Monday, February 26, 2018

The Range Day Handload Project

Saturday is Range Day! Well, it was Range Day. I ordered me up some fun last Saturday and was able to do some relaxed shooting with my friends Mike and Bill. I also field-tested the Impact Sport BOLT hearing protection from Howard Leight by Honeywell. They worked quite well and I have so say I was surprised and impressed. I have a few minor suggestions to improve them, but my ears were protected and that is what counts.

The main reason we went to the dessert was to begin testing our handloads. I am working on a reloading/handload project with different caliber California legal bullets and some different powders for California hunters. I'll be working on this for the next few months and if there is a bullet you'd like me to test, please let me know. I'll be loading copper rounds for .223, .270 WIN, and .300 WIN MAG. This is going to be a rad project for California hunters. I have three projectile manufacturers in mind (Cutting Edge Bullets, Barnes Bullets, and Nosler, Inc.). I'll go into the details of the reloads and testing in the next few months. 

To get a feel for some of my handloads, I shot my .270 handloads with the 130 grain Cutting Edge Bullets with 42 grains of H4895 powder. All five shots hit at the center of my steel gong at 135 yards. The copper marks in the center of the gong were lying prone. I did shoot a couple factory .270 lead rounds and copper .300 WIN MAG rounds for fun. I also toyed around with the Max Ordinate Precision Speed Challenge targets for rapid and controlled shooting. That was challenging and I need work, but I enjoyed it!

On my way out I was confronted with yet another Mylar balloon hiding under a bush. I hate them and they litter the landscape. I stopped my truck and snagged it. One less shiny piece of trash in the wilderness. Others have joined the fight and are entered into my monthly #MylarChallenge2018. Check out my Facebook and Instagram pages for details. Some great prizes will be given away. The more you enter, the better the prize!

Now that I am back, it's time to put everything on paper, process some brass, and gear up for some seminars, banquets and gear reviews. Who will be attending the West Valley Friends of the NRA Banquet this Saturday? I'll be there with Bass Pro and hoping to meet as many of you as I can. If you will be there and want to chat, don't hesitate to come say hi! Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

SHOT Show 2018 - Industry Day at the Range Highlights

SHOT Show 2018 is over, but the chatter is still very much alive! There weren't a slew of new calibers being shown (with exception to the .224 Valkyrie). There were some new products that shined for many and others that didn't impress. Overall, we had a great time meeting with companies, talking with marketing managers, and hearing pitches. Most companies were much more receptive that last year and I think that's one of the things we anticipated. Instead of simply walking the floor, I made sure to book interviews and meetings with many companies. That paid off and I would recommend that to any newcomers. Here is what I was impressed with at Industry Day at the Range:

Springfield Armory 10mm TRP Operator- I had the pleasure of shooting this handgun and wasn't sure what to expect. Let me tell you, this delivers and then some. It looks sharp and cycles super smooth. It has a very light trigger and that surprised me in a handgun. I was impressed with the way it felt when shooting and how little recoil there was. If it were California compliant I would already have an order in for one.

Ruger 10mm Revolver - This six-shot revolver is powerful and accurate, but what else would you expect from Ruger? The wooden grip had been replaced with a more ergonomic rubber grip and that was a huge improvement. I don't care for the wooden grips on pistols. This one felt great and held true when firing.

Glock 19x - New grip, compact, and incredibly fun to shoot, the Glock 19x was a nice surprise. I haven't had the pleasure of shooting many Glocks, but the ones I did shoot have been great. This new handgun was no exception. Five out of five shots on steel and it cycled beautifully. Another one that is not California compliant, but that is the fault of Cali, not Glock.

Howa bolt action rifles - Always great things to say about the Howa rifles at Industry Day. Smooth action, bolt cycling was smooth, and the staff is always knowledgeable about not only the new products, but they remember last years as well. We had a great chat about all the rifles and I was not only impressed with the rifles, but also the people.

Excalibur Assassin Crossbow - The team at Excalibur was fun to shoot with and talk with. They were upbeat, having a great time, and went through the features of new Assassin Crossbow without missing a beat. They guided me and then had me cock and decock it. Great system and with 290# of draw weight it is a beast! We set up at 90 yards with a 5-10 mph crosswind. With a slight adjustment for the breeze, I pegged two-out-of-two balloons with ease. I had never shot an Excalibur before, but I am a believer now!

Mauser M18 RifleAs you can see, I was very happy after shooting the M18. Accurate, lightweight, and very affordable at $699.00. I bench shot and stood and shot, and I have to say that it was dead on and incredibly fun to shoot. Look for this one making more headlines this year.

Industry Day at the Range was great and I was able to make some great connections. I am already looking forward to 2019! Next up will be some of the exciting finds on the SHOT Show floor. It gets better!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gear Review: SneekTec SneekBoots

Images provided by SneekTec.

A successful stalk must be near silent. Have you ever tried sneaking up on an animal only to hear the sand crunching or branches crackling under your feet? Sure you can learn to walk quieter, but it is never as quiet as you need it to be. Some guys like to take their boots off and stalk in their socks and while it is effective, it can be very uncomfortable. What if I told you the best of both worlds are available? SneekTec SneekBoots are here and give you an edge on that silent stalk!

Hunting in California means mountains, dry brush, and sand. Lots of gravel and sand. Walking on any of these is noisy. I'm not a small guy, so I tend to make some noise when I walk. I've tried to put a stalk on a sandwich before and that failed. It heard me coming! No longer! For six months I have been testing the SneekBoots out and I am very impressed. SneekTec Boots are Berber fleece-lined pads that attach to your boots.

  • Thick Berber Fleece for optimal sound elimination and durability.
  • Non-slip bottom ensures safer, more secure ground connection.
  • 1" Industrial grade open cell foam with additional 1/4" closed cell foam in heel area.
  • Anti-bacterial treated fabrics eliminate scent created by ground bacteria or foot sweat.
  • Soft mesh carry bag with carabiner to attach boots to a pack.
  • Weighs 0.6 lbs! 

My first test was challenging and a learning experience. When I was first considered a review, I emailed SneekTec owner Jim Durfee. I wasn't sure which size to go with. He mentioned that with a 10.5 boot size, I may want to go up to the XL boot. The large size goes up to a 10.5, but he felt it might be tough to fit my boot in, so he recommended I also try the XL version to see which worked better. When they arrived I felt he was right, as I had a tough time getting my boot in the large. I tried out the XL and had no issues, but they were slightly loose on me. I tried the large again and figured out I needed to take my time and loosen up the cords properly. I recommend taking time at home to get them situated just right. Once that was done, I simply needed to find the best way to slip them on. After that each boot went on easily and fit snug.

Here comes the best part; SneekBoots are awesome! They are ultra quiet and easy to use. I first tested them on gravel and sand. I am a big-bodied individual and while I have great boots, being stealthy in them can be tough. Once I strapped on the SneekBoots I turned into a ninja. I was able to walk around ultra-quiet and not lose any mobility. A couple weeks later I tried walking on pine needles. Pine needles that have been baking in the sun for months! I was better off shuffling my feet that walking on top of the needles. I sat on a rock, slipped on the SneekTecs and tried again. I was truly amazed at how they muffled the sound and allowed near-silence as I walked. They did pick up some pine tar in the process, but that comes with the territory. They were still very quiet.

As I have said, I do recommend practicing putting them on and taking them off. The SneekTec Boots come in a black, mesh bag that cinches up. You can attach the bag to the outside of your pack or stuff the boots inside. I recommend finding a good spot where you can get to them easily, get them out and put them on your feet. It'll take a bit of practice. I would like to see the bag come in a camo pattern so the dark shape doesn't stick out so much (see image above).

SneekTec Boots retail for $64.99 and that may seem high, but consider the investment you make into scouting and hunting a particular animal. Consider the price of tags, gas, and incidentals. $64.99 could make or break a hunt. I highly recommend these to anyone who hunts in an area where a stalk is necessary. I loved how they performed and how incredibly quiet they made me. No matter where you hunt, if you put a stalk on an animal and get busted by the crunching under your feet, you'll wish you had these.

Follow SneekTec on social media!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2018 Mylar Balloon Challenge!

I despise Mylar balloons. It seems like every time I go scouting I find at least one. When I hunt I also find at least one. Many times I find two or three. I deflate them and pack them to toss in the trash bin at home. It's awful for the environment, animals, and makes the landscape look like a sparkling turd.

Time for the 2018 Mylar Balloon Challenge! Each time you go out hunting, scouting, hiking, or fishing and find a Mylar balloon I want you to take a pic with it. To keep it fair, I want to see only pics from 2018, so I want to see you mimic my pose in the picture above. Be creative if you want, but a simple finger pointing and a scowl will do (have to do that to be entered). You also have to take the balloon with you and dispose of it properly. 

Post the pics on my SoCal Bowhunter Facebook page or on Instagram with the hashtag #MylarChallenge2018 and then tag me in the photo (al_quackenbush). You have to follow me wherever you decide to post. Each month, I will go through the submissions and send out a small prize. Enter as many times as you like, but this is on the honor system. Keep it honest. I'll see how it goes each month and if we don't get any submissions for a particular month, I'll just add to the prize pack for the following month.

I am looking forward to some great photos of you conservationists getting out there and cleaning up our public lands! As a bonus, at the end of the year, I'll go through the submissions and send each a nice gift to each of the top three contributors for doing their part. Get out there and have fun!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Anteris Alliance Try & Buy 2018 Recap

If you haven't been to the Anteris Alliance Try & Buy you are missing out! Here is a recap of some of the products my team and I tested or saw at the show. If you want to know more about a particular company or product, let me know!

Triggersafe - My favorite product of the show. It is simple, effective, and each and every AR-15 rifle should have one of these. The Triggersafe protects the weapon from an accidental discharge, but also allows you to take it off quickly for a shot. They have a great pitch and the product demonstration was excellent. Really looking forward to seeing these on all AR-15 rifles and shotguns! The Remington 870 version is coming soon.

Frontier Tactical War Lock  - The team at Frontier Tactical developed a very cool system for the AR platform that allows you to swap out uppers very quickly and efficiently. The War Lock replaces the barrel nut and allows you to swap uppers (sometimes the bolt needs to change, too) and shoot over 90 calibers. You could say I was loving this system. The image above shows the "North American Hunting Package" which was impressive to see disassembled and all fitting in a backpack.

SinterFire - Frangibles are new to me, but after this demonstration I am a believer. We saw what they do from a handgun up close, in a box, but the big surprise was with the AR. Another gent and I were able to stand on either side of certified instructor and LEO Keith Porco as he fired rounds at three feet. It was unnerving, but a powerful message as to how well these perform.

Modern Spartan Systems - While I have not used this system on my weapon, I will be. This is NOT a gun lube. It actually changes the chemistry of the barrel to allow less friction, makes the rifle more accurate, and is supposed to reduce cleaning time drastically. If Charlie Melton uses it on his rifles where he shoots out to two miles then I can get behind it. I'll follow up on this one in the near future.

Hiperfire - The upgraded HIPERTOUCH triggers proved to be one of the most talked about in our group. We loved the back tension after the shot put on the trigger. The tension is distributed to your finger and you know the system is working. I opted for the semi-auto rifle vs. the auto, but I loved how the trigger performed.

MagBlock - If you ever go to the range with your AR-15 or shoot your AR around friends, you need a MagBlock. I mentioned them last year, and after again talking with Mike I believe everyone who owns am AR-15 needs one of these. I was able to see the bright orange from a way off, knowing that the rifle was safe on the table.

Charlie Mike Precision (CMP) - I spoke with Charlie Melton, the man who trained Chris Kyle, about his 2 mile shot with the .408 Tejas, which he had custom built. He briefly described the set up and the shot, plus the optics used. It was great to see him smile when talking about the amazing shot! They also offer some great long range courses around the country. If you want to learn from the best, check them out.

LaRue Cases - Chuck LaRue wanted to make a better case for firearms and archery equipment. His tenacity and background have allowed him to create a solid, resin/carbon case. While the prices right now are high, I think Chuck will be able to develop some new strategies to allow him to keep the quality up and lower the cost.

We did a fair share of walking and talking at the 2018 Anteris Alliance Try & Buy. After meeting some great people with some great companies,  we are looking forward to some gear reviews and also creating some solid partnerships for years to come.