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June 29th, 2021

Varmint Safari Notebook — Tips for a Summer P-Dog Adventure

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

Varmint Safari Planning, Equipment, and Shooting Advice

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunscreen [and a wide-brimmed hat] will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

Savage LR Precision Varminter
This photo is from a Dan Eigen TV Show video featuring a P-Dog hunt.

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].”

Bring Multiple Rifles on Your Varmint Adventures

On our P-Dog adventures, we like to have multiple rifles — a .17 HMR for close work, then maybe a .20 Practical AR for 150-250 yards, then a larger caliber such as 6BRA, 6 Dasher or 6XC for those long shots. The classic 22-250 is also a wickedly effective varmint cartridge.

Prairie dog adventure varmint hunting

.20 Practical (20-223 Rem) AR-Platform Varminter
Here is a .20 Practical built by Robert Whitley. Whitley’s Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in 20 Practical, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman.

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

This .20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 Rem brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

.17 HMR Savage A17 Varmint Rifle
We also like to have a Rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. The .17 HMR or .17 WSM are good choices. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life.

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

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June 29th, 2021

Protect Your Expensive Optics with ScopeCoat “Flak Jackets”

scopecoat scope optics protector cover neoprene padded

ScopeCoat Scope ProtectorWith the price of premium scopes approaching $3400.00 (and beyond), it’s more important than ever to provide extra protection for your expensive optics. ScopeCoat produces covers that shield scopes with a layer of neoprene rubber (wetsuit material) sandwiched between nylon. In addition to its basic covers, sold in a variety of sizes and colors, ScopeCoat has a line of heavy-duty 6mm-thick XP-6 covers that provide added security. CLICK HERE to review the full line of ScopeCoats on Amazon.

Triple-Thickness XP-6 Model for Added Protection
The XP-6 Flak Jacket™ is specifically designed for extra protection and durability. The 6mm-thick layer of neoprene is three times thicker than the standard ScopeCoat. XP-6 Flak Jackets are designed for tall turrets, with sizes that accommodate either two or three adjustment knobs (for both side-focus and front-focus parallax models). To shield an expensive NightForce, March, or Schmidt & Bender scope, this a good choice. XP-6 covers come in black color only, and are available for both rifle-scopes and spotting scopes.

ScopeCoat Scope ProtectorThe heavily padded XP-6 Flak Jacket is also offered in a Zippered version, shown at right. This is designed for removable optics that need protection when in storage. The full-length, zippered closure goes on quick-and-easy and provides more complete protection against dust, shock, and moisture. MSRP for the XP-6 is $30.00, but you can get them on Amazon for $21-$25.

Special Covers for Binos and Red-Dots
ScopeCoat offers many specialized products, including oversize covers for spotting scopes, protective “Bino-Bibs” for binoculars, rangefinder covers, even sleeves for small pistol scopes and red-dot optics. There are also custom-designed covers for the popular Eotech and Trijicon tactical optics.

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June 29th, 2021

6mm ARC Cartridge Featured on Shooting USA Tomorrow

6mm ARC brownells bolts cartridge loaded ammunition hornady

Hornady’s 6mm ARC cartridge will be featured on tomorrow’s Shooting USA broadcast. Optimized for the AR-15 platform, the 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) was developed in response to a request from the Department of Defense, according to Hornady Marketing Director, Neil Davies: “The DOD guys wanted a platform built that would give them all of the advantages of the .308 [7.62×51] and try to get rid of some of the disadvantages, [such as the heavier] weight of the entire system. So they went from an AR-10 system to an AR-15 system. But they also wanted to engage targets, not just across the street or inside a room, but maybe across a valley.”

SHOW TIMES: This Shooting USA Episode airs Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific; 8:00 PM Central. If you miss the regular broadcast, you can stream the show at any time on Vimeo for $0.99 per episode.

In June 2020, Hornady introduced the 6mm ARC, a new SAAMI cartridge optimized for AR-platform rifles*. The new 6mm ARC is basically a 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm, with the shoulder moved back around .030″. That pushed-back shoulder does reduce case capacity (and velocity), but we assume Hornady did that to create a shorter, proprietary chamber so people could not simply neck-down Lapua 6.5 Grendel brass, as has been done for years with Robert Whitley’s outstanding 6mm AR wildcat.

CLICK Image for official SAAMI Specifications:
6mm ARC brownells bolts cartridge loaded ammunition hornady

If you are intrigued by the 6mm ARC, you’ll find the products you need at Brownells — uppers, barrels, bolts, and magazines. Brownells also sells Hornady-made 6mm ARC factory-loaded ammo, but most varieties are out-of-stock right now, as is the 6mm ARC brass. More brass and ammo should arrive soon. Midsouth is also taking brass/ammo backorders. For general information, see 6mm ARC Info Page.

What Is the 6mm ARC Cartridge?
6mm ARC brownells bolts cartridge loaded ammunition hornadyThe 6mm ARC cartridge is a new SAAMI-spec cartridge based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked down for 6mm bullets, with the shoulder moved back 0.030. Yes it is designed to run in AR15-platform rifles. You’ll need a new barrel, bolt, and mags. If you already have an AR chambered in 6.5 Grendel, the ONLY thing you need to change is the barrel. Everything else — bolt, magazines, gas system – is compatible with 6mm ARC.

▶ Official SAAMI Cartridge (not wildcat)
▶ Fits standard AR15-platform rifles
▶ Fits Short/Mini action bolt rifles
▶ Efficient short, fat case design
▶ 30-degree case shoulder

For more INFO, see 6mm ARC Info Page.

What Do I Need To Shoot the 6mm ARC?
Faxon and Ballistic Advantage are already producing barrels, with more manufacturers sure to follow. All the other required components are already on the market for 6.5 Grendel rifles. Aero Precision already offers complete 6mm ARC uppers.

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