manufacturers and after-market designers have devised a number of ways to reduce
perceived recoil or muzzle flip after a shot is fired. These typically utilize a portion of the expanding gas from
the exploding gun powder. Rather that being
propelled out the end of the barrel, some of the gas is redirected out of
"ports" or finely cut and aligned holes in the top or sides of the
barrel near the muzzle. Gasses
vented in this fashion tend to push back the barrel in the direction opposite
their thrust, in a manner similar to that of a jet aircraft exhaust. This action
counters, or reduces, some of the recoil felt by the shooter or some of the jump
which affects the end of the barrel.
well suited to handguns chambered for large caliber rounds intended for
hunting. Its use in a handgun intended for personal protection is strongly
a self defense situation, the intended victim may find it impractical to
fire upon an assailant from the traditional stance of extended strong
arm point of aim. Due to proximity of the aggressor or dictates of
available cover, the armed citizen may find it necessary or desirable to
fire from a position in which the elbow is held close to the body,
forearm extended forward, with the handgun secured in a grip at waist
than using the gun's sights, the intended victim points the firearm with
the orientation of the body. When a shot is fired, porting on a
handgun held in this manner will likely propel hot gasses and debris
into the face of the person holding the gun, causing distraction, or
worse, temporary blindness. In a life and death situation, any
mishap that gives an advantage to one's adversary is to be avoided at
all costs. Don't use a ported handgun as the weapon of choice to
protect your life.
brakes", chiefly found on rifles, work in an identical fashion to handgun
ports in reducing recoil. They
normally are comprised of a separate attachment that is installed on the end of
the barrel. An issue to consider with muzzle brakes is that they won't win you any
popularity contests with shooters to either side. Some of the hot gasses
and debris that normally would be expelled from the muzzle down range are blown
sideways. Anyone who happens to have the misfortune of occupying adjacent
space at the wrong time is deluged with hot gas, smoke, and noise. When a
rifle is fired from a prone position, muzzle brakes have a way of stirring up
dust. The reduction in recoil, particularly on rifles chambered for
smaller calibers, may not be worth the negative repercussion.
are similar devices that also rely on ports, with the objective of reducing
muzzle flip rather than recoil. This is accomplished by port
orientation. Installed as an integral part of the muzzle or as a muzzle
attachment, the compensator allows for extremely quick target acquisition, and
thus shot follow up, after the initial shot is fired. A
"compensated" sight plane is not nearly as disrupted as one subject to
normal muzzle flip. Again, realize that the down side of a compensator is
blast to adjacent space on one's sides.
will likely find the terms "muzzle brake" and
"compensator" used interchangeably, without distinction.
or "Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System" available from Browning on
some of its high quality rifles is a high tech, yet simple means of improving
the inherent accuracy of a rifle. When any rifle is fired, the barrel
experiences a series of vibrations from the time the firing pin strikes the
cartridge primer to the time the bullet exits the muzzle. These vibrations
exist during the period in which the bullet is traveling through the bore.
The ultimate effect of these vibrations is to cause the barrel of any rifle to
act as a whip at the muzzle.
these essentially imperceptible vibrations in the barrel is the function of
BOSS, which consists of a weighted body and adjustment ring fitted to the muzzle
of the rifle. By repeated experimentation, the shooter is able to
"dial in" the adjustable ring to arrive at the optimal setting for
one's particular ammunition and rifle that yields the best accuracy. The
system is that straight forward.
BOSS comes in two distinct configurations: with and without a muzzle brake
feature to reduce recoil.
conventional "flash hider" or "flash suppressor" is
essentially a fitting attached to the muzzle of the rifle which
redirects a significant portion of the propellant gasses in a uniform
circular direction perpendicular to the alignment of the barrel.
Because gasses are equally distributed in all directions, benefit
from reduced muzzle jump is negligible. Alignment of the ports in
a flash suppressor is not intended to reduce recoil either. A
flash hider assists the shooter in conditions of darkness by reducing
the perception of muzzle blast which can temporarily cause loss of
the exception of BOSS, the accuracy of a rifle is not improved by the
addition of porting, muzzle brakes, compensators and flash
suppressors. In fact, the opposite is true. A bare muzzle
with a target crown allows for the uniform escape of propellant gasses
from the barrel. This condition is conducive to bullet
accuracy. That is why it is important to protect the crown of the
muzzle with a brass or plastic rod guide when cleaning the bore, to
assure that the rod never touches the rifling at the muzzle.
As with any precision tool, it is
important to properly maintain your firearm. Purchasers of new
guns will find detailed instructions for gun maintenance supplied in the
"owner's manual" provided by the manufacturer.
The emergence of new synthetic solutions
is a boon to the gun owner, and greatly assists cleaning and
maintenance. Developed to military specifications, "Breakfree"
is a three-in-one product. It serves as a solvent,
as a lubricant, and as a corrosion inhibitor.
stores such as WalMart or your local sporting goods store
or gun shop should carry this
triple action synthetic solution. Its use is recommended.
There is rarely any need to use anything else to properly clean and maintain
your handgun, rifle, or shotgun, other than occasional use of copper or
lead solvents as required. Autoloaders, however, will appreciate
the additional application of a high quality lubricant to ensure
Remember, more damage to
firearms has occurred from over zealous or improper cleaning than from
actual use. Hence, it is better to err on the side of minimums,
rather than maximums, where cleaning is concerned.
is the series of spiraling grooves machined into the inside of a rifle or
pistol barrel. Purpose of the rifling is to impart a
"spin" to the fired bullet to improve its aerodynamic
properties during flight, in a manner similar to a quarterback throwing
a football. Rifles represent a technological advance over
"smooth bore" ball firing muzzle loaders in this
respect. Aerodynamics of a bullet can also be improved by various
"boat tail" designs.
lugs intended to be fired from
shotguns are often rifled to improve accuracy. In this case, the
rifling or grooves are on the slug rather than on the smooth bore of the
shotgun. Rifled slugs are popular for short distance shotgun deer
hunting. Typically, however, the shotgun is used to fire multiple round pellets, thereby improving the shooter's chances of encountering
the intended target with multiple projectiles. Choice of pellet
size depends upon the chosen game or target. For personal defense
in a twelve gauge shotgun, buckshot is recommended in the size 00 ("double ought")
buck. Consider visiting the Armory munitions rooms "Shotgun
Ammunition: Hunting" and "Shotgun
Ammunition: Self Defense".
is the term given to the distance within the barrel over which a rifled
spiral completes one full revolution. Specific twists are better
suited to optimizing the flight of bullets of differing weights or types
within the same caliber.
an example, consider the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO caliber bullet popular in both
military and civilian applications. A 1 in 12 twist (one
revolution per twelve inches of barrel length) stabilizes 40 to 55-grain bullets well, but is unsuitable for heavier bullets like the
69-grain boat tail used in match target competition.
Conversely, a 1 in 7 twist, suited to stabilizing the
mid to heaviest bullets well, is so rapid that it may
cause potentially frangible bullets such as soft points to disintegrate.
This makes accuracy erratic,
unpredictable, and unsatisfactory for typical hunting rounds. The
1 in 7 twist is perfectly suited to FMJ and JHP bullets, which are the
best for personal protection. The 1 in 7 twist rate is mil-spec.
1 in 9 twist in a 20- to 24-inch barrel allows for essentially the
full range of bullet weights, 40 to 75 grains, as well as for the use of
potentially frangible bullets. Hence, it represents a good
compromise for this caliber because of its versatility. A 16-inch
barrel in the 1 in 9 twist will accurately launch all bullet types in
weights up to 69 grains.
manufactures attempt to offer the public a choice of barrel twists that will accommodate
a wide variety of popular bullet weights associated with the generally
recognized uses of a particular caliber.
in is the process of adjusting the rear sight on a rifle or handgun, or
the alignment of the adjustments on a rifle or handgun scope, to achieve
a "dead on" hit or target "bulls eye" at a known
distance with a given caliber and bullet weight. The trajectory of
a bullet in flight resembles that of an arc. High velocity,
relatively light weight bullets will follow a flatter arc than slower,
heavier bullets, but it is still an arc nonetheless.
the most important factors to consider when sighting in your hunting
rifle are the type of terrain you plan to hunt and the trajectory of the
particular bullet you plan to use. If you are hunting eastern
whitetail deer in heavy timber, you may choose to sight in at no more
than 100 yards. On the other hand, typical western mule deer
habitat, open country, suggests a longer sighting in distance: possibly
200 or 250 yards.
the sighting in range you choose, however, it is important to know your
bullet's performance at other incremental distances along its arc of
travel. Thus, if your "zero", or dead on sight in point
is at 100 yards, know how much your bullet will "drop" at 200
yards. Conversely, if your rifle's zero is at 200 yards, know how
much your bullet will "rise" at 100 yards.
sources are available which will give bullet trajectories for different
calibers and weights. One of the best is that compiled by
Remington in the company's catalogues and on its web site, www.remington.com.
An even more user friendly site is www.federalcartridge.com.
Federal maintains an on-line ammunition and ballistics catalogue
available in an interactive version for download.
second skill that must be acquired to achieve a successful hunt involves
the ability to closely approximate distances in the field. Some
scopes have reticles or "cross hairs" which aid in making an estimate
of distance. Knowing distance between the shooter and the
target, one can achieve an accurate hit by holding the point of
aim either high or low on the quarry, based on the bullet's
you are good at estimating ranges, consider zeroing your rifle at
at a distance suggested by the hunting conditions you expect to
encounter. If your target appears at longer range, you can
compensate by holding high, thereby taking into consideration the fact
that the bullet will be below horizontal by a set amount (horizontal
being a straight line between the eye of the shooter and the
predetermined zeroed point of aim) during its travel along its arc to
this point of distance. On a shot shorter than the sight in
distance, you will want to aim a trifle low with respect to the point
you wish to hit to compensate for bullet rise, or the fact that that the
bullet is above horizontal as it passes along its arc at this
feel alone if you find it difficult to estimate distances in the field.
Most hunters and shooters do. There exists a method of sighting in
that will take some of the need to perform mental calculations out of
aiming, particularly if your rifle is a modern, high velocity
caliber. This method takes into consideration the dimensions of
your quarry's vital area.
The vital area of a mule deer or
whitetail deer is approximately 10 inches high and wide. Within
this area are the heart, lungs and spine. A good starting point is
to to sight in your rifle at 200 yards. This will make your shot
somewhat high, but "on target", at 100 yards, dead center at
200 yards, and still well within the vital area at 250 yards.
Holding the point of aim at the approximate location of the spine would
still place the shot with the vital area at 300 yards.
quickest way to sight in your rifle, and a way which uses the least
ammunition, is to first shoot at a target at about 25 yards. To
minimize human error in holding and aiming, it is a good idea to shoot
from a bench rest or from the prone position. Don't rest the
barrel on any support. Rather, rest the forearm stock. Take
a normal breath, let half of it out, then hold the point of aim and
slowly squeeze the trigger.
the trigger is an acquired skill that is vitally important to
accuracy. If your squeeze is so gradual that you are unaware of
the exact instant that the rifle will go off, you are well on the way to
becoming a good shot.
using the "iron" or open sights installed on the rifle, hold
at 6 o'clock on the bulls eye, fire three shots and mark the group with
a pencil. If sighting in a rifle scope, follow the procedure identically, but hold
the cross hairs dead center on the bulls eye. If the group is
tight, adjust your sights or scope to move the center of the shot group to your
point of aim. With open sights, move the rear sight in the direction you wish to
move the point of aim.
Fire another three shot group, and if the
bullets are striking the target very close to the point of aim, move the
target down the range to the distance you've selected for sighting
in. For distances up to about 250 yards, you may expect to be
"on the paper". Repeat the procedure at the selected
distance, making final adjustments to zero in your point of impact at
this actual range.
that a bullet from a clean barrel may not print in the same place as a
bullet from a fouled barrel. If you clean your rifle after
practice or after sighting in, consider firing one "fouling"
shot before the actual hunting trip.
hunter has long been the champion of conservation. Through hunting
license fees, purchase of migratory bird hunting stamps, and excise
taxes on firearms and ammunition, the sportsman finances wildlife
habitat restoration programs and other activities intended to benefit
wildlife. Many worthy national and local conservation
organizations dedicated to the same principles are supported by
sportsmen. Excise tax use for conservation purposes, game seasons, and bag limits were all ideas
that were successfully formulated, supported, and implemented by hunters
on private property is a privilege, not a right. Through courtesy
and respect for landowners' property, the privilege will hopefully be
extended to future generations of hunters. Likewise, use of public
lands should be conducted with the hunter's conservation ethic in
mind. In this fashion, the multi-purpose use concept of lands
administered by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
will be preserved.
HUNTING: WHERE TO AIM
logical location to place a bullet on most big game animals is the
heart, lung, spine area. On deer, this vital area is approximately
10 inches square. A shot to the vital area is lethal, and damages
very little meat. A further benefit resulting from a hit to the
vitals is that the animal will, in most cases, experience
considerable internal bleeding. This drains blood from the
tissues, greatly improving the quality of the meat for eating.
this respect, removal of blood from the tissues is accomplished in a
manner similar to that of a butcher preparing domestic animals for
slaughter. The butcher stuns the animal and "sticks" it,
or cuts its throat, while it is still alive and the heart is
beating. The heart pumps blood from the tissues and the animal
literally bleeds to death. There is no point in sticking a deer
after it is dead because the only blood loss will be localized drainage
from the jugular veins and the large artery. Tissue drainage won't
be accomplished by sticking a dead deer because the heart has stopped
neck shot kills quickly and cleanly, but the chance of missing the
animal is greater than with a shot to the vital area. In addition,
there will be damage to tasty meat. A brain shot kills instantly,
but the brain offers an extremely small, rapidly moving target.
Only when demanded by unique circumstances is a neck or brain shot
you desire to mount a trophy head, the taxidermist will be extremely
unhappy if you bring in a deer that has been stuck, or shot in the neck
the hunter is an exceptional marksman, it is good sportsmanship to pass
up shots at 400 yards. Because no hunter is proud of wounding an
animal that is unlikely to be retrieved, it is also sporting to favor a
shot on a standing quarry versus a shot on a running animal. With
considerable practice, the skills necessary to successfully shoot
running animals can be acquired.
The procedure is somewhat similar
to that involved in waterfowl hunting, whereby the shooter
"leads" a bird in flight. The proper amount of lead
depends upon the distance to the animal, its speed, and the angle at
which it is running with respect to the hunter. Determining the
proper lead comes only with practice. A good conditioner for
those fortunate enough to have access to rural areas for practice
involves shooting at a rolling tire with a card board center.
Remember to keep the rifle moving with the target at the proper
lead. Whether in practice or while hunting, always make certain of
a safe background prior to shooting.
HUNTING: SHOOTING POSITIONS
prone position offers the steadiest hold for the hunter and is the
position most recommended, particularly for long shots. The
shooter lies down, face first, at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees from the
line of sight or direction of aim. The legs are spread well apart,
with heels turned inward and down. The left elbow is placed
directly under the forearm to ensure solid support (right handed
shooters; lefties, reverse the drill). The right arm will assume a
naturally comfortable position dictated by the grasp of the right hand
on the pistol grip of the stock and the proximity of the finger to the
high grass or rocky terrain will rule out the possibility of a shot from
the prone position. In such instances, the sitting position is an
excellent alternative. It elevates the rifle above any
obstructions, and is nearly as steady as the prone position. The
shooter sits at an angle of 45 degrees from the line of sight with the
feet well apart and the knees bowed inward slightly. The shooter
leans forward so the upper portion of the left arm rests against the
left leg just below the knee. The left elbow again should be
directly under the forearm of the rifle. The right arm is
supported by the right leg just below and inward of the knee (south
paws, do the reverse).
a running shot leaves little time for the hunter to assume any position
other than the offhand position. Another instance that favors the
offhand position is one where the hunter, discovering game to be very
close, will not want to spook the quarry by unnecessary movement.
The shooter's body should face 90 degrees to the line of sight.
The feet should be spaced naturally, with equal weight distribution on
each foot. The right elbow should point outward at shoulder level,
and the grip hand should press the butt stock into the shoulder with
reasonable firmness. The left arm should be directly beneath the
forearm (left-handed shooters, reverse the drill).
that in all three shooting positions, the arm which supports the forearm
of the rifle should not be bowed outward or inward. The elbow
should be tucked directly under the gun's forearm. You will find
that when shooting offhand, the angle formed by your two bent arms with
respect to each other is 90 degrees. The support arm will be
braced against one's side, perfectly vertical, parallel to the body, and
the arm with the grip and trigger hand will be lifted to a horizontal
plane, perpendicular to one's body.
is the skill of following either a two-legged or four-legged
quarry. From the perspective of the game hunter, it means
methodically discovering the whereabouts of the target animal. To
the less experienced hunter, tracking might imply that one follows each
successive hoof print until the animal being stalked comes into
sight. To the contrary, rarely does an experienced hunter attempt
to walk up on his prey in such a Sherlock Holmes-type manner. The
exception is when a wounded animal is being pursued.
animals that are preyed upon, including deer, are very conscious of
their back trails. They are well aware that predators and natural
enemies such as mountain lions and dogs, after having trailed the scent
of the deer, will attack from behind.
constantly check the terrain they've traveled only minutes before.
They may quickly trot through the edge of a clearing, and once safely in
the cover, stop and watch to see if a predator crosses the
clearing. To follow a deer under such circumstances is difficult,
to say the least. While your attention is riveted on his tracks,
the deer is peering at you from the protection of some dense
thicket. Perhaps the easiest way to spook a deer is to attempt to
approach him from his back trail.
experienced hunter reads, rather than follows, tracks. Aside from
identification of the animal, and confirmation that the animal is in the
area, the real value of tracks lies in the fact that they reveal the
habits and traits of the quarry. Tracks alone will not tell the
whole story. The hunter must possess knowledge of the game
animal that is sufficient to allow an interpretation from tracks of the
patterns of individual or herd movement. Such skill is
derived from experience, one's own and that shared from others.
for example, are essentially nocturnal animals. They feed during
the night and bed down during midday. Usually these feeding
periods extend through early morning and commence in early
evening. With only this basic knowledge, the hunter can interpret
much from deer tracks and choose the logical places to hunt during
certain times of the day.
feeding area will reveal itself by many tracks milling and
crisscrossing. Nipped off browse bushes will confirm this.
Unlike elk, deer prefer to feed on brush and bushes rather than on
grasses. A bedding area, usually in heavy cover, will have a
similar preponderance of tracks. The depressions in the grass or
dirt will confirm the presence of a bedding area. Tracks
concentrated in a rather narrow or straight direction usually indicate a
trail between bedding, feeding, and drinking areas, a good place to
intercept deer at dawn or dusk.
deer do not use the same bedding and feeding sites for long periods of
time. The freshness of the tracks will tell you the likelihood of
finding them there the next evening or morning. Fresh tracks have
sharp, distinct edges opposed to round-edged, weathered tracks.
However, be suspicious of tracks made in dust, as they may retain sharp
edges for several days.
HUNTING: AFTER THE SHOT
shooting a deer, it is generally recommended that a hunter wait 15 to 30
minutes before picking up the trail. A vitally wounded animal, if
not pushed by an excited hunter, will soon lay down and stiffen,
presenting a short trail. On the other hand, a final burst of
speed from a hard pushed animal may present a very difficult trail to
follow, lacking the well defined blood trail of a slower moving animal.
assuming that you have missed your shot, check to make sure. Many
a fatally wounded deer has given no indication , at the instant of the
shot, that a hit was scored. Look carefully for blood or a patch
of hair. Bright blood indicates a shot through muscle, including
the heart. Light, frothy blood indicates a lung shot. A gut
shot will reveal itself by splashes of intestinal fluids. Often, a
well hit animal can travel 50 to 100 yards before such evidence
appears. Trail very slowly and deliberately, stopping every few
steps to study the cover ahead.
aware that at the beginning of the hunting season, when hunters are
plentiful, deer may not be so habitual. Routed from their beds and
disturbed frequently, they will very often not use established trails
and feeding areas.
the advantage of arriving in deer camp a day or two early to scout the
terrain. Reading tracks and other signs of undisturbed animals
will help you select a productive hunting area on opening morning.
HUNTING: TYPES OF TRACKS
tracks of mule deer and white tailed deer are very similar: very
pointed at the toe. Often the rear portion of the hoof pad does
not print clearly, because deer tend to step gingerly, striking the tips
of the hooves sharply downward. If terrain is soft, the dewclaws
may print. A bounding deer will print all four hooves in a tight
group. A deer going full tilt will print his hooves at intervals
of about 20 feet and the toes will be widely separated. The faster
he goes, the wider the spacing between the toes.
have no dewclaws. The print of their hooves is smaller than that
of a deer. The hoof halves are more parallel when compared those
of a deer.
have dewclaws, but they seldom print except in mud or snow. The
elk is one of the few animals whose sex can be determined by its
tracks. The general contour of the bull's tracks is rounder than
those of the cow. Also, the hoof halves of the bull are more
parallel than a cow's.
tracks are identified by their large size and the tendency for the hoof
halves to diverge outward. Moose seldom plant their hooves "tippy
toes", so dewclaws usually print.
HUNTING: FIELD DRESSING A DEER
the hunter has approached a fallen deer and ascertained that it is dead,
the ritual of field dressing begins. For reasons mentioned
earlier, it is not logical to stick the deer at this time. Also,
it is not necessary to remove the scent glands on the hind legs, as long
as the hunter is careful not to get any secretion on his or her hands
and carry it to the meat.
hunters unnecessarily remove the tarsal glands, located on the inside of
the back legs at the hock. The tarsal glands secrete a musk which
attracts the opposite sex during the rutting season. This musk,
however, is secreted externally onto the long hairs around the gland,
which act as a wick. These glands do not taint the meat on a live
animal, nor will they on a dead animal, unless secretion is
inadvertently carried to the meat by the hunter.
addition to the tarsal glands, deer have metatarsal glands. These
glands secrete a similar musk externally and are located on the outside
of the hind legs, approximately six inches above the dewclaws. It
is not necessary to remove either the tarsal glands or the metatarsal
glands, but the hunter should avoid touching them if possible.
field dress a deer, turn the animal on its back, head uphill if
possible, to facilitate the removal of entrails from the hind
quarters. Make a deep circular incision around the rectum, and if
string is handy, tie a strong knot around the intestine. This
prevents intestinal fluids from escaping into the body
your fingers, locate the "V" shaped beginning of the
breastbone. Carefully insert a knife and cut toward the hind
quarters. The direction of this cut is with the lay of the hair,
which minimizes cutting the hair and getting it onto the meat.
With two fingers of the opposite hand, hold the abdominal skin high and
guide the knife blade so it doesn't cut into the intestines, a situation
which is to be avoided at all costs. When the genital organs are
reached, encircle them widely with the knife. With string, tie
them off so that no excretory fluids escape. Continue the cut to
the rectum. It is not necessary to split the pelvic bone, but you
may wish to do so in order to facilitate removal of the large
commencing just below the rib cage, enter the body cavity and cut
through the diaphragm, which is the tissue that separates the heart and
lungs from the abdomen. Reach into
the upper neck and cut the esophagus and wind pipe free. Now
carefully remove the heart and liver and save them in a plastic bag,
should you wish to cook these delicacies later. Gently remove the
entrails, cutting any connecting tissues that offer resistance as you
move through the body cavity.
drain all blood from the body cavity. You may have to turn the
animal over and prop open the body cavity to do so.
animal should be cooled as quickly as possible. In camp, hang the
animal from a tree in a well ventilated area and prop the body cavity
open with sticks. Wash the body cavity with water, preferably salt
water. Keep out dirt and insects.
can be hastened by skinning the animal as soon as practical after field
dressing. The hair of deer and many other big game animals is
hollow and affords excellent insulating properties, keeping the animal
warm. However, on a deer-sized animal, cooling from the body
cavity is usually rapid enough, precluding the need to skin the
animal. Skinning can also compound the problem of keeping the meat
clean, once the hide is removed.
you wish to have a trophy mounted, make a cut just in front of the
shoulders all the way around the neck of the animal. The cut
should be in a vertical plane. Peel off the hide to the base of
the skull and cut off the head at that point. Liberally salt the
flesh side of the hide and roll up the neck skin with the fur on the
outside. Store in a cardboard box in a cool, dry place. Take
the head to the taxidermist as soon as possible.
HUNTING: AVOID GETTING LOST
best prevention to inadvertently losing your way is to carry a map of the area you are hunting. Excellent topographic
maps, prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), are available
from the U.S. Government Printing Office in Pueblo, Colorado, or local
Printing Office outlets. USGS maps can also be found at local
sporting goods stores, as well as at some state departments of
transportation. An even more readable three dimensional type map is published
in a bound edition for each state by DeLorme (www.delorme.com).
Termed "Atlas & Gazetteer", these detailed topographic map
collections are extremely well done and can be found at sporting goods stores,
bookstores and similar outlets.
A high tech alternative to a
compass is the GPS, or global positioning system. These
handheld units can tell you your location on the earth by orienting on
satellites in known fixed orbits. Exact position can be
determined from within a range of less than a hundred feet or so to as
close as a few feet, depending upon the sophistication of the make and
entering a hunting area, know the direction you are going so you can
back track if necessary. Periodically check your back trail or
become familiar with terrain features when viewed from the opposite
perspective. Also, it doesn't hurt to see what might be sneaking
up on you! Take the trouble to frequently orient your position
inform others as to the general area you plan to hunt. In
addition, be prepared for the contingency you may get disoriented and
have to spent more time away from the conveniences of your hunting camp
This involves bringing along basic necessities of
survival such as a good field knife, a
multi-tool or small pocket knife, water proof matches and dependable
lighter, small first aid kit, canteen or
water bottle (full), small roll of string and possibly fishing line with
hooks, bandana, and a means of disinfecting, filtering, or boiling water
military style canteens come with a metal cup in the
base which can be used to boil water over a small fire after it has been
grossly filtered through the bandana. Figure five to ten minutes
at a rapid boil to be safe, with the longer time associated with higher
elevations. Otherwise, bring along iodine tablets or a pocket
water filter capable of removing bacteria, the parasites giardia Lamblia
and Cryptosporidium, as well as viruses. These essentials won't
weigh you down much and could very well save your life.
you do get lost, avoid compounding the problem by getting further
lost. It is almost always best to keep calm and wait where you
are. A search party of friends or governmental personnel is
likely to be organized. Build a fire to keep warm, and as a means
of signaling. To break the wind or conserve heat, construct a
lean-to, snow cave, or other type of shelter depending upon
circumstances and materials availability.
emergencies dictate hiking out, bear in mind that civilization is most
likely to be found down a stream, or along a pipe cut, power line, or
method that is useful in determining directions, assuming that you have
in your possession a watch that keeps time with hands, is to lay the
watch flat on the ground, placing a match or straight twig vertically
against the rim of the face. Turn the watch until the hour hand
points along the shadow of the stick, cast by the sun. South will
be the direction halfway between the hour hand and 12 o' clock, measured
the shortest way.
optical instruments composed of stationary and moving parts enclosed in a
housing. Scopes serve to magnify and define a target in a manner which presents the shooter with a sight picture that allows the full potential of the
firearm and cartridge to be accurately realized.
optics such as rifle scopes, it is advisable to invest in the finest quality you
feel is justified, yet affordable. The reason for this is that you will
eventually outgrow a cheap scope due to dissatisfaction with its performance. The initial investment will be wasted when you acquire a
scope that will stay with you for life.
function by incorporating an optical system which is intended to maximize the
amount of pure light delivered to the shooter's eye. Light rays from the
target image enter the objective lens at the front of the scope and are magnified.
resulting enlarged and upside-down image is magnified and corrected to the
right-side-up position by the erector lens system typically found in the middle
portion of the scope's main tube. Lastly, the target image is further
magnified by the ocular lens at the rear of the scope. This lens projects
the target image, as well as the central aiming point, known as the reticle (reticule)
"crosshairs", to the shooter's eye.
single most important indication of a scope's ability to manage light is its
ability to provide contrast. Contrast is enhanced by resolution, which is
the characteristic of producing a crisp, finely detailed image.
is also enhanced by light transmission, a parameter that is affected by the
number of glass or mirrored surfaces, the absorption of light in the glass
materials, and the quality of the anti-reflective and mirrored coatings.
Contrast is degraded by glare, which is the stray light that reflects off
internal parts of a scope and enters the field-of-view. Glare also
diminishes detail and color quality of the image.
The exit pupil is the
circle of light a shooter sees when the scope is held at arms length. It
is a measure of the quantity of light that reaches the shooters eye, and is not
influenced by the diameter of a scope's main tube.
In typical low-light
conditions in the field, a shooter's eye dilates to a pupil width of about 5 mm. If the exit pupil of the scope is smaller than the shooter's pupil,
too little light will reach the shooter's eye and the scope will impose
limitations on the shooter's ability to see.
is the perceived movement by the target with respect to the reticle that a
shooter experiences when the eye is shifted slightly from side to side.
Parallax is normally eliminated by manual adjustment of the objective lens or by
manual adjustment of a parallax knob, depending on how the scope is equipped.
relief is the distance between the eyepiece at the rear of the scope and the
shooter's eye which is required to project a target image that is in focus.
Short eye relief is dangerous because the shooter can be struck in the eyebrow
by the back of the scope when the firearm recoils after a shot. The
shooter is much less likely to be injured while shooting when there exists ample
features typically found on scopes include windage and elevation adjustments,
which allow the shooter to sight-in the firearm or make field corrections based
on actual conditions.
power selector ring is provided to adjust magnification on variable power
Scopes may be provided with a sun shield as an option to reduce
glare and may or may not possess lens covers to keep dust or moisture from
obscuring the surface of each lens.
come in a wide variety of magnifications suited to particular tasks.
Variable magnification scopes have an advantage over fixed power scopes in that
magnification may be adjusted to address a variety of shooting situations.
Fixed-power scopes are adapted to well defined needs where parameters are
known. Fixed power scopes are generally viewed as being able to better withstand
severe use, due to the reduced number of moving parts. The perceived edge
is not great, however, considering the quality of variable-power scopes now
available, and their useful versatility.
of view is the picture presented by a scope to the shooter at specific
magnifications. Its diameter is typically measured in feet. For
example, a 20x power scope, with a field of view of 5.5 feet, will present a
target shooter with an extremely detailed picture of the target area at 100 yards,
but will show little to the sides of the target.
This presents no problem
when the target area is fixed, but greatly inhibits target acquisition when the
target location is unknown or mobile. For this reason, a variable power
scope of approximately 3-9x magnification is typically regarded to be ideal for
general hunting due to the range of field of view provided (32 feet, low power;
14 feet, high power at 100 yards).
reticle is the "cross hair" feature of the scope. It represents
the point of aim. The duplex design, which consists of a cross of heavy
posts transitioning to thin lines at the cross's midpoint, is very
popular. The shooter's dot is a ubiquitous reticle, and consists of a dot
in the middle of thin cross hairs. The 3/4-mil dot, created by the U.S.
Marine Corps for snipers, is now the standard range estimating reticle for all
branches of the military service. Dots are spaced in one mil (milliradian)
increments on the cross hair. The distance to the object being targeted
can then be determined based on object size and the mil
formula. Conventional crosshairs, consisting of thin intersecting lines, often
serve as a reticle.
AR-15 .223 WOUNDING PROPERTIES
Remington .223 Remington cartridge, in FMJ, JSP, or JHP, is an excellent
urban defense load. So is its military counterpart, the 5.56
NATO in FMJ or JHP. Stray bullets which do not strike an assailant
will tend to penetrate fewer walls and other typical residential building
materials than will common handgun rounds.
ability of the .223Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge to effectively disable an assailant
rests in large part on the propensity of the fired bullet to
"fragment" once it enters the human body. For
fragmentation to occur, the bullet must possess a velocity in excess of
approximately 2,700 feet per second. Velocity is affected by a
number of environmental factors, including temperature, humidity and
altitude. However, it is primarily a function of barrel length and
barrels, typically 14.5-inches in length,
generate velocities insufficient to produce fragmented wound effects
beyond about 100 yards. Such rifles are acceptable for extremely close quarter
engagements. A barrel of 16-inches is suited to combat
occurring at distances greater than those encountered in a residence or
building, but less than approximately 150 yards. A 20-inch barrel produces
bullet velocities capable of creating wound trauma from fragmentation, identical to that
described herein, up to distances on the order of 200 yards.
description of the principles behind the wounding characteristics of the .223
Remington/5.56 NATO bullet
is in order.
in the bore of an AR-15
imparts a gyroscopic rotation to the fired bullet. This spin
stabilizes the bullet in its flight, maintaining a point forward
hitting an attacker, the rotation which stabilized flight in the air is
inadequate to maintain stability as the bullet moves through bodily
tissue. After penetrating point forward for approximately 4 to 5
inches, the bullet attempts to stabilize in the context of its new
heavier at the base than at the nose, due to its pointed profile, the
bullet possesses a center of gravity that lies behind the longitudinal
mid-point. Hence, within the assailant's body, it seeks a
backwards orientation. This it attempts by rotating 180 degrees
around its center of gravity. In tissue, the base forward
orientation is stable because it places the center of gravity of the
projectile in a forward position.
bullets, including the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, possess a groove around the midsection
referred to as the cannelure. Function of the cannelure is to
allow the mouth of the cartridge case to be crimped tightly against the
shank of the bullet to hold it firmly in place. Presence of the
cannelure affects the physical integrity of the bullet by weakening the
a .223 Remington/5.56 NATO bullet strikes a violent criminal offender at a velocity greater
than about 2,700 feet per second, it penetrates the body, moves a short distance horizontally, and
yaws through 90 degrees, traveling sideways. At this point, the
structural integrity of the bullet will likely be compromised by the
stress of tissue resistance.
leading edge of the sideways moving bullet flattens, forcing lead core
to extrude out the open base. The bullet then breaks apart at the
cannelure. The nose of the projectile usually remains intact,
retaining about 3/5 of the original bullet weight. The base
portion of the bullet disintegrates violently into multiple lead core
and copper jacket fragments.
penetrate radially up to 3 inches outward from the wound track.
Because fragments have perforated and weakened surrounding tissue, the
temporary cavity associated with forward bullet movement forcibly rips
open the multiple small wound tracks.
velocities approaching, but less than, approximately 2,700 feet per
second, the wounding effects of the .223/5,56 NATO bullet on an assailant are somewhat different. The projectile
exhibits a similar break at the cannelure, but multiple fragments aren't
created by a disintegrating base. Rather, the nose and the base
form two large penetrating fragments.
the attacker is struck by a .223 Remington/5.56 NATO bullet traveling at less than about
2,500 feet per second, the diminished velocity usually allows the bullet to remain intact. It yaws
through a 180 degree arc and plows backwards through
keep in mind that the length of the barrel in a rifle chambered for the .223
Remington or 5.56 NATO cartridge has a bearing
on the bullet's wounding characteristics in the body.
ballistics refer to its energy, velocity and trajectory. Due to the
force of gravity, bullets do not travel in a perfectly horizontal line from
muzzle to target. Rather, they travel through an arc or curved trajectory.
Likewise, bullets may slip sideways from the intended target due to the force of
Accomplished distance shooters possess the skill to adjust the
sight plane of their firearm to account for the range of distance (elevation
adjustment) and wind (windage adjustment).
Information regarding the
ballistics of various common cartridges is provided in summary
tables for handgun and rifle rounds at www.remington.com.
An extremely user friendly version of the ballistics tables is maintained at www.federalcartridge.com.
Federal also offers a downloadable, interactive version at no cost.
you choose to access the Remington web site, click on either "Ammunition" or
"Site Map". If you select "Ammunition", click on the
"Ballistics" section, and follow the instructions to obtain
information on a particular caliber of interest. In the event you accessed
the "Site Map", scroll down to "Ballistics" under the
"Ammunition" section, and click on this topic. It will get you
to the same place where ballistics info can be retrieved.
mentioned previously, many find the Federal web site easier to navigate.
Normally, a firearm is "sighted
in" for a specific distance, meaning that the point of aim of the sights or
dead-on at a known distance, or "zero". The shooter must then
compensate in the field for bullet drop due to target distances which vary from the
rifle's predetermined zero.
distances greater than the zero will require a "hold over"
compensation to the point of aim since bullet drop will be
greater. Target distances less than the zero will require a
"hold under" compensation to the point of aim since bullet
drop will be less.
for bullet drop can be accomplished by adjusting the rear sight on the firearm,
by adjusting the
scope if so equipped, or by holding the point of aim over or under the target
based on the trajectory of the bullet and corresponding range.
target acquisition affected by an uphill or downhill shot? Yes.
however, adjustment for bullet drop due to steepness of terrain is not a
critical factor in accuracy. Adjustment for slope is typically
necessary only when the location of one's intended target is at a
"relatively steep" angle, say a departure from horizontal
approaching 15 degrees or so.
shooting uphill, do you hold over or under? When shooting
downhill, do you hold over or under? In either case the answer is
the same: under. The rifle's sights are placed below the desired
point of bullet impact.
requirement to "hold under" to compensate for slope is
somewhat counter-intuitive to what one might normally expect.
a typical horizontal shot, one gauges distance to the target and
compensates for bullet drop based on that range compared to the rifle's
zero. One memorizes, logs or electronically accesses the bullet
drop characteristics of the particular cartridge in one's
firearm and adjusts the point of aim accordingly.
a up slope or down slope shot, visualize a triangle formed by the
shooter, the target, and the vertical uphill or downhill elevation gain
From high school geometry, recall that the
hypotenuse of a triangle is the long side opposite the right
angle. In our scenario, the hypotenuse represents the side of the
triangle between the shooter and the target, the actual distance the
shooter normally perceives to be the range. However, bullet drop
is a function of gravity. Gravity only exerts its attractive force on a
bullet over the horizontal component of its flight, regardless of the
angle at which the bullet is shot. Therefore, when visualizing our
uphill or downhill triangle, the horizontal projection of distance is
always less that the actual distance between the shooter and the
target. Effective bullet drop range will be less than actual
range. And you thought you would
never have any use for this stuff ever again!
precision competitive shooting and military sniping applications, bullet
drop can be adjusted by applying trigonometric relationships formed by
the shooting triangle. For most of us, its easier to mentally
adjust the range. As a generalized rule of thumb, for a 30 degree
slope, use 90% of actual range. For a 45 degree slope, use 70% of
actual range. A 90 degree slope is straight up, and what goes up
must come down. Not a good shot!
Some scopes are
equipped with crosshairs which assist the shooter in evaluating distance to the
target. The "mil dot" feature, originally
developed by U.S. Marine snipers, is another means of estimating distance.
Other scope models feature a "bullet drop compensator" which
dials in the correct bullet drop for a given cartridge, bullet weight
and range. Electronic range finders are also available.
BREAKING IN A NEW RIFLE BARREL
types of rifle barrels require special attention during the "break
in" period to ensure optimal accuracy over the long term.
These include unchromed plain steel, chrome moly and stainless steel barrels
typically used in competition shooting.
fourth type of barrel, the chrome lined, will "polish out" from its light, flat gray
faded look to a brightly reflective, shiny appearance after several
hundred rounds have been fired through it (one to two hundred).
Avoid excessive cleaning with patches or brushes during this time
because it will only extend the length of the break in period and number
of rounds it will take to produce the desired "bullet
polishing" of the barrel bore.
a chrome lined barrel will only require a detailed, tedious cleaning to
remove copper fouling after the accuracy of shot group sizes begins to
suffer. This will normally occur only after several thousand
rounds have been fired. A good copper solvent, patience, and
considerable elbow grease will restore a copper fouled chromed barrel to
a condition where it shoots as good as new. Be careful in using
copper, lead or nitro solvents because they may attack the finish on the
firearm, particularly the receiver.
routine maintenance, use "Break Free" to clean, lubricate and
preserve (CLP) the firearm. This product will not harm any gun's
finish. Black rags, especially black T shirts, work well for
cleaning and maintaining the textured matte surfaces of the rifle
without leaving the blotches produced by white shop towels.
properly broken in, a chromed barrel doesn't get fouled nearly as
quickly as does a plain steel, chrome moly or stainless steel barrel. Chrome also inhibits the
rust and pitting to which plain steel barrels are susceptible.
Keep in mind that more barrels are ruined by careless or overzealous
cleaning than are ever "shot out". Remember to protect
the rifling at the muzzle with a plastic or brass rod guide.
the many advantages of a chromed barrel, why would a person select a
firearm with a plain steel, chrome moly or stainless steel barrel? These
barrels possesses moderate to superior accuracy, particularly when the level of competition approaches
that of match target shooting.
break in drill for plain steel, chrome moly or stainless steel match barrels is somewhat more labor
intensive than that associated with the chrome lined barrel. These
three types of barrels possesses internal marks from the machining process
that can scratch passing bullets. Similarly, bullet jacket
material can foul the pores of a new barrel.
First, remove any
copper fouling from the barrel by using a good copper solvent such as
Hoppe's No. 9. At the range, fire 11 single shots, each followed
by cleaning with a tight fitting patch bearing a high quality bore
cleaner. Be sure to use a wrap around style jag on the cleaning
rod rather than a slotted jag.
shots 12 to 30, clean after every three shots. For shots 31 to 50,
clean after every five shots. For shots 51 to 100, clean after
every ten shots.
This time consuming process will allow the barrel
to smooth out without an accumulation of copper fouling in the pores of
the steel. For best match accuracy thereafter, the barrel should
be cleaned every 20 rounds or so. As the rifle continues to break
in, accuracy continues to improve for several hundred rounds.
In a self defense
situation, the application of superior force on your part to
dissipate a life threatening encounter with a criminal aggressor will
require use of a gun ideally chambered for a round that possesses the
As an absolute minimum, be capable of penetrating at least six to eight
inches of bodily tissue.
As a preferred minimum, be capable of penetrating at least ten to twelve
inches of bodily tissue.
As an absolute maximum, be capable of penetrating no more than fifteen inches of bodily tissue.
rationale behind these criteria is discussed at greater depth in the
Armory munitions room marked "Ammunition:
associated with various handgun rounds is summarized in the Armory
munitions room marked "Handgun Ammunition:
"do it your selfers" out there, try the following experiment
to ascertain the penetration capabilities of your favorite rounds.
a simple test to determine bullet penetration, use milk cartons filled
with water to simulate soft bodily tissue. This substitute is the
working man's "ballistic gelatin". Collect 30 half
gallon milk cartons. They must be the "waxed paper" type
rather than the recyclable plastic milk jug variety. As a side
benefit, this will encourage mama and the kids to drink their
Find a safe area
in which to shoot. Fill the milk cartons with water, either ahead
of time or at the site depending upon water availability.
the cartons in rows of ten, three abreast. They should be packed
tightly together, front to back and side to side. When you are
ready and conditions are safe, shoot a round into the center row from a
crouch, kneeling or prone position.
estimate bullet penetration in soft bodily tissue, count the number of
cartons pierced including the last one punctured. Multiply the
results by a factor of 2.5 to derive an estimate of penetration in
inches. Perform the test two more times, in the first and third
rows, and average the results of the three tests to
determine a particular bullet's penetration potential when fired from
your make and model of handgun.
the bullets from the last cartons damaged to assess probable expansion
characteristics in soft tissue.