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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. 
What’s goin’ down in ‘Gundome’
Right now is the period of time between the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) show and the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) show. That means we’ll be bombarded with new product announcements for the next couple of months.

So far, it looks like the coming year will see a number of product line extensions, as well as some new stuff – at least some of which will not be available in all states.

comushodgdonaddsHODGDON ADDS IMR 4955 to its Enduron® series of gunpowder.

For openers, Hodgdon has announced that IMR 4955 gunpowder, which has a burn rate between IMR 4451 and IMR 7977, has been added to its Enduron® series. It should work well in cartridges like the .270 Winchester, .25-06 Remington and .300 Winchester Magnum. This powder is temperature insensitive and helps remove copper fouling as the rifle is fired. It will be available early in 2016.

In addition to the usual number of handgun and AR rifle sub-model introductions and line extensions, the suppressor market continues to be hot for the overall industry, even though suppressors are not legal in all states.

To give an idea about how widespread the suppressor market has become in most of the country, the Hearing Protection Act, introduced this fall by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), would remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act. Suppressors were first tightly controlled by the federal government in 1934.Currently suppressors are legal in 41 states, and it is legal to hunt with suppressors in 37 of those states.

On another front, there is a chance that some of the gun-related discussion around the country in the near future will no longer focus solely on high capacity magazines. That’s because belt-fed is coming into vogue. ARES Defense Systems is offering a belt-fed AR upper called the MCR (Mission Configurable Rifle) Lite (8.5 pounds).

And FN is offering the M249S, a civilian semi-automatic version of the M249 SAW light machinegun adopted by the U.S. military in 1988. It can use a box magazine or linked ammo belt.

Normally I wouldn’t delve deeply into products that are not available locally for many folks, but I thought I would mention some the new items above, just to show what direction the overall shooting sports industry is going.

It seems as though the more anti-gun interests push in one direction to limit guns, the gun folks are pushing back in efforts to expand the number and types of guns available.

And when it comes to guns and gear that will be generally available everywhere, from what I have seen, new products for 2016 include a lot of models and designs that will help make shooting more fun and more enjoyable.

One thing is certain: high-tech materials and manufacturing processes have made more products, that are better made, available to more people at affordable prices than ever before.

There seems to be no doubt that 2016 should be an exciting year for both the gun industry and the shooters/hunters it serves. For me, that’s good news.

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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

Fall is fun
It’s that “upland” time of year for scattergunners

If this is October, it is time to go upland hunting for birds, bunnies and assorted other things. There is something special about upland hunting in general and upland bird hunting in particular. Doesn’t matter to me if it is for quail, partridge or pheasant. Taking long walks in wild places is both exhilarating and calming at the same time.

I’ve gone just about full-circle when it comes to what an upland outing means. At first, it was about food. Literally, I hunted upland game and every other kind of game available for food, and mostly for food only. In those days, I could walk to the areas where I hunted, and if I scored, the family had meat with the potatoes. If I didn’t score, we had potatoes. Great motivator for scoring.

THE AUTHOR SHOWS a brace of rooster pheasants. Pheasant hunting is one of the most enjoyable upland hunts available.

Then as a young man, limits had meaning. The success of an outing was measured mentally by whether a limit was taken.

Now, I judge success differently. Now, I first celebrate just being able to be in the wild and add to the success rating if I happen to be able to flush a bird or two. If I bag one or so, all the better. And, I tend to have a pretty good hit percentage.

Although I truly enjoy hunting behind good bird dogs, I rarely have that luxury these days. My lifestyle doesn’t allow for keeping a dog of my own properly, and it seems difficult to match schedules with others who do. So I end up going afield with shotgun in hand, walking slowly and paying attention to my surroundings. On a good day, I kick up an average of a bird a mile.

Yet one of the most enjoyable quail outings I have ever been on resulted in a single bird from almost 20 miles of meandering. It tasted great, but it did require a larger portion of rice to be filling.

Pheasant hunting for me is the quintessential upland experience. I don’t know how to explain it, but when a big rooster pheasant breaks from cover, all is right with the world. Late season birds are best of all.

In the early years, I used a 12-gauge shotgun for most bird hunting — upland and waterfowl. I still use a 12 for waterfowl and late season pheasants, but not so much for most upland hunting any more. Now, the gun usually is a 20- or 28-gauge for pheasants and partridge, or .410 for quail. The reason for the smaller gauge guns is weight. I prefer to carry something lighter if I am going to be carrying it all day.

Whether the upland hunts this year will be in state or somewhere else around the land, the important thing is that there be upland hunts.

Every kind of hunting has its allure. Upland hunting sings out, both most loudly and sweetly for many of us. This is my 66th upland season and as the years go by, these hunts take on more and more meaning.

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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

Convert your Remington 700 to use detachable magazines
Want to convert your Remington Model 700 rifle to be able to use detachable magazines? The time never has been better than right now.

Legacy Sports International now offers detachable magazines and magazine kits to fit Remington® 700 rifles. Their short action kits fit .204, .223, .243, 7mm-08 and .308. Long action magazines and conversion kits for the Remington 700 long action rifles come in .25-06, .270, .30-06, 6.5 x 55, .300 Win. Mag., .338 Win. Mag. and 7mm Rem. Mag.

THE REMINGTON MAGAZINE kit includes everything needed to convert a Model 700 from the original internal magazine with hinged floor plate into a rifle that handles interchangeable magazines.

These conversion kits fit Remington’s BDL types of rifles that feature hinged floor plates.

“All kits and magazines are made of tough polymer construction and are priced well below many competitive products,” LSI reported. “In fact, they are offered at a fraction of the cost of other Remington 700 Mag kits. Short action and standard long action kits and magazines are available in 5 or 10 round capacities, while long action magnum calibers will be available in 5 round capacity, only. All of these kits are drop-in ready, and can be installed in minutes.”

Conversion kits are packaged in clamshells labeled specifically for Remington 700 barreled actions in short action and long action calibers, and all packaging has been designed for easy merchandising and consumer recognition. Made in the U.S.A.

Although conversions and conversion kits have been available through the years, this is the first time that they are truly easy to install and affordable at the same time. For example, it took me but a few short minutes to change an old Remington 700 BDL from its original five-shot magazine with floor plate to its new configuration with the mechanism to hold the detachable magazines. Now it holds a 10-round magazine full of .30-06 cartridges.

THE AUTHOR’S OLD Remington Model 700 is shown with the LSI magazine kit in-place, turning the original five-shooter into a 10-shooter in minutes.

Literally, all I had to do was remove the two bottom metal screws and remove the original bottom metal/floor plate, pop out the internal metal box, magazine follower and spring. That took a couple of minutes. Then I used the original bottom metal screws to attach the removable magazine receptacle (which includes the trigger guard). That took but a couple more minutes.

And then, I popped the removable magazine into the rifle and all was well. To verify everything, I filled the magazine with 10 cartridges and cycled them through the action. Really smooth. Actually I did it several times, because it was fun.

The magazine feeds in a straight line, and there were no hang-ups, glitches or even a hint that things were not well. Loading the magazine is also straightforward. Just slide the cartridges in, using the cartridges themselves to depress the follower.

Finally, I removed the conversion kit and magazine and replaced the original Remington parts. That went smoothly, too. And then I removed the original bottom metal and replaced it with the conversion kit and magazine. Again, everything went swimmingly. Which means that this kit can be employed, or not, and it doesn’t have any negative effect on the rifle, whether it is in its original configuration, or with the removable magazine configuration. That truly is both nice and handy.

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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

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.

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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

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

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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

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

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