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  • February 28, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Febru-AR-y Madness

    By Phil Bourjaily

    The AR 15 platform can be adapted into a rifle for almost any purpose. Adding and swapping parts yourself is easy and can be performed endlessly, which is why some call these rifles “Barbies for men,” although I think of them as “Adult Lego.”

    Whatever the term, the end result is a rifle personalized to suit the whims and needs of its owner. Today we have two fine examples facing off: Gunfight Friday veteran Tim Flannery’s mostly-Bushmaster is chambered for .450 Bushmaster, one of several big-bore cartridges available for the versatile AR. Jerry from Fargo’s Rock River Arms rifle is a fairly stock 5.56/.223 with a couple of additions.

  • February 27, 2014

    Gun Making: Man Versus Machine

    By David E. Petzal

    What with the great controversy over the Winchester Model 70, the subject of manmade guns versus machine-made guns came up. There are those who believe that the old-fashioned way—skilled machinists putting steel through a series of operations by hand—is superior to CNC (Computer Numeric Control) where a hunk of steel is put into a single machine that is programmed to perform an extensive series of operations without a human being involved. The truth is that you can produce first-class work, or scrap, by either method.

  • February 26, 2014

    Shotgunning Long Range: A Generational Corollary

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Dave’s “Shooting Long Range: The Generational Theory,” which looked at the reasons behind the overwhelming interest in taking big game at long range, prompted me to think about whether there was a corollary in wingshooting. From what I can tell, the exact opposite is the case in wingshooting. Or at least in waterfowling, which is where you tend to find the young guns these days.

    These kids – in their teens and 20s – spend a fortune on decoys, trailers, custom calls and Benellis. They put stickers all over everything; they post videos of themselves shooting ducks and geese set to heavy metal music; they have their own annoying jargon: “grinds” and “trainwrecks”; and they text constantly in the blind. (It’s all stuff I would have done at their age, too, but now that I’m a lot older than they are, I can disapprove. I will admit to texting in the blind, but only when I’m hunting alone).

  • February 25, 2014

    The Perfect Rabbit Gun

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Now that it’s February, everything is closed here in Iowa but rabbit season, which naturally brings up the subject of rabbit guns. Like the Most Interesting Man in the World, I don’t shoot rabbits often, but I when I do, I shoot them with a shotgun. 

    Usually I shoot rabbits when I’m bird hunting and my dog isn’t looking. So my “rabbit gun” is whatever I’m carrying for pheasants or quail. That usually means an IC/M 12 gauge and whatever lead or non-toxic load I’m shooting that day.

    The perfect rabbit gun, though, doesn’t have to be a 12. Although I’ve never mangled a rabbit with a 12, it doesn’t take a lot of pellets to kill a cottontail. In fact, the best rabbit shoot I ever went on was a quail hunt in which the quail didn’t show up and the rabbits did.

  • February 24, 2014

    Shooting Long Range: The Generational Theory

    By David E. Petzal

    The other day while pondering whether major scandals would erupt on a hourly, daily, or weekly basis during the presidency of Hillary Clinton, I was smitten by a moment of blinding insight into the reasons behind the overwhelming interest in taking big game at long range. As it turns out, they’re only partly related to either shooting or hunting — they are, instead,  generational.

    Bringing down critters at long range is nothing new. Long shots have long held a fascination for us. Outdoor magazines once specialized in hunting tales where the nimrod nailed a Dall ram at 1,217 yards with an iron-sighted lever-action. But this was regarded as more of a stunt than anything else; something that you did maybe once or twice in a hunting lifetime and only in situations of high drama. The rest of the time, your shots averaged around 125 yards—or a lot closer—and so did everyone else’s.

  • February 21, 2014

    Knife Review: The Spartan Harsey Difensa

    By David E. Petzal

    Spartan Blades, of whom I have written before, is a maker of very high quality tactical and survival knives. It was founded, and is run, by a pair of career Special Forces NCOs. Spartan had a booth at the SHOT Show, but it was so crowded with throat slitters and kidney stabbers who were admiring the goods that I didn’t have much of a chance at conversation and so I’m reviewing Spartan’s new knife a bit after the fact.

    It’s called the “Spartan,” because that’s who makes it, “Harsey,” because it’s designed by Bill Harsey, whose knives have won several Best of the Best awards, “Difensa,” which takes some explaining. The Difensa was designed for a Canadian special ops group which does fun things in the forests, and since they are Canadian, the knife takes its name from the First Special Service Force, which was a joint Canadian/US Army unit that served in World War II, and was comprised of some of the finest throat slitters and kidney stabbers to ever pull knives from sheaths.

  • February 21, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Grouse Guns, Round 2

    By Phil Bourjaily

    This week we have a battle of two outstanding grouse guns. A few weeks ago, Springerman3 and I put our grouse guns up against one another—my beater SKB 100 versus his much nicer Franchi Highlander. Two of our friends offered to take on the winner (Springerman3) but their grouse guns operate on a whole different level than ours. It wouldn’t have been a fair fight. I thought we would let them face off against one another instead.

    Both guns are Spanish-made—one from Arrieta, the other from Ugartechea, two of the Basque region’s best gunmakers. The two factories are small, their work forces are highly skilled, and a lot of old-fashioned handwork goes into these guns. They aren’t cheap, but they are still a deal if you look at the price of a comparable English gun.

  • February 20, 2014

    Rimfire Ammo Shortage Continues

    By Phil Bourjaily

    While supplies of centerfire and shotgun ammo seem to be catching up to — or maybe we’ve just reached the new normal — rimfire ammo remains scarce. And it goes fast when it does make it to dealers.

    A friend of mine is on the waiting list for .17 Mach 2 at several online ammo retailers. The other day he received an e-mail at 4:05 from MidwayUSA telling him the Mach 2 was back in stock. By the time he logged on at 4:10, it was sold out. It literally didn’t last five minutes before it was all gone.

  • February 18, 2014

    What's a Little Recoil?

    By David E. Petzal

    I pass this one along for your edification. According to the text that came with the video, this is one of three .950 JDJ rifles made by SSK Industries of Ohio. This is the lightest of the trio, the carbine version, weighing in at a negligible 50 pounds. The bullets, which appear to be lathe-turned bronze, weigh 2,400 grains and are pushed at 2,100 fps by 240 grains of powder. The .950 JDJ develops 25,400 foot pounds of muzzle energy and 277 foot-pounds of recoil.

  • February 14, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Weatherby Vanguard vs Ruger No. 1 International

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Today’s Gunfight is a face-off between Continental elegance and American practicality. Some like their firearms restrained and classy, others like them plain and practical. Both of these rifles are accurate game-getters.

    Fittingly, Edward Palumbo’s Mannlicher-stocked Ruger No. 1 International is chambered for the very European 7x57 Mauser, while Eric Kaneshiro’s Weatherby is chambered for the All-American .30/06. And, while on paper that may not seem like a fair fight cartridge-wise, it would be a tossup as to which of those two venerable rounds has taken more game in their long, useful lives. Here they are: