As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.

March 31st, 2009

Benelli Introduces All-New 'Vinci' Shotgun Line

Today, after weeks of “teaser” pre-release marketing, Benelli introduces its all-new ‘Vinci’ line of self-loading shotguns. While Benelli’s product launch press releases are understandably self-congratulatory, the new shotgun does have many impressive features. Overall, this is a significant new product — not just another 1960s design in new clothing.

Benelli Vinci Shotgun

CLICK HERE for more photos, and product specifications.

First, the take-down/assembly procedures are impressively simple — the steel receiver/barrel assembly attaches directly to the front of the buttstock with a simple twist fitting. The receiver is very low profile and the entire bolt and bolt buffer assembly operates along the same axis as the bore. That’s smart engineering that should make the gun more controllable under recoil. Benelli claims that the combination of the all-inline, inertia-driven bolt system with the “Comfortech Plus” buttpad gives the Vinci 72% less felt recoil than other lightweight shotguns. (That’s quite a claim — it would be interesting to see how Benelli substantiates that number.)

We like the fact that the stock is easily adjustable. You can adjust Drop, Cast, Length of Pull and Cheek Height — all without tools. The tubular magazine and forearm can also be quickly removed without tools. Various forearm and stock options allow the Vinci to switch from standard shotgun, to pistol grip turkey gun, or to a pistol grip tactical scattergun. The Vinci is currently offered with either 26″ or 28″ barrels. Colors are matte black, Realtree APG camo, and Advantage Max 4 camo.

CLICK HERE to view Vinci Shotgun Videos.

Benelli Vinci Shotgun
NOTE: May take a long time to load or stall on slow connections.

Permalink - Videos, New Product No Comments »
March 31st, 2009

New Handbook for High Power Shooters

NRA High Power bookletJohn Parker of the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division has authored a new brochure on the topic of High Power Rifle competition. It is available from the NRA online store for just $0.50, item CT17000. The booklet covers all the key components needed for High Power shooting. It also includes a special “Getting Started” section.

In the new booklet, Parker covers the following topics: Course of Fire, Rifle, Sling, Spotting Scope, Shooting Coat, Shooting Glove, Eye and Ear Protection, Sight Blackener, Scorebook, and Ammunition. Parker also explains the NRA Classification System and provides basic summaries of popular High Power disciplines: Long Range, Mid Range Prone, F-Class, and High Power Sporting Rifle.

You can order this booklet online at the NRA Program Materials Center, or call 800-336-7402 to place your order over the phone. Visit NRA’s High Power Rifle Competition webpage for more information.

This report comes courtesy of the NRA Blog.

Permalink - Articles, New Product No Comments »
March 30th, 2009

Browning Releases T-Bolt Rimfires for Lefties

The Browning T-Bolt straight-pull rimfire rifle is an American classic, first produced from 1965 through 1975. In 2006 Browning wisely resumed production of the fast-cycling T-Bolt. We were pleased to see the re-introduction of the T-Bolt, as the unique action is smooth and quick to use. This makes the rifle well-suited for both varminting and the new “Rimfire Tactical” discipline. With enhanced materials and improved manufacturing methods, the new-generation T-Bolt is more reliable and smoother-operating than ever.

Browning T-Bolt rimfire

Browning Launches Left-Handed T-Bolts
Browning has added twelve new offerings to their T-Bolt rimfire rifle line for left-handed shooters. All the new models incorporate the basic design of the T-Bolt rifle but with the bolt on the left side. There are four new left-hand models in each caliber: .22 long rifle, .22 Winchester Magnum and .17 HMR.

Browning T-Bolt rimfire

On all T-Bolts (both right- and left-handed), receivers are drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Barrels are free-floated and have recessed crowns. T-Bolts feature a 3-lever, short-travel trigger design. Trigger pull weight is adjustable with an external screw and there is a convenient, thumb-operated tang safety.

Among the new T-Bolt models, we like the heavy-barreled Target/Varmint model. This has a satin finish checkered walnut stock with a Monte Carlo comb and wider fore-end. Suggested retail price for the .22 LR Target/Varmint is $719.00 and $729.00 for the .22 WinMag and .17 HMR guns. There is also a less expensive Sporter Model with a lighter-contour barrel.

Browning T-Bolt rimfire

Permalink New Product No Comments »
March 29th, 2009

Quick Review: Sightron SIII 6-24×50 LR Mildot


The Sightron 6-24×50mm Mildot is the latest in Sightron’s SIII line-up of side-focus, 30mm riflescopes. This follows the hot-selling 8-32×56mm SIII, which we reviewed last fall. While our 6-24x50mm test sample has a Mildot reticle, Sightron’s new 6-24x50mm scope is also offered with a fine cross-hair (FCH) with target dot reticle. Both Mildot and FCH versions are 14.96″ overall with a near-constant 3.6-3.8 inches of eye relief. Clicks are 1/4 MOA (15 MOA per revolution), and total elevation (and windage) adjustment is listed as 100 MOA (50 MOA on either side of center). That’s a class-leading amount of elevation, which should make the new 6-24×50mm popular with long-range shooters.

Sightron SIII Mildot

Shown above is the Sightron 6-24×50mm Mildot, flanked by a Leupold 8-25×50mm LRT and the Sightron 8-32×56mm. The controls on the 6-24 Sightron are identical to those of its big brother, but it is shorter, with a smaller objective. The shorter length and 50mm front objective allow a 2.8 ounce weight savings over the larger model (21.9 oz. vs. 24.7 oz.).

Sightron SIII Mildot

Sightron 6-24x50mm Quick Review
Assistant Editor Jason Baney has been evaluating the optical qualities of the new Sightron 6-24 Mildot scope. Jason also had a chance to test the scope’s real-world performance in a tactical match. Here is Jason’s report:

“When the new 6-24x50mm mil-dot Sightron SIII arrived, it looked like the little brother of the Sightron 8-32x56mm. Controls and “styling” are similar. This family relationship was made clear as my review of its performance progressed. It shared the same ergonomics, same superior glass, and same unbeatable tracking.

Sightron SIII MildotI had a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LRT for comparison purposes. The Leupold, which is actually 24.3x at max power, is a popular scope with a good reputation for clarity and sharpness. However, the new 6-24x50mm Sightron seemed better in many respects than the Leupold LRT. The Sightron’s glass appeared superior, giving better color rendition, a brighter field of view, and better contrast.

Also, with the Sightron, there was no noticeable parallax lash in the side-focus system. There was no need to start the side-focus at a travel stop every time. You could simply dial the side parallax adjustment and get the observed target in sharp focus with minimal parallax. This has been a problem with some Leupolds (i.e. you can’t get minimal parallax and best focus at the same time.) While observing bullet holes in different colored targets at 300 yards, the Sightron also appeared to show slightly better resolution than the Leupold and therefore better ability to locate individual bullet holes in the paper.”

Field Testing at the Allegheny Sniper Challenge (ASC)
In any competition riflescope, precise, repeatable tracking is absolutely vital. When you crank-in elevation and/or windage you want the reticle to move the exact value you dialed. Then you want the scope to repeat exactly when you return to the original zero. To test the Sightron’s tracking, Jason did more than a simple range test. He tested the scope’s tracking in the “real world”, during a two-day tactical comp.

Jason reports: “The 6-24 was thrown into action right away at the Allegheny Sniper Challenge (ASC) in Seneca Rocks, WV in August 2008. This was a team match that I shot with my father. ASC entails interesting weather, and even more interesting shots. In a matter of two days, over 100 shots are expended and a scope’s adjustments are REALLY put to the test. Maintaining zero is very important, because there are no sighters to check your zero. Shots range from less than 100 yards to nearly 1200 yards, and in the end, everyone has clicked their scope up-and-down 40 times or more. This means 40+ up/down repetitions on the elevation knob. This is as tough a test of a scope’s tracking ability as you’ll find.”

Great Tracking Ability, Excellent Value
So how did the Sightron’s tracking rate? The new Sightron 6-24×50 returned from ASC with the EXACT same 100-yard zero as when it started. This scope maintained its zero as well or better than any other scope out there, including those costing $3000.00+. The scope’s great elevation range was also much appreciated. Jason reports: “With 100+ MOA of elevation available and a 20 MOA base on the rifle, I had enough ‘up’ to shoot all the way out to 1200 yards with no problem.”

Sightron SIII Mildot

In Jason’s opinion this scope will be very hard if not impossible to beat in its price range in many aspects. The new Sightron 6-24 certainly rivals the overall optical quality of the Sightron 8-32×56, and that’s saying a lot. But since it is a Mildot scope there is another level of scrutiny needed. This scope is not a purpose-built tactical scope, but it represents a good base on which to build if Sightron offers enhancements in the future. If a shooter wishes only to use the mil-dots for holdover, he will be well served, but a Front Focal Plane (FFP) reticle would be more useful for serious tactical work. An illuminated reticle would also be welcome, and Jason would like to see a different reticle design with half-mil markings.

Also, some tactical shooters would prefer to have mil-based click values, rather than 1/4 MOA clicks. In raising these points, we need to stress that the $800.00 Sightron 6-24x50mm Mildot is affordable and works well as a general-purpose scope with reticle marks that allow hold-overs. This scope was not designed to compete with a $2700.00 Schmidt & Bender PMII. Jason explains: “I just want the serious tactical guys to understand that the Sightron won’t give you all the features of a dedicated FFP mildot optic with mil-based clicks. However, at about $800.00 average retail, the Sightron 6-24x50mm costs less than a third of what you’ll pay for high-end tactical scopes from S&B or U.S. Optics.”

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Optics No Comments »
March 29th, 2009

Report from South Africa: Ty Cooper wins Individual Match, South Africa Wins Team Comps

Spc. Tyrel Cooper of the USAMU won the individual championship at the South African Bisley Union (SABU) 80th Anniversary Match. For the past two years, Ty has been one of the best long-range shooters in the world. In 2008 he won the Target Rifle Overall Aggregate at the Spirit of America Match. Congrats to Ty for outstanding shooting in South Africa!

South African Bisley Union Rifle Match Anniversary

Shooting in very challenging wind conditions, the host South Africans took first place in both the Invitational 8-man team match (score: 2314-209v) and the SABU Int’l Anniversary 12-man team match (score: 3516-350v). The United States 12-man team finished second with a 3469-303v score. Reporting on the Anniversary Team Match, Walt Walter reported to the NRA Blog: “At 800 meters, South Africa extended their lead in ‘very very difficult’ wind conditions. Almost all of the time allowance was used with sighters from later firers being fired early to assist the coaches with their wind calling. Once again, South Africa used their local knowledge to increase their lead with some excellent shooting and equally good wind calling. Going back to 900 meters, the wind remained just as tricky and with the South Africans averaging solid 70s scores, they finished an impressive 49 points of the USA.”

Individual Ranking TEAM Ranking Anniv. Match
1. Ty Cooper (USA) 208-20v
2. Alwyn McLean (Ireland) 208-15v
3. Jane Messer (England) 207-25v
4. Andy Wilde (England) 206-22v
5. David Luckman (England) 206-20v
1. South Africa 3516-350v
2. USA 3469-303v
3. England 3461-293v
4. Ireland 3442-274v
5. Wales 3419-255v

Note: In South Africa, the “v”-count is equivalent to the “X”-count in North America.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
March 29th, 2009

Bargain Prices on Refurbished Nikon Scopes at Midsouth

Right now, Midsouth Shooters Supply has some great deals on refurbished Nikon hunting scopes. If you’re looking for a bargain price on a medium-magnification-range zoom riflescope, CLICK HERE. Remaining inventories are low for many models, so you should act quickly. Here are some of the current offers:

Nikon ProStaff 3-9X50mm (Nikoplex Reticle, Matte)
Item No: 125-6313B | Price: $124.46

Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14X40mm (BDC Reticle, Side-Focus, Matte)
Item No: 125-6453B | Price: $228.74

Nikon Monarch 2.5-10X42mm (BDC Reticle, Matte)
Item No: 125-8411B | Price: $283.92

Nikon refurbished scopes

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics 1 Comment »
March 28th, 2009

National Park Service Retracts Proposed Lead Ammo Ban

National Park ServiceIn an official press release dated March 10, 2009, the National Park Service (NPS) announced its intention to ban all lead bullets, lead-containing ammunition, and lead fishing tackle in the lands under NPS control. National Park Service director Dan Wenk stated: “Our goal is to eliminate the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle in parks by the end of 2010. We want to take a leadership role in removing lead from the environment.”

Well, it looks like the NPS was not prepared for a firestorm of criticism. This week it back-peddled, issuing another press release stating that there would be no actual lead ban affecting the general public.

National Park Service Clarifies Lead Ammo Policy
Faced with pressure from groups representing hunters and anglers, and criticism from some politicians, the Park Service has disavowed its stated policy to ban lead ammo and lead fishing tackle by 2010. Now the Park Service is saying that it was “misunderstood”. Last week the Park Service issued a “clarification”, stating that the proposed lead restrictions would only apply to Park Service employees and projects. Duly chastened, the NPS pledged to seek input from hunters, anglers, and other interested parties. No future ban on lead ammo or tackle will be imposed without “public involvement, comment, and review”. Here are the key points in the latest NPS release:

“1. Nothing has changed for the public. We are simply announcing the NPS goal of eliminating lead from NPS activities to protect human and wildlife health.

2. We will work to clean our own house by altering NPS resource management activities. In 2009, we will transition to non-lead ammunition in culling operations and dispatching sick or wounded animals.

3. In the future, we will look at the potential for transitioning to non-lead ammunition and non-lead fishing tackle for recreational use by working with our policy office and appropriate stakeholders/groups. This will require public involvement, comment, and review.”

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News 1 Comment »
March 28th, 2009

How to "Bump" Your Cases the Right Amount when Sizing

Harrell’s Precision sells “semi-custom” full-length bushing dies for the PPC and 6BR chamberings. While the Harrell brothers do not cut the die to spec, they carry a large selection of dies made with slightly different internal dimensions. When you send in your fired brass, the Harrells choose a die from inventory with just the right amount of sizing (diameter reduction) at the top and bottom of the case. Given the quality, and precise fit, Harrell’s full-length dies are a good value at $70.00 plus shipping.

Bump Measuring Collar
The Harrell brothers provide a nice bonus item with each full-length die — a neat, little shoulder bump measuring device as shown in the photo at right. Hornady/Stoney Point sells a stand-alone tool that does the same job, but the Harrell’s bump collar is simpler and faster. To measure your shoulder bump, simply place the Harrell’s bump collar over the front of your deprimed case (before sizing) and measure the OAL with your calipers. Then size the case in your full-length die, replace the collar and repeat the measurement. You want to set your die so the shoulder moves back about .001″ to .0015″ for most applications. (With semi-auto guns you may want more bump.)

When measuring for shoulder bump, you need to remove the primers first. Our friend Boyd Allen explains: “Use a decapping tool or die to remove the fired primer before taking the initial measurement. When working to thousandths, even the raised edge of a crater or a slightly raised primer can throw you off by a significant amount.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 27th, 2009

Load Tuning for the 6mm Dasher — Hoppe Talks

The 6mm Dasher is based on the 6mm BR cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and “improved” to 40°. Case capacity is raised to about 41.0 grains. This allows the Dasher to drive 105-108gr bullets comfortably at 2970-3000 fps without over-stressing the brass. A popular load used by many successful Dasher shooters is 33.3 grains of Reloder 15, CCI 450 primers, with 105gr Berger VLDS, .010″ in the lands. This is a “warm load” and should only be used with fire-formed brass. As with any load, start 10% low and work up. You may also have good luck jumping the bullets .020″ or more.

Robert Hoppe is one of the top 600-yard shooters in the country. Last fall, shooting a 6 Dasher, Robert nailed a 0.5823″, 5-shot group. At the time it was the smallest group ever shot in 600-yard registered benchrest competition. Just last weekend, John Lewis shot even smaller with an IBS Heavy Gun, but Robert’s 0.5823″ still remains the NBRSA 600-yard record, and the smallest group ever shot at 600 by a 17-lb class rifle. Robert has been very successful in the 600-yard game, and he finished 5th recently at the NBRSA 600-yard competition. He knows how to wring the best accuracy out of the 6mm Dasher cartridge. Here Robert offers some tips on load development and tuning for the 6mm Dasher.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Reloading No Comments »
March 26th, 2009

A Dozen Essential Extras for Your Range Kit

April is just around the corner. Many shooters in the Northern latitudes are getting ready to start their shooting season. That means collecting all the gear they’ll need at the range. It’s easy to forget small, critical items, so we’ve provided a checklist of the small “extras” you should pack before you head out to the range. In addition to rifle, rests, ammo, targets, and cleaning gear, here are a dozen essentials you should include in your range bag.

Shell-holder — Use the shell-holder to gauge if you are getting excessive case expansion from hot loads. If a fired case doesn’t slip into the shell-holder easily, your load is definitely TOO HOT.

Extra earplugs — Always use ear protection when shooting. We bring a 35mm film canister with extra sets of foam earplugs.

Hex wrench or screwdriver for action screws — Action screws can work loose with time. Always bring the appropriate hex wrench or screwdriver whenever you go to the range.

Small wrench for scope rings — Check the tension of your scope base and ring fasteners before you go. Bring along a small Torx wrench for the ring screws (or other tool that fits your fasteners).

Normal and under-sized jags — It is often wise to use one-caliber undersize jags when applying solvent with cotten patches. You should have a couple sizes in your range kit.

Extra batteries — Bring extra batteries for all your electronic gear — which can include chronograph, windmeter, digital camera, GPS etc.

Small notebook and pen or pencil — Use the notebook to record chron data, log group sizes, and make notes about wind and weather conditions.

Adhesive dots — Bring a few sheets of adhesive dots (sold at office supply stores). Use small white or black dots as target pasters. Use larger red or orange dots as aiming points (target centers).

Folding chair or camp stool — This comes in handy if you’re spotting for another shooter, or if you reload away from the firing line.

Water bottle — You can’t shoot well if you’re dehydrated. Bring at least two quarts of water with you and keep a bottle at the bench.

Surveyors’ Tape and wood stakes — You can make inexpensive wind indicators using surveyors’ tape attached to the top of wood stakes.

Small plastic ruler — Use this to measure your group sizes. A transparent (see-through) ruler works best. Rulers are also useful for drawing lines on targets.

This list is not intended to be exclusive. There are many other items you may wish to include. We invite our readers to add other “essentials” to the list. The important thing is to plan ahead, packing your key items before you drive to the range.

Permalink Tech Tip No Comments »
March 26th, 2009

First Official NRA 3-Gun Match in Texas this Weekend

The Larue Tactical 3-Gun Match, the NRA’s first officially-sanctioned, multi-gun match will be held March 28-29, in Waco, Texas at the Tiger Valley training facility.

LaRue 3-Gun Tactical match

At the LaRue Three-Gun match, competitors will shoot multiple stages using pistol, rifle, and shotgun. This is action shooting, with lots of movement … shooters must negotiate obstacles, run to firing positions, and engage targets from multiple positions, often firing through ports or around barricades. There will be a wide variety of targets placed at distances from a few yards to over 300 yards (for the rifle stages).

LaRue 3-Gun Tactical match

Larue’s Match Director Greg Coker says both speed and precision will be key: “We are utilizing the new NRA Tactical Police Competition targets and I have implemented a new scoring system that will reward the competitor with accuracy and speed while penalizing them heavily for making a poor [decision to shoot].”

Other 2009 NRA-Sanctioned Multi-Gun Matches
Multi-gun matches represent one of the fastest growing competitive shooting disciplines. The NRA will promote multi-gun competition by sanctioning three other big matches in 2009:

Sabre Defense Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun Match, April 24-26, 2009

Johnson 3-Gun Match, June 27-28, 2009

Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Match, NRA Wittington Center, Raton, NM August 6-8, 2009.

For more information on the LaRue Tactical Three-Gun Match, or future three-gun competitions, contact Janet Raab in the NRA Competitive Shooting Division by email, or by phone at (703) 267-1479.

Permalink Competition No Comments »
March 25th, 2009

U.S. National Rifle Team Competes in South Africa

South Africa Bisley Union matchThe United States National Rifle Team, supported by the NRA, has traveled to South Africa to participate in the South African Bisley Union matches and their national championships, held at Bloemfontein, South Africa, March 26 – April 4. This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the South African matches. This will be a fullbore competition for Target Rifle class and F-Class at distances from 300 to 900 meters. There will also be a series of .303 club matches as well as Junior matches.

The team is led by Team Captain Dennis Flaherty of California; Vice Captain Dan Simpson of New Hampshire; and Vice Captain Tom Whitaker, also from California. SFC Emil Praslick III, U.S. Army, will function as Head Coach during this tour. Ian Cheesman and Robert Steketee round out the team officers with Ian as Adjutant and Robert functioning as the South Africa Touring Trip Team Adjutant.

During the first week there will be individual matches culminating in a 12-man team match to determine the top National team in the 80th Anniversary matches. After an overnight in Johannesburg the Team traveled to Bloemfontein on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday will be training days with the individual matches to begin on Thursday, March 26th.

CLICK HERE to download 80th Anniversary Match Schedule and Info Forms.

This report is courtesy the NRA Blog and H.J. “Walt” Walter, NRA Board Member.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
March 24th, 2009

NSSF Launches Scholastic Steel Challenge with $50K Grant

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), in partnership with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) has launched a new pistol-shooting discipline for high school and collegiate shooters — the Scholastic Steel Challenge (SSC). The Scholastic Steel Challenge program is being modeled after the highly successful NSSF-developed Scholastic Clay Target Program. The NSSF will help launch this new discipline with a $50,000 grant to the SSC, administered under the USPSA.

Steel Challenge JessieSSC Format Based on Steel Challenge
The SSC competition format is based on the Steel Challenge, a popular action pistol competition that attracts some of the world’s best shooters. The scholastic version has been designed so it can be enjoyed by both novices and experienced shooters. Competitors will engage targets from a low-ready position and not from holsters as is done in the Steel Challenge.

SSC Will Have Two Divisions: Junior (Age 14-16) and Senior (Age 17-20)
SSC is open to all eligible youth shooters. There is a Junior Division for 14 to 16-year-olds and a Senior Division for 17 to 20-year-olds. Scores and rankings will be posted online, and championships will be awarded in both divisions.

“We thank the NSSF for its support and for providing an outstanding model for our Scholastic Steel Challenge program,” said Scott Moore, director of SSC. “Our goal is to introduce the thrill and action of shooting steel targets to the youth of America through a program that is grounded in safe gun handling principles.”

“Developing new target shooters through programs that teach safe and responsible handling of firearms is a priority of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and we’re proud to help a program get off the ground that holds so much potential for introducing new shooters to a lifetime sport,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF President.

Permalink Competition No Comments »
March 24th, 2009

Sportsman's Warehouse Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The Sportsman’s Warehouse chain of outdoor stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past weekend. In papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, Sportman’s Warehouse declared assets of $436.3 million versus outstanding debt of $452.3 million. Under Chapter 11, a company is protected from creditor lawsuits while it works out a plan to repay its debts during reorganization.

Sportsman's Warehouse

Sportsman’s Warehouse currently operates 29 stores, including four stores in its home state of Utah. “Sportsman’s Warehouse is another retailer victim of the worldwide global recession,” Rourk Kemp, the company’s chief financial officer (CFO), stated in Bankruptcy Court papers. Last year, Sportsman’s Warehouse announced a deal to sell 80% of its operations to a Canadian agricultural cooperative. However, that deal basically fell through, precipitating this Chapter 11 filing.

Stores to Remain Open During Reorganization
Sportsman’s Warehouse does not plan to liquidate or go out of business entirely. According to CFO Kemp, Sportsman’s Warehouse intends to continue its normal business. It will keep its remaining 29 stores open, having already closed 23 stores and sold 15 others. It will also continue to pay employees’ wages and benefits and honor customer service policies, such as returns, exchanges, credits and gift-cards.

New Financing Source
To help pay the bills during reorganization, Sportsmans’ Warehouse announced it has secured, from G.E. Capital Corp., $85 million in financing. These funds will be available to the company while it is under the Chapter 11 protection.

Permalink News 2 Comments »
March 23rd, 2009

Outdoor Expo at Ben Avery in Phoenix this Weekend

On March 28-29, the Arizona Game and Fish Department hosts its Outdoor Expo 2009 at the largest public shooting complex in the nation — the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, located just west of Interstate 17 on Carefree Highway. At the event, which is FREE, you can try out many different shooting disciplines. Plus there will be archery classes, mounted (horseback) shooting demos, wildlife info sessions, and many other outdoor activities. This is a very popular event — the 2008 Outdoor Expo drew over 26,000 visitors.

Ben Avery Outdoor Expo

Outdoor Expo visitors will be able to test the latest firearms from companies like Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger. Visitors can also try a variety of specialty shooting disciplines, such as cowboy action shooting, black powder, tactical pistol, and silhouette shooting. You’ll receive tips from top shooters, including past cowboy action Champion Evil Roy (Gene Pearcey).

Ben Avery Outdoor ExpoBen Avery Outdoor Expo

Gatling Gun Ben AveryShotgun fans can shoot skeet, trap or sporting clays at Ben Avery’s enhanced Clay Target Center. Kids can shoot .22s and air guns while learning more about firearm safety. Guests (of all ages) can take an archery class or try out “3D Archery” on a walking course through the desert. There will be many exciting demonstrations at the 2009 Outdoor Expo. Visitors can witness a mini-gun demonstration or even shoot a vintage Gatling Gun.

One of the crowd-pleasing highlights of the event will be live competition by cowboy mounted shooters at the brand new cowboy action riding ring. Skilled riders maneuver speedy quarterhorses while shooting black-powder blanks at balloons. Watch the video below to learn all about this exciting sport:

YouTube Preview Image

When you’re not shooting or watching live shooting events, you can visit with more than 100 Outdoor Expo exhibitors, including sportsmen’s organizations, conservation groups, shooting clubs, government agencies, and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.

For more information, visit the Outdoor Expo website,, or CLICK HERE to view the 2009 Outdoor Expo promo video.

Permalink - Videos No Comments »
March 22nd, 2009

TECH TIP: Form Improved Cases with Hydraulic Forming Die

We know many of our readers shoot the 6 BRX, 6 Dasher, 6mm Rem AI, .243 Ackley and other “improved cartridges” that require case-forming. These wildcat designs move the shoulder forward, or alter the shoulder angle and/or body taper. Traditionally, these cases are fire-formed, i.e. a charge of powder is used to blow the shoulder forward and casewalls out. There are different methods of fire-forming. Some guys use a full load of rifle powder, with bullets seated hard in the lands (setting up a false shoulder helps too). Other shooters successfully fire-form without bullets, using fast pistol powders (and a much-reduced charge). Typically, with this bulletless fire-forming, a filler such as Grits is used, along with some kind of plug or wad to hold the powder in the case.

Fire-forming takes time, and consumes expensive powder, primers, and (typically) bullets. Unless you have a dedicated fire-forming barrel, the fire-forming process can use up a significant amount of your useful barrel life, particularly if you are a varminter needing hundreds of re-formed cases. What if you could form your cases at home, at your reloading bench, without burning powder or wasting barrel life? Well you can…

Hydraulic Case-Forming with Hornady Die
Now, thanks to Hornady, shooters who need to “improve” their cases have a bonafied alternative to fire-forming. Hornady’s custom shop offers a hydraulic case-forming kit that allows you to form cases just using water and a conventional reloading press.

Hornady Hydraulic Forming Die

Because fluids, such as water, are not compressible, you can use hydraulic action to change the shape of your brass in a die. As a ram or piston moves the fluid in the die, hydraulic pressure pushes the shoulder and case walls out to match the “improved” case profile machined into the Hornady die. What you’ll get is a re-formed case with a near-perfect neck-shoulder junction, but with slightly rounded edges where the case body meets the shoulder. However, the edges of the shoulder will normally sharpen up once you shoot the brass for the first time with a full load.

Hornady Hydraulic Forming Die

Tips for Hydraulic Case-Forming
The process works well… as long as you understand that it will take a final fire-forming stage to fully “blow out” the brass. The hydraulic process gets you 95% of the way there. Lonnie Hummel, technician of Hornady’s Custom Shop, uses a hydraulic forming die himself to produce his wildcat varmint cases. Lonnie recommends using regular water as the hydraulic fluid, but other shooters have used isopropyl alcohol, and some guys have used light machine oil. The different fluid choices have pros and cons. With water, you have to be careful to dry out the forming die so it doesn’t rust. With oil you have to make sure you remove ALL the oil from the case before firing. That’s very important for safety and to ensure you don’t “kill” your primers. Alcohol seems to work well, but again you want to make sure residues are removed, so that any residual alcohol does not contaminate primers or powder.

Ordering a Hydraulic Forming Die
Hornady hydraulic forming dies are produced on a custom basis. You need to supply a reamer print or some “finished” cases that have been fully fire-formed in your chamber. Then Hornady can build a die that matches your improved or wildcat chamber. Also, after heat-treating, each die is custom-honed so there is a super-close fit with the shaft of the hydraulic piston.

How much will it cost? Prices vary depending on the size of the parent cartridge: for cases up to 2.6″, the cost is $165.00; for cases over 2.6″ up to 2.9″ the price is $185.00. These prices are for the complete Hornady Hydraulic Forming Kit, which includes Die Body, Lock Ring, Hydraulic Piston, and a special shellholder (without a center hole).

For more information contact Lonnie Hummel at Hornady. Call (308) 382-1390 and ask for the Custom Shop or email: lhummel [at] NOTE: You will NOT see this product listed or illustrated on Hornady’s website. Hydraulic form dies are special order items.

Photos courtesy Forum member SongDogHunter

Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
March 21st, 2009

Add GPS Navigation to Your LapTop for under $100.00

Our recent review of the GPS-enabled Sony Vaio P netbook computer sparked interest among readers who wanted to add navigation capability to their own laptops. While the little Sony is a marvel of engineering, some readers pointed out that it’s more than twice as expensive as “netbooks” from Asus, Dell, Samsung and other vendors. But the Sony offers built-in GPS with turn-by-turn spoken navigation. That’s a very nice feature that lets your computer do much more than just exchange email or surf the web. Though the Sony is one of the few computers with built-in GPS, don’t despair… you can now add GPS Navigation to most modern portable PCs for under a hundred bucks.

Garming mobile PC GPS

Add GPS Capability to your LapTop for under $100.00
What can you do if you already own a Windows laptop or netbook without built-in GPS Navigation? Garmin has you covered. In 2008 Garmin introduced its “Mobile PC” software that comes bundled with a corded 20X Garmin GPS receiver. The software AND the receiver cost $99.95 (average ‘street price’). There is also a version with a cordless 10X Garmin GPS receiver that works with Bluetooth-enabled laptops and netbooks.

While most vendors charge about $100 for the Mobile PC software plus USB-attached GPS receiver, we found this package for just $76.38 at

Garmin Mobile PC Features
Packed with preloaded maps, millions of destinations and full GPS navigation capabilities, Garmin Mobile PC software turns your laptop into a powerful street navigator. The program provides spoken turn-by-turn directions from your starting point to your destination. It gives automatic corrections if you stray off course. You can upload custom points of interest (hotels, parks etc.), and even navigate to locations in your MS Outlook® contact list. Garmin Mobile PC automatically sorts multiple destinations to provide an efficient route for errands, deliveries or sales calls. A trip computer records trip data and a trip log provides an electronic trail, so you can see where you’ve been on the map.

Benefits of PC-based Navigation
Right now you can buy an Asus or Dell Netbook for under $300.00. Add the Garmin Mobile PC GPS package and you’re still under $400.00. That’s less than the cost of many aftermarket vehicle GPS navigation systems by themselves. And the computer offers a bigger screen AND the ability to update weather information and hotel reservations via a Wi-Fi connection (Wi-Fi service must be purchased separately). Plus, with a portable PC, you can access on the road!

LEARN MORE: Read Review of Garmin Mobile PC

Permalink New Product 4 Comments »
March 21st, 2009

Brownell's Offers Financial and Insurance Services Program for Small Businesses

Brownell’s offers a financial and insurance services package designed expressly for gunsmiths, gunshops, and small-to-medium-sized firearms businesses. The program leverages Brownell’s business relationships to provide more affordable services for smaller companies. Brownells Business Advantage (BBA), provides reduced-rate credit card processing, property/liability insurance, and discounted UPS 2-day and Next day shipping. With card processing rates as low as 1.38%, the BBA program could save a gunsmith hundreds of dollars a year. Most other credit card processsing services charge 2.2-2.8% per transaction. A 1% card processing fee reduction will save you $10 on every $1000.00 of customer spending. Brownell’s business partner for credit card processing and Visa business cards is the First National Bank of Omaha.

$50.00 to Join, Plus $25.00 per year
Initial membership in the Brownells Business Advantage costs $50 with a $25 annual renewal fee. Questions? Send email to BBA [at] or call Jo Ann at 641-623-5401 Ext. 5447.

CLICK HERE for VIDEO Explaining BBA Benefits

Permalink News No Comments »
March 20th, 2009

Weaver Launches New Website

Weaver Optics has unveiled its new, upgraded website: The new site is easier to navigate, and you’ll find much more complete information on all Weaver riflescopes plus useful charts showing the correct ring/mount sizes for various scope/rifle set-ups.

weaver web site

NEW Weaver Website Features
• Complete scope detail: Each scope category shows available finishes and reticles in a simple, clear presentation.
• Mount charts: Quickly and easily find the right mount for your firearm; then browse the ring options for the right solution to your mounting needs.
• Online purchase: “Buy now” option lets you purchase scopes, mounts, and accessories through an approved, secure third-party online store.

NEW Gunsmith Work Center
Weaver’s new website also features a section just for accessories. There we found a cool new product, Weaver’s new Gunsmith Mounting Center (item 849725). This innovative product combines a gun vise with an integral vertical pegboard for tool storage. The gun vise has dual padded jaws that slide on 30″ rails to accommodate all types of long arms. Measuring over two feet tall, the pegboard offers plenty of room to hang tools and cleaning gear. The unit also has a flat platform behind the vise rails, plus a handy 12″x19″ parts tray up front.

weaver gunsmith mounting center

• Footprint size on workbench: 34″ wide x 18.5″ deep x 30″ tall
• Pegboard panel sizes: 8″ x 26″ (2) 20.5″ x 26″ (1)
• Parts tray size: 12″ x 19.25″
• Vise adjustment range: 0.5″ – 3.25″
• Vise vertical adjustment range: 2.75″

Permalink New Product, News No Comments »
March 20th, 2009

Half-Price Sale on MidwayUSA Shooting Mats

Here’s a great deal on a functional shooting mat. The MidwayUSA Competition Shooting Mat (item 169107) is currently on sale for just $24.99. That’s marked down $25.00 from the normal $49.99 price. The mat features padding for both knees and elbows, plus corner grommets so the mat can be staked down. It rolls up to a compact 6″ x 27″ package.

Competition shooting mat

• Bottom of mat is constructed of textured, non-skid, water-resistant material
• Roughly .325″ thick at the elbow pads and .350″ thick at the knee pads
• Legal for Highpower/CMP rifle matches and smallbore competition
• Dimensions (unrolled): 69″ Long x 27″ Wide
• Includes handle and shoulder strap

Permalink Competition, Hot Deals No Comments »