhere around 1991.

I bring this up because I suppose DROPPED SHOT has a life of its own now, and, like my original Vampire Gun™, has come back to life! How's that for a segue!


This is for an upcoming SHOOTING GALLERY ONLINE (SOG)...it's my original "Vampire Gun," built by Tactical Solutions way before we started the RIMFIRE CHALLENGE.

It was a Ruger 22/45 back before Ruger offered them with replaceable 1911-style grip panels. The top end was one of TacSol's early 6-inch Pac-Lite barrels. Interestingly enough, the barrel wasn't threaded, because the suppressor "revolution" hadn't started yet.


I shot the gun a LOT (and you've seen it on multiple episodes of SHOOTING GALLERY over the last decade or so), bust as I've built up, or, more correctly, had built up, .22 rimfire pistols, the Vampire Gun got relegated to the back of the gun safe.

I was talking to my good friend Colt Lasco, who's one of the gunsmith geniuses at TacSol, and I mentioned that I still had Vampire #1. Colt said, "Hey, why don't we take the old gun and bring it up to speed?"


Seemed like a good idea! So, this is Vampire #1 brought up to speed...the barrel is now a threaded version. The TacSol brake on the end of that barrel looks cool and makes noise; it may even actually step a little recoil, but who knows with the tiny .22LR. It's funny that when I'm at home, I want the gun quiet; when I go to a match, I want the gun loud, for the time. At a recent rimfire match where I was shooting my Ruger Mark IV, which does not have a threaded barrel, and Gemtech .22 subsonic (which do run that gun), I had to timing strings of 30 seconds each, max time, as opposed to the sub 3-second runs I thought I had had. Quiet not good, LOL!


Vampire #1 now sports an Outer Impact red dot mount, which brings the old — and excellent —  Insight MRDS down a wee bit closer to the bore line than the Primary Arms dot on Vampire #2, the TacSol I built on a Ruger MkIII that has been my go-to RIMFIRE CHALLENGE match gun for several years.  The Insight MRDS is still available, and I believe is the same unit as the Eotech MRDS.




The biggest change to Vampire #1 was replacing the polymer Ruger frame with an aluminum frame and match trigger from Volquartsen. These are excellent,, and I love the way the frame now sits in my hand. The new gun weights in at 1.78 pounds, vs. 2.01 pounds for my Mark III/TacSol competition  gun and 2.95 for my all-steel Mark IV...that weight includes sights and mounts, but not magazines, BTE.


The grips are from Hogue. One thing left to add is a Teandemkross Halo charging ring like I have on my Mark IV. I've used a bunch of different charging handles over the years, and the Halo is the only one that stays put.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

What Could Be More Fun...

..than cleaning your .22 silencer! Still, had to be done. I had to soak it apart with Ballistol, which worked super-deluxe.

The big Colorado state championships for the NSSF Rimfire Challenge is coming up, and my Sweetie and I are shooting it. Are we ready? HA!  My plate runs yesterday constitute the sum total of my match practice. Hopefully I can spin this up just a bit this coming week. I'm planning on using the Zebra Gun™ and my Ruger/Tac-Sol MkIII. The MkIV just isn't ready yet. Since any optic put you in Open Class, I'm running optics on both the rifle and the pistol — Vortex on the Zebra Gun™; Primary Arms on the Tac-Sol. I'll clean them both next week, then run some rounds through them and make sure everything is copacetic.

My friend John Farnam has an excellent article in his Quips, reprinted on Ammoland.Com. It's main point bears repeating here:
I think the nature of, or reason for, a particular threat may be interesting from a political or historical standpoint, but that is all secondary. Personal awareness, and acknowledgment that there may be a significant threat to you personally 
1) At any time2) In any place3) In any form4) From any direction5) Under any circumstances6) For any reason, or7) For no reason at all 
is what is most important, probably the only thing that really is important!
Indeed!.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Yet Another Saturday!


Yes, back in the saddle again!

Not saying that we had a big ole time at the Mill Creek Shooting Resort last week, but I realized we shot up pretty much all my 6.5 Creedmoor match ammo (Hornady 140-gr ELD-Match). This is indeed a spectacular facility, located in what I think is the most beautiful part of America, southern Colorado. The accommodations are super, the meals delicious and the shooting beyond spectacular.

We did most of our filming on top of a mesa with ranges from 400 - 1300 yards. The SG episode will focus on training from Sean Murphy at Nightforce and featuring co-hosts Iain Harrison and Di Muller. Thanks to Sean, I did get to push my personal best out to 1300 yards. The combination of the MPA rifle, the 7-35X Nightforce and the Hornady ELD ammo got the job done.

Iain is heading out for a bear hunt next week, and that got me thinking a bit about hunting. We're sort of  on opposite ends of the spectrum  he's the classic "adventure hunter," and he's amazingly good at it. I suspect those expedition days are behind me now, but you never know. I'm more of a "travelogue hunter," focusing on places I've never been. I probably need to think about this more. I will say pretty much the only red meat I eat is game meat. Beef is just not the same anymore.

Since I was in Africa this year, I don't have huge plans for the fall. I would like to get down to FTW or one of the big Texas ranches to break in my new Montana Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor, probably on whitetail, but maybe an exotic like axis or fallow deer.

My Sweetie's out at a 3-Gun match, but I was just a spec burned up from last week's filming schedule. I'm probably going to sped a couple of hours on the range today doing .22 work. I need to sight in my Sweetie's .22 AR that she wants to shoot in NSSF Rimfire Challenge. I was finally able to gather up enough CCI Tactical, the ammo the gun was built around, to get through a few matches. She asked me to put a low power scope on it, not because she might need it in Rimfire Challenge, but because she wants the .22 to mirror her Stag 3-Gun rifle. I gave her my workhorse Leupold 1.5-4X Firedot. I've used that scope for years in both competition and hunting…I think that at less than $400 MSRP,  it's one of the great screaming buys in optics.

I also want to start working with my ancient S&W M41 topped with an UltraDot 30mm.


Grips, which I plan to grind the hell out of, especially around the magazine release button, are Hogue.

Ridiculously good day for new gum releases. As choirs of angels sing, I'm waiting for my Glock 19 Gen 5. I couldn't make the super-secret Glock media event in early August, which coincided with the InterMedia Editor's Roundtable on new products, so I don't have any hands-on yet. I'm willing to bet ti shoots amazingly like a Glock. I'm glad to see the finger grooves gone, but I am apparently one of 3 people in The Entire Universe whose hands fit the finger grooves on the last few generations of Glocks. Also interesting to see Glock abandon polygonal rifling after years of defending it. It'll cut into the aftermarket barrel market, to be sure.

I think it's also very cool that Auto Ordnance has rolled out a 9mm Thompson.


C'mon, admit it! This would be totally cool to use in a USPSA PCC competition. Or add a 1911 .22 (or a conversion unit), and you will be the coolest kid at the NSSF Rimfire Challenge match. I say this as the last — indeed, only! — national champion in the "manually operated" class for Rimfire Challenge. Maybe they can add a retro class, and I could compete with guys running the .22 StG-44 we filmed with this year for GUN STORIES WITH JOE MANTEGNA and a classic Stoeger .22 Luger. American Tactical Imports also has a .22 AK, but I'm pretty much at a loss for the appropriate pistol…there is a Makarov .22 conversion unit, but I've never seen one in the wild. Of course, somebody would show up with a CZ-75 Kadet, and the arms race would be on!
Finally, I've now started putting rounds through the SCCY CPX-3 .380. The ones I've shot have a really smooth trigger and are exceptionally accurate. I've talked about the larger format .380s before, both when the Ruger LC380 and the Glock 43 came out. The mini-9mms do bark, and I believe they are more appropriate in the hands of experienced shooters. OTOH, the pocket .380s like the LCP2 or Kahrs can be hard to shoot well once the distance gets beyond arms-length. The larger-framed modern .380s are, to me, viable self defense tools, given modern ammunition. They're holster guns, of course...I have been able to cram a Ruger LC9 into a cargo pants pocket, but it looked like I was carrying a concealed encyclopedia.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday


Dinner came out well. I did a chili rub on the salmon — 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder, 1 tablespoon New Mexico red, 1 tablespoon cumin and cooked it on a hot grill for right about 4 minutes. Served it with Cuban black beans with kale…kinda a weird mix, but it worked…the garlic, ginger, onions and spices definitely helped!

I think I'm going to keep the Remington Tac-14 not-a-shotgun. I've patterned it with the buckshot I've got here, but there;s still some I'd like to try. I think I have a good sense of how to integrate it into my self-defense plans here at the Secret Hidden Bunker, thanks to Gabe Suarez. I also really like it as a bedside companion for when things go pump in the night. I'm planning on outfitting it like Gabe's Stakeout 870, eventually with a red dot.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Independence Day 2017



"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
— Ronald Reagan

"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."
— Robert Heinlein

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
— Abraham Lincoln

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."
— George Orwell, 1984

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Still Trying to Catch Up with Me


"Life is either a great adventure, or nothing."
Helen Keller

It has been a dead run since I got back from Africa Monday night…I'm still waking up at 3AM trying to figure out where I am. I so love jet lag!

Spent today in conference calls and putting the acoustic tile up on the ceiling of the studio…still not acoustically sound, but boy, it's getting better. A lot of what I'm going to be doing for the next year is Internet-based, and I do really need the studio (which is why I took the chance on building my own studio). I'm moving toward doing live Internet events from the studio and my range…my Internet supplier gave me a breath-taking quote on jacking up my upload speed. At the point we start looking at live event, I'll suck it up and pay the price.


I have to say that I do indeed love Africa. I get that it's not the place Robert Ruark or Ernest Hemingway wrote about…hell, it's not even the place Thomas McIntyre and Craig Boddington wrote about. It is Africa in twilight, but it is the Africa I have, and a part of me counts down the days until I can go back.


I suppose much of it boils down to the shared mythology that so many of us of a certain culture and a certain age share. At least on my part, it's a restlessness, and impossible-to-resist urge to see over one more hill. Merle Haggard called it White Line Fever…"the years keep flyin' by like the highline poles…"


This was a special trip because I shared it with so many old and new friends. Richard Mann is a genius for putting this together; his son, Bat, is an incredible young man. The goal of the Wayland family, who have owned the land Ft. Richmond Safaris sits on since the 1860s, is to make their clients feel like a part of their family, and in this they succeeded spectacularly. Thanks, guys.


I hope we're able to deliver a show that captures the things we were feeling. This will be a 2-episode special for SHOOTING GALLERY in 2018, and we have a tentative approval for a 90-minute Internet/MOTV special. I've looked at the footage John Carter and Brook Aiken captured (note the "drones over Africa" above), and it is nothing less than amazing. Can't wait for you guys to see!


The plans for the next trip are percolating just below the surface. In the meanwhile, I've got to take my rifle apart and get the rest dust of Africa out of every nook and cranny. I'll leave you with one more thought, this one from Robert Ruark...

"If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them."