Take a Couple Hours: Quail Hunting

So months ago I wanted to start up a new blog series about getting in some good outdoor activities with only a few hours to do it in. I started it with an urban fishing trip but unfortunately have not been able to follow it up. Until now! Or should I say this past weekend? A group of buddies and I set some time aside to take part in one of my absolute favorite outdoor activities, quail hunting! We all needed a little break and a lot of fresh air, and this trip did just that! Let’s begin…

Well, first things first let us look at the gear. There were five of us going, and this was going to be the first trip for my buddy’s father’s bird-dog. He had to bring all sorts of other gear that, luckily, I didn’t need to hassle with. The rest of us needed: a hunting license, shotgun, ammo, appropriate clothing, snacks and water.

Don’t have an Arizona Hunting License yet? Pick one up at Game and Fish’s website. You do not need a Migratory Bird stamp to hunt quail, but of course read over the rules and regulations before you head out. (Limit is 15 birds a day this year… good luck filling that though!)

When I talk about appropriate gear, you need to consider where you will be hunting and when. What is the weather going to be like? Is it snake season? (It was cold out so we didn’t have to worry so much about those, but I was still looking where I was stepping.) Dress in layers so you can add on or take off clothes accordingly. Make sure to have some sort of blaze on you (hat, shirt, vest, etc.) so you are easier to spot by your own group and others. Bring a bird/shell vest! Only two of us had bird-vests, so we were doomed to be the pack-mules. I picked up the Browning Upland Strap Vest a year or two ago. Just like the new bird-dog, this was her maiden voyage as well. And I absolutely loved it! Fit nice and secure. Everything was able to be adjusted to me. Held plenty of shells and miscellaneous gear, including water bottles and snacks in the back pouch.

And wear good boots! The areas we hunted had a whole mix of landscapes and ground. Soft sand, hard rock and everything in between. And everything up and down! We went over too many hills to count. Having on my good boots made a world of difference that day… and the ones that followed.

We had a few 12 gauges and a couple 20’s between us. We made sure to keep the two kinds of shells separate, as everyone should! Don’t just rely on the concept that “yellow shells = 20 and red shells = 12”, always double-check! Most of us were shooting size 8, but I had a couple random 7.5s to shoot through as well. Good ol’ Dori the Citori will pretty much eat anything I toss down her!

We pulled off to our first location, and after squelching a minor political discussion we were engaged in, my buddy’s father started the hunt off with a safety meeting. Everyone should do this every time. We talked about watching line-of-fire, when to load/unload, who was going to be where and so on.

Also to not shoot his dog. (There is a special level downstairs for those who break this commandment. Somewhere between lawyers and people who leave shopping carts all caddy-wampus in cart corrals.) This meant no aiming at ground birds, no matter the circumstance, so the plot thickened.

And then to make sure we kept our line consistent. You should always be able to see the person to either side of you and them like-wise. This is where wearing blaze comes in handy. Only two of us were in blaze and with all the hills, washes and whatnot it was easy to lose sight of one another.

The hunt began literally with a BANG! Not more than fifteen yards from the truck, I flushed a couple quail and showed the rest of the group how good I am at shooting under flying birds! We kept moving. It is always a delight watching a bird dog work, and she was no different. This was her first time though, so she was rather timid and not used to the terrain. She had been trained by a professional and graduated top of her class, but the real world is different.

As we made our way, we bumped into something quite large that was just as startled by us. It was a small herd of wild horses! They wanted nothing to do with us and quickly scurried up a hill. One hung out long enough for me to get a picture. He probably knew that I worked for Bass Pro and would include him in a blog. We also bumped into an owl a little ways down the area.

We kept on the flurry-sound of a covey of quail that proved to everyone how hard those little guys are to hunt. They led us all the way to the border of state land, where all we could do is watch as they lounged about in the safety of their new home for the next short while.

We worked our way back towards the trucks and kicked up a few more birds, but no one was able to connect. One bird might have a sore rump though! At the trucks, we caught our breath, rested our feet, hydrated, snacked and started the next game plan. The bird-dog had had quite enough and was done for the day (ground birds are good-to-go!) but had well-earned her rest! She, and a few of us, would have some sore feet the next day.  She may not have gotten on point, but the experience from this trip and those to follow was important for her to gain.

Our next destination wasn’t that far up the way, but did give us plenty of time to talk guns and country music. We came to the revelation that the song Parking Lot Party is more or less the sequel to Redneck Yacht Club, because the people who were partying on the lake weren’t ready to go home yet and just moved it to some asphalt. This probably also gave ample time for my buddy and his dad to discuss such important topics like marriage and what arguments they let us think we win, because the one buddy has his wedding in a couple months.

At the new spot we hopped out and loaded up. We chose a hill in the distance and worked our way towards it. Those on the right side of the line took a few steps before bumping into a mule deer doe, which is pretty neat. I bumped into a rock.

Nothing was really moving until we had gotten over a few more hills and then it was a flurry of excitement. I noticed a nice sized covey moving along in front of us and something caught my peripheral. A couple mule deer does gave me the “See ya!” by bounding away, white rumps shown proudly. Watching the wonders of nature always makes me smile, but we were on a mission! With targets in sight, we closed in on them but came just about as close as the last place.

Clouds moved in and rain started trickling down. It was time to start heading back. In one area, I bumped a few and was able to put down a quail and recover. My buddy’s dad got one in the same area, but couldn’t recover it. One of the guys got himself a nice sized jackrabbit as well! He didn’t have a vest, so being the sport he is, the other of us two pack-mules hoofed it out for him. On the final leg of the trip back, my buddy got a bird and recovered it. And he found a nice little deer shed! Not a bad way to end the day.

We cleaned the animals and headed back towards town. After some grub I had to rush home. The missus wanted to take Christmas card photos, and I was definitely not going to be allowed to have bloody jeans in them! But before I took off, we all were able to take a second and breathe while appreciating what an awesome day we had. And make some verbal semi-contracts to get out next weekend!



My Pick: First Revolver

So far we have covered my choices about what I would choose when purchasing my first rifle and shotgun. Much like with me writing about the shotgun and having a long-time friend come to me with just such a request, I had the same situation happen with the rifle! Last month I went out to the new San Jose, CA store to help with the Grand Opening. (It was awesome!) And sure enough, one of the associates I was help train asked me what I thought about for a good rifle. I quickly sent him the link to my article and that was that! I also ended that last blog to write the next one about one of my favorite firearms, the revolver. So here we go!

A revolver is a kind of handgun that has its rounds chambered by a cylinder. The cylinder “revolves” around moving an empty chamber to the next one while working the action. There are two types of revolvers, single-action and double-action. When people think single-action, they can’t help but imagine the guns used during the Old West. The double-action revolver came out years later and for a long time was the standard issue for military and police forces.

Basically a single-action must be shot by working the hammer back, which engages the firing system. Without that, it won’t fire. A double-action can shoot without the hammer being worked back, and many models come without a hammer. The hammerless models are mostly for concealed carrying purposes. The thought process being that it is one less thing to get caught on when pulling the firearm out. The nice thing about a hammered double-action though is that you can work the hammer back and then when you squeeze the trigger it is a much shorter and easier action. A straight double-action pull can be much longer.

Generally single-actions must be loaded and emptied one at a time. A door will open to the side of the cylinder, which allows you to load or unload (this process usually engages a plunging rod to push the empty case out) the cylinder. A double-action more than likely has its cylinder swing completely out to the side making emptying and loading a much quicker process.

There are not as many calibers of revolvers when compared to pistols. You have basically: .38Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special and .44 Magnum. Now, the magnum calibers can usually shoot the special calibers (i.e. .357 can shoot .38) but not vice-versa, but always ask whoever is helping you.

Part of the reasons why I love revolvers so much was my childhood. I grew up watching countless old John Wayne western films, which grew my fondness for them at an early age. (I am working on my wife to go for the name “George-Washington McClintock!” for our first born. Boy or girl.) I tend to be more accurate with them as well. And I even enjoy the longer process of loading and unloading these firearms as opposed to the “slap and rack” kind of mentality you may get with a pistol.

Now to be considered for the rank of a “first firearm” we need some criteria. Your first revolver needs to be easy to shoot, accurate, well-built, not break-the-bank expensive to own/shoot, able to be used for defense and safe. My honest first choice would be the: Ruger Blackhawk Convertible in .357Mag/9mm.

I personally own this firearm and absolutely love it. A number of years ago, my best friend and I had an “Arizonan Best Friend Day” where we both got similar firearms. (He snagged the Super Blackhawk in .44Mag.)

What I love about this gun is how it fits all my criteria. It is incredibly easy to shoot and accurate. I used this firearm for the shooting aspect of my concealed-carry-weapons permit class, and wouldn’t you know it, I had one of the best groupings of that group! Many people are turned away from single-actions “because they can go off when the hammer is pulled back” but thanks to the transfer bar with these Rugers, you have to pull the trigger to have a round go off (so it is safe). Also with some single-actions you have to work the hammer back a little in order to open the loading gate, but with this one you can open it up without having to work the hammer. It is extremely well built and has seen probably over a thousand rounds of all sorts of ammo put through it. With the capability to shoot .357Magnum this gun definitely fills the niche of “defense gun” and since it is a revolver you can shoot those “shot-shells” through it, giving you a micro-shotgun like capability (perfect for rattlesnakes out here). But because it is a convertible it means that you can shoot three different calibers through the same gun! With the .357 cylinder in place you can also shoot .38 Special, which is lighter in recoil and cheaper to shoot. Transfer over to the 9mm cylinder though, and the recoil is barely noticeable and the ammo is even cheaper! So there it fulfills the “not break-the-bank expensive to own/shoot” checkbox.

So overall, you could not go wrong choosing this gun for your first revolver. In fact, you wouldn’t go wrong if choosing it for your second, third or fourth! Whenever my wife and I hit the range, we always bring “Mary-Kate” with us. (She was named after Maureen O Hara’s character in the Quiet Man, a Wayne classic.)



My Pick: First Rifle

Last month we took a look at my pick for someone’s very first shotgun. Wouldn’t you know it, a longtime friend and mentor actually came in a week or so later, looking for his very first shotgun. He has hit heart set on a nice over/under, but the price difference and practicality of a pump-action might just win out here. And as I said in last month’s blog, this go around we are going to look at my pick for one’s very first rifle. I will choose it based on the similar parameters I set with the shotgun (affordability, reliability, practicality, etc.). Let’s get started.

Rifles are long-gun firearms designed to be shot from the shoulder. Their barrels are “rifled” to give extra accuracy to your shot. They have been used for a couple centuries now for both survival and warfare. When firearms became more abundant, the whole landscape of warfare changed. Rifles have evolved from the ancient muzzle-loading style to our current automatic configurations. Fully-automatic rifles are limited to military and police use, unless one owns a special permit. Most commonly we civilians will use some form of a bolt-action, lever action or semi-automatic action. This latter one is commonly called an AR-15, which uneducated people will tell you stands for Assault Rifle. It actually stands for Armalite, which was the first company to start making civilian models of the M-16, which the gun is so heavily based on. Nowadays we refer to these firearms as MSRs, or Modern Sporting Rifles. Like any other tool we humans use, our rifles have evolved right along with us.

While a MSR is an excellent firearm, I would not suggest it for one’s first rifle. Likewise, I would refrain from picking up a lever-action model. Don’t get me wrong, the Arizonan inside me lusts for a lever-action but I do strongly believe a bolt-action is the way to go. Bolt actions are a simpler firearm and are much more accurate than either lever-actions or MSRs.


Before we get any further, let’s quickly talk about sights. Sights are what you utilize to acquire your target and then shoot at it. There are numerous kinds, but it generally breaks down to two forms. There are “iron sights” which are built in sights that usually contain no magnification. And then there is “glass” which applies to a whole diverse family of scopes. Common knowledge tells us that you will actually end up paying more for your optics than you will your rifle, because a good scope makes all the difference. But manufacturers have been able to make excellent optics options that will not break the bank.

Bolt action rifles have the capability to hold several rounds, depending on the firearm and the caliber, at a time. One would load their firearm, work the bolt back which feeds a round upwards and when the bolt is worked forward it chambers the round. Once the safety is off and the target is acquired, one would squeeze the trigger to fire the gun. Afterwards the same working of the bolt action is required, but the spend case will be extracted and a new round will be chambered.

Most people get a bolt-action .22 rifle for their first firearm. Unfortunately since .22 ammo has become harder to find, (check out this article) this would not be my choice for a first rifle. And while this caliber is great for dispatching smaller game, it is ineffective against larger game. My thought process is that if it is my first gun (and only rifle for the foreseeable future) I want it to be able to handle big game that I hope to hunt one day (antelope, deer and elk).

Affordability and the ability to acquire rounds of the caliber as well are a major concern. 300 Win Mag is an excellent caliber (and has grown in significant popularity since American Sniper) but the cost (and recoil) may keep people from practicing enough with it. So we take a look at two of the most commonly owned rifle calibers, .270 Win and .30-06 Sprg. These two calibers have been keeping meat in the freezers for almost a century and people who favor one caliber to the other swear by it. I personally own a .30-06Sprg but talk to one of leads at the store and he will proudly tote the ability of his .270 Win all day.

My honest pick for a first-rifle caliber would be .308Win. This is another extremely popular caliber, that makes a good sized hole on a target but not too big of one in your wallet. Go online and you will find dozens of sources that can provide you will ballistic information. This is a well-studied, documented and proven round. It has good knockdown power (would work well on deer, antelope and elk if all in reasonable and ethical shooting points) but not enough recoil to hurt most people after a full day of shooting. You can also pick up ammunition for this caliber in bulk packs, which helps with the affordability.

Now for the big reveal: my pick for one’s first rifle would be a Savage 11/111 Trophy Hunter XP Combo. This is a great firearm that checks all the boxes I am looking for. It is reliable, practical and affordable. Most people will tell you that when you buy a combo rifle, meaning it comes with a scope already on it, the first thing you do is toss the scope and buy a new one. This combo does come with a Nikon scope, which are a good piece of glass. It is a 3-9x40mm, which is one of the most common and utilitarian scope setups and is backed by an excellent warranty. In .308Win this rifle weighs 7.25lbs (unloaded) and can hold four rounds plus one in the chamber. It shares a couple similar characteristics with the Mossberg 500 as reasons why I think it is a perfect first-gun. The safety for it is on the tang of the grip, so switching it on and off is a breeze. It is also large enough that one can easily operate it when using thick gloves and the large red-colored indicator is a nice touch. This gun is also synthetic, which makes it a perfect first-gun.

Wood is beautiful. Wood is great. Wood is art. But… wood swells, wood shrinks, wood absorbs water, wood is affected by altitude and humidity whereas synthetic stocks do not have any of those issues. Like I said with the last blog, you can also buy a nice wood-stock firearm next but for first time go synthetic and last a long time.

Next time we will cover handguns, but first we will look at one of my favorite firearms: the revolver.



Find Your Gun’s Groove: Part Two

In continuation of last month’s blog about picking out a gun, we are going to take a further look into the process. By now you should have the fundamentals of firearm safety and operation pretty well under hand. (Remember that TAB+1 is a great and simple way to know how to handle a firearm safely.) So now it is time to think about what exactly you are looking for in a handgun. I started this blog-series with the intention of focusing on a handgun used for personal defense and target shooting, so we will keep on with that. Let’s get started.

When it comes to handguns there are two types: pistols and revolvers. I will explain the two in very basic fashions. A pistol is a semi-automatic handgun that is fed rounds via a magazine. When a round is fired, the casing is ejected out and the next round feeds up into the chamber. A revolver is either a single-action or double-action handgun that stores its rounds in a cylinder that cycle around after being fired. These are typically referred to as wheel-guns. Since typically single-action (think cowboy guns) are not used in self-defense applications, we will not focus on that action. (But, some people do prefer one and there is nothing wrong with that. They chose their firearm for a reason.)

When it comes to choosing a handgun, there is no real “right” or “wrong” reason. The only “wrong” reason I could see for choosing one would be buying a cheap one due to cost. This is not a purchase to be stingy about. If you try out a handgun and absolutely love it but are off-put by the price, just save up. And luckily most gun manufacturers make good guns at decent prices! And what is the cost of a several hundred dollar handgun compared to your life?

You will notice that people have preferences towards brands/manufacturers but don’t let that be the deciding factor for your choice. You are the one that has to shoot it. There are numerous calibers out there, each with their own benefit/drawback. Just understand that the larger the caliber, the bigger the kick. The heavier the gun, the more recoil absorption it has. So a medium caliber in a heavy gun would be a delight to shoot all day long and a larger caliber in a small gun would hurt after a while.

The most common caliber for a revolver is .357 Magnum. It is a solid and reliable round that has been around for years. Any revolver chambered in this caliber can also shoot .38 Special, which has significantly less kick to it. It is also cheaper, which makes it a good option because target-shooting can get expensive quick. There are less expensive calibers than that to shoot, such as 9mm. A few manufacturer’s offer a double-action revolver in 9mm which might be a great choice for someone’s first firearm. The heavy weight and lighter recoil of that combination, along with the vast improvements in defense rounds and relative cheapness to shoot that caliber all work in the guns favor. (I am referring to the Smith and Wesson 986, pictured above.) The thing that most people have against revolvers is their lower round-carrying capacity and the time it takes to reload.

Pistols come in a wide variety of options. Some are metal and others polymer. There are several common calibers for them (9mm, 380Auto, 40S&W, 45ACP) and once again each have their benefits/drawbacks. This is where people’s “brand loyalty” and “favorites” can become extremely apparent. Just remember to do your own research and try out the gun if possible. In comparison to revolvers, most handguns have much higher carrying-capacities and reloading becomes a quick, almost-reflex activity. Take your time, search for any recalls/common issues with specific firearms you are looking at. See how readily available after-market products are. So forth and so on.

One thing that many people don’t think about when it comes to finding their gun’s groove is what their firearm prefers. Each handgun has its own personality and preferences in some ways. Some guns will feed certain brand ammunition better than the other. The best way to test this is to get value packs of several different manufacturer’s ammo in the caliber for your gun. Pick a distance and shoot at it consistently. Have a note pad and mark down how well it groups, any misfires or jams and so on. I would personally suggest picking up boxes by Remington, Winchester and the Hornady American Gunner. (Especially the last option, Hornady makes great products.) After you figure out what practice-ammo to use, then you can start looking at what defense rounds to go with. This is a rather expensive proposition, so maybe connect with a family-member or friend who is looking to do the same. (My buddy Joe and I are looking to do all this with the HK VP9.) Just like ammo, your gun might prefer certain after-market magazines as well.

While this all might seem intimidating, there is no reason for it to be. People who have passion for the world of firearms, love to share it and pass it along to others. Lessons can be learned from just about any source.



2015 Fall Hunting Classic


AUGUST 21-30 

Doug Koenig Sweepstakes

Enter in store or online!

GRAND PRIZE:  1 Winner will receive a a hunting trip to Argentina with Doug Koenig

FIRST PLACE:  1 Winner per store location will  receive 1 Plano Pro-Max Pillar Lock, 1 Leupold 10x25 Rogue Binoculars & 2 Boxes Hornady American Whitetail .308 Rifle Ammo


2nd Amendment Instant Savings on guns and safes!

Save up to $100 when you purchase a gun or safe using our Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Credit Card!


Local Pro Seminars

August 21-23

Friday at 7pm

Saturday & Sunday from 1-4pm

Pro Staffer Charlie Faulk will be in-store as well as Keith Hickman and Mossy Oak Pro Staff.

Stop by and checkout the Mossy Oak truck while you're here!

Game Camera, Hunting Boot and Rifle Scope Trade-in

Parker Bows will be here August 29 & 30 to do product demos in their range!


Next Generation Weekend

Kids Events!

August 29-30, 11-4pm

Kid's Archery Challenge

Kid's Archery Workshop at 2pm & 4pm

BB Shooting Range

Free Giveaway (first 100 kids)


Photo Download

Women's Hunting Workshop at 3pm August 29

You're not gonna want to miss this!  Stop in and check out the great deals!



Fall Hunting Classic 2015- Mesa, AZ

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. It means that another successful and egg-frying-on-the-sidewalk summer has come to a close. It also means that the holiday season is coming around the corner, which is always a great time. But for those of us who like to pursue game, get mud on our boots, take pride in filling our freezer with our own meat and have just cause for not showering know that Fall means hunting season! And we at Bass Pro Shops always kick this season off with what is one of our best sales and greatest events of the year: The Fall Hunting Classic!

Many of the hunting and outdoor enthusiasts come to our store as part of their hunting preparation. And who can blame them? We get inspired by the taxidermy around the store, can share stories with each other, learn new tips and tricks and find great deals on many essential items. Last year we had a great Fall Hunting Classic, but to be honest this year’s looks even better!


Our bow and crossbow trade in will end on the 16th, but we have a few more going on for our Fall Hunting Classic. We are going to have a Riflescope and (for the first time ever) Game Camera trade-in running from August 21st to the 30th. Bring in any working riflescope or game camera and receive a coupon to save on your purchase of a new one! For each one you bring in you will receive a coupon, but you can only use one coupon per item purchased. See below for a breakdown of the savings!

We will also be having a Hunting Boot trade-in as well! This will also run from August 21st to the 30th, and works basically just like the Riflescope and Game Camera trade-ins. Bring in some old hunting boots and receive a coupon to save on a new pair! The boots that we receive will be donated to Soles4Souls which is an awesome organization! See below for a breakdown of these savings.


Customers who are 21 years or older can enter in for a chance to win a hunting trip in Argentina with Doug Koenig! That is our grand prize, and let me already say how jealous I am of whoever wins that! And at each store there will also be a winner for a Prize Package that includes: 1 Plano Pro-Max Pillar Lock, 1 Leupold 10X25 Rogue Binoculars and 2 Boxes of Hornady American Whitetail Ammo in .308 Winchester!


On August 21st we will have a seminar on year-round Game Camera strategies at 7PM.

On August 22nd we will have four separate seminars:

1PM- Archery Tune-Up

2PM- Scent Control and Scent Products

3PM- Boots 101

4PM- Knives and Tools for Hunting

For the Family:

We will have our Next Generation weekend going on the weekend of August 29th and 30th. It is going to run from 11AM to 4PM both days. There will be youth seminars at 2PM and 4PM, crafts, an archery challenge, BB Gun Shooting Range*, free photo download and giveaways. *All participants under the age of 18 must have a parent/legal guardian sign a waiver.

We will also have an awesome Women’s Hunting Workshop at 3PM on August 29th! This should not be missed by any ladies, looking to get some great tips and tricks!

Overall I am super excited about this and hope you all make visiting the Fall Hunting Classic part of your traditions!



Fall Hunting Classic and Next Generation Events


Fall Hunting Classic 2015 - August 21st-30th

2nd Amendment Instant Savings on guns and safes with use of Bass Pro Shops Credit Card

Enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a hunting trip to Argentina with Doug Koenig! One winner per store location for one of three prizes – 1 Plano Pro-Max Pillar lock, 1 Leupold 10x25 Rogue Binoculars, or 2 Boxes Hornady American Whitetail .308 Rifle Ammo.

Friday August 21st
7:00pm – Advanced Game Camera Strategies For Year-Round Scouting

Saturday August 22nd-Sunday August 23rd
1:00pm – Archery Tune-Up: Prepare Your Gear For The Hunt
2:00pm – Get Close: Scent Control and Scent Products That Give You The Edge
4:00pm – Knives and Tools To Guide Your Hunt From Field to Freezer
3:00pm – Boots 101: Choosing The Right Footwear For Your Outing Experience

Women’s Hunting Workshop - Saturday August 29th at 3:00pm

*First 20 attendees each seminar on Friday and Saturday ONLY will receive a Fall Hunting Classic tumbler.

Trade-Ins – 10 Days of Trade-Ins! Game Cameras, Hunting Boots, and Rifle Scopes!


Next Generation Weekend 2015 - August 29th & 30th at 11:00am-4:00pm

BB Gun Range – Take aim and shoot a perfect score!

Archery Challenge – Hit the target and win a prize!

FREE Photo Download – Take a photo and be on the front of a Bass Pro Shops Adventure Kids magazine or get photo bombed by a smiling deer.

Crafts – Come visit us during the Next Generation Weekend and make a fox craft.

Workshops – Kid’s Archery Workshop at 2:00pm and 4:00pm each day.

Giveaways – First 100 kids who get their card punched each day will receive a deer drawstring bag!

For more information, please call (913) 254-5202 or visit our website at http://www.basspro.com/olathe


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Ty Dillon and Freedom Days!

Our weekend starts on Friday, July 31!

NASCAR XFINITY driver Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing's driver of the #3 Chevrolet Camaro, will be here Friday, July 31, for autographs. Ty is in town for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA, on Aug. 1.

Autographs start at NOON on Friday, July 31.



Celebrate our Second Amendment during NRA Freedom Days!

NRA membership drive - Aug. 1/2 - Sign up in-store to for NRA membership and receive a $10 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

Free Seminars:

Saturday, August 1

  • 11 AM - Gun Competition Basics: MSR’s, handguns, shotguns and ammo
  • 2 PM - Accessorizing your MSR
  • 3 PM - Women and Self-Defense: How to train and defend

Sunday, August 2

  • 2 PM - Choosing the Right Home Defense System: Shotgun, handgun or MSR
  • 3 PM - Gun Safety in the Home: Gun safes, handgun vaults, and cleaning accessories

(Free Bass Pro Shops logo mug for the first 15 seminar attendees each day!)

Plus, these additional sale and promotional opportunities:

  • Free gun case with any handgun purchase of $300 or more while supplies last!
  • 2nd Amendment Instant Savings: Instant savings on guns up to $150 equal to the value of your sales tax!
  • Triple/Quadruple rewards points on select products!
  • NRA Freedom Days Experience Sweepstakes


Would your kids like to help us feed the fish? Fish are fed every Tues., Thurs., and Sat. at 3 p.m. Call the store to schedule your child's opportunity to become an Official Junior Fish Feeder!  515-957-5500!

We have free Kids' Basic Archery Workshops every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. Ages 6-10 yrs of age. Children must be pre-registered by calling the store at 515-957-5500 and asking for the Archery Dept.


Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
Visit us @ www.basspro.com/altoona
Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ 
Picture us @ instagram.com/bassproshops_altoona




NRA Freedom Days!

Celebrate our Second Amendment during our NRA Freedom Days Sale and Event!

NRA membership drive - July 25/26 and Aug. 1/2 - Sign up in-store to for NRA membership and receive a $10 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

Free Seminars, July 25 & 26, Aug. 1 & 2 - Free Bass Pro Shops logo mug for the first 15 seminar attendees each day!

Saturday July 25 & August 1

  • 11 AM - Gun Competition Basics: MSR’s, handguns, shotguns and ammo
  • 2 PM - Accessorizing your MSR
  • 3 PM - Women and Self-Defense: How to train and defend

Sunday July 26 and August 2

  • 2 PM - Choosing the Right Home Defense System: Shotgun, handgun or MSR
  • 3 PM - Gun Safety in the Home: Gun safes, handgun vaults, and cleaning accessories

NRA Freedom Days Experience Sweepstakes: One winner nationally will win a trip for your and up to 7 guests to visit the NRA Museum in Springfield, MO, a stay for up to 8 people at Big Cedar Lodge, and a shooting experience with the Gould Brothers at the Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy! Each store will have one winner for a lifetime NRA membership!

Plus these additional opportunities:

  • Free gun case with any handgun purchase of $300 or more while supplies last!
  • July 20-Aug. 2 - 2nd Amendment Instant Savings: Instant savings on guns up to $150 equal to the value of your sales tax!
  • Triple/Quadruple rewards points on select products!

#secondamendment #bassproFreedomDays


Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
Visit us @ www.basspro.com/altoona
Tweet us @bassproaltoona
Pin us @ pinterest.com/bpsaltoona
View us @ 
Picture us @ instagram.com/bassproshops_altoona


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops - Freedom & Fun for Everyone!

It's the FINAL weekend of Family Summer Camp and the first weekend of our NRA Freedom Days special seminars!

Family Summer Camp

Sounds like another HOT and sometimes stormy weekend for us. Join us inside for our last weekend of summer camp workshops for kids - plus, our outdoor activities are moved INDOORS, so your kids can try their hand at shooting a BB gun, casting, and shooting a bow.

Each child receives a Summer Camp lanyard at their first seminar, then a pin at each seminar they attend (while supplies last.) It's still possible for kids to get all nine pins on Saturday and Sunday! The workshops are about 20-30 minutes each and the schedule is:

Saturday - July 25
Noon  -  Fishing
1 p.m. - Water Safety
2 p.m. - Shooting and Hunting
3 p.m. - Kayaking
4 p.m. - Bird Watching

Sunday - July 26
Noon  - Shooting & Hunting
1 p.m. - Archery
2 p.m. - Travel Safety
3 p.m. - Camping
4 p.m. - Backyard Adventure

Crafts are noon-2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday






Celebrate our Second Amendment during NRA Freedom Days!

NRA membership drive - July 25/26 and Aug. 1/2 - Sign up in-store to for NRA membership and receive a $10 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

Free Seminars, July 25 & 26, Aug. 1 & 2 - Free Bass Pro Shops logo mug for the first 15 seminar attendees each day!

Saturday July 25 & August 1

  • 11 AM - Gun Competition Basics: MSR’s, handguns, shotguns and ammo
  • 2 PM - Accessorizing your MSR
  • 3 PM - Women and Self-Defense: How to train and defend

Sunday July 26 and August 2

  • 2 PM - Choosing the Right Home Defense System: Shotgun, handgun or MSR
  • 3 PM - Gun Safety in the Home: Gun safes, handgun vaults, and cleaning accessories

Plus, these additional sale and promotional opportunities:

  • Free gun case with any handgun purchase of $300 or more while supplies last!
  • July 20-Aug. 2 - 2nd Amendment Instant Savings: Instant savings on guns up to $150 equal to the value of your sales tax!
  • Triple/Quadruple rewards points on select products!
  • NRA Freedom Days Experience Sweepstakes




Simple Steps with Wes: Military Lessons

One of our oldest running blog series, and by far one of my favorites, has been Simple Steps with Wes. These started all the way back in 2013. They were the brain-child of one of our amazing associates, Wes. He was a Lead in our store and has extensive survival knowledge. He loves sharing this information and passion with others. Earlier this month, he was back in action at our store and was handling the seminars for our Family Summer Camp.

And that is one of things that I admire about him. He can give seminars to crowds of kids just as easy as talking to a classroom full of adults looking for helpful hints and tricks. Some of that ability to adapt, had to come from his military background. And that is where this month’s Simple Step comes from, his military background. Enjoy!

“I have learned many lessons in the military and in this edition of Simple Steps I hope to convey some specific ones about hiking and backpacking. “Rucking” is the military term for hiking with a full pack or “Rucksack”. As you can imagine, this is a huge issue for the military, as soldiers must wear body armor and carry weapons, ammo, water, communications equipment, and other gear critical to complete the missions. During my last training event I was carry just over 85 lbs. not including my weapon and ammo.

In order to maintain optimal capabilities military service members learn very valuable lessons along the way which can help keep you at your best when you decide to hit the trail.

1. One pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back.

Aside from selecting the proper footwear (which we covered during an earlier edition of simple steps), the weight carried at the shoe takes five time more energy to maintain the same pace of travel  as it would carrying the weight at the torso level. Simply put, lighter footwear equals less strain on the body and is more energy efficiency. In practical terms, this means you could carry half a gallon more of water if you buy boots that are a pound lighter.

2. Managing pack weight needs to be a conscious effort 

Packing what you need, not everything you want, will keep weight out of the pack. Researching potential weather conditions can also help you make decisions in what you leave at home as well. Ideally, a backpack should not weigh more than 30% of the carrier’s body weight. Each 1% of your body weight carried in your pack makes you 6 seconds slower per mile. Small changes such as flashlights that use smaller and less batteries, proper sleeping bag selection, aluminum cookware, and smart food selections can all help subtract pack weight quickly.

3. Comfort starts in how you pack

Packing lighter items lower and heavier items closer to the top of the pack helps keep better posture. As you hike, your upper body naturally leans forward. Weight at the top of the back will work with your body and lessen muscle fatigue in your shoulders and back. Properly adjusting should straps and belt straps will allow the back weight to be supported more evenly, rather than straining just shoulder and back muscles alone.  

4. Downhill is harder on the body than uphill

Going downhill places twice as much strain on your body as going uphill. Why? Braking forces. As you descend, you have to brake your speed with your quads to keep yourself under control. The steeper the downhill, the more braking. This added load on your muscles further affects your uphill performance if you have repeated bouts of up and down work. This also adds to the risk of knee and ankle injuries.

By selecting the proper footwear, bringing only what you need and packing it properly, you can keep the strain of your body and sustain yourself for longer distances and with lower risk of injuries. Read, research and ask questions and you can experience more of life in the great outdoors.

If you have questions or would like to see a topic covered in a future edition of Simple Steps with Wes, submit them to dtkurtz@basspro.com. “

Thanks, Wes! With all the upcoming big-game hunting seasons and just people going out into the woods more this is really good stuff to know. Until next time! Get more of Wes at his Facebook and Webpage.


Previous Steps

Floods Dehydration Halloween Edition Survival Kit Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction Eye Protection Nature Calling First Aid Kits

Epi-Pens Scorpions Edible Fruit Search and Rescue Clouds Traps Celestial Navigation

Footwear Communication Trick or Treating Fire 12 Steps (Reboot)


Freedom Days



Bass Pro Shops has partnered for an exciting NEW 2-weekend event- We are calling it Freedom Days!

We have 2nd Amendment Instant Savings on Guns- up to $150 equal to the value of your sales tax!


FREE Workshops!

Saturdays, July 25 and August 1

11 am 3- Gun Competition Basics

      MSR’s, handguns, shotguns and ammo

2 pm  Accessorizing your MSR

3 pm  Women and Self-Defense

      How to train and defend. Learn about handguns, revolvers and gun cases

Sundays, July 26 and August 2

2 pm  Choosing the Right Home Defense System

      Shotgun, handgun or MSR

3 pm  Gun Safety in the Home

      Gun safes, handgun vaults and cleaning accessories


Not a member of the NRA??

We will be giving you opportunity to sign up here in the store on these weekends or visit joinnra.org


Win a NRA Freedom Days Experience!!!

Enter for a chance to win July 25- August 2

1 winner and 7 guests will win:

* 1-night stay at Big Cedar Lodge

* Private shooting experience with Gould Brothers Exhibition Shooting at our exclusive BPS Shooting Academy

* A visit to the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum in Bass Pro Shops, Springfield, MO

And I can’t forget the Kids’ Corner

July 25 & 26

Kids' Corner

FREE Kids BB Gun Shooting Range

FREE Shooting Workshop



Bass Pro Shops presents Freedom Days along with the NRA!













Take a look at what we have going on - This is an event that should not be missed.

July 20th - August 2nd

2nd Amendment Instant Savings on guns in stock

Up to $150 equal to the value of your sales tax!

You will get a FREE Plano Gun Case with any handgun purchase of $300 or more.  (In store only)








 July 25th - July 26th - August 1st - August 2nd  

NRA Membership Drive - Sign up to be a member in the store or visit joinnra.org











July 25th thru August 2nd

Enter for a chance to win a NRA Freedom Days Experience

1 winner and 7 guests will stay 1 night at the Big Cedar Lodge

Private shooting experience with the Gould Brothers

Exhibition Shooting at our exclusive Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy










A visit to the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum in Bass Pro Shops Springfield, MO.  In addition to this 1 winner per store will receive a NRA Lifetime Membership!










July 25th & July 26th Kids get a change to shoot BB guns in the Daisy shooting range.








FREE Seminars

FREE  Mug giveaway to the first 15 people to attend seminars

Saturday - July 25th & August 1st

11am - 3 Gun Competition Basics - MSR's, handgun, shotguns, and ammo

2pm - Accessorizing your MSR

3pm  - Women and Self Defense - How to train and defend.  Learn about handguns, revolvers, and gun cases


Sunday - July 26th & August 2nd

2pm - Choosing the Right Home Defense System - Shotgun, handgun or MSR

3pm - Gun Safety in the Home - Gun safes, handgun vaults, and cleaning accessories


July 20th through August 2nd

Receive  triple rewards points  on Hornady and Federal Premium ammunition as well as Quintuple rewards points on Hornady storage, Smith & Wesson knives, and Magpul.












Cool Calibers: 204 Ruger

So far in our Cool Calibers blog series we have been able to cover a more obscure round in rifle, handgun and shotgun (respectively). And I am the kind of guy that does not stop a good thing from keeping on going. So we will flip back to the beginning and focus on a rifle cartridge that may not be the most common, but one that might find itself in your collection. Since the last rifle-caliber found itself useful for medium to larger game, this one will be specifically for the “little guys”. This month’s cool caliber is the 204 Ruger.

The 204 Ruger was developed by Hornady and Ruger, and introduced in 2004. When it was first introduced it had the highest velocity of commercially produced ammunition. As stated above the round was developed for the “little guys”. Not meaning shooters of smaller stature, but of the targets. It is a great varmint and silhouettes caliber. Varmint shooters need a bullet that can fly flat and fast. The 204 Ruger fits that bill perfectly. And the round is extremely accurate.

The 204 Ruger was not the first gathering of Ruger and Hornady on a project. Previously they had developed a revolver cartridge together. When consumers saw that these two were working their magic again, they picked up on it quick. The other group of people who picked up on it quick were hand loaders/reloaders. Since the caliber is a center-fire it can be reloaded. Many have achieved amazing results when hand-loading this caliber, but please always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Ammunition for this caliber can be purchased easily at many major retailers. Usually with these kinds of rounds one must hunt for ammo, but such is not the case here. What is interesting is how over the past number of years there have been growing trends in shooting sports. Reloading and hand loading have been growing in popularity. With large game being harder and less available to hunt, picking off some varmints has also become more common. Some ranchers and farmers will even encourage the hunting of certain species, just be sure to be legal and have permission when doing so. And using AR-15 platforms to hunt has also been an increasing trend.

Standard calibers for that platform, like .223 Rem and .308 Win, are now budding up to specialty calibers for AR hunting. Several specialty calibers have been developed. There are several reasons many are attracted to hunting with an AR. They are light, fun, pretty-dang accurate and can take a multitude of attachments/accessories. You can also remove the upper of one caliber and switch on a different caliber, where applicable. So instead of having several rifles for all your hunting and shooting needs, you can have one lower and several uppers instead! And guess what, AR-15s can use a 204 Ruger.

So the 204 Ruger was the right caliber at the right time. Should you check one out? Perhaps! I know I am.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig - 16 Gauge


GLOCK 42: The Sleek Carry That Packs a Punch

If you are looking for a reliable, no-nonsense concealed carry pistol look no further than the GLOCK 42, currently in store at Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, Virginia.  The GLOCK 42 is sleek and compact, making it a great concealed carry choice for anyone looking for a no-frills carry.  It features GLOCK’s drop-safe trigger, which protects the carrier from a negligent discharge and it has stippling on the grip to help keep it firmly in hand.  This is truly a reliable, consistent, slim-line subcompact firearm that is perfect for “pocket carry” or for any shooter with smaller hands.  It has a moderate recoil, a reliable single-stack magazine and is made in the U.S.A.  While this is GLOCK’s smallest pistol to date, it uses .380 caliber ammo so it will pack a punch despite is small size.

Its length measures at 5.94 inches, with a width of .94 inches and a height of 4.13 inches.  The length between the sites is 4.92 inches, with a barrel length of 3.25 inches.  It weighs in at a mere 17.29 oz when loaded, and has a trigger pull of 5.5 lbs (with a trigger “travel” of .49 inches) which is fairly standard meaning that you don’t have to worry that this firearm might be too touchy on the trigger for somebody who may be newer to carrying concealed.  This firearm was designed for personal defense, and it does not have a safety.  Priced at $469.00, we encourage you to take a look if you are in the market for a solid concealed-carry pistol.

Once you’ve checked out the GLOCK 42, feel free to compare this pistol to similar products we carry, like the Kimber Micro Carry 380 priced at $779.00, boasting a miniature 1911 frame and a Crimson Trace Lasergrip) or the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 (which has a safety and is priced at $379.00).  Good items to pair it with might include .380 ammo, a holster, and a cleaning kit.  And, remember, that GLOCK does come with a limited, lifetime warranty; so, while you cannot put a Bass Pro “Gear Guard” on this item, you can trust that the manufacturer will stand behind its product.  In our opinion, this is a solid contender for your concealed carry weapon that will hold up to the test of time and the elements while consistently offering you an accurate pistol that can pack a big punch despite its small size.

What are customers saying who have purchased the GLOCK 42?

" I got lucky and just purchased my G42...Its a great "little" gun...a good bit larger than my TCP, but, has less recoil...very easy to shoot and accurate, as well. The only reason I didn't give it a 5 star....I shot 100 rounds of "gun show" hardball reloads....40% of the rounds "stove piped" ....I'm sure it was the quality of rounds and not the fault of the gun..my TCP had no problems with the reloads....(Hornady Critical Defense) worked flawlessly.....The size of the gun allows me to carry in my pocket without any problems. If you get lucky and have the opportunity to buy one of these great guns.....go for it......"

" I've had mine since day after Vegas show, it has shot every ammo without fail, I believe once it failed to chamber a Russian round not a brass case, carries great even though I have a Alien holster custom, I prefer to just use front pocket with a glove holster."

Would you like to learn more from the Bass Pro website?














































Capturers of the Outdoors: Peter Hathaway Capstick

If you had followed my Africa’s Big Five series, you probably could have seen this coming. In those blogs I wrote about the “five most dangerous game” of Africa, which included Lion, Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard. The articles were about the nature of these animals and the history/future of hunting them. Things have changed a lot since the original “African explorers” first traveled the “dark continent”. One man though was able to contain this essence of adventure and excitement in his writings, Peter Hathaway Capstick. His books would inspire a new generation of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. So for the month of May he will be the focus of our Capturers of the Outdoors blog.

I should preface, after the first preface, with the fact that he is one of my favorite authors. So yes, there will be biased shown in this blog. Just the same if I was to write a blog on why A-Wings are cooler than X-Wings or why Jurassic Park is the best movie ever.

Peter Hathaway Capstick was born in New Jersey in 1940. He passed away in 1996 in South Africa. When you look at those two things you see that he didn’t reach the age of 60 and didn’t pass on American soil. At firs this could be considered confusing, but once you read his works and know his own story it makes perfect sense. Capstick was born and raised in the United States. He attended University of Virginia and had a career working on Wall Street.

While selling and buying stocks can be its own adventure in its own kind of jungle, Capstick yearned for more. So he left the urban jungle and went to the Latin American jungle. He pursued his lifelong passions of fishing, hunting and traveling at this time. He also learned Spanish, which would be one of the several languages he would speak in his lifetime. After a couple years he returned to New York began a business arranging professionally guided hunting trips which caught the attention of Winchester Adventures. He worked there as a director.

From this he took his first trip to Africa and from then on his life would be forever changed. Many who take a trip to Africa can tell you just how amazing it is. A few different associates at our store have spoken about his, even though they didn’t have the words to explain it. You quickly realize that it is something you have to experience. Capstick would eventually become a professional hunter (PH) and game ranger in three different African countries.

Close to a decade after his first trip to Africa, Capstick published his first book: Death in the Long Grass. This books covers the dangerous game in Africa in several chapters. He fills his chapters with stories of his own, taken from others, historically documented cases and more. Being both a PH and a game ranger he clearly would have constantly been in close proximity to dangerous situations or others who had been in them. Death in the Long Grass was a success and is considered one of the quintessential books of African hunting.

When you read his work you can tell Capstick was well-educated and extremely passionate about his topics. His words can clearly bring a mental picture to mind as you read them. He would eventually write thirteen books and even dabbled in film, where his story-telling mastery came to life in front of you. He published six hunting videos, which before the time of every hunter having a TV show or YouTube channel was quite impressive.

His subjects ranged from the animals of Africa to the men that hunted them. One of my favorite books of his though is Death in a Lonely Land. This book is a compilation of some of his favorite and forgotten writings, so it ranges from fishing to playing with BB Guns. Besides publishing books and videos, Capstick wrote for Outdoor Life, Guns & Ammo, Petersen’s Hunting and American Hunter.

The last thing he did to share his passion with the world, was one of the last things he ever did. He was a keynote speaker at a banquet for Safari Club International. He suffered exhaustion and eventually collapsed. They were able to get him back to his beloved and adopted home of South Africa for an operation that in the end did not work. He is still remembered through his writings and honored through a special award given out for the promotion of responsible hunting and wildlife conservation.

Before my hunting trip to Tennessee I would find myself reaching for anything by Capstick. I took a few of his books with me on my trip and in between times in a blind or handling tasks around the farm I was deep into my book. His writings continue to inspire the passion and imagination of hunters. He truly captured the outdoors in every aspect of his life.


Previous Capturers

Zane Grey Disney Nature


Choosing a Turkey Shotgun!

Turkey season is just around the corner.  Whether you already have a turkey shotgun or are currently looking for one, there are some important things to consider- how the shotgun shoots, how comfortable you are with it, and where you will be hunting.  Many hunters will debate on everything from the best choke, barrel size and ammo till the end of time. However, it is important that hunters realize that a specialty shotgun, like for Turkey, as just as much to do with the shooter as the gun itself and there is no right or wrong answer to the argument.  The argument about shotguns can relate to the argument about beer “taste great” or “less filling!”

The most important thing is to choose a shotgun that is best for you as an individual.  The more comfortable you are shooting a shotgun the more confident you will be- thus making you a better shooter.

                That being said, factory guns are fine out-of-the-box, but a few modifications based on your individual skill and type of firearm can make things easier for you.  It is important to base those modifications on your ability and the shotgun itself and not to compare it to you buddy’s situation. For example, your buddy might have a Winchester with an extra full choke that patterns Winchester long beard #4 very tight. This does not mean that your 870 with an extra full choke will do the same.  Moreover, barrel lengths and choke restrictions affect patterns.  It is important that you do some range time to determine which ammo shoots best in your shotgun.

                 This can be a time consuming as well as hard on your wallet. You can save time and money by doing some research first.  There is an abundance of resources on the internet to help you determine a narrow list of possibilities for ammo selection.  However, just like a said before about listening to your buddy, the same goes here. Look for repeated patterns in what people are saying. If 10 people are saying the same thing about how a size load patterns in the same type of shotgun you have than you can take that as quantitative evidence. If only one or two people say it, than you do not and would have to test it for yourself.   From my experience, if you research enough you will find that quantitative evidence you need.


                One of the biggest markets for Turkey hunting as well as all shooting sports is accessories. Accessories have more to do with the individual person than performance of the firearm.  If you feel more comfortable with a pistol grip stock then go with it-if you are not comfortable then don’t.  The same idea holds true with sights.  Remember you are shooting the shotgun and not the sight. The sight is there to aid you. Therefore, the site fits your ability and style of shooting.

                Camo patterns are the latest craze in firearms.  Regardless of what you see on your favorite hunting show or how camo patterns of guns are advertised, camo is determined by where you will be hunting- period.  You should not care what a professional hunter in Texas on television says about Brush camo by Mossy Oak if you live in Indiana.  Moreover, it is important on what season you are hunting.

If you have a Realtree Xtra camo which actually represents the Fall season, it might not be suitable for spring.  So if you are going to choose a shotgun that has been dipped or you are thinking about getting your current shotgun dipped, realize that you will be limiting that firearm to a season and a specific geographical are.


Cool Calibers: 16 Gauge

With the third installment of our Cool Calibers blog I will be successful at focusing on a more-obscure and less appreciated caliber in rifle, handgun and now shotgun. I am hoping to continue this pattern for the following installments, but I might just run out of shotgun calibers to focus on. Which actually let me apologize for my incorrectness concerning this. Shotguns are measured in gauges, not calibers. Gauge refers to the diameter of the barrel. There is more to it but that is not our focus today, what is will be the 16 gauge shotgun!

The two most popular shotgun gauges are the 12Ga and 20Ga. The 16Ga sits right in between them. It was originally known as a “gentlemen’s gun” with the 12Ga being marketed and used more heavily by rural people. It is also considered a European firearm, as it originated there and has retained popularity. The gauge is perfect for upland bird which is the majority of its use.

Once conservation and wildlife agencies got their acts together in early America, bag limits and seasons were set to protect animals. This significantly reduced the number of birds hunted and protected many species from extinction. But what is a shot gunner supposed to shoot at if not birds?! That is where skeet came into play. Such shooting activities as skeet and trap provided shooters a recreational way to keep firing. Unfortunately the rules were written to not include 16Ga in them.

Image courtesy of http://www.hunter-ed.com

Because of this and the majority of shooting turning to sporting instead of sustenance, manufactures produced more of the 12Ga and 20Ga. And so slowly the 16Ga disappeared from American fields. Manufacturers of 16Ga products tried to step up their game with the quality and diversity of the gauges possibilities. Unfortunately all was too little too late and further pushed the 16Ga from American minds and gun cabinets.

I remember growing up and the 16Ga was mentioned as if it was a legend. When I learned that my best friend’s Belgian grandfather had a side-by-side 16Ga (still in Europe) I knew to look upon it would have been like finding the Holy Grail. For years I grew up listening to my friend’s father talk about the firearm, and I will tell you what: It was beautiful!

This adds to the majesty of the round. The “gentlemen’s gun” was given high praise and often handed down through generations. The nicer guns always survived adding to the “nobility” of the gauge.

A couple years back though I noticed something interesting on the shotgun ammo shelves. It was a box of 16Ga. And then I noticed some more. Yes, there has been new life breathed into this classic firearm. Manufacturers and shooters are bringing it back into the public’s conscious. The fact that you can shoot the 16Ga a hundred times and not be sore, and carry it all day and also not be fatigued makes it a great upland bird gauge.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig


.22’s Catch .22

Think back to the first gun you ever shot. What was it? Dad’s first rifle? Or perhaps your great-uncle’s squirrel gun? Well more than likely it was a .22 of some kind. There are several variations of .22 which includes Short, Long, Long Rifle and Magnum. It is the most commonly owned caliber in the world. This is usually the first firearm one shoots as it is a step above from a BB gun but not nearly as powerful as a center fire rifle cartridge. They use this caliber in the Boy Scouts and for Hunter’s Education purposes.

That is not to say that .22’s are kids play. Far from it. I have heard from several retired officers that it is the most common cartridge used in crimes. There are also countless stories/rumors of it being the “assassin’s choice” for handgun. Which may or may not be true but let’s not put any faith into that. You can put faith though into the fact that .22’s are lethal out to far ranges and should be treated with all the seriousness as any other firearm. It may not kick as much but it can still cause serious damage.

Image courtesy of http://www.hunter-ed.com

A few years ago you could walk into almost any sporting goods store and pick up a box of .22. It was no harder to find .22 ammo at a sporting goods store than it was to find bread at a grocery store. Nowadays though, good luck. Finding .22 ammo on the shelf is like successfully hunting a unicorn. OK, maybe not that bad but it is a rare sight. At our store, the most common phone call from a customer is about the status of .22 ammo. I am sure this is the same for other Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods stores nationwide.

It all started with the usual fear of gun-bans. There had been some prolific mass-shootings that took place and even some legislation proposed though our government. This caused a rush on the market and people began buying up everything. Handguns, long guns (especially AR-15 style platforms), high-capacity magazines, accessories and ammo were being bought up by the truckload. Certain calibers like 9mm, 45ACP, 223Rem, 308Win and of course .22’s of all kinds were the most sought after.

For months after the initial scare you could come to our store and see a line of people waiting to get in as soon as we opened to see what we had on our shelves. Talking to people at other stores, this was the same state-wide and more than likely nationwide.

But so what’s the deal? As people will say “it’s only .22” and you begin to wonder why you can’t find it. It’s not like they aren’t producing it anymore. On the contrary! Ammunition manufacturers saw what calibers consumers most wanted and started just focusing on those. More obscure rounds have stopped being produced commercially as those machines are now needed for your common calibers. So where are they all going?

I have heard some people say it’s the government, that they are buying it all up so the youth can’t get into shooting. Like we said earlier, it is the most common caliber for kids to learn to shoot. Really the next step up is .223Rem which honestly has enough kick to be reserved for kids ten years of age or older. Remember if kids don’t enjoy shooting when they are young and get bruised up by too large of calibers, they probably won’t be lifetime shooters or gun owners.

Others point towards the “preppers” as they are stockpiling food, water, supplies and ammo. These certain types of people are misunderstood by many who do not know what they do. It is understandable though. Most people who are preparing for some kind of catastrophe are considered “weird” or “crazy” by others. That is until a disaster strikes and your family doesn’t have any can-goods because you didn’t even think about what may happen in this crazy thing called life. TV shows that document preppers and their lifestyles point out how they store products like alcohol, ammo or medical supplies to be used as a bartering system after money has no value.

Then you also have the people who purposely buy it all up just to sell on the internet for a profit. Don’t think people would actually do that? Think again. People were paying for magazines and firearms at way above decent mark-up on products. An AR-15 magazine for $60? Yea and people paid it. So if you haven’t been able to buy any .22 in-stores for a year or two but find some online at a higher price, you know you probably would pay it.

And outside of government conspiracies, people profiting like pirates and those crazy preppers you had your normal gun enthusiasts who want to get their hands on .22 ammo. People who own several firearms in their home and more than likely a .22 or two. You yourself may be such a person, and until recently you never thought about stockpiling up thousands of rounds of ammo. But now with how scarce it is, you buy up as much as you can when you get the chance. You’re not trying to gouge people online or are concerned with zombie-tornadoes, but you don’t want to not have any .22 either.

Because of all of this, you have .22’s very own Catch 22. People who weren’t stockpiling it before are now. Preppers hear about these government buy-outs and are now more determined to acquire as much .22 as possible. And shoppers/shooters like me and you who now pick up an extra box or two of the ammo when we don’t need it are making it scarcer. No one wins. And to boot, unlike 9mm or 308Win that you can reload .22 is almost impossible to. There are ways to do it, but none of them are very practical or safe so it is best to avoid that altogether.

Image courtesy of http://www.hunter-ed.com

Will this Catch 22 ever end? I honestly don’t know. All I do know is that if you ever have the chance to teach a kid how to shoot that it is not the time to be stingy with your stockpile.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig 16 Gauge


RangeMaxx Firearm Cleaning Seminars

What surprises me is how many times I have seen customers purchase a firearm and not also pick up a cleaning kit for it. And I know that many avid-shooters have a multi-caliber/gauge cleaning kit of some kind, but many don’t! Gun cleaning and care is an extremely important aspect of being a responsible firearm owner. Just like everything else, you have to take care of it for it to stay functional.

One of my first Check it Out List blogs was about firearm cleaning kits. And while it covered many aspects of what you need to clean your firearms, it did not cover how to. For me, this is one task that is better to be learned hands-on or visually. There are hundreds of YouTube videos on how to clean and maintain firearms. Google the firearm you own and how to clean, and there will probably be a video for that exact one! But alas, even the mighty internet is not the best source for learning this practice. So what is?

Well here at Bass Pro Shops-Mesa AZ we are going to have a day with a few seminars on Basic Firearm Cleaning and Care. This event is sponsored by RangeMaxx, who makes some excellent firearm products.

I picked up one of their range-bags a couple years back and absolutely love it! I have had no issues at all, with nothing breaking or tearing. And when I load up for the range it usually entails three to four handguns, eye and ear protection and several boxes of ammo… in other words it’s pretty loaded. (Side note, isn’t weird how much lighter a range bag is after an hour or so?!)

So here are the details:

Sunday, May 3rd

Stop by our store and come upstairs to the Conference Room where we will be holding three separate seminars on Basic Firearm Cleaning and Care. We will cover cleaning and care items for pistols, rifles and shotguns. Attendees do not need to bring anything. Please note, this is not a chance for a free gun-cleaning.

Seminars will be at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30.

 1:30– Pistols/Revolvers

2:30– Shotguns

3:30– Rifles/MSRs

After each seminar a raffle will be held for those who attended. There will be a different prize for each seminar.

We hope to see you there!