Fieldcraft Gear & Stuff

Over Yonder: The Ins and Outs of Laser Rangefinders by IAN KENNEY

When I first dipped my toes into precision rifle competition the very first match that I attended did not allow competitors to use laser rangefinders to get distances to the target.  This was familiar territory for me since I’d been trained in range estimation using the reticle in the Leupold M3A and Steiner binos.  Getting an accurate range estimation using just a reticle requires a good deal of skill and prior information though, such as the dimensions of the target.  If you didn’t know the dimensions of the target you were in a bit of a pickle but laser rangefinders don’t suffer that disadvantage.  Although you don’t have to know the size of the target to get a range, using a laser rangefinder isn’t always as easy as point and click.  Laser rangefinders were once expensive luxuries but the newer models are smaller, range farther, and pack more features than the models from just a decade ago.  However, it’s a good idea to research the options that are out there now to make sure that your money is well spent and that the unit will meet your needs.

New laser rangefinders pack in a lot of bang for the buck. The Leica 1200 CRF at the top was good for its day but newer models like the Sig KILO below provide the ability to range farther, range in meters or yards, account for angles, and adjust the brightness of the display

How Does It Work?

 In simple terms, the laser rangefinder will emit an infrared beam towards a target while another sensor looks for the reflection coming back.  Once the sensor has detected that reflection it calculates the range based on the time it took to get back to the unit and displays it for the user.  Current generations of rangefinders can not only do that in less than a second but also provide the angle to the target by way of an internal inclinometer as well as differentiate between clutter and the actual target.  The rangefinders that have a “brush” mode accomplish this by programming the rangefinder to essentially ignore close readings and display the farthest distance.  This is especially helpful for long range hunters that may have to punch through scrubs or foliage in order to get a reading on an animal.   Nearly all of the off-the-shelf rangefinders work the same way so what sets a $300 rangefinder apart from a $3,000 one?

Emitter and Sensor Quality

In the world of electronic devices, you tend to get what you pay for and laser rangefinders are no different.   One area that sets apart good laser rangefinders from great ones is the quality of their sensor and emitter package.  You may find that rangefinders at the lower end of the pricing spectrum use an emitter with a less focused beam coupled with a sensor that isn’t as sensitive to the reflected signal.  The result is a rangefinder that can maybe do 800 yards off of a reflective target in perfect conditions as opposed to 1000+ yards.   More expensive laser rangefinders with a higher maximum distance rating will use an emitter that has a tighter beam divergence in addition to a sensor that is better able to pick up the reflection off a variety of materials.
If you notice that some rangefinders use a Class 1 laser and some use a Class 3R laser I wouldn’t get too wrapped around the axle about it.  Class 1 lasers are more or less eye safe while Class 3R lasers are less so but still ok around humans as long as you take precautions.   The laser classification doesn’t necessarily mean that a rangefinder with one type is going to be better than the other one.  Again, the overall performance is going to be determined by the focus of the beam and the quality of the sensor used to pick up the return.

Optical Performance

The optical performance of the rangefinder is going to play a part in how well you can range objects, mostly in how well you can see the target.  All laser rangefinders have some level of magnification, most of the monocle rangefinders have 7X but sometimes you’ll see 6X and 8X too.  I like the 7X magnification, it offers a good balance between being able to see targets against brush or in shadows while still having a good field of view.  Some of the binocular laser rangefinders will have a higher magnification, typically 10X or so, which is just about perfect for hunting situations where you may have to look through brush or scan a far hillside.
Going hand in hand with the magnification of the unit is the quality of the glass.  I try not to be a glass snob but it really can make all the difference in a laser rangefinder.  I’ve used laser rangefinders before where the image looking through the unit was so dark it almost seemed like you were wearing sunglasses.  Now most rangefinders do have a coating on the lens to help you see the display inside but you’ll want a laser rangefinder with good glass quality.   Good enough that you can spot a gray, shot up piece of steel against a far hill while it’s sitting in the shadows of the brush.   That might sound a little far-fetched but that very scenario occurs at nearly every match I’ve been to.

Beam Divergence

I mentioned it a little bit earlier but when I was talking about the focusing of the laser I was talking about beam divergence.  Laser beams do not stay as focused points of light forever and ever.  If you take a laser pointer and aim it a close object you’ll probably see a nice point of light there.   Now, aim that same laser at a far wall and you’re likely to see an oblong patch of light instead of that defined point.   The beam from the laser pointer spreads out and the same thing happens to the beam in a laser rangefinder, this is called beam divergence.  The manufacturer can focus the beam in different dimensions to suit the overall requirements of the laser rangefinder.  Ideally, you want the tightest beam divergence that you can get, since too wide of a divergence can cause the unit to provide false readings.   The beam divergence in my Leica 1200 CRF is .5 X 2.5 mils, which translates to 1′-6″ X 7′-6″ at 1,000  yards.   That’s not too bad as rangefinders go, I can still range trees at over 1,000 yards, but my Leica is over a decade old, many of the newer models have a much tighter beam divergence for better ranging.

I used my Leica 1200 CRF to range a piece of farm equipment more than 130 yards beyond it’s stated maximum range. The combination of high quality emitter and sensor along with ideal lighting conditions helped push the boundaries of this compact laser rangefinder. The beam divergence at this range is approximately 2′-0″ X 10′ – 0″, luckily the farm equipment was huge.


Rangefinder Features

We’ve talked about the aspects of a laser rangefinder that help explain how it provides the range, now let’s talk about some of the things it should do. When you’re out looking for a new rangefinder my first piece of advice is to start looking for one that has a maximum distance rating 20-30% more than what you think you need.  If you get a unit that will range farther than you need it to, you can count on it to be able to hit those targets you need to get a range on in less than perfect conditions.  The rangefinder should also be able to give you the slope distance to the target, which is extremely important for a rifleman that’s shooting in steep terrain.  Whether you’re shooting uphill or downhill the actual distance the bullet is affected by gravity is less than the gun-to-target distance because gravity is pulling straight down.   Knowing this slope distance is very important when shooting at steep angles because just using the gun to target distance could result in a miss.  Integral ballistic computers are also becoming more and more common with laser rangefinders, something precision rifleman and hunters alike can appreciate.   Some units only display relatively generic ballistic information while others can offer custom gun profiles.  Probably one of the best full-featured rangefinders on the market is the Sig KILO2400ABS, a compact laser rangefinder with a built-in Applied Ballistics computer.

The Sig KILO can range to the 1/10th yard and automatically provides the adjusted range for slope when in AMR mode. This takes the guesswork out of adjusting the range for high angle shots.


 Laser rangefinders can be hamstrung but a number of factors that can dramatically reduce their range and effectiveness.  Ambient lighting conditions can be the Achilles Heel of a rangefinder, with bright sunny days being the worst for trying to max out a laser rangefinder.  On really bright sunny days I’ve had my Leica 1200 CRF, which I know can range past 1,200 yards, fail to range anything past 900 yards.  In my experience, ideal conditions for a rangefinder are when the light is more diffused such as on overcast days or in the evening as the sun is going down.

Overcast lighting conditions such as this are ideal for laser rangefinders if you want hit the limits of their ranging ability. Bright, sunny conditions can reduce the effective range of some laser rangefinders by 30%.

Additionally, things like the orientation, color, and size of the target can all play into how well you’ll get a reading at distance.  A laser rangefinder works best when hitting a flat surface since it gives it the best chance of reflecting back a good signal.  If the target is angled away this can increase the chances of the sensor not picking up the beam.   Likewise, dark colors also do not do particularly well when trying to reflect a beam back to the unit, lighter colors work best in this regard.  I think it also goes without saying that trying to range small objects that are far away can also be challenging so try to pick large objects with lightly colored flat sides if you can.

Rangefinder Best Practices

 To get the most out of your rangefinder here are some things that you can do to help get an accurate distance reading.

  1. First, hold the rangefinder as steady as you can. If at all possible, mount the rangefinder to a tripod since this will be about as stable as you can get it.  Some rangefinders come with a built-in 1/4-20 but if you have to use a two-handed grip, brace against something for more stability.

    Using a tripod is the best way to get accurate long range readings with a laser rangefinder, especially if the target is small. Some rangefinders have a built-in 1/4-20 attachment point, however, in some cases you may have to use a secondary mount. This universal optics mount from Precision Rifle Solutions is an excellent way to mount laser rangefinders for a steady hold on a long-range target.

  2. Make sure the batteries are fresh. If you have been getting irregular readings or no readings on objects you know it should hit, switch the battery out for a fresh one.
  3. Choose your target wisely. As it was mentioned above, choose your target wisely to ensure you have a good chance of getting a good reflection. Avoid small targets, angled away from you that are dark in color.  If you are ranging vegetation, choose the densest part that you can find.

    There’s a road sign at the end of that tree line, you can’t see it, but with the help of the tripod mounted laser rangefinder I was able to easily get a hit on it multiple times.

  4. Range objects multiple times. When you are ranging a target, hit it multiple times to make sure the beam isn’t hitting an object in front of or behind the target. If you get two hits that are the same, aim the reticle off the side and get another reading.  If that reading is a lot different then the other two you know the first two readings probably good to go.

    This picture is a good example of how terrain can be deceiving if you’re not careful when using a laser rangefinder. While the building looks like it’s just beyond the trees, there’s actually a 900 yard separation between them.

  5. Keep the laser rangefinder protected. Scratched or damaged lenses can degrade the performance of the unit so when not in use keep the rangefinder in a protective case.  Remember, a clean lens is a happy lens.

    Most laser rangefinders come with a padded soft case for storage. These cases aren’t going to win you any style points but they do a good job of protecting the unit when not in use. Use them, the last thing you want to do is damage the lenses and potentially turn the rangefinder into a paperweight.

  6. Read the instructions. To get the most out of the features your rangefinder might have, read the instructions and then go out and practice with it. Learn its limitations, what the buttons do, and the best ways to hold it to get an accurate range reading.

    If you have to range vegetation, go for the thickest, darkest section you can find to help improve the chances to getting a hit to bounce back.

  7. It should go without saying but the laser rangefinder does emit a laser beam that can be harmful if directed at someone’s eyes. Don’t point the rangefinder at someone’s face and hit the range button, this isn’t kindergarten or an infantry platoon.

In Conclusion

As you may have guessed by now laser rangefinders are an incredibly effective tool for long range shooting, but they are not miracle workers.  That being said if you are going to get a laser rangefinder to fill out your long-range kit then spend as much as you can, buy once cry once applies here.  When I bought my Leica 1200 CRF over ten years it was one of the best compact rangefinders you could get and pricey.  Now, after a decade of use, it’s a little worse for wear but it works great and still ranges to beyond it’s stated limit so the cost is justified.
For some great laser rangefinder options check out the table below.

Laser Rangefinder Guide
Manufacturer Range Angle Compensation Multi-Mode Ballistics
Bushnell Elite 1 Mile ARC 5-1760 yards Yes Yes Yes
Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile ARC Binoculars 5-1760 yards Yes Yes Yes
Leica Rangemaster 2700-B 10-2700 yards Yes Yes Yes
Leupold RX-1300i 6-1300 yards Yes Yes No
Sig KILO2200MR 3400 yards Yes Yes No
Sig KILO2400 ABS 3400 yards Yes Yes Yes
Vortex Ranger 1500 9-1500 yards Yes Yes No
Gear & Stuff Gun Info for Rookies

Tripods – Take Your Rifle Shooting To Another Level by IAN KENNEY

Selecting a tripod for precision rifle shooting

Military and Law Enforcement snipers have relied on tripods for years to provide support in positions other than the prone to make critical shots. The techniques born from those early tripod setups have evolved into the purpose-built products that we have today.

Years ago, I was at a sniper sustainment course and the topic of tripods for the rifles came up during one of the classes.  At that time there weren’t a lot of good options for tripods or rests so most of us did what good soldiers do and worked with what we had.   For military and law enforcement the tripod is an essential piece of kit for situations where the shooter has to be up off the ground to gain a vantage point and yet still be stable enough to make an accurate shot.  For precision rifle competition there exists a similar need for a good, sturdy tripod but selecting the right tripod and attachment system can be overwhelming with so many options on the market now.

Not all shots can be taken from the prone position, in situations where the rifle has to be up off the ground yet be stable enough to take a shot a sturdy tripod is the only solution.

What Don’t You Want?

Back in the day most of the tripods you saw used for shooting supports were the cheap ones from the local big box store getting pressed into service.  There are a number reasons why these tripods are not sufficient for hard use such as their limited adjustment range and extensive use of plastic parts.  If you’re searching for a tripod that will be used to support a rifle you’re probably going to have to start looking at professional-grade photography tripods.  These tripods can start to get expensive but you should look at them as investments, just like a scope or rifle, that will provide years of use without fail rather than a disposable item.

When selecting a tripod that will be used to support the weight of a rifle avoid any that have tripod heads made mostly of plastic. The plastic knobs and latches are notorious for breaking at the wrong moment from hard use and the recoil from heavy precision rifles.

A quality, professional-grade photography tripod that can support the weight of a precision rifle is going to be made mostly from aluminum or carbon fiber.   This is where you have to make a budget decision though because while carbon fiber tripods are great for weight savings and strength, they start at about $300 for a good one.  The aluminum tripods tend to be cheaper, usually running about half the cost of a carbon fiber tripod but they’re also about twice as heavy.

A suitable tripod for precision rifle use will be made from strong materials like aluminum or carbon fiber with independently adjustable legs. This allows the tripod to get stable and level, even if it was on a hillside.

Each tripod leg needs to be independently adjustable so that it can be set up to accommodate the shooter’s needs and terrain.  Cheaper camera tripods have nowhere near the amount of adjustability since their tripod legs can only swing out so far and are limited to a certain sized footprint.    The method used to adjust the length of the legs isn’t a huge deal so I will just say that you’re typically going to see either latches or twist locks.   Twist locks are a fast way to adjust the length of the tripod leg however as far as overall durability goes lever locks will probably win out.  Keep in mind that not all lever locks are the same.  The less expensive lever locks will usually have a rubber pad that engages the leg at a single point and in some situations, say under the weight of a precision rifle, the leg will slip. Quality lever locks, like the ones on my Manfrotto, actually grip the tripod leg around most of its circumference and can be adjusted for more tension if necessary using a socket.

Lever locks like the ones on this Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod are common with many tripods. These offer a very strong, secure lock on the tripod leg that can support a lot of weight.

For some shooters, the tripod center column is best cut down to prevent it getting in the way but I personally like to leave mine untouched.  It’s nice to be able to extend the height of the tripod up some more if I need to after I’ve run the legs all the way out.  The best center columns on a tripod are simple with no frills or hand cranks just a center tube held in place by a thumb screw.

Some tripods have optional spikes either built into the rubber pads or that you install later after you remove the rubber feet. Spikes such as these can help dig in the surface for some added stability.

Tripod Heads

The tripod head is a very important component because it’s the link from the tripod to the rifle that allows for fine-tuned adjustments and locks the rifle into position.   Generally, you’re probably going to find three different types of tripod heads amongst the more experienced shooters: Grip Action, Ball Action, and Leveling Bases.  You might see the occasional pan-tilt head but those are few and far between amongst serious users.  My first piece of advice when looking for a tripod head is to avoid any that use plastic extensively at contact points and joints such as locking latches and plates since these will most likely fail under hard use.
Leveling bases are probably going to be almost unheard of except to those that are also really into photography but they are becoming a popular option with some precision rifle shooters.  In photography, these bases are used to level the camera, pan around in a fluid motion, and also lock the camera firmly in place for panoramic shots.   These types of bases can also support a lot of weight without slipping so it’s no surprise that they are getting used more and more to support rifles that weight upwards of 17 lbs.   A disadvantage to leveling bases is that even though they can spin 360° their maximum tilt angle is only about ±15°, so they’re probably not the best option for mountainous or urban terrain.

This Sunwayfoto leveling base can support a lot of weight, easily carrying my heavy 6.5 Creedmoor precision rifle yet still glide smoothly to get in position. The only downside is that leveling bases don’t have much tilt so in very mountainous terrain where you may have to take 30 degree shots this may not be the best option.

Grip action heads like the Manfrotto 322RC2 and 3265 are pretty commonplace with many setups because they’re built to last a lifetime and have been used for years by professional rifleman.  They have a large range of motion, more than enough for steep angles, and they can support a healthy amount of weight without any issues.  Their only downside is that they are pretty heavy so if you are an-ounces-equals-pounds kind of person you may want to look at this next option.  Ball action heads have been around for a long, long time and are probably the most popular type of tripod head on the market and rightly so.  Ball action heads are versatile, lightweight, strong, and easy to manipulate with one hand.

The Manfrotto grip action heads were very popular for a number of years and are still in use by a lot of precision rifle shooters. The Manfrotto 322RC2 may be more popular but the 3265 is still going strong. Easily supporting heavy precision rifles, both grip action heads offer a wide range of motion for even the steepest shots.

There are a lot of different kinds of ball action heads so it’s important to select one that can fully support the weight of a precision rifle so be sure to check the specs and avoid the cheaper, light duty ones.   Sirui’s GX and KX series as well as the Benro IN2 heads offer good performance for an economical price but if you want to go all in check out the heads from Really Right Stuff.
It doesn’t really matter what type of tripod head you get,  just make sure that it meets your needs and more importantly that it can support the weight of the rifle.

Quick Release Plates

Quick release plates are an integral part of any good tripod head and my advice here is to find a tripod head that is either RC-2 or Arca Swiss compatible.   Skip the heads that use some kind of proprietary plate because chances are it’s going to be hard to find extras and no one around is going to have a similar one.  The 200PL plates from Manfrotto have been around forever and at one time seemed like the only option for a robust all-metal quick release plate that was strong enough to take the weight and recoil of a rifle.  The Manfrotto plates are common enough that some companies make tripod adapters compatible with the RC-2 system that bolts directly to a rifle so they can be attached to the tripod head.  RC-2-style plates are still used a good bit however the Arca Swiss system has become the go-to attachment method for many precision rifle shooters.

Arca Swiss-style plates are becoming immensely popular and I dare say a de facto standard amongst some precision rifle competitors. The dual dovetails lock tightly into the clamping base and optional safety screws on the bottom can prevent the plate from sliding out if the knob loosens up.

Again, unless you’re also really into photography you may not have heard of this system before but it’s actually an elegant and strong setup.   The mounting plate has two parallel dovetails that are engaged by a clamp section that’s tightened by a latch or thumb knob.   Although it’s a seemingly simple connection it’s also very strong and resistant to slippage but with a half turn of the knob the plate slides out easily.  Unlike the RC-2 plates, the Arca-style plates also come in various lengths that can be attached to a rifle so that it can be slid along the clamp to position it perfectly for balance.   As the Arca-style plates become more popular for precision rifle shooters more companies are also making compatible accessories.   Currently, there are commercial options to attach Arca-style plates to rails that are Keymod, MLOK, and Picatinny rail compatible.

The Manfrotto 200PL quick release plate was all most precision rifle shooters used for a long time to quickly switch out spotting scopes or shooting saddles. These all metal plates are still used by a number of shooters and there are compatible accessories that will drop right down into the RC-2 clamp.

Tripod Accessories

There are a ton of accessories that you can get for a tripod, from Kestrel holders to purpose made slings to carry them but chief among them I think should be a shooting saddle.   Back in the day tripod saddles were handmade from materials bought at the local hardware store but commercial options have now superseded that for the most part.  The HOG Saddle and PIG Saddle are extremely popular options that are adjustable to fit a wide range of guns and are threaded so that they can be attached directly to a tripod center column or the tripod head.

Some way to support the rifle is essential when using a tripod. A direct mount like my homemade unit that attaches to any Picatinny rail or a more universal shooting saddle is common on many firing lines.

For the more budget-conscious, Precision Rifle Solutions has a line of shooting saddles that are very well made but don’t cost a bundle.   I’ve actually been using a PRS tripod saddle for years and have found it to be a fantastic option across multiple types of rifles.   If you are starting out in precision rifle competition and getting your tripod set up I recommend starting out with a shooting saddle since they are versatile and time proven.  

My homemade tripod mount using a Desmond Arca-compatible plate screwed to the bottom of an inexpensive quick-release tripod adapter. The screws are loctited and torqued down to 30 in/lbs so there is little chance that it will come loose anytime soon.

Another type of accessory that is gaining momentum are specialized mounts that allow the rifle to attach directly to the tripod head without the need for a shooting saddle.  This has a number of advantages in that the mount can be kept on the rifle and dropped into the tripod quickly for ultra-stable, accurate shots.  There are commercial options available but I opted to make my own tripod direct mount that would be Arca-compatible.  Mine cost about $15 to make using a quick release bipod mount and an Arca-compatible quick release plate from  I removed the bipod stud, drilled and tapped two ¼-20 holes on either side of the existing hole, and attached the Arca plate with two mounting screws.  It’s nice to be able to take my rifles and attach them right to the tripod and not worry about it tipping over or sliding out from the saddle.

Directly connecting the rifle to the tripod is incredibly stable for long range shots and I think my new go to method for tripod shooting. Just recently I used this exact set up at a match to shoot two 10″ plates from the sitting position at 430 yards, alternating shots between plates.

Tripod Accessory Matrix

Tripod Options
Tripod Package Tripods Heads QR Plates Accessories
PRS Tripod w/ SSP (Entry Level)
ShadowTech Tripod Kits(Intermediate Level)
Really Right Stuff Tripod Kit (Tier 1)
HOG Saddle Field Tripod Sirui KX Ball Head Arca Swiss-type 
PIG SaddleRRS SOAR Plates
Manfrotto Tripods 322RC2  200PL Plate LaRue Tripod MountVortex Tripod Mount
Desmond Tripods Desmond DB-44 Arca Swiss-type ADM Tripod Mount
Benro Tripod Benro IN2 Arca Swiss-type SOAR Chassis MountHOG Saddle


Fundamental Tripod Use

When you have your set up finalized and start using the tripod for precision rifle applications there are some fundamental things that you want to do to help make sure you’re taking the most accurate shot possible.  First, when you are setting the tripod up point one of the legs towards the target since this is going to help with stability under recoil.  Extend and spread the legs as far out as possible to create a wide footprint while still keeping the rifle at a good height for a stable firing position.  If the rifle is attached directly to the tripod, under recoil the tripod should essentially go straight up and come back down to the same spot if you got it set correctly.  It will also help to set up the controls for the tripod and head so that you can make adjustments with your free hand without having to break position.  If you lock your support arm out against one of the tripod legs when you are in position and ready to fire this can help gain some stability also.   It was using these guidelines at a recent match that helped me hit 10″ plates at 430 yards using the tripod as my only means of support.

When setting up the tripod you want to make sure the legs are spread out enough to provide a good footprint yet still give you sufficient height for the chosen position. Also, notice that I have the front leg pointed towards the target so that if the tripod does move under recoil it’s just going to go straight up and back down again.

In Conclusion

A good tripod, like a good scope, is a worthy investment for a long-range shooter. Tripods are useful whether you plan to start shooting competitions or just shoot long range in general.  I’ve had a few outings almost ruined due to waist high grass that prevented me from getting a prone position, but thanks to the tripod, I was able to salvage the day and get some shooting in.  As it goes with scopes, if you spend wisely you can easily have a set up that will go the long haul while also not costing you an arm and a leg.   However, if you wish to go under the knife to get the very best, then have at it, that is your prerogative, but keep in mind that simply having the best doesn’t make you the best.   Shooting well off of a tripod takes practice so when you have your setup worked out train with it often, and explore different ways to utilize it other than just spreading the legs and setting a gun on top.

When setting up the tripod it’s always beneficial to set up the controls so that if you’re a right handed shooter you can make adjustments or release the rifle from the tripod with your support hand. Vice versa if you’re a southpaw.

A good tripod for precision rifle shooting should have enough adjustment in the legs to allow the rifle to be shot from a standing position with fully raising the center column.


Pro Tip: When shooting off of a less than stable barricade or obstacle, you can use one of the legs of the tripod to help support the butt of the rifle and gain stability. To do this deploy the tripod to the correct height and bring it in close to the body. When you’re in position, pinch the buttstock between your thumb and one of the tripod legs.


Some Arca Swiss-style clamping bases are also compatible with the Manfrotto 200PL QR plates. This could be beneficial for those that have a stash of Manfrotto plates but would also like to reap the benefits of the Arca Swiss-style system.

The Precision Rifle Solutions Large QD Tripod with SSP sniper saddle is an excellent entry-level choice for those that want to get a tripod for precision rifle shooting but are also on a budget. This tripod can go from prone to standing height easily and support heavy rifles like this custom Remington 700.

Gear & Stuff

Ridiculous Army / Cavalry Helmet

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I could not imagine staying on a horse during a charge.

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Let alone fighting with this thing on my noggin!
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Plus this is the enlisted model. The officers model must of been even worse.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bavarian military Pickelhaube

Prussian police leather Pickelhaube

The Pickelhaube (plural Pickelhauben; from the German Pickel, “point” or “pickaxe”, and Haube, “bonnet”, a general word for “headgear”), also Pickelhelm, was a spiked helmet worn in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by German militaryfirefighters, and police.
Although typically associated with the Prussian army who adopted it in 1842-43,[1] the helmet was widely imitated by other armies during this period.[2]



Otto von Bismarck wearing a cuirassier officer’s metal Pickelhaube

The Pickelhaube was originally designed in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia,[3] perhaps as a copy of similar helmets that were adopted at the same time by the Russian military.[4]
It is not clear whether this was a case of imitation, parallel invention, or if both were based on the earlier Napoleonic cuirassier. The early Russian type (known as “The Helmet of Yaroslav Mudry“) was also used by cavalry, which had used the spike as a holder for a horsehair plume in full dress, a practice also followed with some Prussian models (see below).


Prussian infantry Pickelhaube in 1845 (at right)

Frederick William IV introduced the Pickelhaube for use by the majority of Prussian infantry on October 23, 1842 by a royal cabinet order.[5]
The use of the Pickelhaube spread rapidly to other German principalities. Oldenburg adopted it by 1849, Baden by 1870, and in 1887, the Kingdom of Bavaria was the last German state to adopt the Pickelhaube (since the Napoleonic Wars, they had had their own design of helmet, called the Raupenhelm (de), a Tarleton helmet).
Amongst other European armies, that of Sweden adopted the Prussian version of the spiked helmet in 1845[6] and the Russian Army in 1846[7] (although see above for Russian/Prussian controversy).
From the second half of the 19th century onwards, the armies of a number of nations besides Russia (including BoliviaColombiaChileEcuadorMexicoPortugalNorwaySweden, and Venezuela) adopted the Pickelhaube or something very similar.[8]
The popularity of this headdress in Latin America arose from a period during the early 20th century when military missions from Imperial Germany were widely employed to train and organize national armies.
Peru was the first to use the helmet for the Peruvian Army when some helmets were shipped to the country in the 1870s, but during the War of the Pacific the 6th Infantry Regiment “Chacabuco” of the Chilean Army became the first Chilean military unit to use them when its personnel used the helmets—which were seized from the Peruvians—in their red French-inspired uniforms.[9]
These sported the Imperial German eagles but in the 1900s the eagles were replaced by the national emblems of the countries that used them.

Tsarist Russian Pickelhauben, with detachable plumes, mid 19th century

The Russian version initially had a horsehair plume fitted to the end of the spike, but this was later discarded in some units. The Russian spike was topped with a grenade motif. At the beginning of the Crimean War, such helmets were common among infantry and grenadiers, but soon fell out of place in favour of the fatiguecap.
After 1862 the spiked helmet ceased to be generally worn by the Russian Army, although it was retained until 1914 by the Cuirassier regiments of the Imperial Guard and the Gendarmerie.
The Russians prolonged the history of the pointed military headgear with their own cloth Budenovka in the early 20th century.


The Pickelhaube also influenced the design of the British army Home Service helmet, as well as the custodian helmet still worn by police in England and Wales.
The linkage between Pickelhaube and Home Service helmet was however not a direct one, since the British headdress was higher, had only a small spike and was made of stiffened cloth over a cork framework, instead of leather.
Both the United States Army and Marine Corps wore helmets of the British pattern for full dress between 1881 and 1902.


The basic Pickelhaube was made of hardened (boiled) leather, given a glossy-black finish, and reinforced with metal trim (usually plated with gold or silver for officers) that included a metal spike at the crown.
Early versions had a high crown, but the height gradually was reduced and the helmet became more fitted in form, in a continuing process of weight-reduction and cost-saving.
In 1867 a further attempt at weight reduction by removing the metal binding of the front peak, and the metal reinforcing band on the rear of the crown (which also concealed the stitched rear seam of the leather crown), did not prove successful.
Some versions of the Pickelhaube worn by German artillery units employed a ball-shaped finial rather than the pointed spike. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 detachable black or white plumes were worn with the Pickelhaube in full dress by German generals, staff officers, dragoon regiments, infantry of the Prussian Guard and a number of line infantry regiments as a special distinction.
This was achieved by unscrewing the spike (a feature of all Pickelhauben regardless of whether they bore a plume) and replacing it with a tall metal plume-holder known as a trichter.
For musicians of these units, and also for Bavarian Artillery and an entire cavalry regiment of the Saxon Guard, this plume was red.
Aside from the spike finial, perhaps the most recognizable feature of the Pickelhaube was the ornamental front plate, which denoted the regiment’s province or state.
The most common plate design consisted of a large, spread-winged eagle, the emblem used by Prussia. Different plate designs were used by Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, and the other German states. The Russians used the traditional double-headed eagle.
German military Pickelhauben also mounted two round, colored cockades behind the chinstraps attached to the sides of the helmet.
The right cockade, the national cockade, was red, black and white. The left cockade was used to denote the state of the soldier (Prussia-black and white; Bavaria-white and blue; etc.).
All-metal versions of the Pickelhaube were worn mainly by cuirassiers, and often appear in portraits of high-ranking military and political figures (such as Otto von Bismarck, pictured above).
These helmets were sometimes referred to as lobster-tail helmets, due to their distinctive articulated neck guard.
The design of these is based on cavalry helmets in common use since the 16th century, but with some features taken from the leather helmets.
The version worn by the Prussian Gardes du Corps was of tombac (copper and zinc alloy) with silver mountings. That worn by the cuirassiers of the line since 1842 was of polished steel with brass mountings,


1892 Überzug on 1895 Pickelhauben

U.S. Marine Corps helmet of similar form, 1881–1902

In 1892, a light brown cloth helmet cover, the M1892 Überzug, became standard issue for all Pickelhauben for manoeuvres and active service.
The Überzug was intended to protect the helmet from dirt and reduce its combat visibility, as the brass and silver fittings on the Pickelhaube proved to be highly reflective.[11] Regimental numbers were sewn or stenciled in red (green from August 1914) onto the front of the cover, other than in units of the Prussian Guards, which never carried regimental numbers or other adornments on the Überzug.
With exposure to the sun, the Überzug faded into a tan shade. In October 1916 the colour was changed to be feldgrau (field grey), although by that date the plain metal Stahlhelm was standard issue for most troops.

In World War I

All helmets produced for the infantry before and during 1914 were made of leather. As the war progressed, Germany’s leather stockpiles dwindled. After extensive imports from South America, particularly Argentina, the German government began producing ersatz Pickelhauben made of other materials.
In 1915, some Pickelhauben began to be made from thin sheet steel. However, the German high command needed to produce an even greater number of helmets, leading to the usage of pressurized felt and even paper to construct Pickelhauben.
During the early months of World War I, it was soon discovered that the Pickelhaube did not measure up to the demanding conditions of trench warfare.
The leather helmets offered virtually no protection against shell fragments and shrapnel and the conspicuous spike made its wearer a target.
These shortcomings, combined with material shortages, led to the introduction of the simplified model 1915 helmet described above, with a detachable spike.
In September 1915 it was ordered that the new helmets were to be worn without spikes, when in the front line.[12]
Beginning in 1916, the Pickelhaube was slowly replaced by a new German steel helmet (the Stahlhelm) intended to offer greater head protection from shell fragments.
The German steel helmet decreased German head wound fatalities by 70%.
After the adoption of the Stahlhelm the Pickelhaube was reduced to limited ceremonial wear by senior officers away from the war zones; plus the Leibgendarmerie S.M. des Kaisers whose role as an Imperial/Royal escort led them to retain peacetime full dress throughout the war.
With the collapse of the German Empire in 1918, the Pickelhaube ceased to be part of the military uniform, and even the police adopted shakos of a Jäger style.
In modified forms the new Stahlhelm helmet would continue to be worn by German troops into World War II.

Current use

The Pickelhaube is still part of the parade/ceremonial uniform of the Life Guards of Sweden, the National Republican Guard (GNR) of Portugal, the military academies of ChileColombiaVenezuela and
Ecuador. the Military College of Bolivia, the Army Central Band and Army School Bands of Chile, the Chilean Army‘s 1st Cavalry and 1st Artillery Regiments, and the Presidential Guard Battalion and National Police of Colombia.
Traffic police in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan also use a form of the Pickelhaube. The modern Romanian Gendarmerie (Jandarmeria Româna) maintain a mounted detachment who wear a white plumed Pickelhaube of a model dating from the late 19th century, as part of their ceremonial uniform.

Cultural icon

As early as in 1844, the poet Heinrich Heine mocked the Pickelhaube as a symbol of reaction and an unsuitable head-dress. He cautioned that the spike could easily “draw modern lightnings down on your romantic head”.[15]
The poem was part of his political satire on the contemporary monarchy, national chauvinism, and militarism entitled Germany. A Winter’s Tale.
In the lead-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, a moulded plastic version of the Pickelhaube was available as a fanware article.
The common model was colored in the black-red-gold of the current German flag, with a variety of other colours also available.
The spiked helmet remained part of a clichéd mental picture of Imperial Germany as late as the inter-war period even after the actual headdress had ceased to be worn.
This was possibly because of the extensive use of the pickelhaube in Allied propaganda during World War I, although the helmet had been a well known icon of Imperial Germany even prior to 1914. Pickelhauben were popular targets for Allied souvenir hunters during the early months of the war.
A World War I German Pickelhaube was used as a prop in the television series Hogan’s Heroes set during the second world war; it was supposedly issued to the prison camp commander during the first war and he kept it atop his desk.
It appeared as one element of the show’s “logo”, shown (with a U.S. Army officer’s service cap hanging from its spike) as background for the show’s end credits.

All About Guns Gear & Stuff Well I thought it was funny!

Fella could have a real good time with these!

Image result for pile of gold coins

Especially in some of the more “special” places in the world.

Gear & Stuff

Top 10 Exotic Hunts That Should Be on Your Bucket List

Come on Lottery!

A kudu bull taken in South Africa; for many hunters the Greater kudu is the Holy Grail of African Plains Game.

Traveling to hunt is something I feel everyone should do at least once; it represents an adventure that can quickly make a hunter feel years, if not decades, younger. An unseen valley, an exotic species, perhaps the need for a different rifle or cartridge, it all adds a flair to the sport we love so much. I’ve been blessed to have been able to hunt on four different continents and a bunch of different countries, but that has also been my goal. It wasn’t always that way; when I was growing up hunting was something we did out behind the house, and anything else seemed like the wildest of adventures. I was raised in the Hudson Valley of New York, in close proximity to the Hudson River, in an area dominated by fruit farms and patches of woods. The Catskill Mountains – about an hour away from home – represented a completely different experience, and when I was finally old enough to accompany my Dad, providing I was invited, it was like hunting a different continent. The air, the trees, even the soil was different, and the rugged terrain and desolate setting were intoxicating to me. It still is, though for slightly different reasons these days. Now, depending on where you call home, the destinations I’m about to list may or may not seem like an exotic place to hunt, but here are ten places that I’ve either fallen in love with or plan to in the near future.

1. South Africa

The southernmost country on the African continent has some excellent hunting, in a variety of conditions so wide that it probably shouldn’t be lumped together as one. Forty years ago or so, the Afrikaners realized that the natural game species would thrive much better than the domesticated species, and many of the cattle and sheep farms were turned into game ranches. I hunted South Africa first among the African nations, and it’s a magical place. Loaded with all the plains game species anyone would want on their first safari, South Africa will make memories for any hunter who has the desire to leave his or her footprints upon African soil. Some refer to it as ‘tame’ but I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. Yes, there are many fenced areas – but huge tracts of land, mind you – but South Africa has it all, including the Big Five. It’s home to the thick bush of the Limpopo region, the wide open desert known as the Kalahari, and the Karoo region, which looks quite like the classic Kenyan safari areas we’ve all read about. Kruger National Park, on the eastern border of the country, offers a great post-hunt diversion, allowing for game viewing that will rival any place I’ve seen on the continent. I’ve hunted South Africa on three separate occasions and had a great time. I’m certain that I will hunt there again.

The Cape buffalo is one of the most popular of all the dangerous game animals. Hunting them ranks among the best hunting the author has ever experienced.

2. A Dangerous Game Block in Africa

As wonderful as South Africa is, it is a gateway drug. The normal progression for any African hunter is to cut your teeth on plains game, and move up to Cape buffalo, possibly culminating in one of the big cats or an elephant. Buffalo are my absolute favorite animals on earth to hunt, and to hunt them properly you need time and a whole lot of room, elephants even more so. The dangerous game blocks in Africa are truly the remnants of wild Africa, and my favorite places on earth. Danger can literally lie around every corner, in the form of a poisonous snake, bull elephant or a camouflaged leopard. Even hunting plains game in these areas is a bit of a different endeavor. There is no light pollution, and the stars are absolutely stunning in these huge blocks of undisturbed land. The sounds at night are a symphony to the hunter; the lion’s roar, the insane cackle of the hyena, the screams of the monkeys, all will make for an absolutely unforgettable experience. It will require a large-caliber rifle, one you can bet your life on, as you’ll need it in these blocks like few other places on earth. Special shots and a malarial prophylaxis will be required, as you’re truly in a wild place, where disease is a reality. These remote blocks usually require a charter flight, which just adds to the adventure. I’ve hunted dangerous game in Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and while the country was different in each area, it’s all been magical stuff.

A pronghorn antelope on the prairie is a wonderful hunt, testing the mettle of any rifleman, in an idyllic setting.

3. The Great Plains

The American west is a very special place to hunt; the sheer vastness of the country is beautiful in and of itself. Add in the wildlife and you’ve got a very special experience in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. When I think of the Great Plains, I think about mule deer, bison and the pronghorn antelope. I’ve had the privilege of hunting bison in South Dakota, but my favorite hunting there is the pronghorn. They’re fast, they’re wary, and they’re hunted at a gorgeous time of year when the weather is mild and the leaves are changing. The smell of sage, and more than a few cactus thorns in your knees and derrière will make for some good memories, and if you’re successful, you’ll long to head back to hunt pronghorn under those impossibly wide open blue skies.

4. Alaska

The Scottish Highlands is a very special place deeply rooted in its own set of traditions. To stalk a stag in those hills is an honor, and a memory that will stay with you for life.

I have to admit that I have yet to make the journey to the 49th state, but it’s high on my bucket list. I have many friends who either reside there or have hunted it often, and I stare at their hunting pictures longingly, as Alaska is, quite possibly, one of the most rugged places on the North American continent. Snow white Dall’s sheep on a mountainside, moose in the willow thickets, and caribou on the tundra would all be wonderful hunts, but my mind’s eye turns to the huge coastal brown bears and the opportunity to pit my shooting skills against their bulk. Standing in excess of ten feet tall, they require a steady hand and a heavy bullet, especially if they’re in the thick vegetation of the river systems that hold the fish they dine upon. It’s not a place for the faint of heart, and that’s what makes it so alluring.

5. The Scottish Highlands

To be completely honest, hunting in Scotland was something I’d never given a whole lot of thought, that is, until I received an invite to take part in a traditional Highland stalk for red stag. The traditions that run with the area, with regard to the role of the stalker (your guide) and the gamekeeper of the estate, are deep-rooted, and to take part in that ceremonial function is an honor. Hunting is conducted with strict rules, with the game herd and the grounds kept foremost in mind, but you’ll quickly find that when on one of those gorgeous hilltops, with the traditional garron ponies that transport the deer once taken, that Scotland gets into your blood. It’s steep, it’s wet, and loaded with midgies (the Scottish version of our black fly), but it’s intoxicating, and I’d go back in a heartbeat. Coming off those steep hills, crossing a stream filled with salmon, to arrive back at a lodge replete with a warm fireplace and a dram of whisky to ward off the chill, to exchange hunting stories with the other hunters is a wonderful experience, similar to our own American deer camp, but with more than a bit more pomp and circumstance. It was a hunt I truly enjoyed, and not just for the stag I took.

The big bovines of Australia are a definite challenge, and make for great sport. The trip Down Under can be a long one, but it’s well worth the effort.

6. Australian water buffalo

If you’re living in America, a trip to Australia is more of a pilgrimage than a plane flight. Crossing the Pacific Ocean, and the International dateline, will require a minimum of 13 to 14 hours, should you live on the West Coast, and closer to 21 or 22 if you’re in the Northeast like me. Couple that with a four-hour flight to Darwin, where the big herds of Asiatic water buffalo live, and you’ll feel like you lost half a year in the journey. But, it’s all worth it once you see those great herds of huge bovine, and the vast country they inhabit (my outfitter’s concession was 2.5 million acres). Arnhemland, situate on Aboriginal lands, is a beautiful yet harsh place; it gets very hot, there are all sorts of lovely poisonous reptiles, and it’s all great. Kangaroos and wallabies, crocodiles and dingoes, and the Aboriginal peoples themselves all add to the mix, as do the wild horses (brumbies) and donkeys that occupy the bush. While receiving constant comparisons to the African Cape buffalo, the Asiatic water buffalo are a unique experience, requiring a big rifle; they are most definitely bigger than a Cape buffalo, if not as mean. The hunting is excellent, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Texas holds many exotic species, like this Indian blackbuck, which can no longer be hunted on its native ground.

7. Texas

There’s something special about hunting in Texas, whether it’s rattling in a big whitetail buck in the mesquite, or pursuing feral hogs on the huge ranches that make up a large portion of the state. Texas was my first real exposure to warm-weather hunting; here in the Northeast, if you can feel your fingers and toes, you’re probably not doing it right. But, I got used to Texas weather quickly, and the older I get the more I prefer it. Not all of it is hot – I’ve actually seen snow while hunting there – but it is certainly milder than any of the northern states. While the whitetail is the most prominent big game animal, Texas is dotted with ranches that offer exotic game species from around the world. I took a handsome blackbuck ram in Texas; the species originates in India where it is impossible to hunt them. Texas has wonderful fishing as well, so there is truly something for everyone. Texas, I’ll be back soon.

A bull moose track is the closest the author has come to a trophy, but he hopes to remedy that in the near future.

8. A Bull Moose, anywhere

I think moose are one of the coolest of the deer species, and while I’ve hunted them twice before, I’ve yet to pull the trigger on a bull. They inhabit the northern United States and southern Canada, running coast to coast, and offering some excellent hunting opportunities. Newfoundland, on the east end, has a healthy moose population, while Alaska and Canada’s Yukon offer the biggest specimens on the continent, with antlers approaching and exceeding 70 inches in width. Hunting moose is a sport for the physically fit, in both the pursuit of a bull and in the packing out of the meat and antlers. But, it takes the hunter to the rugged and wild places, truly testing the mettle of those who sign on. We have a small – and currently not huntable – moose population in the Adirondack Mountains of New York; once you see their tracks or if you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse of a bull, I think you’ll be inspired.

9. Driven boar in Europe

I’ll admit that I have issues with pigs, on any continent. I simply love hunting them, as pigs can be tough, reasonably dangerous, and plentiful. Feral hogs in the States, warthogs in Africa, doesn’t matter, and I think that a traditional European driven boar hunt is a spectacular endeavor. The traditions surrounding boar hunting run as deep as those with the red stag, and I’m alright with that; after all as a hunter, I cherish gathering all the experiences I can. With a tough gristle plate and an attitude to match, the European boar has been a trophy for centuries, and that’s not going to stop anytime soon. The large hunting parties, the schweinhunds, the winding of the horn; all add up to an experience that I personally long to have.

The Rocky Mountains are a sight to behold, and to hunt elk in those mountains is high on the author’s bucket list.

10. Elk in the Rocky Mountains

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hunt elk, you already understand. If you haven’t, it’s something well worth doing. I haven’t had the opportunity yet, and I emphasize the word yet. But, having spent a bit of time among them – mostly in national parks – I look forward to the chance to grab a good rifle and head out among the quakies. The bugle of a mature bull elk is up there with the gobble of a turkey or the roar of a lion; though it can be recorded, there is a depth and breadth to the sound that can’t quite be replicated. To me, elk represent a huge part of the spirit of the Rocky Mountains, and while not as big as his cousin the moose, a mature bull is a very impressive animal. The antlers can grow to almost unbelievable dimensions, making the elk a highly sought-after trophy. I’m not getting any younger, so perhaps I’d better look into booking a good elk hunt before too long.
Comment below with your dream hunting destination.

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Finding a Good Gunsmith

Image result for the People's Republic of California.
This has always been a problem for me in here the People’s Republic of California. This in spite of the fact that California has a very large Gun Owner population. Image result for California's gun population

  Here is what my general experience has been like for the past forty plus years.
In that there are very few real gun shops out here if you do not count the chain stores like Turner’s, Bass Pro Shop etc.Related image
  There are also what are called Restoration Experts. These are the folks who can turn Grandpa’s Rusted out “Yellow Boy” back to what it looked like when it 1st came out the New Haven Factory.Image result for great Gunsmiths
  But let me warn you beforehand. You had better be prepared to be able to fork out some serious cash for their services. Because they are the top of the line. Since as is with everything else that is the best. It never comes cheap.
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  What I have also found is that unfortunately most of the Mom & Pop Gun stores do not have a in house smith. But they will send out you firearm to somebody else.Image result for mom & pop Guns Shop
  Now this has been a hit and miss formula at least for me. Sometimes it works out just great and a lot of times not so well.
Also I have found for most of the times. You can count upon the fact. That one will have to wait a very long time to get their gun back.Image result for i will just wait meme
  Also while I myself have never had one of my toys stolen. Some of my friends have had theirs “lost”. Then they faced a huge hurdle to either get their gun back or get compensated for their loss.
To say it was a mess would be a real understatement.
So here is a few tricks that I have learned over the years. Hopefully they will help you also.
 Generally except when it gets way too hot out here. I try and go to the various ranges in the area. Image result for burning desert
 While there I will keep my eyes open and see who else is around. Especially the Old Timers. After a while you can kind a figure out who they are. Image result for old timers
  You then at the right & proper time. Try and start up a conversation with them. About the firearms that they have brought with them. Most of the time they are happy to talk to someone else if they seem genuine and polite. Image result for british double rifles
  Now if they have something really special and not something you generally do not see at the range. I ask them if I could fire off a round for which I always offer to pay for.
 Usually about 9 out of 10 times the guy will generally let you fire one off for free. I then either then buy him a coke or something afterwards.
Then I try and pick the old boy’s mind about his gun. That and if he knows about any good gunsmiths in the area.
  Most of the time, I have found the same names keep showing up. Which is both a great thing and a bad thing.
The great thing being that usually the Smith is pretty good. As I have found that word of mouth is always the best advertising.
 The bad thing is that they are probably as busy as a whore on payday. So you can generally forget a quick turn around. Unless it’s something real easy to do or you bribe them with some extra money.
 If you are that kind of person. (Think Ray Donovan)
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  Some other thoughts about GunsmithsImage result for gunsmith meme
  Now a lot of folks are really shocked at how much a good one costs. I myself do not have such a problems. Since I know that what I am buying is not really the repair of the gun.Image result for gunsmith meme
  Instead what I am buying is the person’s experience, use of his tools, their overhead, smarts, connections to get the parts needed and usually a huge inventory of parts and tools of theirs.Image result for gunsmith meme
 I have also found this out the hard way. That most of these folks are some “real characters”*. So it really pays to be nice to them.
*Translation into Queen’s English. That some of these folks are some real grumpy bastards. But that’s how the cards lay in this game.Image result for crusty old bastard meme
Bottom Line – All I can say is good luck and go hunting on this issue. I hope that this helps somewhat.
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Why I do not reload ammo!

I have been told that the best thing that one can do for themselves is to know one self.

  Now I know that one thing for sure is that I suffer from impatience and lack of attention most of the times now a days.
So here are some more really good reasons why I do not reload.
Image result for blown up guns
Image result for blown up guns
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Now some of you folks can call me a coward or pussy as much as you want to. It don’t matter to me. But I just do not want to be pulling metal and other stuff out of the old carcass of mine.
Attachments area
Gear & Stuff

A Good Article about Bipods for Long Guns

The Bipods with the Moves: Bringing the Swagger

Bipods are probably the most underutilized piece of helpful shooting gear, a tool that should be in your toolbox. But like all tools, you need to pick the appropriate one for the job. Normal size bipods, 6-10 inches, cover a lot of gaps. But sometimes, you are forced into a less than ideal shooting position, and for that, you need something else. Fortunately, that tool now exists.


Type: Field Model 

  • Height: 6.75 in. – 29 in.
  • Weight: 23.9 oz.
  • MSRP: $200
  • Manufacturer: Swagger Bipods


  • Type: Tree Stand/Blind Model
  • Height: 9.75 in. – 41.25 in.
  • Weight: 25.78 oz.
  • MSRP: $220
  • Manufacturer: Swagger Bipods

In the past, your options for a support in kneeling or standing positions were pretty much limited to two options. One was shooting sticks, which have a nasty habit of folding on you when you need them. They are better than nothing, but they also are not the most stable option. The second option was a camera tripod, preferably with a special adaptor on top of it to hold your rifle. This presents the problems of bulkiness to carry, the speed of employment and price.
Last week, I got my hands on an oversized set of bipods, known as Swagger bipods.
These bad boys extend all the way out to 41.25 inches for the blind model, and 29 inches for the field model. The locking mechanism for the legs is a twist lock, offering an endless variety of selectable heights. Each leg is three sections, that lock independently, making employment a cinch.
The bipods attach easily, securely mounting to either an existing sling swivel or a rail. The body of the Swagger matches the contour of your stock, and the legs house inside the plastic body of the unit. Folded away for transport, they don’t extend past the barrel of normal sized guns. To use them, simply pull out on the Bungie loaded legs, and they snap into place in a different position. The top of the legs is a coil spring, which gives the system more flex than a normal bipod, or shooting sticks. It also makes tracking a moving target a breeze.
Article Continues Below:

The author’s group without the bipod.

For testing, I tried the Swagger in a couple of less than ideal shooting positions. Like most shooters, I am sure I don’t practice standing and kneeling positions enough. That reflected in my test. I shot a five-round group on a bullseye standing and kneeling, first without the bipods. The result was suboptimal. I think I can kiss an invitation to Camp Perry goodbye. Adding the bipods into the equation, my group sizes shrank by half. That is a pretty solid endorsement in my book. The idea of using bipods while standing, secured against your hips, is a bit unorthodox. But it does work, and work well. I did the same thing last week with a 6.5 Creedmoor, and it worked out great.
If your hunting grounds often require you to shoot relatively high positions or down angle shots, this is a tool you need. Perfect for either the blind or the field, Swagger bipods are worth taking a look at.
For more information about Swagger bipods, click here.

The author’s group shrank by half with a bipod.

To read about more tips and tactics about utilizing packs and bipods, click here.

Anti Civil Rights ideas & "Friends" Gear & Stuff Gun Info for Rookies

10 Gun Tips You Need To Know About Flying With Guns

Posted by Tom McHale

on Jul 3, 2014 11:35:00 AM

Here’s a bold statement.
When you fly the friendly skies, you’ll experience more invasion of privacy, groping and unwanted scrutiny when you walk through the TSA checkpoint than when you try to check guns in your baggage.
I fly enough that the majority of currently employed TSA agents are intimately familiar with every square inch of my body. But groping aside, I’ve found checking guns by following the rules to be a simple and straightforward process – as long as you carefully follow the rules.
Be aware that there are always two sets of rules: those set by the TSA and those set by your airline. In a perfect world, they will be consistent with each other, but be aware, that doesn’t always happen.
Let’s review a checklist for hassle-free flying with guns.

Trolley1. Buy or borrow a lockable hard case.

Per the regulations, it can be a case with integrated combinations locks, but I prefer a case with multiple holes for heavy duty padlocks of my choosing. Do NOT use TSA locks on your gun case. This is a misunderstood area of the law and, technically speaking, it’s illegal for you to do so. Per the letter of the law, as discussed in the footnotes of this article, you alone must maintain possession of the keys or combination to open your gun case. You cannot lock it in such a way that others have access. By using TSA locks on your gun case, lots of people, just about anyone in fact, technically has access to your guns. TSA locks are NOT secure and not even TSA agents are supposed to have access to your case, once cleared, without you being present to unlock the case.
One more thing about cases. If you travel with a pistol, you might want to get a larger than necessary case, like this one. You can legally place other items besides your gun in the case, like cameras or computer equipment.

2. Check your airline’s website to review their policies.

While most are essentially the same, they don’t have to be. Print out the policy page to bring with you. With all that ticketing agents need to know, not every agent will have a complete understanding of their airline’s gun policy.

3. Review the TSA policy website for the latest information.

It can, and does, change. That’s your tax dollars at work folks. Print this out also, as different TSA agents have different understandings of their own policy. Really.

4. Unload your gun and magazine.

Complete this step while still at home! Check the chamber to make sure that’s empty. I like to pack my guns in the case with cylinder or action locked open so it’s very apparent the gun is in a safe condition. That’s not required, just good manners.
Shop Airline approved gun cases

5. Weigh your gun case and ammunition.

Most airlines will allow up to 11 pounds of ammunition. And, like any luggage, you will be charged more for any baggage weighing more than 50 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but when traveling to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun competition last year, my case with shotgun, rifle, pistol and ammunition tipped the scale past the 50 pound mark.

6. You can pack ammo in the same locking case.

This is another area that’s misunderstood and full of internet myth. Your ammo just needs to be stored in some type of safe container and not loose. Technically, you can keep ammunition in magazines, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It meets the letter of the law storage requirement, but too many airline and TSA agents will give you grief. Use a plastic ammo box or original cardboard packaging and you’ll be fine carrying that in the same lockable case as your gun.

7. Carry your gun case in the closed and locked condition into the airport until you meet the ticketing agent.

You can’t do curbside check in, so be prepared to go inside to your airline counter. When checking in, calmly tell the ticketing agent that you have a firearm to declare. It helps if you don’t yell something like “I’VE GOT A GUN!!!” Unless you live in one of the Republik states, the agent won’t even bat an eye. They deal with this all the time. The agent will tell you what do to and when. Some airports call TSA straight to the counter. Others have an airline agent escort you to a TSA checkpoint with your luggage. Just do what they say and you’ll be fine. At some point, they will have you fill out an orange declaration card and place it in your gun case.

8. Hang out and chill for a bit.

Don’t rush from the ticket counter to the gate. Once your gun case leaves your possession, there is still a chance TSA will need you to re-open the case. Most airports will tell you to wait for a bit in case they page you. The subtle message here is to always be sure to arrive at the airport plenty early if you plan to check a firearm. Time is your friend and the whole process will be a lot less stressful.

9. Make sure you bring the padlock keys in your carry on luggage.

I left mine in the car once and dropped them in my checked baggage another time. Fortunately, I figured out my error in time to correct it, else TSA would have been more than happy to cut my locks off.

10. Be prepared for surprises.

Yes, TSA might clear your gun case upon your departure. Yes, some other TSA agent may cut your locks off somewhere between your departure gate and your final destination. They’re not supposed to without a really good reason, but it happens. Again, that’s your tax dollars at work. You can yell, scream and stomp your feet, but you won’t win that battle. Accept the cost of new locks as part of doing business. On the other hand, if your guns are missing, I personally would tell the airline and destination TSA agents that I was calling the FBI immediately to report an interstate theft of firearms. That ought to get you some attention.
I’ve flown many, many times with one or more firearms and have never had a serious issue. Yes, some airports act differently, but I’ve never lost a gun or had a serious run in with the G-men.
The key is preparation and attention to detail. If you do everything right, your trip will be uneventful for both your and your guns.

Some extra footnotes

Here are a few things to be aware of that you may or may not encounter.
First, some airports, like Bend, Oregon, violate federal law. That’s a harsh statement, but it’s true, or was, the last time I traveled through there with guns. The TSA folks asked for my keys so they could inspect my gun cases in a back room, secure, TSA area. I was not allowed to accompany them. According to the Code of Federal Regulations:

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1540 – Civil Aviation Security: General Rules, Subpart B – Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons, 1540.111 (c) (iv) – The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.
Title 49: Transportation, Part 1544 – Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators,  Subpart C – Operations, 1544.203 (f) (iii) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the individual checking the baggage retains the key or combination;

Basically, I, the owner, MUST not surrender my keys or combination to anyone. From a practical perspective, good luck with that. When fighting with the federal government over obscure details like this, you will not win in the short term. You may win in the long term, but odds are you won’t make your flight at the scheduled time. So choose your battles carefully. You can be right all day long and still not make it past the TSA checkpoint.
If you’re traveling with optics that you don’t trust to the baggage handlers, you can take those as carry on baggage. Obviously you have to remove it from your gun first! But it’s no problem carryon a scope onto the plane as long as there is no gun attached.
Avoid connecting through New York. Yes, this is another harsh statement, but too many folks have spent too many nights in jail and spent too many tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees not to mention it. If you are legally allowed to have a gun from your departure point, and legally allowed to have it at your destination, under federal law, you are supposed to be able to travel from point A to point B without interference. Unfortunately, some places, like New York, realize that they have more lawyers than you can afford, and choose to harass law abiding travelers anyway, knowing full well there’s not much you can do about it. Most times, if you have a connecting flight through New York, you’ll be fine. Your checked gun case will get moved on to the next flight and all will be well. The gotcha occurs when the travel gremlins arrive. If your flight is canceled or delayed, and you have to spend the night, now you are taking a gun from the airport baggage claim to the hotel then back to the airport again. And given ridiculous laws like the new SAFE Act, your gun is most likely illegal in New York. You may meet Officer Friendly when arriving at the airport the next morning. Welcome to the pokey and I hope you get along with your cell mate. I won’t schedule an itinerary through there for exactly this reason. It sounds far-fetched, yes, but tell that to the folks who have been arrested and harassed. Unfortunately, it happens.

Gear & Stuff Uncategorized

Some good books when you are not in the field!

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Another book of his that is worth looking at. He was also editor of Jane’s Infantry Weapons from 1972 to 1994. Hogg was also a frequent guest on the History Channel‘s Tales of the Gun and a contributor to the A&E channel’s 1996 series The Story of the Gun.
Busy guy Huh?

Now moving along smartly as my Old Drill Sgt would say at Ft. Dix.

There are also one other sources of books that I have had some luck with.
One of them being the Osprey Publishing Company. This outfit is dedicated to the study of Military History. So far they have written over 500 books or pamphlets if want to call them.
Now this books are very slim but they do punch above their weight for the most part. Of course in all series types of books. Some of them are going to be duds, some so-so and a few are way above average.
So here are a few that I have been able to gather over the past few years. That are worth getting
(Yeah I know! I have too many books and I need more!)
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Soviet Submachine Guns of World War II
The M1 Garand
The Browning Automatic Rifle
In closing If and when I find some other worthy tomes, That merit your consideration. I will post some more of them.
Thanks for your time!