Four Steps To Increase Rifle Marksmanship
Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III
Who wouldn’t like to own a nice custom-made $3,000 rifle? Unfortunately, most people have a budget, but if you can’t afford one, don’t slit your wrist quite yet. If you already own a decent rifle, there are four things you can do that will improve its accuracy, and these are not going to be earth-shattering concepts or new revelations. I’m constantly surprised at how many people don’t do these simple steps. Just remember an old proverb: The simple things confound the wise.
Many people like using a Caldwell Lead Sled coupled with double-ear protection to sight in their rifles. This helps reduce flinching. I wear Walker’s Power Muff Quads and foam ear plugs.
Check your optic
Are your mounts tight? Is your scope mounted properly? Is your scope tight? If not, you’ll hit all over the board.
The next thing to think about in this category is whether or not the scope is actually functional. You tend to get what you pay for in optics; however, regardless of scope quality ensure that it is at least functioning within the parameters of the value. I’m careful with my scopes. I don’t throw them in the back of my pickup truck or strap them onto my four wheeler. This type of activity can be detrimental to the internal components of a scope. Any scope.
DEAD FOOT ARMS
These are all basic things you should check just on the optic, but before you take a sledge hammer to a seemingly dysfunctional scope, let’s check three more items.
Chris Reed with McRees Precision giving me some pointers on long-range shooting while using their McRees Precision BR10.300WIN. Among his many accomplishments, Reed won season two of History Channel’s Top Shot TV show.
You may not always have a good rifle rest while hunting, but it’s imperative that you are stable when sighting in your rifle. I sight in on a steady table while using a Caldwell Lead Sled, a shooting rest used to brace the rifle, and it assists in recoil reduction. You don’t want 20 different factors affecting your shot, so you need to weed out the variables. At this point, we are just trying to determine what your rifle is capable of, not the shooter. If you don’t have a CLS, then sand bags can work great as well, or if you’re on a really tight budget, use pillows or blankets.
Out in the field I prefer a Harris bipod. I like the bigger one with the three-adjustment extendable legs, which go from 13½ to 29 inches. Hunting out on the prairie laying down is difficult because the sagebrush and grasses will block your field of vision. In a pinch you can carry two dowel rods taped together 6 inches from the end to use as a bipod to see over these obstacles.
The Rifle’s Trigger
To prove the importance of a good trigger I want you to try this: Make sure your rifle is unloaded and lay it on some pads. Make sure the safety is on, and go through the motions of
actually taking a shot. You will often notice that you start pulling off to one side. That’s what happens if you have a subpar trigger. An example would be an 8-pound trigger with a lot of creep and rough spots.
If you can really concentrate, you can overcome these pitfalls, but it takes total concentration on every shot. Why put yourself through that? If you’re so focused on pulling evenly, by the time it actually fires
you’ll need to gasp for air. It just takes too much concentration, and even then you won’t be able to totally overcome it.
(Top) In real-life situations a Harris bipod is the ticket. I use them a lot when varmint hunting so I can shoot over the sagebrush, bitterroot and other vegetation. (Bottom) Chris Barger from Rise Armaments installed one of their RA-535 Advanced Performance triggers into my DPMS, making my accuracy considerable tighter.
The other day I went out to shoot my DPMS Bull 20. The trigger was horrible, and it was really windy outside. I focused really hard and got a 1½-inch group at 100 yards, and figured that was about all it was capable of. Then I ran down to Rise Armament in Broken Arrow, Okla., toured their factory and headed out on a coyote hunt. While there, Chris Barger, president of Rise Armament, threw one of their RA-535 Advanced Performance triggers in my DPMS. The RA is a 3.5-pound trigger with no creep. As I alluded to before, my original trigger rated somewhere between horrible and the worst trigger ever. I have buddies who like light triggers, but a 3½-pound pull is about right for me in
When I shot my DPMS again, from the same rest using the same Hornady match ammunition, I was able to obtain a three-shot, one-hole group. I was amazed! I can’t overstress the importance of a good trigger.
My hardcore reloading buddies will start wailing and gnashing their teeth, not to mention calling me a heretic, but reloading is not as critical as it was 50 years ago. Granted, you might have to test out four or five different manufacturers and different grains of bullets to find which one shoots best in your rifle, but you should be able to find something that will help maximize your accuracy. To shorten the learning process and save yourself from overshopping, call the manufacturer of your gun to see which bullet they say works best in your rifle. Usually, I just talk to my friends at Hornady and tell them what rifle, caliber, and twist rate I have. They are the professionals!
After determining what shoots best in your specific rifle, sight it in using your chosen ammuntion. Sure, you may switch around if you’re varmint hunting one day and big-game hunting the next, but sight it in every time you switch bullets.
Don’t assume that a 40-grain bullet will probably shoot 2 inches higher than a 55-grainer. That would make sense though, wouldn’t it? I thought so too. I not only shot 2 to 3 inches inches lower, but also 3 inches to the left. So don’t shoot multiple brands and grains of bullets and expect to have any degree of consistency.
I promise that if you employ these suggestions, you should start getting tighter groups. AmSJ
After installing a Rise Armament RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger, I was able to shoot a one-hole, three-shot group at 100 yards with my AR.
Posted in Long Range Tagged with: Ammo, Caldwell Lead Sled, Chris Reed, McRees Precision, Tom Claycomb III
[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]SHOT Show 2016 – American Shooting Journal winners[/su_heading]
Recapping an excellent trade show
The American Shooting Journal featured a forever-spinning raffle wheel that never stopped during the 2016 SHOT Show. The winners were endless, we couldn’t feature them all.
Brittany Boddington, international huntress phenom and Tom Claycomb, AMSJ survivalist contributor, visiting to sign autographs.
Louie Tuminaro AKA The Gunfather with veteran Jose Martinez whose image we felt earned the right to adorn the November 2015 veteran’s cover of ASJ and Theresa “T-Bone” Tuminaro grinningly signed autographs.
The American Shooting Journal SHOT Show booth was packed throughout the show. The raffle wheel never stopped spinning and shooting out great prizes to winners all day long.
Ulti-Clip was in the house. This little gadget redefines the idea of having a concealed holster and stole the show this year. We were thrilled to partner with them.
Savoy Leather makes custom leather holsters for all walks of gun toters. This Vietnam vet was thrilled with his loot from the raffle wheel.
Among the great prizes that the raffle wheel spun out, this Cold Steel blade was a treasure.
We armed this dangerous woman with an amazing Hogue hatchet after she presented her GOLDEN TICKET and spun the great prize wheel. Awesome!
Law enforcement officer Joe Gallagher won the Layke Tactical .308 AR, and all thanks to the The Gunfather’s wife Theresa “T-Bone” who spun the wheel for him. Isn’t he thrilled she spun the wheel?
One of our amazing prizes was the sniper crossbow by Mission by Matthews. This winner was stoked.
Robert Bodron, owner and custom gunsmith of Riverdale Custom Shop, won the RTD Arms .308 RT-10. This guy must be related to Grizzly Adams.
Contributor and American Shooting Journal cover star Troy Rodakowski rockin’ the ASJ booth and promoting his awesome duck-hunting image.
Pat Surline, winner of the Inland Manufacturing 1911 and a Kickeez recoil pad. He was so excited that after winning, he walked around the show in a daze.
several people walked away with a new Shooting Chrony – the best device to track your rounds.
Shyanne Roberts’ fans who came to have their photo taken in front of her poster.
SHOT Show 2016 – the end. Not a prize left, and what a great show.
Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: .308 AR, AR 10, Brittany Boddington, Chuck Larson, Cold Steel, Crossbow, Hogue knives, Inland Manufacturing, Joe Gallagher, Jose Martinez, Kickeez, Layke Tactical, Louie Tuminaro, Mission by Matthews, MXB, Pat Surline, Robert Bodron, Rock River Arms, RTD Arms, Shooting Chrony, Shyanne Roberts, T-Bone, The Gunfather, Theresa Tuminaro, Tom Claycomb III, Troy Rodakowski, Ulti Clip, Veterans Sportsman Alliance
[su_heading size=”27″ margin=”0″]Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV Derringer[/su_heading]
Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III
I’ve never classified a gun as a fun gun to shoot, but that’s how I would describe the double-barreled Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV derringer. Bond makes a variety of calibers and styles, but I decided to go with the IV due to the longer 4¼-inch barrel, which I had hoped would be a bit more accurate, have less recoil and tighter groups.
The Snake Slayer IV can handle .45 Long Colts and 2¾- and 3-inch .410s. I guess it was really designed as a concealed-carry gun, but I wanted to use it against snakes while fishing. It would also be good for shooting big halibut before you boat them. A .410 will do the job nicely and not ricochet.
The first time I shot the Snake Slayer IV, my daughter Kolby joined me. Just as I set up a target, a ground squirrel ran out. I had a 2 ¾ ounce No.6 chambered and killed it at 20 feet.
Every time my daughter Kolby and I go fishing in Oregon, we see rattlesnakes. One year I heard her scream – a snake had jumped in the boat with us. On another trip on a river in Idaho, I saw six rattlesnakes and one of those floated right by me. That would have caused panic if it had tried to crawl up on the driest thing around, which was my head!
While in town, I originally thought to carry my Slayer with .45 Long Colts, but then I tested the new Winchester PDX-1 shells. Wow, they’re bad – in a good way! They have four discs and 16 BBs. They would stop a bad guy in his tracks. I shot various loads through the gun, and the first time I used the PDX-1 it made my jaw drop. It was noticeably devastating.
The Snake Slayer IV can interchange 20 barrels for a range of 25 different calibers.
The first rattle out of the box with a .45 Long Colt, I managed a 2½-inch group at 10 and 15 feet using Hornady’s 185-grain Critical Defense ammo. That would be more than enough to stop a bad guy – that’s a big bullet! But, like I said before, my main use for this gun would be to shoot snakes, and after shooting a .410 with No. 6 shot, I found that it had a wicked pattern, so I’m pretty confident it would work as a self-protection load as well.
When I took my Slayer out for some extensive shooting, I managed a 4-inch group at 15 feet, but I’m not renowned for being a great pistol shot. I then shot groups of two out of the same barrel and managed 2-inch groups, so there is a little variation between barrels, as you would imagine. Not a big factor, though, because it’s a short-range weapon.
I need to point out that the gun is diverse because you can interchange 20 different barrels, or 25 different calibers with one base unit. That has to make these one of the most versatile guns on the market.
It is a heavy, nice-looking and well-made duty pistol designed to last for generations. I also love that it has an equally nice and heavy-duty leather holster that is form-fitted with a latch to hold the gun securely.
Bond Arms has transformed the lowly derringer into a linebacker. ASJ
While fishing, a watersnake swam within a foot of me. This is why I carry the Snake Slayer IV. IT can readily be used as a great concealed-carry gun too.
Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: Bond Arms, Gun review, handguns, Hornady, Snake Slayer IV, Tom Claycomb III
Story and Photographs by Tom Claycomb III
If you research Benjamin Franklin, he had a lot of good quotes. The one that I really like is
“Don’t be the first to embrace the new nor the last to discard the old.”
I’m an outdoor writer so I test a lot of new gear. Every year the manufacturers bombard us with things that we cannot live without. I’m a willing victim! But, hey, what’s wrong with the bow, gun, tent and backpack that I bought last year and which was supposed to be the latest and greatest?
When I think back to 50 years ago I’m reminded of the above. My father told me his Remington Model 742 was a great deer rifle. In case you didn’t know, the 742 is a semiautomatic. He dropped two bucks within seconds of each other numerous times. His theory was that with one shot, the deer can’t pinpoint where the sound came from, but if you’re shooting a bolt-action rifle, the second buck will pinpoint you when you rack in the second bullet. He will be long gone before you get that shot in.
The Remington 742, also known as the Woodmaster, is a semiautomatic rifle that was produced by Remington Arms from 1960 until 1980. It featured a rotary breech block and side-ejection port, as well as a free-floating barrel.
So of course, my first rifle was a Remington 742 BDL Custom Deluxe that I bought with the earnings from my newspaper route. Years later, everyone made fun of me for having a semiauto since they don’t group as well as a bolt-action. I was ridiculed for years, despite shooting my first five to 10 turkeys in the head with it – and some of those were up to 140 paces away. It couldn’t have been too inaccurate.
Eventually, I was convinced that I needed to upgrade to a Remington 700 bolt-action. I got it and was proud as a peacock. But then a few years later, the AR-15 craze hit and became the new rage. Maybe Dad was right after all. Semiauto long rifles are the ticket. Everyone should have just listened to him 55 years ago.
I guess I’ll just always be out of style. Now I carry a bolt-action like some prehistoric cave-dwelling hunter while everyone else is carrying souped-up, tricked-out AR-15s. Maybe I’m just destined to be a nerd. Maybe I need to re-read the ol’ Ben Franklin quote “ … don’t be the last to discard the old.” Sometimes I’m so far ahead that I’m behind. And sometimes I’m so far behind that I end up being ahead. ASJ
The author’s first Remington 742 BDL Custom Deluxe.
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: Bolt-Action, Remington 700, Remington Model 742, Rifle, Semiautomatic, Tom Claycomb III