Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gear Review: CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow


As a California hunter, I test out my gear in many different ways due to having to shoot in high and low temperatures, and at longer distances. At SHOT Show 2017, I met up with the Crosman/CenterPoint team and discussed air rifles and crossbows in great detail. I was given the opportunity to do a field test and provide feedback on the CenterPoint Sniper 370. This has been covered as a 'Best Buy' in previous years, so I couldn't wait to get right into it.

Assembly Instructions: I read through the assembly instructions a couple times to try and decipher how to properly assemble the crossbow. I actually had a hard time reading the first page as it is all in bold. As someone who creates technical bulletins for a living, this was tough to get through. First off, I would recommend to not bold everything. State it, but remember, you can't fix stupid. I don't see the need to say 'ALWAYS' and 'NEVER' in bold so many times. Make it so that it is stated clearly, but also easy to read and understand. Put each section in a warning box and include everything in it that applies. Make it simpler and easier to read. Second, the photos and the orange text in the instructions printed very dark and were hard to see. Don't use a transparent orange over the top of a black and white image. Use solid colors and also remember to allow for dot gain in the printing.

Safety: The safety and anti-dry fire mechanisms work very well and I am glad to see them on the Sniper 370. It goes without saying that anyone can shoot this, but having these safeties in place is great to see.

Adjustable Stock: The adjustable stock is a nice feature for any crossbow and I really liked it on the Sniper 370. I has my three other testers see what worked for them and we all adjusted it to fit comfortably. All four of us gave that a thumbs up! 


Trigger Pull: When I sighted in the crossbow, I noticed a considerable amount of creep on the trigger. I let three other people shoot it and didn't tell them about the trigger. All three shoot firearms, so they know what a good trigger feels like. I did not say anything to them about any of it and all three mentioned how bad it was. It's not the 5 lb trigger pull, but the creep itself. There is no solid break! I actually flinched a couple times waiting for it to break. Two of the other three shooters did as well. When asked, Crosman stated there is no adjustment to the current trigger. Basically, it is what it is. If I had shot this crossbow in a store I would not buy it simply due to the trigger alone. Price point or not, I want one that I can be sure of when it will fire. I am very picky with the gear I use, so I want to make that perfectly clear. I wonder why Crosman won't improve the Sniper 370 and use a trigger assembly from the Tormentor or Gladiator? Are they the same trigger? I doubt it. I would invest more of my money into a crossbow if it had a great trigger. I see that it is Patented Trigger Technology with a Dry Fire Inhibitor. If it is patented I would think some tweaking would be worth it.


Vanes: Two of the three vanes on all three bolts are all warped after 40 shots. I am not sure if they are rubbing on the rails or what. I am going to purchase some bolts without vanes and fletch with Blazer vanes. If I cannot get bare vanes, I plan to remove the current vanes and glue on some Blazer vanes for my next tests.


Bolt Specs: One of the first things I look at before testing a crossbow is the bolt specs. The specs on the last page of the directions and the ones on the website are very different. The manual states 370 grains, but the website states 425 grains. If I reduce it by the 100 grain point I still have a 325 grain arrow. On the website it states; "These arrows are heavier than the standard arrows included in the Sniper Crossbow Kit, delivering better performance and penetration." Why would you include a different bolt with the kit vs. what is offered in the store? It's very confusing and quite honestly the 6-pack looks to be a better bolt. I wonder who makes the bolts for them. I plan on trying some different manufacturers bolts to see if it improves performance.

Also, what is the bolt spine? I could not find that anywhere. That is something that would be VERY helpful in testing. I did see that the half moon nocks are called out, which helps me when looking for a lighted nock.


Shooting at Longer Distances: We sighted in the Sniper 370 at 20 yards. We then moved it to 30 yards and then to 40, according to the scope specs. Two of us shot at different times. We recorded what happened and at 30 yards it was low by three inches. We adjusted the scope to bring the impact point to center at 30. Then at 40 yards it was 4" low, even using the correct scope points. We then tried it at 60 yards by aiming the 40 yard mark at the top of a two foot target and the bolt went under the target. We tested the same thing again and had the same result. It feels like there is some drag along the rail, which would explain the drop, but I shot three separate bolts through a chronograph. It shoots fast at 377 fps and hits hard at 20-30 yards. For some reason, the provided bolts drops very quickly at ranges farther than 20 yards.

For a price of $349.99, this crossbow is hard to beat for the hunter on a tight budget. As mentioned previously, I am picky with my gear and personally, I would not be comfortable hunting with this due to the trigger creep and bolt drop. Much of this is attributed to the fact that I also hunt game out to 100 yards with a crossbow. I'd love to hear your feedback, suggestions, and possibly some tips on improving performance. Would I buy this one? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Not for hunting out here in California unless you are only hunting at 20-30 yards. If Crosman fixed that trigger issue, I would then recommend this one to any of you.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bass Pro Seminar: Scouting & Optics for Big Game Hunting


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Gear Review: HABU™ MOD1 Advanced Engagement Charging Handle

The Falcon 37 HABU MOD1 charging handle installed on an AR-15.
 
At times, my fingers have taken a beating when working my firearms. My bolt action rifle needed an extension to the bolt handle because the clearance from handle to scope was too narrow. I wound up getting my fingers caught a few times. A similar issue came to light with my friend Bill's charging handle on his 5.56/.223 AR-15. He had a scope mounted where the eyepiece sat back over the charging handle quite a long way, thus impeding charging it efficiently. The original charging handle limited your ability to charge the rifle and it was a pain to use. After some research, his solution was to upgrade to the Falcon 37, INC - AR-15 HABU™ MOD1 Advanced Engagement Charging Handle.

The HABU MOD1 is made of 7075 T6 aluminum to Mil Spec standards. That means it is lightweight, solid and top-notch because that's how I see it. It goes together with two screws rather easily. It has a built-in adjustable cheek riser to better fit the shooter. I found that to be excellent because as an AR shooter, it can be difficult to find a good cheek rest with craning your neck. It mounts to the AR just like a regular charging handle. Quite honestly, it looks pretty tough on the rifle.

The original charging handle was difficult to get to and resulted in scraped knuckles.


The handle is ambidextrous and that was a great selling point as Bill is left-handed and I am right-handed. It worked flawlessly for both of us. No more dinged up knuckles! We went to the range and both shot the AR with the new charging handle. Not only were we impressed, but we had to show the other guys at the range how well it worked. They liked the concept and asked to try it out. The one we tested is black, but you can order it in flat dark earth as well.

Bill says, 'The charging handle is solid and not flimsy, assembles easily, and works very well. If you have an overhanging scope, this is a must have.' 

The HABU MOD1 easily allows you to charge your AR that has an overhanging scope.


Overall, I think the HABU MOD1 is an excellent product! The one place I could not test it in was the rain or snow, as increased weather might cause slippage, but I highly doubt it. Other than that, I see it as a great upgrade to an AR.

The HABU™ MOD1 Advanced Engagement Charging Handle retails anywhere from $75.00 to $89.99. That might seem a bit high for most of us new to ARs, but it's a small price to pay for all that it can do and knuckles it can save. It is one of those items that is specific to a person's needs. If you want a charging handle that you can just reach for and utilize to charge the rifle, get one. If you have a scope that hangs over and interferes with charging, get one. I will be upgrading my AR with a HABU MOD1 in flat dark earth and make it a dedicated coyote hunting rifle. I have a feeling my new scope will hang over a bit and I want to be able to charge my AR flawlessly.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Product Review: ERGO Grips Picatinny and M-LOK Rail Covers

The 18-Slot Ladder Rail Covers not only work incredibly well, but look great, too!




A great thing about the AR-15 rifle is the ability to upgrade parts and make it work for you. When I was at SHOT Show, I spoke with Dennis Milinazzo, newly promoted COO and Director of Marketing for ERGO Grips about my upper and how the picatinny rails felt like they were cutting into my hand.  He handed me an upper with a similar configuration that had the ERGO ladder rail covers installed. What a difference! We discussed these in depth and I was intrigued.

My AR-15 before I added the Ergo Grips.



My AR-15 upper is an awesome one, but the picatinny rails sharply pressed into my hand the more I used it. I looked around for some rail covers and ERGO had some nice looking ones. I chose to install the ERGO 18-SLOT LOWPRO LADDER RAIL COVER™ (3 pack). I do think that ERGO should fix the description a bit on the website. A 'Single Pack' is actually a single rail cover. The '3 Pack' is actually three ladder rail covers. I also chose the M-LOK WedgeLok® Slot Cover Grips for another AR (not mine) so I could see how installation worked and if there were any issues. These come in a '4 Pack' and, like the rail covers, sizable. 

The M-LOKS function very well and allow a more secure, comfortable grip on your AR.


These can be cut down to fit exactly what you need on your rifle. I left mine at full length, but my friend Mike trimmed his M-LOKs down to fit his upper. These are a dream and fit very well. They snap on quickly, but they are tough to remove, so plan accordingly. You should lay the rail cover over the picatinny rails to get an idea before clasping them into place.

Mike says, 'After I figured out how to install the rail, it's awesome. The covers are excellent. Easy to cut and even have convenient arrows within the texture to show where to cut. The texture is amazing. They give a great, inviting tactile feel that is really nice against the bare aluminum.'

Close-up of the M-LOK WedgeLok Slot Cover Grips in place.


ERGO Social Media manager, Travis Boggus, has some great install videos on the ERGO YouTube channel. He recommends a little bit of oil be applied to the back of the covers before installing. I think that is a good idea, because they go on tight and if you want to remove them it can be tough. I had to use a screwdriver to pop them off because they hold so well! These are well designed and will last a long time.

The ERGO Grips 18-SLOT LOWPRO LADDER RAIL COVER (single) retail for $11.75 each, or for a 3 Pack they are $34.00. The M-LOK WedgeLok® Slot Cover Grips retail for $21.75. Now, I think the price is a bit high initially, but after using them for a while they are worth it, especially the Ladder Rail covers. For those of you with ARs that need some covers or simply want a better grip, I would highly recommend looking into ERGO Grips for an upgrade worth the investment.

I received the ERGO 18-SLOT LOWPRO LADDER RAIL COVER™ (3 pack) and the M-LOK WedgeLok® Slot Cover Grips from ERGO Grips in consideration for review publication. All opinions are strictly my own. 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Bass Pro Shops Partners with the Walk for Kids 2017


Dear Friends of Bass Pro,

You know our passion on this charitable relationship – Bass Pro is a strong promoter of women and children in the outdoors! Children that are too ill to enjoy the outdoors are often at the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

Parents that stay for extended periods often stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Won’t you please help us with a donation to this important cause!? We’d be grateful in the spirit of community and helping others!

We are walking as a team in 2017! We expect 30 or more of our associates and managers to join us in the Walk! We’re asking for cash or check donations and hope we can count on you to help us – perhaps you have in years past – we’re so glad for your potential support!

You can find out more about this event by visiting www.walkforkids.org. 

You can donate in 3 ways:
 

1. Bring a cash donation to the store and deposit it in the box near the cash registers area…don’t forget to sign a “shoes pad” to indicate your donation! Any amount helps!

2. Mail or drop by a check donation made out to IERMH. Any amount helps!  

     Mail checks to:  
            Bob Minor
            Bass Pro Shops
            7777 Victoria Gardens Ln.
            Rancho Cucamonga, CA  91739.  

We will mail you back a tax deductible receipt.

3. Use this link to make a donation via credit card – this goes direct to Bob's personal page: http://www.walkforkids.org/goto/bobminor


This years’ walk is Sunday, April 2nd. If you can offer your donation prior to this date, we’ll be sure to get it in the right hands!  MANY THANKS!!
  
                                                                                                                                                                 - Bob Minor / General Manager

Monday, March 6, 2017

Recap: Anteris Alliance Try & Buy Event

Prior to SHOT Show 2017, my team and I made it to Vegas with a day to spare, and an invite to the Anteris Alliance Try & Buy event at the Pro Gun Range. I received the invite from Casey Betzold, President of the Alliance and we gladly accepted. The Anteris Alliance is a group of people and companies who are committed to supporting those who protect our country; military and law enforcement.

We had some issues finding the place due to lack of signage at the Pro Gun Range. No signs telling us where to go and no directions when we arrived. Once we snaked our way around, we found the parking lot. It was an easy stop into the pro shop to ask for directions, but knowing the directions prior would have been great. The event was the first for the Alliance, but I am certain it will continue and will grow into an even more. For the first time out I think they did a great job, had some great companies there, and got everyone involved. I liked the fact that we were able to sit and talk with whomever we wanted and everyone was down to earth.

Here are some of our favorite products and people from the show. 

Image used with permission from Falcon 37, INC.


Falcon 37 HABU MOD 1 AR charging handle: The HABU MOD1 is a unique and truly awesome charging handle. I tend to use large scopes for longer range shooting and I know that the scope can get in the way of the charging handle. My friend Bill mentioned that we was looking at them for his AR for that very reason. He lucked out and won a HABU in the raffle. Bill said that installation of the components was super easy and installation was a breeze. Best yet, when we tried out the HABU MOD1 at the range it was awesome. Bill is a lefty and I am a righty. The HABU MOD1 is ambidextrous, so it worked perfectly for both of us. It also fits over the butt stock and isn't impeded by the scope. I'll be looking at one of these for mine! They retail around $80.00. 


MagBlock, Inc: Mike McCarthy, an Army Veteran, and the man behind the MagBlock-RS RangeSafe unit is easy to talk to and when you hear his story behind how the RangeSafe came to be, well, you just have to get one. From an idea while deployed, he put the idea on a napkin and now has a great product. The RangeSafe is bright orange and when installed properly in an AR, it blocks off the magazine and you cannot engage the bolt. The weapon will not fire. The bonus is that you can see that the weapon is safe from yards away, which is great at the range. The RangeSafe retails for $29.97

Maker Bullets: Always on the hunt for quality copper bullets, I met up with the team from Maker Bullets. They showed us some of their selection of bullets and what damage their bullets would do as a hunting round. They showed us ballistic gel (from that morning) and the fragmenting of the bullets. As a bonus, the owner showed me a clients whitetail buck that was taken with his bullets out of a .270. The results were extraordinary. 


HIPERFIRE: After discussing the trigger assemblies and how they functioned, I was asked to shoot some of the rifles with HIPERFIRE triggers installed. The smooth, constant pressure on your finger forward AND back to reset was awesome. I liked both the EDT and 24C triggers, but I didn’t have a great deal of time to evaluate them on the range. I am looking forward to completing my own tests to see what the trigger pull actually is and which one I feel functions better. It’ll be a tough task because I thought both worked great.

We are already looking forward to attending next years event!