July 8th, 2021

Air Travel Advice — How to Fly Safely with Firearms

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will be heading to Indiana soon to attend the F-Class National Championships at Camp Atterbury July 22-30. If you’ll be flying to Indiana this month, or venturing to another destination by air, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. It is important that you comply with all Homeland Security, TSA, and Airline policies when transporting guns and ammunition. Following the rules will help ensure you (and your gear) make it to your destination without hassles, delays or (God forbid), confiscations.

Guidelines for Air Travel in 2021

To help our readers comply with rules and regulations for air travel, we offer these guidelines, courtesy “Ron D.”, a member of our Shooters’ Forum. Before he retired, Ron D. served as a Police Officer assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Here Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics.

gun transport caseFirst, Ron explains that airport thieves can spot bags containing firearms no matter how they are packaged: “Don’t think you’re safe if your guns are placed in cases designed for golf clubs or trade show items. Baggage is X-Rayed now and cases are tagged with a special bar code if they contain firearms. It doesn’t take long for bad guys to figure out the bar coding for firearms.”

Use Carry-On for Scopes and Expensive Items
Ron advises travelers to avoid placing very expensive items in checked baggage: “When traveling by air, carry on your rangefinder, spotting scope, rifle scope, medications, camera, etc. You would be surprised at the amount of people that carry-on jeans and shirts, but put expensive items in checked baggage. Better to loose three pairs of jeans than some expensive glass.”

Mark Bags to Avoid Confusion
Ron notes that carry-on bags are often lost because so many carry-on cases look the same. Ron reports: “People do accidentally remove the wrong bag repeatedly. I frequently heard the comment, ‘But it looks just like my bag.’ When de-planing, keep an eye on what comes out of the overhead that your bag is in. It’s easy to get distracted by someone that has been sitting next to you the whole flight. I tie two streamers of red surveyors’ tape on my carry-on bag.” You can also use paint or decals to make your carry-on bag more distinctive.

F-Class National Championships Camp Atterbury Indiana
The 2021 NRA F-Class Nat’l Championships at Camp Atterbury, Indiana begin soon. The Mid-Range F-Class Nationals run July 22-26, 2021, while the Long Range F-Class Nationals take place July 27-30, 2021.

General Advice for Air Travelers
Ron cautions: “Keep your hands on your items before boarding. One of the most often heard comments from theft victims was, ‘I just put my computer down for a minute while I was on the phone.’ Also, get to the baggage claim area quickly. If your family/friends can meet you there, so can the opportunists. Things do get lost in the claim area. Don’t be a Victim. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron advises: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) and arrive with a damaged rifle. Remember the Samsonite commercial. (For you younger shooters, it shows a monkey throwing the suitcase around in his cage at the zoo.) Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Plano Two-Gun Tactical Case

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare airline approved AW2TSA
The Plano AW2 two-gun case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $116.67, while the equivalent SKB is around $300.00.

This Plano AW2 two-gun case is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in wheeled, heavy-duty firearms cases. This is offered in three sizes: 36″, 42″, and 52″. We like the biggest 52″ version, as it is long enough inside to fit most scoped match rifles. Alternatively, if you have a really long F-Class, ELR, or Palma rig, you can detach the barreled action from the stock, and run the two sections in the shorter 42″ case. This case is strong enough for airline travel, meeting FAA requirements for checked baggage. This Plano case offers a good balance between strength and weight, all for a reasonable cost — $116.67 on Amazon.

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July 8th, 2021

Training Tip: Shooter and Spotter Working as a Team

Shooting Spotter training video NSSF

When shooting at long range, two heads (and two sets of eyes) can be better than one. Teaming up with a buddy who acts as a spotter can speed up your long-range learning process. You can focus 100% on the shot, while your buddy calls the wind and spots your hits and misses.

The NSSF has created a short video that shows how shooter and spotter can work as a team. In the video, the NSSF’s Dave Miles works with Rod Ryan, owner of Storm Mountain Training Center in Elk Garden, WV. As the video shows, team-work can pay off — both during target training sessions and when you’re attempting a long shot on a hunt. Working as a two-person team divides the responsibilities, allowing the shooter to concentrate fully on breaking the perfect shot.

The spotter’s job is to watch the conditions and inform the shooter of needed wind corrections. The shooter can dial windage into his scope, or hold off if he has a suitable reticle. As Rod Ryan explains: “The most important part is for the shooter to be relaxed and… pay attention to nothing more than the shot itself.” The spotter calls the wind, gives the information to the shooter, thus allowing the shooter to concentrate on proper aim, gun handling, and trigger squeeze. Rod says: “The concept is that the spotter does all the looking, seeing and the calculations for [the shooter].”

Shooting Spotter training video NSSF

Spotter Can Call Corrections After Missed Shots
The spotter’s ability to see misses can be as important as his role as a wind-caller. Rod explains: “If you shoot and hit, that’s great. But if you shoot and miss, since the recoil pulse of the firearm is hitting your shoulder pretty good, you’re not going to be able to see where you missed the target. The spotter [can] see exactly where you missed, so I’ll have exactly an idea of how many [inches/mils it takes] to give you a quick secondary call so you can get [back on target].”

Recommended Premium Spotting Scopes
Looking for a truely superior spotting scope? Then check out the Kowa Prominar TSN-880 Series. These big spotters feature ultra-sharp Flourite glass, with huge 88mm front objectives. In comparison tests with other premium spotting scopes the TSN-883 (angled) and TSN-884 (straight) units always finish at or near the top. Right now you can get the TSN-883 (Angled) body at Amazon for $2450.00 or EuroOptic.com for the same price. A Special 125th Anniversary Black-Body Edition with TE-11WZ 25-60x Zoom Eyepiece runs $3150.00 at B&H Photo.

Shooting Spotter training video NSSF

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July 8th, 2021

Great Upgrade for Harris Swivel Bipods — S-Lever Kit

Bipod Harris Swivel Handle Lock S Lever Kit Eabco.com

We like the swivel (“S”) version of the Harris bipod. The swivel (actually tilting) capability of the bipod allows you to tilt (cant) your rifle around the bore axis to level the rifle on a side slope or uneven ground. Unfortunately, the swivel tensioner (friction knob) that comes standard with a Harris swivel bipod leaves much to be desired. The tensioning knob is hard to adjust with your fingers. The small knurled ring doesn’t offer enough leverage. When it’s tight enough to prevent movement it’s hard to release. For this reason, many folks replace the standard knurled ring with a rotating adjustment lever with push-button release. This works great and is easy to install.

While you can buy levers from various sources, EABCO.com has a tried-and-true system that works with both Harris and Caldwell XLA-S swivel bipods: “Our S-Lever Tension Lever is an economical replacement for the friction tensioning knob to give you much better control and leverage.” For just $16.95, Eabco.com delivers all the parts you need for the upgrade to your swivel bipod. Shown below are instructions for installing the EABCO S-Lever.

Bipod Harris Swivel Handle Lock S Lever Kit Eabco.com

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