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Sleeper Semi-Autos: Ruger’s 1980s P-Series Pistols

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 02:55

Introduced back when Atari was cutting edge, the Ruger P-85 and its descendants were the Connecticut-based gun maker’s contestant in the battle of the “wonder nines.” (Photo: Richard Taylor/


Bill Ruger had already made a name for his company by 1985 when it came to rifles, revolvers, and rimfires– then came the P-series pistols. 

Although Ruger had missed the boat on the U.S. Air Force’s pistol replacement trials in the late 1970s, and the first couple rounds of the Army’s follow-on trails to phase out the M1911– all of which had been won by the Beretta 92– by 1985 company had a double-stack 9mm that would show up for the postscript XM10 pistol trials.

Ruger’s first production centerfire semi-automatic pistol, the P-85, had a lot going on. Using an aluminum alloy frame, stainless barrel, and cast steel slide, the 15+1 shot semi-auto was designed as a combat handgun in an era that had little competition. Double action/single action with an oversized trigger guard and an ambi magazine release, the P-85 was comparable to early “wonder nines” like the S&W 459 and then only recently introduced Sig P226 and Glock 17.

Unlike the Glock, the Ruger pistol was hammer-fired and had molded G.E. Xenoy grip panels. Using a 4.5-inch barrel, weight was 32-ounces overall.

A short recoil-operated, locked-breech pistol that was more modern than guns like the Browning Hi-Power, the Ruger P-85 was a U.S.-made answer in the late 1980s to European imports like the Beretta 92, CZ 75, Glock 17 and Sig P226.

Almost over-engineered, the P-series guns are beefy, with easy to work surface controls. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

The bad news on the Army contract was that Beretta made it a clean sweep on the XM10 trials, repeating their earlier wins, which kept the P-85 out of the hands of the U.S. military. However, in 1987, Ruger offered their new gun to the public with a (suggested) retail price when introduced of $305, complete with a plastic case and spare magazine. They proved popular in the consumer market and even saw some brisk police sales in its day.

A redesign and subsequent retrofit led to the P-85 MK II series in 1990 which in turn morphed into the P89 after 1992.

The P-89 and stainless KP-89 replaced the P-85 and remained in production until 2009. As typical in a handgun originally designed for a military contract, the lanyard ring in the heel was standard throughout most of the series production (Photo: Richard Taylor/

Other caliber options followed on the same platform such as the .45ACP P90 and stainless KP90 in 1991 followed by the P91/KP91 in .40 S&W.

The P90 was a .45ACP upgrade from the 9mm P85/89 guns. The 8+1 capacity gun was produced for a number of government contracts in addition to consumer sales (Photo: Richard Taylor/

The 9mm pistol was also offered in a shortened variant, using 3.9-inch barrels, as the P93/KP93 as well as the P94/K94.

By 1995, the aluminum frame was swapped out for a polymer one to save a few ounces and the P95/KP95 was born. While the P-85 never suited up for military service, the later P95 was sold in small numbers to the U.S. Army for secondary service and several were also later adopted by the post-Saddam Iraqi forces.

The polymer-framed Ruger P95 was introduced a decade into the P-series run. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

An effort to slim the downright chunky pistol series came about in 2005, some two decades after the P-85 was originally developed. This resulted in the P345 which deleted the lanyard ring, featured polyurethane grips and a slimmer frame as well as bringing the option for a dustcover-mounted accessory rail. The swan song in P-series development, the gun would hint heavily at the later SR-series pistols that Ruger would put into production in late 2007.

In the Ruger P345, you can see how the original concept had morphed into something that was closer to the SR pistols that would replace the line beginning in 2007. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

Gradually, the P-series disappeared from Ruger’s catalog altogether, with the P-95 lingering on until 2013. Still, it was a good run that the company has followed up on with not only their SR-series pistols but also the more current Ruger American and Security-9.

The P-series guns looked kinda clunky but earned a reputation for reliability and durability. In all, they were in commercial production for over 25 years. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

Nonetheless, those looking for an affordable and hardwearing pistol would be well-served to grab an old Ruger P85, P90, or P95 before nostalgia kicks in and they suffer the price increase that comes with collectibility.

And we always have a nice selection on hand in the Vault of Certified Used Guns. (Photo: Richard Taylor/



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Categories: Gun News

Illinois Concealed Carry Reciprocity Case Heads to Supreme Court

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 05:37

The case could leave Illinois, as well as other states who make it hard for non-residents to carry a legal concealed handgun, with a mandate to rewrite their policies. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A challenge to how Illinois treats other states’ carry permits has now been sent to the U.S. Supreme Court for appeal.

The case, brought by a group of nine individuals allied with three pro-gun groups, takes issue with the fact that the Land of Lincoln refuses to issue non-resident concealed carry permits or recognize permits issued from 45 other states, regardless of an individual’s background or prior training.

“This is a case that literally begs for Supreme Court attention,” said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb. “When the Court ruled in the 2008 Heller case that the Second Amendment protected a fundamental right, it was clear that this right belongs to everyone, not just the residents of an individual state. The Seventh Circuit held in Moore v. Madigan that the carrying of firearms in public for self-defense is a fundamental right, but under existing Illinois restrictions, that right has been limited to Illinois residents and citizens from only four other states.”

While over 20 states have full reciprocity, honoring all valid concealed carry permits, others have more limited recognition typically based on minimum training requirements in the individual’s issuing state. A smaller number of jurisdictions, such as Illinois, largely refuse to honor carry permits or licenses from other states.

Along with SAF, the Illinois State Rifle Association and Illinois Carry are part of the petition, which could be taken up by the nation’s high court as early as mid-December.

“It is unfair that people from out of state cannot get an Illinois concealed carry license,” said ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. “We intend to remedy that.”

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Categories: Gun News

Savage Debuts New Precision Series Rifles from 22LR to 338 Lapua

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 04:24


With a series of three platforms chambered in everything from rimfires to magnum calibers, Savage’s new Precision Series rifles cover a lot of bases.

The three branches of the family– the bolt-action 110 Elite Precision and B Series Precision, along with the semi-auto A22 Precision– have a lot of real estate held down as they run in a host of 11 popular calibers.

The 110 Elite Precision utilizes Savage’s 10/110 style action but in a rifle built around an MDT ACC aluminum chassis with a fully adjustable stock that includes a vert grip and AICS magazine. With a 1.5- to 4-pound user-adjustable AccuTrigger, titanium nitride bolt body and a taper aligned muzzle brake, the rifle is offered in .223 Rem, .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .300 Win Mag, .300 Norma, .300 PRC, and .338 Lapua.

With an ARCA rail along the entire length of the chassis and stainless steel, flash nitride target receiver, the 110 Elite Precision is not your standard Savage 110. (Photo: Savage)

Weighing in at 14.95-pounds in the .338 Lapua model, the 110 Elite Precision has an overall length of 49.75 to 50.75-inches due to its adjustable length of pull and 30-inch barrel. (Photo: Savage)

“The MDT chassis are an ideal match for these Savage actions,” said Jessica Treglia, senior brand manager at Savage. “The pairings will allow shooters to custom fit every aspect of these rifles to suit their needs.”

But you have to pay to play. MSRP ranges from $1,999 to $2,149, depending on caliber.

The B Series Precision

The B Series Precision still has both Savage and MDT DNA but in a rimfire. (Photo: Savage)

With a one-piece MDT chassis machined from billet aluminum and a stock with length-of-pull and comb height adjustments, the B Series Precision is more scaled down from the 110 Elites but maintains a lot of the same features, although it is listed as a branch of the company’s B22 tree. Offered in .22LR, .22WMR and .17HMR, the rifles all use an 18-inch threaded barrel with a flush muzzle cap.

Other features include a 10-round detachable magazine and user-tunable AccuTrigger (Photo: Savage)

MSRP is $599 regardless of the caliber.

A22 Precision

While the A22 series is not new, the A22 Precision installment is not just any old .22LR (Photo: Savage)

Using a custom one-piece MDT chassis machined from billet aluminum (stop us if you heard this before) and an 18-inch heavy threaded barrel, the A22 has an oversized charging handle. The rimfire semi-auto with a 10-round detachable magazine is offered in .22LR only.

The A22 Precision has a user-adjustable AccuTrigger and Pic rail. (Photo: Savage)

MSRP is $599


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Categories: Gun News Unboxing Studio Presents: Smith & Wesson 627 Model of 1989

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 04:00



Taking a peek into the Vault, a spiffy revolver caught my eye — none other than the Smith & Wesson 627 Model of 1989.

As the name implies, this wheelgun was released by Smith & Wesson in 1989, though the company continues to manufacture variations of the 627 today. Chambered in .357 Magnum, the Smith 627 packs a punch with a stainless steel design and weight of 3-pounds. Featuring a barrel measuring 5.5-inches.

The 627 Model of 1989 features a stainless steel built and wood grips. (Photo: Don Summers/

The heft of the gun matches it heavy, double-action trigger nicely producing a solid revolver. Sporting adjustable rear sights and a 6-shot unfluted cylinder the revolver offers a rounded design with S&W Combat stocks. Built on Smith & Wesson’s tried and true revolver platform, it’s no wonder that the 627 has endured a long history with avid fans who enjoy taking this gun to the range.

The gun’s value has steadily increased with time seemingly pushing it into the hands of collectors looking for a Smith revolver to add to their collection. One look at the Smith & Wesson 627 Model of 1989 and you can’t help but think of the 80s with its rounded revolver look. If you’re a fan of the era, it’s one hard gun to pass up.

The 627 Model of 1989 offers 6-shots while the 1996 627 version boasts 8. (Photo: Don Summers/

The revolver fits nicely in the hand. (Photo: Don Summers/

In 1996, Smith upped the ante introducing an 8-shot model of the 627. This flavor delivered a 2.625-inch barrel with an unfluted barrel. Opting for no muzzle brake or ports, the ’96 version provided a stainless steel design with a matte finish and wood grips.

You can find the Smith & Wesson 627 and all its variants at, not to mention the ammo to go with it.



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Categories: Gun News

Happy 10/22 Day: Celebrating the Everlasting Ruger 22 Rifle

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 04:45

Ruger 10/22s have been around for over a half-century, with millions sold in the constantly evolving design


First introduced in 1964, the Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle has been produced in the millions and is still going strong.

Bill Ruger’s semi-automatic .22LR rifle was light, weighing in at just 5-pounds with an American walnut stock, and had a layout similar to the M1 Carbine. Billed as the “ultimate in logical design” when it was first introduced, the gun’s unique 10-shot detachable rotary magazine fits flush in the stock, a feature that competitor’s plinkers did not offer. The 18.5-inch barrel produced a handy carbine-length rifle that went just 37-inches overall.

The 10/22 was an instant hit and has never been out of production since it was introduced 55 years ago, including versions chambered in .22 WMR and .17HMR. An upscaled carbine chambered in .44 Magnum was pitched as a country brush gun. A pistol version of the gun, the Charger, was released.

This circa 1980 10/22 in the Vault carries a 3-6x variable Weaver scope and military-style leather sling. Note the checkered walnut stock. Although nearly 40 years old, the design is not too far different from today’s NIB guns.

With a serial number that puts it inside the 1992 production block, this 10/22 looks fundamentally the same as the above, although with fewer add-ons. Speaking of which, it would be hard to find a rimfire rifle with more aftermarket options.

This newer 10/22 Takedown model can quickly and easily be separated into two pieces for convenient storage and transportation while the simple reassembly ensures shooting consistency.

When first introduced during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 10/22 retailed for $54.50, which, when adjusted for inflation, is about $450 smackers in today’s dollar. The neat thing about that is brand new basic model 10/22s can be had for just $199 today. 

The barrel is cold hammer-forged for longevity and easy cleaning and secured with a unique two-screw V-block system while the heat-stabilized glass-filled polymer trigger housing assembly is impact and abrasion resistant and made to withstand the elements. Other features include a combination scope base adapter for Weaver-style and tip-off scope mounts. That’s a lot of bang for under $200.

Available in a plethora of stock options and finishes, the 10/22 makes a perfect rifle for plinking or small-game hunting. Today’s versions include Carbine, Takedown, Sporter, Tactical, and Competition models. Some packages include spinning targets or are guns saluting America’s farmers or come with International-style full-length wooden stocks.

As varied as the country from sea to shining sea, you could say. Give the people what they want.


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Categories: Gun News

New Dan Wesson DWX : When you Cross a CZ 75 and a 1911

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 03:16

A blend of 1911 and CZ 75, the DWX has a lot of standard features such as a 19+1 9mm capacity, a 1913 Picatinny rail, a square hammer, and a flat trigger. (Photo: Dan Wesson)


Billed as a dream match using DNA from two of the most iconic handguns of the old and new world, the new Dan Wesson DWX has been announced.

Teased Monday evening through Dan Wesson’s social media accounts, the new gun has a release date only of “2020” and is promised in both full-size and compact variants.

“It started as an experiment — a grand melding of Dan Wesson and CZ pistols,” says the company. “Borrowing the crisp single-action fire control group of a DW 1911 and combining it with the ergonomics and capacity of a CZ, the resulting pistol emerged as something great.”

Using a locked-breech barrel system and a CZ-style takedown, the 9mm DWX incorporates a 5-inch match-grade barrel without the 1911’s link system or barrel bushing. However, it contains many  1911 parts while coming to the party with a 19+1 magazine capacity based on the  CZ P-09/P-10 and aluminum CZ 75 grips.

The DWX has an adjustable rear sight, aluminum grips, an ambi thumb safety, a fiber-optic 1911-style front sight, CZ Shadow 2 style rear sight, flat K-style trigger, and checkering on both the mainspring housing and front strap. (Photo: Dan Wesson)

“With so many ways to tune and customize, the DWX is sure to shine in USPSA Limited Division!” holds Dan Wesson.

Without polymers other than in the fiber optic front sight, weight is 43-ounces on the standard DMX with an 8.5-inch overall length. A DWX 40 S&W version, with a 15+1 capacity, is also billed as coming soon. The DWX Compact version will use the grips and mags of 75 Compact.

MSRP on the DWX line is expected to be $1,799. This puts the gun in the same ballpark as new all-metal tactical/practicals pitched to competition shooters such as the Walther Q5 Match SF, Beretta 92X Performance and others.


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Categories: Gun News

Miami Classic: The 80s-era Smith & Wesson Model 645 .45 ACP

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 01:21

With a production run that only lasted for two seasons of Miami Vice, the S&W Model 645 is a solid classic. (Photo: Chris Eger/


What’s big, stainless, chambered in .45ACP and lived only in the 1980s? Smith & Wesson’s Model 645, of course.

In the early 1980s, S&W was producing a series of second-generation semi-auto 9mm pistols that followed up on the company’s earlier Model 39— itself the first non-European designed 9mm produced for the U.S. market– and Model 59 offerings. These included 8+1 shot single stacks like the S&W 439/639 and the “Wondernine” 14+1 double stack S&W 459/659.

The S&W 59. Produced from 1972 until 1981, these were S&W’s first so-called “Wondernine” pistols, a term affixed to them as they had a 14+1 flush fit magazine capacity, a feat at the time only narrowly bested by the Czech-made CZ75 or Italian Beretta 92. The pistols in this family had a distinctive profile with their slide-mounted safety/decock levers and thin triggers. This nickel-finished specimen in up for grabs in the Vault today.

These double-action models, with alloy frames, were light and, using a slide-mounted safety/decocker, safe for new users. As such, they proved popular with not only consumers but also law enforcement agencies looking to upgrade from .38/.357-caliber wheel guns.

However, there were no comparable .45ACP pistols in the lineup.

Enter the Model 645

Prefaced by M1917 revolvers and later N-frames, the Model 645 was Smith & Wesson’s first commercial .45ACP semi-auto. Only made from 1985 through 1988, this child of the Miami Vice-era is up for grabs in the Vault, Pachmayr grips included.

First produced in 1985, the S&W Model 645 was similar in size to the classic M1911 Government Issue, with an 8.5-inch overall length and a 5-inch barrel. Unlike the iconic .45ACP, it carried an extra round (eight in the mag rather than seven), had a squared-off and serrated trigger guard, and was double-action with a safety decock lever. This latter feature meant that the gun was more appealing to officers in departments that wanted to carry a .45 but was forbidden to do so in cocked-and-locked single-action pistols such as the M1911.

Speaking of departments, the 645s greatest claim to fame of its period was that it was carried and used– extensively– by the fictional Detective Sergeant James “Sonny” Crockett, as portrayed by Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

Replacing the chromed Bren Ten the vice detective with a penchant for pastels sported in the first two seasons of the show, the new-to-the-market S&W 645 appeared on-screen in seasons three and four. The good folks at IMFDB noted this was because “the producers wanted to keep up Crockett carrying a State-of-the-Art pistol.”

Season 3 of Miami Vice premiered in September 1986 while the fourth season concluded in May 1988, almost mirroring the 645’s production run. Incidentally, the Jackass shoulder holsters Johnson wore in the show led to today’s Galco International. (Photo: IMFDB)

It should be noted that Michael Mann, of Crime Story, Heat and Vega$ fame, was the executive producer of Miami Vice and the show was noted for its wide array of interesting firearms. This included everything from the Franchi SPAS-12 to the .44 Auto Mag and Desert Eagle hand cannons, the uber-cool HK P7, and even a LaFrance M16K. Competition shooter Jim Zubiena served as a firearms instructor on the production and even famously appeared on screen in an episode as a hitman pulling off a lightning-quick Mozambique drill from cover.

Anyways, back to our gun…

The 645 was only offered in an alloy frame and stainless slide format but did have an option between the fixed (shown) or adjustable sights. (Photo: Chris Eger/

The 645 disassembles largely like an M1911, although notably without a barrel bushing. Also, note the lack of a grip safety but a large beavertail to help with hammer bite.  (Photo: Chris Eger/

The author’s gun chews through a wide array of .45ACP FMJ ammo with ease and sports aftermarket Pachmayrs but, like most stainless guns, gets extremely dirty in the process. The standard grips are black plastic. (Photo: Chris Eger/

You can almost hear the Reaganomics in the distance. Smith & Wesson in the 1980s also marketed a line of “American Series” knives produced by Vermont Knives which were sold through their dealers, often in combos with the guns. At the same time, Smith also had offers for a free Member’s Only-style windbreaker ($49.95 value!) with the purchase of a 645 or similar. (Photo: Chris Eger/

An all-metal gun other than the orange insert in the front sight and the grip panels, the 645 weighs in at 42-ounces, unloaded. (Photo: Chris Eger/

It fills the hands, even if you have big hands. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Smith followed up on the 645 with the very similar but more successful “third-generation” Model 4506 (with some of the early guns accidentally mismarked as 645s) which included a one-piece Delrin grip and adjustable sights. Notably, Sonny Crocket carried the 4506 in Miami Vice‘s fifth and final season.

The 4506, as well as its more abbreviated 4516 and 4566 little brothers, remained in production for a full decade while the line branched out to include DAO variants and a TSW series gun which lived on in S&W’s catalog until 2004. The short-lived carbon steel Model 4505 was meanwhile only made in 1991 while a third-generation “Value Line” Model 457 was marketed until 2006. These spawns of the 645 were Big Blue’s only all-metal .45ACP semi-autos until the company began making their GI longslide variants, the SW1911.

But that is another story.


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Categories: Gun News

The Iconic Colt Delta Elite Offers 10mm to 1911 Fans

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:50

Chambered in the almighty 10mm the Colt Delta Elite is an iconic hand cannon on the wish list of every Colt collector and 10mm junky since 1987.

Though Colt has released various configurations of the Delta in the past, I snagged the latest version re-released in 2009. Featuring a stainless steel design with black textured grips and the famous Delta Medallions, the top of the slide opts for a brushed look to cut down on reflective glare.

How Does It Shoot?

The 1911 is a proven design with a long history. (Photo: Ben Brown/


It shouldn’t be a surprise that all 10mm loads, provided by Federal Ammunition, had some stiff recoil. It comes with the 10mm territory. No stranger to the hunting demographic, the 10mm load can make for an exciting hunting round. Though handgun hunting varies by state, with some municipalities outlawing the sport, if your state allows it the Delta Elite is an option for harvesting pig or varmint with the Delta Elite.

The heavier weight and full-size grip work to lessen recoil for the duration of an eight-round magazine, but it’s not something you’ll want to plink with all-day nor is this a handgun you’d want to run alongside a two-day defensive class.

The Colt Delta Elite comes with a 3.5-pound trigger. (Photo: Ben Brown/

Manipulating the Delta Elite while running a course of fire was a bit of an adjustment for me. I don’t shoot 1911s regularly and as such the manual safety and slide stop slowed me down. After a couple of mags, however, I felt pretty comfortable. Despite a learning curve, I did enjoy the classic 3.5-pound, 1911 style trigger and Novak style sights which afforded me accurate shots on target.


(Photo: Ben Brown/

This bucket list item is perfect for any 1911 connoisseur. Starting around $1,200 for newer models older and rare models do see an increase in value and cost. The good news is, resale value of these Colts only increases in years to come, making it a great addition to a gun collection.

In an age of polymer and striker-fired handguns, this classic delivers performance with its proven design. The combination of 10mm with the 1911 aesthetic is a definite winner. No matter what your reasoning for picking up a Delta Elite, you won’t be disappointed.


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Categories: Gun News

1980s Classic: The West German Sig Sauer P226

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 00:04

With a distinctive profile, early style grips, and smooth, rail-less dust cover, West German P226s are old-school cool.


Hailing from a time in the Cold War where the Berlin Wall was still a very real thing, West German Sigs are increasingly collectible.

While today’s modern New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer was formed in 2007, the German arm sprang forth during the frostiest days of the Cold War in 1976 when SIG of Switzerland formed a partnership with J.P. Sauer & Sohn of West Germany. That Sig Sauer concentrated on the manufacture of SIG’s firearm line for sales outside of very strict Swiss export controls. Among their first exports to the U.S. were the Sig Sauer P220, which had been adopted by the Swiss Army as the P75 pistol. These early West German-marked single-stacks were typically shipped over with European-style heel release magazine latches, a feature that wasn’t changed on American-bound Sigs until later.

Speaking of later, in 1977 the U.S. Air Force began a series of tests for a new handgun to replace the myriad of revolvers and M1911 .45ACP pistols in their armories. The contract, for a modern 9mm combat handgun, saw companies such as Beretta, FN, S&W, and Colt submit contenders. Testing at Eglin Air Force left the Beretta entry, the  Model 92, at the head of the pack. However, the U.S. Army weighed in and eventually took over the joint service handgun replacement program, which would field the XM9 pistol, and in 1983 a new battery of tests started.

A beautiful West German P226. In the 1980s, the model bested all of the other competitors for the Army pistol trials but Beretta, whose bid came in lower

It was to this second, Army-run, competition that Sig Sauer submitted a new double-stack pistol that otherwise had much the same layout as the P220– the 15+1 round capacity P226. By 1985, the competition had come down to the Beretta and the Sig and the Italian company’s bid came in $3 million less for 300,000 pistols over a five-year period. The new XM9 would be a version of the Beretta 92.

Nonetheless, the Navy went on to adopt a railed version of the P226 as the MK25 pistol for use by SEAL units starting in 1989. A more compact version, the P228, was adopted by the Army in 1993 as the M11 for use by military police and specialized units.

In the meantime, the P226 was released on the U.S. commercial market in 1983 and soon became a hit with both consumers and law enforcement customers. With its 4.4-inch barrel and choice of DA/SA or DAO actions, later augmented by the DAK trigger system, the 9mm was also marketed in .357 SIG and .40S&W. Today, dozens of variants of the P226 are in circulation and the gun is still very much in production– now in the U.S.

Vintage “West German” marked P226s, besides their stampings, have several differences from today’s more current offerings. This includes almost pebble-style plastic grips, reminiscent to those found on 20th Century Walther P-1s, and a distinctive pinned-in breechblock assembly. Further, the slide of those early guns has a different profile from today’s P226 offerings.

The slide construction on these early P-series guns is different from what is seen on current models

While Germany was reunified in 1990 after the Berlin Wall came down and the “West” was officially dropped moving forward, some guns continued to come into the U.S. with the legacy markings for a few years.

Sig, of course, would eventually get the last laugh when it came to supplying Uncle Sam with 9mm pistols, as the XM9/M9 is currently being replaced by the company’s U.S.-made P320, which was adopted a couple of years ago as the M17/M18 after winning the Army’s Modular Handgun System competition.

Still, there is just something rad about those old West German P226s, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age, you might even say.


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Categories: Gun News

Dems Seek $10 Million in Taxpayer Funds for ‘Smart Guns’

Sun, 10/20/2019 - 23:45

Gun companies have long held that there is little appetite for so-called “smart guns” on the consumer, military or law enforcement markets, and have continued to market reliable, traditional designs. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A group of House Democrats last week introduced a bill that would set aside Department of Justice funds to research so-called “smart guns.”

The aim of “The Advancing Gun Safety Technology Act” is to back “private-sector commercialization of gun-safety technology” through a $10 million pilot program in 2021 funded through DOJ. Companies who have an initial product design and a “demonstrable commitment to reducing unintentional or unauthorized shootings” would be eligible to apply for a grant through the program.

The bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier and Zoe Lofgren, both California Democrats with a history of backing gun control proposals, and is co-sponsored by a half-dozen other Dems from Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington D.C. A statement from Speier’s office said the bill, “would finally give innovators the financial boost they need to market technology that can save American lives.”

Smart guns, typically employing some sort of authorized-user technology like a fingerprint or passcode to unlock a firearm, are not a new concept. Perennially “just a couple away” for over two decades, few attempts have made it to commercialization. One, the $1,200 German-made Armatix iP1, was introduced in 2014 but failed to make headway on the market. The .22LR pistol, which required an RFID-equipped wristwatch to be able to fire, could allegedly be hacked with a $15 magnet and jammed with radio waves.

This has left a bad taste in the collective mouths of gun owners who are reluctant to trust such unproven technology. A survey published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in June found that 70 percent of gun owners surveyed would have a concern about whether the tech would work when needed and only 5 percent would be very likely to buy such a firearm if it added significantly to the gun’s price.

Firearms industry trade groups have long had a position that they are not opposed to authorized user recognition technology being applied to a firearm or to the further development of smart guns– as long as it is not made a requirement by lawmakers. However, gun makers stress the market for such guns doesn’t exist. Earlier this year, a Ruger shareholder report said that customer feedback showed “very little interest” in smart guns while American Outdoor Brands Corporation, owners of Smith & Wesson, issued their own shareholder report that explained the company “does not believe that current authorized user or ‘smart gun’ technology is reliable, commercially viable, or has any significant consumer demand.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation points out that “Gun owners already store their firearms to prevent their access by those who should not have them. They follow safe handling and storage practices which are set forth in the owner’s manual provided with each firearm. They don’t see a panacea in smart gun technology, nor should proponents or policymakers.”

Filed as H.R. 4730, Speier’s measure has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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Categories: Gun News

The Buck of a Lifetime: A Hunting Story

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 04:00

The view from Nick Kussoff’s hunting spot. (Photo: Nick Kussoff) is interviewing hunters and collecting stories on memorable hunts from around the country. Sometimes a buck comes into your life at just the right moment. For Nick Kussoff that moment was 2017 in Pennsylvania’s Black Moshannon State Park. On one of his last hunts in the Keystone State, Kussoff headed into the woods, earning a story he would remember for a lifetime.

I was getting ready to move down to Florida and I knew it was going to be one of my last hunting seasons in Pennsylvania. I was living in State College, Pennsylvania at the time. I had graduated from Penn State and just stuck around. One of my very good friends from my hometown of Scranton worked for the Forestry Department in Pennsylvania as a forester. He had the inside scoop on all the good hunting spots. He couldn’t go with me on opening day but he told me about this one spot.

There was a place we’d hiked before, where he was repairing fences. He said that his guides were seeing a lot of big deer. It was pretty tough to get to spot but he said it was worth checking out. I was already somewhat familiar with the area but he gave me a map and directions to the place.

The first day I went there, it was a little bit more difficult than I expected. I borrowed my roommate’s truck and drove a little further away than I wanted to, making the hiking more difficult than I had hoped for, but I get to my spot pretty much at daybreak and it was absolutely awesome. It was a creek bed in this valley between two steeper mountains. The mountains had been much steeper than I anticipated so it was a welcomed break when I got down there.

(Photo: Nick Kussoff)

I packed pretty light because I knew I’d be moving around. I had my grandfather’s Winchester 30-30 that he always took out with me. It was the first time the Winchester had been out since he had passed. It was pretty cool to bring it with me for that reason more or less.

I brought my camera so I thought I would take some pictures of the sun as it came out. I found a nice spot and I put my camera and gun down to get my pack off so I could take off my parka since I was getting a little warm. It was dead quiet when usually in Pennsylvania on opening day it sounds like World War III. All you hear is gunshots– especially on public property. This was in Black Moshannon State Park which is enormous but even at that if you go a day without seeing someone else, it’s really unique. But, so far, I didn’t see anyone else or hear anyone else. It was kind of eerie.

I took a few sips of water and went to pick up my stuff again. I had one of those feelings where you know something is watching you. I took a quick look around and maybe 30-yards behind me there’s a deer, just kind of watching me as I’m hanging out. All my stuff is on the ground and he’s got me basically fixed. He was just watching what I was doing. Then he turned his head. Growing up, I’ve seen a lot of big deer. I’ve watched them get bigger and bigger as the years went on and management got better and better.

(Photo: Nick Kussoff)

This was, hands-down, the biggest deer I had ever seen.

When he turned his head it was like a chandelier of antlers. I hadn’t had buck fever since I was 13 but at that moment I was freaking out. It was a moment of shock and panic. He was watching me the whole time, that close, and I was wide out in the open. I was standing there like an idiot. I didn’t know whether to move or wait him out.

He turned his head just a bit and I thought I had an opening. I crouched down and grabbed my grandpa’s gun. As soon as I did that, it was like something from David Copperfield. The thing just vanished. These were open woods and I still don’t know where he went. He just disappeared in the time it took me to grab the gun and turn around. Completely gone.

That was the only deer I saw that day. For better or worse, under the circumstance and given how far away my truck was, it was the best outcome but it was the buck of a lifetime. It was one of those moments where, if my grandpa had been with me, he would have thought it was pretty comical.

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Categories: Gun News

Beating Around the Bushmaster: A look at the 450 BM

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 03:26

Evolving from a Jeff Cooper concept, the .450 Bushmaster has grown in popularity in the past decade, especially in areas where deer regs have made it a must-have.

Cooper, a legendary gun writer and shooting theorist, wrote about a gun he described as “The Thumper” in his 1998 book, “To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth.” The idea was something akin to an M1 Carbine chambered in a round like the .44 AutoMag but able to reach out to 250 yards. Fast forward a decade and, following lots of groundwork and burning of lean muscle tissue into the night, Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms, developed the “.45 Professional” as a big-bore AR round then moved the design to AR-maker Bushmaster– hence the slightly shorter resulting cartridge’s name– and Hornady took it to market in 2007.

At the time, Hornady described the round as “the hardest-hitting production cartridge ever to be chambered in an AR-15-style rifle.”

Approved by SAAMI, the .450 BM has the appeal of being just one upper change away from working on most AR platforms, although magazines can sometimes be tricky, leading some manufacturers to produce low-capacity (to meet the needs of hunting regs) mags specifically chambered in the rounds.

Speaking of hunting, that is where the .450 BM shines, with the round delivering about twice the energy of a .223 Rem, producing a roughly comparable performance to .458 SOCOM and .50 Beowulf. Where it beats the latter is the fact that it is classified in many states such as Michigan as an acceptable straight-walled cartridge for deer hunting in many previously shotgun-only areas.

Whereas initial ammo offerings were limited, today there is growing variety on the market from both household names and niche cartridge makers when it comes to .450BM

This had led Hornady to expand their own branded .450BM loads to include 245-grain Interlock American Whitetail and 250-grain Flex Tip Expanding in both their Hornady Custom and Hornady Black lines.

Other ammo makers have also jumped on the bandwagon as well, with Federal producing 300-grain jacketed soft point Power-Shok and 260-grain Fusion soft points among other loads. Remington, Winchester, Doubletap, and HSM have set up comparable real estate in the Bushmaster neighborhood.


Besides AR uppers, Ruger has introduced all-up modern sporting rifle models chambered in .450BM as part of their AR556 MPR series while ATI did the same thing in their Milsport platform.

For those looking for bolt guns or single-shots, either for personal preference or to comply with local regulations and rules, there are lots of options out there.

Savage 110

The 3+1 capacity Savage 110 Engage Hunter XP uses a 22-inch barrel with a pretty serious muzzle break.


Savage Arms has of late introduced a few different models of their Model 110 bolt-action platform factory chambered for .450BM. This includes the 110 Wolverine and 110 Engage Hunter XP.

Ruger Gunsite Scout

Chambered in the powerful 450 Bushmaster, this Ruger Gunsite Scout can take down most large game. This used rifle is in excellent condition in the Vault for about $100 less than a new one.


Ruger’s Gunsite Scout rifle is lightweight, hitting the scales at 6.6-pounds. Coupled with the 16.1-inch barrel and it is a handy brush gun. The .450BM chambering, with a 4-round magazine, also gives the hunter a good bit of “thumper” on hand if needed.

Ruger American/American Ranch

The Ruger American Standard in 450BM carries a Go Wild pattern stock while the American Ranch runs an FDE synthetic. Both are available under $500.

For the more budget-conscious, Ruger also has a few other bolt gun offerings currently available in .450BM. These include the Ruger American Standard with a 22-inch barrel ($495) and the Ruger American Ranch which has a shorter 16.1-inch threaded barrel with an installed muzzle break ($422) on an 11/16″-24 pitch. Both feature lightweight synthetic stocks and Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable trigger that is user adjustable between 3 and 5 pounds.

Ruger No. 1 Standard

On the wide list of caliber options for Ruger’s No. 1 is the .450BM


Ruger’s falling-block No. 1 Standard is robust and sturdy, often seen in safari and dangerous game calibers. The company also markets it in .450BM complete with a black laminated stock. The Cold 20-inch hammer-forged stainless steel barrel has 5R Rifling and yields a compact rifle that is just 36.5-inches overall. While retail is $1899, our price is a good deal less than that.

All in all, these days, it looks a lot like the .450 Bushmaster is alive and doing just fine.

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Categories: Gun News

Great Gear for Bagging Whitetail Deer in 2019

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 23:30

Another hunting season approaching means another list of gear, and while not every deer hunter needs or wants all the same items, these things work. With retail prices from under $20 to over a grand, there is something for every hunter and style of hunting.

Tipped Ammunition

Choosing the correct deer ammunition amidst shelves stacked with all sorts of manufacturer claims can be a daunting task for hunters. While tipped rounds are far from ideal for bigger game, they are tailor-made for the thinner-skinned, medium-sized American White-tailed Deer. Rapidly expanding bullets will, on the whole, perform much better than heavier rounds that are not intended to transfer their kinetic energy as quickly. Deer hunters should give at least one of these a go both on the range and in the stand: Sig Sauer Elite Hunter, Hornady Outfitter, Nosler Ballistic Tip, Federal Premium Trophy Copper, and Norma BondStrike. Each one of those makes use of a polymer-tipped, boat tail bullet, while those seeking non-lead options will gravitate to the copper alloy construction of both the Hornady Outfitter and Federal Premium Trophy Copper. For more in-depth info on these tipped rounds, check out our feature.


A nice mix of our tipped rifle ammunition offerings, ideal for taking deer-sized game. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Bushnell Nitro Spotting Scope

While not all deer hunting involves copious time spotting and stalking, range time itself is a whole lot more enjoyable with a good spotting scope. Bushnell’s Nitro is ideal in both situations. Though it’s on the higher end for average range deer hunts, it perfect for hunters who need optics that can handle big game seasons in the Western states as well as local deer fields. Our test model is the 20-60x65mm with the angled eyepiece, though straight is also available. The glass is top-quality, fully coated, nitrogen-purged with a 16mm eye relief and 110’/50’ FOV. A magnesium chassis with a rubberized coating is both durable and practical. The rotating tripod ring makes the scope even more comfortable in awkward field positions. The Nitro Spotter carries a $749 MSRP, though real-world prices already have it listed under $600. For more in-depth info on the Nitro, check out our feature.


Bushnell’s new Nitro Spotting Scope, here in 20-60×65 works equally well glassing for game on backcountry hunts as it does on a tripod on the shooting range. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Montana Decoy Plot Pack

Decoy use is rapidly growing in popularity among deer hunters, both bow and gun. We’ve used them to draw in curious whitetails with great success on the edges of food plots as well as in more open terrain. This two-decoy set from Montana Decoy allows for the greatest versatility in a hunting setup. Whether it’s early-season feeding, pre-rut, or full-on chasing, hunters can use the included Motion Doe alone, add the second Buck/Doe either with or without its antlers attached or position the Buck aggressively with his antlers in place. In an innovative move, the company includes what they call a “teaser tail” that not only mimics an actual whitetail’s bushy tail but also allows for scent placement on this part of the deke. Even mobile hunters will appreciate the Plot Pack, as we especially enjoy how compact they fold and fit into a hunting pack, almost the size of a frisbee, so it’s easy to have them at the ready. The decoys spring open easily, the fabric material has held up well, and when positioned correctly, deer can’t help but come join the party. The retail price on the set is $139.99.

Montana Decoy’s two-deer plot pack is ideal for both bow and gun hunters (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Ozonics Scent Elimination Device

Though we usually lean much more to traditional types of hunting, this one is too intriguing to ignore. Instead of preparing for the hunt by covering with odor control sprays or layering on new scents, Ozonics offers these battery-run devices that use ozone to destroy human scent in the field. The HR-300 Scent Elimination Device is intended not only to de-stink your gear at home, but more importantly, is built to take out in the field. This same unit designed to be attached to your tree, placed in a ground blind can also be used in a scent control closet or container at home. Though ozone scent control always seems to find controversy, Ozonics is clear about staying well within government standards. The HR-300 sells for $449, while similar units are available at both higher and lower price points. While we have no good way to scientifically test the unit, we’ve had numerous deer walk right by the HR-300 in both ground blind and ladder stands.

Ozonics are battery-run devices using ozone to destroy human scent in the field (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Make sure to check out the wide selection of new and used rifles from the Vault for your next hunting trip.

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Categories: Gun News

Milsurp Bambi Dusters: Sporterized Military Rifles

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:09

While the rule of thumb in milsurp rifles is “No, bubba, no!” there are thousands of sporterized military rifles already in circulation that need love, too. This M1917 Remington “American Enfield” lost its ears and was sporterized decades ago but still clocks in regularly as a tried-and-true deer rifle. (Photo: Chris Eger/


Love them or hate them, there are thousands of surplus military rifles that are floating around as sporters.

Now let us be clear, in most cases, a more or less correct retired military rifle in safe shootable condition, be it a Trapdoor Springfield, Martini-Henry, M1903, or even an SKS, can double as a deer gun with the correct ammo and little further modification. Truth be told, I harvested my first whitetail as a somewhat shaky pre-teen with the help of a stock Argentine DWM Mauser that stood about as tall as I did at the time. These guns, with the right load (150 grains on Garands, please), work and work well.

But we aren’t talking about those vintage dual-purpose firearms. We are talking about the ones that have been “sportified” or, as some say, were “violated by bubba.” These guns, which still have the heart and soul of an old soldier, typically have seen scope mounts added, new Monte Carlo (or even synthetic) furniture added in place of the old full-length wood stocks, chopped-down barrels, and updated sights.

This is not a new thing.

Some of the most popular rifles on the hunting racks from “sea to shining sea” in the early 1900s were milsurp European arms like Remington Rolling Blocks in calibers like .43 Spanish, the big 10.4mm Italian 1871/87 Vetterli and the French M1874 Gras, chambered in 11mm. In a form of “swords into plowshares,” these went from arming soldiers to soldiering on in the task of putting food on the table and giving peace of mind as a symbol of democracy over the fireplace.

Fast forward to the 1920s and WWI surplus Pattern 17 (M1917) Enfields and M1903 Springfields soon began appearing alongside older Krag .30-40s and the flotsam of the Great War. New custom gunsmiths like Griffin & Howe in New York joined well-known Army-Navy retailers like Bannerman’s in converting these guns over to use as “sporter” rifles.

This 1927 Bannerman’s catalog has “Russian Springfield Rifles” which were Remington-made Tsarist contract Mosin M91s that were converted to .30-06 with new 22-inch barrels, alongside Krag sporters, .32CF Remington Rolling Blocks and Canadian Ross rifles. Talk about a time machine! (Photo: Chris Eger/

Much the same story continued after World War II when the always-steady trickle of Mausers became a downright tsunami of not only German-produced guns but also examples made by companies such as FN in Belgium, Husqvarna in Sweden, Brno in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere. While many were sold as intact military rifles and brought joy as wall hangers, collectibles and in trips to the field and range, their cheapness and ready availability (at the time) led many to be converted to a handier offering.

Back in the 1950s, companies like Golden State Arms in Pasadena sold small ring Mexican 7mm Mauser actions for as low as $25, advertising they were ideal for rebarreling to “the latest big game caliber, .358 Win” or other chamberings such as .308 Savage, .257 Roberts, .22-250 and .35 Rem. At the same time, Belgian, Czech and German surplus Model 98 Mauser actions were sold, frequently re-barreled with Bushmiller or Apex barrels, chambered in everything from .220 Swift to .35 Whelen and everything in between. Golden State produced a number of these recycled Mauser actions in new walnut stocks.

From the Vault is this beautiful Golden State Arms “Santa Fe Field Mauser” in .30-06 has a 24-inch barrel and a Redfield 2-7×30 scope. Ready to go home for just $522

This Springfield M1903 has a serial number that dates it to about 1921 but it has been highly sporterized by the Wiedner Rifle Corp and re-barreled in .257 with a 24-inch barrel and Lyman front and rear sights in addition to a Monte Carlo wooden stock. Looking for someone who is a .257 or 1903 fan, priced at $579.99

Years ago, Century refurbished and rebuilt surplus German Mauser 98s into what they termed the “Centurion 98 Sporter” with a new 22-inch barrel. Sold in both .270 and .30-06, this example is one of the latter, however, we think the stock was upgraded as they were originally sold with synthetic furniture. For $399, why not?

Some of these rifles have been only “gently” sporterized and are still very close to their original condition. Typically, their conversion involved the addition of optics.

This Carl Gustav Swedish Mauser, still chambered in 6.5x55mm and carrying its bayonet lug, was long ago fitted with a Weaver Fixed Power Scope. Still, this interesting Swede is ready for the next chapter of its life in the Vault, priced at $569.98.

This Yugo M24/47 Mauser, in 8mm, looks mostly original, um, except for that extended eye relief Tasco 2x fixed power scope, that is. Still, it’s up for grabs.

Other rifles, which would be considered an abomination to dyed-in-the-wool military collectors, still make great hunting and sporting rifles with a bit of panache that your average Remington 700 or Savage 110 doesn’t possess.

This Ankara K. Kale Turkish Mauser dates from 1943 but that 26-inch stainless steel barrel, complete with a muzzle brake, and synthetic stock do not. While no longer perfect for a collector or reenactor, it is only $199!

This custom build is a bolt-action rifle with a Mauser action of unknown origin. Its 18-inch barrel has been re-barreled for .257 Roberts with a four-round magazine. It also has Burris scope bases and an oil re-finished walnut stock with a steel buttplate. Good to go for $399.99

Some guns are exquisite conversions– keep in mind that commercial Mauser actions have long been a favorite for safari guns and discerning hunters alike.

This FN-H Mauser, chambered in 7x57mm, has a 26-inch barrel with Weaver-style scope bases set in a walnut Monte Carlo stock with a rosewood forend cap. Ready to go home for $855

This CZ VZ 24 features extensive engravings on the magazine floorplate and is chambered in 6.5x68mm, a caliber well-liked in Europe for its high performance and flat trajectory. For more on this beauty, click on the image.

And for those who want to just build their own, there are still plenty of those old barreled actions floating around. Speaking of which:

This Husqvarna action, chambered in 6.5x55mm Swedish, is a great $199 gunsmith special.

In the end, these guns have led a long and interesting life. If they could only talk, right? Still, just because someone at some point tweaked its features to make it more ideal for the field doesn’t mean they aren’t still great rifles. Maybe just misunderstood.

Be sure to check out our used gun selection for great deals. You never know what you are going to find. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

No matter where you stand on saving orphaned military sporters, you never know what you are going to find while browsing the Vault of Certified Used Guns.


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Categories: Gun News

Optics Review: Taking a Peek with Trophy Xtreme Binoculars

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 04:00

The Trophy Xtreme binoculars by Bushnell offer a budget-friendly, comfortable design. (Photo: Chris Scarpitta/


A successful hunt relies on many factors but one of the most important comes down to being able to accurately view large areas of field and woods. Designed to maximize field of view at medium distances, the 8x56mm Trophy Xtreme binoculars by Bushnell promises to grant shooters a more robust viewing area in a single glance. Bushnell sent over some Trophy Xtreme binoculars for to take for a test drive to see if they measure up to the hype.


The Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 8x56mm binoculars offer a slim design, weighing in at 30.1-ounces. Its compact build is attributed to the binoculars’ roof prism design. These prisms are coated with Bushnell’s signature PC-3 Phase Coating. The lower 8x magnification and larger 56mm objective lenses yield a greater field of view than the 10x50mm variant of this line. At 1,000-yards you will be able to see an area that spans 300-yards across with this model. The larger forward lenses also gather more light particularly at dusk or dawn when it matters most on a hunt.

Included in the box are a neckband, soft case, and instruction manual.


The binoculars are fog-proof and water-proof which helps when in the field. (Photo: Chris Scarpitta/

When it came to heading out with the Trophy Xtreme 8x56mm binoculars, I enjoyed the fog-proof and water-proof construction. It allowed for unobstructed clarity despite being transported from a warm hunting spot to a cold blind and tree stand. All lenses are fully multi-coated for ultimate clarity and accurate color transmission; though I would have liked to see an additional coating or two on the lenses to help refine clarity and definition further. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t say that the glass was bad.

Aligning the barrels to the eyes is effortless — the hinged assembly sturdy enough to hold its position when worn around the neck. Twist-up eyecups locked into place and worked well regardless of eyeglasses or not. I found the rubberized surfaces to be tough as nails, particularly after being banged around a hunting pack. Attached lens covers also made for one less component to drop in the woods. Additionally, the placement of the gripping surfaces proved to be well thought out as the course areas fit right in the palm of my hand. My thumbs landed instinctually on the rough pads of the underside.

I used the binoculars to peek on a herd of whitetail deer snaking along neighboring woods 10-feet into the tree line as well as an unsuspecting squirrel as he popped his head in and out of a hole tightly situated in a dead tree.

Final Thoughts

The binoculars are tough as nails and great for hunting. (Photo: Chris Scarpitta/

An MSRP of just $200 certainly classifies these as budget glass, however, they certainly don’t feel cheap. Overall, I have absolutely no reservations taking these on a hunt in any weather condition.


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Categories: Gun News

.308 vs .223 for Hunting Whitetail Deer

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 00:00

The size difference between .308 and .223 is substantial but don’t let that fool you, both can take deer (Photo: Eric Jezierski/

For many years intermediate calibers were the name of the game when it came to selecting the right cartridge for hunting deer, but that is not necessarily the case anymore. Due to improvements in ammunition technology and our understanding of the energy a bullet carries with it, .223 Remington has become a popular deer hunting cartridge. While many hunters have been using .308 Winchester for decades when taking whitetail deer, the growing popularity of the .223 among shooters has made many consider using the smaller projectile for their caliber of choice. Let’s dive in and see if .223 is really the best caliber for the job on your next hunt.


For many years, most states required the use of an intermediate cartridge for whitetail deer hunting. There are still some states’ regulations that deem .223 too small, such as Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia to name a few. In states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, laws have been updated to allow the smaller, faster round to be used.

In contrast, .308 is a caliber that is universally known as a fantastic deer hunting round in places that allow rifles for the sport.

What You Need to Take Whitetail Deer

A common measure is that is used to determine whether a round is powerful enough to take whitetail deer is the energy the bullet delivers. 1,000 ft pounds of energy is often thought of as the minimum power a bullet can carry to ethically take large game like deer.

Most .223 cartridges designed for hunting use will have over 1,200 foot pounds of energy when fired from a full length rifle barrel. This is considering that the projectile is roughly 62 grains or heavier, and the bullet if zipping along at a blazing 3,000 feet per second. By these measurements, the .223 has plenty of power to take down a whitetail deer ethically.

In comparison, a 175-grain projectile from a .308 caliber rifle will deliver over 2,600 foot pounds of energy when traveling over 2,600 feet per second. While this is more than double the energy of the .223, it is worth noting that increasing bullet weight does not always mean more energy delivered to the target. In fact, with most factory loads, the lighter weight bullets of .308 will usually deliver more energy upon impact.

It is also interesting to note that comparing the effects either of these bullets have in ballistic tests, both rounds have similar penetration depths. The .308 however creates a wider wound channel.


Why Choose .223

One of the most popular rifles today is the AR-15. One reason for its increased popularity is that the platform is affordable, ergonomic, and lightweight. Another reason is that we have a large population of veterans among us who are familiar with the platform, so they tend to gravitate back to it. Since the .223/5.56 is the most common chambering for the AR-15, it’s no surprise that people would want to use it to hunt with.

.223 is one of the most affordable rifle cartridges available today. This means that it is reasonable to assume that most of us have the propensity to train more with our rifles chambered in the caliber. Part of taking a deer ethically is being able to put a well-aimed shot where we intend to.


Why Choose .308

While .308 ammunition is more expensive than .223, it’s still relatively inexpensive and easy to practice with. Also, there is no doubt that .308 hits much harder than .223. Finally, .308 has much greater effective range.

With a greater effective range, .308 might be the clear choice if you are hunting whitetail deer in a location where you are expecting to take long range shots.

What Ranges Could You Take Deer At?

At 200 yards you can expect a .308 bullet to drop about two inches. At the same distance, a typical .223 hunting round will drop about three inches. Both rounds will begin to drop at an increasing rate beyond the 200-yard mark, with heavier .308 bullets dropping slightly more than the lighter .223.

One major concern is that .223 will lose energy much faster than the .308. Beyond 100 yards, .223 will have energy less than 1,000 foot pounds. This tells us that ethically .223 should be used at ranges of 100 yards or less. For some hunters this may not be a realistic option, but for many, a lot of those shots you might get at a trophy whitetail are likely to be well within that range.

The growing popularity of the AR platform has made the .223 a more common hunting round (Photo: Eric Jezierski/

Whitetail deer are skittish creatures who prefer to live in dense forests where they are well-hidden from predators. If we consider the success that bow hunters have with whitetail deer at ranges of 50 yards and in, suddenly 100 yards seems like a very reasonable range.

You’ll have to determine for yourself if you really think that you are going to need to range out beyond that 100-yard mark to take your deer. This should be done through a two-part process. First, scout your hunting land to understand where the deer are and where your stand will be. Second, make a realistic assessment of how far you think you can hit the small target that is the vital organs of the whitetail deer. Note that the final shooting position will likely be different from the bench rest you might have zeroed your rifle on.

Choosing the Right Bullet

Regardless of the caliber you choose, it’s important to choose the right ammunition for the job. Soft points or hollow points should be used to ethically take a whitetail deer. These bullets are designed to expand upon impact, prevent over penetration, and cause maximum damage to the vital organs of game when the shot finds its mark.

Final Thoughts

Both calibers are up to the challenge of taking a deer home and helping you put venison in the freezer. While .308 is a trusted caliber among deer hunters, .223 is quickly gaining a following among the community. If you aren’t currently using .223, it is at least worth your consideration.

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Categories: Gun News

New Tipped Ammunition Deer Hunters Must Try

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 23:30

A nice mix of our tipped rifle ammunition offerings, ideal for taking deer-sized game. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Deer hunters have shelves upon shelves of rifle ammunition from which to pick at this time of year–brightly colored packaging, catchy tag lines, and promises of big bucks on the ground. While it’s certainly not possible to try even a quarter of all the options in any caliber, hunters will be well-suited to send several rounds down range this year. Many of the new polymer-tipped rounds are built by the companies specifically for optimal performance on the rather thin-skinned whitetail deer. Here are five of our favorites, with each excelling in accuracy.

Nosler Ballistic Tip

The quality of Nosler ammunition precedes itself, so its no surprise that their Nosler BT (Ballistic Tip) makes this list. In fact, the new tagline for BT is “Made for Whitetail” with the rapid expansion projectiles designed for devastating shock on deer-sized game. Per the company, “every bullet weight and velocity is optimized for maximum effectiveness on deer, antelope, and hogs.” With several new-for-2019 chamberings, BT is now available in 15 different calibers. Aside from the all the expected rounds, the company gives hunters interesting choices in 7.62×39, .25-06, 6mm Creedmoor, .260 Rem, .280 Rem, and .280 Ackley Improved.


Nosler’s BT (Ballistic Tip) ammunition is marketed as “Made for Whitetail” and indeed that should be the target with these rounds. The 15 different calibers are sure to put venison in the freezer this season. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Norma BondStrike

Norma may not be as popular on the American hunting market as some of the other brands listed here, but with more rounds like this, that underrated factor won’t last. The new BondStrike line of extreme long-range ammunition is geared toward medium-sized game like deer and hogs. The blue polymer tip is mated to a match-style boat tail bullet. The only downside to the new BondStrike is that it’s currently only available in .30 caliber options: .308 Win, .30-06 Spfld, .300 Win Mag, .300 RUM, and .300 WSM. The company has more calibers slated for upcoming release, including the much awaited 6.5 Creedmoor. Those hunters who can’t find BondStrike may also be interested in the company’s TipStrike or EcoStrike, matched for rapid expansion and non-lead hunts, respectively.


Norma may be underrated on the American hunting market, but their new BondStrike line of tipped hunting rounds will perform well on deer-sized game. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Hornady Outfitter

While it’s hard to argue against using Hornady’s premium Precision Hunter ammunition, many of those bullets are on the heavy side for White-tailed deer. Enter Hornady Outfitter. Hornady’s brand new line of Outfitter ammunition is loaded with GMX copper alloy bullets with a polymer tip. Built for controlled expansion on medium to large game with 95+% weight retention means they’ll work well on deer, and with some of the larger calibers, are quite serviceable for bigger game as well. The nickel-plated cases are, per the company, “waterproofed to ensure protection from moisture.” Outfitter already comes in a dozen chamberings, from .243 Win to .375 H&H and .375 Ruger, with several short mag options as well.


Hornady’s brand new Outfitter tipped ammunition is loaded with the copper alloy GMX bullets and available in a dozen calibers. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Federal Premium Trophy Copper

Besides the Hornady Outfitter hunters looking for non-lead ammo can also look to Federal Premium’s Trophy Copper offerings. Federal Premium truly outdoes themselves, offering Trophy Copper in 24 different chamberings, far more than any other on our list. The polymer-tipped, boat tail bullets sit on nickel casings. Per the company, Trophy Copper is intended for “superior penetration and aggressive expansion.” In addition to all the expected calibers, they cover the bases for lovers of all the short magnums, as well as unsung whitetail takers like .25-06, 7mm-08, and .338 Federal. While they stock plenty of heavier calibers as well, the deer chamberings are aplenty.


Federal Premium’s Trophy Copper is one of the best non-lead options for deer hunters and is available in more calibers than any of the others. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Sig Sauer Elite Hunter Tipped

Sig Sauer may be fairly new to the hunting ammunition market, but they’re already making waves and pitching dreams of trophy animals. Designed for accuracy and performance at extended ranges, Sig’s new Elite Hunter Tipped ammunition is, per the company, loaded for “long range accuracy with devastating on-target performance.” The blackened-jacket, yellow-tipped, boat tail bullets sit in nickel plated cases. These controlled-expansion tip bullets come in a dozen popular calibers from .223 up to .300 Win Mag, covering every deer hunter’s arsenal. Bullet weights are optimal for medium-sized game like deer, from the 130-grain .260’s to 165’s in .30-06 and 180’s in .300 Win Mag. The new Sig ammo has just started shipping and will be hitting local gun store racks and online listings shortly.


Sig Sauer is fairly new to the hunting ammunition market, but their Elite Hunter Tipped rounds are a deer-hunter’s dream. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/


Choosing the correct ammunition for any particular game animal can be a difficult thing for some hunters, but this year more than any other, premium ammo manufacturers are taking out the guesswork. Every one of our tipped rounds is available in all the most popular deer hunting calibers. Hunters should give at least one, if not all of these, a go in the deer woods.

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Categories: Gun News

New Army M4, M249 Replacement Contenders Make a Splash

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 03:40

General Dynamics-OTS, which is working with True Velocity and Beretta, this week showed off their new RM277 platform (left) which fires 6.8mm composite -cased cartridges (right) Photos: Gen Dyn-OTS/True Velocity)

Futuristic new guns competing in the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program were shown to the public this week.

Intended to replace the current standard M4 Carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun, the new NGSW contenders — which use 6.8mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition with an EPR bullet– were on hand at the largest land warfare conference and tradeshow in North America: the Association of United States Army annual meeting (AUSA 2019) taking place this week in Washington DC.

While AUSA has lots of interesting new guns, such as Northrop Grumman’s new XM913 50mm Bushmaster Chain Gun and Rheinmetall’s new 130mm/L51 smoothbore tank gun, it was the NGSW candidates that drew crowds.

Military Times’ Gear Scout got up close to the MCX Spear entry from Sig Sauer, which notably features a free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, side-charging handle, fully ambidextrous controls, folding buttstock, and suppressor. When it comes to their ultra-light NGSW-AR, proposed to be the successor to the M249, the machine gun has AR-style ergonomics, quick detach magazines, a side-opening feed tray, increased 1913 rail space for night vision and enablers, a folding buttstock, and suppressor.

General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems, which is working with True Velocity and Beretta, showed off their new RM277 NGSW platform, a bullpup with lots of modularity. Notably, the gun uses True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite-cased cartridge, which has a “drastic reduction in cartridge weight and enhanced accuracy.”

Textron, which has subcontracted with ammo maker Winchester-Olin and firearms maker Heckler & Koch, was in attendance at AUSA with their new NSGW platforms as well. As noted by Soldier Systems, their program’s 6.8mm cartridge “performs similar to 270 WSM.”

Shephard Media’s Scott Gourley ran across the Textron design.

Textron Systems spotlights their latest Next Generation Squad Weapon design at #AUSA2019

— Scott Gourley (@ScottGourley1) October 14, 2019

The three competitors are currently undergoing 27 months of testing. The Army plans to purchase 85,986 NGSW systems with an eye towards replacing guns in combat units first. Ultimately, the winner could stand to deliver 250,000 NGSWs and 150 million rounds of ammo plus options for further contracts.

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Categories: Gun News

Springfield Armory: New 5.56 SAINT Pistol w Trinity Brace

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 02:49

Using forged 7075 T6 aluminum hard-coat anodized uppers and lowers as well as a pretty sweet brace, the new Springfield Armory SAINT pistol is touted by the company as having “Hard-use durability and rock-solid reliability.” (Photos: SA)


Featuring an adjustable Trinity Force Breach Brace, Springfield Armory’s latest SAINT pistol installment has hit the market.

Billed as being “Maximum Performance, Minimal Price,” the 5.56 NATO chambered pistol from the Illinois-based gun maker uses a 9.6-inch chrome moly vanadium while the adjustable brace “provides enhanced stability and meets ATF requirements for pistol classification,” as noted by SA.

The new 5.56 SAINT pistol has a nickel boron coated trigger, 9.6-inch CMV barrel, railed BCM handguard with an integrated hand stop, and a pinned Picatinny gas block. Also, note the A-2 flash hider.

Other features include a forged 7075 T6 upper and lower receiver, as well as a shot-peened and magnetic particle inspected M16 bolt carrier group machined from Carpenter 158 steel. The gun sports a BCM Gunfighter PMCR two-piece handguard with M-LOK-attachment points and a BCM Mod. 3 pistol grip. The upper is optics ready while the steel gas block is topped with a Pic rail.

Weight is 5.5-pounds unloaded while the pistol runs measures 25.75 to 28.25 inches long due to the adjustable nature of the brace.

MSRP is set at $849 and the pistol comes standard with a single 30-round Magpul Gen M3.


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Categories: Gun News

A Family Passes It’s Hunting Tradition to the Next Generation

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 02:01

In the year 2000, Mark Muller, president of Max Motors, purchased a run-down ranch near Amoret, Missouri.

 “The point of it was to get my kids out of the city,” said Muller. “And let them go pee in a stream and take a .22 down in the woods and go squirrel hunting and ride a dirt bike and have some freedom.”

That same year, Muller invited the men of his family to the ranch for the 10-day Missouri whitetail deer hunting season. It happens every November, and it has come to be known simply as Deer Camp, and it is now a tradition amongst the crew.

“Deer Camp is about men getting together, celebrating our manhood, eating, drinking and doing what we want to do. It’s all about God, country, family and celebrating the rights we have and taking the harvest off the land,” said Muller.

Last year, Muller’s son Marko, shot a good-sized doe on opening day with his Remington 700 chambered in .270 Winchester.

“A lot of people don’t get it,” said Marko. “You go to the supermarket and you can buy a steak. You can buy chicken, but they don’t understand what it’s like to actually go out into nature and hunt and harvest your own meat.”

Less than 24-hours after shooting his deer, he had it butchered and a hindquarter cooked on the smoker — ready for dinner. The family gathered around, bowed their heads and gave thanks.

“It makes you feel a lot more proud and accomplished… that we’re eating something that I literally just killed a day ago,” said Marko.

One thing that has concerned Muller is passing the hunting tradition, and his deer campto the younger generation. At last year’s event, he officially invited his sons to carry the torch. To his delight, they agreed.

“We will carry on this tradition. For sure. We like it too much.” said Marko.

“My dad started something that’s really beautiful here. It would be a shame if we didn’t continue that,” said Mark’s youngest son, Matthew.

So it looks like Muller’s Deer Camp is here to stay. God Bless America.


Muller’s dining room showcasing some of the trophy bucks harvested on his property over the years. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Flags hang in Mark Muller’s 120-year-old barn. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

The Muller family and friends at the barn party to celebrate the opening of the 2018 Missouri 10-day whitetail deer hunting season. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Matt Muller arrives at his deer stand on a cold snowy morning. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

One of the many deer stands on Mark Muller’s property. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Deer snacking on soy as seen from the deer stand. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

One of the many deer stands on Mark Muller’s property. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

One of the many deer stands on Mark Muller’s property. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

One of the many deer stands on Mark Muller’s property. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

The Muller crew with their day’s harvest. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Marko Muller butchers his deer. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

A beautiful sunset is seen from a deer stand on Mark Muller’s property. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

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Categories: Gun News