E. Arthur Brown Co., i.e. EABCO.com, has a neat, affordable conversion kit for the Ruger 10/22. This transforms your plain Jane 10/22 into an M1 Carbine look-alike. EABCO’s 10/22 M1 Tribute Kit includes a two-piece, M1 Replica wood buttstock and handguard with barrel band and front sling swivel. This stock is compatible with original factory sights. Installation on your Ruger 10/22 is an easy, drop-in fit. The conversion kit, less sights, is currently on sale for just $109.00.
Replica Sights for 10/22 M1 Conversion
EABCO also offers two iron sight kits, both of which improve on the Ruger’s factory sights. As shown in the large photo above, the $69.00 TechSights 200 model has a winged NM post sight in the front and a shielded rear peep with circular, AR15-style adjuster. This system provides 7.5″ more sight radius than original factory sights. For $59.00, EABCO offers the even more authentic Replica M1 Carbine Sights. The Replica sight kit features a functional flip-up rear peep sight, on a base that screws into the 10/22′s rear scope mounting holes. The Replica winged-style front sight assembly slips over the front sight barrel band and is secured with a set screw. These sights look and function just like the original M1 sights. They work great for Appleseed events.
The Story Behind the M1 Carbine Ruger 10/22 Tribute, by Eben Brown
One of the most satisfying things about business is the way trying something different can lead to greater opportunities than just the original idea. My friend Andy approached in 2009 with his concept of doing an M1 Carbine styled stock for the Ruger 10/22. Like any 10/22 lover, I thought, “Neat”! But as a businessman, I was thinking, “The 2-piece stock is going to be expensive to make and by the time you add in the sling, oiler, and sights, it could get pretty expensive. Will customers want to buy it?”
Well, I liked the idea enough to pursue it and gave Andy an order for the stocks. I began looking around for sights, sling, and oiler to complete the project. The M1 Carbine Sling and Oiler can be found in a wide variety of conditions and prices. We found some that were brand new WWII war surplus selling at up to $60 to gun collectors — too expensive for this project. After a couple of months we finally found some brand new production M1 Carbine Slings with Oilers that we can sell for only $19.
Next, I found a company called TechSights that has the exact, military style sights that we needed. The TechSights folks revealed their 10/22 retrofit sights are very popular with shooters involved in Project Appleseed. This is a basic rifle marksmanship training program that typically employs the Liberty Training Rifle, a low-cost 22LR concept usually built on a Ruger 10/22. They also shoot centerfire rifles.
Editor’s Note: Project Appleseed is an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to teaching the nation’s heritage as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills. The Appleseed Project has expanded rapidly. It organized over 1,000 shooting events in 2010, including “Adaptive Appleseed” clinics for physically challenged individuals.
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Manners Composite Stocks has released its new MCS-T4 trainer stock for CZ 452 and 455 actions. This should work well for guys who cross-train with a .22LR or who compete in the popular Tactical Rimfire matches now offered by many clubs. The MCS-T4 duplicates the feel, heft, and ergonomics of a full-size tactical stock, making it easy to transition from your centerfire rifle to your smallbore trainer.
Tom Manners reports: “This is the second .22LR trainer stock we have developed. The design goal is the same as the first stock we built for the SakoQuad. This project was started for the guys that wanted a full-size rimfire training rifle that had the same size and feel as their full-size service gun. The goal was to have a gun that had the same balance, feel, and as close to same ergonomics as a full-size Remington 700. That lets you train effectively with inexpensive .22LR ammo.”
Tom added: “We designed the MCS-T4 so the CZ 452/455 bolt handle and trigger are in the same location as your full-size service rifle”. Manners can also deliver the MCS-T4 with an extra-heavy fill to bring the weight of the complete gun up to about 13 lbs — about the same as a centerfire bolt gun with a medium-contour barrel. With the MCS-T4, a shooter can put together an affordable rimfire cross-trainer without having to spend big bucks on a 40X action or 40X clone. The new Manners MCS-T4 CZ Trainer Stock lists for $475.00 plus shipping. For more info, visit MannersStocks.com or call (816) 283-3334.
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German Salazar has posted an informative article about concentricity-checking tools on his Rifleman’s Journal Blog. In that article, German provides a detailed review of the impressive new Bruno Concentricity Checker which features a high-grade dial indicator and an innovative system for holding both loaded cartridges and empty brass in place during the measurement process. German gives the Bruno tool high marks and it is now his favored concentricity gauge, replacing on older Sinclair tool (also reviewed in the article).
German writes: “When measuring a seated bullet, the Bruno [tool] is simple and intuitive in use: adjust the length of the tip holder, set up the indicator to bear on the ogive and get to it. I usually slip a Sinclair hex nut comparator over a bullet to make a faint mark right at the ogive to help me in determining where to set the indicator. I then set the indicator tip about 0.010″ behind the mark so that I am definitely on the bearing surface even if some of the bullets have a bit of variance. It’s a handy way to get set up consistently from one session to another.”
German continues: “Reading an empty case requires a little more effort, but not much…. Once the case mouth is smooth, the readings are in line with those of the Sinclair tool, although easier to read to a fine level of precision due to the finer gradations on the indicator and its horizontal mounting. The Bruno tool has become my principal tool for checking the concentricity resulting from different die setups and for comparing the results of one loading process to another. I simply have more confidence in my ability to get an accurate reading from it. After many years of service, I’ve decided to retire the old Sinclair and make the Bruno tool my primary concentricity tool. It is simply a better made, easier-to-use, more accurate tool and those are the qualities I value in any tool.”
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If you’re looking for a versatile carry revolver, consider the new Smith & Wesson Governor, introduced at the 2011 SHOT Show. The six-shot Governor will chamber three types of ammo: .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt, and .410ga 2.5″ shotshells.
The ability to chamber shotshells makes this piece more useful as a “trail gun” that can put down snakes and other threats that are difficult to hit quickly with a pistol round. If you choose, you can load a mix of shotshells and regular cartridges. The 29.6 oz. Governor has a Scandium frame with blackened stainless cylinder. The basic model ($679.00 MSRP) comes standard with a Tritium dot front sight. There is also a more expensive ($899.00 MSRP) version with a Crimson Trace grip with built-in laser. A button in the grip activates the laser.
This Editor personally likes the shape and feel of the laser grip better than the standard grip. The laser grip (shown in the slideshow below) lets you position your hand up higher on the frame for better control, and it has a smoother profile. The laser obviously offers an advantage in low-light situations. We think, if you can afford the laser version, that’s the smart choice.
Ransom recently introduced the Ransom Rifle Master ‘SL Mega Rest’, a large, modular rest system for FSCA, NBRSA, and IBS shooters and other shooting disciplines that allow a rest system. We persuaded accomplished NBRSA point blank and long range shooter John Crawford to check out this system and share his experiences. This article is Part One of a two-part series.
Ransom’s SL Mega Rest: Part One (First Impressions) by John Crawford
Upon receiving the Ransom SL Mega Rest, the first thing I noticed was how well the rest was packaged. There were two boxes, a large box holding the two base plates and a small box holding all of the small parts for the rest. The large box is double-walled, cardboard construction. It held up well to the rigors of shipping, keeping the two rest halves, each in their own inner box, in perfect shape.
Unpacking the Ransom SL Mega Rest one could not help but notice the weight of each half and their very attractive, black, Rhino coating. [Rhino coating is a heavy, extremely durable and tough, textured polyurethane coating commonly sprayed in the bed area of pickup trucks to protect the bed from damage.] Unpacking the small parts, which were all packaged separately for protection, gave me a good chance to note their excellent fit and finish. The small parts are made of steel and have a black oxide finish, including the ½:20-threaded legs which have nicely knurled knobs and lock rings. The black oxide finish compliments the bases.
The front base and post, used exclusively for elevation adjustment, are well built and have some very nice features. The post, which is 1.25″ in diameter, has a keyway and key in the front to keep it from turning, and the lockdown bolt has a carbide ball in the end to lock the post in place. The mariner’s wheel has a cogged rubber belt on the outside (fits into a groove) and makes adjusting height easy and comfortable without hand slippage. The post assembly can be located, front-to-rear, in one inch increments, to provide a center-of-front-rest-base-to-center-of-rear-rest-base distance of from 24″ to 32″, thus accommodating an 8″ difference in stock length.
The Ransom SL Mega Rest’s elevation rest top is a modular system. The base for the rest top broke tradition and has two bolts, side by side, to hold it to the post, a welcome change from having a single bolt to hold the top on. With two bolts you reduce the stress when putting a heavy rifle on the rest. The front post is mounted to a plate that bolts down to the rest base. The rest base has a series of tapped holes that allows one to adjust the front rest location, front-to-rear, to fit different stock lengths.
The rear rest, used exclusively for windage adjustment, has the rest top holder bolted in place. As a modular system, you can put the elevation rest top bag holder or windage top bag holder in either the front or rear rest as needed. You could also have a few different elevation rest tops or windage tops for different rifles. Both front and rear rests have a bubble level.
The Ransom SL Mega Rest’s windage top and bag holder are also modular. You can put the windage top and bag holder, or just the bag holder, in either the front or rear rest by removing four thumb screws and changing the tops. You can buy different width rest tops and swap them out in a few minutes, a nice feature for different stock length and width configurations. The windage top has a dovetail fit with a center bolt to hold the top in place and has no perceivable side play or movement, nice and tight and the windage adjusts easily.
The forearm stop is well thought out and fully adjustable for height and length to accommodate different front bag heights and stock lengths/positions. It can be adjusted forward about 4″ and, in height, from 1-1/2″ to 3-1/2″. It easily adjusts with two thumb screws.
83 pounds of Steel Solidity
The bridge plate between the front and rear rests is also black Rhino-coated, matching the bases. There are four dowel pins in the bridge plate for alignment and six 5/16-18 bolts that securely hold the bridge plate in place. The rest can be shot with the bridge plate in place, as a one-piece rest system, or the bridge plate can be removed, making it a two-piece rest system.
The rear rest with windage top weighs 38 pounds and the front rest weighs 45 pounds, for a total weight of 83 pounds. This is without sand bags or sand. Overall the all-steel-construction, Ransom SL Mega Rest is well thought out, nicely finished, and made to the standards and quality you would expect from the Ransom Company. The MSRP for the whole unit (everything except sand bags) is $1,330.00. This includes front heavy bag plate, and rear windage-adjustable bag plate. Additional plates (for different sized bags) start at about $90.00. Next step is to fill my sand bags and do some field testing. We’ll cover that in Part Two of this review, later this spring.
Test Arranged by Edlongrange.
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The wizard tool designer who runs 21st Century Shooting has invented a clever yet inexpensive new bench accessory that makes it much easier to turn case-necks. 21st Century’s new Neck Turning Tool Swivel Bracket gives you a “third hand” when using the 21st Century Neck Turning Tool, simplifying the process of neck turning, particularly when using power.
CNC-machined from aluminum billet, 21st Century’s Swivel Bracket mounts right on your bench. You can either attach it semi-permanently with screws or simply clamp it in place. Adjust your neck-turning tool (red unit in photo), at any angle from 0-90°, for best viewing of the cutter operation. With your neck-turning tool attached to the bracket, you have easy access to the arbor adjustment screw, arbor screw clamp, and the bracket rotation clamp screw. Once you’ve adjusted the angle, and locked the neck turner in place with the supplied Allen wrench, you can concentrate on turning the case, either by hand, or with power assist. The neck-turning tool is held securely; however, rubber bushings on the bracket allow the neck-turning tool to “float” just enough to work properly when using power.
This new Neck Turning Tool Swivel Bracket is simple, but very effective. It really does help you turn necks with greater ease and a greater sense of security. Importantly, the bracket lessens hand fatigue. No more “cramped hand syndrome” from struggling to hold the neck-turner steady. We really like this little device, and it only costs $19.95. However, for the time being, the Swivel Bracket ONLY works with the 21st Century Neck Turning Tool — it does NOT work with a Hornady, K&M, Neilson, or Sinclair Neck Turning Tools. For more info, call 260-273-9909 or visit 21stCenturyShooting.com.
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Gear Review: 21st Century Neck Turner by Germán A. Salazar
A new neck-turning tool with easy adjustments, super-high quality of manufacturing and an ergonomic design sounds like a good thing to me. If you also like good tools and like to keep up with developments in the field, read on (most of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them).
I recently received the new Neck-Turning Tool made by John at 21st Century Shooting. I always enjoy seeing John’s work because he really has a good grasp on how a tool should be designed to work effectively and this tool certainly fits that mold. The basic requirements of a good neck turner are: (a) accurate adjustments, (b) good blade design, (c) ergonomic design and (d) a well thought-out system of ancillary items. Let’s look at each of those areas and give the tool a test drive.
Handy Cut-Depth Adjustment Dial
The 21st Century neck turner has a unique dial adjustment for the depth of the cut which makes small adjustments simple and fast. Each full number represents 0.001″ of cutter movement, and the fine lines in between let you zero in on the exact neck wall thickness that you need. The dial is simply turned in until the desired neck thickness is reached. If you go too far, it’s best to turn it out a full turn, then back in once again; this reduces the effect of any backlash that might exist in the threads. I found the dial easy to use and had no trouble getting to my usual thickness setting of 0.0125″.
Excellent Carbide Cutter Blade Design
At its core, a neck turner is a cutting tool and good blade design is what sets any good cutting tool apart from the competition. Here, John really shows his ability as a designer and manufacturer. The blade supplied on my tool is carbide and cuts brass effortlessly, however, that’s not the real point of interest. Many neck turners have blades with less than ideal nose radius and create a “threading” effect on the neck unless the tool is fed over the brass at a very slow rate. The 21st Century blade has a good radius at the transition to the shoulder angle which allows for a smooth cut with a reasonable feed rate.
The shoulder angle is another well thought-out feature as it is a very close match to the actual shoulder angle of the case. This allows you to bring the cutter a bit further into the shoulder without weakening it and definitely avoid the subsequent occurrence of the donut of thick brass at the base of the neck. (When ordering, 21st Century lets you specify one of four (4) different cutter shoulder angles to match your particular cartridge: 20°, 30°, 35°, and 40°.) The photo of the case in the cutter shows the cutter making solid contact with the shoulder after a substantial cut on the neck, yet the shoulder was really just lightly touched. I backed the cutter off a bit from this setting for the final adjustment. If you tend to use heavy bullets which extend below the base of the neck, this feature alone makes John’s tool worthwhile.
Turning necks is tedious, especially if you’re turning a large number of cases as High Power shooters generally do. Accordingly, a design that takes ergonomics into consideration is highly appreciated. Note the slight hourglass shape of the tool, that really lets your hand take a grip that counters the natural tendency of the tool to turn with the rotation of the case, especially when turning with a power case driver. The size of the tool itself also helps; if you’ve used one of the smaller tools on the market, you know just how tired your hand can get from trying to hold on to it after a while! I turned 70 case necks in two sessions with the 21st Century tool and my hand and fingers remained comfortable throughout.
However good the turner may be, it doesn’t work alone. Any neck turner needs a matching expander. The 21st Century expander is a nicely designed unit that allows you to change expander sizes with no tools by simply unscrewing the cap of the die body and dropping in the appropriate expander.
K&M Arbor Adapters Available
I’ve been using a K&M turner for some years now and have accumulated turning arbors (mandrels) in various sizes. John knows that’s the case for many of us, so he makes affordable adapter bushings for his tool that allow the use of K&M turner arbors. That’s a nice feature that will allow me to save the price of a few arbors and expanders. The adapter for K&M arbors costs $12.00.
Although I use a cordless screwdriver to turn the case, I still like to have a manual option for case turning. Sometimes the cordless driver dies with just a few cases left to go in a session and I know that, one day, when I most need it, it’ll just quit altogether. John’s case handle for manual case turning is another well-designed, ergonomic piece that shows his careful, thoughtful approach to tool design. He even makes a version of it for the .50 BMG if your tastes in cartridges run on the large side!
Neck-Turning Tool and Accessory Order Information
Order the Neck Turner and accessories through www.21stCenturyShooting.com, or call (260) 273-9909. The 21st Century neck-turning tool, by itself, costs $78.00, including a carbide cutter (standard size). You can chose among four different cutter shoulder angles, to match your particular cartridge: 20°, 30°, 35°, and 40°. Additional carbide cutters cost $26.00-$28.00. Caliber-specific turning arbors and expander mandrels are priced at $7.95 each. The standard size Universal Case-Holding Handle (photo above), costs $16.95.
You can also purchase a complete Neck-Turning Tool Kit from 21st Century. This $112.99 package includes everything you need:
Neck Turning Tool w/cutter
Expander Die Body
Loading Die Locking Ring
Neck Turning Universal Handle
Disclosure: 21st Century Shooting, an advertiser on this website, provided a neck turner tool and accessories to German Salazar for testing and evaluation.
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When conditions are absolutely perfect, you can see 6mm bullet holes (in the white) at 600 yards with a premium spotting scope (with at least 45x magnification). But add some haze and mirage into the mix and all bets are off. This weekend, we tested three top-of-the-line “big name” spotting scopes. All three had at least 60X magnification, all had HD glass, and the average price of the three units was over $2500.00 with eyepiece. Even with all those pricey, state-of-the-art optics, on Saturday we couldn’t see bullet holes at 400 yards because of thick mirage and dust in the air.
Quality Target Cams Can Provide Reliable Viewing from 50 yards to 1000+ yards
What can you do if you want to practice at long ranges, and see your bullet impacts — reliably, every time? There are electronic target systems that plot shot locations with sonic sensors or accelerometers, but these are large, complex, semi-permanent installations costing many thousands of dollars. For most shooters, the only practical, field-deployable solution is a quality, wireless target cam system. You can source the necessary components — video camera, transceivers, antennas, batteries, display screen — or you can purchase a turn-key system. There are a handful of target cam systems now marketed for shooters. We’ve tried a couple that did not perform as claimed. But one system that we can endorse without reservation is the Target Cam System from Pro Security Warehouse (PSW). We purchased PSW’s Long-Range Wireless Target Observation System and have tested it outdoors extensively. With a well-illuminated target, this system will reliably display even .22 caliber bullet holes in the black, at distances out to 1000 yards. In order to see bullet holes in the black you may have to increase the contrast or adjust the brightness — but that’s a simple matter of clicking a couple control buttons. During daylight hours, we could easily see all bullet holes, with the camera displaying an area about two feet by two feet square. When shooting at night, you need to illuminate the target with lights.
PSW Wireless Video Viewing System Components
The PSW Target Cam System costs $1499.00 but that includes everything you need, even tripod and batteries. The target image is captured by a high-resolution, auto-focus color camera with 22X max magnification and motorized zoom. This can be set as far as 30 feet from the target, but we got the best results with the camera positioned about 10 feet from the target, on one side of the target frame. The camera connects to a digital wireless multi-channel transceiver (with high-gain antenna) clamped to the same tripod that holds the camera. A sealed, rechargeable 12V gel cell battery will run the camera for a full day’s worth of shooting.
For the shooter’s station, PSW provides a compact transceiver (the size of a smart-phone), plus a rugged color monitor in a padded carry pack. These are likewise powered by a rechargeable 12V battery. Initially, we suspected the 5.6″ monitor was a little on the small size, but it proved more than adequate in use. With the monitor positioned a couple feet from your rifle (either on the bench or on the ground when shooting prone), you can easily see scoring rings, score numbers, and, of course, bullet holes. You may want to fiddle with the color and contrast controls to create the best definition for viewing bullet holes in the black. The resolution is good enough that we could easily make out “doubles” where two 6mm shots landed virtually on top of one another.
One smart feature is that the target display is set for a short time delay. This allows you to turn your head from sights or scope to the display screen and see the bullet hole “arrive” on paper a few seconds after the actual hit. Being able to actually see the bullet hole appear on the target helps you quickly locate the latest shot even if there is a cluster of bullet holes close together. That’s smart engineering.
The PSW system works really well. We have no negatives to report — everything performed as advertised. Are there any improvements/enhancements we would like? Yes — it would be nice if the receiver could output to a laptop computer, so you’d have the option of a larger display screen and so you could capture video of shot strings. We would like PSW to offer an optional, small solar panel that could trickle-charge the unit during use. Lastly, we would like to see PSW offer a lower-cost system that could be used with a user-supplied video camera. We know many shooters already own small video cameras, and this could reduce the overall “buy-in” cost of the system.
Certainly, $1499.00 for the complete PSW system is not cheap. However, when you consider that the PSW wireless viewing system reliably displays bullet holes at long range in all daylight viewing conditions — something not even a $3500.00 spotting scope can do — the system is worth the money for shooters who practice at long ranges. Interestingly, all four testers who looked through the top-end spotting scopes agreed that they would rather have this $1500.00 target cam AND a $1000.00 spotting scope rather than a $2500.00+ spotting scope alone. To learn more about the PSW Target Cam system visit www.ProSecurityWarehouse.com or call (407) 447-1637.
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While our SHOT Show coverage concentrated mainly on rifles and rifle accessories, we did find two notable handgun offerings from Sig Sauer: 1) a new .22LR version of the 1911; and, 2) a re-introduction of the classic Sig P210, with some enhancements. There are a handful of 22-cal 1911s on the market. Some, like the Chiappa, leave much to be desired, both in functionality and build quality. By contrast, the new Sig Sauer 1911-22 looks and handles like a high-grade .45acp 1911. CLICK for More Photos.
The grip safety and ambidextrous frame safeties work just like those on a well-built centerfire 1911. The frame ergonomics and grips are identical to the classic 1911 design. The sights are good, and most importantly, the single-action trigger is light and crisp — just as you’d expect on a good, tuned 1911. We were very impressed with the gun, especially after noting the MSRP is just $399.00. We should add, however, that Germany’s GSG also makes a similar 1911-22 that costs less. You can buy a GSG 1911-22 for about $350.00 at larger gun dealers. The Sig Sauer 1911-22 we tried had nicer grips and a lighter trigger pull than the GSGs we’ve sampled.
Sig Sauer Re-Releases P210 “Legend”
Prominently displayed at Sig Sauer booth was the Sig P210 “Legend”, an updated version of the classic Sig P210. The new version has been released with an American-style mag release at the rear of the trigger guard, and some subtle modifications. The original Sig P210 is a genuine classic, perhaps the most accurate 9mm duty pistol ever created. Because of the high quality of its construction and careful hand-fitting, the P210 has never been cheap. The latest “Legend” version will be priced about $2,200.00 in the USA.
The new P210 “Legend” continues to offer superb accuracy, with some enhancements for target shooters. As expected, the P210 Legend’s trigger pull was sweet indeed — light, crisp, with no creep. Let me put it this way — the Legend’s trigger is smoother and lighter than what you’ll get on most custom 1911s. The optional, new rear target sight has a 3-position slider that adjusts the zero for three different target distances. That’s a smart feature we’d like to see on other target pistols.
In the video below we show the Sig Sauer 1911-22 and Sig P210 “Legend”. The Video starts off with a visit to the Smith and Wesson booth.
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Hornady has a new, compact, one-station Case Prep Assistant for 2011. This handy, affordable unit easily fits on your benchtop. The dual-voltage (110v/220v) Case Prep Assistant can power inside and outside chamfer tools as well as neck brushes and primer pocket cleaners/uniformers. Included with the Case Prep Assistant are chamfer and deburr tools, with plenty of onboard storage for optional case prep accessories such as primer pocket cleaners, case neck brushes and other 8-32 thread tools. The unit is compatible with both 110V or 220V power. The Case Prep Assistant retails for under $90.00 — Midsouth Shooter’s Supply has it for $83.88 currently.
The new compact Case Prep Assistant complements Hornady’s large Case Prep Center, introduced in 2010. The large prep center performs all case prep functions, including case trimming which is handled by a vertical (drill-press-type) motorized trim station. Cases are held with a cam-lock shell-holder and then lowered vertically on to the spinning trimmer head. Hornady’s Dave Emary demonstrated both products for us at the 2011 SHOT Show. Dave then told us about the Vintage Sniper Rifle Matches which he has helped organize for the CMP.
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Bargain Competition Air Rifle — Model 200 S
The new red and black model 200 S air rifle from CZ-USA is an excellent deal at $429.00 MSRP. Expect to find this at discounters for around $399.00. For that price you get a modern, ergonomic three-position stock, an nice adjustable 2-stage trigger with low pull weight, and a 4x32mm scope. The action also has dovetails to mount iron sights. Offering 16 Joules of energy from its gauge-equipped air cylinder, the 200 S airgun will launch .177 caliber pellets at 800 FPS. As Kelly Bachand explains in the video below, this rifle offers plenty of bang for the buck. Kelly says he has “spent a lot more money for an air rifle with far fewer features.” If you are looking for a training rifle for your club or organization, the CZ 200 S would be a good choice. Kelly feels this air rifle is a real winner for the price.
Perfect Fit — the CZ550 FS Mannlicher
As this website’s Editor, I see hundreds of rifles at SHOT Show. If there was one rifle I wanted to purchase and take home from this year’s Show, it was the CZ 550 FS (see video above). A 7.2-lb Mannlicher-stocked field rifle, with 20.5″ barrel, this gun fit me like a dream. Equipped with safari-style iron sights, the rifle mounted and indexed perfectly. The sights seem to align themselves. The instant I shouldered the rifle with my cheek on the rounded Euro-style comb, the front bead-tipped blade indexed perfectly in the rear v-notch. I could literally mount this rifle to my shoulder with my eyes closed, then open my eye and find the safari sights were perfectly aligned both vertically and horizontally. That’s remarkable. Watch the above video — the CZ 550 is covered in the second half.
The action is very smooth — much better than most domestic factory guns, and noticeably smoother than a Tikka T3. The top of the action has a 19mm dovetail for secure, low-profile mounting of scope rings. The 550 FS comes with a handsome Turkish walnut stock, fitted with proper sling swivels. This rifle has been very popular with owners, and I can understand why — it’s light, easy to handle, and it is one of the best-pointing hunting rifles I’ve ever shouldered. The model 550 FS is offered in a variety of calibers: .243 Win, 6.5×55, .270 Win, .308 Win, 30-06, and 9.3x62mm. Note, for 2011, CZ is offering a Mannlicher-stocked rimfire rifle chambered in .17 HMR, the CZ model 452 FS, priced at $514.00 MSRP. That would be a great carry-around varminter for squirrels and small game.
Yes, bigger is better. Leupold has upgraded its popular “folded-light-path” compact spotting scope, by adding an HD-glass, 80mm front objective and boosting the magnification up to 60-power. That will give this NEW scope better low-light performance and higher magnification while retaining a usable exit pupil (if you increase magnification without increasing the front lens diameter, the exit pupil shrinks). The unit costs $1800, not bad considering the price of other 80mm spotters, and the Leupold is much easier to carry, given its compact design.
Bigger Objective, Better HD Glass, More Useful Magnification Range
We’ve always liked the Leupold compact spotter because it is light weight and it’s Newtonian (folded light path) design makes it much more compact than most spotters of comparable magnification. The U.S. Military currently uses the Mark 4 “tactical” version of the Leupold 12-40x60mm spotter. However, we felt that the glass in the 12-40 spotter was not on a par with the latest generation HD spotters from Kowa, Zeiss, and Leica, or even Nikon and Pentax for that matter. Leupold has taken a huge step forward by gracing its new spotter with a big, HD (low dispersion) front objective. This should give the scope better perceived sharpness with much less color fringing (chromatic aberration) when viewing targets at long range. Upsizing the objective to 80mm makes the scope brighter, improving low-light performance. That’s important, particularly for tactical guys and hunters. The bigger objective also allows Leupold to increase magnification all the way from 40X to 60X. Do you always want a 60-power view? No, but it is great have 50% more magnification on tap when you need it.
60X is a Good Thing for Target Shooters
Most 40-power spotting scopes struggle to resolve 6mm and 6.5mm bullet holes at 600 yards. With HD glass and 60X magnification, you’ll have a much better chance to see small bullet holes at long range (though you’ll also need good viewing conditions). That’s a huge advantage for the long-range target shooter. Overall, we were very pleased that Leupold engineered this much-enhanced 80mm spotter. We predict it will be a big hit with anyone who needs serious magnification in an easy-to-carry optic.
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