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.)



RedHead Select Outfitters: Southeast Alaska Guiding

I remember reading an article a number of months back about the two adventure destinations for hunters. Those two places were Alaska and Africa. The writer did an awesome job talking about the destinations, their quarry, pros and cons, costs and more. More often than not a hunter usually only ends up going to one of these two adventures-of-a-lifetime. This got me thinking about what options one would have for taking just such a trip through the amazing services of a RedHead Select Outfitter. And while we currently don’t offer an options for an African safari, we do have the option of an Alaskan Adventure through Southeast Alaska Guiding.

Southeast Alaska Guiding is owned and operated by Hans Baertle, who has been guiding in Alaska since 1978 and opened his own outfit in 1988. You know how they say a hunter learns something new every trip? Well when you take into consideration how many trips this man must have been on in his time, he must be a honey-hole of information!

He operates out of Douglas and utilizes a boat to get hunters to and from their hunting spots in the area. It is a 50 foot boat with a ton on amenities. There are such luxuries as hot showers, electricity and comfortable places to sleep. There are also home cooked meals that his wife prepares!

Southeast Alaska Guiding offers hunts for brown bear, black bear and mountain goats. (I have no reason why I am so fascinated by mountain goats, but the opportunity to hunt one is definitely on my dream-trip list.) Each species offers their own unique and exciting challenges when it comes to the hunt. Many of the animals that his guiding service harvests are impressive and in record books.

For mountain goat, he suggests a rifle chambered in .300 Win Mag. For the bears he suggests something a little bit bigger, either .375H&H or .338 Mag. I would take his suggestions to heart as the man knows what he is doing, and I would never want to be “under-gunned” on a bear hunt. (My buddy’s dad took an Alaskan brown bear trip many years ago and utilized a Weatherby chambered in .375H&H. He said it was the perfect amount of gun for the hunt. He also had his firearm coated in a special product to help protect it from rusting. He made the note that while everyone is camp was busy scrubbing their guns trying to protect them, his showed no signs of issues.)

You can find the full list of gear on both his website and our own. I love it when these are included because there is so much that goes into a hunting trip, that having something to refer to is a life saver. (I also love that he included bringing extra glasses/contacts for those who need them.) His website is also up to date with the hunting seasons, trips and expenses.

So when it comes to considering which of the “two great hunting destinations” you want to go to, I cannot help you there. But, should you choose Alaska… I think it’s quite clear who to go with. Until next time!


Other Adventures:

The Basics Mellon Creek Ducks N Bucks Blue River Whitetails Hampton & Hampton  Timbers at Chama Quail Creek Plantation


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.



Getting Started With a Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR)

Ruger AR-556

Have you ever wanted to build a rifle but don’t have access to a fully outfitted machine shop, nor have the training or money to piece together a functional and SAFE firearm from scratch?  Many people are in the same boat and up until a few years ago, there weren’t a whole lot of options.  Now there are plenty of ways to go about setting up a rifle that will be fun to shoot and serve as a superb firearm for hunting, competition, and self-defense.

“Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR)” is a term used to describe any number of firearm platforms that can be purchased fully assembled or in pieces and then assembled kind of like an erector set.  Many of todays “Black guns” are included in this category because a good portion of their components can be swapped out or tweaked to the sportsman’s needs.  Quite a few of the top manufacturers including Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Mossberg, and Ruger offer fully built models for the folks that aren’t ready to start from scratch while smaller shops like Spikes Tactical, Daniels Defense, Wilson Combat, DPMS, Rock River Arms, and many others offer complete rifles as well as upper/lower assemblies and all the parts in between.  You can create your own just by searching out the components that will meet the budget and performance desires.

Magpul stockI’ve wanted to get into shooting an AR platform for quite a while but was always reluctant to jump in with both feet since it just seemed too darn complicated and way to expensive.  But I finally found a complete rifle that didn’t cost a fortune and which could be modified with off-the-shelf components from a variety of vendors to create a gun to meet my family’s needs perfectly.  The newly released Ruger AR-556 is an entry-level gun that had all the features we were looking for and it’s received pretty good reviews from many of the industry experts, making it a viable option for getting into the semi-auto game.  So yes, I picked one up.

Burris AR-332Putting 100 or so rounds through it on the first outing isn’t enough to really gauge things in the long term, but so far it looks to be a winning choice that will give years of service.  Swapping out a few parts will give it the personal touch and possibly improve upon an already sound piece of equipment.  Magpul offers a wide variety of grips, stocks, and accessories to fit just about any standard platform or individual taste.  Picking a sight option can be another whole can of worms that takes some time to dig though, so whether it's a red dot, illuminated reticle, or laser, you've got more than enough options to choose from.

Not too long ago the MSR was considered inferior when it came to accuracy and reliability, which is why bolt action rifles were more popular in the field, but as more people wanted to create their own “Frankengun,” and accuracy concerns dropped to the wayside, the market exploded.  Now it’s a buyer’s market with just about any imaginable caliber and configuration available as a complete firearm or as pieces the consumer can assemble at their leisure.  They just have to take the plunge.

I’m really looking forward to making some modifications when the budget allows, but for now we’ll just have to be happy shooting it just the way it came from the factory.  That shouldn’t be a problem considering how happy we are already.  Stay tuned for updates as they occur and don’t be afraid to get one of your own.  They’re a blast to shoot and can serve a variety of functions whether you’re looking to shoot paper, steel, critters, or protect your home.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


My Pick: First Shotgun

One of my absolute favorite things to witness is someone’s introduction to firearms and shooting. There is so much to learn and experience, but luckily you have a lifetime to try and check it all out. With my blog series about Finding Your Guns Groove (Part One and Part Two), I have broken down some steps that I believe all firearm owners should go through. But part of the underlying concept of those series has been about choosing a handgun. So I decided to start another series to compliment the other, and we are going to look at what I would pick for certain firearms. And we will start things off with looking at shotguns.

Shotguns might be the most utilitarian firearm out there. They can be used for hunting, target practice and home defense. Many people who only own one firearm have a shotgun. They are pretty simple to operate and extremely fun. The inexpensiveness for the ammunition is also a big help. You have basically three kinds of actions for shotguns: semi-auto, break and pump.

Semi-autos feed one round after the other with no manipulation being required of the shooter. Once the first round is racked, you can start shooting. There is a tubular magazine that stores a certain allotted amount of shells for that firearm.

Break actions come in single-shot, side by side or over-under style shotguns. You break the shotgun open at a hinge where you may then load and fire it. As you open it after shooting, the empty cases will be extracted and you can place in new ones.

Pump-actions, work off the same tubular magazine principle that semi-autos do but require the shooter to “rack” the pump action forward and back each time to chamber a round. If you shoot and don’t rack in another round, nothing will happen.

My choice for a first shotgun would be the Mossberg 500 All-Purpose. This is a good gun at a great price point. I believe that your first shotgun should be a pump-action. It teaches shooters shot-control as they can just through shells downrange like with a semi-auto and the follow up shot takes longer with a pump than say an over-under. I like the Mossberg because they have a good reputation and just a good universal firearm.

One of the things I love most about this firearm is the tang-safety. This means the safety is on the grip on the gun, which makes it very easy to operate and visually check. Most shotguns have their safety on or near the trigger guard which makes one twist the gun to get a visual check on it.

I also make the argument for a pump-action as the first, because it is a great home defense gun. Many will tell you that simply the sound of racking a pump-action shotgun is enough to deter intruders.

My theory on purchasing a firearm, especially if it is your first is go with something that handles multiple tasks with the most room for uses. Like I wouldn’t go with a .410 for your first shotgun, as that gauge (caliber actually) is limited in its use. I would honestly suggest a 20 gauge for one’s first shotgun as it is an effective gauge that one can shoot comfortably all day. If you have shot a shotgun before and know how to handle a 12 gauge, then go with that but otherwise I believe a 20 would do someone just fine.

This shotgun is also synthetic, as opposed to wood. I love the look and feel of wood, but the practicality of synthetic is too much to ignore. (You can always pick up a nice, wood shotgun later in life.)

So congratulations to the Mossberg 500 All-Purpose for being my pick for one’s first shotgun. Next time we will take a look at rifles.



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.



Free Seminar -Women In Hunting, with Maria Young

According to statistics from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the number of female hunters increased from almost 14% to 16.5% between 2002 and 2009. Increases were across the board in archery, firearms, and muzzleloader, with participation in muzzleloader hunting actually more than doubling.

According to research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago. And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.

So, how does a woman get started in hunting? What are the challenges? What can you expect?

This is YOUR chance to learn at the 2015 Fall Hunting Classic:

Saturday, August 29, 3 p.m. - Maria Young, "Women in Hunting"

Iowan Maria Young does it all and you can, too!

In Maria's own words, she is a Mother, wife, huntress, and  entrepreneur. I have a passion for life and helping others succeed."  She got into hunting as a way to enjoy the outdoors with her husband. She is passing that passion on to her three daughters.

Come meet Maria and learn more about the benefits and rewards of hunting, including more time with your family!

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Choosing a Gun for Personal Protection

Springfield Armory EMPI grew up shooting guns and spending the entire fall hunting season with a firearm of some kind in my hand, so continuing to own them into my adulthood was never actually a question.  Even when kids came along and the household became busier and more crowded, we never considered getting rid of them, instead we made double sure that everything was properly secured and that accidents wouldn’t happen.  We also made a point of working with the girls so they knew the deadly consequences of mishandling weapons.  I didn’t expect them to become true enthusiast but I didn’t want them to be deathly afraid of something that’s incapable of harming anyone or anything without human manipulation.

So how does someone decide to purchase a gun for the first time?  Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to get a gun, whether it’s hunting, protection, target shooting, competition, or just starting a collection for the sake of collecting.  Whatever the reason, eventually they head off to the dealer to make their first purchase.  They walk right up to the counter with a pocket full of money and proudly proclaim to the salesperson “I want to buy a gun!”  Obviously at this point, the salesperson is going to ask “What kind of gun would you like?”  To which the answer (in a disturbing number of cases) is “I don’t know, I just want a gun!”  This person may end up with the right weapon for their needs or they may take home a .300 Win Mag Remington Model 700 with a 14x scope that just isn’t the right weapon for defending a two bedroom/one bath apartment….

If the gun is going to be used for personal defense, consider the following questions:

  • Home defense or in public personal defense?
  • Rifle (Auto-loading, pump, lever, bolt action)?
  • Shotgun (Auto-loading, pump, double/single barrel)?
  • Handgun (Auto-loading pistol, revolver)?
  • Concealability?
  • Reliability?
  • Recoil/controllability?
  • Accuracy at real world distances?
  • Stopping power?
  • Weight?
  • Durability?
  • Difficulty of operation?
  • Who’s the primary user?
  • Ergonomics?
  • State Laws/Limitations

You’ll notice that I didn’t include caliber as one of the primary criteria to be considered during the selection process.  That because you’ll decide on the caliber when other factors like recoil/controllability, stopping power, weight, and identifying the primary user are taken into account.  Take the .45 ACP for example.  It has a great deal of stopping power because of its bullet weight and velocity, but it produces substantial recoil in certain handguns which makes controllability and second shot accuracy difficult for some shooters.  While at the same time, a .22 Magnum has a smaller bullet delivering less energy on target, but because of its lower recoil and better controllability, it allows more rapid follow-on shots and potentially more rounds on target in a short period of time.  It’s all a tradeoff.

Smith & W Lady SmithMy wife also added “Is it pretty?” to the equation, hence the reason she ended up with a two-tone Kimber Aegis Ultra in 9mm.  It fits her perfectly and she’s quite happy with the gun while on the range and while carrying it for protection should she ever need it.  I’ve carried a .40 caliber S&W Shield ever since they first came out on the market and although it may not be pretty, it sure is functional, reliable, and concealable.  We just picked up a S&W Model 642 in .38 Special so I could see how much I liked a wheel gun, and so far it’s turned into a great purchase.  Now I just need to pick a holster for it.

There are a lot of different choices available to the consumer willing to spend a bit of time researching the market.  Evaluate each of the criteria and decide which one is most important to you then you’ll surely make the right choice.  Just be sure to spend money like your life depends on it….  Because it might.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando




Teaching Novices to Shoot

Time at the RangeMy wife and I have expended a whole bunch of ammunition over the past couple weeks, as we took some friends to the range for some bonding time and so they would get the chance to try their hand at shooting multiple types and calibers of handguns.  Everyone did quite well and we all made it out of the range alive, but it's hard to get over the feelings of apprehension I get when handing a fully loaded handgun to someone without a lot of experience.  I've been through the drill multiple times and learned a few valuable lessons that some folks might find beneficial if they're thinking of introducing a youngster or adult to the shooting sports.

  • Start your training session at home.  Teach the control features and operation of the firearm in a comfortable environment free of noise, distraction, and live ammunition.  Now is the time to make mistakes and discuss malfunctions, not when your dealing with a loaded weapon and shaky hands.  Snap caps are a great substitute for live ammunition during early training sessions.
  • Stress Safety and control over accuracy.  Hitting the target is great but it's much more important not to get hurt and learn proper technique.  Shooting tight groups at distance will come soon enough if the principles are sound and the training is good.
  • Start simple and small.  Your budding shooter will appreciate starting with a .22 or something loaded with standard target/training loads rather than high-power hunting rounds because the recoil will be quite a bit less and the gun won't jump around as much.  They're less likely to develop a case of the "flinches" with a lighter load.  Don't start someone off with a lightweight platform in a large caliber either since they're easy to carry on long hikes but do nothing to absorb the recoil.
  • One round & one round only.  Load the gun with a single round each time until the shooter is comfortable with its operation.  This is particularly important with semi-automatic firearms that don't require additional manipulation to load subsequent rounds after the initial shot.
  • Stay close.  The teacher or coach shouldn't be more than an arm's length away from the student while they're in the shooting position.  You need to be right on top of matters if something goes wrong and it's your job to prevent a loaded weapon from being pointed in any direction other than down range.
  • Shoot often.  Skill and proficiency increase with each session so it's important to build upon each trip to the range by celebrating the victories and learning from the mistakes.  Everyone has a bad day every once in a while, so less than perfect shot placement is to be expected.  The speed, and accuracy will improve.
  • Right/left eye dominant?  Figuring this out before hitting the range will eliminate a lot of frustration and sighting issues that deter from having a quality experience.  Right or left handed may also be an issue but it's more difficult to address since it's a matter of firearm design and shooter compatibility.  Unfortunately not everyone can afford to have both left and right handed versions of the same gun.
  • Make it fun!  Shoot reactive targets like tin cans, bowling pins, steel plates, clay pigeons, or splatter targets with awesome graphics that give instant feedback on shot placement . 

Twenty shots Head and Torso

Shooting has been part of my families heritage since long before I was walking the earth and I can thank my father for taking the time to teach us pretty darn well.  We started with BB guns, moved on to .22 rifles and 20 gauge shotguns, and ultimately into the big game calibers we used for deer and woodchuck hunting.  A lot of hours were spent at the range and in the field doing what we all loved to do.  He wasn't into the handgun side of things so I've had to do a lot of reading to become confident enough to teach others on a small scale basis but even I have my limits and would refer someone to the professionals if I thought they were going beyond my abilities.  Brantley Corp offers classes that cover a wide range of subjects (some of them right in our own conference room) and many of the local gun shops hold training classes on everything from gun cleaning to advanced techniques and tactics.  It just depends on how serious you are.

Teaching someone to shoot can be quite rewarding for both parties and I think it's a special part of passing along your passion to your own children.  My wife and girls know how much I love to send rounds downrange so there aren't any fights about spending too much money or time shooting as long as I take them along every once in a while. 

Properly teaching someone to handle firearms, even on a limited basis, will ensure that preventable accidents don't happen to someone you love, and maybe you'll discover a new shooting or hunting partner in the process.  I think I've created a few over the past month.  Good Luck and Be Safe.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando   







Find Your Gun’s Groove: Part One

Firearm ownership has increased significantly over the past few years. There are several reasons for this. More people are getting interested in hunting and recreational shooting. People are becoming more concerned about personal protection. Others are concerned about the sustainability of the world and are preparing for who-knows-what. No matter what source of inspiration, it is undeniable that we have record numbers of new-shooters/gun owners.

Working here I have had several conversations with people who are about to enter the world of firearms. Let me start off by saying welcome to one of the best and most expensive pastimes in the world, but let me warn you about how overwhelming it all can be. People own firearms for all sorts of reasons. Once you start to figure out why you want one, you can start to narrow down the field.

In this blog series we are going to take a look at what it takes to “find your gun’s groove”, which basically means from the first step of the process to important ideas and concepts. For the main aspect of this development we are going to look at it from the viewpoint of wanting a gun for personal defense and target shooting. (This is after all, one of the largest areas for why people look to buy a firearm.)

First things first, safety. Safety begins and ends with you. Any firearm in your possession is your responsibility. There are several “codes” or “laws” that one should learn when it comes to handling firearms. The one I suggest and go by is TAB+1. (I have mentioned this subject previously numerous times.) TAB+1 is…

T-Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

A-Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.

B-Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.

+1-Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Follow those rules and you are doing your diligence on safety.

Second, education. Learn as much as you can about firearms and everything associated with them. That includes ammunition, accessories and especially laws. Knowing the laws surrounding firearms should be a priority for anyone. Each state and sometimes cities can have their own laws, so you need to know what applies to you. And follow up, because laws do change. Learn what the names are for parts of a gun and how they work. Ask yourself the questions below and see how many you can answer.

What are four parts of a firearm? Can you identify if it is a long gun or hand gun?

What are the parts of a round of ammunition? How do they work?

Where do you look to find out what kind of caliber gun you are holding?

Where you find the serial number for a firearm? Why is that important?

What is an external safety? Do you know how to identify one?

These are just a few questions that any responsible firearm owner should know how to answer and therefore teach someone else. Like I said at the beginning, it can be overwhelming but hopefully through this blog series you will become more comfortable, educated and understanding of everything concerning firearms.



Think Camo Ladies!


SHE Outdoors makes a feminine cut clothing that is functional, rugged and durable to last out in the adventure hunt.  The material is made with the proper fit and with the right fabrics to allow comfortable movement to be out in the field. With the proper fit, it allows better movement when drawing a bow, shouldering a firearm, climbing treestands, or all the walking hunters do.  SHE offers a wide range hunting clothes to keep you warm and dry to light weight in the hot summers.

When preparing for your fall and winter needs you want to make sure you layer warm and comfortable as possible. SHE offers an insulated jacket that is waterproof, breathable and warm. The insulation is 150 grams of thermolite insulation in torso and 100 grams in the sleeves, lined hand warmer pockets, detachable hood, and adjustable drawcord hem is side pocket. To match the jacket, there is the insulated pants that are also 150 grams of thermolite insulation and knee-high side-leg zippers with exterior storm flaps.

If you are looking for something a little less, maybe for fall season, SHE offers the insulated jacket and bibs. The jacket is 100 grams of thermolite insulation, 3-pannel draw cord hood and draw cord waist. The bibs are also 100 grams of thermolite insulation, reinforced knees, mid-thigh zips with storm flaps, and adjustable elastic shoulder straps. Perfect outfit for that early spring or late fall hunts.

SHE Outdoors offers so much more for warmer weather hunts or to use as a layering system for your rigorous hunting adventures. You can use a mid-weight out in the early morning or late evening hunts. When using SHE base layer that helps provide AXE anti-odor technology to keep your prey’s nose in the dark and to help keep comfy with-out the binding. SHE has a great line of short-sleeve shirts and long-sleeve light weight shirts to use every day also.

The full-zip vintage hoodie is a perfect fit and look for a comfortable, light-weight and yet breathable design that’s stylish. It has a double-lined hood, 2 hand warmer pockets and raglan sleeves.

No matter the conditions, year or weather SHE Outdoors has you covered. You’ll always be ready and comfortable for any hunt and whatever comes you way.

Check out our awesome selection of ladies hunting clothes at


Cool Calibers: 5.7x28

I don’t know about you, but to me there is one firearm manufacturer that always seems to just come up with the coolest stuff. It is one of the oldest and most recognizable names in the industry as well. That being FN Herstal. (Commonly called FNH or just FN.) They make some of the most recognizable firearms for military, police and civilian shooters. They have also played a major impact on the development of new calibers. And today, we are going to take a look at one of their finest and most controversial creations: the 5.7X28mm.

You know the phrase “One size fits all”? Well it doesn’t. And this is extremely obvious when it comes to the world of firearms. Not everyone likes .45ACP and other rounds leave “more to be wanted”. Whenever an army or agency standardizes something, it is always met with praise or despite. NATO has its standard calibers, and they went with the 9mm for their side arms. Of course, people being people, there are many who dislike this caliber and want something better. NATO put out the request for a replacement cartridge to be created and FNH stepped up with the 5.7.

The 5.7 is a smaller-caliber round that has quite impressive velocities. Testing of the 5.7 started in the early 2000’s and was put up against the 4.6X30mm (which was designed by Heckler and Koch). The 5.7 got much higher marks for superior performance during the testing process. Shortly after it began being adopted by numerous militaries and agencies in close to four dozen different countries.

Originally NATO wanted a caliber that would outperform the 9mm in several aspects. They wanted the new caliber to have better accuracy, range and terminal performance. Just to spice it up, they also requested that the new caliber be able to penetrate body armor, which the 5.7 does along with all other requests by NATO. To fire the round, FN designed two firearms specifically for it. They made the P90 (a shoulder-fired personal defense weapon) and the Five-Seven (a semi-automatic pistol). Because of the smaller nature of the cartridge both of these weapons would be considered “high-capacity” due to the number of rounds they are able to carry.

All of these aspects that make the caliber and its carriers so impressive, also adds to the controversy. It did not take long after the development and revealing of these products to militaries for the public to want the same. And while what civilians get are not nearly as “impactful” as their military counterparts, it has been extremely dramatic. Many anti-gun groups immediately sought to ban these firearms from civilian use. If there are two things we can learn from whenever anti-gun groups make public cries against something they are: sales will immediately increase dramatically and no matter what those who would look to use such products illegally will still be able to get access to them. It is just that simple.

Sales of the Five-Seven has been astronomical, and actually seeing one inside of a store is considered a rarity. All of the things that make them so desirable to militaries are also what a defensive-carrier looks for as well. This firearm does have a “stained history” with it being used in prolific mass-shootings. The P90 has not come under such high scrutiny, but in fact finds itself being used exponentially more and more in film and television. The P90 is a fascinating firearm that probably will get its own blog one day, but later perhaps. And yes that is MacGyver with one below.

For certain users, this caliber may have the perfect application purposes you are looking for. Just know that you will be continually looking for the ammunition or firearm to shoot it with. It is able to be found every now and then, but usually gets wiped off the shelves when it is in-store.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig - 16 Gauge - .22’s Catch 22204 Ruger10mm Auto


NRA Freedom Days at Bass Pro Shops- Mesa, AZ

Well it seemed like just last month when we rolled out a brand new event for 2015. Oh wait, that’s cause we did! And while we are this roll of awesome and new events, let’s keep things going with our NRA Freedom Days here at Bass Pro Shops in Mesa, AZ. The NRA Freedom Days will run from July 20th through August 2nd. On the weekends we will be having special activities. I mean the last weekend of July is the last chance to catch our Family Summer Camp, but while that comes to a close things are about to go off with a BANG!

The NRA (National Rifle Association) is one of the oldest organizations in the United States and is focused on protecting and preserving one of our oldest rights. Because of all that they do to help ensure this heritage gets passed down through the generations, we here at Bass Pro Shops are more than happy to do whatever we can to help them! That is what inspired us to create the NRA Freedom Days.

During the NRA Freedom Days we are going to be “fully loaded” with specials, savings, seminars and giveaways! We will have: 2nd Amendment Savings on firearm purchases*, Free Plano Gun Case with purchase of any handgun $300 or greater*, Triple and Quintuple Extra Reward Points on purchases of select products* and on the weekends of July 25th and 26th and August 1st and 2nd we will have some awesome and educational seminars. There will be free handouts for those who attend!*


11AM- 3 Gun Competition Basics

2PM – Accessorizing your MSR

3PM- Women and Self-Defense


2PM- Choosing the Right Home Defense System

3PM- Gun Safety in the Home

On the weekend of July 25th and 26th we will also have our Daisy BB Gun Shooting Range going and seminars focused for the younger generations. Parents/Legal Guardians will have to fill out a waiver for participants of the BB Gun Range that are under the age of 18.

I love that a lot of these seminars are going to focus on subjects that we have not really ever covered at our store. With the trends that are happening in the firearm industry as well, I think that these are spot on! Especially the last two for each day. I strongly believe that everyone should be entitled to the knowledge and know-how to protect themselves and their families.

This is an event that you do not want to miss!


*Restrictions Apply. While Supplies Last. See Store For More Details.


Why Does Hunting and FIshing Gear Cost So Much? The Skinny or (Fatty) on FET (Federal Excise Tax)

I constantly hear that the archery industry and Bass Pro must be making huge profits on bows, accessories, arrows and components.  “I could make this part for much less” or “How can you charge so much for something that costs only a few dollars to make”?   

One of the reasons is the high FET (Federal Excise Tax) that is imposed on the hunting and fishing industries.  This tax is not only imposed on imported products but hunting and fishing products produced here in the United States of America. IRS Form 720 is not a form most taxpayers are familiar with. It is the form for FET, and it is only filed by those taxpayers - usually businesses - responsible for collecting the excise taxes. The most important use for Form 720 is for businesses that distribute various kinds of fuel; however, it has a motley array of other miscellanea, including the “Tanning Tax” from Obamacare. For the most part this FET is determined by the MSRP (Manufactures Suggested Retail Price) of an item and not the wholesale price of the product. Because taxpayers don’t see these taxes on their own tax forms, they miss out on these peculiarities. One of the most peculiar of these is a whopping 11% tax on “bows, quivers, broadheads, and points.”

Review the link below to learn more about the RULES as it pertains to archery and sport fishing.


Now you are starting to get the picture.  Below is a chart that reviews collected FET just the archery industry has produced over the past few years.

As you can see $55.7 Million dollars of FET generated in 2014.  Wow!, is right, that is a lot of money, and that is not including the sales tax charged on the products your purchase.

2015 there is a 49 cent FET on each arrow shaft produced, almost $6.00 / dozen arrows.

As with most taxes, it is very complicated for the manufacture to determine what the tax will be.  Take a look at the computation formula listed in the link below.


This sounds strange at first, but it turns out to make more sense in context. The Pittman-Robertson Act is an 80-year-old piece of legislation that helps fund game conservation efforts through these taxes on hunting equipment, including bows, firearms and fishing. The key is that the funds from the tax are to be marked for purposes that benefit those who are paying the tax. This is called the “Benefit Principle."

The Pittman-Robertson taxes are collected at a federal level and only then allocated in block grants to the states in proportion to their land area and the number of hunting license holders. In other words, it is clearly designed to work within the hunting community. Nonetheless, it is not a perfect user fee. For example, an archery enthusiast who does not hunt will still pay the tax, and mostly end up funding the activities of his or hers bowhunting counterparts.

So next time when you start thinking that an item you are about to purchase cost too much.... Keep in mind that you are also paying unseen taxes that are being utilized for the preservation of hunting and fishing.



Sporting Clays

Golf with a shotgun

Sporting clays is sometimes referred to as golf with a shotgun.  Sporting clays is a challenging sport that is shot on a course with 10 to 15 stands, with teams of competitors from 2 to 6 people.  Like golf no two courses are the same, so shooters like to go to different courses that have different degrees of difficulty.  Sporting clays is also the closest shooting sport as shooting in the field.  Skeet and trap shooting tend to have clay pigeons being thrown at the same angle and speed, where as sporting clays at different stations come out at different angles from various and different distances.  This simulates more of the pattern of birds, like dove, duck and pheasant, and there is what is called a rabbit, which is a clay that is rolling on the ground.


Typically everyone is going to shoot 50 or 100 shots depending on the course and competition.  Each stand will usually have 8 to 10 clay pigeons per person.  The shooter will load two shells into their shotgun, any gauge is acceptable once they enter the stand, always enter the stand with an unloaded firearm.  When the shooter is ready he will yell “PULL!”, and the person working the thrower will then either trigger a true pair or a report pair. The clay pigeons are thrown two at a time, either a report pair or a true pair.  A report pair means one clay is thrown once the shot is taken the second clay is thrown.  A true pair is both clays are thrown at once.  The shooter will then take his shots on both birds.  If any part of the clay is broken it is considered a dead bird, or a miss if the clay flies unbroken.  Like in golf you will have a score card where you mark if it was a hit or miss.  This is done until all shots are taken at the particular stand.  Then it is on to the next  stand and start over again.  Unlike golf however the player with the highest score is the winner, and has bragging rights until they shoot again.


This is a growing sport and now a lot of High Schools have shooting teams, and it gets youth to the outdoors instead playing video games.  It is a sport everyone in the family can enjoy, and it is a sport that the whole family can do together.  Typically 12 and 20 gauges are what are used, but for more of a challenge you can use a 28 gauge or even a 410.  It can be played with a pump, semi automatic or over and under shotgun.  There is several ranges in the area that offer sporting clays and can be a blast, pardon the expression


Remember always practice safety at any range you travel to, always wear hearing and eye protection.  Never enter or exit a stand with a loaded weapon, only load when you are in the stand.  You might want to consider sun block and a hat, as it does get hot and sunny in Texas.  Stay Hydrated so drink lots of water and have fun.


Cool Calibers: 10mm Auto

I am an avid handgun shooter. Semi-auto, single-action, double-action or whatever, it does not matter to me. And caliber doesn’t really matter that much either. I’ll shoot 45ACP, 38Spcl, 9mm or whatever is available. I love it all. But for years I have been hearing about 10mm Auto. I have heard about it from fellow shooters, friends and even Ted Nugent. Yes, Uncle Ted more than approves of 10mm. But I have never gotten the chance to shoot one yet, so I decided it should be the caliber for this month’s Cool Caliber blog. Let’s start firing away, shall we?

This caliber was first developed in 1983 by shooting legend John Dean Cooper, most people call him Jeff though. Cooper served in the Marines, was firearms instructor, writer and a little bit of a bunch of other things. He is credited with having created the modern technique of handgun shooting. He served in World War II on the same battleship that my grandfather did, and came back to the service during the Korean War. Besides being a shipmate of my granddad, there are several reasons why I like Cooper. His thought-process and writings on handgun shooting are staples of education. The principles he developed also stand the test of time. And he liked the 1911 and 45ACP. I would definitely buy the guy a beer.

Back to the round though: The 10mm Auto was originally designed for the Bren Ten handgun, which was based off of the CZ 75 design. Looking at the Bren Ten you can definitely see the 1911-inspiration for the handgun. The caliber was developed to give more knock-down and stopping power for individuals than previously available. There has been a long history of criminals “outgunning” justice officials. The 10mm was developed with “the good guys in mind”.

In 1986 there was a horrific gun battle between the FBI and two armed robbers in Miami. Two agents were killed in the ensuing battle before the two criminals were stopped. Because of this the FBI and other agencies took a look at other calibers to better equip their officers with. The FBI adopted the 10mm in 1989, but eventually phased it out. There were numerous complaints about excessive recoil, which just goes to show the right caliber handgun for a person is the largest one that can be shot accurately and comfortably.

While the FBI ended up not going with the 10mm for the long-run, many others have. There is a huge group of 10mm Auto advocates. Just spending three minutes talking to one of our Hunting Associates, who owns/shoots the 10mm, he had nothing but praise about it. He did interject that your average shooter would not enjoy the caliber, but it is a serious piece of hand gunning. He also stated that a couple Texas whitetails will also agree to his statements.

10mm will fly flatter than 45ACP and has more knock-down/stopping power than most handgun calibers. It produces energy levels in between the .357 Magnum and .41 Magnum. All out of a semi-auto platform. Currently the most popular offering for a handgun chambered in this beastly round is the Glock 20. Numerous police departments and other agencies equip it or allow it as a sidearm. Denmark even issues it to certain groups that come into frequent contact with polar bears.

This caliber almost became one of the many numerous more-obscure rounds to fade away into history, were it not for the production of the Colt Delta Elite pistol in 10mm Auto. This is considered a collector’s item, with many enthusiasts paying more than top dollar for one. And what many don’t know is that this is where the 40 S&W came from. After the 10mm was deemed “too much” they engineered it down to the 40 S&W which is the standard for hundreds of justice agencies and police departments. To those that shoot the 10mm though, the S&W stand for “short and weak”.

Before jumping the gun and pulling the trigger on purchasing a 10mm (yes, that was two firearm puns in one sentence) one should try shooting one first. This caliber is definitely not for the novice shooter. Like any decision considering caliber choice, this should be well studied and considered by an individual. All I know is that I want to try shooting one now more than ever.


Other Caliber Related Blogs:

7mm-08 Remington - 357 Sig - 16 Gauge - .22’s Catch 22204 Ruger


First Time Gun Buyer's Guide

“What gun should I buy?” 

This question is repeated at gun retailers across the country constantly. Given the plethora of gun options out there, it’s understandably daunting to a first time gun buyer or even an experienced shooter who is new to a specific type of firearm. The following are some tips to help you make the right decision.


What Do You Want To Do With The Gun?

While the most basic answer is to shoot, certain guns do certain things better than others. For example, a lot of folks are getting concealed carry permits and want a gun they can carry. Obviously in that case the choice would be a handgun, but which one out of the huge number of models on the market? One thing to keep in mind is the size of the gun and by size I don’t mean the caliber, we’ll cover that in a bit. By size I mean the physical size of the gun. A small gun, like a Smith and Wesson Shield is more portable; however a larger sized gun like a Glock 19 in the same caliber shoots more comfortably. Therefore, the buyer has to decide the size gun that works for them including the thickness of that gun as that may come into play regarding comfort in holding, shooting, and carrying the gun on a day in and day out basis. These same considerations come into play when it comes to shotguns and rifles as well.

Shotguns are kind of like golf clubs in that all clubs will knock a ball along the course, but some do certain things better than others. Sporting clays, hunting, and home defense all find shotguns being a go to choice in firearm. Again the size of the gun is matched to the activity the owner intends to do, but luckily a bread and butter pump shotgun like a Benelli SuperNova will do anything and everything reasonably well.

Rifles are all about downrange accuracy so if you like reaching out and hitting a target you can barely see with your naked eye a bolt action rifle like the Browning X-Bolt is the way to go. Remember, in this application a quality optic is key. The other popular rifle right now is the AR style. This IS NOT short for “assault rifle”, it stands for Armalite Rifle. Armalite was the company that originally designed the platform and put it into production. AR style rifles are really fun to shoot and are great for dealing with predator control such as coyotes. An example of this kind of rifle is the Bushmaster M4-A3 and is ready to shoot right out of the box after a thorough cleaning.

Caliber is something everyone gets hung up on and new shooters worry about recoil a lot. Adding to the confusion is the fact that calibers are measured in both fractions of an inch as well as in metric measurements depending on where the caliber was developed. The simple rule is to shoot as large of a caliber as you can comfortably and more importantly, accurately. Extremely technical people will quote all kinds of ballistic and energy transfer data and confuse the heck out of even seasoned shooters but in short, bigger bullets hit harder and do more damage but a big bullet is no good if you can’t hit what you’re shooting at. The best way to judge the caliber you’re comfortable with is to consider your intended target and to go shoot some guns.

What Do You Want To Spend?

The term I like to use in this regard is that you tend to get what you pay for but the question is how much do you need? Someone that wants to shoot a lot needs a better, more durable firearm than the person that may never shoot the gun more than 100 times. This again is a double edged sword as while it may seem like you’re saving money by going the cheap route, you have to consider the cost of repairing the firearm or replacing it. My usual advice to a new shooter is to look for their given choice of gun somewhere in the middle of the price scale and then be prepared if they find they really get into it that they will want to buy a new gun. We all want more guns once we find we enjoy shooting so this isn’t exactly a problem and a good excuse to get at least one more gun. Also, consider any accessories you may need with the gun you’re buying as that may play a significant role in the overall price.

Can I Get Ammunition For My New Gun?

If you’re getting a popular caliber firearm you shouldn't have a problem getting ammunition for your firearm but the best way is to check the shelves before you settle on a caliber and anyone in our hunting department will be happy to tell you what your best bets are to find ammunition in.

So, Where Do I Start?

Reading this blog article and asking yourself these questions is a good place to start. Then come see us and look at some firearms.  We've got tons of knowledgeable associates in the store ready to help you out.  Or, if you have buddies, go shooting with them.  That’s another great option to get your feet wet in firearms. Ask shooters what they like and don’t like and why. Ironically, as you’re reading this on the internet, I would caution you to take what you read on the internet with caution. A lot of people pass their opinions, prejudices and personal experiences off as facts. There are a few cold and hard facts in firearms that I’ve attempted to cover here admittedly in a basic and simple fashion but there are a lot of things out there that are personal opinion and preference and the only person that can answer those things for you is indeed yourself. And remember with all the information you’re going to have coming at you, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Cory Brown, Hunting Department


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 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?














































Optics Simplified

Shop our extensive selection of Optics at

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 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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