Steve Comus' Blog

    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. 
Long range scoping
New Bushnell scope is made for long range

Bushnell has come out with an interesting new riflescope – the Elite Tactical Hunter 3-12x44mm Long Range Hunting Scope with G2H first focal plane reticle, This is a serious riflescope for hunting, both long and short range.

BUSHNELL LRHS SCOPE is a piece of high performance equipment. Features make it great for both long and short-range shots on game.

To give the new scope a ride, I attached it to a Weatherby Mark V rifle in .300 Weatherby Magnum. This rifle is very accurate and a lot of fun to shoot.

Scope adjustments were both positive and repeatable. Very nice. However, both the slick reticle and the click horizontal and vertical adjustments are in mils rather than quarter or eighth-inch at 100 yards.

This caused no problem for me, but a lot of folks have trouble translating mils. The explanation is enough to put Einstein to sleep, but the bottom line is that if you figure a mil is 3.6 inches at 100 yards or 7.2 inches at 200 yards, etc., you’ll hit what you aim at.

The click vertical and horizontal adjustments move the point of impact 0.1-mil (.36-inch at 100 yards). It was easy to “walk” the bullet holes to zero.

The reticle has hash marks up and down, left and right, in 0.5-mil increments (1.8 inches at 100 yards). The reticle also has in interrupted circle around the cross of the “crosshairs.” This is great for fast, close shots. It subtends four inches at 25 yards, or basically is a lightening-fast “kill zone” aiming feature. Very nice.

Since the reticle is in the first focal plane, it means that it appears to get bigger as the magnification is increased. European scopes are famous for this, and I always have really liked it. Many American shooters do not like it, but frankly it is really nice in the field. The reticle stands out better for my eyes.

THE AUTHOR CHECKS the Bushnell 3-12x44mm LRHS scope atop a .300 Weatherby rifle. The scope offers hunting high performance.

Speaking of my eyes, details on the target were uncommonly clear and crisp at all ranges (really impressive). A quick focus ring on the ocular lens made it easy to fine-tune the scope. Everything about this scope is at least a cut above. Visual clarity is outstanding.

The main tube is 30mm, and there is enough room between the front and back bells and the turret to allow forward and rearward adjustment when the scope is mounted in the rings – even on a long action like the Mark V. Again, very nice.

The scope weighs a substantial 24.4 ounces (lot of good glass in this model), is a handy 13.4 inches long with 3.74 inches of eye relief (enough to work well with 190-grain full-house loads in the .300 Weatherby Magnum).

A third knob on the turret adjusts for parallax, which is necessary for any significant long-range shooting, and 12x is plenty for precision bullet placement at maximum hunting distances.

With a retail price of somewhere in the one grand arena, this is not a cheapo. But, in my humble opinion, it is truly a serious piece of precision equipment that delivers the goods. Did I say that I like it?

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

A winning rifle!
The Ruger 5.56 Scout Rifle is handy, fun and serious!

Sturm, Ruger & Co. has come out with another winner – the Model 77 Gunsite Scout rifle in 5.56mm NATO (.223 Remington).

This is one handy, fun, yet very serious rig. It has all of the features found in the .308 Winchester Gunsite Scout rifle, which has enjoyed stellar sales success. I predict that the 5.56mm Gunsite Scout will do even better. It has the look.


THE NEW RUGER Gunsite Scout rifle is chambered for the 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington round. Here the new rifle is shown with Burris Scout scope and sling, ready to take afield for a lot of fun.

A more “shootable” rifle is difficult to imagine. This is the ultimate “walk-around” smallbore centerfire rifle. It carries, points and swings easily, quickly and smoothly.

The test rifle came with a 5.5-pound uber crisp trigger pull. That may be a bit heavy for a target rifle, but fits the likely uses for this model superbly. In the shooting, there was never a hint that trigger pull degraded bullet placement.

With a 2.75x Burris Scout scope mounted on the 6 1/2-inch Picatinny rail atop the barrel fore of the front receiver ring, I was able to shoot repeated groups of just under a half-inch at 50 yards and just shy of one-inch at 100 yards off the bench. That’s impressive delivered accuracy with a low power scope. Even with different loads featuring different bullet weights, a composite 100-yard group shot quickly remained within four inches.

The long Picatinny rail atop the barrel also serves as an effective base for other kinds of sights like red dots.


OUT OF THE box the new Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle in 5.56mm NATO has THE look.

The rifle comes standard with aperture rear sight, an “ear-protected” post front sight (located within the mechanism that includes a muzzle brake). Also, the receiver features Ruger’s proprietary integral scope mount (a pair of rings is included so a standard scope sight can be mounted when precision shooting is on the agenda).

With the rifle came a 10-round removable box magazine (same exterior dimensions as the magazine for the .308 Scout). However, the 5.56mm magazine has synthetic innards that result in an in-line arrangement.

THE AUTHOR SHOOTS the new Ruger 5.56mm Gunsite Scout rifle. The rig is handy to carry and to shoot. It points quickly and swings smoothly.

Also like its older, bigger caliber brother, the 5.56mm Scout features an eye-appealing gray/black laminated stock (checkered grip and forend with the Gunsite logo on the bottom of the pistol grip) and comes with extra spacers that can be placed between the stock and buttpad, altering the length of pull to fit the shooter – from 12.75 inches to 14.25 inches.

The rifle is chambered for the 5.56 mm NATO round, which means it also handles the .223 Remington cartridge. Six-groove rifling twist is one turn in eight inches (right-hand) in the 16.1-inch barrel, which means it stabilizes the heavier-for-caliber bullets that have become fashionable in recent times. Nominal weight is 7.10 pounds

Four variants are in the 5.56mm Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle lineup – right and left-hand matte black alloy steel models, as well as right and left-hand matte stainless steel models.

This is the kind of rifle that makes sense for shooters, ranging from beginners to seasoned veterans. Felt recoil is almost non-existent.

Truly, this is a fun gun that can take on serious assignments, if needed.

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

Fizz it
Whether it is a dove hunt or any other hot weather hunt, like some of the early bow seasons or the coastal season for deer, success often results in gooey, sticky, yucky hands. Face it, when one processes game, it is a red-handed affair - and with birds, add pesky little feathers to the mix.

There is a fast and easy way to clean up, whether the processing occurs in the field or back at the truck or camp. It’s carbonated water. Although plain soda water can work, I like using any kind of diet soda.


EXTRA HAND HELPS when cleaning hands after field processing game. Here, hunting buddy Matthew Hubbard-Rossiter manipulates the can while author, left, washes hands with diet soda.

Two reasons for this; First, it works just as well as plain soda water; and second, I like to take a swig when I open the can/bottle and then another to finish it off when the cleanup is done. Flavored diet soda tastes much better than plain old soda water.

Generally, a 12-ounce can is enough to clean both hands and knife. Yes, the diet soda also cleans the blade, and even gets down into the nooks and crannies of folding knives.

Although it is possible to manipulate the can/bottle and clean hands all by one’s self, it is much easier and quicker if a hunting partner can do the can/bottle handling, while the red-handed hunter uses both hands, simultaneously, to clean off the goo.

It doesn’t matter whether the blood, etc. is wet, sticky, semi-dry or even fully dry. The diet soda cuts right through, and gets the job done.

What is really nice, is that diet soda does a fantastic job of getting the goo/dried blood out from under and around fingernails – much better and a whole lot quicker than plain water or even soapy water.


WASHING KNIFE ALSO works well with diet soda. The bubbly stuff gets down into all of the nooks and crannies, even on folders.

A note is in order here. It is not such a good idea to use regular sugared soda. The bubbles will help cut through the blood and goo, but the sugar in the soda leaves the hands/knife sticky. Yuk.

It takes a lot more plain water to accomplish the task – enough that, rarely, does a hunter in hot environs carry enough to both drink and clean. The nice part about the diet soda is that it can fit easily into the daypack or fanny pack – or even cargo pocket on pants – and doesn’t weigh a bunch. There is no need for it to be cold. In fact, hot seems to allow it to work even faster.

Another thing to note: When in the field, where keeping sodas cold is not really practical, hot diet soda also cuts through the dry throat/cotton mouth really effectively, even if used only to gargle or wash out the mouth.

It is amazing how handy a simple can/bottle of diet soda can be on a hunt, which brings up another thought. Keep a candy bar handy for a quick pick-me-up after a successful hunt and hand/knife cleaning. No real need to do so, just tastes good. And why not? Works for me.

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

Stylin’ rig
I suppose it falls primarily into a category called a line extension. I’m talking about a pleasing look for a winning rifle combination.

Savage™ Arms has introduced the new model 11 Trophy Hunter XP Youth Muddy Girl® scoped-rifle package. The Muddy Girl camo pattern has become quite popular, and I can understand why. It looks nice in a camo sort of way.


SAVAGE MUDDY GIRL Model 11 Youth Rifle adds a new look to a combo rig.

The combo features a factory-mounted and bore-sighted Nikon BDC 3-9x40mm scope on a model 11 rifle with a button-rifled barrel, detachable magazine and the famed AccuTrigger™. Its stock is dipped in Muddy Girl camouflage.

“The Nikon BDC 3-9x40mm scope with a specialized reticle that can be tailored to specific loads using included software,” Savage reported. “The system lets hunters hold dead-on at long range while maintaining an effective sight picture at shorter distances. The rifle is offered in four calibers to give young shooters options to pursue everything from varmints to big game.

“To enhance comfort and fit, Savage minimized overall weight and redesigned the stock of the standard 11 Trophy Hunter around the dimensions of smaller-framed shooters,” the company continued.

The rig features the Savage 110 action, floating bolt head, and thread-in, zero-tolerance headspace system. The rifle also features a button-rifled barrel, detachable box magazine and user-adjustable AccuTrigger™.

The right-handed rifle weighs 7 pounds and holds four rounds. It has barrel length of 20 inches with an overall length of 39.5 inches. Rate-of-twist ranges from 1-in-9 inches to 1-in-10 inches, depending on caliber.

Chamberings available are .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington and .308 Winchester. MSRP is $660.

I have been shooting the Plain Jane version of this rig for some time and can report that it not only is everything Savage says it is, but it also is one heck of a lot of fun to use.

Initially I bought the rig to help me introduce some grand nephews and niece to deer hunting. My rig is chambered for .308 Winchester and it delivers sub-inch groups at 100 yards when the shooter pays attention.

But the fun factor begins where the normal accuracy and function leave off. This is a serious hunting rifle. It carries superbly, swings and points instinctively and is light enough to carry either all day in the field or up and down, in and out of tree stands and the like.

The young folks have enjoyed shooting the rifle and have noted no objections to the .308’s soft recoil. That’s nice.

Over time, however, I think that I probably am having more fun with this rifle than they are, only because its balance and handling qualities are simply outstanding.

What about the short stock? Oddly, I find that I shoot it well and haven’t suffered scope-bite in the process. When shooting from some field positions, the shorter stock is actually handier.

Savage also offers the 11 Trophy Hunter XP Youth scoped-rifle package with a black synthetic stock and matte black barrel in right- and left-hand versions. Learn more at

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

Over the years, and at increasing frequency, I see folks experiencing the problems created when stuff is attached to rails on firearms. We’re talking about things becoming loose in ways that interfere with proper function, all the way to physically falling off.

Pivotal in the concept of modern firearms is the Picatinny rail. This attachment mechanism s also known as the MIL-STD-1913 rail, STANAG 2324 rail or tactical rail. Essentially it is a base with regularly spaced cross-slots that is attached or integral to the arm itself.

ROBUST CONNECTIONS ARE critical if gear attached to modern arms is to remain tightly in-place over time. Leupold’s Mark 4 rings are made to fit properly into the Picatinny rail and are robust enough to handle extended use without loosening or failing.

As much as the modular options offered by the rail is part and parcel of what makes a modern firearm versatile, anytime you add something to a gun, you take something away. In the case of rails and the things attached to them, what is taken away is solidity.

This risk factor is magnified when there is more than one level of attachment. For example, if a sight, light or other gadget attaches directly to the rail, that is one level. But if there has to some kind of attachment added to the bolt-on device in order for it to be attached to the rail, that is another level.

The first order of business is to make connections as direct as possible. Next is to attach the unit properly. It may sound strange, but I have seen instances where the attachment itself is not squared with the rail. Not only does this make effective use of the unit virtually impossible, but also it virtually guarantees that the unit will work itself loose.

TWO CROSS BOLTS are better than one for most connections to rails on arms. Here is a Yankee Hill Machine bipod adapter in-pace. This unit also is used on conjunction with Harris bipods, so to be tight and right.

Sometimes the unit doesn’t fit tightly into the rail – like there is a tiny amount of forward or rearward movement possible. After squaring the attachment, anchor it forward or rearward before final tightening. Then actually use it. In use, the unit will begin to loosen if all is not exactly right. When that happens, tighten it again and use it more. If all is well, the unit will settle in within one or two tightenings.

The heavier a unit is, the more stress there is on the connection during use. If anything attached is heavy, make certain the attachments are robust. Otherwise, the stresses on small parts can defeat the connection.

With the exception of the really small, light red dot kinds of sights, it is usually mandatory that there be at least two cross bolts through the rail if the unit is to be able to remain tightly in-place over time.

Bottom line is that truly tactical/practical gear needs to be robust enough to hold up under constant use and it needs to be assembled properly and solidly.

If there is any one point in the connecting mechanism where everything depends on one small connector or a flimsy system, there is little hope that everything will remain tightly in-place over time.

When in doubt, use robust gear and make certain it is attached properly and tightly. Regardless the system, check it routinely to make certain it is still tight.

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

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