In the 1980s, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union used the same “sniper” rifles.
Here’s What You Need to Remember: Why China didn’t produce a sniper round is uncertain, but perhaps the limited usage of 7.62x54R in the Chinese military, combined with the PLA’s drive for a new intermediate cartridge in the 1980s made developing an additional sniper round an unnecessary burden. The lack of integration of marksman and precision rifles also delayed the need for such a round, Type 79 and Type 85 rifles were not issued widely among regular troops, only finding use with special operations troops, police units, and border guards.
In the 1980s, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union used the same “sniper” rifles, although these rifles would be more accurately described as designated marksman rifles in the West. The Soviet Union used the SVD, a gas-operated short-stroke 7.62x54R rifle that fed from a ten-round-box magazine and had an effective range of around eight hundred meters.
With proper Russian sniper ammunition, the SVD could achieve accuracy from 1-2 MOA. China made its own clone of the SVD after capturing a sample during the Sino-Vietnamese war called the Type 79, later refined into the Type 85. These were produced alongside copies of the Soviet PSO-1 4x optical sight. Apparently, China has problems copying the SVD as its gunsmithing industries were not quite mature. The cloned PSO-1 was not able to handle the recoil of the 7.62x54R cartridge in early versions, and issues were found with the metallurgy of the firing pin, which broke easily in the Type 79. According to sources in the CPAF, this was fixed by the Type 85.
The primary problem with the Type 79 and Type 85 was the lack of proper ammunition for them. Russia issued special 7.62x54R ammunition along with the SVD, the 7N1 and later 7N14 cartridges. China did not develop a version of this and simply issued machine gun ammunition with the Type 79 and Type 85. This resulted in the subpar accuracy.
Why China didn’t produce a sniper round is uncertain, but perhaps the limited usage of 7.62x54R in the Chinese military, combined with the PLA’s drive for a new intermediate cartridge in the 1980s made developing an additional sniper round an unnecessary burden. The lack of integration of marksman and precision rifles also delayed the need for such a round, Type 79 and Type 85 rifles were not issued widely among regular troops, only finding use with special operations troops, police units, and border guards.
While Russia still continues to use the SVD as the primary “sniper” rifle, China developed a replacement in the QBU-88 in the 1990s. Development started around the early 1990s, with the rifle completing trials in 1996 and first reaching service with the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison in 1997.
The real root of the project was in the development of the 5.8mm cartridge for machine guns. A 5.8mm round was developed that was found to perform better or the same as existing 7.62x54R rounds in Chinese inventory, so a specialized rifle was developed in that caliber for sniping purposes.
The QBU-88 or Type 88 is a relatively modern design, utilizing the bullpup layout to gain additional barrel length. Chinese sources state that the penetration and accuracy are higher than the Type 85. Modern techniques were used to manufacture the Type 88, including CNC milling and extensive use of polymer. A new phosphating process was used to apply the black finish to the metal. The design itself has some questionable aspects.
The bipod is attached directly to the barrel, which causes a point of impact shift when the bipod is used. The safety is also in a hard-to-reach spot behind the magazine well, requiring the shooter to move his support hand under the mag well to activate and deactivate the safety (with a 180-degree throw). Most western precision and marksman rifles use a thumb safety or trigger guard safety of some variety, allowing for faster actuation without moving the hand from the firing position. In an upgrade from the fixed 4x of the SVD, the QBU-88 utilizes a 3-9x variable zoom scope with a built in bullet-drop compensator in the reticle.
While the Type 88 and Type 85 are the most common rifles in use, there also are a myriad of other rifles for precision shooting and special purposes. For anti-material purposes there are the AMR-2 and the QBU-10, the AMR-2 being a bolt action magazine fed rifle, and the QBU-10 being semi-automatic.
Also of note are the CS/LR series of rifles, the real Chinese equivalents to western precision rifles such as the Remington 700 and Steyr SSG69. The CS/LR4 is the direct competitor, being chambered in the same 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. It was developed from earlier designs and appears to take many cues from western rifles, from the front-locking Mauser action to the thumbhole stock.
They are not up to the standard or accuracy of western rifles, with stated accuracy being 2.9cm at 100m or more than 1 MOA. It also features a Picatinny rail forward of the scope so users can mount a night vision device in front of their optic. The CS/LR3 is the same gun, chambered in the standard 5.8mm cartridge used by the military. However, CS/LR rifles have seen more use with special-police units, which need increased precision.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues. This article was first published in 2018 and is being reprinted due to reader interest.
In December of 2017, I had the pleasure of going through Matt Graham’s “Killhouse” course in Virginia. I was joined by two friends (Clark S. and Cy N.) that have done extensive training with me, and we had high expectations for this course for the months leading up to it. We arrived on a Thursday in preparation for the three day course that would run from Friday through Sunday.
Per the Graham Combat website, the course description is as follows:
The Graham Combat Killhouse is a comprehensive 3-day class designed to give you the fundamentals of defensive shooting, movement, and tactics within a structure.
We spend the bulk of our lives in and around buildings – rooms, hallways, stairs, interior spaces and exterior spaces – and we need to be able to defend ourselves effectively, regardless of the environment.
This 30 hour course combines flat-range firearms fundamentals, live-fire engagements, and force-on-force validation. You will spend Day One refining your combat shooting skills through intensive and focused instruction. Days Two and Three take place in the Killhouse, learning the fundamentals of engagements within spaces.
Additional time will be spent introducing, practicing, and then refining low-light and no-light principles within the same space. This course culminates with multiple force-on-force validations within the Killhouse – bring what you think you believe and put it to work.
Day 1: Weapon Manipulation
We met at the prescribed location a few minutes early and got checked in. We spent a few minutes meeting/greeting other participants who had come from all over the United States. There were representatives from Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and several other locations present- and we enjoyed hearing about everyone’s journey into town.
We were joined by Matt, and he began with a safety and medical briefing and an outline of the of the course contents. He also went through an explanation of the locations and facilities that we would use for the different portions of the course, and then rolled right into the course content.
The first part of the course instruction began with Matt asking the rhetorical question of “Why are you here?” This wasn’t necessarily just for our attendance in the course, but “Why are you in whatever situation you find yourself in?” Said differently: “What is your objective for this current situation?” If I am with my family and bad things start to happen- my primary (and only) objective is to deliver my loved ones to safety. I am not there to stop an active shooter. I am not there to put out a hotel fire. I am there to protect my family by helping them escape the danger area. “WHY ARE YOU THERE” would set the tone of the course for every training scenario that we would face.
Transitioning from this key point, Matt would constantly reiterate to us that this course is NOT a course on “building clearing.” “You are NOT clearing anything,” he would remind repeatedly. This course is about YOU actively moving through a structure to perform a task or series of tasks. Some of those tasks include fighting, some include navigating with a person that you are protecting, etc. We are not clearing anything. It goes back to “Why Are You Here?”
Next Matt would segway into the topic of being able to find the danger at hand… If “it” isn’t in front of you (where you are looking), then it is somewhere else. Find it. Seek it out, as it is likely actively seeking you out. Matt emphasized checking behind you more than any instructor that I previously trained with. “Where are your vulnerabilities?” They are everywhere. If they aren’t in front of you, then they’re behind you. Identify them as soon as possible and begin to work through the problems: big to small, near to far.
During this classroom style discussion, Matt would emphasize the importance of making mistakes during training. He drove home the idea that everyone is going to make mistakes, but that victory favors the person making the fewest mistakes. Training allows us the opportunity to make (and eliminate) mistakes without paying the ultimate price. He urged us to not put any negative connotation on failure during training. Matt has a brutally direct sense of humor, which allows him to identify your mistakes and help you laugh through them while learning simultaneously. He constantly cracks jokes about himself and everyone else involved which keeps the mood light and everyone laughing. Honestly, if this whole “gun life” thing doesn’t work out for him, Matt could pursue a career in stand-up comedy. His stories and jokes are worth the price of admission.
After the classroom discussion was complete, we broke to get our gear together and hit the range. We started with handgun work. Specifically, Matt identified the grip as the most important fundamental of shooting a handgun. (This was refreshing to hear as I constantly stress the importance of gripping the firearm effectively to allow you to shoot accurately with any notable speed.) The first piece of instruction was to grip the handgun the way he wants us to. Luckily, his method was 99% identical to the way that I am used to gripping a handgun, with a minor alteration of the placement of my thumb on my shooting hand. From the grip, we moved into stance/posture and the presentation of the firearm. Matt believes in a “head up, gun up, roll out” method of presentation, and breaks down the process simply with various explanations and demonstrations. We worked on this dry for a few repetitions and then got into the live fire portions of the exercise. We began with what Matt calls “ladder drills” where we would present the firearm and fire one round. The next rep would produce two rounds. Then three… Then start over at one. Rinse and repeat as needed. We worked this drill with reloads as Matt would walk the line and make corrections where needed.
Matt then added in the importance of a safety scan. This process has multiple names to it: after action assessment, safety scan, threat assessment, scan and assess, etc. It’s all trying to accomplish the same goal but with some different ways of teaching it. Matt’s largest change to my current process was to reinforce the concept of not putting my eyes anywhere without my muzzle. “What good is it to see the threat if you can’t engage it?” Matt has an incredible ability to be able to lead you to the correct answers with a simple question… Sometimes that “leading” is humorous and allows you to laugh at yourself at the same time. We worked these drills repeatedly until it was time to break for lunch.
After lunch we returned and began working through a similar process with the carbines. He discussed the similarities between the carbine and the handgun- identifying crossover techniques between the two weapons. We zeroed our rifles and then got to work. After working through similar ladder drills as the handgun, we integrated in the utilization of cover into our manipulations. Matt talked about how to properly work around the cover. This was one of several “nuggets” that I took away from this class… I have a habit of “short stocking” the rifle in order to manipulate it around cover. This is a method of slightly dipping the muzzle and bringing the stock over your shoulder in order to draw it in close to your body so that you can maneuver around cover, obstructions, or within confined spaces. Matt would modify this into “retracting” the firearm instead of short-stocking it, which is a method where you bring the stock under the armpit and the muzzle is slightly elevated. This leaves the muzzle almost perfectly inline with your eyes and the potential threat areas. It offers increased abilities to strike with the muzzle of the firearm, fire from retention, etc. It’s something that I will continue to work on and make it my primary method of moving in confined spaces with a carbine.
The next “nugget” that I took away from this section was shooting at the target from cover. As many times as I’ve heard (and even taught) the phrase “shoot the target center mass as presented” Matt made the idea more applicable for me. In my mind, I’ve generally applied this phrase to shooting at a target where the target was behind cover. I would engage the center of whatever area was exposed. Working it from the other side of the equation, with ME behind cover, is the exact same process but a slightly different mindset. For instance, when shooting from behind cover at an exposed target, I generally would work to find the most appropriate area of the target to neutralize the threat (chest, head, etc.). That’s all well and good, until the target is shooting back at you. As I would work around my cover finding the chest or head, I would be forced to expose more of my body before I engaged. When there is incoming fire, this is obviously bad. Better to start shooting at the elbow and work your way up the arm and into the chest, allowing you to hide behind a wall of bullets as you work your way toward the center of the threat. This was a big “light bulb” for me during this training, and another valuable piece I will be working on continuously.
We then worked into shooting on the move, a technique which Matt simplifies for everyone. We would do “racetrack” drills which was similar to a “musical chairs” exercise where when there was a threat indicated, the appropriate parties would engage the threats in front of them while moving toward cover. It was a great way to combine the skill sets that we had worked up to this point.
As the sun went down, we began working on our low-light techniques with both handguns and rifles, both with weapon mounted lights and freehand techniques. There was an underlying assumption that each participant had previously worked in low-light environments, and everyone seemed to be comfortable and equipped to run their firearms in the dark. Working through this series of exercises would lead us to the end of Day 1.
Day 2: Introduction to CQB
Day 2 began at another location which was basically an apartment complex that was no longer in use. Matt secured this as a fantastic spot for us to work a multitude of different angles, problems, and environments. It worked out great as it provided large, open hallways with a multitude of doors (as would be found in a commercial dwelling) as well as bedrooms, residential hallways, kitchens, etc. (as would be found in residential dwellings). It was a perfect plethora of problems…
As should be obvious, navigating a structure while alone is very different than when you have a partner (or multiple partners) to help you. The most prevalent problem is that of “T” intersections which present themselves in intersecting hallways, opposing doors, or center-fed rooms. While partners can simultaneously dig the deep corners opposite of each other, an individual is forced to choose one direction or the other. The inherent problem is that you temporarily expose your back to one of the corners which you can’t see after immediately crossing the threshold- which is disheartening, to say the least.
Unlike many other courses that I’ve taken, Matt spent virtually no time talking about the common intersections (“T, L, or 4 way”) or much time about doors. Matt takes a very simple approach to this… “You’ve been opening doors for your entire life, let’s not make this more than it is.” Instead he talks about angles… He talks about the danger associated with lingering whether in rooms or connected places and then the need to properly identify your “room” which consists of EVERYTHING you can see or that can see you. He talks about constantly “checking your six” and seeking out threats. If it’s actively searching for you, then it’s important to find it as soon as you possibly can.
Through demonstrations, explanations, question/answers, and dozens of hilarious stories- Matt would address problems that each participant had. Day 2 was all dry fire, but a day where a great deal of the learning process occurred. I can run a gun accurately and efficiently. However, Matt’s method of dealing with problems which arise inside of buildings was slightly different than anything else that I’ve previously encountered. It was very similar to the methods taught by other instructors, but slightly quicker and with fewer interruptions in movement. It offered what I consider to be a happy medium between “limited penetration” and “dynamic entry” methodologies.
During the classroom discussion portions of Day 2, Matt would reiterate that EVERYTHING is our responsibility. Since we don’t have a team, we are responsible for being the breacher, assaulter, medic, and literally everything else. If there are 50 problems that arise, we are responsible for all 50 of them. Work through them: big to small, near to far… Matt would continuously remind us to not outrun our headlights and to avoid becoming our own worst problem. He quoted Sun Tzu in this endeavor as he stated “When your enemy is making mistakes, don’t interrupt him.”
Day 2 was a wealth of knowledge without a single round fired. It was entertaining, enlightening, and produced both answers to questions as well as new questions to accompany the new techniques. Day 3 would be when we put them all to the test…
Day 3: “This isn’t realistic. This is real. You’re standing in it.”
Day 3 began inside the shoothouse. The facility is amazing and offers multiple examples of problems in every form that you would encounter in a home or urban environment. To start off the day, Matt encouraged us to walk around for about 20 minutes and explore the compound. The beauty of the shoothouse is that there are really few ways to “game it” because the opposing forces are also living, thinking people. They are moving, adapting, and changing their methods just as you are. Therefore, Matt ominously told us that we could walk around, ask questions, or whatever we wanted to do.
Matt called us together and we went into one centralized area of the shoothouse for dry runs. From above us on the catwalk, he would observe, instruct, and correct us on our movements and techniques. He demonstrated the process of finding and guiding a loved one that we were separated from, and the most efficient ways of leading them to safety while minimizing the amount of restraint that they placed on our movements. We would partner up and practice dry run after dry run of any number of scenarios and problems as we navigated the house under the watchful eye of Matt. As we would each require correction, Matt would crack a joke and then ask us questions about our decisions until we arrived at the correct conclusion. It was a great way to offer up recommendations and instruction while keeping it light-hearted and fun. This series of instruction would consume the first half of Day 3.
After returning from lunch, the second half of the day would all be with simunitions. The first several runs were with a handgun, and the scenarios would include leading an unarmed partner to safety while engaging (or avoiding) any threats within the house. All of the manipulations from Day 1 would come into direct alignment with the techniques learned on Day 2 while under the stress of return fire. Through a multitude of laughs, bruises, and sweat- mistakes were made, lessons were learned, and negative stimulus was applied.
One of our next runs would include a carbine and would be in more of an open-air, longer range environment. We would have to escort a partner to safety while being engaged by multiple threats. Some of the threats were from elevated positions and virtually all were from longer ranges. This reinforced the need for us to not fall into “tunnel vision” as we worked through our problems. It was a difficult run, to say the least.
Next we would move back into the smaller structure (more “residential” in nature) and would work some more runs with our handguns. However, contrary to the previous runs, these would be done in the dark. The facility allows for low-light environments to be worked through while in the middle of the day. With it completely dark inside the shoothouse, each participant would go and work through our scenario to achieve whatever stated objective was provided. It was a great way to finish the work.
As an added bonus, myself and the two friends who traveled with me were asked to play the opposing force roles for the gentlemen who had been playing the opposing forces all day. We ran them through several low-light runs as they worked through the house, just as we had. It gave them the opportunity to shoot up the same guys that had been hitting them throughout the day. They were great sports about it, and their efforts were an invaluable contribution to each participant’s experience throughout the live-fire portion of the course.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
Per my usual format, I will end this AAR with my take-aways from the course. I include a section of things that I took away as positives (The Good), things I would prefer to have been done differently (The Bad), and things that are important to consider when planning to attend this course (The Ugly). Note that these are always my interpretations of my experiences from the course, and are mainly here for the consideration of future students who are contemplating this course and for feedback for the instructors from the perspective of a student.
I originally scheduled this course more than a year ago. I was registered to take this course in March of 2017, but due to a family emergency I had to reschedule for Decemeber. I waited for more than a year to take this class, and it was one for which I had high expectations. Arguably unreasonably high expectations… I’ve watched Matt’s videos online and always admired his logical approach to problem solving and the demeanor with which he seems to teach. Add in the fact that two close friends and I have talked about this course for months on end, and you can begin to understand the level of excitement that we had going into this course. It delivered in every way. Matt truly hit a homerun with this one.
The facilities that Matt has arranged for this training are perfect. They are laid out in such a way that Matt can maximize the amount of time instructing and learning and minimize the down time. The shoothouse allows for low-light runs to happen during mid-day, and the house is inside so weather is not a factor. The live-fire happens in a very large action bay with plenty of room for shots out to 50 yards. There is a covered area for gear and equipment that also has lighting under it. All in all- this course is run out of fantastic facilities that strongly contribute in countless positive ways.
Matt Graham is not your average instructor. He’s in a league where few people ever get to play and his real-world experiences and years as an instructor both readily shine through. He has five simple rules for CQB:
- Nobody is coming to save you.
- Everything is your responsibility.
- Save who needs to be saved.
- Kill who needs to be killed.
- Always be working.
The largest “take-away nuggets” that I had from this course are as follows:
- Retracting the carbine when moving in confined spaces as opposed to short-stocking it
- Shooting your target as it is presented to you and working your way in to its center mass
- Avoiding “the flinch” when encountering a threat
To sum up this section, I will be registering for this course again in either March or October of 2018. I feel as though I could take this course a dozen times and learn something new each time. I’ll test this theory given enough time and money.
The only way that I think this course could be improved for me would be with more runs in the house. I think there are a few ways to accomplish this… First, I completely understand the necessity of Day 1 for this course. Matt was making sure that we were all on the same page and that everyone was working from a minimum skill set for both manipulations and safety. I also understand that simunition rounds are pretty expensive, so the cost of the course is going to increase if the number of sim-rounds increases. With this course already being pretty expensive, it would likely be cost-prohibitive to increase the number of runs (and therefore number of required sim-rounds). However, if there was any way to do so, I think I would personally benefit from more runs in the house. Instead of having a half-day of runs, I’d like to see a full day- even if that meant the cost of the course went up by another $150. This could be done by either extending this course into a fourth day, or decreasing the first day of manipulations into a half day. This would also alleviate the cost of ammunition to the student so it might not be “more expensive” given the total costs associated with the training.
Understand that again- this is just my perspective. I performed at my best during manipulations and live fire- but I don’t travel to instructors of Matt’s caliber to practice what I’m good at. Instead, I’m seeking out instruction in what I’m not as strong at… I feel like the majority of the lessons that I was learning were from inside the house during the force-on-force, and therefore I would like to spend as much time there as possible.
As a disclaimer- other individuals in the class might have a completely different perspective. Some of the participants might have preferred to do the complete opposite of what I’m mentioning. This section of the AAR is designed to allow the instructor to get constructive criticism from a student’s perspective, and this is just my individual perspective. In order for me to achieve more runs in the house, I plan on taking this course again!
This section contains the aspects of the course that aren’t necessarily “bad things” but are rather just things to consider for students who are contemplating taking this course in the future. First and foremost- this is not a beginner’s class. It would be my personal advice that anyone who is contemplating this course to already be able to run their gun at a mostly sub-consious level. For me, courses of this caliber are more about problem-solving and thinking than they are about running the gun. You should already have very competent and safe gun handling skills and manipulations prior to arrival at this course. That will allow you to make the most of your time by consciously focusing on the problem-solving piece, and not worrying about how to clear a double-feed. If you’ve ever worked with simunitions before, you know that the guns run very dirty. You’re going to do malfunction correction. You’re going to do reloads under stress. If you’re having to mentally walk yourself through those tasks, then you might want to shore that up prior to enrolling in this course.
The next consideration for this section is the price. The tuition of this course is expensive (albeit completely worth it). If you’re not in the immediate area, then you will also have travel and lodging expenses in addition to the tuition and ammunition. The breakdown for my personal costs (not including food/drinks) were as follows:
- Tuition = $850
- Range Fee = $100
- Ammunition = $350
- Hotel (4 nights) = $450
- Flight / Gas = $250
- TOTAL: $2,000
The location for 2 of the 3 days is fairly remote and in a small town in Virginia. There weren’t any hotels there, so I would recommend that future participants consider AirBNB to find a local place to stay. It’s worth noting that this would also cut down on commute time (about 45 minutes each way) for 2 of the 3 days. Some of the participants in the course did this and I believe they actually came out about the same as our hotel costs- but with the additional convenience of having an entire house plus decreased commute times.
In short- buy once, cry once. This class is worth three other classes. Skip some others and save your money for this class. You won’t regret it.
To finish out this AAR, I want to reiterate that the intentions of my reports are to share what we did and why we did it but to purposely omit how we did it. The tactics, techniques, and procedures associated with the new skill sets are not mine to give out. In conclusion- I highly recommend that anyone of the requisite skill level who is able to take this course to strongly consider it. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping into a force-on-force class, then I’m sure Matt’s other courses are just as good as this one.
We are going to try to schedule Matt at our facilities in 2018 which will hopefully allow for people in the southeast to train with him more conveniently/affordably. His instruction is among the highest in the industry and people serious about defending themselves or others with a firearm should jump at the opportunity to train with him. He’s truly a master of his craft.
Texas has no closed season and no bag limit, which makes them even more attractive as something to hunt when the rest of the hunting seasons are closed. I’ve spent many days out looking exclusively for hogs. However, most of the hogs I’ve shot have been those I encountered while deer hunting.
Below is a story of a successful stalk I made on a feral hog one evening, and I’ll highlight some key takeaways that can be applied in future situations.
Several years ago, I was hunting late in the deer season in December. This was my last trip of a so-far-unsuccessful season, and I was hopeful that I would fare better. I was hunting in a stand on the eastern side of my family’s land that overlooked a small clearing with a feeder.
The stand was on the southern edge of the clearing looking north. A few hundred yards to the east was a long gulley that ran north/south. The woods in this area consisted of pine and hardwood trees with patches of thick brush interspersed among them. While it was near Christmas, in true Texas fashion, it wasn’t really cold, maybe in the mid 50s with a light breeze out of the east.
I sat in the stand all morning and didn’t see a thing. I went back in the afternoon hoping for the best. After sitting in the stand most of the afternoon and into the evening, I still hadn’t seen anything. I started to get bored, and my mind began to wander.
Just as the sun began to go down, I started hearing noise from the southeast. I was initially confused because I hadn’t ever heard anything quite like that before. It was a constant shuffling and rustling of the leaves that was much too loud and continuous for a deer and too intense for an armadillo or a person.
My interest was piqued, and my boredom suddenly disappeared as I tried to figure out what was making all of that noise. As I listened, I could tell that whatever was making the noise was moving steadily north.
After a few minutes I heard the telltale sound that gave away the source of the noise: a squeal. That told me all I needed to know: A group of hogs was actively feeding while they slowly worked their way north.
I determined the hogs were moving in the gulley to my east and that they would probably not come to me, at least not before dark. It did not take me long to make the decision to climb down from the stand and try a stalk on them.
I knew I only had a few minutes of shooting light left, so I had to balance speed with stealth in order to successfully get a shot at these hogs. I quickly climbed down from the stand and started moving to the east. I would take two to three steps and then pause to listen. Satisfied that they were too busy rooting around in the leaves to hear me, I continued to work my way forward a few steps at a time.
Even though it was a cool evening, I started to sweat out of excitement and anticipation. This was one of the few times in my life I had ever stalked an animal while hunting. Luckily, the deck was stacked in my favor. The breeze was blowing from them to me, taking away probably a feral hog’s biggest advantage: his sense of smell.
All I had to do was move slowly and quietly enough to see them and get a shot before they saw or heard me. Even though I only had 100-200 yards to go, it took me several minutes to get from the stand to the vicinity of the gulley, and the remaining daylight had rapidly diminished to the point where I had barely enough light to see.
As I neared the crest of the gully, I took the safety off my rifle in anticipation of taking a quick shot. Right after I did, a black shape crested the edge of the gulley directly in front of me. We both froze, looking at each other.
As he was deciding what this tall shape was in front of him, I raised my rifle and fired. I was carrying the Remington Model 8 in .32 Remington, which luckily had a large aperture peep sight that let in just enough light for me to make out the target. The 170-grain soft point only had to travel about 10 yards before slamming into the hog just in front of the point of his right shoulder. He let out a squeal, and then bolted off to his left into thick bushes.
At the sharp report of the shot, the woods in front of and around me absolutely exploded with surprised and confused hogs running every which direction. Not wanting to have more than one potentially wounded hog running around in the thick brush to deal with that night, I elected not to shoot any others.
I started yelling and throwing sticks and rocks to scare the remaining hogs away so I could retrieve the one I shot. It was dark and confusing enough that I have no idea how many hogs there actually were, but I estimate that I stumbled into a group of at least 10.
After the rest of the hogs finally ran off, I moved back to the deer stand to await the arrival of my father, who I knew would hear the all the commotion and come over to help me.
Shortly thereafter, my dad and my brother arrived in our hunting car to see what was going on. We quickly retraced my steps back to where I shot the hog. By now it was pitch black, and we found the blood trail after a few minutes of looking around with flashlights.
After about 30 minutes of searching, we had covered about 50 yards through the brush. At this point, the blood trail had grown noticeably sparser and the battery of our main flashlight started to die. We decided to pick up the trail again in the morning. I marked the spot of the last drop of blood we found with toilet paper and pink survey tape before heading back to the car.
I went to bed with a heavy heart that night. I thought I had made a good shot on the hog, but I was concerned that the blood trail would disappear completely and we may never find the hog. I woke with the sun the next day and walked back to the area where I shot the hog.
In the daylight, it was easy to find where we had marked the trail, and I quickly found where we left off the previous night. As I stood by the last drop of blood we found, I looked up and found I was staring right at the body of the hog stone cold dead in the bushes no more than 10 feet from where I stood. It was so dark, and he was so well camouflaged in the thick bushes, that we got almost close enough to step on him the night before without knowing it.
He was a medium-sized boar who was probably not full grown. We didn’t weigh him, but I estimate that he weighed between 80 and 100 pounds. Upon examining him, I quickly found the entrance and exit wounds from the bullet.
Since he was quartering towards me, the bullet hit in front of his right shoulder and exited a few inches in front of his left hip. It hit his right lung, the liver and the stomach before exiting. As we feared, the exit wound had closed up almost completely.
Luckily, he was hit hard enough that he expired not far from where his blood trail ended. All told, he ran about 75 yards from where I shot him.
I needed a better flashlight.
We had to give up the search for the hog that night due to a low battery on a borderline quality flashlight. A powerful light with a strong battery, preferably something like a SureFire LED flashlight, would have been useful in this situation. Though I’ve never used one, a blue lens might have helped find the blood trail as well.
I needed to “use enough gun.”
Pound for pound, feral hogs are significantly tougher than deer. While the .32 Remington is plenty powerful enough to quickly kill a feral hog under good conditions, it does not do nearly as well in less-than-ideal conditions like I faced that night.
I had a lot of affection for that particular rifle. I shot my first ram, my first trophy white-tailed deer, and two hogs with it. However, .32 Remington is an obsolete cartridge, and it is difficult to obtain high-quality bullets for it. I had not lost an animal I had shot with this caliber so far, and I eventually decided to quit while I was ahead.
I ended up buying an almost identical Remington Model 81 chambered in the significantly more powerful .35 Remington cartridge to replace this rifle. Had I shot the hog with a .35 Remington, he probably would not have run as far and left a more substantial blood trail from a wound that would have been slower to close up. In that case, we likely would have found him that night instead of having to come back the next morning.
Take advantage of feeding hogs.
If you are fortunate enough to encounter hogs that are actively feeding, make sure you take advantage of that opportunity because you have an excellent chance at getting a shot at one. When they are feeding, they make much more noise which makes them easier to pinpoint.
Also, since they are focused on eating, they are less likely to hear or see an approaching hunter. As long as the wind is in your favor, the odds of getting into shooting range of feeding hogs are high. They might see you or smell you, but they almost certainly won’t hear you approach.