The Lever Gun Has Had Its Day

The lever gun has had its day, and a hell of a day it was. But the present and the future belong to the bolt-action and the AR.

-David E Petzal, Field and Stream (link)

Well, I am not sure where ol’ David lives but it sure isn’t around here.

He is correct about some things. The increased interest in long range precision shooting tends to move people away from lever actioned rifles. The bolt gun tends to be a better platform for that particular sport. He is also correct that the AR platform is now incredibly popular and a new “wonder cartridge” is released every few years which tends to keep them selling. So, the days of a deer rifle in every pickup truck and every deer rifle being a lever action from either Marlin or Winchester are gone. That’s true as well.

However…

It doesn’t take the incredible popularity or success Henry has had in recent years. with their lever actions. Typically you don’t see new models and new chamberings being released as often as Henry does in a platform that is dead.

Remlin sales are probably still suffering these days but that has more to do with their quality control and production issues than the the demise of lever action rifles. By the way, a quick check of the biggest sporting goods store in my area has the Marlin 336 as a top seller.

Winchester may have sent production to Miroku in Japan but I sure don’t see their prices falling or spare inventory sitting on the shelves. And we won’t even go into the replica manufacturers like Rossi, Uberti, etc. who also seem to be doing quick well selling this deceased platform.

Now let’s take a look over at the used firearm market. JM manufactured Marlins, especially pistol caliber carbines, sure do seem to be hold their value pretty well. I have seen worn out old Marlins and Glenfieds going for the same price as brand new bolt guns. Finding a pistol caliber carbine, especially chambered in .38/.357 for less that eight or nine hundred dollars. Go ahead. Try.

In the leftist occupied sections of the country there is a renewed interest in lever action rifles, especially in pistol calibers, as self-defense weapons. Because ARs are essentially banned in many of these locales.

Folks, these are not the signs of the end of the lever action rifle. It is a sign of a writer out of touch with the real world.

Take care and God bless.

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Weapons Systems: SIG BDX

It looks like the technology of shooting is taking another step forward.

SigSauer released this video on their new BDX (Ballistic Data Xchange) system. The video teaser leaves is pretty light on the details but basically they are adding Bluetooth technology to their lineup of rangefinders and rifle scopes. This will allow the devices to communicate with each other and with the app on a smart phone to provide shooting solutions based on distance, angle and weather conditions. The rifle scopes appear to have an illuminated reticle incorporated that provides the appropriate aim point based on the data collected from the other devices.

The techno-geek in my thinks this is pretty darn cool. Hunting and shooting are my escape from that world…

Take care and God bless/

Range Report: Ruger American Rimfire

As I mentioned in the last What Did You Prep This Month(ish) post, I picked up a Ruger American Rimfire chambered in .22 Long Rifle. This is a rimfire version of the Ruger American Predator in .308 that is my primary hunting rifle and the Ruger American Ranch in 7.62 Commie that is a fun rifle to shoot and could easily serve for hunting as well. The stock and trigger are the same between all three rifles. The action for the rimfire is (obviously) scaled down a bit but, for the most part, these rifles are almost interchangeable and time spent practicing with one translates directly to the other two.

This is one of the reasons I picked up this little guy. Even though 7.62 Commie is pretty cheap, .22 Long Rifle is still much cheaper. I can send 100 rounds of .22 downrange for the cost of 20 7.62×39 rounds and probably 250 rounds for the cost of 20 .308 Winchester rounds. The other reason is that there are times I may want to hunt smaller game. Squirrels and rabbits are not only plentiful but fairly tasty when properly prepared. This gives me a nice option for adding food to the pot or freezer. Plus .22 is much quieter than most centerfire rounds and that might just come in handy one day.

Three Ruger Americans (top to bottom) American Predator in .308, American Rimfire and Ranch in 7.62×39

To keep the little Ruger rimfire as consistent with its bigger brothers I topped it with the rimfire version of the Vortex Crossfire II 2×7 I use on the other rifles. Mounting the scope required removing the rear peep sight that came installed on the gun. Which was pretty straightforward once I located my punch set (can’t find anything in the house these days). I will also add a sling at some point to make it more convenient for hunting.

I was able to sight the little Ruger in pretty quickly. In less that 10 shots I was zeroed at 25 yards. It took about the same to make sure it was on at 50 yards. That’s about as far out as I care to take it so I spent the next 90 or so rounds just getting a feel for the rifle and what it can do.

As I mentioned before, the rifle is more accurate than I am. At the 25 yard line I could chew a hole into the bullseye all day. Say 35 or 40 rounds into about an inch or so. At 50 yards my groups opened up a little and this is where I will probably spend a lot of time with this little rifle to improve my accuracy. I tested it out to 100 yards and once I worked out the hold over I was doing surprisingly well by my standards. Hitting the steel target at 200 yards was an exercise in futility. I am sure that in the right hands the rifle is capable but mine are not the right hands. To be honest I have no idea if I hit the steel or not. I doubt a lowly .22 hitting steel at that distance on an active range could even be heard.

A pretty good group (for me)

Between the fact that this is a .22 and the contour of the barrel, I could send quite a few rounds downrange pretty quickly without heating up the barrel to any noticeable degree. Which means I can maintain a much higher rate of fire without affecting accuracy in any way. I can be more efficient with my practice time that way but, to be honest, I have to resist a tendency to just bang away at the target instead of taking my time with each shot.

The trigger on the American Rimfire is the same Ruger Marksman Adjustable™ trigger as on the centerfire rifles. It is crisp and light (remember it is adjustable if you want it lighter) that has me spoiled as far as rifle triggers go. The MilSpec triggers on my ARs that I used to love so much feel heavy and gritty now. One thins I have noticed is that there is a good bit of variability between these triggers from Ruger. The 7.62 Commie and the rimfire triggers are noticeably better than the one on my .308 Winchester. Even after adjusting the trigger on the .308 it doesn’t feel quite as nice as the other two. It seems a bit heavier and seems to stick a little on occasion. I wouldn’t think there should be that much variability between the same triggers. Maybe the trigger in the .308 is a lemon. If it is it is still nicer than pretty much any other trigger on any other rifle I own.

I love the weight and balance of these rifles. While it doesn’t make much of a difference at the range the lightweight and shorter barrels make them much easier in the woods. Even in the winter months the woods around this part of Texas are filled with vines and scrub that wants to grab, scratch and trip you up. Lugging a heavy rifle or a long barreled rifled through the local brush is a lot like work and not all that fun. These handy little rifles make it a little less so.

The one thing about the Ruger American Rimfire than annoyed me (sort of) was the sound of the firing pin. I wear noise cancelling headphones when shooting so the loud noises like the actual rifle shots are blocked. Noises at no hearing damaging levels are not so I can carry on a conversation while wearing them. I can also hear a clear “ping” everytime I pull the trigger on this little rifle. It is probably the same volume as a centerfire rounds hitting a steel target at 200 yards so not very loud but somewhat annoying.

Seriously, that’s my biggest complaint about this rifle.

The rifle cost me $235 including taxes, shipping and FFL fees. The scope and rings were close to another $100 on top of that. Depending on your financial situation this may be cheap or it may be expensive. For me it is a reasonable price for this piece of equipment and I am very pleased with it.

Take care and God bless!

Marlin 1894 .38/.357 Is Back!

Maybe the most exciting news out of the 2018 SHOT Show (for me) was the Marlin 1894 CST. This is a new edition of the classic Marlin lever action chambered in .38 Special/.357 Magnum that sports a 16.5 inch threaded barrel, black finished wood furniture, XS ghost ring sights, big loop lever and a a brushed stainless finish.

1894 CST

While I think this particular model is extremely cool the real reason I am so excited is that it signifies a return to manufacture of the 1894 in the .38/.357 cartridge. Since the Remington takeover (ruination?) of Marlin the pistol caliber carbines have been nearly as hard to find as honest politicians and carbines chambered in .38/.357 have been even more rare than that. Hopefully, this means a return to production for all the models in this line.

For around $300 less than the $1154 MSRP of the CST I would probably buy the plain Jane 1894C with the longer (20 inch) barrel.

Traditional 1894C

What it lacks in “tacticool,” if that can ever be applied to a lever gun, of the CST you get an extra four rounds of capacity and the $300 savings can go into better sights and more ammo. Now if I were to find a particularly good deal on the CST…that might be a different story.

God Bless

Range Report: Annual Hunting Trip

Last weekend was our annual “guys weekend” hunting trip to North Texas and I wanted to share a few thoughts and observations…

The Good

The Ruger American Predator in .308 is a great rifle (for me).

The rifle is nice an light. Unlike some other rifles I have used, carrying it through the woods, mud and brush all day on was no problem. No wrist or shoulder pain like I have had carrying some other rifles. The “Claw” sling from Quake did a great job keeping the rifle in place so I didn’t have to worry and hold it in place all day.

Little rifle, little piggy and a big round…

Accuracy, as long as I did my part, was dead on and the Vortex Crossfire II 2×7 scope was perfect for both the the tighter shooting needs on a stalk through thick brush as well as longer ranges from a stand in an open field.

The first pig I took was in an open field but I had to stalk through some heavy brush to get to the field. The light weight and short length of the rifle made it much easier to make it close enough to take the shot without making enough noise to spook the pigs. We happened upon a small group of pigs while tagging along with my grandson and his dad while they were squirrel hunting. The light weight means I didn’t leave it back at camp and again the small size made it easier to sneak through the brush for an easier shot. The power of the .308 put the piggy down even with a less than stellar shot on my part. The third hog was across an open field from an elevated stand. The stationary, elevated position allowed for an easy and clean head shot even over the longer distance.

The steaks.

There is very little that can top a perfectly seasoned 16 ounce ribeye cooked over an oak fire with potatoes and onions on the side…

Fellowship with my son, grand son and son-in-law.

Father and son spending time together in nature

It was a great time and we were able to spend some quality time together without TV, Internet, iPads or any of the other distractions of modern life to interrupt. My grandson got to learn more about hunting and cleaning animals. He know where his meat comes from and what goes into killing and preparing it. He spent a lot of time practicing with his new .22 and is getting pretty good with it. I have a standing offer to him that if he can hit a soda can at 50 yards with open sights in five shots or less I’ll give him $20. He almost took it from me this trip.

The Bad

Nikon scopes with exposed turret adjustments.

My son was adjusting the green light mounted on his AR and the light mount twisted on his scope turning the elevation turret an unknown number of clicks. I may be missing something but turret adjustments should not be exposed like that on a rifle, especially one that is used outside of the controlled space of a range. We were able to re-zero the next day but that burned hunting time and ammo.

Forgetful old men.

Between the repairs to the house, work, the holidays and everything else we have going on this old man forgot several things this weekend…including ammo for his rifle. If you’re going hunting, remember to bring ammo. It was thirty plus miles to town for ammo which also ate into our hunting time although we did find a good burger place.

New boots.

Most of my shoes were lost in the flood including the boots I wear when hunting. I picked up a new pair just in time for the trip but didn’t have time to break them in. No blusters, but not very comfy either. The right one also squeaked when I walked making it tough to stalk quietly.

The Ugly

Diseased Pigs

The hog I shot on the last night, from the stand, looked good in the scope and under the green hog light but once we retrieved her we knew something was wrong. A pig that size should have weighed in around 150 to 175 but I doubt she even made 100 pounds. Even in the dark we could see her ribs. No idea what was wrong with her but we took no risks and disposed of the carcass without bothering to get the little meat she had on her. On the good side maybe whatever she was suffering from won’t be passed along to any other hogs or deer.

God bless

What Did You Prep This Week?

Walk With God

No church or Sunday school this week. We were attending the birth of a wonderful blessing from God; a new grand baby. Wednesday night bible study did not happen either as I was tied up at work and with stuff for the house. Prayer time was OK. I will be out of town next weekend on a hunting trip to north Texas so I will miss again next week too.

Self Defense/Hunting

Made another trip back to the range and burned through around a hundred rounds of .308 in the Ruger American Predator. My groups at 25 and 50 yards are spot on and pretty tightly grouped. The jump to 100 yards though turns that group into a pattern (3-4 inches). I am not sure what the issue is but I am pretty sure it is me and not the rifle. I think I may be cranking the magnification up too high (7x on a 2×7) and that is causing me issues. On the last few shots of the day I left the magnification all the way down and although the groups didn’t tighten up much I was able to acquire the target and shoot more quickly. The sight picture is much more stable so there is less desire to jerk the trigger. It could also be related to the scope height.

I also tested several brands of ammunition both full metal jacket (FMJ) practice rounds and hunting rounds and they all performed about the same. Which is a good thing. The Federal Fusion 180 grain rounds consistently hit higher than the other rounds tested (all 145-150 grain) and ididn’t group any better than the less expensive rounds. So, I will be sticking with the cheaper stuff although they have a lighter option as well and I may try that at some point.

The range I went too goes out to around 330 yards and I was pleasantly surprised that I could hit the 220 yard steel target almost at will and the 330 yard target at least half the time. Prior to this trip have only made one shot at that kind of distance before. A 200 yard shot on a deer with a loaner rifle that was sighted to be dead on at that distance so I was pretty happy about that.

I was also able to pick up a ton of brass in .308 (mostly my own) and 5.56 as well as a few odds and ends that I can reload as well.

I purchased another set of low rings. The scope rings on the .308 are mids and the lows on the 7.62×39 seem to fit me better and allow a better cheek weld. I will swap those once I get back from my hunting trip this coming weekend.

Supplies/Gear

Restocked the first aid kid in my EDC bag. We’ve had a lot of little cuts and scrapes to deal with of late. I am being very careful with even small scratches picked up around the house due to the flooding.

Finances

We are having to drain down the savings to continue making repairs. Although this is why we saved (a rainy day) it’s still tough seeing the balances we worked so hard to build up getting smaller.

Fitness/Health

I NEED TO FOCUS HERE!

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this week. How about you? What did you Prep this week?

Take care and God Bless