Commonly, hunters won’t have the ability to fire one or two fouling shots before heading out on a hunt. Therefore it’s important that a hunter understands how his rifle shoots with a “cold bore shot”. Both the point of impact (and possibly velocity), may be different with a cold bore than with a barrel that has been warmed and fouled with a series of shots. In this video from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), you’ll learn how to determine your cold bore point of impact (POI) for a rifle that just been cleaned, as well as the cold bore POI with a barrel that has already been “fouled in”.
SGT Joe Hein of the USAMU shows how to plot cold bore POI with both a clean bore and a fouled bore. Note that the “cold bore” shot from a fouled barrel was closer to the follow-up shots than the cold bore shot from a clean barrel. This is typical of many factory barrels. SGT Hein provides a simple way to understand your rifle’s cold bore performance. Hein’s advice can keep you from missing that long range shot at that big buck on opening day. A little time spent on the range before that critical first shot will help ensure you have meat in the freezer this season.
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If you’ve ever visited the Sierra Bullets booth at the NRA convention or SHOT Show, you’ve probably encountered Carroll Pilant, a very knowledgeable fellow who serves as Sierra’s Media Relations Manager. Carroll loves what he does, and he’s a true firearms enthusiast. Recently Carroll had the opportunity to hunt Aoudad and a variety of other exotic game species in Texas. Joining Carroll on this Aoudad adventure was his son Hunter Pilant.
Carroll has authored an account of his Texas hunt for the Sierra Blog. Here’s a sample, with some photos. The full story also covers Javelina hunting. CLICK HERE to read to full story.
Aoudad Hunting in Texasby Carroll Pilant
Aoudad, also known as Barbary sheep, have been a passion of mine for the last few years. I saw my first wild Aoudad back in 1973 or 1974 while I was working on the U Ranch. The U Ranch was part of the King Ranch in Balmorhea, Texas. The ranch headquarters sets at the base of the Barrilla Mountains — rugged territory. Aoudad had been stocked in some of the high fence areas for hunting purposes along with many other exotic game animals such as Nilgi, Ibex, Blackbuck. Many escaped from the game ranches and thrived in the arid Texas and New Mexico country that is very similar to the areas they originated from. Texas classes them as exotic or non-game animals and they can be hunted year-round. For $48 you can purchase a 5-day nonresident special hunting permit good for all the exotics.
Two years ago, a good friend of mine in Fort Stockton, Texas arranged for me to hunt in the Glass Mountains on a nearly 400-square-mile ranch. I harvested my first Aoudad and that really whetted my desire to take a larger one.
My son, Hunter Pilant at Starline Brass, had already volunteered to go with me…. That would give us a little father / son time together. We were both busy and it put us scrambling at the last minute trying to get ammo loaded, rifles zeroed … and the vehicle packed. The rifle I chose to take was my Remington 700 in 7mm Magnum with the #1940 175 grain SBT bullet. Hunter was using a Savage in .300 RSAUM with the #2160 180 grain SBT. Aoudad are tough animals and can soak up a lot of lead, so you need to use a tough bullet.
We were lucky the first day hunting in that we had Aoudad right off the bat. We watched about 20 Aoudad (with three rams) feeding right under a cliff at about 1200 yards. About an hour of driving through really rough terrain finally put us in an area where we could come in from above. Guesstimating at where they were below us, Hunter went several hundred yards to my left and I just worked my way to the edge of the ledge above the cliff.
A quick plan was devised. Hunter would slip up to the edge of the cliff and hopefully they would be feeding below him. When he shot, we hoped they would come past me heading to the higher elevation. We were watching Hunter as he slipped up to the edge and I kept checking to my right, when I noticed a ram come over a ridge and start working his way down into a canyon out of my sight. I was afraid to shoot because it would spook the group Hunter was looking for. Since I had already taken animals the last two years, I wanted Hunter to get a chance. The ram I was watching disappeared into the canyon. I waited for him to come out but was afraid he had went down it rather than coming back up on my side. All of a sudden, he popped up over a point out in front of me at about 200 yards.
Photo of Hunter Pilant, the author’s son and hunting partner on this trip.
I got my rifle ready and decided to wait until I just had to shoot, hoping that Hunter would find the main group and get a shot. Hunter spotted a ram and shot. The ram I was watching whirled and started to run back the way he had came. I had a foot-wide gap in the cedar that I could shoot through and at the shot, I heard the bullet thump and he disappeared over the edge. CLICK to Read Full Story
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We are in the thick of hunting season. If you need to re-zero your favorite deer rifle, here is a dead-simple way to zero your rifle in two or three shots. The method is based on the principle of moving your cross-hairs to the point-of-impact (POI) of your first shot. You’ll need a good set of rests that will hold the gun steady while you (or a buddy) clicks the scope.
After bore-sighting, fire one round at the center of the target. Then place the rifle so the center of the cross-hairs is exactly on your original point of aim. Next, without disturbing the gun in any way, dial your turrets so that the center of the cross-hairs moves over the center of your group. That’s it. You’re now zeroed. Having a helper steady the gun as you click the turrets will make this “no-math” method work more effectively.
Click-to-Initial POI Zeroing Method Demonstrated
Simple Sight-In Procedure
Put the center of your cross-hairs on the target and take one shot. Then reposition the rifle in your bags so the center of the reticle is back on the center of the target. Make sure the rifle is secure in this position (have a friend hold the rifle if necessary). Now, using your elevation and windage knobs (while looking through the scope), simply click the center of the cross-hairs to the middle of the bullet hole — without moving the rifle. You are moving the center of the reticle on to the bullet hole. Take a second shot. The second bullet hole should now be in the center of the target. Repeat the process if needed with a third shot. This procedure works at any distance.
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Are you looking for some outdoors-oriented reading material? Do you enjoy classic hunting adventures from around the globe? Then log on to the NitroExpress.com Forum. There you’ll find links for literally hundreds of vintage hunting stories, and even complete books, such as Teddy Roosevelt’s classic African Game Trails and Good Hunting, plus the wonderful book African Campfires by Stewart E. White, one of Roosevelt’s close friends and hunting companions.
Among the downloadable titles are The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo (leaflet edition) by Lt.Col. J. H. Patterson, the true tale that inspired the Hollywood movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, staring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. The online version of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo book (right) is a shorter, 140-page edition created for Chicago’s Field Museum, which purchased the skins of the lions from Patterson and put them on display.
For many years, the Varmint Hunters Association (VHA) has produced an excellent print periodical, The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Along with hunting stories, the magazine features articles about precision reloading and methods for accurizing rifles. The Varmint Hunter Magazine is available by subscription, and you can also purchase back issues through the VHA Online Store.
Right now the VHA is offering two FREE digital editions of The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Can’t beat that price. Click the links below to view (or download) the latest Fall 2014 Edition (Issue #92) or the previous Summer 2014 Edition (Issue #91). These digital eZines can be read on your computer or by most mobile devices. But since these are complete magazines, it make take a minute or two to download the full PDF files (be patient).
Thomas Haugland, a Shooters’ Forum member from Norway, is a long-range target shooter and hunter. He has created an interesting video showing how to gauge wind velocities by watching trees, grass, and other natural vegetation. The video commentary is in English, but the units of wind speed (and distance) are metric. Haugland explains: “This is not a full tutorial, but rather a short heads-up to make you draw the lines between the dots yourself”. Here are some conversions that will help when watching the video:
.5 m/s = 1.1 mph | 1 m/s = 2.2 mph | 2 m/s = 4.5 mph
3 m/s = 6.7 mph | 4 m/s = 8.9 mph | 5 m/s =11.2 mph
When you need ammo fast — lots of ammo, it’s hard to beat a progressive reloading press for output. We use progressive presses to load handgun ammo and .223 Rem cartridges for varmint safaris. With good dies, and proper press set-up, today’s progressive presses can produce surprisingly uniform and accurate ammo. No, you won’t see Benchrest Hall-of-Famers loading PPC cartridges on progressives. However, if you need 1000 rounds for your next prairie dog adventure, you should consider getting a progressive. Below you can see a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP configured to load .308 Winchester in bulk.
Proper Brass Prep
Just like a good paint job requires good prep work, great rifle ammo requires good brass prep. In order to make sure your rifle loading goes smoothly, make sure to perform the following brass prep steps:
Clean the brass (tumble, ultrasonic, etc.)
Inspect brass for cracks, deep dents, etc.
For military brass: de-prime, ream/swage primer pockets, size with small-base sizer die (small base usually optional).
Measure brass length — if too long, size and then trim.
Final inspection before loading.
Cleaning primer pockets may be something you’ll consider (I don’t clean primer pockets except for rare cases or match ammo).
Smooth and Steady Pace
Since you’re loading rifle ammunition on a progressive, you’re already saving a load of time, so there’s no need to rush things! Attention to detail is super-important for safety and for good results. Always keep an eye on powder level (goes down FAST) and what’s happening at each station.
The Right Press and Press Setup
Look for a heavy-duty, well-built press that will stand up to rifle loading. You’ll also want to make sure your powder measure will have the proper capacity (~25 grains for .223, ~50 grains for 308). If you are bulk reloading, ensure you have enough stations for sizing, charging, powder check, bullet feed, bullet seating, and (optional) bullet crimp.
More Ultimate Reloader Resources for Users of Progressive Presses:
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) takes place on Saturday, September 27, 2014. The annual celebration serves as a reminder that conservation succeeds because of leadership and funding from hunters, shooters and anglers. National, regional, state and local organizations will run thousands of “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events around the country. Events will include Fishing Derbys, Hunting Expos, Wing-shooting tournaments, and much more. Over four million Americans will participate. For information on NHF Day, visit www.nhfday.org. To find NHF Day events, click the link below.
Forum member Thomas Haugland from Norway has produced an excellent video that covers practical field shooting skills for hunters. In his video, Thomas (aka ‘Roe’ on Forum and Sierra645 on YouTube) shows how to verify his zeros from bipod and he demonstrates improvised field rests from the prone, kneeling, and sitting positions.
Thomas explains: “In this video I focus on basic marksmanship techniques and making ready for this year’s hunt. As a last check before my hunting season, I got to verify everything for one last time. My trajectory is verified again, the practical precision of the rifle is verified. I also practice making do with the best [improvised] rest possible when an opportunity presents itself. After getting knocked in the face by a 338LM rifle during a previous filming session, I had to go back to basics to stop [flinching]. I include some details from bipod shooting that hopefully some hunters will find useful. Fingers crossed for this years season, good luck!”
Thomas has produced many other quality videos for his Sierra645 YouTube Channel. On his “Langholdsskyting” YouTube Channel, you’ll find 30 more nicely-made videos (in both English and Norwegian) about hunting and precision shooting.
Below you’ll find a great video by Thomas that demonstrates up/down angle (incline) shooting. This video features some amazing scenery from Norway along with angle estimation sequences and use of the ACI (Angle-Cosine Indicator). Even without the technical tips, this video is well worth watching just to see the jaw-dropping Norwegian scenery! Yes that’s Thomas standing on the top of the peak in the photo (above right).
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Hunting season is right around the corner. For many of us, that means liberating a rifle that sits in a safe most of the year, grabbing a box of cartridges, and heading to the wilds. But this “once a year thing” carries with it potential risks.
It is all to easy to grab some rounds that may look right, but which are, in fact, a slightly different chambering. Likewise it is possible some hunting rounds got put in the wrong box after last year’s hunting trip. Be very careful when you get ready for a hunting trip — check the headstamp, cartridge dimensions, and bullet diameter of all your rounds. If you make an ammo selection mistake, the consequences can be disasterous, as this story reveals.
The .223 WSSM and 6mmBR Disaster Report by Dr. Jim Clary
Under most circumstances, shooters don’t have to worry about chambering the wrong cartridge into the wrong rifle. After all, the cartridges are well marked and we all know which rifle we are shooting on any given day. In many cases, incorrect cartridges cannot be chambered — larger cases will not fit in smaller chambers, for example. No problem! That being said, I can tell you that even an experienced, careful and normally safe shooter can make a mistake.
The following is an account of just such a mistake that could have resulted in death or dismemberment. Fortunately, the shooter was not hurt, but the rifle was completely destroyed.
Last year, a friend purchased a Savage Precision right bolt, left port, single shot bolt action in 6mmBR Norma. It was an incredible prairie dog gun and he spent the summer burning powder and busting dogs. In October, he purchased a stainless steel Browning A-Bolt Varmint in .223 WSSM. The weather in the upper Midwest turned sour by the time he got the brass tuned up and he only got to fire it a few times before he was “socked in” for the winter. Thus, he spent his evenings loading ammo for the spring thaw.
During a break in the weather, he grabbed both rifles and a couple of bags of .223 WSSM and 6mmBR cartridges and headed to the range to check out his new loads. In case you are not familiar, the 6mmBR is smaller in diameter and a mite shorter than the .223 WSSM. Because of this, it will chamber in a .223 WSSM, but the .243 caliber (6mm) bullet is too big for the .22 caliber bore. That is what happened to my friend.
The rest is history — when he squeezed the trigger, all hell broke loose. The entire bottom of the rifle blew out, including the magazine assembly. The explosion actually cut the stock into two pieces. However, the bolt held and amazing as it may seem, the .243 bullet was “swaged” right out of the .223 barrel.
6mmBR (left) and .223 WSSM (right) cartridges above the remains of Browning A-Bolt rifle.
One Small Mistake Is All It Takes
Now, realize that my friend has been shooting all manner of firearms, safely, for over half a century. He is meticulous, thorough and conscientious in his approach to reloading and shooting. However, he made one mistake. He put some lose 6BR cartridges in a baggie as he packed up from a prairie dog hunt last summer, without noticing that the baggie was marked .223 WSSM in black marker. Then, when the break in his winter weather came, he grabbed the bag, believing it to be the WSSM cartridges and didn’t check the head stamp.
Couldn’t happen to you? How many times have we emptied our pockets of cartridges and dropped them into a plastic container on the shooting bench? How many times have we set down to a marathon reloading session, loading several calibers in a row? How many times have we put the wrong bullets, cases or primers into the incorrect container? My point is that even the safest of us can make a mistake. So, look at the picture above and take a bit more time when you reload your ammunition at home or chamber a round in the field. It might save your life.
Hunting season is right around the corner. If you don’t own a worthy deer-hunting rig, there are many affordable options available. You can often save yourself $100.00 or more by purchasing a “turn-key” deer rifle package — a hunting rifle combo complete with rings and rifle-scope.
The American Hunter magazine website recently published a guide to affordable package hunting rigs. Jon Draper spotlights Four Off-The-Rack Deer Rifle Combos from Howa, Mossberg, Ruger, and Savage. Two of the four rigs, the Mossberg and Savage entries, come in at under $500 including scope/rings. Next up is the Ruger American Rifle, priced at $679.00 MSRP with 3-9x40mm Redfield Revolution scope.
The priciest entry is Howa’s Hunter Zeiss Walnut Package. MSRP is a not insubtantial $1103.00 for the Howa package, but this includes a premium-quality Zeiss Terra 3-9x42mm optic. The Howa also has a very nice two-stage 2.5 to 3.8-lb HACT trigger* that we prefer to the triggers on the other three, lesser-priced rifles.
To learn more, CLICK HERE to read the American Hunter Deer Rifle Combo article.
* HACT stands for Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger. Howa’s HACT assembly is a trigger and sear unit that works like a two-stage trigger. This allows the shooter to take up trigger creep before squeezing through. HACT trigger pull weight adjusts from 2.5 to 3.8 pounds. We like the lower weight for varmint rifles shot from prone or portable benches, while we prefer the heavier pull weight for a carry rifle.
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