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  • June 12, 2013

    The Good Old Gun Writers

    By David E. Petzal

    (L-R) Jack O'Connor, Warren Page, Elmer Keith, Townsend Whelen, Bob Brister

    When I broke into the gun writing business
    in the mid 1960s, I was an editor, not a writer, which meant that I, who did not know what I was talking about, got to meddle with the copy of people who did. And those people were a different breed from today. To start with, they were almost all veterans. Not only did this give them a certain perspective on the use of firearms, but some formal training in ballistics as well. Pete Brown studied naval gunnery at Annapolis; Warren Page was a naval gunnery officer; Charley Askins was an Army ordnance officer, as was Col. Townsend Whelen.

    I had the great good fortune to get my start on a small magazine whose main writer was a fellow named Larry Koller. Koller was a consummate outdoorsman. He was an expert shot with rifle, handgun, and shotgun, and a master gunsmith, bamboo-rod maker, flyfisherman, whitetail hunter, and cook. There was nothing he could not do, and do at the master-class level. While a few of the old gun writers were only semiliterate (Elmer Keith), most were far better educated than people are today because everyone was far better educated then. Ol’ Elmer probably never made it through high school, but he was a master storyteller, and if you pick up one of his books today you won’t be able to put it down. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 11, 2013

    Texas Program Gives Shotguns, Training to Single Women to Deter Violence


    By Ben Romans

    Despite the growing popularity of gun buyback programs throughout the country as a way to cut down on violent crime and get illegal guns off the street, a new grassroots program in Texas is trying a different approach—giving single women in small, high-crime areas a shotgun and showing them how to use it.
    The Armed Citizen Project, a Houston-based nonprofit, was founded on the principle that providing guns to responsible owners is a better way to deter crime.
    USA Today recently interviewed Kyle Coplen, the project founder, at a shooting range where he and other volunteers were helping train north Houston residents on how to use a shotgun. Coplen says he plans to expand the program in at least 15 other cities, including Chicago and New York, by the end of the year.
    "When we have a crime wave, we don't just say let's just increase police and that's all we do. We do multiple things. I see this as one aspect of what we can do," said Coplen.
      [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 11, 2013

    Upland Shotguns: Thoughts on Barrel Length

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Once a year I shoot my sporting clays gun—a Miroku Charles Daly with 32-inch barrels—on a two-day charity preserve pheasant hunt. The stock is fitted to me and the long, heavy barrels move inevitably to the birds. It’s almost impossible to miss with it.   

    Longer barrels are easier to shoot with, especially on any kind of crossing bird. Most of my hunting guns now have 28-inch barrels, which seems like a good compromise length. Of course, barrel wall thickness varies and two guns with 28-inch barrels can have very different balance, but in general they have a little bit of weight forward that makes them easier to shoot. In fact, chances are I will shoot a gun pretty well if I pick it up and it feels too heavy in the muzzle. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 10, 2013

    Best Bargain Semiautos: Get More Shotgun for Your Money


    By Phil Bourjaily

    Prodded, perhaps, by a poor economy, big-name gunmakers are finally offering no-frills base models of their top-of-the-line shotguns for those who want to buy a popular brand but have $1,000 or less to spend.

    You can easily drop over $1,800 on a semiautomatic, but you surely aren’t paying for hand checkering when you buy a shotgun with a plastic stock. Mostly you are paying for new technology and the years of R&D that went into it. You also pay for extras you may not want or need: camo finishes, recoil-reducing stocks, fiber-optic beads, hard-plastic cases. It’s like buying a new car and having no choice but to pony up for the LX version with leather seats and a sunroof when all you want is the base model to get you around.

    Now, those base models are available for a real-world price of around $1,000—or much less—listed here from least to most bang for the buck:

    Benelli Synthetic Stock Montefeltro

    New for 2013, and replacing the discontinued M2 American, this 3-inch gun weighs less than 7 pounds in 12-gauge. The Synthetic Montefeltro is the lower-cost alternative to the regular M2, which gives you Benelli’s vibration-­dampened ComforTech stock with the extra-soft pad and comb insert. In black, that gun sells for $1,359. This gun, with a black stock and a regular recoil pad, lists for $1,139. It comes in a 12-gauge, 26-inch-barreled version only. ­

    You’ll save: $220.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 6, 2013

    Groups Join NSSF Opposition to California's Proposed State-Wide Lead Ammo Ban


    By Ben Romans

    A coalition of 24 organizations like the Ducks Unlimited, the NRA, Safari Club International and the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance have joined the NSSF in opposition to a California bill that would ban the use of traditional lead ammunition in the state.
    In April, Field & Stream reported on Assembly Bill (AB) 711, a proposal initiated by Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) that would extend a lead-free zone currently enforced in areas frequented by the California condors, to the entire state by 2016—a move many sportsmen and gun advocates are considering a back-door approach to gun-control legislation. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 5, 2013

    A Surprising Cocktail Discovery: Gin and Dry Lemon


    By David Draper

    One of my favorite things about traveling overseas is discovering new flavors. Of course, the problem with these delicious discoveries is trying to translate them once you’re back home. Such is the quandary I’ve come to after a recent trip.

    As many of you have surmised, I spent some time in South Africa last month, testing out that new Benelli autoloader that Phil Bourjaily hinted about awhile back. Like Phil, I’m sworn to secrecy until early next year, but I will reiterate his assertion that this new shotgun represents some significant design improvements to the popular and reliable Benelli system. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 4, 2013

    Sharpen Your Shotgun Skills for Dove Season with Low Gun Skeet

    By Phil Bourjaily

    It’s less than three months until dove season and now is the time to start practicing.

    There are a few people who don’t need much practice. They are the lucky ones who shoot so much during each season that they can fish or golf all summer, then pick right up where they left off when the season starts again. Most of us don’t fall into that category. I certainly don’t—so instead of fishing or playing golf, I shoot low-gun skeet. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 28, 2013

    Shotgun Review: Stoeger Longfowler is a Turkish Delight


    By Phil Bourjaily

    Well, okay, the Stoeger Longfowler O/U isn’t a “delight” per se, it’s much too crudely finished and heavy for that, but “Turkish Pleasant Surprise” isn’t catchy. Honestly, I didn’t expect to like this gun. It weighs well over eight pounds and sells for less than many pump guns. I figured it would swing with the grace of a railroad tie. My friend Clint, a hardcore duck hunter, had the same preconceived notions I did as we took it out of the box. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 20, 2013

    Win Shooting Stuff: Get Your Question On Gun Nuts TV

    By Phil Bourjaily

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 20, 2013

    Cabela’s Caption Contest Winner Announced!


    By Scott Bestul

    We always get a great response—and killer entries—whenever we post a caption contest, and this round was no exception. The chance at a great (and free) shotgun sight from Cabela’s clearly brought out the best in you. So without further yammering, here are 10 captions that came oh-so-close, followed by the winner.

    Here are the 10 finalists, in random order: [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 17, 2013

    Introducing Gunfight Friday

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Because no good idea goes un-copied, today we present the first installment of Gunfight Friday based on (and by “based on” I mean “shamelessly ripped off of”) the Wild Chef’s Food Fight Friday. The format will be eerily similar: You send us pictures of your gun (see below) and write a little about the gun and why you like it for a specific purpose. We’ll pair up two guns, and readers will decide which is their choice. Unlike Food Fight Friday, which sometimes pits, say, venison vs. fish, we’ll try to confine this to guns for similar purposes like, say, elk rifles for black timber or squirrel rifles.

    I have wanted to get pictures of readers’ guns onto this blog for a long time, and this seems like a good way to do it. I hope you agree, participate, and enjoy it. Because we don’t have any reader pictures yet, Dave Hurteau and I are going to face off on the first installment, which pits my 20-gauge turkey gun against his. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 10, 2013

    Loaded For Bear: Choosing a Shotgun and Shell Combo for Alaska

    By Phil Bourjaily

    You can argue—and many do—that pepper spray is a more effective bear stopper than any gun. We’ll leave that aside for now, because this blog is not called “The Spray Nut.” Instead, we’ll assume you have already debated guns vs. pepper spray and opted for a gun. (Or you may decide to carry both.)

    Not surprisingly, I would tell you to take a shotgun over a handgun. Shotgun slugs have about three times the muzzle energy of a .44 magnum and make much bigger holes. Unless you are a practiced handgunner, a .44 magnum is a difficult gun to shoot straight—even at a very big target. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 8, 2013

    Shotgun Lesson: Learning Poise from a Girl in a German Dress

    By Phil Bourjaily

    No, that’s not one of the Trapp family singers (that was a pun. Did you see what I did there?), it’s Kassie, a senior from the other high school that shoots at our gun club. She had to make a quick exit from the shoot Saturday to march in the local Maifest parade so she came in costume.

    Kassie’s coach asked if it was okay to put her in the first squad with four of our boys so she could get to the parade route on time. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 6, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: What's Your Rule for Shooting Jakes?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Turkey season may be over or winding down in some places, but up here in the north our snow has finally melted—most of it—and we’re hunting.

    In fact, it’s still too early in the season for me to think about shooting a jake like the bird above, which I shot two years ago. That was a last-day-of the-season-in-the-rain bird, and I was delighted when it showed up about noon. [ Read Full Post ]