CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Steve Comus – GUN TALK



    Steve Comus is a former Guns and Hunting Editor at WON. Before joining the staff at Western Outdoors more than a quarter-century ago he had a complete career as a frontline journalist with the L.A. afternoon daily Herald-Examiner, including quite a bit of foreign correspondence and years of investigative assignments.

    Since he took a break from WON, he has written articles for most of the major publications in the shooting sports industry, authored a couple of books and published a couple of others, spent a while as editor of Gun World magazine and is currently director of publications for Safari Club International.

     His writings focus on guns and shooting and all of the things that affect them, as well. 
Patriotic gun wrap
Ruger Flat Series guns now available


Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. recently announced its new Flag Series line of firearms that feature painted flag Cerakote® and flag camo dipped finishes. Other companies, like Legacy Sports International, have been doing similar things for a while and it is totally predictable that such varied finishes would become more of a part of the marketplace in the future.


For Ruger, the first four offerings in this new series feature attractive flag finishes and are built on the following platforms: AR-556® MPR, Ruger Precision® Rimfire and PC Carbine™ rifles, as well as the AR-556 Pistol.


comus_rugerbolt
RUGER BOLT RIFLE wears a flag motif in red, white and blue, only one of many various colorations that guns are now being adorned with. Quite a change from the “basic black” of the industry some years ago.

Finishes on firearms have been going through an evolutionary process for several decades now, starting in earnest with the introduction of readily available synthetic stocks back in the ‘70s. There were synthetic (plastic) stocks a couple of decades before that, but they came in two colors – black and brown. First came the camo finishes on stocks, and that evolution is virtually complete since it is likely that more hunting rifles and shotguns now are sold with some kind of camo or non-traditional finish than are sold with traditional wood and metal finishes.


As states began requiring blaze orange outer clothing years ago, I came up with a blaze orange rifle stock, reasoning that if a regular rifle were used against a background of blaze orange on the hunter, that the movement of the rifle would be very obvious, where if the rifle and background were both blaze orange, at least there would not be the appearance of movement when the rifle needed to be repositioned, etc.


With the advent of polymer-frame pistols and AR types of rifles, the flood gates opened, because both types of arms lend themselves to about any kind of finish the maker and/or user can imagine. The basic guns are made of synthetic material, aluminum and steel – all basically with a dull, non-glare finish. That can be visually boring, so why not add some colorful pizzazz to the mix? And, red, white and blue are a nice combination, no?


Over the past couple of decades, brightly colored firearms for the most part have been the purview of the competition arm of the shooting sports industry. Both pistol race guns and sporting clays shotguns have been bright and colorful. And, exhibition shooters like John Cloherty of Southern California have been using brightly colored guns for demonstrations for years.


But it wasn’t until the past five years or so, and more markedly in the last couple of years, that companies have been adding all kinds of color to the finishes of various models. They sell, so that is the reason now for the proliferation. This trend says a lot more than just the fact that guns are becoming more colorful because now makers can do it with ease.


The true statement is about the users – the buyers and shooters. Guns are many things to different people. In the past, most of the focus has been on defense and hunting. Now, add fun to the mix. That’s right, guns are for fun and it can be more fun to shoot a colorful gun than a drab one.


I predict that this is not just a passing trend. I am convinced that more and more, we’ll be seeing more and more imagination put into the look of guns. Face it, what some folks feel is a sinister look of “assault weapons” is one of the reasons they want to outlaw them. This new trend in colorization of guns goes exactly the opposite direction.


Think of it this way. It is the logical outcome of the modularization of guns themselves. Modularization begs for virtually unlimited accessorizing. This means that the look of a given gun can be changed on a whim to fit the mood of the day for the shooter. Kind of like accessorizing basic clothing for different outings.


Think I jest? Ruger isn’t limiting its colorizing of models to the red, white and blue of the American flag. Nope. They also are offering motifs based on various state flags, etc. What great ways to have fun with guns!


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Practice up for hunting seasons
It may seem premature to be talking about the fall hunting seasons now, but the truth is that by taking care of business now, the fall seasons can be both more fun and more productive.

Those of us who shoot all year long don’t have a “between the seasons” time to think about. We constantly make certain that both equipment and pilot are working well together.


But for many folks, summer is a doldrum period when the focus is on other things. Probably not the best idea, however.


For example, dove hunting opens Sept. 1 and that is not very many weekends away.

Even if a hunter shoots clay targets once a week between now and the opener, it wouldn’t be too much, because the more familiar the hunter is with gun and ammo before the hunt, the more likely it is that the doves will be hit better and more frequently.


comus_doveshooting
DOVE SHOOTING CALLS for engaging at all kinds of angles. Sporting clays courses offer such target presentations and can be good pre-season practice.


Good practice can be done on both skeet and sporting clays courses. As few as 100 shots or so can be considered minimal. Literally, it is a way to get into the swing of things pre-season. Best to use the same gun and ammo that will be used on the dove hunt, but any actual target shooting is better than none.


And maybe this is the year to get another gun for doves and/or upland birds. Now is the time to get it and get familiar with it. No need to work out kinks in the field on an actual hunt.


Or, maybe this is the time to check out everything on a hunting rifle to assure that all screws are tight, that the rig is sighted-in properly, etc. That way, if there is a problem, there is plenty of time to fix it and be ready for the seasons.


Or maybe this is the year to put a new scope on an old rifle, or to get an entirely new rig. Again, by having enough time, everything can be just right for fall. Otherwise, it can be hectic at the last minute – which can mean problems on the hunt itself. Not good.


In any event, there is no substitute for trigger time with the exact rigs that will be used for the upcoming hunt. Once a rifle is sighted-in, minimally it is good to practice at least once a month with it – and from the field positions that will be used on the hunt itself.


comus_fieldposition
FIELD POSITION SHOOTING practice during the off-season can make the difference between success and failure on a hunt.

Rifle trigger time can be as few as three or four shots a week, once the rig is sighted-in. Yes, more is better, but if the shots are deliberately serious, that is enough to keep mind and body attuned to the rig.


Fine-tuning a rifle or shotgun before the season may be particularly important for many hunters this year if lead-free ammo is to be used. Such ammo rarely patterns the same in shotguns and rarely shoot to the same point of impact in rifles as does the leaded ammo.


This means that it is doubly important for those using unleaded ammo for the first time to put in some range time and make sure all is doing what it is supposed to do. No need to guess when there is time to be certain.


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Riton Optics: The Right Stuff
Want a riflescope that will work in good or bad lighting and be able to engage game from the muzzle of the rifle out to 300 yards, maybe a bit more? Check out the Riton RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H.

This is quite a scope. Very impressive in many ways. Let me count them.


With a variable power range of 1x to 8x, this model is valid for virtually all conditions encountered on hunts around the world. Whether the hunt is for the big stuff in Africa, a deer in the dark woods or open sage, or elk across a canyon, the hunter is not ill equipped with this instrument.


smallcaliber
SMALL CALIBER BLASTING with Riton scope proved to be both fun and effective. Here, author uses the Riton RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H scope atop an AR in 5.56mm.


Many hunters prefer variable scopes that go to higher magnification for general hunting or specific applications, and Riton makes them (I’ll be taking a look at their RT-S Mod 5 4-16x50 Wide FOV later on).


The RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H is intended to be credible for dangerous game hunting, as well as other game globally. The folks at Riton had an assist from fellow scribe Craig Boddington in its design. The result answers the requirements of a dangerous game scope and a whole lot more. In fact, it could be considered an all-around scope, should someone want to suggest it.


When a scope is configured to work effectively for dangerous game, it is logical to put it on a rifle designed for such things. So, I put the Riton RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H scope atop a .460 Weatherby Magnum and blasted away.


Every time I feel the maiden’s caress of a .460 Weatherby Mag. pushing against my shoulder, I remember those many days when Roy Weatherby and I would sit in his office in South Gate or home in nearby Downey, talking about guns, ammo and hunting.


There was no question that personally, he liked the .378 better than the .460, but truth is that he thought both were pretty much unnecessary. The .460 may not have been his favorite, however, of the big Weatherby cartridges, it certainly is mine. But I digress.


After quickly boresighting the rig, two shots and it was “walked” to put the bullet a couple of inches or so low at 25 yards. Then it was out to 100 yards for fine-tuning.


Lots of twisting knobs and deliberately walking the bullet holes from here to there on the target at will was both fun and effective. This scope tracked virtually perfectly, which is a good sign. It means the innards are precise enough for repeatable adjustment.


ritonscopeworked
RITON SCOPE WORKED great atop a .460 Weatherby Magnum rifle, as the author shows here. This scope works for everything from small game to the biggest stuff on the planet.


Such attention to detail in this regard bespeaks overall quality in both design and production.


I was able to move the point of impact both precisely and significantly (lots of inches) in all directions. This no doubt is due to the fact that this model has a 34mm main tube, which allows for a whole bunch of adjustment.


The reticle with lighted center dot when desired is something to talk about because it is the kind I have liked since scopes first started being equipped with such kinds of reticles.


It is kind of a combination of the old German three-post concept combined with bullet drop hash marks, with the center dot thrown in for good measure. Such a scope is both quick to use and a joy when lighting is bad or when the game animal is dark, in the shade and/or standing in front of a dark background.


After having all the fun I could think up with the .460 as the “alpha,” I thought about seeing what it was like on an “omega” rig, so I put it atop an AR chambered in 5.56mm NATO and popped off rounds by the dozen, walking the bullet holes around the target at will. Great fun.


One note here, however. The 34mm rings I had were right for the Weatherby bolt gun and way low for the AR, but I made them work. Reminded me of times in the long ago when discussing things with Gene Stoner before the industry had all of the add-on right stuff for his design. I digress again.


Then I spotted a target of opportunity out there at what looked like a bit of a poke and thought, what the heck, good chance to check out the bullet drop feature. The rangefinder put the distance at 364 yards and the rig was sighted dead-on at 100 and the barrel had cooled in the process.


rtsmod7
RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H SCOPE is both sleek and sturdy. The 34mm main tube is rigid and allows for a lot of adjustment.


That’s nice, because in a hunting rig, the critical consideration is where the rig puts the first bullet out of a cold barrel. If it is right, there is no need for follow-ups or chasing critters around God’s creation.


I held the reticle where I thought it probably should be at that distance with the quartering, more or less, 15mph wind and squeezed off a round. Dead-on hit. What more can I say? (Only that I have no doubt that I could hit things a whole lot farther out than that with this scope, but in general hunting terms, that’s about as far as one usually pokes at game.)


One quality of this scope that is worth focus here is the operational clarity of the optics. By clarity, I mean the combination of innate resolution, High Density/Extra Dispersion glass, coatings – all of the things that deliver effectiveness in real world situations – the whole package.


In that respect, this model has it all and that puts it in the company of the best, regardless of brand or origin. This is a serious precision instrument.


One thing this model is not is light. It is both full-bodied and robust. For its intended uses, that is all good.


Specifications:


The scope’s tube is aircraft grade aluminum and the scope is 100 percent waterproof, fog proof and shockproof. It features ½ MOA windage and elevation, has a locking illumination control with six daylight-bright settings and a fast-focus eyepiece.


• Magnification: 1-8x

• Parallax Setting: Fixed at 100 yards

• Tube Diameter: 34mm

• Objective Lens Diameter: 28mm

•  Focal Lens Position: Hunting – Second Focal Plane

• Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated, Full Wide Band, Waterproof Coated, Low Light Enhancement

• Reticle: Riton German #4 Mod 1 Illuminated Reticle

• Field of View at 100 yards: 142 ft. @ 1x – 17.5 ft. @ 8x

• Material: 6061-T6 Aircraft Grade Aluminum

• Weight: 15 oz / 709 g

• Length: 10.9 in / 277 mm

• Eye Relief: 4 in / 101 mm

• Exit Pupil: 14mm @ 1x

• Click Value At 100 Yards: ½ in. / 12.7 mm

• Adjustment Range: 175 MOA

• Mounting Length: 7.3 in. / 186 mm


Riton makes a whole range of optics at various price points, depending on features, etc. They call it their MOD SERIES, which is divided into four levels:


Mod 1 optics are in the $150 to $180 price range.

Mod 3 optics are in the $200 to $340 price range.

Mod 5 optics are in the $320 to $570 price range.

Mod 7 optics are in $680 to $1,500 price range.


Riton, as a Tucson, Arizona-based veteran and family-owned business, stands out in quality, value and service.


“Riton was built out of the belief that a person’s hard-earned dollar should buy quality optics and the best service at every price point,” stated Founder Brady Speth.


For more information about Riton, check local dealers or visit ritonoptics.com.


lightedreticle
LIGHTED RETICLE IN the RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H is fast and easy to use in any kind of lighting under any conditions.


alphaandomega
ALPHA AND OMEGA of cartridges were used with the RT-S Mod 7 1-8x28IR-H scope. Here, the scope is shown with the big .460 Weatherby Magnum cartridge and the 5.56mm. Big or small rifle, the scope works great.


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Got a screw loose?
Time to check your firearm


Now is the time to address some kinds of things on hunting rifle rigs that otherwise could snatch failure from success the next time they are pressed into action. I’m talking about loose screws.


For bolt-action rifles, critical screws are those that hold the action to the stock and those that hold the scope base to the rings and those that hold the two halves of the rings together. Loose screws in any of those places can spell disaster. And the scary thing is that they don’t have to be so loose as to rattle or even feel loose.


comus_tightenscrews
TIGHTEN SCREWS ON mounts for success. Having loose screws in the scope mounting system can guarantee failure at the moment of truth. Even a slightly loose mount can result in problems. Here, a torque wrench is used to tighten screws on a ring holding a Riton scope. Usually, tightening to 22 inch/pounds seems to work well.


A tiny fraction of an inch difference at the action easily can mean several inches or more of variation at distance. Literally, that can be the difference between a hit and a miss, or even worse, between a clean kill shot and an ugly gut shot.


Part of the equation is eliminated on rifles that have bases that are integral to the receiver itself. Anymore most AR rifles and many bolt-action rifles have integral bases, which means the base won’t ever loosen.


For rifles that do not have integral bases, there usually are two small screws (typically 6-48) that attach each of the two bases to the receiver. These are small screws and the hunter is asking a lot from them. Not only do they need to hold the base snugly to the receiver, but they also have to absorb the repeated recoil of the rifle being shot. If the scope is heavy, those forces can be enough to break the screws, or loosen them.


There are cures for those problems, but there is not room here to discuss them in detail. Using bigger screws is one fix, while using bases that also include some kind of lateral stop is another – or both. For this discussion, just make certain that the screws holding the bases to the receiver are tight.


The screws that hold the halves of the rings together also are critical, because if they are loose, the scope can move forward or backward in the rings, or in extreme cases the scope can jiggle loosely in the rings. In the former, eye relief changes and makes it difficult, if not impossible, to see through the scope properly. Or, if it jiggles, the point of impact can change dramatically from shot to shot.


Finally, the screws that hold the action to the stock also must be tight, or the point of impact of the bullet can be erratically unpredictable.


As is apparent, the fix for these kinds of problems can be both quick and easy. That is why it is all the more important to pay attention and keep things tight. And, remember that anytime anything is changed on a rifle rig, it is necessary to take it back to the range and verify the zero. Usually, any such changes as those mentioned above will change the point of impact, even if slightly.


By confirming the zero after everything is tight, the shooter is ready to go afield. And, by tightening everything and confirming zero now, it affords more time between then and the next hunt to practice. That’s the best of all worlds.


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Load ’em up
Handloading ammo is popular, inexpensive

This could be the year to take the plunge and begin loading your own ammo. Or, it could be a great time to talk with company representatives about the latest loading equipment and components.


There is a renewed focus in Gundom on handloading ammunition, which includes a multi-company effort to bring this activity to local retail stores around the country.


Hodgdon Powder announced a new program at the recent Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, NV.


chrishodgdon
CHRIS HODGDON OF Hodgdon Powder stands next to a display at the SHOT Show, announcing a program in which representatives from leading companies in the reloading industry will go to local stores and show consumers the benefits of loading their own ammo. In the display are presses and other reloading equipment from the various companies participating in the nationwide program.


According to Chris Hodgdon, this new program is a variation of what his grandfather did following WWII when companies setup circus tents in communities around the country where they showed consumers how to load, using the equipment available on the market at that time. This year representatives from the leading companies in the reloading business will go to retail outlets and put on loading seminars for consumers.


Partnering with Hodgdon are Dillon Precision, Frankford Arsenal, Lee Precision, Hornady, Lyman, RCBS, Mec, Nosler, Redding and Sierra.


Robin Sharpless at Redding explained that a large part of the expanded interest in handloading is a result of the recent focus on long-range shooting. By handloading their own ammunition, shooters can fine-tune to ammo to the individual rifle, squeezing the last measure of accuracy from the long-range rigs, he explained.


Historically, there were three major reasons for shooters to load their own ammo. One was to save money (reloading can save about half the cost of much of the factory loads), another was to create ammo for rifles that shoot hard-to-find cartridges and the final reason was to fine-tune ammo to specific firearms.


In today’s market, the sale of bulk amounts of some cartridges results in lower levels of savings by reloading, but it still costs less to load the high-volume cartridges like 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington, 9mmP and .45 ACP. But those bulk sales generally are limited to FMJ loads.


Shooters who want to use higher tech bullets can save significantly more by handloading. Shooters who have firearms that shoot obsolete or obscure cartridges can keep their guns shooting by loading their own ammo. And, they save a whole lot of money, compared to the cost of buying factory loads or those cartridges, if they can find them at all.


There is an interesting dynamic that kicks in when a shooter takes the leap and begins reloading. He or she shoots more, and that means more fun.


Interestingly, there comes a point for many shooters when loading becomes a major part of the sport because it expands the level of involvement. There is a level of pride when a shooter scores well with ammunition he or she made with their own hands. This is especially true for hunters when they take trophy grade animals with ammunition they created personally.


Regardless the reason or reasons for getting into reloading, it can be a most satisfying and rewarding activity that can involve the whole family – parents can be involved with children in the process.


Retailers in California are planning to be part of this new focus on handloading. Check locally for schedules of when representatives from the various companies will be coming to town.


* * *


Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


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