September 11th, 2019

Get Ready for Hunting Season with Game Targets

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

Summer is over, so hunting season is right around the corner. Before you head out to the hunting fields, you may want to practice your shooting on specialty paper targets designed expressly for hunters. Here is a selection of game targets which can help you achieve success this hunting season.

Realistic Game Targets with Marked Vital Zones

Serious hunters may prefer to practice with photo-realistic game targets with animal profiles that look like the real thing. Champion offers realistic “X-Ray” game animal targetss. These X-Ray targets display the bone structure and heart/lung position of game animals. These are popular with hunters, as are Champion’s Critter Targets Set with 5 different realistic animals in a 10-pack. CLICK HERE to view X-Ray Animal Targets and Critter Targets.

Animal deer target Birchwood Casey realistic deer buck

Animal deer elk target Birchwood Casey realistic deer buck

Birchwood Casey offers a Realistic Deer Target that shows the vital Hit Zone. The target comes with four (4) replaceable Shoot-N-See overlays. A target twin-pack with the overlays is $7.38 at Amazon.com.

Animal deer target Birchwood Casey realistic deer buck

FREE Printable Game Targets from the NRA

To help you prepare for your fall hunts, NRABlog.com has created a set of color practice hunting targets. You can hone your skills on a trio of bucks, three gobblers, or three wild hogs. Each target features three red bullseyes, centered on the animals. You can print the targets in black and white, but they look best in color. Click on each image below to download a FREE printable PDF file.

Right-Click Each Image to Download Printable PDF File:

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 7th, 2019

Sunday GunDay — 7mm WSM Hunter with Match-Grade Accuracy

wyoming 7mm wsm winchester short magnum elk rifle hunter hunting Win mag

Ric Horst’s 7 WSM is a game-slayer with serious long-range accuracy. Here’s a hunting rifle (with tactical trappings) that performs as well as some purpose-built benchrest rifles, delivering half-MOA ten-shot groups at 1000 yards–from bipod no less! That was noteworthy in itself. But Ric’s rifle, built to take game in Wyoming’s backcountry, also proves the viability of the 7mm Win Short Mag as a true precision cartridge. With the capacity to drive hard-hitting, ultra-high-BC bullets, the 7 WSM is a bonafied rival to the big 30s. This rifle sets a very high bar for long-range hunting rigs.

The Challenge: Creating the Ultimate Long-Range Hunting Rifle

Q: Tell us how you got interested in the 7 WSM and how you got started on this project?

Ric Horst: Chris Matthews and I were invited to help out with a new hunting show on a cable network. We wanted to showcase a rifle that wasn’t typical for the TV program which was about Antelope and Mule Deer hunting in Wyoming. We considered a variety of calibers, but then Sierra announced their new 175gr (.284) MatchKing and that got our attention. In Wyoming, the key thing in choosing a caliber is the availability of good high-BC bullets–the wind will own you out here. After seeing Sierra’s projected BC for the 175s this seemed to be a no brainer. So I told Chris to make the rifle a 7mm WSM.

Q: What were your objectives with this project rifle? Sounds like you wanted to build a state of the art long-range hunting rig?

Our goals were simple–we wanted a tack-driver with long-range capabilities, from 400 to 1000 yards. Really, at the time, the choice of the 7 WSM was easy–no one else was really doing it, and if they were, they weren’t talking about it. So we wanted to be the first make it work, one way or another. There were actually no real surprises or problems along the way, other than it was the first time I was shooting a 7mm and the accuracy of the 175gr bullets was better than I expected. I have total faith in Chris’s gunsmithing abilities. This 7 WSM is the sixth rifle he’s built for me–and they’ve all been tack-drivers.

Q: Give us your perspectives on living and shooting in Wyoming. What makes it such a great hunting ground? How do the game mix and terrain dictate your selection of a rifle?

My requirements for my rifles are, I guess, unique. I like tactical-style rifles. This “style” seems to fit my type of hunting here in Wyoming–tough, rugged terrain where you need to be able to make the long shot should one present itself. Living in Wyoming? Well, if you choose to live in the “out of town” places you need to be well-prepared and tough. Going to town means a 50-mile trip. You don’t just run to the convenience store if you need something. Plus the weather is hard in the winter and always windy. We joke that we have just two seasons, three months of summer and nine months of winter. Our spring and fall are each about two weeks long.

Despite the weather, Wyoming is a great place for a hunter. Game here is second to none: deer (whitetail and mulies ), antelope, elk, sheep, moose, plus varmints galore. What is great about my location is that I can shoot just about anytime I want. I have the ability to shoot as far as 3500 yards out my back door if I choose. Here’s a shot of my playground.

Putting It Together: Exceptional Components and Accurate Ammo

Q: Your 7 WSM has logged 10-shot groups at 1000 yards that could win many 1K benchrest matches. What kind of components does it take to deliver this kind of accuracy?

There is nothing super-exotic in this rifle, but it IS fitted out with some of the best components on the market. We did start with a factory action, however, a Remington 700 short action. Chris trued the action, added an SSG over-sized bolt knob, and fitted the action with a Broughton 5C, 9-twist #7 contour barrel finished at 24″. To reduce recoil we added a Badger brake. The stock is a fiberglass McMillan HTG (General Purpose Hunting) stock in Desert Camo. (This McMillan stock design replicates the original M40A1 Marine Sniper Rifle stock.) Since this is a repeater we added a Wyatts Mag Box. The gun features Badger bottom metal, Badger scope rail and Badger Rings. The Scope is a 4-16 Nikon Tactical, which, so far, has proven to be excellent. All the metal is Teflon-coated in Mil-Spec OD Green. I have a bubble-level mounted on the scope rail.

Q: To achieve the results you’re getting you must have exceptional hand-loads. What is your reloading procedure and do you have any “secret tips” to share?

I use Winchester-brand brass and Winchester Large Rifle Magnum primers. My current load is 64.0 grains of H4831sc for the Hornady 162s (2950 fps) and 61.0 grains of H4831sc for the Sierra 175s (2830 fps).

The only sizing dies I have used are the Basic Redding FL dies–I have since started using the Forester Ultra-Seater and used it when I shot the outstanding groups. My reloading technique is pretty basic. I full-length size and trim all to length. I use the RCBS powered Trim Mate™ station to do most of the brass prep. I do use the VLD case mouth deburrer. I uniform the primer pocket and chamfer as well. I then fire-form those prepped cases. I’ve noted that the new brass usually shoots just as well as fire-formed cases. I then use the FL die to bump the shoulder back .002″. I haven’t really noticed and major difference between Forester and Redding dies except price. I don’t have any “special” secret loading techniques. If you use quality components, I’ve found that you don’t need to weigh this weigh that etc. I tried that for years and it never really showed results to justify the time and effort. I quit doing all the weighing ( except for bullets ) and I shoot just as well. The two things I am anal about are the powder charge and seating depth–these all have to be exactly the same for each round!

I do take time to uniform the brass. First, when I get a bag of brass, I’ll check to make sure all the flash holes are centered, and I’ll pitch the ones that aren’t. Then I’ll measure the shortest case and trim all to that length (after ensuring that fits my chamber). Next, I’ll uniform the primer pockets, and debur and bevel the flash hole on both sides. Beveling both sides is one trick I think helps keep ES down. By beveling the flash side it basically takes the flash and tapers/funnels it to the hole. I think you get more consitency with the primer flash this way. Finally I’ll debur/champfer the inside and outside of the neck using a VLD chamferer.

After firing the cases once, I clean them all up and make one pass on the neck turner just to “clean” the necks to a consistient diameter. Note, I am not necessarily turning for a specific diameter because I have enough clearance to start with. I do this light turn just for consistency. Sometimes the neck turner might only shave a bit off one side.

Q: What’s your load-testing procedure? Do you have any special methods to evaluate/tune your loads?

Again, my methods are pretty simple. I start with the Sierra Load Manual, select the bullet weight, then find the max load for a recommended accurate powder. I like Hodgdon powders, so I start with an “H” powder with an appropriate burn rate, drop the “max” load about 0.5 grains and start there. Typically there is a sweet spot within half a grain up or down from that starting point. I usually seat my bullets to touch the lands or seat just in a bit. I feel this makes up for any bullet-run out when seating them.

When load-testing, I try to get 100-yard groups to be half an inch or less (quarter-MOA is pretty good for me, but not something I can count on regularly.) I then go to the 300- and 500-yard steel plates to see if the load holds its accuracy. If it does, then the load is good to go. However, I will shoot a 5-shot group every now and again to see if I am still in tune. In fact I was re-testing the 162gr A-Max and 175 gr SMK loads the day I shot the screamers at 1013 yards. Two great groups back to back.

Q: How does your 7 WSM perform in terms of recoil and accuracy? Has it met your expectations?

This rifle is by far one of the most fun rifles I have ever had. The recoil is very minimal with either of the loads and the rifle just plain flat-out shoots. The break-in took all of 21 rounds I think. This rifle shoots sub-2″ groups at 500 yards all day every day (often closer to 1″). Note that I don’t do any shooting from a bench and rests except for the initial load work up. The rest of the time I shoot from a bipod. I would really like to stress that I shoot exclusively with bi-pod and “sand-sock”. So many guys out there think that you have to shoot from a bench to get outstanding results. This simply isn’t true. If you are a disciplined shooter and have correct shooting techniques you can do amazing things from any shooting position. Long Range doesn’t have to be from a rest or bench!

What makes this rifle special is that it has an identical twin, built by Chris for my hunting partner Steve. Both rifles shoot exactly the same–same accuracy, same velocity, same trajectories. I never shot a 1K group with Steve’s gun, but at other distances, including 500 yards, it has performed identically to mine. I shot a sub-moa group of 12 shots one day with the Twins. I shot six shots from each rifle, alternating rifles between shots. Remember this is from the prone position and off a bipod–same load, two different rifles–and it produced a single, sub-MOA group. Now that’s consistency. Both these rifles I call point and shoot rifles–point them on target and they’ll shoot it.

Q: What technique do you use when shooting from bipod?

I basically do Froggy’s technique when shooting from a bipod. I get my natural point of aim, then push forward a bit to pre-load the bipod legs. In gripping the stock, I use just my two middle fingers to apply firm pressure straight back into my shoulder. I’m careful not to torque with the thumb or pinky finger. With my focus on the intended point of aim, I’ll let the cross hairs blur a bit and gently press the trigger until it goes boom. Then follow through, watch for the impact, and chamber the next round.

Looking Out to 1000 Yards, and the Results from Ric’s 7 WSM

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
September 24th, 2018

Hunting Safety Checklist — A Good Reminder Before Any Hunt

Hunting Safety Checklist family safe hunter
Elk Hunt with Horn Fork Guides, Ltd., in Colorado.

Are you a safe hunter? Go through this checklist to find out. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created a helpful Safety Checklist for hunters. This Hunting Safety Checklist was produced as part of the NSSF’s “Hunt S.A.F.E.” campaign which encourages hunters (and all firearm owners) to secure their firearms when not in use, and to focus on safe firearm handling and storage. The Hunting Safey Checklist helps hunters follow good, safe practices in the field and at home.

“Hunting is a time-honored tradition for many Americans, and the hunting season brings a wave of excitement and activity for all enthusiasts,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “It’s also a good time of year to remind firearm owners about … safe and responsible gun handling and storage.”

Download NSSF Hunting Safety Checklist for Families

Hunting Safety Checklist family safe hunter

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News No Comments »
August 10th, 2017

Is Bullet B.C. Important When Hunting? (Answer: It Depends)

Sierra Bullets Deer Hunting BC Ballistic Coefficient bullet
Game image courtesy OutdoorNebraska.gov/deer.

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
Judging by the calls I’ve had through the years, I think some shooters might be placing too much importance on Ballistic Coefficient (B.C.). The best example of this comes from a call I had one day. This shooter called wanting the ballistic coefficient of one of our Sierra bullets. After I told him he seemed a little disappointed, so I ask him what his application was. Long range target, deer hunting in the woods? Talk to me.

As it turned out, he hunted deer in open timber. He very rarely shot beyond 100 yards. I pointed out to him that, under 200 yards, B.C. has little impact. Let’s compare a couple of bullets.

Let’s look at the trajectory of a couple of bullets and see how they compare. The .30 caliber 180 grain Round Nose #2170 RN and the 180 grain Spitzer Boat Tail #2160 SBT. The round nose has a B.C. of .240, while the SBT is .501. Starting both bullets out of the muzzle at 2700 FPS [with a 100-yard ZERO], at 200 yards the #2170 RN impacts 4.46″ low while the #2160 SBT impacts 3.88″ low. That’s a difference of only 0.58″ in spite of a huge difference in Ballistic Coefficient. If we compare out at 500 yards, then we have a [significant drop variance] of 14.27″ between these two bullets. [Editor: That difference could mean a miss at 500 yards.]

Distance to Your Prey is the Key Consideration
In a hunting situation, under 200 yards, having a difference of only .58” isn’t going to make or break us. But when elk hunting in wide open spaces it could mean everything.

The next time you’re choosing a bullet, give some thought about the distances you will be shooting. Sometimes B.C. isn’t everything. If you have any questions, please give the Sierra Bullets technicians a call at 800-233-8799.

sierra bullets ballistic coefficient hunting BC bullet logo customer support

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »