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November 27th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: Shooting and Hunting in Winter — Key Tips

winter hunting shooting Marcus Tom utah rifle tips

Winter is definitely here, with December just days away. Even now there is an abundance of snow on the ground in many parts of the country. 2022 has brought some unusually cold weather to many regions — witness the recent deluge of snow in upstate New York.

If you plan to go shooting or hunting in the weeks ahead, while the weather is below freezing and snow is on the ground, you need to be prepared. You should always have the right equipment and make sure that you can contact help if something goes wrong (such as not being able to start your vehicle).

The folks at the Precision Rifle Network have created a good video on winter shooting and hunting. Host Marcus Hom provides his TOP 10 TIPS for wintertime shooting/hunting adventures. We recommend that any 4-season shooter watch this video.

TOP 10 TIPS for Winter Shooting and Hunting:

1. Wear Good Sunglasses — With snow on the ground, wearing sunglasses is a must because of the extra reflected light. You can get good sunglasses that also have ANSI Z87.1-approved impact protection.

2. Wear Protective, Moisture-Proof Clothing — Wear a set of Bibs and a long jacket. This will prevent you from getting snow inside your clothing when shooting prone.

3. Take Care of Your Hands — Bring good winter gloves, preferably with a waterproof outer layer. Make sure the inner gloves can work with your trigger/trigger guard.

4. Bring a Good Tripod — A tripod keeps you elevated so you can avoid laying down in snow or slush. That, in turn, avoids body heat loss. “Keeping out of the snow and shooting from an elevated position is pretty important in the wintertime.”

5. Protect Optics and Action — Keep your scope lenses and action clear of moisture, snow, and fog. You will want to have good caps on both lenses. Make sure the action remains closed, and consider some kind of wrap over the action until you’re ready to load and shoot.

6. Ranging Challenges — Laser range-finders don’t perform optimally with intense, bright, ambient light. Also, if it’s showing you may get false readings from snow particles. So take multiple readings to ensure you have the right distance. Also, if you have a reticle with MOA or MIL marks, and you know the size of your target, then you can range the target with the scope.

7. Drop and Windage Info (DOPE) Chart — Bring a waterproof, hard copy dope chart. Out in the field on cold days, a phone battery dies fast, and you’ll want to preserve that battery for emergency phone use if needed. So, you should keep a good old-fashioned drop chart in a waterproof laminate.

8. Muzzle Velocity Issues — Cold temperatures can lower muzzle velocity. Before you go, get an idea of how your velocity will change with low temperatures. Some powders are more sensitive to temperature than others, causing a noticeable reduction in muzzle velocity. A load you’ve worked out in summer may shoot LOW in winter because the actual velocity is low. Even with a “temperature stable” powder you may see a 10 fps slow-down. Do some winter velocity testing if you can before you go.

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors

9. Keep Your Ammo Warm — A simple way to avoid muzzle velocity changes with low ambient temperatures is to keep you ammunition ON YOUR BODY. Have a pouch under your layered clothing where the ammo can be kept relatively warm. See video: 07:50

10. Safeguard Keys and Valuables — Keep keys and valuables in a secure, zippered pocket. “There is nothing worse than losing something… keys, phone, wallet. It’s really hard to find something when its buried under [many] inches of snow”. We also recommend keeping a spare vehicle key hidden on your car/truck. There are magnetic holders that can keep that spare key secure but safely hidden from view.

Winter Hunting — Success with Snow on the Ground

Winter hunting Norway Haugland

There has been snow on the ground for much of November in many areas of the country. Hunters have had to cope with the snow and cold temperatures. Our hunting editor, Colton Reid, recently returned from a successful deer hunt in the mountains of Utah. He said it was beautiful, but you needed really high-quality outdoor clothing — otherwise you could get in trouble. You need to stay warm and dry.

colton reid utah deer hunting winter snow rifle .30-06

colton reid utah deer hunting winter snow rifle .30-06With careful planning, and some skilled tracking, Colton had success, making a perfect hit on a buck at 300 yards. The animal dropped instantly. Colton brought back a good harvest of deer meat, which formed part of the Thanksgiving feast for his family.

Colton offered these 5 TIPS for hunters. These apply in any season, but are even more important in winter with freezing temps and snow on the ground:

1. Have a Plan — know where you plan to go and when. Try to be where you want in the early morning and early evening hours when deer are likely most active.

2. Take Your Time — If you spot a deer and get too excited and don’t take your time you may spook him. Go slow and glass. If possible, wait for the animals to bed down and relax. Then work out the best way to approach your prey. Remember, “You get so few opportunities, don’t screw it up!”

3. Glass More, Walk Less — Let your eyes do the walking — get good binoculars and use them. With their heightened senses of smell and hearing, deer/elk are able to spot you way better than you can spot them. If you are walking around a lot, chances are you are getting spotted by your prey.

4. Pace Yourself When Packing Out — If you DO succeed, and bring down a big buck, will you be able to dress the animal and carry out the meat? Always be prepared to hike out with extra weight. If you are successful, make sure not to waste the meat you worked so hard for. Choose a pack that can help you carry a heavy load. Remember, this is not an insignificant challenge — you may be carrying 60 to 100 extra pounds in addition to your other gear. Again, take your time. Rest as needed. Don’t hurt yourself.

colton reid utah deer hunting winter snow rifle .30-06

5. Always Enjoy the Experience — Have fun, and appreciate your hunt, whether you bag a buck or not. It is a privilege to experience the wilderness and to get away from the city. Enjoy it while you’re out there. And keep your spirits up. You may get tired, but remember that ‘comes with the territory’. At the end of the day, yes you may be exhausted. And you may want to quit and go home. But stay positive, stay focused. Be patient, the experience is worth it.

Winter Solace in the Backcountry

There is a nice thread in our Forum appropriately entitled “Winter Time”. You’ll find some great backcountry images taken by our Forum members. Winter is a special time in the outdoors. Forum member JDP explains: “Winter is the best time to shoot! One of the few of life’s ironies that works in my favor. The range is empty and barrels keep cool, no bugs, no waiting on people, no mirage. Yup, this world needs more thin blooded snow birds. This cool weather is terrible and dangerous, tell your friends! Do people get lonely while shooting or something? It’s the true holiday season in multiple ways.”

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors
Forum member DNorton posted: “I live way up north where our white sandy beaches look like this!”

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November 27th, 2022

For Optimal Accuracy with Threaded-Muzzle Barrels, Use Larger Muzzle Thread Diameter

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

Our friend Robert Whitley of ARX Enterprises LLC has learned, through careful measurement and testing, that some barrels threaded 5/8″ x 24 TPI at the muzzle may not deliver optimal accuracy. The reason is that the end of the barrel can bell out slightly, like a trombone, because too much steel has been removed. This is particularly true with .30-caliber barrels, but it can also be a problem with smaller caliber barrels (even 6mm). Robert demonstrates this phenomenon in the video below. All gunsmiths, and anyone considering threading a barrel, should watch the video. At 1:00 – 1:30 Robert gauges a 5/8″ x 24-threaded .30-Caliber barrel. You can see the belling effect clear as day.

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“When setting up a commercial barrel in the lathe, we noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 TPI. What I found is what’s shown on the video.” – R. Whitley

Solve Problem with a Larger Thread Diameter
If 5/8″ x 24 threading is potentially harmful to accuracy, is there a solution? Yes, you simply need to leave a little more steel on the barrel. (See Video starting at 02:40.) Frank Green of Bartlein barrels states: “We get these questions all the time. I say run the largest thread diameter that is possible.” Robert Whitley has found that a 3/4″ x 28 TPI threading does not cause the “belling effect”. Accordingly Robert recommends 3/4″ x 28 if you need to thread your barrel for a muzzle brake or suppressor. Robert explains: “We only make 3/4” x 28 TPI muzzle brakes and that’s what we recommend to customers.”

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“See how much meatier the 3/4″ threading is vs. the 5/8″. The 3/4″ threading offers a lot more metal around the bore. There’s a lot less opportunity for the bore to become bell-mouthed…” – Robert Whitley

Barrel Threading Diameter — What’s Important to Know

By Robert Whitley
In truth, the 5/8″ x 24 TPI threading never came out of any accuracy-based think tank or set-up, it’s a military .30-Cal threading for barrels that someone has to carry around (they needed to keep the barrel weight down so it was smaller in diameter and the threading had to work with that situation). People have somehow assumed because the military uses that threading for certain things that it must mean that it’s also fine for a highly accurate rifle too, but that’s not really correct.

I don’t think there is any better and realistic option than the 3/4″ muzzle threading, and we also do it so there is no relief cut behind the threads on the barrel (i.e. put the relief cut on the brake or jam nut, don’t chop down on the muzzle of the barrel). For some reason many have a hard time grasping that the metal at the muzzle end of a rifle is “sacred” and you should not cut it down any more than absolutely necessary. A little threaded pencil diameter nub on the end of a barrel is not ideal for accuracy especially if it’s threaded and you need to torque on it. I cringe when I see a barrel with something like an MTU or Heavy Varmint contour, only to have an itty-bitty pencil thin threaded nub right at the muzzle so someone can “screw on a can” or a muzzle brake.

Lessons Learned Over the Years
A number of years ago I did a 30BR rifle project with Craig Kostyshyn who was big in the 30BR game and he made some of the best 30BR rifle barrels for benchrest competition. When I did the project I wanted a medium-heavy Palma type contour barrel I could use and also have a muzzle turndown for a front sight band. When he found out I was going to have the muzzle turned down he said “whoa, I need to provide for that when I make the barrel because if you turn the front down later you’ll be shooting a trombone” (i.e. the muzzle bore dimension would open up).

What he did was rough contour the barrel with the turndown (about .010” oversize) before he lapped the barrel, then when he lapped the barrel he took it easy in the muzzle area and worked the back of the barrel more. I thought he was a little bit excessive in his concerns but the barrel shot great and I wasn’t going to argue with him, after all he was shooting groups in the ones. I kind of just filed that away and never thought about it until recently when I went to have Fred from Sabreco do some chamber re-work on a commercial .30-caliber barrel I had. When setting up the barrel in the lathe and indicating things Fred noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015″ smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle and he mentioned it to me. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels I had that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 TPI. What I found is what’s shown on the video.

NOTE: This is a copyrighted article. Do not reproduce or re-link more than 75 words without written permission from AccurateShooter.com.

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November 27th, 2022

Craft Your Own Target Stand with Low-Cost PVC or ABS Pipe

PVC target stand
Assembly Diagram: Here are all the components of the target frame. The overall maximum assembled dimensions are roughly 26″ wide, 41″ deep, and 66″ tall (the cardboard is 2 x 3 feet).

PVC target standOne of the easiest ways to build a portable target stand is to use PVC pipe and connectors. Utah .308 Shooter “Cheese” has created a simple yet sturdy target frame, and he’s shared his design so you can build a similar frame easily and at low cost. The components are wood furring strips, 2″-diameter PVC pipes (and connections), and a 2’x3′ sheet of cardboard. The PVC base can be glued together, or, for easier transport and storage, you can leave some or all of the connections free. “Cheese” tells us: “I didn’t glue any of it together so I could disassemble it, shove it in a bag and take it anywhere.”

“All the parts are just pushed together and not glued. That way I can break it down and carry it all in a bag. Also, if a buddy (not me!) happens to shoot the stand, I can easily replace just the damaged piece. The last 6 inches of the furring strips are wittled-down a bit so they can be pushed into the upright pipes with a little friction. The cardboard is 2 x 3 feet, and I use a staple gun to attach it to the furring strips. Then I just staple the target onto the cardboard and go at it.

Of course you can modify the dimensions as desired. I chose the black ABS pipe over white PVC simply for cost — black ABS is a little cheaper. You can also glue some or all of the parts together, it’ll just be larger for transporting. In windy conditions, the thing likes to come apart. Duct tape might work well.

For weight, I thought about filling the two end pipes with sand and gluing test caps on each of their ends. The test caps still allow the pipes to slip into the elbows.”

Add Anchors or Internal Weight for Stability
On a very windy day, a PVC stand can shake or even topple over. There are a couple solutions to this. Some people fill the PVC pipe sections with sand to add weight, or you can put short sections of Re-BAR inside the long legs. One GlockTalk forum member noted: “I built [a frame] almost identical to this. I also take four pieces of wire coathanger bent into an inverted “U” shape to anchor the frame to the ground. It is so light that wind will knock the stand over [without anchors].”

You can find photos of a similar home-made PVC target stand (with a slightly different rear section) on the Box of Truth website. This also employs a PVC tubing base with wood uprights. We’ve also seen all-PVC target stands, but we’ve found that it is easier to attach the cardboard to wood strips than to PVC pipe. Also, if the upper section is wood, you can fit different height targets, while using the same base.

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