April 2nd, 2020

Executive Order: Shelter at Home (and Clean Your Guns)

firearm rifle pistol gun cleaning foam mat AR15 amazon usefulthingy
This handy cleaning mat features a parts diagram for AR-platform rifles. This padded, absorbent 36″ x 12″ AR15 mat costs $18.99 at Amazon.

With a large percentage of Americans stuck at home under Coronavirus lockdown orders, there is time to attend to many maintenance tasks — including cleaning your firearms. Here are some quality benchtop pads that can help with the cleaning process for all types of firearms — pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

While we normally use a gun cradle or Caldwell gun vise when cleaning or adjusting our rifles. But there are situations, such as when working on a barreled action, when it’s nice to use a pad that lies flat. Many work pads are too small — they’re nothing more than oversize mouse pads. Here are three gun pads that are big enough to work well with rifles and/or barreled actions.

DryMate Gun Cleaning Pad

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymateThe DryMate Gun Cleaning Pad is a full 54″ wide x 16″. That’s four and a half FEET wide — longer than most rifles, so you have plenty of surface area for working. Conveniently, this product can be washed with soap and water. It is offered in three versions: Green, Blaze Orange, and Camo. We like the Blaze orange version because the bright color makes it easier to see small parts such as screws and springs.

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Boyt Harness Counter Pad

The 48″ x 12″ Boyt Harness Counter Pad was originally designed more for display purposes than for serious work sessions, but we like this product. It is useful if you want to lay your gun on a bench to make small adjustments. The Boyt Counter Pad is nice and big, a full four feet from end to end. The back side is canvas while the top-size is a quilted cotton fabric.

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Owner Reviews — This product has received high praise from buyers. Here are actual owner reviews:

Expensive… but worth every penny. I bought three of them because I want to have at least one always around. I use one for a shooting bench or tailgate mat and another for my primary gun cleaning workbench mat. Awesome for both purposes. This one was perfect for my array of needs. — Joe D.

This mat is great for cleaning guns and keeping your surfaces clear of oil or solvent. The mat has plenty of space for a rifle or handgun and the padding is thick enough[.] I would definitely buy again and have recommended this to my friends and family. — Safety Guy

I bring this to the rifle range with me every time, to rest my rifle on the table without worrying about scratches. It fits nicely in my soft rifle case. One side is a tough canvas material that doesn’t show scratches, and the other side is a soft fleece material that protects the finish of your gun. — MACPSU


Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad

The Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad is 36″ wide x 12″. That’s big enough for many barreled actions (unless you have a really long barrel). This pad has a non-slip nylon backing, and Hoppes claims that the “Soft acrylic material absorbs 8 times its weight in fluids.” This Hoppes Cleaning Pad is very affordable. It costs just $8.15 at Amazon.com with free shipping for Prime members.

rifle Gun cleaning pad hoppes drymate

Handy Cleaning Cradles from PMA Tool — Single or Double

PMA Tool Cradle Benchrest

For those tasks were a pad is not convenient, PMA Tool offers lightweight yet sturdy cleaning cradles that are handy, affordable, and easy to transport. PMA’s single-gun cradle, starting at $75.95, is ideal for benchrest rigs. It measures about 17″ in length and weighs about one pound. PMA also offers an excellent two-gun cradle for $119.95. Both single and double cradles secure your rifle(s) in a muzzle-down position that allows easy cleaning and prevents solvents from running back into the action. The front “saddle” and all contact surfaces are covered by thick silicone rubber padding which grips the rifle securely yet protects the stock and components from scratches.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Handguns, Tech Tip No Comments »
April 2nd, 2020

Top Hunting and Shooting Equipment Brands in 2019

Hodgdon Federal Winchester Hornady brass bullets ammo powder reloading consumer survey Southwick Associates

What brands are favored by gun guys? Well here are the results of 2019 consumer surveys conducted by Southwick Associates. The surveys asked hunters and shooters to indicate their favorite brands for hunting and shooting product categories. This “Top Brand” list was compiled from 2019 internet-based surveys conducted through HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com websites.

In 2019, most frequently purchased brands included:

  • Top reloading powder brand: Hodgdon
  • Top reloading bullet brand: Hornady
  • Top Reloading Dies brand: Lee Precision
  • Top rifle ammunition brand: Federal
  • Top handgun ammunition brand: CCI
  • Top blackpowder brand: Pyrodex
  • Top scopes brand: Vortex
  • Top Reflex/Red Dot Sights brand: SIG Sauer
  • Top Scope Mounts brand: Leupold
  • Top shotgun brands: Mossberg & Remington
  • Top Trigger Assembly brand: Timney
  • Top Benches and Rests: Caldwell
  • Top Bipods brand: Harris
  • Top trail camera brand: Wildgame Innovations
  • Top Tree Stands: Big Game
  • Top Holster/ammo belt brand: Alien

Topline results of the Southwick Associates consumer tracking study are available in the Hunting & Shooting Participation and Equipment Purchases Report. This in-depth resource tracks hunting & shooting participation and equipment purchases for more than 100 products.

Vortex was the top Optics Brand in 2019 according to the Survey.
Vortex Optics Southwick Associates survey

The list above is only a fraction of all hunting and shooting categories tracked by Southwick Associates. Along with many other product categories, Southwick Associates also tracks the percentage of sales occurring across different retail channels, total spending per category, average prices, and demographics for hunters and shooters buying specific products. Additional information tracked includes total days spent hunting and shooting, type of hunting, preferred species and where they go.

Full reports, with a wealth of information, are available from Southwick Associates, a market research firm specializing in the hunting, shooting, sport=fishing, and outdoor recreation markets.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News, Optics 1 Comment »