Have I made myself perfectly clear?
Have I made myself perfectly clear?
Reader Mike G. decides to elevate my blood pressure by sending me a link to this piece of filth:
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a number of her colleagues today introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, a bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Joining Senator Feinstein on the bill are [the usual set of fucking GFW tools — Kim]
They never give up, so nor should we. Please write to your senators and representatives, just to remind them that we don’t support this bullshit. (I know, they probably already know that, but it never hurts to provide pointed commentary.)
Please use calm and reasoned language instead of what you’d really like to write. I just did, so you can too.
How do I really feel about it?
Several people have asked for details on the shooting equipment we used in the Angus Glens last week.
Here’s a pic of the rifles we took up:
From left to right, they are: Combat Controller’s Browning A-Bolt, Mr. Free Market’s two Blaser R8s (the other is a “back-up” in .308 Win), my Mauser M12, and Doc Russia’s Remington 700. All of us used Harris HBLMS (9″-13″ tiltable) bipods, as they’ve proved to be the most reliable and rugged.
Here are their details, in order of seniority. (Mr. FM has been going up there for the past twenty-odd years, CC for seven, and Doc for four.)
Rifle: Blaser R8 Professional
Caliber: .300 Win Mag
Ammo: RWS Evolution 165gr RapidX
Barrel length: 24″ (six groove, 1:11″ twist)
Scope: Swarovski Gen 1 Z6i 2.5-15×56 w/ illuminated reticle + Swarovski ballistic turret
Binoculars: Leica 8×42 Geovid w/integral 1,200-meter rangefinder
Rifle: Browning A-Bolt
Caliber: .300 Win Mag
Ammo: Federal Premium 165gr Trophy Coppertip
Barrel length: 20″ — cut back from its original 24″ –(1:10″ twist)
Scope: Trijicon Accupoint 2.5-10x56mm
Binoculars: Steiner Safari 8×42
Rifle: Remington 700 M40 long action (custom-built by Fivetoes Custom Rifles)
Caliber: .300 Win Mag (Hornady 140gr)
Ammo: Hornady Superformance 180gr SST polymer tip
Barrel length: 22″ (Proof Research Carbon-Fiber)
Stock: McMillan M40A1 synthetic
Scope: Nightforce NXS 2.5-10×32mm, with ballistic turret and Vortex Optics anti-cant device
Rangefinder: Sig-Sauer Kilo 2000 (doubles as his binos)
Rifle: Mauser M12
Ammo: RWS Dual-Core 140gr HP
Barrel length: 22″
Scope: Minox ZX5i 2-10x50mm 30mm tube w/illuminated reticle, on Mauser Hexalock Quick-Release mounts. Unusually, it has a German #4 reticle:
My equipment was based simply on my own experience and, as we all know, was not tested on this trip. But all agreed that my rifle and scope, at least, were quite adequate for the task. (The rifleman, maybe not so much.)
Just a few additional thoughts:
We all agree on the wisdom of using range-finders. In featureless terrain such as in the Glens (and in places such as eastern Montana and the prairie states), it is almost impossible to gauge the correct distance to target because of hidden crests, no reference points such as trees, and so on. If possible, get a range-finder that can reach out to 1,000 yards/meters at minimum — not because you’re going to take many shots at 1,000 whatever but because the longer the reach, the higher the quality. If the range-finders are incorporated into binoculars (e.g. Mr. FM’s Leica), so much the better. And when it comes to binoculars: cheap ones just don’t work, period. I tried using the “back-up” Bushnell 6×32 binos, and they were just inadequate. Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss, Steiner, whatever: don’t skimp on the quality because it will almost certainly screw up your hunt.
Ballistic turrets are not absolutely vital, but they certainly make your precision a lot easier to come by. With his turret, Doc Russia calls his shots to within an inch of point of impact at almost any distance, and his number of one-shot kills has climbed to close to 100% on flat terrain (the uphill- and downhill shots still “need work”, as he himself admits). Also: have a ballistic chart for your ammo’s performance in your rifle (the manufacturer’s specs may not reflect reality, in this regard), and keep it handy. All three of the experienced stalkers in our group had them taped somewhere (sleeve, rifle stock, wherever).
Doc also has an anti-cant device (bubble-level) built onto his scope. When the horizon is hidden in the mist or otherwise unreliable and your firing position is not on level ground, a tilted rifle makes nonsense of ballistic tables.
Personal fitness. Muscle pain, puffing and panting, pounding heart and gasping for oxygen are no way to go through hunting, son. All the pros like Craig Boddington emphasize serious exercise as preparation for every hunt. I walked a couple miles each day before my trip back to the UK, up and down quite a steep hill between my residence and the village. I should have carried a heavy pack and done the thing twice or three times a day. Even Doc Russia, who works out in the gym in his garage, referred to himself as “fat and out of condition” after his first stalk. Our Head Stalker Dougal can walk the glens all day, and has been known to run(!) up to four miles in search of a wounded deer — and even if you can’t get to that level, halfway is an absolute prerequisite.
One last point: all our rifles, as seen in the pic above, carried sound suppressors / moderators, and I cannot impress enough on my Murkin Readers what a difference these can make to hunting. Quite apart from the noise reduction (itself a wonderful benefit), the reduction in felt recoil is considerable and therefore makes target re-acquisition much quicker. The noise reduction, of course, simply turns “ear-splitting” into “bloody loud”, as we all know. (Ignore Hollywood’s depiction of a small phut! when shooting anything other than a .22 or 9mm subsonic cartridge. When sighting in our rifles on Day One, Doc touched off a shot before I could get my hands or plugs to my ears, and they were still ringing a half-hour later.) I would urge everyone to write to their Congresscritter(s) and urge them to get the HPPA (pro-moderator/suppressor) legislation to the President’s desk ASAP. It’s long past due that Americans can enjoy the benefits of suppressed-fire hunting and target shooting that our European counterparts have always had.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. Any further questions can be asked in Comments or via email, as usual.
The area known as the Angus Glens is a hard, unforgiving place. Here, just south of the Cairngorm National Park, the climate is brutal in November, and it shows in the faces of the locals: pinched, weathered and stern. The wind is icy, and it always blows hard — gusty, intense and with speeds of 25mph all the way up to gale strength. The daytime highs hover around 34°F (wind chill: 25°F), plunge to 28°F at night, and the cold is bone-chilling; damp and icy, clothes do not dry out even inside, needing assistance from radiators or a blazing fire in the hearth, and boots hardly ever dry out even then. In Scottish terms, it’s late autumn.
It gets worse as you climb up into the hills. The temperature drops to well below freezing and the wind chill, on any day, falls to about 18°F. There is always moisture in the air: mist and fog on the warmer days, icy rain most of the time, and if a cold front comes through, driving sleet and snow.
That’s in the air. On the ground, conditions are even more brutal. Mostly, the hills are covered with heather which is soft and springy underfoot — it’s like walking on foam rubber — but it is horribly uneven, and without strong support from your boots, you will not cover more than a dozen yards without turning your ankle, or worse. Falls are frequent, because the heather hides dips in the ground, grass tussocks and tiny spring-fed streams of icy water trickling down into the Isla River. You can fall forwards, backwards and sideways depending on where you place your feet, and the only good thing about the heather is that it can cushion your fall — unless, of course, you happen to land on one of the many rocks which dot the landscape, sometimes peeking out from the heather, but mostly concealed under the foliage. Where possible, you try to avoid the lichen-covered rocks because they are as slippery as hell. There is no level ground. You are either walking uphill, which places unbearable strain on your thighs’ quadricep muscles and calves, downhill which plays hell with your knees, or sideways which can strain your ankles to the breaking point, even in good boots.
It is a place where, as Mr. Free Market succinctly observes, things can go wrong very, very quickly and very, very badly.
I scrambled in these hills and fell three times during the first few hundred yards, with no ill effects other than injured pride. Doc Russia, who was with me, only stumbled a couple of times (“because it’s not my first rodeo up here, Kim”) while our guide, Head Stalker Dougal (of whom more later) strolled about like he was on a garden lawn, texting his girfriend. I went uphill about half a mile, downhill about the same, and sideways about two miles. Then we arrived at the place where we would have a clear shot at a deer, only to find that the herd had moved off and were now at least a thousand yards away, invisible over the brow of a hill. So we set off in pursuit, back up the hill and sideways just under the brow for about a mile. On a few occasions, the pain in my knees was so bad I had to call for a couple minutes’ rest. Then Doc would help me back onto my feet and we’d set off again. We were going back down the hill, guided by Mr. Free Market’s radio commentary from his position in the valley, where he could see the herd.
Then, disaster. I fell sideways, only this time the tread in the heel of my boot caught in the heather and I twisted as I fell, tearing the lateral collateral ligament in my left knee.
It was just two hours in on Day 1, and my week’s hunt was over.
Doc helped me down the hill — we were unreachable except by helicopter, and no helicopter was going to fly in those conditions — so there was nothing for it but to suck it up and go down the hill about half a mile, across the stream at the bottom, and up the hill on the other side to the waiting Land Rover. I held onto Doc’s arm for dear life (Dougal’s pitiless comment: “Ye look like a fookin’ auld married couple”) and somehow I made it.
The hunt went on without me. Doc got one deer, Mr. FM another, and then the mist turned into dense fog as the temperature dropped to well below freezing. Even the tireless Dougal had to admit defeat, so we went back down to the processing station so that he and Mr. FM could take the quad bike and tractor back up the hill to fetch the two dead deer.
The next day would prove much more rewarding, for two of us at least. Mr. FM stalked deer on a neighboring estate and got one, and I went up the hill with Doc again, this time purely as an observer. Doc dropped five deer before lunchtime, whereupon the weather turned again and we had to abandon the hunt for the day.
And now a brief aside while I discuss the equipment we used, because it’s important.
I discovered that under the typical conditions on the hill, my 6.5x55mm ammunition would have been if not inadequate, not optimal. (Mr. FM has used the cartridge for years as his deer-slayer, and disagrees with my take, by the way.) The wind would have blown the 140-grain bullet all over the place, so even with the Swede’s velocity, its slender bullet and excellent sectional density, a 100- to 150-yard shot would be okay; but after a tiring scramble with racing heart and labored breathing, a 300-yard shot (about the average shooting distance up on the hill) would have been iffy at best, disastrous at worst. So while the 6.5mm Swede is a decent cartridge for deer, on the hill it would require almost a perfect shot to make a one-shot kill — and I’m not at all that sure of my skill with a rifle, under those conditions.
The cartridge to use in the Angus Glens is, unquestionably, the .300 Winchester Magnum (as used by my companions).
Mr. FM was using the RWS Evolution 165gr RapidX-tipped cartridge (at 300 yards, it’s traveling at 2,309 fps delivering 2,178 with -10.4″ drop, from a 100-yard zero).
Doc Russia was using the Hornady Superformance 180gr SST polymer tip (2,533 fps, delivering 2,564 ft-lbs and -9.9″ drop at 300 yards, from a 100-yard zero).
Combat Controller used Federal Premium 165gr Trophy Coppertips (2,500 fps delivering 2,290 ft-lbs with a -10.4″ drop at 300 yards, from a 100-yard zero).
With any of the three cartridges, the .300 Win Mag bullet cuts through the wind with almost no effect, and the thump of the bullet’s impact sounds like a bass drum slap, even at 300+ yards. With the proper placement in the heart and lungs, it’s a one-shot kill with maybe a few staggering steps. With a less-than-perfect shot, the animal may make but a hundred or so yards before expiring, or at least dropping so it can be dispatched. Because Doc, CC and Mr. FM are all excellent shots, the vast majority (16 out of 19 deer in total) were taken with one shot. The RWS Evolution and Federal Trophy .300 WinMag 165gr-rounds are very good; the Hornady SST 180gr is magnificent.
Had I had the chance to take a shot with my ammunition under the same conditions, I seriously doubt that the outcome would have been the same. In fact, I’m positive that I would have screwed things up; and as much as I love the 6.5x55mm Swede, it’s not the cartridge for the Angus Glens — not for me, anyway.
More to the point, however, is this: the Glens have been a very humbling experience for me. The terrain and climate are one thing — those, I can deal with — and while injury is always possible, that’s an uncontrollable circumstance. (Combat Controller, of whom more later, once nearly broke his ankle on Day 1 of one of his earlier hunts here simply by stepping into one of those concealed streamlets I mentioned earlier.)
But climate and terrain aside, to take a shot at an animal under the conditions on the hill requires skill with a rifle that I no longer have. To be brutally honest (and the Glens will force that out of you), I need more practice and to have a great deal more familiarity with my rifle and its performance than I had for this trip. In that regard, my injury at the beginning of this week may have been a blessing in disguise — because chasing a wounded deer for miles in these conditions might have killed me quicker than I could have killed a deer.
The next time I visit the Angus Glens as Mr. Free Market’s guest, I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing a .300 Win Mag rifle, with the Hornady SST 180gr feed. I will also be a better-prepared rifleman. This, I promise. Yes, I’ll be a year or two older; but I’ll also be about ten years wiser. The Glens do that to you, too.
To be continued, in more detail and with pictures… but in the meantime, here’s one of Doc (right) and Dougal fetching two of the deer carcasses Doc popped at 200 yards uphill.
Here’s where Mr. Free Market, Doc Russia, Combat Controller and I will be stalking deer for the rest of the week. The pics were taken in years passim, when the weather was fine (i.e. not freezing with rain/sleet/snow falling).
That’s Doc Russia and CC, suitably attired. I must tell you that if the weather turns anything like that, I shall be ensconced in our temporary home with a roaring fire in front of my chair and a glass of a warming beverage in hand. Let the youngins freeze their thingies off; I’m too old for that nonsense. Fortunately, Mr. FM has arranged for suitable digs for us:
…and my bedroom, where I’ll huddle, shivering, if it’s too miserable to hunt:
And speaking of rogues, here’s Mr. FM on last year’s stalk, fresh from his day’s work:
…and lest anyone gets bent out of shape, let me remind everyone that what we’re doing is culling the game — injured deer and roes, not trophies — because without culling, the deer would overpopulate the estate and most would die of starvation as the grazing got sparser. And the meat goes into the estate’s freezers to generate income from venison sales to the public; we don’t get to keep any of it. (We can however, buy some from previous stalkers’ activities… watch this space.)
For those interested in such matters, the guns to be used are Mr. FM’s Blaser R98, Doc Russia’s blueprinted Remington 700 and Combat Controller’s Browning A-Bolt (all in .300 WinMag) and my Mauser M12 (6.5x55mm Swedish — because I don’t own a rifle in .300 WinMag).
Posting may be somewhat light over the next few days; there are no phone lines or cell towers, let alone an Internet connection, but I’ve put a few non-date-specific posts in the hopper to keep things fresh-ish.
See y’all next week.
Surveys about gun ownership in the U.S. are largely meaningless, because not that many people are willing to tell a total stranger whether or not they have any guns in the house. So by all means, take this one’s findings (a state-by-state comparison of the percentage of households with guns) with as much salt as you wish.
That said: Texas ranks only 13th? Behind Minnesota?
It’s enough to make a man sick to his stomach. If Louisiana, Arkansas and even New Mexico, our poorest and least significant neighbors can chalk up (much) higher percentages, then it’s time we Texans got some new shooters up and running here in the Lone Star State.
So this is a call to arms (literally) to any of my Texas Readers who might know of some poor souls who are defenseless: get it done.
At least we beat Oklahoma…
Because it’s a CBS survey, the tools ranked the states in inverse order. (Rhode Island ranked #1 with only 5%. No wonder their burglary rate is astronomical.) Alaska, as expected, has over 60% of households with guns and are at the top (actually #51; they also gave statehood to D.C., the assholes, hence the strange numbers).
Hawaii also ranks high, but that’s because there are only about ten households in all of Hawaii. (The rest are Japanese tourists, hippies of no fixed abode and soldiers / sailors.)
Finally: I love the pictures they use to illustrate each state. Usually, it’s some dimbulb police chief looking earnest as he holds up an eeeevil gun, but the best they can do with Texas is a Mexican at a gun show with a WWII Lee-Enfield No.4? Yeah, that’s representative of Texas gun owners. (Nice-looking gun, by the way.)