Shooting is a perishable skill. And with myself, it goes bad like a chicken sandwich left in the park on a hot day! I have tended to focus on pistol skills the last while, while neglecting rifle skills.
This past weekend I shot a Steel Challenge match with my 10/22 and a red dot sight. Mainly beause I wanted to put our Mag-Rotor to work! Shooting rimfire was a ton of fun, and the Mag-Rotor made easy work of mag changes (as I no longer have the evil banana clips that caused so many horrific .22LR shootouts). Seeing others trying to handle 5-6 mags to the start position was interesting. The Mag-Rotors made it easy to have 6 factory 10/22 mags ready to go.
As far as rifle skills, I need to get back to work. Rimfire is such a great place to practice without breaking the bank.
My only issue was ammo sensitivity, but that can get sorted out with some trials of various brands. I did get a chance to try some of the entry level Eley, and it functioned flawlessly. In competition the $8 per 50rd box is worth it.
Anyways, it´s never nice to find out you're rusty, but it serves as a great excuse to get a brick of .22 and have a day at the range!
Safe storage is something I don´t hear being discussed enough. Regardless what the laws are in any jurisdiction, if you own a firearm, you are as responsible for it when in storage as you are when it´s in use. If an unauthorized user gains control of one of your firearms and somebody is hurt or it´s used in a crime - that is on your shoulders. Again, regardless of what the laws are, it´s your fault. Period.
Full disclosure…in the past, I have not always stored every firearm under lock and key. But over the years, I have heard of so many tragic and preventable accidents, it has gotten to be a hot button subject for me. With small children around the house, it is a critically important subject. In years past, I did not have that motivation, so it was less of a priority.
The heart of the subject however, is the need for safe storage, in opposition with the need for quick access to a firearm for self-defense. Any of the incidents I have studied where a firearm is used to for self-defense, the encounter unfolds rapidly, at a place and time of the criminal’s choosing. You will not be expecting it, or have the luxury of going to the garage or basement to access your gun safe, nevermind taking your time to load a gun.
If you are not of the mind you will ever need a gun for self-defense, that´s fine. Buy a safe or sturdy cabinet and lock them up. No further thought needed. However, if you wish to be prepared, then it takes a bit more thought. A long time ago, I simply put a shotgun under the mattress, or kept a pistol in my sock drawer. These days that won´t suffice, both for legal reasons and also the fear of a child or burglar getting ahold of it.
I can´t tell you what to do but I can say what I do, and my logic. Several years ago, I went to a wall mounted “lock box” that holds a pump shotgun by the action, made by Mossberg. They are very inexpensive. I thought this a good solution at the time as the gun was bolted to the wall in a locked room. Honestly, it was not a great setup, but we do have to work within the constraints of our homes and businesses.
Advantages of this were: the gun was secure, visibly safe (action open), and more compact than having a safe in that location. I know it’s common to have a gun with a trigger lock, say, under the bed, and although this may make the gun safe, it can still walk away very quickly. The disadvantages were that the gun was visible (you could throw a coat or something over it), but mainly it was slow to get ready.
For me (in my jurisdiction), I would have to unlock the gun with a key and then load 8 rounds in order to have the gun ready. Might not sound like a lot, but the first problem was where to hide the key so that it would deny access to the gun but be in an accessible place. And also, where do I hide the ammo? Can´t put it with the key. And then, what if that gets moved? It was just too many variables.
I guess what I should have mentioned first is location. Once you figure out where you want to have a gun stored that can be made ready quickly, then having to go into stashing keys and ammo is just too much. You run out of dependable places that won’t get disturbed by small hands or by somebody doing laundry or getting to a breaker box. Doesn’t matter where you choose to place it - in a closet, your bedroom, storeroom etc. What is rarely mentioned is we all have busy lives, and by definition, once something is stored, it´s not on your radar very much.
For me, it needs to be safe and secure, quick to access and out of sight. By safe, I mean only I can access it. By secure, I mean it can´t be moved and is bolted down. Quick to access means a minimum of steps have to be completed until the firearm is ready for use. By out of sight, I mean the gun is not visible to the average person, like say a plumber or carpet cleaner.
For me, having a full size safe in a bedroom for a rifle or shotgun just does not work. A pistol happens to make more sense, as it is easier to accomplish the three requirements I have in a smaller space, and at a more reasonable cost.
I recently purchased a biometric pistol safe, that I hope will accomplish all these things. Cost on Amazon was $138 bucks delivered, so I figured why not? I like the idea of it opening on a fingerprint as it gets rid of the key issue. In my jurisdiction, you cannot store a loaded gun, but you can have loaded magazines next to the gun. Stupid, but that is the law. It can be easily bolted to the wall or even cabled to a lag bolt in a wall stud.
I do have some concerns with the biometric or fingerprint access, just the reliability and also battery life. The worst situation would be to need to rapidly access a gun and not have the safe open. Of course, you have a back-up key but what are the chances of finding that in a hurry. It comes down to the odds of using keys or relying on a battery. For me, I am more likely to lose the keys than have a battery failure. Also I can mitigate the risk by checking the safe monthly or replacing the batteries every six months. Nowadays, we rely on everything electronic so it´s a debate for years gone by anyways.
Another factor rarely discussed in firearms storage is that if you have a gun you use regularly, it might be a bad choice for a defensive gun you store at home or in your business. The risk is of course, if you are like me, the guns you shoot might wait several days (or weeks!) to get cleaned, and again if you need it and it´s somewhere else, then it´s of little use. What if you do dry fire practice, or maybe you prep your guns to go to the range the night before for a match. I don´t like all those complications. They create uncertainty.
Bottom line is making sure they are secured from unauthorized users. I don´t agree with the laws but I also feel some people are too lax in this department. What works for me may not work for you, but I don´t think anybody wants to live with either a criminal or child getting access to a firearm.
For a while now, I have been watching a channel on Full30.com called InRange TV. It seems these guys shoot a 2-Gun Action Challenge Match that I have not seen elsewhere. Check it out as it looks pretty interesting!
2-Gun ACM uses rifle and pistol in stages designed for distance and speed. It seems to have quite a physical component as well.
The InRange guys also use classic and obscure guns to augment the challenge, discovering some of their intricacies in practical applications their designs.
I would love to get down to Arizona and try a match, with say…a TT33 and an SKS that I happen to have handy! The problem is then I start thinking what about a Garand and a G.I. 1911 to compare….
The list never ends. But hopefully someday I can try it out!
Quite frankly, I don´t want to write this. The subject is one of the most controversial of our time. Going back to the early 90s in both Canada and the U.S., we have had gun control laws enacted and retracted. It´s a constant battle for lobbyists on both sides. Each side has numerous stats, studies, examples and passionate reasons for why “it should be this way” or what exactly is common sense.
Much like any protracted battle, neither side trusts the other to compromise. So no common middle ground is available, and never will be. Personally, I do not want to compromise with the anti-gun crowd as I think they are much like the climate change lobby. They are far too emotional, and whatever we “give them”, they will just continue to come back for more. That said, I feel we do a pretty poor job at addressing the core problem.
Ultimately, I believe that many factors will someday see the end of civilian firearms ownership, and yes, I mean even innocuous “hunting guns” that Grampa used to own. Obviously this troubles me, especially when I think that children in my family will not get the same enjoyment out of firearms ownership that I had as a kid, and now have as an adult. Factors in this are of course an increasing lack of personal responsibility in society, continued urbanization etc.
What can we do?
Well, it goes without saying that gun owners need to massively increase their involvement with the myriad of pro-gun orgs - that´s an easy one. Get active and give them money. And also, it goes without saying, demand results and a cohesive strategy from them.
But I think we need to open up a “new front” in the battle. And for me this is not just about gun control - it really and truly is common sense. I´m not going to cite studies or make sweeping statements, let´s just keep this simple.
We need criminal control. If you read the news, either nationally or locally for long enough, you will see a trend…“Crime committed by a criminal with a history of violence”. It’s usually drug related, but that´s another discussion. Usually the media will say it´s a gun crime or “gun attack”, but let´s just leave that at the door.
This issue is as simple or complex as you wish to make it. One example is that of the murderer Shawn Rehn. With a lengthy criminal record of violence and weapon possession stretching back to 1999, he finally committed murder in January 2015, killing an RCMP Constable, and wounding another in a casino in St. Albert, AB. He committed this crime with an illegally carried/acquired handgun. In his defense, he did give us, as a society, fair warnings on his intentions. 38 convictions ranging from failure to appear, escalating to assaulting his spouse and robbery (and a few weapons charges sprinkled in). Ironically, at the time when he murdered the police officer, he was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear at a court date - the 4th time he had been charged with failing to appear. If only we could have seen it coming. This tragic episode cost the life of a person who was doing his job and trying to protect us. His life could have completely been prevented, no crystal ball needed.
Imagine if a bank or company operated in this fashion - “I know you have failed to pay our money back, but let´s now lend you more for the fourth time, maybe with no evidence to the contrary it will be different.”
A second example to that would be August 2016 in Toronto…a convicted bank robber used a combination of a crossbow and his bare hands to murder 3 people (I won´t use his name as he has not been convicted yet). If only we had had a warning of his criminal intentions, other than his 29 charges related to bank robbing. I´m going to go out on a limb and say a 3-year sentence did not deter his criminal ambitions. Again, fool me once…
We can´t blame the police, the prosecutors or the politicians because they work for us. We allow these repeat offenders to walk the streets and continue to commit violence. It´s far easier for the social justice warriors to call for controls on an inanimate object, rather than reform the criminal justice system.
As legal firearms owners, we allow ourselves to be painted by our opponents with the “criminality brush”, as how do they tell us from the “bad guys”. So let´s make it easy for them - put the “bad guys” in jail….and keep them there. This is not just about firearms rights, it´s about the right for all of us to be safe.
So there. Rant over – for now.
I´m constantly amazed at how many average shooters I speak with that are afraid to try any of the action pistol matches. “Afraid” is maybe not the best word, but they don´t think they are good enough to come out and try a club match.
In the last 2 months, I have invited 8 different people to come out and try a club level IDPA match. Each invitation is met with the same response: “Oh, I´m not good enough for that yet.”
But you are!
Whatever you're interested in - IPSC, USPSA, Steel Challenge or IDPA - I would implore you to get out and try it. Don´t be afraid, and don´t think you need a ton of expensive gear to try it. Just get out and shoot. It´s the only way to learn what you don´t know.
Be forewarned though – your participation is likely to lead to an addiction causing you to spend all your time and money out at matches. But that’s an easy cross to bear.
Recently, I was clearing out some old boxes of shooting stuff - something we all seem to acquire over time. One find I had was my old Lee Load All, shot shell press. This was the first bit of reloading I did, and the learning curve on a progressive was steep at 15 years old! Thankfully, 12ga is pretty forgiving. Of course when I was young I was feeding my Winchester 1200 for all sorts of reasons and the Load All really helped.
I haven’t touched it in 20 years but it still works and will be quickly pressed into service to feed several different shotguns including the same Model 1200. Of course the reasons change - back then I was bird hunting and doing a fair amount of trap and skeet at my local club. Today however, I have my eye on trying some 3-gun, which seems to make ammunition disappear faster than people who testify against the Clintons. Regardless, the press and shotgun don´t care, as long as they get used.
The second item I found was a set of .308 Norma Magnum dies. They are from my Great Uncle who passed away several years ago. I got most of his reloading supplies but missed the 308 Norma dies. Don´t have a rifle for that yet….
Both these items cause me to reflect on how timeless firearms and ammunition are. I reload today using some of the very same tools my Great Uncle did 60 years ago. I still use reloading manuals of his and a lot has not changed. Of course, new tools and new calibers have been developed and that´s great…it keeps us interested. But a part of me does really like the nostalgia and the fact that somethings don´t change.
Recently I forgot to clean one of my test guns. “Forgot” is a nice way to say: procrastinated for an extended period until finally I couldn’t take any more guilt. Why the guilt?….the dreaded effects of corrosive ammo!
As of late, I have been using up some Bulgarian surplus we got at a great price and I assume it´s corrosive. I don´t know for sure because I can´t read the funny little lines all over the place. As I was cleaning the gun, I started to think about the actual effects of this ammo. I know several years ago I actually looked up what was recommended for cleaning after using corrosive ammo, and was shocked by the lengths people suggest.
If you listen to the “internet”, the standard for cleaning is a 3-part soapy bath & rinse, and buy a $500 dollar sonic cleaner, etc, etc. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that behind the iron curtain, not one of these surplus guns has ever seen that treatment. Most were lucky to be cleaned (maybe the reason most have a chrome bore) and if they were cleaned, it was probably with diesel fuel from a broke down truck.
The particular SKS I started talking about went two months and about 1000 rounds without being touched. I use, and always have used, Hoppe´s #9 solvent, followed with a little Hoppe´s lube. Besides the basics of bolt and bore, I also clean the gas tube/piston and piston extension. A quick swab with a brush and a little solvent does the trick. It has on all of them for about 25 years now. This isn´t meant to be a detailed cleaning regime, and if you have an heirloom piece that your uncle Ivan shot a Cossak with, then feel free to clean it as you see fit.
Bottom line is…I don´t get turned off by corrosive ammo, and I don´t fuss about the cleaning.
Recently in discussions with friends and customers I have been hearing a lot of negativity towards the .30 Russian or 7.62x39mm. It seems this cartridge has landed in the “not cool” category at some point in the past 15 years and I was not informed.
I really think that this is a classic case of history repeating itself and as usual, the vast majority of people would be surprised at the background of this cartridge. Of course - “full disclosure” - I am not a ballistics expert, nor a licensed professor of history, so please keep the pitchforks and ticking envelopes at your house.
First off, I am a fan of the .30 Russian, I’m not going to try and hide that. Besides the price of surplus ammo, my primary reason is that it’s a middle ground cartridge, and by that, I mean it has enough punch to do what I need, but it is not punishing or overly severe on recoil and muzzle blast. Of course that is not a coincidence, but a factor of design.
Going back prior to WW2, many countries realized that a semi-automatic rifle for the individual soldier would be a massive game changer. Military doctrine of the early part of the century (and for a long time before that) tended to push towards arming soldiers with the most powerful rifles possible to cover a wide range of applications. Typical thinking was that an individual soldier should have a service rifle that could lethally engage targets out to 800m. This is of course when iron sights as magnified optics were not available to the majority of soldiers.
At some point, prior to WW2, a lot of people started to realize that soldiers were not engaging a lot of targets at 800m. Even if they were, it was more than likely a waste of ammo. I remember talking to my grandfather about rifles in WW2 and I´ll never forget his comment about the 3006 or .303 British being powerful enough to break the leg on an enemy radio tower. It might make for good discussion but is not a reality for an individual solider. This change in thinking was probably hastened by the trench warfare experienced in WW1, when the realization that the distance of enemy engagements had dropped dramatically. I would have to say even with the trench magazine installed, the K98 does not rank high on my list of CQB weapons.
As most people know, the STG44 or Sturmgewehr was the first true “assault rifle” widely manufactured (further than prototype) and introduced by the German Army in the later stages of WW2. The concept was truly revolutionary - a relatively lightweight rifle that was capable of automatic fire and used an intermediate cartridge. People get stuck on the automatic fire and the high capacity magazine, but I think the true genius was in the “middle ground” or intermediate cartridge. The STG44 was chambered in the 7.92x33mm (8mm Kurtz) designed in 1938. The round was basically a 123gr. FMJ going about 2,250fps….sound familiar yet?
We take this development for granted, but 70 years ago you had your choice of a 9mm submachine gun with lots of ammo but little effective range, or a round similar to a 3006 that kicked like a mule and had little ability for follow up shots. The intermediate cartridge gave individual soldiers the ability to carry more ammunition, fire faster follow up shots, and engage targets out to 300m effectively.
Of course the Soviet government was not one to let a good idea go to waste, so using captured German guns they devised the .30 Russian or 7.62x39mm. Used first in the SKS, then in the AK-47. I would say probably the most prolific military cartridge of the last 100 years.
And here we are today, seeing the popularity of the .300 AAC Blackout. An idea that originated from the .300 Whisper from the famous wildcatter J.D Jones. Of course, most of us peasants will never get to exploit the subsonic capabilities of the .300 AAC Blackout, but the supersonic loadings most people will use are a 125gr bullet moving at 2250fps.
So you may say that’s great for the soldiers of mother Russia, but I´m not in the military? Well like most things that work in the military, it eventually filters down to the general population. I know a lot of hunters tend to focus on long-range capability but in actual fact they are more likely to be taking shots on deer-sized game inside of 150 meters.
Of course like everything, one size does not fit all. Light weight, higher velocity projectiles have been the standard in the Western militaries over the last several decades, and they have earned their place as well. However, for a vast majority of shooters, I think the .30 Russian is about as all-around as you can get. Powerful enough for medium to large game, effective for self-defense - rapid follow up shots and accurate out to 300 meters. Like the old saying goes…more game has been taken with the 30/30 than any other cartridge…….
In fact, the .30 Russian is a victim of its own success. However great it is to have the cheap surplus ammo, it really puts a damper on developing a commercial market for the cartridge. All you have to do is take a look on the shelves at your local store.
And that´s a shame.
Sometimes we let our wallets get the best of us. I can’t count how many times I’ve purchased an accessory for a firearm, only to be let down. To be honest, it’s my own fault 99% of the time. The usual sequence is that while looking for something, I need to select the cheapest product…typically the one all the reviews warn you about buying, almost always provided by a manufacturer that has a reputation slightly worse than Adolph Hitler for quality control.
When you buy a product made to fit into the lower end of the marketplace, you get what you pay for. The customer experience is almost always topped off by no possible way to contact the manufacturer, or to get your issues resolved. Dealers that sell such things are also not very receptive to sorting out any issues, and in the end, you have a piece of junk that sits on your workbench mocking you every time you see it.
If this sounds familiar, don´t despair as you are not alone. Lots of people won´t admit it, but I will – over the years, I haven’t always bought quality items. One of the worst that I can remember is a brand “x” dustcover mount for one of my SKS rifles. If you are considering an optic mount for your SKS, let me save you the time of thinking about a dustcover mount of any kind. They suck. And, if I had thought about it for even a second, I would have realized why.
On an SKS, the dust covers are exactly that - just a cover. They move and there’s no way around that.
Oh wait…what if I add four screws that stop this and secure the dustcover to the receiver? That works great until I have to clean the gun. But that’s no issue…Just zero your optic every time you clean the gun. Good times.
Bottom line is that these work great for gun pictures, and not much else. I almost forgot to mention the convenient height they usually put the optic at.
We recommend them if you like to spend time zeroing your gun and you have a head that is 36 inches across.
Don´t feel bad if you have one. I do too. And if you want one, or another, please get in touch. I´m willing to give a great price on a slightly used one. Act fast as we only have a single unit!
I can tell you my reason…it was the price. I bought my first SKS once I had my F.A.C., back when you could get it at the age of 16. I think the price was around $150, so not too far off of what it is today (many years later). At that time, as a student, I had a very limited budget for guns and the SKS was the only center fire rifle in my reach. I suppose surplus bolt actions might have been within reach as well, but let´s just get it out there and come to terms with the fact those are boring.
As a military surplus gun, the SKS is a bit of an oddity. I won´t dwell on the history of the rifle as you can wiki that as fast as I can. But most surplus rifles have seen extensive military service and as such, are available to civilians at low prices in great numbers. The odd part is we have lots of SKS rifles and always have had, even though the light of mother Russia only shone on it for a short time. Quickly trampled by the AK-47, it was removed from frontline service in Russia. Yet factories continued to churn out SKS rifles, and in a wide range of countries, for frontline service, ceremonial duties and home guard.
To say that the SKS is the Canadian sweetheart of surplus rifles might be making a drastic understatement. Thankfully those communist factories kept churning them out, so today, pretty much anybody can afford to own one. Contributing to its popularity on par with maple syrup here in Canada, is the fact we are prohibited from owning a lot of the other iconic battle rifles.
What I see in the rifle is a rugged simple design, undisputable reliability and most importantly, the opportunity to shoot all day long. The 7.62x39 round is available to shooters for 16-21 cents a round in surplus crates which is pretty amazing for a center fire cartridge, considering ammunition costs these days. They are a great rifle as issued but also can be configured almost anyway one´s little heart desires, such as an aluminum chassis! (shameless plug, but it is my blog!)
As with most things, some people love it and others slam it. I don´t really give any credit to any of the technical criticism as I think most of it is without merit. I think it comes down to perceptions and expectations. The primary complaint is that it´s a cheap rifle… and this is not correct. A cheap rifle is a something made with sub-standard materials, prone to breakage and basically, is worth less than what you paid for it. This in no way describes the SKS. It is made of steel and built like a farm tractor. It is inexpensive due to high numbers being available in the surplus market and the main detractors cite the price as proof of poor quality. I don´t think they are saying the same thing about surplus Mausers 98´s or Springfield 1903´s that could be pulled out of barrels in hardware stores for pennies post WWII.
Being as it is a surplus rifle designed 60+ years ago in Russia, and then produced in various of Communist sweatshops (sorry…substitute sweatshop for workers paradise) all over the world does not mean you can expect to buy an SKS and mistake it for a precision rifle made high in the Bavarian Alps. What you should expect is military grade accuracy and reliability with inexpensive ammunition by the crate, and a host of accessories to personalize the rifle any way you wish.
I really cannot see the reason not to own one, or several. They are a great purchase for people new to the shooting sports, hunters, or for the experienced shooter looking for an inexpensive military rifle with a host of possible configurations. You really can´t go wrong with one, or a dozen.