Mercury Outboards


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. 
Tips on connecting with those Twisting, turning fast-flying doves
Want some tips about how to increase your hit percentage on doves? Here are some thoughts on how to do it.

As the dove opener approaches, I find myself thinking a lot about shots at those fast-flying speedsters. Mostly, I remember shots I missed last year and envision how not to miss those same presentations this year.

ERIC SPARKS FREEZES in-place as he waits for an approaching dove to get within distance. He was exposed after picking up a pair of downed doves, but because he didn’t move, he was able to put the side-by-side into action on an incomer and bag it, as well.

I shoot behind a dove here and there. When I miss it is usually because I was off-line or out in front. Most folks seem to miss behind, so the standard advice if someone misses is to tell them to increase their lead, their gun speed, or both.

There are two kinds of shots that I tend to miss more than any others. One is when I see a dove coming from a long, long way off, and the other is when I am surprised by one I didn’t see until it was literally on top of me, or even just past me.

The problem I have when I see one coming from a long way is that I rarely wait long enough. I get excited and shoot when the bird is not really in range. Since doves can change direction on a dime, all that does is to give the bird a chance to flare one direction or the other and fly away unscathed.

This year I have vowed to myself that I will let those birds get close enough that I can see individual feathers before I shoot. We’ll see how that works, if I can lay off the trigger long enough.

For those surprise shots, I usually shoot under and/or behind the bird. Again, success is a result of discipline. By waiting just a fraction of a second before popping a cap, I have a chance to get the gun in synch with the bird. So, I’ll try to hold off just an instant, because in the past when I have done that instinctively, the bird drops.

For those who find themselves hunting in an area where there are quite a few other hunters, when you hear shots in the distance, freeze in place and scour the sky in the general direction from which the sound of the shot came.

Remember that it takes a dove a little while to cover significant distance, so if the shot you hear is not right next door, you have time to get ready, assuming the dove continues to come your direction. Granted, they don’t always keep coming, but they do often enough to make it worthwhile to wait – like a statue.

The reason you want no movement until the bird is in range is that it already has been shot at, so it is alerted and will flare at the slightest hint of a problem. If you don’t move and if the bird continues your way, it is likely to fly right into the kill zone. Once the bird is in range, move, mount and shoot the gun. Bird down. Success.

* * *

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

Savage™ introduces rifles in .338 Federal
.338, looking great!

The .338 Federal cartridge is one of those rounds that, by all rights, should be much more popular than it is. With luck, Savage is making a move that just might work in that regard and help put this top performer front and center.

SAVAGE MODEL 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal is a down-to-basics serious rifle for taking on wild hogs and a whole lot more.

“Savage Arms™ has announced six .338 Federal models available in its most popular big game rifle platforms,” the company reported. “The new products chambered in this caliber include the 11 Long Range Hunter, 11 Hog Hunter, 16 FCSS, 16 Bear Hunter, 11 Trophy Hunter XP and 16 Trophy Hunter XP.”

Since its introduction in 2006, the .338 Federal caliber has established itself as an extremely versatile, high-performance big game cartridge. Built on the .308 case and “necked-up” to hold a .338 diameter bullet, this load offers hunters a faster muzzle velocity than the .308 Win., but with a heavier bullet. As a result, the short-action cartridge provides magnum energy for devastating performance on game, without magnum recoil.

For those who doubt the effectiveness of this cartridge on bigger game, old hunting partner Jack Mitchell used it to bag a record book quality grizzly bear in Alaska a few years back. At less than 50 paces, the big boar bear stood on its hind legs and checked the air while Mitchell put the crosshairs on its chest. One shot and the big bear was down. A second “insurance” shot sealed the deal.

That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to tackling big bears.

SAVAGE .338 FEDERAL rifles are ready for the hunt, regardless where that might be or what the weather conditions are.

What it amounts to is that when a bullet delivers a lot of punch and makes a good size hole, success happens. This cartridge also is a logical choice for wild hog hunting.

It should be interesting to see how all of the new Savage models sell – six is a goodly number to offer, all at the same time.

One thing is certain: the .338 Federal cartridge will do the job if the hunter does his or her job in putting the bullet where it needs to go.

Following are some of the features, benefits and rifle models involved:

Features & Benefits

— Short-action .338 Federal chambering.

— Higher muzzle velocity than the .308 Win. with a .338 diameter bullet.

— Devastating terminal performance with less felt recoil than typical magnum calibers.

Part No. Description MSRP

22450 11 Long Range Hunter, .338 Federal, $1,104

22455 11 Hog Hunter, .338 Federal, $560

22453 16 FCSS, 338 Federal, $885

22454 16 Bear Hunter, .338 Federal, $1,035

22451 11 Trophy Hunter XP, .338 Federal, $612

22452 16 Trophy Hunter XP, .338 Federal $740

What’s nice about the Savage lineup is that there are rifles available in .338 Federal for just about any budget. For me, the Hog Hunter sounds just right. It’s time to blast away.

Savage Arms™ is a brand of Vista Outdoor Inc., an outdoor sports and recreation company. To learn more about Savage Arms, visit

* * *

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

THE .338 FEDERAL cartridge is a high-performance, short action proposition that delivers a lot of punch in a small package.

Serious hunt gear
G2 Contender re-introduced by T/C Arms

The Thompson/Center Contender was modular before the AR ever was. Now T/C is reintroducing its G2 Contender – a really fun gun, whether in rifle or pistol format.

THOMPSON/CENTER G2 Contender, whether in rifle or pistol form, is both handy and fun while being serious hunting and shooting equipment. This single-shot system allows quick and easy barrel changes for a wide variety of chamberings.

As much as versatility of interchangeable barrels/calibers and fun are integral factors of the G2 Contender, the fact is that this is some really serious hunting gear, as well. In all of the factory and custom chamberings offered over the decades, these guns have taken virtually every game animal on the face of the earth. It’s nice to see some updated attention being paid to this iconic brand.

“Chambered in .30-30 Win. (Complete Rifle System) as well as .22LR and .357 Magnum (Complete Pistol Systems), the new T/C G2 Contender rifle and pistol come complete with barrel, stock and forend,” T/C reported. “As needs arise, hunters and shooters can customize their G2 Contender complete rifles with barrels in blued or stainless and in seven different calibers ranging from 17 HMR to .30-30 Win. An additional 11 different calibers from .17 HMR are available as an accessory barrel to compliment the G2 Contender complete pistol.”

"The versatility of the G2 Contender has always been at the heart of its popularity and we have definitely preserved that for hunters and shooters who depend on these rifle and pistol platforms in a host of different hunting situations," said Thompson/Center Brand Manager Danielle Sanville. "But what the G2 Contender complete rifle and complete pistol systems do is make it easier for hunters and shooters who prefer something chambered in a proven, all-around caliber that is ready to go right out of the box while also having the option of further customization down the road."

The components of the T/C G2 Contender Complete Rifle and Complete Pistol maintain their compatibility with previous G2 Contender models. The G2 Contender frame will accept all Contender barrels and their corresponding forends (except the Herrett forend). Blued and stainless barrels are also interchangeable.

There is something special about shooting and hunting with good single-shots. Nothing wrong with repeaters, but there is still something inviting about knowing that when the trigger is squeezed, there is but one shot – time to make it count.

Another nice thing about Contender rifles is that, with the standard weight barrels, they are both compact and light. That means they are easy to handle, a breeze to carry and can be used effectively by a wide range of shooters/hunters, including smaller/younger folks.

T/C G2 Contender Complete Rifle Specifications

— Caliber: .30-30 Win.

— Barrel Length: 23 inches

— Overall Length: 36.75 inches

— Weight: 5.5 lbs.

— Sights: None

— Length of Pull: 14 inches

— Rate of Twist: 1:10

— Finish/Stock: Blued/Walnut

T/C G2 Contender Complete Pistol Specifications

— Calibers: .22LR and .357 Magnum

— Barrel Length: 12 inches

— Overall Length: 15.5 inches

— Weight: 3.5 lbs.

— Sights: Adjustable

— Rate of Twist: 1:15 (.22LR), 1:14 (.357 Magnum)

— Finish/Stock: Blued/Walnut

For more information on the Thompson/Center G2 Contender or to locate the nearest Thompson/Center authorized dealer, call (800) 331-0852 or go online to

*  * *

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

Non-tox for turkeys
Turkey hunting: keep it simple, if all you want is to bag a wild turkey.

When injecting non-toxic shot into the equation, everything remains straightforward if the distance from hunter to turkey is no more than 35 yards or so. Beyond that distance, everything gets incredibly more complex as the distance increases. 

WATERFOWL STEEL SHOT loads can work fine for turkeys, like Federal’s Black Cloud line. Here is a box of 3-inch 12-gauge with 1 ¼-ounce of #4 shot.

For non-toxic ammo, there are two major groupings: plain steel shot and all the others – the others including shot compositions that range from heavier than lead to 80 or 90 percent of the density of lead.

When it comes to plain steel shot, just about any waterfowling load that features shot sizes #3 through #6 with payloads of 1-1/8 to 1½-ounce can work on turkeys when shot through a gun with a standard modified choke, assuming the distance of the shot is 35 yards or less. Truth is that 20 yards is pretty much held as the idyllic distance for turkeys.

Virtually all turkey-specific loads on the market can work fine – lead or not.

Since the idea in turkey shooting is to put multiple pellets in the head/neck area, the denser the pattern, the better. Hence, a heavy payload of smaller shot at those distances is preferred. There are advantages to using 3 and 3½-inch shells.

For hunters using Bismuth shot, simply opt for a load with 1¼ ounce or more of #6 to #4 shot at 1,200 feet per second or more and shoot it through a traditional full choke for success.

The various loads that feature some form of tungsten shot CAN offer more range and tend to be the choices of truly dedicated hunters who do their homework, pattern loads through specific gun/choke combinations and practice their field shooting skills year-round. Loads with 1¼ to 2-ounces of tungsten-based shot at 1,200 to 1,400 feet per second can work fine.

When shooting really heavy-duty rhino-roller loads from a sitting position, there can be some tooth rattling when the gun goes off. Bloody noses and fat lips can be an adjunct to a successful turkey hunt. I prefer the lighter loads – more fun, less pain.

Regardless the gun/load, it is extremely important to pattern that combination to see whether the pattern is dense enough to hit the head/neck area consistently and to determine that the gun is shooting where the hunter is looking.

Could be that a choke slightly tighter is better, maybe not. Could be that one shot size up or down is better, or not. The only way to know for certain is to shoot several shots of any load being considered and see what the holes in paper indicate.

If 35 yards is to be the long shot, then pattern at 35 yards (closer shots will have denser patterns, so no need to worry about them if the 35-yard target shows a winning combination).

By doing that, when a big Tom does come to the call, wait until he is inside your effective range before taking the shot. That is, if all you really want to do is bag a wild turkey.

Benelli 828U Over/Under
Every once in a while, a gun is introduced that cries out for discussion. The new Benelli 828U over/under game gun is one.

Just the outward look of the gun suggests that it is something different. Its designer lines are not traditional. The barrel/receiver lockup system allows for use of an ultra-light receiver, which is very nice for a gun that is intended to be carried in the field all day.


BENELLI 828U NICKEL is a distinctive shotgun, designed for high performance in the field. This is a thoroughbred hunting shotgun.

“For the double-gun purist, Benelli’s newest offering delivers the mandatory point-ability, custom comb and drop adjustments and the kind of ergonomic feel and balance inherent to all fine shotguns,” Benelli reported. “The 828U is at once both contemporary and beautifully practical, from the smooth body and exquisite checkering to the wide, low-profile rib bridge, no side rib and monoblock treatment.”

The 828U features floating crio barrels and crio chokes, weight-reducing carbon fiber rib and high-grade alloy receiver, complimented by walnut stock, and forearm.

Durable steel-on-steel hinges, removable guard and easy-to-remove trigger system make for easy cleanup when the hunt is done.

The 828U comes in nickel-engraved and black anodized models and both sport interchangeable 26-inch or 28-inch barrels.

Drop and cast fine regulation means the gun can be tuned to 40 unique, personal settings in order to get that perfect fit and sight picture. The recoil-taming Progressive Comfort System is integrated into the 828U and helps keep muzzle flip to a minimum.


WHEN BROKEN OPEN, the Benelli 828U shows that fast reloading is easy, and that there is plenty of clearance for the gun to spit out empties when speed is required in hunting situations.

“From the first prototype to the final design, the 828U started and finished as a hunter’s shotgun—the style, weight and comfort which field and sport shooters appreciate is apparent the first time you pick one up,” said Tom Kaleta, VP of Marketing for Benelli USA.

The nickel-engraved version comes in at $2,999 retail, and the black-anodized model at $2,499 retail. The 828U will be available at Benelli authorized dealers in the summer of 2015.


12 Gauge

Barrel Length: 26" and 28"

Weight: 6.5 and 6.6 lbs.

Finish: AA-Grade satin walnut with anodized or nickel-plated receiver

Crio® Chokes: C, IC, M, IM, F

Sights: Fiber-optic front sight with red insert

Length-of-Pull: 14-3/8"

Drop at Heel: 2-1/8"

Drop at Comb: 1-1/2"

MSRP: $2,499 or $2,999 depending on receiver finish.

For information visit

Throughout history, companies have come out with designs that challenge the traditional parameters of visual perspective. Sometimes they are embraced by the marketplace, sometimes not.

Or, sometimes they create a kind of “cult” following, as has been the experience of Browning’s Cynergy over/under.

Certainly the price point of Benelli’s new model is squarely in the wheelhouse. The challenge for the company will be to get hunters to actually put their mitts on the new gun.

Aesthetics aside, there is no question that this gun handles extremely well and, given the company’s track record, I don’t doubt that they will work fine (haven’t had an opportunity to put one through the paces).

I predict that the 828U will do just fine. There is always room for another good gun.

* * *

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

Page 1 of 31 First | Previous | Next | Last