Optics Simplified

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When it comes to gearing up for your hunt this season, there are many things to consider:  weapon of choice, caliber/gauge, decoys, camouflage clothing, calls, etc.  However, one thing always seems to raise the most questions, and coincidentally it can be the most important purchase you make that can directly affect the success of your hunt: optics.

Few things can improve your odds of bagging your trophy of a lifetime like good glass, but not all glass is created equal.  That being said, what separates a $1500 scope from a $100 scope and everything in between? Manufacturers will use certain buzzwords such as: eye relief, fully-multi coated, light transmission, exit pupil and a slew of other words; but what do these terms mean and how do they help you choose what is best for you? Once you understand these buzzwords, you can easily determine what features you need to make your scope work for you.





The first thing you are likely to encounter when looking at scopes is something to the tune of 3-9x40 or 4-16x50. What do these numbers mean?  Read out loud, this would sound like "three to nine by forty" or "four to sixteen by fifty".  

The first part of the equation is what is called the magnification; and on a 3-9x40 scope, the magnification on this scope can be adjusted from 3 power to 9 power, and anywhere in between. Setting the scope to 3 power, means that your target will appear to be 3 times closer to you than it actually is, and at 9 power, it will appear 9 times closer to you.  In raw numbers, something at 100 yards away would appear to be 33.3 yards away at 3 power, and 11.1 yards away at 9 power.

Another important thing to consider is the magnification range, which is calculated by dividing the maximum power of the scope by the minimum power. A 3-9 power scope has a 3x magnification range, whereas a 4-16 scope has a 4x magnification range.  There are now scopes with as high as 8x magnification ranges.  The higher the magnification range, the more versatile the scope can be, but it also comes at a price.

The second part of the equation (40 on a 3-9x40 scope) is the measure of the objective lens (the one you don't look into, at the front of the scope) in millimeters, and all other factors being equal, a larger objective lens will allow more light to enter the scope, which usually results in a brighter picture.

Things to consider:

Average shot - It is very easy to over magnify your gun.  Most whitetail deer are shot under 100 yards, so a scope powered above 9 power is not only unnecessary, it can become a hindrance.

Bigger isn't always better - If 40 is good and 44 is great, it would stand to reason that 50 or more is even better, but that's not always the case.  A larger objective lens forces you to mount the scope higher to allow the bell of the scope to clear the barrel.  This works against you in two-fold, first because the farther away the scope and the bore are, the less accurate your gun will be; two, your cheek weld on your rifle stock will be compromised from having to lift your head to be able to see through your scope.


Eye Relief/Exit Pupil

The next thing you are likely to notice when looking through a mounted scope is the eye relief.  Eye relief is simply the distance your eye needs to be from the scope where you can see a full picture.  Most standard rifle scopes will have eye relief up to about 4", which means your eye can be as far as 4 inches away from the scope and still see a full picture.  Any farther, and you will begin to see a black shadow/ring around the outside of your picture inside the scope, conversely if you get to close, you risk hitting yourself in the face with the scope when your gun recoils after firing.  Shotgun/muzzleloader scopes can have eye relief up to 6", which helps accommodate for the extra recoil associated with these firearms, but we will discuss later at what cost this comes.

Exit pupil is a term that the majority of people have almost no clue what it is, but is a very crucial part of purchasing optics.  Exit pupil is quite literally the size of the picture that enters your eye.  A healthy human eye can dilate up to about 7 millimeters (sometimes more), and aged eyes may only be able to open to 4 millimeters or less.  Exit pupil is measured in millimeters, and is calculated by dividing the size of the objective lens in millimeters by the magnification power.  A scope with a 40 mm objective set at 3 power, will produce an exit pupil of about 13.3 mm, which is more than adequate for transmitting as much light/picture as possible to the eye.  Conversely, the same scope, set at 9 power, will produce an exit pupil of about 4.44 mm, which is going to produce a relatively smaller, darker picture.

Things to consider:

Bigger isn't always better (Part II) - If 3" of eye relief is good, and 4" is better, 6" should be great.  Once again, not always the case.  The farther away you get from your scope, the more your field of view suffers.  You want to be far enough away that you don't hit yourself, but not so far that you can't see anything but a pinhole through your lens.  

But sometimes, bigger is better -  It's hard to go wrong with more exit pupil.  No matter how good your glass is, if the picture getting to your eye is tiny, it will appear dark and tough to see.  Overpowering your scope can drastically reduce your exit pupil, and the last thing you want during that golden hour of last light is a dark picture.


Light Transmission/Lens Coatings:

Contrary to popular belief, scopes do not "gather" light, rather they transmit it.  The finest (and most expensive) scopes can have light transmission ratings nearing about 98%.  Great scopes will transmit up to 95% light, but the majority of scopes transmit somewhere around 90% of light that hits the objective lens. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers will list their light transmission rating, and there isn't an accepted standardized measuring system, so not all transmission ratings are created equal.

Light transmission is largely a factor of coatings on the lenses.  It seems silly, but these microscopic coatings put on the lenses are what can separate a $500 scope from a $1500 scope.  Coatings can do many things, from reducing glare,  or waterproofing and fogproofing the glass, to phase correction which aligns the different color spectrums as they move through the lenses.  The more coatings added, the more expensive the scope.  You will also hear four terms when describing how the coatings are applied to the lenses: coated, fully coated, multicoated and fully multicoated.  Coated is the lowest grade, and it means that there is at least one coating on one lens surface.  Next is fully coated, which means there is one coating on all air to glass surfaces.  The next two are the most frequent options.  Multicoated means there are multiple layers on at least one lens and as you can probably guess, fully multicoated means there are multiple layers on all air to glass surfaces.

Things to consider:

Go big or go home - In today's market, there is no reason to purchase any optic that is not fully multicoated, even budget friendly scopes are available in fully multicoated options.  


Tube Diameter

The majority of scopes on the market in the United States will have a 1" main tube.  In recent years, long range shooting sports have increased the demand for scopes using a 30 mm tube, and in some very specialized cases, tubes up to 34 and 35 mm.  

The importance behind tube diameter comes when you understand how scopes are built.  Inside the main tube of the scope lies another tube, called the erector tube.  The erector tube is an obviously, smaller tube, which houses some lenses and your reticle, and is how elevation/windage adjustments are made.  When the adjustment turrets on the side and top of your scope are turned, they press on this erector tube and move it inside the scope.  When you "run out of adjustment" in your scope, what you have actually done is pushed the erector tube as far as it can go in one direction.  However, if you have a bigger outside tube, you can increase the amount of adjustment available in your scope, which is decided advantage when shooting at longer ranges where "doping your scope" is required.

Things to consider:

Bigger can be better - I would guess that 95% of rifle scopes on the market still carry a 1" main tube, and it has served very well, and will continue to do so, especially in most hunting applications.  However, for those looking to stretch their shooting a little further, depending on manufacturer, a 30 mm tube usually offers about 20 MOA (20 inches at 100 yards) more adjustment than a comparable scope with a 1" tube.



Next to exit pupil, this is far and away the most misunderstood term in optics, but it happens to be one of the most important ones to grasp.  Simply put, parallax is an optical illusion.  

Consider this: you are driving down the road and look down at your speedometer, and your needle is centered directly over 60 mph.  If a person sitting in your passenger seat looks over, it will likely appear to them that the needle is somewhere around 58 mph, because they are looking at it from a different angle.  The needle didn't move, the numbers behind it didn't move, so what happened?  Parallax.

Parallax in a scope is the same concept, if I were to lock a scope down in a vise and aim it at a point on the wall, any distance away (the further away, the more obvious it becomes).  With my eye centered behind the scope, moving my head side to side would make it appear that the crosshairs moved off of my target.  Once again, the scope didn't move and the target didn't move, but if I was shooting, my point of impact would be off. Quite simply, my scope and my target are not operating on the same plane, and I need to adjust my parallax on my scope to get them working together.

On most scopes, parallax adjustment is fixed at 100 yards, which is usually fine for most hunting purposes.  If your head happens to be slightly off at 100 yards, your point of impact may only shift less than an inch or so. However, for those who frequently shoot longer ranges, there are scopes that offer some sort of parallax adjustment, which is either found on the front of the scope around the objective lens, or a third dial on the left hand side of the scope.  Either of these is usually easily distinguishable because it will have numbers, usually starting at 25 and ending at infinity, which are associated with the range of your target.  To use these, all you have to do is establish the range of your target, dial your parallax to match, and you should reduce and possibly eliminate any perceived crosshair movement due to change in head position behind your scope.

Things to consider:

Average shot - Once again consider your average shot.  Having a parallax adjustment can't hurt, but like any features, you will pay more to get it.  If you aren't going to be shooting over 200 yards anytime soon, a parallax adjustment is probably not necessary.  However, if you plan on routinely shooting over 200 yards, and especially if you plan on doing so from different shooting positions, parallax adjustment is an absolute must.


Optics Triangle:

It stands to reason that as a consumer, you would want to have the best of all the features.  However, as we all know, this is usually not possible.  Optics are no exception, and most questions regarding features can be answered by consulting what is called the optics triangle.  The optics triangle references three key features: magnification, eye relief, and field of view.  Every scope has these three features, but they are all in direct correlation with each other.  If you increase the magnification of your scope, you have to decrease the eye relief and the field of view, and so on and so forth.  The closer you get to one feature, the more you rob from the others.  Sometimes, magnification is the most important necessity (long range, prairie dog hunting). Other times, eye relief is more important (shotgun/muzzleloaders).  The important thing to consider is that changing one directly affects the other two.




This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops Altoona - Set Your Sights and Paddling!

It's a Set Your Sights Weekend! We have free need-to-know seminars for the new gun owners and those wanting to know the latest and greatest! Drawing for a $25 gift card at each seminar. Enter to win either a Savage 64 F Black .22 L.R. or a Caldwell Steady Rest NXT Shooting Rest

Friday, May 1
6:30 PM Long Range Shooting: Guns and Optics for the 1,000 Yard Shot -
Sgt. Shivers and Sgt. Kerchee, Altoona PD
7:30PM - The Basics of Handgun Concealed Carry and Home Defense - Presented by Lori Ahearn, Firearms Education for Women and Men

Saturday, May 2
1:30 PM - Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle - Brandon Minton, Hunting Associate
2:30 PM - Long Range Shooting: Guns and Optics for the 1,000 Yard Shot -
Dirk Ringgenberg, retired Army sniper instructor
3:30 PM - The Basics of Handgun Concealed Carry and Home Defense - Presented by the Altoona Police Department
4:30 PM - Optics and Accessories for your Modern Sporting Rifle
- Brandon Minton


Stand Up and Paddle!

Saturday, May 2, 10:30 with Todd Robertson from the Iowa DNR!

What is SUP or Stand Up Paddling? We have paddleboards now...how do you use them? Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR, gives you a basic overview on SUP history, positions to paddle, strokes, safety, locations, transporting on vehicles...everything you need to know before even attempting the water! Todd is a well-known, certified ACA SUP instructor, Level 3 and the River Programs Outreach Coordinator for the DNR.






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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.


Why it Matters: Passing Down

Remember your first fishing or camping trip? The anxiousness and excitement all rolled up into one? Who took you? Do you have anyone that thinks of you when it comes to their first fishing or camping trip? When was the first time you got on a boat? Who made sure you had a life jacket and some water to drink? Have you been that person? What was the biggest rule about safety when it came to handling firearms? Who taught you that? In many aspects of the outdoors, there are hundreds of firsts. And usually for your firsts, seconds and even thirds you had someone there. Some form of mentor to show you what to do and how to do it. Maybe it was a family member, close friend or enthusiastic neighbor but more than likely someone showed you the way.

Nowadays you can watch YouTube videos, read a book or browse Wikipedia to become an expert on anything. But in no way is that the same as being shown by someone passing down a tradition to you. When it came to my first big-game hunt I had all the resources: TV, friends, online articles, YouTube and people at work. But it all clicked together out in the field as my uncle showed me hands-on how to handle a downed animal.

And that is what the outdoors is all about, passing it down. Being good stewards of the land so the next generation can enjoy it is woven into our makeup. Making sure the youth learns about firearm safety above all else when it comes to shooting is standard. Teaching people to pick up trash should be the number one rule for hikers and campers. You teach good and responsible behaviors because that is what you learned.

Many online articles will tell you how the number of hunters in America is declining. I have no doubt that this trend also includes fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. I am sure this directly relates to the advances in electronics and other distractions. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice being able to take a few seconds to access some information but there is a time and place for that. The outdoors should not be a place, unless under emergency, for that.

In Hunter’s Education they teach you that a hunter goes through several stages in life. They end as a hunter who cares more about sharing the passion and teaching skills than any other part of hunting. Do you have to be old and gray to be at this point? Nope! Start sharing with others and doing outreach as soon as you’re comfortable and know how to.

I am sure many of you have favorite memories of learning about a passion of yours. And like I said above I am sure you had someone showing you the way. At Bass Pro Shops we hold several free events a year geared towards the youth. We know that without them, the outdoors will not be around forever. We are always proud to be a part of their memories.



Getting Outdoors Picking Up Hunting Fishing Hiking Camping Rangefinders

Physical Preparation Slowing Down


Start this season off with a BOOM!

As seasons change and weather begins to turn favorable, there are few things more enjoyable than getting a little trigger time.  Recreational target shooting has seen an incredible uptick in popularity in recent years, and while your standard cardboard/plywood target with a bullseye taped on it is still as applicable as ever, perhaps it's time to step up your game.  I'm talking, of course, about exploding targets.  Yes, EXPLODING.

Over the past few years, there have been a plethora of new companies offering these targets, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Tannerite, which is a brand of exploding target (think Kleenex vs. facial tissue), they are more aptly described as binary exploding targets.  These targets are referred to as binary, because they come from the factory as two separate compounds, an oxidizer and a catalyst, which are completely harmless until opened and mixed together.  Once the two components are mixed, the target is now considered an explosive, although it is relatively safe in the fact that it still requires a high velocity projectile to detonate it.  While not recommended, claims from manufacturers are that the mixed binary compound can withstand an open flame and intense impacts such as being hit with a hammer or even shot with a low velocity projectile such as a pistol round, without detonating.  Most manufacturers claim that their standard rifle targets require a 40 grain projectile traveling at least 2200 fps, although I have personally been successful in using a .17 HMR in consistently detonating these targets, which usually consists of a 17 grain projectile at around 2500 fps.  That being said, I also seem to notice that a bigger gun tends to produce a bigger bang, so choose your weapon wisely!

As far as standard rifle targets go, there are offerings all the way from 1/4 lb targets up to 2 lb targets, and if you have a container large enough, you can always combine targets to make a bigger boom!  If you do decide to use a container different than the one offered from the factory, be sure that it isn't made of anything (or near anything for that matter) that could become shrapnel.  My personal favorite targets are the 1 lb and 2 lb offerings from Sonic Boom.

If you are more of a handgun, shotgun or rimfire shooter, do not despair, you aren't going to be left out of the fun!  Sonic Boom also offers a Rimfire Target, which offers a little bit better bang for your buck (pun intended)!  The Rimfire Target comes with 10 capsules to split up the mixture into smaller portions, which allow the targets to be detonated with a firearm shooting a 17 grain or higher projectile at 1000 fps or better.  This means that while the product claims it to be a "rimfire" target, lower velocity firearms such as handguns and shotguns can also set these targets off.

As always, proper eye and ear protection is always strongly recommended, as is ensuring that you are a safe distance from the target before detonating.  It should also be noted that while binary targets are currently legal for purchase in all 50 states, you should always check local laws and ordinances to ensure that it is indeed legal to set off an explosive device in your area.  Exploding targets, when used properly, can be just the thing you need to make shooting exciting again.  Clanging a steel target is always fun, but nothing says your shot is on target like a pillar of smoke and a heart-stopping BOOM!



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.

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.

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.

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!



RedHead Select Outfitters: Mellon Creek Outfitters

Early last month we took a look at the RedHead Select Outfitters network. This is a group of hunting outfitters that our professional hunting staff have used and given the seal of approval to. Many hunters can only afford to go on a big-game hunt every so often, so using a guide or outfitting service will definitely increase your odds. The people, who work in these outfits, literally live for the outdoors. It is not just their profession, but their passion. And this month we are going to focus on one specific outfitter that made it to our list, Mellon Creek Outfitters.

This outfitter is located in South Texas and has a ranch that is over 100,000 acres large. The game found on this ranch range from birds to bucks and everything in between. They are a free-range hunt service and they claim to be “simply the best hunting in Texas.” That is one bold statement if I ever heard one.

The nice thing about using an outfitter in Texas is the fact that it is in Texas. While many have dream hunts for species in foreign lands, certain Texas ranches offer the chance to hunt these animals here. Getting to Texas is easy, so you don’t have to worry about international travel with firearms which can be a nightmare. But also Texas is like its own country so you get a little bit of that sensation when traveling there.

Mellon Creek Outfitters does not have exotics available at their ranch, but they have several desirable species to hunt. The species available include: whitetail deer, wild hog, predators and birds. They offer hunts for coyote and bobcat for predators and their birds include turkey, dove and duck. So there is literally something for every kind of hunter, which is very nice. It doesn’t matter if your family is big on deer or your best friend and you are duck-crazy, Mellon Creek Outfitters offers a place to hunt just about anything!

They have been in the business for at least ten years so they know a thing or two. One thing they truly know is how to handle the downtime between hunts. This would include having a grand lodge on property with a huge dining area. Their kitchen will cook 3 home-cooked meals a day and provide snacks as well in between main meals. And if you know anything about Texas home-cooking, it’s that it is good!

One thing I really like about their set-up is attention to game management. They know to carefully manage their resources in order to preserve this lifestyle for future generations. There are female and youth specific hunts to help increase the number of hunters in these areas. Mellon Creek Outfitters will even let the guardian or significant other stay for free. They even offer a cull-deer hunt, where you can hunt animals that are not bettering the gene-pool. To me this is a win-win. You get to hunt, help the herd and save a little extra money.

You can contact them by calling at: 361-484-2398 or checking out their website. Remember if you book with them through our site you will get 5% back of your total hunt cost in Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Points.


The Basics


Big Game Basics: Cougar

So a number of months back I had done blogs on hunting the African Big Five animals. Two of them happen to be members of the large-cat family. I knew it would be a touchy subject as people are very protective of their “kitties”. So far my house still stands and my faithful Suburban still running, so the backlash was nothing crazy. With how the media is nowadays, I figured to be strung from the highest pole in the town square. But then again media is coming around a little bit. With more reports of defensive use of firearms and more pro-patriotic themed movies from Hollywood, public opinion is slightly swaying. I am sure we will see a new understanding for those who have served from the powerful message of American Sniper. But let’s get to this month’s animal blog which will be about an American big-cat, the cougar.

The cougar has several names including: mountain lion, puma, panther and American lion. Look into western jargon and you could find several more. But all of these names belong specifically to the same animal. The cougar is actually only found in the Western hemisphere, and at one time had the widest natural range for a mammal in this hemisphere. Their range has diminished from what it was once from encroachment and eradication. Many settlers feared these impressive animals, and for good reason, and shot them on sight. The cougar was a threat to a settler’s family and livestock.

With their range and numbers significantly decreased, sightings and interactions are much less common. They still do occur though. With humans building more and more it is only too predictable to have interactions happen. Some are harmless, some are not. But the key thing to remember is that these animals are to be respected. I personally would never want to bump into one.

The cougar is an impressive hunter. As adults they average six to eight feet in length. They also weigh 100 to 150 pounds on average. These are just averages though. They have a very thick yet soft coat which makes them a desirable trophy. Cougars tend to be a solitary animal that only come together during the mating season. Beyond that, they live alone and the males can be extremely territorial. In fact their home ranges are usually an average 30 square miles.

Cougars tend to eat deer as their main diet. They will eat animals as large as elk and as small as rodents though to survive. Cougars found are domestic animals, like sheep, very easy pickings which is part of the reason people hated them so much. They have excellent eyesight as well as good hearing and smell. Because of this they usually know where you are before you know where they are.

They are extremely athletic animals and well balanced. Their leaping and pouncing capabilities are amazing and they can swim. Cougars are well known for their snarl. These animals can purr, hiss and snarl but not roar.

Hunting cougars is legal in certain states and usually requires a tag. The most popular to hunt cougars is by use of dogs. This is very controversial to some and legislation looking to ban this practice comes up frequently. Simply stated it is the most effective way to hunt them though. Famous outdoor writer Zane Grey wrote an article about this practice, which is considered one of his best pieces.

No matter how one feels about these animals it cannot be denied that they are extremely impressive creatures and should be respected.


Other Big Game Blogs:

Mountain Goat White Tail Deer Moose Caribou Buffalo Bear Dall Sheep Walrus Blacktail Deer

Mule Deer Coues-Deer Pronghorn Antelope Turkey Elk Bighorn Sheep Javelina

Lion Cape Buffalo Elephant Rhino Leopard


Pursuit Tactical Defense Light

The Pursuit Tactical Defense Light is a high-powered flashlight emitting 220 lumens of blinding light in a tightly focused beam with sufficient peripheral lighting as well. A self-locking adjustable mount makes it easy to attach the Pursuit Defense Light directly to barrels of tactical rifles and shotguns, no tools required; the mount features an accessory rail mount for additional accessories. The Pursuit Tactical Light comes with a dual-mode pressure switch attachment with cable that allows you to activate the light and control the 4 lighting modes (100% light, 50% light, 10% light, and Defensive Strobe) from a normal shooting position. A fixed tail cap enables this Tactical Defense Light to be used without the pressure switch attachment as a normal flashlight. Made of water- and impact-resistant anodized aluminum, the Pursuit Tactical Defense Light will withstand years of rugged use. Runs on 3 AAA batteries (included).

  • Dual-mode pressure switch
  • Can be used as simple flashlight
  • Powered by 3 AAA batteries (included)
  • 4 lighting modes

Mounts easily on 12 or 20 gauge shotguns and most scopes or rifles. This is an item folks have been asking for months that is affordable and has the mounting hardware needed to attach to their firearm. Stop by and get yours before they sell out!




Coming Clean About MSR’s

Those of you with MSRs (Modern Sporting Rifles) have probably had the misfortune of experiencing a jammed or double fed round. The most common culprit of this issue is a dirty weapon.  More so than other firearms, proper cleaning is key to enjoying a day out on the range, or having peace of mind known that your weapon will function properly when it needs to.

First you will want to fully break down your rifle. Since not all MSR’s are the same, you will want to consult your user’s manual if you are unsure about how to do this. Most bolt systems will look like this. MSRs are notoriously dirty. The carbon from the rounds you shoot finds its way to all parts of your rifle. To remove this carbon you need a carbon cleaner as either an all-in-one, or a stand-alone cleaner such as Hoppes Elite Gun Cleaner

Cleaning the barrel - If you look down your barrel, you will notice a lot of carbon deposits down your barrel. First you want to run a wire brush with the cleaner on it though your barrel to scrape any stuck on deposits. Be sure to pull the brush through in the same direction as the bullet. After doing this a few times, follow up by using some cleaning patches. Keep using the patches until they come out clean. Now when you look down the barrel, it should be shiny, clean, and spotless. If you find yourself having a hard time seeing down the barrel, try this: Point the barrel at a light in the room or try one of these.

Breech aka “Star Chamber” – This is usually the hardest and most time consuming area to clean. It is also one of the most important areas since a dirty breech prevents the bolt from going in battery, and also prevents rounds from properly feeding causing those jams. There are several different methods in cleaning this depending on what you have to use. Just like with the barrel, you will want to make sure to hit it with some cleaner first.  Next you want to find a method that works for you to remove the carbon. Hoppe's Chamber Brush accomplishes this really well, as does using a pick. If you are without these try using a pipe cleaner to get those hard to reach places or use a dirtier method and get in there with some cleaning patches and your pinky finger. Once this is clean, a very light coat of oil will help keep carbon from crusting on during your next use.

The Bolt Assembly – With the hard part out of the way, you will want to focus on cleaning the many pieces of the bolt assembly.  Many of these can be simply wiped down with a patch and your cleaning solution. Use a pick if necessary if there are some tough spots and run a pipe cleaner through the bolt where your firing pin goes. If you are using a gas operated system, pay special attention to tube on top of your bolt carrier that connects to your gas tube. Carbon that travels down your gas tube will collect here, and it is a usually over looked area for cleaning. Get in there with picks or pipe cleaners. Once the assembly is clean, coat everything in a light layer of oil just as you did with the breech.

Buffer spring – Cleaning the Buffer Spring is often overlooked. The whole assembly is usually held in place by a pin and can be removed when that pin is pushed down. Wipe the Buffer and spring down with a rag that has your cleaning solution on it and follow up with wiping down the tube that the spring slides into.

Other areas – You can spot clean the rest of the firearm. Use brushes and rags to remove any other dirt on the exterior or in the magazine well. Pipe cleaners once again work great for cleaning any dust or dirt out of the trigger assembly. You do not have to go too far in depth in cleaning the trigger assembly, but removing the excess dirt and grime keeps your trigger functioning correctly.

With this these tips, your next hunt or range trip with hopefully go without failure. A clean rifle will be more accurate and function better than one that hasn’t been properly cleaned. If you have any questions, feel free to come into the hunting department at your local Bass Pro Shops and ask an associate. Happy Hunting!


Written by Michael Steiner, Hunting Team Lead



Broadheads and Turkey Hunting


Turkey season is rapidly approaching! Missouri will open for youth season on April 11th and 12th. The primary Spring Turkey season will open April 20th and go through May 10th. For you Kansas hunters out there, the archery only season opens up on the 6th of April and runs through the 14th. Archery/firearm will run April 15th through May 31st. Time to get your bow tuned up, check your arrows, broadheads and camo gear!!  A little preparation now will go a long way towards success and gives you that extra confidence in your equipment!

Now granted, there are more than a few that prefer to hunt turkeys with a shotgun…I get that, but there are those completely hardheaded individuals such as myself that will inevitably find themselves gravitating towards pursuing these challenging birds with a bow. With that undertaking, the difficulty greatly intensifies. The subtle movements and smooth swing of that shotgun barrel are exchanged for the motions of panning and/or drawing your bow to anchor at the same time. Oftentimes having to adjust your height or body position to clear limbs and surrounding brush. It’s a trial in patience. But the reward is worth the frustrations!  I’m going to run through a few broadheads, old and new, that will ensure clean, quick kills when that opportunity arises.

There is an increasing market for broadheads akin to the now famous Arrowdynamic Guillotine™ broadhead (SKU#’s 1346231, 1346213). These include the Tom Bomb™  from  Flying Arrow Archery, the Turkey D-Cap™ from Solid Broadheads , Turkey Tearror™ from American Broadhead and Rage Turkey™(SKU# 1875509)to name a few. Each offer insane cutting diameters and/or massive wound channels.  These are fantastic broadheads for that neck or headshot.

Not all will fly and perform the same though. Many of the drastic blade designs will require the extra stabilization of a Flu Flu arrow such as the Carbon Express(SKU# 1690454) or Gold Tip’s Twister (SKU#’s 2006844, 2013190, 2006842). Shooting a standard blazer will greatly decrease the accuracy you will want to make such a precise shot with large surface area broadheads. Blades such as the Turkey Tearror and Rage broadheads have lower bearing surface area’s and will do fine  with standard fletchings.

Regardless of the broadhead you choose, whether it be some new monstrosity or an old single edged 2 blade, there’s no substitute for good shot placement. Take your time and make some awesome memories!

Check out these other great articles!

Bow Hunting Gobblers

Spring Turkey Techniques

A. Herzog


Independence, Missouri


Dressed to kill: Spring Turkey Hunt Edition


Turkey hunting is a pleasurable and exciting form of hunting.  Confronting turkeys is what hunters live for to have that exhilarating conversations with fellow hunters, family and friends.

Turkey Season is April 22nd thru May 10th with a bag limit of one bearded or male turkey for the spring season. To be able to hunt wild turkey, a valid hunting license and a valid game bird habit stamp privilege are required. But a separate turkey license is required when hunting during each turkey hunting season.

Getting ready for turkey hunting after you have your license, calls, firearms, and anything else you need for your hunt, you need to have proper attire when going out on the field. You want to make sure you are covered head to foot in camouflage to blend in with the environment as best as possible. You don’t need to worry about scent control with the turkeys but you do need to make sure you cover your face, hands and anything else exposed to cover up. Starting from top to bottom you need a hat or a leafy hat with a spandex ¼ face mask to cover your head, face and neck. Next, you need to wear lightweight breathable shirts and pants, like the stalker lite series comes in long sleeve shirts, ¼ zip pullover, pants and shorts for what you prefer. It’s a lightweight, moisture wicking, breathable and rugged material. There is also a Tec-Lite style that comes in a long-sleeve button up shirt and pants. This style is breathable, moisture wicking and durable with the rip-stop material made to stop the tear from spreading. There is also strut zone turkey gloves that are spandex gloves and are lightweight, moisture wicking and breathable that you will need to cover your hands.

There is nothing fun about sitting out there waiting for your turkey and you don’t have the proper attire on and you’re uncomfortable or the turkey sees you. Once you are all covered, have your license and all your necessities you are ready for your turkey hunting season. Just make sure you are all covered so the turkey doesn’t see you.


Cool Calibers: 357 Sig

Whenever one is discussing firearms and hears “357” they usually finish with “Magnum”. The 357 Magnum is one of the most popular calibers of handguns and has had a strong-loyal following for years. I have even heard people say that a house is not complete without a 357 revolver in it. While other handgun calibers can produce better ballistics, people still swing towards this round. Being able to shoot the lighter-recoil 38 Special, availability of information/ ammunition and almost an Americana aspect for the caliber keeps this round cooking.

But this time around the “357” is followed by “Sig”. The 357 Sig is a much newer round when compared to other pistol calibers, but it has grown its own die-hard fans.

The 357 Sig was created by two legendary companies in the arms business, Sig Sauer and Federal Ammunition. Developed in 1994, the basic goal was to give specific ballistic performances found in the 357 Magnum but be able to be fired from a semi-auto pistol.

In the shooting world you have pistol-guys and revolver-guys, and of course the good ol’ guys like me who enjoy everything! Revolver-guys swear their handgun is more reliable and accurate and pistol-guys preach how they can carry more rounds and have lighter weapons. Both sides have their own valid arguments, but here are my two-cents: shoot what you like and what you can shoot accurately and comfortably.

For a long time police officers used revolvers as their service weapon. Then when polymer/high-capacity pistols came out there was a big switch. But many shooters found the 9mm round “too weak”, so the two parent companies had a great idea when it came to making the 357 Sig. That “bigger bang” that revolver fans like and the “higher capacity” that pistol fans enjoy. This round in fact was the first modern bottleneck commercial handgun cartridge since the early 1960s. After its success, others tried to create their own similar wildcat calibers but never reached the success the 357 Sig has.

It competes against the 40S&W, which has been losing popularity steadily over the past few years. Online there is common chatter about being able to convert a pistol that shoots 40 S&W to 357 Sig quite easily, but I do not suggest this. To me a firearm is a tool and has a specific purpose. You wouldn’t buy a portable band-saw only to learn about swapping out a gear to then make it into a plasma cutter and do so. Very obscure analogy but it works and I think this may have been the first time I have gotten to reference a portable band-saw in my 250+ blogs I have written now.

As far as recoil goes it is about the same as the 40 S&W but less than that of the 10mm and 357 Magnum. It shoots at a higher velocity than other pistol calibers which gives it a longer effective range. Since the cartridge has a bottleneck shape, extraction errors are rarely experienced. But because of all of this the handgun firing it must be able to handle those higher pressures. (Another reason why not to simply convert a different pistol.)

Now before you run out and get one, keep in mind that ammunition for this caliber can be hard to find. At our store it is usually not a “permanent fixture” on the shelves and its seems to be the same at other retailers. It will show up, get to our shelves and sit for a while and then BOOM it all gets purchased at one time. Thanks though to the internet, acquiring rounds is much easier than it was years ago.

Sig first utilized the round in their P229 pistol. As usual, shooters and organizations were hesitant to adopt a new firearm, especially one with a new caliber. In 1998, the first government agency to deploy this caliber was the Texas DPS. It was the solitary choice of pistol for commissioned officers. Following that, dozens of other agencies have adopted this caliber. Police departments in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Ohio, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico and more all use the 357 Sig.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

What We Would Take

Gunnin’ for Moose

7mm-08 Remington


Browning BAR LongTrac

When it comes to the world’s history, firearms have played a major role. The history of the United States alone is one full of firearm heritage. Anyone who owns a historical firearm will tell you that you can almost feel the history when holding it. The NRA has a museum with firearms that have literally changed history. The NRA museum that was recently built inside the Springfield Bass Pro Shops has its own impressive arsenal. Specific firearms themselves can bring a multitude of emotions when mentioned. Winchester Model 94, Colt 1911 and AK47 all have impacted history in one way or another. One of the more under-acknowledged guns to me though, would be the BAR.

BAR stands for Browning Automatic Rifle, and currently I am talking specifically about the M1918. It was a military automatic rifle/light machine gun chambered in .30-06 Sprg. Anyone who has shot a .30-06 Sprg could only imagine what it would be like to shoot one that has a 20 round magazine and automatic fire. Quite impressive as was the service life of this firearm. It was used in World War Two, Korea and for a little bit in Vietnam. It is a highly sought after firearm and collectors will pay huge bucks for one. It is an iconic weapon that has earned its place in history and our hearts. (As a running joke my best friend’s dad said he wanted to name his son after the firearm.)

Now not your average hunter or shooter can afford the thousands of dollars it takes to own an original BAR. Luckily Browning has been producing a civilian/hunting version of the BAR rifle for years. Unlike the original M1918, these rifles are a semi-auto. They have been chambered in standard hunting calibers: 270 Win, 300 Win, 243 Win, 308 Win and 30-06 Sprg.

Browning is currently offering a BAR LongTrac in .270 Win, .30-06 Sprg and .300 Win. As they state their guns “are rugged, reliable hunting rifles, capable of cycling magnum cartridges, providing you the firepower needed to bring down any big game species in North America.” These guns are gas operated and utilize “a 7-lug bolt that locks directly into the barrel, giving it incredible strength, while providing exceptional accuracy. A buffering mechanism reduces wear and stress on the rifle's receiver for longer life and greater reliability”.

To many a gun is just a tool and to others it is a piece of art. This firearm provides both. It has beautiful walnut wood in the buttstock and forend. It also has a safety in the standard location for most semi-auto shotguns, making it a breeze to engage/disengage while maintaining proper grip. The floorplate is also hinged, giving access to the detachable magazine that much easier.

I would personally love to pick one up in the .30-06 Sprg. I already have a Remington 700 chambered in this caliber and my wife enjoys shooting it. This way we can consolidate calibers while adding to our collection. And while it might not be the original BAR, I am sure I would still feel part of the firearm’s impressive history. And I can always use it in the future to teach my son about how important firearms have been to history and why the United States is the greatest country in the world.


PS- While .30-06 Sprg might be a little big for predator hunting I have known to use bigger.


Airsoft 3-Gun Expo at Bass Pro!

When you look at the world of shooting sports there are dozens of different activities. There is skeet, trap, action-clays, defensive pistol, long range rifle, silhouettes, IDPA, cowboy action and many more. One sport that has been growing tremendously over the past years has been 3-Gun shooting. This is known as a “practical shooting” event where the shooter transitions from pistol, rifle and shotgun. Hence the “3-Gun” name. While many adults find this sport extremely fun and engaging, it can be harder to get the youth involved. But where there is a will there is a way and that’s when airsoft can save the day.

Airsoft is where one can shoot spherical non-metallic pellets out of guns that are replicas of traditional firearms. In no way should these be considered toys and safety should always be the main focus when handling them. What many people think of just simple “plastic toys” have evolved to be full metal replications. Certain airsoft guns will weigh the same as their origins and feature blow-back to replicate recoil.

The local non-profit group Shoot Right AZ will actually be holding an airsoft 3-gun expo at our store on Saturday March 21st, 2015. It will start at 9AM and run until 5PM. We have been working with this organization for several years and even wrote a blog about them back in 2013.

They will hold several clinics/seminars going over the basics of 3-Gun Shooting, rules, safety and more. There will be a 3-Gun setup where participants can actually hold and shoot the different airsoft guns. It won’t be as intense as a normal 3-Gun competition, but it will be just as fun. It is geared towards kids ages 10 and up and all adults are more than welcome to participate as well. There will be a $5 fee for participants and they or a legal guardian will have to fill out a waiver as well.

This is a great way to possibly discover a new passion. Not only will it teach gun safety but also “practical” aspects of handling them. Kids will love the experience and parents will love the cost difference between BB’s and ammunition. Just always be sure to get “Bio-BBs” as they are way more eco-friendly than the other kind.

And that is one thing that Shoot Right AZ covers, is our responsibility to others and the environment. We hope to see you out there! I know I will be!



Check it Out List: Reloading

This month’s Check it Out List is about a topic that I find fascinating, as do many others. I am also interested in getting into it now more-than-ever, as are many others. With the ammo shortages, the slow but steadily rise in prices and ever-changing policies over the past few years one can never know if or when they might be able to acquire rounds. Now the ammo-craze that we were in a couple years ago definitely has calmed down, but it is harder to get certain calibers. 22 ammo will probably never be something you can just grab off the shelves “because it is always there” ever again, but other calibers are not always completely wiped out. But with the possibility of that craze coming back and people looking to be more self-sufficient, the amount of people reloading has definitely increased!

Basically reloading is the act of making your own ammunition. There are different levels of reloading and all sorts of ways to do it. Some people collect spent cases from their own/others use at a gun range and others purchase them factory new. Some people make their own bullets for fun and others to save money. Some calibers are so uncommon that you may have to learn to reload in order to actually shoot it. (Ever seen .280 Ackley commercially made?) Others try to figure out how to get the most performance out of their firearm by loading their ammo to certain specifications. Some people learn because to them it is an essential skill. No matter what though, you’ll need some supplies to get started. Shall we?




Shell Holder/Plate

Powder Measuring/Dispensing Device


Case Trimmer

Case Tumbler

Dial Caliper

Bullet Puller

Loading Block



Now to get started all you really need are the first three items and the last one. Probably more so than any other item you need to have Data/Information. This is something that you cannot start on just a whim. Safety needs to be your primary focus all the time with reloading. You’ll want to have a safe place to load and store your materials. You’ll definitely want to know how to load safely. And you’ll want to keep your loads to the data out there first. You can experiment with different loads later, stick to the basics at the beginning. Get yourself books on the subject and join an online club. Do everything at your disposal to have a safe and solid understanding of reloading before you start.

The press is going to be the main workhorse of your operation. You can start off with a simple single-press or go all the way to a multi-stage set. Both kinds have their own advantages, but I always suggest starting with the basics. (It is also cheaper.) Your dies will be specific to whatever caliber you are loading. You can’t use a .30 caliber die for reloading .45ACP and so on. The shell plate will be what holds the casing as you load. Also caliber specific. This would be where consolidating calibers that you own can be a big help.

Things like a tumbler, bullet puller, case trimmer, dial caliper or a scale are extras, which over time can prove to be extremely important.  A loading block is a device that holds numerous cases in to help with reloading. These can be purchased or made at home. Just as a heads up, you probably won’t find any cute ideas for them on Pintrest.

The little history I had with reloading was back in high school. My buddy’s grandfather owned an auto shop. He is also a vendor for the huge machine gun shoots we hold in Arizona every year. He has anything and everything, ranging from G36K’s to .50cals. With the amount they shoot up there, reloading is the only option to afford the ammo. I needed some brake work done, so we swapped labor for labor. I paid for the parts and built ammo belts for M249s for the work on my truck. Solid trade.

Now please note that this blog is more about what you will need to get into reloading as opposed to how to reload. For that, you need to do your research. Like I said earlier, having a safe and solid understanding of the process is extremely important.



Picnics Gun Cleaning Game Care First Aid Kayaking Day Pack Trip Prep Range Time

Fishing Pack Boating Day Trip Camp Cooking  Dove Hunting Upland Hunting Tactical Clothing

Winter Camping


Freshwater Fish Conservation Month

February means Spring Fishing Classic and the return of our donation month directly related to fishing.

Freshwater Fish Conservation Month

Did You Know?

  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.
    (Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

A $2 donation helps keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keeps our next generation fishing! All donations will be matched by the Johnny Morris Conservation Creel of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Where Do the Donations Go?
The donations go to The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which has supported thousands of conservation programs across the U.S. since 1985, including freshwater fish conservation programs designed to:

  • Educate the general public regarding the perils facing our fish populations.
  • Motivate people to support the cause of freshwater fish conservation.
  • Use the donations received to fund various initiatives around the country toward improving fish habitat, species health, etc.

What Does it Mean for Iowa?
Here is a sample of projects that have benefitted in Iowa:

  • Raccoon River Valley Restoration
  • TreeKeepers program
  • Iowa Buffer and Declining Habitat Programs in several Iowa counties
  • Cooperative Conservation for Watershed Health
  • Nutrient Soil and Habitat Management in Upper Cedar Watersheds
  • Upper Iowa River restoration and education
  • Managing Biodiversity in the Iowa and Cedar River Valley
  • Engaging landowners in farm bills affecting the Driftless Region of NE Iowa

For research how the NFWF benefits your state, check out their interactive map!


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Cool Calibers: 7mm-08 Remington

When you look at a lot of things in the world, it seems like one thing should work for everyone. Hats say “One size fits all” and products might state that “every household needs one”. One area though that is definitely not “one size fits all” is firearms. When you begin to look at all the different types, models, calibers, sizes and materials in the firearm world it can be quite overwhelming. There is single action, bolt action, pump action, smooth bore, big-bore, wood stock, synthetic stock and so much more to consider. Luckily when you begin to look at the purpose of why you want a firearm the field begins to get narrowed down. You aren’t going to buy a long gun to keep on your night stand for home protection and you wouldn’t even consider going out to hunt Alaskan brown bear with a single action rim-fire revolver.

While there may be some pretty standard calibers out there, we are always looking and working on new rounds with better velocities or knockdown power. And so to break from the mundane of “standard calibers” we are going to be look at some of the less common ones. And to begin we are going to start with a rifle caliber that has intrigued me since I first heard about, the 7mm-08 Remington.

The 7mm-08 Remington got its start back in 1958. Originally it was a wildcat cartridge known as the 7mm/308. Decades later Remington began to produce rifles in this caliber commercially and attached their name to it, hence giving us the 7mm-08 Remington. It is a center fire rifle cartridge that has been growing in popularity.

Going back real quick, a wildcat cartridge is where a commercially produced cartridge is modified to get better certain performance characteristics. These characteristics could include velocity, efficiency, size or knockdown power. Sometimes a wildcat cartridge goes mainstream while many others find themselves a very small but loyal following. Always consider availability of ammunition before purchasing any kind of caliber, as you may have to take up the art of reloading in order to actually shoot.

Back to the cartridge. The 7mm-08 is basically a .308 Winchester case that is necked down to fit a 7mm bullet. This round lends itself to several different kinds of shooting including: long range, silhouettes, varmint hunting and some game-hunting. It is growing in popularity for hunting African plains game as well. It has a trajectory similar to that of a .270 Winchester. It does fly flatter than the more popular .308Win and .30-06 Springfield.

It is a good choice for younger, older and female shooters as it has less recoil than the .308. Now please do not take any offense at that statement as I am none of those and am interested in this round. It is a great caliber to hunt the medium-sized game here in North America and is even an acceptable round to hunt moose with in Europe.

Most major rifle manufacturers do offer a couple options of products in the 7mm-08 caliber. Hornady, Remington and some other ammunition manufacturers also produce the caliber commercially. Of course the best way to figure out if this would be a good caliber for you, is to test it out. Talk to your friends or get online to a forum and just ask around. Because it has been increasing in popularity, chances are you might just be able to get your hands on one to test. Either way, the 7mm-08 is definitely a cool caliber.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

What We Would Take

Gunnin’ for Moose