March 20th, 2018

Vernal Equinox Varminter — Six Items for Spring Varmint Hunts

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

The woes of winter are behind us — it’s officially Spring. Today, March 20, 2018, is the Vernal Equinox, the official start of Spring. For many shooters, the coming of Spring means that it’s time to head out to the varmint fields. Here are six items that can help ensure successful spring varmint adventures.

Six Great Products for Varmint Shooters

1. BarrelCool In-Action Fan

Busy Varmint shooters may expend hundreds of rounds in a day. That’s tough on barrels. One way to extend your round count is to use the ingenious BarrelCool device. This little yellow gadget fits in your action with a blower tube that goes into the chamber. A small electric fan blows cooling air through the barrel. It really works — folks who’ve purchased the Barrel Cool and run temp strips on their barrel say the BarrelCool can significantly reduce the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel.

barrelcool cool fan empty Chamber indicator

In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $34.99, this small device can potentially can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, visit BarrelCool.com. There you’ll find video demos of BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.

2. Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag Sandbag

On most varmint hunts we spend most of the time shooting from a portable bench with a pedestal-type rest (we like the SEB Mini). But it’s nice having a big, heavy X-Type sandbag rig also. These four-chamber designs, such as the Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, allow shooting from a truck hood or any flat surface. Some rifles with narrow fore-ends really benefit from the firm “hug” provided by these “butterfly” style sandbags. We like the 15″ Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, currently $51.30 at Amazon (camo fabric). Durable and well-made, it will provide years of service. There is also a 10″ version that is easier to carry. Forum member Stoner24mkiv likes a Bulls Bag for shooting from a vehicle. He also suggests: “[take] an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. Bring a Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.”

Bulls Bag sandbag varmint rest front

3. Scope with Built-In Laser Rangefinder

The Burris Eliminator III is an impressive piece of electro-optical technology. With a push of a button, a built-in laser rangefinder senses the distance to your target and the Eliminator’s microprocessor instantly calculates the required hold-over based on your load’s ballistics. The calculated aiming point is then displayed in the reticle with an illuminated red dot on the vertical cross-hair. Just put the red dot on the target and make the shot. Easy as that. If you are working a large prairie dog field and constantly moving near to far and back again, this scope is really handy. Laze, adjust aim with the dot, and squeeze the trigger. Its that simple. We’ve used this scope out to 500 yards on small steel targets and it worked flawlessly.

Burris Eliminator III laser optic Scope

4. Hornady 17 HMR V-Max Loaded Ammo

For those distant prairie dog shots, you’ll want a centerfire round with some reach, such as a 22 BR or 22-250. However, for closer work, or for smaller varmints such as ground squirrels, the 17 HMR is hard to beat. There are many good factory rifles chambered for the 17 HMR, such as the Savage A17 (shown below). Right now Hornady 17 HMR ammo is on sale at Grafs.com for $8.99 ($0.18 per round). That’s a good deal. This same ammo sells elsewhere for up to $13.99 per 50-round box. For example, MidwayUSA’s price is $12.99.

Grafs.com 17 HMR sale ammo discount

5. Stick-On Temp Strips Monitor Barrel Heat

You never want your barrel to get too hot. Accuracy suffers when barrels over-heat, and excessive heat is not good for barrel life. So how do you monitor your barrel’s temperature? You can check if the barrel is “warm to the touch” — but that method is not particularly precise. There is a better way — using temperature-sensitive strips. McMaster.com (an industrial supply house) offers stick-on temp strips with values from 86° F to 140° F. A pack of ten (10) of these strips (item 59535K13) costs $12.16 — so figure it’ll cost you about $1.20 per barrel for strips. That’s cheap insurance for your precious barrels. For best barrel life, try to stay under 120 degrees F.

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

6. Low-Fouling Power for High-Volume Varmint Loads

For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

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June 4th, 2016

New Product: Chamber-Flag Fan Device Cools Down Hot Barrels

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

The BarrelCool is an innovative, compact barrel-cooling device that also serves as an empty-chamber safety flag. A small, battery-powered fan drives cooling air through the barrel’s bore. Yes it really works — manufacturer-provided data shows that BarrelCool significantly reduces the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel. Look at the chart above to see what to expect.

In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $34.99, this small device can definitely save you time at the range. Potentially it can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, visit BarrelCool.com. There you’ll find video demos of BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

BarrelCool Range Reports from Forum Members
“Early adopters” of BarrelCool have been impressed so far. Forum member Comrade Terry said: “At the range, I spend a good bit of time waiting for the barrel to cool between shot strings. I fired my usual 50 rounds today, and (though it was 85° today) I was able to leave the range 30-40 minutes earlier than usual thanks to the BarrelCool. I like it!” Another Forum member, J-Rod, reports “Did some load development on my new rifle Friday. This used to take forever due to the barrel heating up outside in full sun (90° ambient). I’d say this little gem cut about two hours off my normal shooting time. I got home early and the wife was happy — what’s that worth?”

How and Why BarrelCool Was Invented
BarrelCool originated from the idea that cease-fire periods would be a great time to cool a barrel. During cease-fires, most ranges and matches require empty chamber flags in the gun so that the range officer and everyone on the firing line can see visually that the gun is in a safe condition.

BarrelCool inventor Bryan Sumoba explains the advantage of Barrelcool: “The challenge with the previous barrel-cooling methods is one would have to be present to run the device, it required additional steps such as running patches down the bore, or it gets in the way of a required empty-chamber flag. BarrelCool now allows the shooter to cool the barrel down simply and easily while having the empty-chamber flag in the firearm.”

Sumoba says BarrelCool significantly shortens the time needed to cool down a hot barrel: “In controlled testing, it took about half the time to cool the barrel from 140 degrees F to 100 degrees F (more in some cases depending on the barrel contour/length and ambient temperatures). Our customers also report significant reductions in the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel. At a recent 3×1000 F-Class match in Sacramento, one shooter fired 25 shots out of his 7mm RSAUM and got the barrel to the point where it was too hot to touch. In most cases, the barrel would still be very warm/hot by the time the next relay started. We placed BarrelCool in his firearm and within 30 minutes, the barrel was back to near-ambient temperature. Other observers mentioned that the air coming out of the muzzle with BarrelCool in the firearm felt like a mini blow dryer.”

BarrelCool fan battery cooling safety chamber indicator flag heat pump

Using three (3) CR123A batteries, a BarrelCool unit can operate for 7-10+ hours. BarrelCool fits both AR-style rifles as well as most bolt action rifles. The Hi-Viz yellow color stands out on the firing line and BarrelCool is small enough to fit in most range or gun bags. Manufactured in the USA, Barrelcool can benefit competition, precision, or recreational shooters who need to cool down their barrels more rapidly, while displaying “safe condition” on the firing line. For more information, or to order for $34.99, visit www.barrelcool.com.

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