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  • February 11, 2014

    Why Lightening Up Your Load Will Make You a Better Shooter

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I stopped off at the Winchester booth during SHOT Show and spoke with one of their engineers about the company's new "Rooster" pheasant load. I had shot some at Range Day and the engineer asked me what I thought of it. While it did what it is advertised to do, it gave me a good whack on the shoulder, too.

    “I like it,” I said. “If it had an eighth or a quarter of an ounce less shot and was 100 fps slower so it kicked less I’d like it even more.”

    “I agree with you,” said the engineer. “But no one would buy it.”

  • February 10, 2014

    Rifles: Taking It Personally

    By David E. Petzal

    Granted that shooters are an odd lot (although no more weird than birders, who are really odd, or golfers, who are pretty much beyond description) but sometimes they really baffle me. A while back I wrote that through much of the 1950s, and into the early 1960s, Winchester turned out a lot of really crummy Model 70 rifles. As a result I got an e-mail from a pre-64 Model 70 enthusiast who was beyond livid. How dare I say that the Rifleman’s Rifle was ever less than perfect? Who the hell did I think I was? It was as if I had just whacked his old mom in the spleen with a grub hoe handle.

  • February 7, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Semiauto Deer Rifles

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Two classic semiauto deer rifles go head-to-head this week: Dr. Ralph’s Winchester Model 100 and Jack Swanson’s Remington 740.

    The Remington 740 was comparatively short-lived. It was introduced in 1955 and replaced by the 742 in 1960. During its production run, it was chambered in .308, .30-06, .244 and .280. There are some complaints about its durability, but apparently Jack Swanson’s rifle never got that memo. It has been shot forever and is still alive and ticking.

    The Winchester Model 100 is one of the better-looking semiautos ever made. It was envisioned as a companion to the lever action Model 88. Introduced in 1961, it was produced in .308, .243 and .284 until 1973. Dr. Ralph’s rifle is new to him and has no history — yet. But it’s a beautiful 100.

  • February 7, 2014

    Gun Cleaning Tips: Mind Your Muzzle

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the questions I got for “Ask Petzal” had to do with using a rod on barrels that have to be cleaned from the muzzle end. Do I give them special treatment?

    And how. It takes thousands of rounds to burn out the rifling in a barrel, but if you damage the grooves and lands at the front end, you can see its accuracy vanish quickly, and there are few better ways to do this than by running a cleaning rod in and out at an angle. It has to remain centered in the bore.

  • February 6, 2014

    Reader Tip: How to Sharpen a Knife with a Coffee Cup

    By Phil Bourjaily

    In the second of our sporadic series of reader tips, here is one sent in by Hugh Bryan, who writes:

    "I have bought almost every knife sharpening tool and gimmick over the years (almost everything Dave Petzal has recommended).  Some have worked better than others. Unfortunately, they are seldom with me when my knife needs a quick touch up."

  • February 5, 2014

    Two Small Items from SHOT: Silky Saws and QuickClot

    By David E. Petzal

    Down in the lower level of the SHOT Show where the sun never shines and fart clouds hang heavy in the gloom, lurks the really interesting stuff—the good ideas from small manufacturers whose stocks have not yet split. This year there are two products from the nether regions that I would like to bring to your attention.

    First is Silky Saws. What in the name of all that is holy is a Silky Saw? Glad you asked. Silky is a Japanese saw maker that has been around for nearly a century and makes an extensive line of terrific saws with two that are of special interest to hunters. But first a note: I’m a great believer in saws because they’ll do anything an axe will do except split wood and pound stuff, except quietly, and you won’t take off your foot.

  • February 3, 2014

    New Binoculars: Bushnell Excursion EX

    By The Editors

    The Good Glass for Peanuts Era started about 5 years ago when all of a sudden, it seemed, every big-name manufacturer was rolling out shockingly good binoculars in the $250 to $350 range. The GGP era rolls on in 2014, but the big wrinkle we noticed at the SHOT show is that this year glass-makers seem to be willing to take even fewer nuts for very serviceable binos.

  • February 3, 2014

    SHOT Show 2014 … Look Backward in Angst

    By David E. Petzal


    “Never look backward. Something may be gaining on you.”—Satchel Paige

    The 2014 SHOT Show pulsed and throbbed like a giant (Insert the obscene metaphor of your choice in this space), both in the number of attendees and the amount of business that was done. Some booths, such as Nightforce, were so busy that I couldn’t get near them, and others, such as the one honoring the late Mikhail Kalashnikov, and guarded by jackbooted blonde booth babes who were tall enough to play power forward in the NBA, I was afraid to go near.

    But all in all it was a great show, meaning that I didn’t catch leprosy*, bubonic plague, St. Anthony’s Fire, or the pox, and that I was able to sense a number of trends in the world of guns. 

  • January 31, 2014

    Petzal's SHOT Picks: 5 Best New Rifles of 2014

    By David E. Petzal

    Before we get to my favorite new rifles of the year, a travel note. Those of you who fly Delta may have noticed that when you board, they put a post in the middle of the walkway that says “Sky Miles Medallion,” which refers to people who fly Delta a lot. First class, business class, and frequent fliers walk to the left of the post. When they’ve all boarded, the rest of the herd files to the right of the post. I flew with the peasants, and when they told us to board to the right, I and the young man next to me burst out laughing. If my old mom had asked me what my life’s ambition was, I would have said “Ma, I want to walk to the left of the Delta post some day.” Perhaps it’s just as well she is not here to see that I failed. But that’s not important now.

    This year at SHOT it was hard to walk 10 feet without encountering a tactical rifle, or a rifle that was designed for long range, or a rifle that cost $3,000. Apparently there are a lot of people out there who are not shy about spending three large on a good gun, and boy, are there some good ones. However, since I walk to the right of the Delta post and am therefore a man of the people, I will include some guns that are affordable by the masses. So here we go.

    1) Forbes Rifles

  • January 31, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: The One-Shot Wonders

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Today's Gun Fight is a battle of one-shot wonders. Carl Huber supplied not only one of the contestants but also suggested the name for this one. Coincidentally, Tim Flannery sent in a photo of his single shot rifle a couple of days later.

    I love it when a gunfight comes together.