CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

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. 
Lever guns
I don’t know what it is about lever-action rifles, but they are just fun. Logic suggests that they should have died-off many decades ago as other designs evolved. But they remain on the market and continue to be used in the field; on the range and about any other places guns occur.
The thought came up as I was poring over advertisements in WON. Among other things, I am an ad junkie.

I saw the Marlin 1895G in .45/70 advertised and it triggered fond memories. I used that model/cartridge combination in Alaska on a successful bear hunt. It was fun.

leveractionrifles
LEVER-ACTION RIFLES are a lot of fun. Here are three handy examples: Winchester Model 1894 in .30/30 (top), Marlin 336XLR (center) and Marlin Model 1893.

Truth is that I use the .30/30 lever-action rifle these days more than any other chambering in lever guns when I use them. Depending on the situation, I might be carrying an old Winchester Model 1894 carbine with open barrel sights or the much more modern (but also much heavier) Marlin 336XLR with telescopic sight. Sometimes I opt for a Savage 99 in .30/30. They all do what I want them to do.

Traditionally, such rifles were pretty well limited to about 100 yards or so for most hunting (both because of their accuracy level and the terminal performance of the bullets from that cartridge). Hornady has expanded that effective distance by quite a bit via their LEVERevolution ammo.
Although I use the lever guns less frequently now than I did a half-century ago, I find myself shooting them enough to make them a viable factor.
I went through the long-range phase, like a lot of hunters, and still do a bit of it from time to time. However, the older I get, the more I find myself focusing on other things while hunting.

For example, I am re-learning the joys of carrying a handy rifle on hunts (not a heavy, long-barreled tack-driver). Most of my shots these days are closer to 100 yards than 500, and it seems like a well placed, lower velocity bullet from a handy rig seems to bag the animals just as well as a really high velocity screamer.

handyriflescome
HANDY RIFLES COME in chamberings for cartridges like the .308 Winchester (left) and .30/30 Winchester. Respectively, these cartridges are designated 7.62x51 and 7.62x51R, even though there is a significant difference in their performance.

In fact, without deliberately doing so, I have taken most deer size animals in recent years with two cartridges that have very similar designations: 7.62x51 and 7.62x51R. Respectively, those are the .308 Winchester and .30/30 Winchester (nee .30 Winchester Center Fire – WCF).

So, I asked myself: Why is that? The answer seems to be that the rifles that shoot those cartridges can be absolutely handy to carry, point and swing well and don’t jar the fillings out of the few real teeth I have left.
Certainly, when the situation dictates, I use rifles other than lever-actions. Sometimes they are bolt-actions, other times semi-autos of the AR persuasion. And sometimes I hunt with cartridges that are chambered only for bolt-actions, single-shots or doubles.

But in the midst of all of that, it is no secret why lever-action rifles continue to survive in the marketplace. They are fun to shoot and they get the job done.

* * *

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 scomus@cox.net.



What about revolvers?
Hunting revolvers can do double duty as defensive tools, if necessary. They also make great informal plinking arms.

Much of the discussion in Gundom these days focuses on semi-auto handguns, and that is fine. They are fun and work fine. But that also does not mean that revolvers should not be considered in a number of ways.

Semi-autos are prime subjects for everything from practical shooting matches to self-defense. Nothing wrong with that, but what about the hunter who doesn’t shoot in matches, doesn’t carry concealed in everyday life and doesn’t keep a firearm loaded and literally at-hand around the house, but who might want the peace of mind of having a handgun handy when not in the field?

huntingrevolverswork
HUNTING REVOLVERS WORK great in many roles, ranging from plinking to serious self-defense. Here are two types of serious hunting revolvers: Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 Magnum (top) and Ruger Blackhawk single-action in .45 Colt. Author has used the S&W as a mainline hog-hunting arm, and the Ruger has served well for coups de grace shots on wounded hogs.

Most semi-autos are marginal, at best, when it comes to hunting. Yet there are many revolver models that serve superbly as either mainline hunting instruments, or as backup/coups de grace units in the field.

Yet any revolver that is credible for hunting also CAN be used effectively in a defensive role if needed. In fact, for those who are not thoroughly practiced, revolvers make more sense in high stress situations because they require fewer mechanical motions to use.

This is significant when one considers that most folks do not practice at least weekly with handguns. To be really credible with them in tactical/defense situations, a person really does need to practice both seriously and frequently.

It also is true that practice is recommended for hunting handguns, as well. But a handgun can be used credibly in hunting scenarios that do not require really adept, fluid and fast gun handling. Again, this is an activity that can be engaged in without constant practice.

Hunting revolvers fall into two general categories: rimfire and centerfire. The rimfires are fine for small game like rabbits, but that’s about it. And, rimfire revolvers can be pressed into defensive service if needed.

Most hunting revolvers are centerfire, and I’ll suggest that they start with chamberings of .38 Special/.357 Magnum and go to .500 S&W. Among the revolver chamberings, probably the best for most folks are the .357 Mag, .41 Mag or .44 Mag. The .454 Casull is a fine cartridge, as is the .460 S&W (both of which will shoot the more sedate .45 Colt cartridge).

Any of those rigs will take care of defensive scenarios around the house, etc. in a real pinch. Yet they justify their existence as hunting instruments.

It would be great to believe that all hunters also were serious about frequent practice. If so, then some other forms of handguns easily could make a lot of sense.
But that’s just not the case. Which means that the handgun a hunter uses in the field is not a bad idea for other applications.

And for those who want to be serious handgun hunters, the overall answer is really simple: that person will be able to handle the handgun fluidly and hit the target every time at normal distances.

* * *

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 scomus@cox.net.

Ruger Revolution
Ruger American Revolution

    Getting set up for big game hunting never has been easier (or more affordable) than right now. Gun companies have offered “package” deals that include rifle, scope and mounts for decades. The latest such combo from Sturm, Ruger & Co. is what can be called the American Revolution, because it combines Ruger’s American rifle with Redfield’s Revolution scope.

American Revolution Ruger

AMERICAN REVOLUTION RIG in action. Over the course of several days, hundreds of rounds went downrange where targets were hit repeatedly and predictably.


    Just how quick and easy it really is to go from factory box to effective shooting out to 400 yards became apparent on a recent trip to the Gunsite Academy near Paulden in northern Arizona where we shot Hornady’s 168-grain A-Max load in .308 Winchester through the rifles at distances ranging from close to 400 yards, with repeated and predictable hits the norm.


HUNT READY RIG included the Ruger American rifle, Redfield Revolution scope, Hornady ammo, bipod and sling. (The masking tape on the side of the stock is there to make it easier to remember which of the several rigs I was using.)

    That’s pretty good to be able to take a basic hunting rifle rig out of the box, sight it in and then proceed to make virtually any kind of hunting shot imaginable without further fiddling or tweaking. The trigger on that model is adjustable for weight of pull, but I didn’t need to tweak the one on the rifle I was shooting – it worked fine, right from the box.

    The Ruger American rifle is that company’s most basic bolt-action rig with synthetic stock and removable box magazine. It is one of what I have come to call the MHR – Modern Hunting Rifle in that it is a bolt-action counterpart to the AR-type Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR).

    Redfield’s Revolution telescopic sight also packs a lot of performance into a most affordable package. It is made here in the USA, and the scopes we used tracked well when adjusted and were easy to use from various angles, due to their most ample 3.5 inches of eye relief. Very nice.

    Ammo, of course, worked great. Hornady Manufacturing has that whole thing worked out very well. Bottom line, rifle rigs delivered slightly sub MOA to even a bit better from field bipod rests – that’s really good.

    The American package rigs are offered in .22-250 Rem., .223 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Spr. And .308 Win. Barrel length is 22 inches and weight, depending on caliber, ranges from 7.0 to 7.25 pounds.

    The Redfield Revolution scope, which comes mounted in Leupold Rifleman rings, is 3-9x40 (actual magnification 3.3-8.5) with 4-plex reticle. It features 1-inch tube and Accu-Trac ? MOA finger click adjustments.

    Over several days, I fired several hundred rounds through the rig and had no trouble hitting targets from all normal hunting positions, including bipod rest, BOG-POD tripods, kneeling and standing offhand.

    One thing is certain: this package rifle/scope combo is a serious rig, ready for hard hunting in any climate. That’s really nice. MSRP for the blue steel combo rigs is $679 (blue steel rifle alone is $449 and stainless is $529). MSRP for the 3-9x40 Revolution scope is $199.

    In recent years I have been shooting and hunting frequently with the .308 Winchester cartridge. No particular effort to do so. Just worked out that way.
    
Ruger American Rifle

RUGER AMERICAN RIFLE with Redfield Revolution 3-9x40 scope is a really effective package deal.




Ruger American Revolution

    Getting set up for big game hunting never has been easier (or more affordable) than right now. Gun companies have offered “package” deals that include rifle, scope and mounts for decades. The latest such combo from Sturm, Ruger & Co. is what can be called the American Revolution, because it combines Ruger’s American rifle with Redfield’s Revolution scope.
    Just how quick and easy it really is to go from factory box to effective shooting out to 400 yards became apparent on a recent trip to the Gunsite Academy near Paulden in northern Arizona where we shot Hornady’s 168-grain A-Max load in .308 Winchester through the rifles at distances ranging from close to 400 yards, with repeated and predictable hits the norm.
    That’s pretty good to be able to take a basic hunting rifle rig out of the box, sight it in and then proceed to make virtually any kind of hunting shot imaginable without further fiddling or tweaking. The trigger on that model is adjustable for weight of pull, but I didn’t need to tweak the one on the rifle I was shooting – it worked fine, right from the box.
    The Ruger American rifle is that company’s most basic bolt-action rig with synthetic stock and removable box magazine. It is one of what I have come to call the MHR – Modern Hunting Rifle in that it is a bolt-action counterpart to the AR-type Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR).
    Redfield’s Revolution telescopic sight also packs a lot of performance into a most affordable package. It is made here in the USA, and the scopes we used tracked well when adjusted and were easy to use from various angles, due to their most ample 3.5 inches of eye relief. Very nice.
    Ammo, of course, worked great. Hornady Manufacturing has that whole thing worked out very well. Bottom line, rifle rigs delivered slightly sub MOA to even a bit better from field bipod rests – that’s really good.
    The American package rigs are offered in .22-250 Rem., .223 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Spr. And .308 Win. Barrel length is 22 inches and weight, depending on caliber, ranges from 7.0 to 7.25 pounds.
    The Redfield Revolution scope, which comes mounted in Leupold Rifleman rings, is 3-9x40 (actual magnification 3.3-8.5) with 4-plex reticle. It features 1-inch tube and Accu-Trac ? MOA finger click adjustments.
    Over several days, I fired several hundred rounds through the rig and had no trouble hitting targets from all normal hunting positions, including bipod rest, BOG-POD tripods, kneeling and standing offhand.
    One thing is certain: this package rifle/scope combo is a serious rig, ready for hard hunting in any climate. That’s really nice. MSRP for the blue steel combo rigs is $679 (blue steel rifle alone is $449 and stainless is $529). MSRP for the 3-9x40 Revolution scope is $199.
    In recent years I have been shooting and hunting frequently with the .308 Winchester cartridge. No particular effort to do so. Just worked out that way.
   
Caption info

RUGER AMERICAN RIFLE with Redfield Revolution 3-9x40 scope is a really effective package deal.

HUNT READY RIG included the Ruger American rifle, Redfield Revolution scope, Hornady ammo, bipod and sling. (The masking tape on the side of the stock is there to make it easier to remember which of the several rigs I was using.)

AMERICAN REVOLUTION RIG in action. Over the course of several days, hundreds of rounds went downrange where targets were hit repeatedly and predictably.
   

More urban camo
Why tell the bad guys that you have a gun? Why carry a gun in a container that telegraphs its presence to anyone within sight? It’s time for Deceit and Discreet – a line of handgun cases that doesn’t make a shooter’s business something of interest to others.

As society evolves, it becomes handier and handier to use various forms of urban camo to disguise the legal presence of firearms so that those who might become unjustifiably confused can continue in their blissful ignorance. It also doesn’t hurt to keep the presence of firearms off the radar screens of criminals in the vicinity, if for no other reason than why invite their focus and tempt them to do something they shouldn’t?

g-outdoors pistol
G-OUTDOORS PISTOL case looks like something that contains jumper cables for a car or truck.

Anymore, it doesn’t hurt to disguise from the Lookie-Loo world the presence of firearms, both when they are being stored and when they are being transported. In other words, no need to advertise their presence.
Patrick Gee at G-Outdoors in Chino, CA has taken this theme to new levels with several handgun carrying cases in the Deceit and Discreet line that range from tissue boxes to first aid kits and roadway hazard marker containers to jumper cable containers and day planners. All are in the G.P.S. offerings of hunting, shooting and tactical gear.

These units tend to be innocuous to the casual observer (even when they are made of bright-colored material), yet they are great ways to keep handguns handy.

The jumper cable unit shown here holds one medium frame pistol (Glock Model 34 to be precise in this instance) plus two magazines. That’s a whole lot of bang in a case that indicates it holds jumper cables for motor vehicles.

jumpercablecsase
JUMPER CABLE CASE actually holds a pistol and two extra magazines.

“These cases were built for Deception and to be Discreet with the way the handguns are stored to always be close to you if you are at home, the office or in a vehicle,” the company reports. “All of these new Deceit and Discreet handgun cases come with a lockable zipper for legal transport.”

A nice feature is that the bottom of the jumper cable unit is made from a hook type fabric that keeps it from sliding around the trunk of a car or on any other such surface. Whether it is this unit or something else in the G.P.S. line, one thing is certain: There has been a lot of thought put into its design and the result is something that is made well and works great.

G-Outdoors offers a really wide range of cases, packs and other devices that truly help make the storage, transport and use of firearms both handier and easier. It is one of the more inventive companies of its kind in the industry. And, it is located in California.

All of these carrying/storage cases also hold the handgun and magazines in-place, which keeps them from bumping into each other on the inside, and the case itself helps protect the handgun and magazines from dings and scrapes from the outside.

* * *

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 scomus@cox.net.

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