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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February 15th, 2017

P-Dog Gone Good Deal on Varmint Bullets

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

If you’re planning a spring Prairie Dog adventure, it’s time to load up a big supply of ammo. On a 4-day varmint safari you can easily shoot 800 rounds or more in a prime P-Dog location. To save on ammo costs for high-volume shooting, it makes sense to buy components in bulk. Here’s a super deal on bullets for your .224-caliber varmint rig.

Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

For shorter-range ground squirrel loads, we also like the .224 34gr Flat Base Hollow Point at $44.25/500. These work great in a .221 Fireball (using Lapua .221 Fireball brass of course).

Powder Suggestion 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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November 5th, 2016

New Hodgdon CFE BLK Powder — Great for Small Cartridges

CFE BLK .223 223 Blackout AAC powder varmint Fireball reduced fouling January 2017
NOTE: Despite the “BLK” in the name, this is a NOT a black powder substitute. This is a modern smokeless powder suitable for a wide variety of popular cartridges.

Hodgdon has announced a new “faster” variant of its popular CFE 223 powder. That’s good news for shooters of small varmint cartridges. Hodgdon’s new CFE BLK (named after the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge) has a faster burn rate than the original CFE 223. That makes CFE BLK ideal for small cartridges such as the .17 Hornet and .221 Fireball. The original CFE 223 propellant was formulated for reduced copper fouling (“CFE” in the name refers to “Copper Fouling Eraser”). New CFE BLK shares this reduced fouling technology which was developed originally for the U.S. military. Many of our Forum members have tried CFE 223 and confirmed that is performs “as advertised” — with less copper fouling that most other propellants. That’s a big benefit for varmint shooters, who may put hundreds of rounds through a barrel in a single day on the varmint fields.

Optimized for the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge, CFE BLK works great for .300 Blackout loads in AR-type rifles throughout the range of bullet weights. Moreover, CFE BLK is perfect for subsonic, reduced loads. In addition, Hodgdon reports that CFE BLK performs superbly in many smaller-capacity cartridges, in particular varmint cartridges such as the .17 Hornet, .17 Ackley Hornet, .218 Bee, .221 Fireball. CFE BLK is also well-suited for the 6.8 Remington SPC and the 7.62X39 Russian cartridge.

CFE BLK Meters Well and Burns Clean
CFE BLK is a spherical (ball) powder. Hodgdon reports the CFE BLK meters well, allowing reloaders to throw very consistent charges every time: “This fine powder meters like a dream and leaves no copper residue, extending accuracy for longer shooting periods, and making clean-up quick and easy.”

CFE BLK Should Be on Dealers’ Shelves in January 2017
Starting in January, 2017, CFE BLK powder will be available in both one-pound (1-lb.) and eight-pound (8-lb.) containers. Check with leading vendors such as Bruno’s, Midsouth, and Powder Valley. By the end of 2016, you should find complete load data for CFE BLK on the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center at www.HodgdonReloading.com.

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January 16th, 2014

Snapshots from SHOT Show 2014 — Eye-Catching Products

With over 1600 exhibitors, there are tens of thousands of products on display at the 2014 SHOT Show. Here are some products that caught our eye as we walked the aisles of the Sands Expo Center.

Pedersoli Sharps
This is an engraved action (with gold inlays), the centerpiece of a presentation-grade Sharps rifle from Davide Pedersoli of Italy. It’s nice to see old-world craftsmanship applied to a classic American design.

SHOT Show 2014 Product Photo

Crazy Customized SIG Pistols
Here are two completely over-the-top, highly customized SIG pistols. On the cowboy-themed pistol on the foreground, a saddle horn serves as the front sight, and the beavertail features a gold-plated spur that actually spins. The SIG in the rear has an elaborate metal carving of a bear that wraps over the top of the slide. The carved tail of a salmon forms the rear sight.

SIG Cowboy custom pistols

Hodgdon CFE Pistol Powder
The only new smokeless propellant displayed at the Hodgdon booth was CFE Pistol. Like the original CFE 223 powder for rifle cartridges, CFE Pistol is formulated to deliver reduced copper fouling. Hodgdon says: “Shoot More, Clean Less” with CFE Pistol powder.

quickpix04

Recknagel of Germany Front Sights
Here is a display of hi-viz and fiber-optic front sights from German gun parts-maker Recknagel. Someone spent a lot of time putting this display together in such an artistic way.

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Schmidt & Bender Scope Receives Info from Sensing Devices
Digital read-out on Schmidt & Bender 3-27x56mm PM II will display info from ballistic computers, laser rangefinders, or wind measurement devices. This is an early prototype only — not “ready for prime time”. The digital info is all generated “off-scope”. The fixture on the eyepiece end of the S&B scope merely receives info from the external device(s) and displays it in the shooter’s viewing field.

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CCI Suppressor 22 LR Ammo
CCI will offer a new “Suppressor 22″ cartridge for 2014. CCI selected a fairly heavy, 45-grain bullet, and tweaked the propellant to ensure that all rounds out of the box will run sub-sonic, even with the expected mass-production velocity variations. Designed for use in suppressed rimfire rifles, Spec Velocity is 970 FPS. CCI claims that this ammo works well on small varmints because the large hollowpoint in the 45-grain bullet provides excellent bullet expansion.

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Pelican Scope Case
This Pelican IM2306 is specifically designed to carry high-end riflescopes. Measuring 18.2″ L x 8.4″ W x 6.7″ high (on the outside), this Pelican case has a waterproof seal and rugged exterior. “Pluckable” interior foam allows you to custom fit the case to your precious optic.

Pelican Scope Case

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December 22nd, 2012

Hodgdon Releases 2013 Annual Manual

The new 2013 Annual Hodgdon Reloading Manual (the 10th Annual Edition) has just been released. The manual now contains over 5000 loads, with updates for 37 rifle and pistol cartridges. You’ll also find data for Hodgdon’s popular, new CFE-223 reduced-fouling powder — CFE-223 load info has been added for 19 more cartridges. Varmint hunters will be pleased to see the addition of complete data for the popular 17 Hornet. Along with comprehensive load data, the 2013 Annual Manual offers authoritative articles by top gun and outdoor industry writers working with the editors of Shooting Times magazine.

Hodgdon 10th Annual Reloading Manual

You’ll find the 2013 Hodgdon manual at newsstands and gun stores in early 2013, priced at $8.99. (Some stores already have the 2013 Manual on the shelves.) You can also order direct by visiting Hodgdon.com or calling (913) 362-9455. (Direct sales price is $11.99 including postage.)

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October 11th, 2011

Hodgdon Claims New CFE™223 Ball Powder Deters Copper Fouling

Hodgdon CFE 223 PowderHodgdon Powder has introduced a new spherical (ball) powder called CFE™223. Hodgdon claims that this new powder “greatly deters copper fouling” compared to other propellants. 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.

Load Data Now Available Online for CFE™223
Reload data for CFE™223 is available for 27 different cartridges with 147 loads. It is suitable for loading in many popular chamberings including: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, 22-250, 6mmBR, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem, 7mm-08, and .308 Win. Maximum velocities are obtained in the .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, 22-250, and .308 Win with load data found at Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center. CFE™223 is a spherical (ball) powder, so it meters well. The new powder will be available in one- and eight-pound containers starting in January, 2012. For more info, call (913) 362-9455 or write to: Hodgdon Powder, 6231 Robinson, Shawnee Mission, KS 66202.

Hodgdon CFE 223 Powder

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