Shotguns and Deer Hunting

If you have land surrounded by urban sprawl, or you live in a state that requires that you hunt deer with a shotgun, you will have a lot more luck if you properly prepare yourself and your shotgun before you try to bag that 10-point with your grandpa’s old scattergun.

Shotgun Ammo

Shotgun Ammo

Pick a Gun Any Gun

There are a million different configurations of shotguns to choose. Bolt-action shotguns, while rare, offer a high level of precision, while maintaining that rifle feel. This is a good option if you are used to hunting with a standard rifle. Single shot breach loading shotguns offer high precision and very low cost, but should you need a follow up shot, you will waste valuable seconds reloading. Pump shotguns are great for almost any shotgun application. One obvious advantage is that you can shoot virtually any kind of ammunition out of a pump shotgun, and since the action is manual, the shotgun will cycle no matter what. Semi automatic shotguns are gaining popularity in all types of shotgun sports. Their recent reduced cost and improved reliability make them an excellent option for hunting deer or any other game animal. Whatever your choice, you should pick a gun that fits you, your shoulder, and your lifestyle.

A Barrel of Fun

So here’s what not to do. Don’t grab your bird hunting setup and try to drop a deer. Birdshot is useless when hunting anything but small game and clay pigeons. You will probably just make the animal angry and it will run off. Look at your shotgun model. If you own a common shotgun, like a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500/590 variant, then you are in luck. They make interchangeable barrels for most modern shotguns in production. Grab yourself a rifled barrel and you will have in your possession a weapon that has an effective range past 150 yards, well inside the range of most deer kills. If you don’t have access to a rifled barrel or your shotgun is an uncommon model, deer hunting with a smoothbore barrel is still quite possible. Make sure you buy rifled slugs rather than traditional ones.

Gear Up

Brenneke Slug

Brenneke Slug

When hunting deer, even at medium range, you might find yourself staring down the barrel and only seeing a front bead sight. While very fast, this is not contusive to the type of precision that most deer hunters prefer. At close range or in heavy brush, you might be okay with traditional rifle iron sights or ghost rings. Red dot sights would also work well. Designers created the red dot to be fast, and inside of 100 yards, fast is good. If you are like me however, out past 100 yards or so, I need a little help to see what I’m trying to hit. A low power riflescope might to the trick.

Slugs in the Wind

Plumbata Shotgun Slugs

Shotgun Slugs

Slugs are large and heavy. This makes them susceptible to manipulation from windage. Obviously, increasing range exacerbates this problem. Make sure you adjust your shot for windage, or you might be chasing your kill a long way into the brush.

The Bottom Line

I’m not saying that given the choice, I would use shotguns to hunt deer every time, but there are situations in which a shotgun is your only choice. That being said, it’s important to know how to configure your equipment so you can move in for that kill on opening day.

Adams Arms Glock Conversion Kit—Practice Makes Perfect

OK, I admit it.  I don’t do dry fire practice nearly enough.  To me, training with my defensive firearms means live fire at the range, which means range fees and ammo costs and cleaning the guns afterwards, and that means I don’t train as much as I should.  And supplementing my training with dry fire practice is boring and tedious and in my opinion has a serious flaw—without a projectile going downrange and impacting a target, I don’t get feedback on whether I’m screwing it up.  Momma always told me “practice makes perfect,” but the truth is “practice makes permanent.”  I need a hole in the target to show me that I’m practicing correctly.

Enter the Advantage Arms LE .22lr Conversion Kit for Glock.  The mid-sized, 9mm Glock 19 is my daily carry piece and therefore the gun that I need the most training with.  Pistol marksmanship and manipulation are perishable skills. I want to train specifically with the trigger, controls, and grip of my Glock 19.  If I substitute my Glock practice with a Ruger MkIII target gun, the trigger is different, the sights are different, the grip angle is different, the magazine doesn’t drop free… you get the idea.  Pretty soon I’m just plinking, not training, right?  The Advantage Arms kit is a replacement .22lr slide assembly that drops right onto my Glock 19’s frame with no modifications.  At a casual glance the slide looks just like the factory 9mm slide, with identical cocking serrations milled into it and factory Glock adjustable sights.  It attaches and detaches just like the factory slide, which means I have to dry fire a .22 to take it off.  That’s normally a big no-no, but the barrel is relieved where the firing pin would normally impact it and get mangled.  The included 10-round plastic magazine drops free like the 9mm mags do and locks the slide back after the last shot like the 9mm mags do.  Shooting the .22 kit uses the exact same manual of arms and sight picture as a factory Glock 19, but firing ammo that costs one-fourth as much as the cheapest 9mm I can find.  Put another way, I can shoot four times as often per dollar spent on ammo.   Or, if I paid $250 for the conversion kit, it will pay for itself in shot-for-shot ammo savings after about 7000 rounds of ammo fired (around thirteen of those 525 round value packs I like to buy).

Shooting the .22 kit is a real hoot.  I was able to get a 2.5 inch group at 10 yards away with supported, slow fire, but the five-pound trigger in my Glock isn’t a target trigger, the sights aren’t target sights, and I was shooting cheap value pack ammo, not match grade stuff.  Honestly, that’s about as straight as I can shoot the gun in 9mm configuration anyway.  I told you I need more practice!  The kit only comes with one magazine, I’ll acquire more since they are only about $15.  A plastic, Glock-style magazine loader is included with the kit, and I’m glad.  Even though the mag only holds ten rounds it has a lot of spring pressure and the last couple of rounds are tiresome to mash into place with my thumbs.  A basic cleaning kit and some oil are also included.  I had some failures to extract spent casings during my first range trip, but they didn’t really bother me. Most .22lr conversion kits are known to go through a problematic break-in period before they “settle down” and become more reliable.  Additionally, the cheap ammo I was using is not on the list of recommended ammo types which is printed off and included in the box with the kit.  Next time I’ll buy some better ammo.

I’m planning on using the conversion to practice realistic drills such as drawing from my concealed carry holster and firing a controlled pair into a target seven yards away.  Why not just dry fire the drill?  When I draw from concealment I’m using gross motor skills (big muscles moving as fast as they can) to get the gun out of the holster and pointed in the right direction, followed up by fine motor skills (little muscles that have to move with precision) to acquire my sight picture, squeeze the trigger, recover from the recoil, find the trigger’s reset point, and squeeze again.  The natural mistake to make in this drill is to mash the trigger hard and skimp on the front sight alignment because I’m in a hurry and didn’t successfully switch from big fast movements to precise movements.  If I’m dry firing, I won’t even realize I’m doing it, but if I’m training with the .22 kit, I’ll know immediately that I screwed up as soon as I see the holes in the target.  And with dry fire I have to cycle the slide myself if I want to feel the trigger’s reset, which means taking my support hand off the grip and… well, its just not the same.  The only place where the conversion kit allows me to really “cheat” in shooting drills is with rate of fire, because the felt recoil impulse is much smaller with .22lr (in fact there is pretty much no recoil).  So I can really blaze away with the conversion kit, putting aimed rounds down range much faster than I realistically could with the same gun in 9mm.  Sure its fun, but again that’s plinking, not training.  I’ll have to keep that in mind.

I’m excited about picking up the Advantage Arms Conversion Kit and my plans to increase my live-fire training time with it.  Of course I will still be putting a lot of 9mm holes in targets as well, but I believe that my shooting fundamentals with the Glock 19 will improve by the extra practice I can afford now.  Hopefully my practice will make perfect, instead of just permanent.

 Glock_22_10 Glock_22_9

Cheaper Than Dirt is Now Cheaper Than…Everyone Else!

That’s right, CTD is dropping gun prices, really. This is a permanent price change, not a sale. We are increasing our number of suppliers and dropping our prices on all non-MAP priced guns. In other words, if the manufacturer doesn’t have a minimum advertised price, then we make your future guns cheaper! What does this mean to you? It means you can rest assured that we have the best possible deals on all the firearms you know and love. It means that we are listening to our customers and ensuring that we offer you the best possible deals on the firearms we supply. It also means that we will continue to offer the best in customer service and support to you, our customer. Take a quick peek at some of our great new deals!

Cobra Enterprises FS30

Cobra FS380

$113.80 for a 380 handgun! Cobra Enterprises FS380 is an semi automatic pistol with a 3.5 inch barrel and seven rounds of .380 rock and roll. The chrome finish adds a touch of sophistication and the all alloy frame adds strength to this already great firearm.

Like it? Want it? Buy it here!






Olympic Arms AR-15

Olympic Arms Plinkerplus

$580.10 AR-15! Looking for a great deal on a high quality entry level AR-15? Our Plinker Plus model has all the great features of current AR-15 models but with a simpler A1 rear sight and are priced much lower than the competition.

Like it? Want it? Buy it here!








12 Gauge Mossberg Persuader

12 Gauge Mossberg Persuader

$247.50 for home defense perfection. High security is fine; high maintenance isn’t. Enter the Mossberg 500 Persuader shotguns, the pump action shotguns you can count on for your security needs. Introduced in 1961, the Model 500 pump action utilizes an aluminum alloy receiver. The gun has a number of desirable features, including a barrel that is fully interchangeable, an easily manipulated top of receiver mounted safety, an anti jam elevator, dual extractors, and twin action bars for smooth and reliable operation. Model #50521 is available as a 6 shot with an 18″ cylinder bore barrel, parkerized finish and includes a pistol grip kit.

Like it? Want it? Buy it here!

It’s Like Golf, with Guns!

I know it isn’t the year 1902, and I am not a rich, English aristocrat sipping single malt scotch and wondering what the common people are up to today. I am, however, going to talk about an exciting sport that is very easily obtainable by today’s working man or woman. If you have never had the pleasure of shooting sporting clays, you are missing out on a potentially great time. Now that the summer heat is just beginning to taper off a bit, shooters and outdoorsmen alike are dusting off their guns, grabbing their ammo boxes, and heading out to the ranges all across our great nation. On your trip to your favorite gun range, you might take a detour just this once, and find your local sporting clay range (mine has both).

Clay Pigeons

With its roots coming from England, sporting clays is a shotgun shooting game in which a device presents clay pigeons to the gunner in ways that mirror the flight pattern of game birds, or occasionally rabbits, in their natural habitats. Course designers lay out the shooting grounds in stations (also called stands or “butts,” the British term) with each station representing one type of bird or a combination of game; a rabbit and a grouse, for example.

During the course, shooters get to engage about 100 birds across 5 to 10 stations. The fun of the game is that you never know where your targets are coming from, or how fast they will fly through the air. The original purpose of the sport was to imitate shooting live quarry.

When shooting clays, a shotgun is used. These guns vary widely, but the most common types in use are over and under, side by side, automatic, and pump shotguns. The side by side and over and under shotguns are advantageous due to the fact that they can fire successive shots almost instantly, giving the shooter more time to aim. Semi automatic shotguns are becoming more popular due to their increased availability, growing reliability, and lower cost. Somewhat less popular are the pump shotguns, which most serious clay shooters consider less desirable.

Sporting Clay Shooting

In the United States, the National Sporting Clays Association is the main governing body for competitive clays. The NSCA currently has over 22,000 members and over 600 clubs that host registered and recreational shoots. The organization is non-profit, and keeps records of their members’ scores in competition, registers shoots for the clubs and associations, holds national championship competitions each year, and provides a myriad awards for outstanding achievements.

The best way to get better at shooting is to compete. Shooting in a competitive environment will undoubtedly increase your skill as a shotgunner. Sporting clays offers a safe and fun environment to increase your skills, and allows us simple commoners to compete in an activity that the upper crust of English society once reserved for themselves.

Hydrographics—Camouflage from your Bathtub?

Camouflaging rifles used to be problematic.  After degreasing the rifle, a base coat of paint had to be applied with a spray can or airbrush.  The base coat was followed by additional coats of different colors to eventually create the camo pattern.  If you wanted a really nice job you could carefully mask areas of the gun with masking tape before spraying, or you could just “free hand” with a spray can over and over again until it either looked right or became a dripping, sticky mess.  Guess which method I usually did?  Paint laid on too thick starts chipping and peeling, and cleaning solvents eat through it quickly.  It can gum up controls such as safeties and magazine release buttons.  Doing the job right is time intensive and there is a lot of trial and error.

Multicam is very difficult to paint, but easy for hydrographics.

Now there’s a better way.  You can camouflage your entire rifle by dunking it in your bathtub, using a process known as hydrographics.  The heart of it is a sheet of film that looks like Christmas wrapping paper, in a camouflage pattern (as an official redneck I just repeated myself there).  One side of the film is water soluble, and the film is placed in a tub of water with that side down.  The film floats on the water until the other side of it is sprayed with an activator (think hairspray), which dissolves the top side of the film and makes it super sticky.  Now the dissolved film is floating suspended on the top of the water, like motor oil.  Slowly dunking your rifle into the water wraps the film around it, coating the entire thing in the camo pattern immediately.  After giving it a bit of a stir to let any loose bits of film fall away, the rifle is carefully removed from the water, making sure not to touch any remaining film on the way out.  Then the rifle is sprayed down with a clearcoat to help add some scratch resistance to the camo pattern coating.  All done!  The coating is durable enough to help protect the metal parts underneath it from rust, but also thin enough to not fill up the slots in screws or limit the travel of important pins and detents.  It has proven to be very resistant to gun cleaning solvents, scratches and abrasions—resistant enough that dipped rifles are starting to be offered straight from high quality manufacturers.

Dozens of companies specializing in hydrographics have sprung up in the past couple of years, and the results obtained by professionals who get in a lot of practice with the process are going to be of the highest quality.  For do-it-yourselfers like me, companies are now selling kits with everything you need to try dipping on your own.  New hydrographic film patterns are being created all the time, so competition shooters have been using it to put flaming skulls and other crazy designs on their brightly colored custom guns.  Of course, firearms aren’t the only items being coated either.  Anything that can be safely immersed in water, and which the film will stick to, can be coated.  The process is being used by the custom car industry to give car dashboards and other parts the look of being made with exotic wood or carbon fiber.

Of course, a lot of shooters will always prefer the classic look of blued metal and a checkered wood stock.  To some, the AR-15 will always be “the black rifle.”  But we all like to customize our guns sometimes, and hydrographic dipping allows you to personalize your firearm in a vivid way, without having to mess with paint at all!

A black rifle no more, this AR is has been customized by its happy owner.

Ruger’s .357 Carbine

Something different came from Ruger today for us to test out. A while ago, Ruger developed the bolt action Ruger 77 in the .44 magnum cartridge. This gun was great for short to medium range hunting and incorporated Ruger’s rotary magazine design. Now Ruger has unveiled the 77 in the .357 cartridge. The concept of using large pistol calibers for hunting is not new. People have been hunting medium sized game with .357 pistols for years, but with the longer barrel and precision of a bolt-action rifle, the .357 is even more effective.

Ruger 77

The Ruger weighs in at a mere 5.5 pounds and the 18.5-inch barrel makes maneuvering in thick brush relatively easy. The one in sixteen right hand twist helps make the rifle deadly accurate. When fired, the recoil feels closer to a .22 than a magnum pistol round. Ruger used hammer-forged stainless steel for the barrel. The receiver is also stainless and has integrated scope bases for the Ruger scope rings, which I am happy to say, are included. Quality mounts and rings are costly, and Ruger used high quality stainless steel, which will stand the test of time with few issues. The rifle is an overall 38.5 inches in length and has a 13.5-inch length of pull. In case you aren’t using a scope, the rifle in equipped with iron sights and the rear sight is adjustable.

The stainless steel bolt lifts 90 degrees and the bolt locks at the rear of the receiver. When removing the bolt assembly, you have to open the bolt, pull the trigger, and engage a small bolt release button on the back of the chamber. The safety has three positions. When the safety is in the rear position, the trigger is blocked, and the bolt will not open, in the middle position, the trigger is still blocked but you can open the bolt and empty the rifle. While in the forward position, the rifle is set to fire or load.

The magazine holds five rounds and uses Ruger’s rotary magazine design. This design makes the bottom of the magazine flush with the bottom of the rife, as opposed to a tall box magazine in an AR-style rifle. Ruger included stainless steel feed lips on the magazine to increase durability. The follower is made of polymer and cycles .357 ammunition well. When extracting, the empty shells shot quite far forward and to the right, about six feet. It should be noted that Ruger included an instruction manual insert, warning that the 77 was chambered to shoot only .357 ammunition. While hand loading .38 special ammunition into the chamber directly will work, filling the magazine with .38 special will invite feeding problems, and should be avoided.

The stock of the 77 is made of a black synthetic polymer, and looks very modern when paired to the stainless steel barrel. The feel of the rifle is quite comfortable and feels similar to most standard carbine style hunting rifles. Included on the stock are swivel sling mounts, which is a necessity for any hunting rifle.

Out of the box, this carbine is perfect for hunting in thick brush, for up to 150 yards. The pistol ammunition is more than powerful enough to take down a deer or hog at close to medium range. The Ruger 77 is a perfect addition for any hunter who wants a ranch gun to throw in the truck, or take out on long treks in the brush.

Ruger 77/357 Ruger 77/357 Ruger 77/357
Ruger 77/357 Ruger 77/357

I Just Want My M14

Springfield M1A

Shooters have used variants of the M14 in shooting matches for years. From 1959 to 1970, the United States issued the M14 as its standard-issue rifle until replacing it with the M16. It remains in limited service with all the branches of the military not only in sniper variants, but also as ceremonial rifles. The M14 was the last so-called “battle rifle,” meaning it was a rifle designed for combat, that fired a full-sized rifle round, in this case, the 7.62 x 51 NATO. The rifle was incredibly accurate but some said it was “too good” of a rifle for the average soldier. Studies during WWII showed that most soldiers took shots at enemy targets at very close range; therefore, there was no need for a rifle that would reach out to an effective range of 500 yards. Despite its incredible accuracy, the rifle was almost uncontrollable when fired in fully automatic mode. This led to some M14’s permanently set to semi automatic. During the Vietnam War, the harsh tropical climate caused the wooden stocks on some rifles to swell, decreasing the accuracy and overall performance of the gun. Some soldiers complained that the rifle was too large to wield in dense jungle. Despite these drawbacks, many soldiers favored the M14 over the M16 due to its much more powerful round.

Springfield M1A National Match Barrel

After Vietnam, the weapon has made a name for itself as a modified sniper rifle. Randy Shughart used an M14 to defend the crash site of a Black Hawk helicopter during the highly publicized battle for Mogadishu. Hollywood later immortalized that battle in the motion picture Black Hawk Down. The U.S. Army posthumously awarded Shughart the Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts in defending the downed chopper that day. Outside of the military, Springfield currently produces the M1A, the civilian variant of the M14, to sell to the general population. These rifles are highly sought after by collectors and sportsmen alike. The .308 ammunition is perfect for hunting game, or hitting targets at great distances. In the shooting sports world, shooters have had great success with the M1A in three-gun matches, as well as having its own event in the Camp Perry National Rifle and Pistol Championships. Despite its short service life, the M1A has proven itself a highly effective weapon both on and off the battlefield.

American Eagle .223 Priced Cheap Enough for Plinking

American Eagle Tactical .223 Remington ammo is manufactured by ATK/Federal Ammunition, the same company that makes all the ammo for the US military.  Each 20 round black box is glued shut all around to avoid spilling rounds during storage.  Featuring an M193 specification 55 grain full metal jacket boat tail bullet screaming out the muzzle at 3250 feet per second, this round’s accuracy is proven in barrels of any standard twist rate from 1:7 to 1:12.  Loaded to SAAMI specifications of not more than 55,000 psi chamber pressure, this ammo is safe to shoot in rifles marked either “.223 Rem” or “5.56 NATO” and is a natural choice for AR15s and Ruger Mini-14s.  At this price, why not leave the .22 conversions behind on your next range trip, and get some practice in with the real stuff?

Legendary Spread Gun

If I could only have one gun.

Mossberg 500

Mossberg Shotgun

Seen in many forms around the world, the Mossberg 500 and 590 series shotguns are one of the most prolific shotguns in production. Featured in countless movies and television shows, the 500 series enjoys a status among owners as one of the most varied shotguns in the world. Countless builds and modifications are available making it one of the most versatile guns ever produced.

Produced in 1961 by O.F. Mossberg & Sons, the Mossberg 500 quickly built a positive reputation. Many shooters appreciated it for its high level of reliability and ease of maintenance. Mossberg designed the tolerances in such a way that the gun can operate in very harsh and dirty conditions such as waterfowl hunting or warfare. Because of the tolerances, racking a shell into the chamber of a Mossberg is quite noisy compared to some other pump shotguns. Some people view this as a positive, since the sound of a shotgun chambering can be intimidating. This ability to function regardless of the surroundings gave the 500 a very positive reputation in a very short time.

Why is this shotgun so popular? Value for your dollar is most definitely a huge reason. The Mossberg 500 carries a reasonable price tag, and has a very good reputation for being reliable. It can also chamber a three-inch shell and fire just about any kind of specialty shotgun ammunition. The Mossberg also features an aluminum alloy receiver, rather than steel. Some shooters view the aluminum receiver as a negative, but others see it as an effective way to keep the gun lighter, making it easier to carry long distances.

One of the main advantages to a Mossberg 500 is the number of options a shooter has from which to choose.

  • Field Models: These are basic hunting models, which have a variety of barrel lengths and finishes.
  • Home Defense Models: Available exclusively in .410, these models are intended for defensive situations at very close range. Achieving less wall penetration with the far less powerful round is important for bystanders as well.
  • Law Enforcement Models: Feature heavy barrels, metal trigger guards and metal safeties.
  • Special Purpose Models: Intended for tactical use, these models feature shorter barrels and often have a large variety of specialty parts. They are not the same as the law enforcement models due to the lack of heavy-duty barrels, as well as metal parts on the trigger guard, and safeties

A US soldier in Ar Ramadi, Iraq in 2004 armed with a Mossberg 500

The Mossberg 500 series has many positive design features. The safety sits on the tang of the gun, and is accessible for both left and right-handed shooters. The slide release sits just at the left rear of the trigger guard; this allows minimal adjustment to cock the weapon. Originally, the 500 used a single action bar, but this Mossberg later replaced with a dual action bar in 1970.

The Mossberg 500 is currently in service with the United States Military, Malaysia and the Netherlands’ Korps Commandotroepen, their elite Special Forces unit. Despite the much higher cost, the Marines have officially switched to the Benelli M4. Other branches are still ordering new Mossberg 500’s however.

Fifty years of service has allowed the Mossberg 500 to develop into a top-notch shotgun that owners can modify to suit almost any purpose. Mossberg clearly stuck to the philosophy that if it isn’t broke, there is no need to fix it.

Ultimate zombie combo

Last week, Ruger announced the launch of the new Ruger 77/357, which is a bolt action rifle chambered in .357 Magnum.  I got to thinking about this gun, and despite the fact that it only has a 5 round magazine, when paired with a revolver also chambered in .357 Magnum such as the Smith & Wesson 686 you have yourself an almost perfect “zombie combo”, or more accurately you’ve got a great rifle/pistol combination for the woods.

BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP

The Ruger 77/357 has all the desirable aspects of a great “bug out rifle” – it’s light, coming in at only 5.5 pounds, can readily accept modern optics (and would probably be a pretty sweet pairing with an Aimpoint), and it’s chambered in what is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges in existence.  .357 Magnum is available in pressures from mild cowboy action loads at 1000 FPS with all lead bullets all the way up to 200 grain bear-killing hardcast bullets at ungodly velocities.  However, for a good “general use” round it’s hard to beat a 158 grain JHP, like this one from BVAC.  The BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP is cruising at around 1200 FPS from a pistol, which means from a rifle you should see a velocity increase of around 100-200 FPS at the muzzle.  That’s plenty of bullet to deal with many of the 4 legged dangers you might encounter during a rural bug out situation, and of course the .357 is well proven as a fight stopping projectile for two-legged danger.

I honestly think that pairing a .357 bolt gun with a revolver makes more sense as a bug out gun combo for 99% of the popular than an AR15 pattern rifle and a hi-cap 9mm.  I like that you only have to carry one kind of ammo, the revolver isn’t dependent on magazines to keep it in action, and while the bolt gun does feed from magazines in an emergency it can be used as a single shot rifle if you lose the magazines.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have an AR and a Glock with 400 mags for each gun, but if you’re on a limited budget, it makes more sense to me to drop $650 on the new Ruger 77/357 and another $460 on a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum than it does to go out and spend the money on an AR and whatever other pistol you need.  .357 ammo is relatively cheap, with lead practice ammo running about the same as .40 S&W and less than 5.56 ammo.  A bolt gun in .357 and a good revolver in the same chambering will solve 99% of the situations I can imagine getting myself into during a short term survival emergency!

From the Trenches to the Fields

The Trenches of WWI

After April of 1917, the United States Army was waging a terrible war in Europe. The US Military was deadlocked in a struggle with Germany in the war to end all wars. The conflict saw the use of machine guns, artillery, and chemical weapons. The carnage was on a scale previously unseen on the word stage. Despite the use of devastatingly effective weapons, the major powers that were competing for dominance locked themselves in a never-ending stalemate. The standoff was partially due to the implementation of trench warfare. Out of date military tactics had not kept up with weapons technology. The commanders on both sides failed to come up with strategies that allowed armies to take ground without heavy casualties. US soldiers needed something different to assist them in sweeping out German trenches. John Browning had been kind enough to develop something years earlier that would assist our troops in doing just that.

The army issued the M1903 Springfield to most of its doughboys during the war. The Springfield is a legendary bolt-action rifle that is effective to up to 1,100 yards. Although the Springfield was an effective battle rifle, it only shot one round at a time, and the bullet only hit in one area. A shotgun offered something different, although not effective at long range; a pump shotgun could engage a large number of targets inside 22 yards. Couple that with a bayonet and one shotgun soldier could give a whole squad of enemy troops a very hard time. The army chose to use a slightly modified version of the Winchester Model 1897, or M97. The M97 used a perforated steel heat shield on top of the barrel, and a bayonet lug for attaching the M1917 bayonet. It held a maximum of five shells in the chamber with one in the barrel, for a total of six rounds. Unlike most modern hammerless shotguns, the M97 could be slam-fired. All the shooter had to do was hold back the trigger while pumping through the rounds and the weapon would continue to cycle. Incredibly, American Soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting deployed themselves in positions where they could take out enemy hand grenades in mid air. Enemy messenger pigeons were also on the target list. The gun was so effective that in late September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest. They were attempting to ban the Winchester model 1897 shotgun, arguing that the weapon was illegal because it caused unnecessary suffering. The United States Army promptly rejected the German’s diplomatic proposal.

An M97 and a Norinco

The Model 1897 improved upon its predecessor, the Model 1893. Winchester strengthened the frame to allow for 2 3/4– and 2 5/8-inch shells. The designers placed the ejector on the side, rather than the top, which allowed a much greater amount of strength in the frame. While firing, the recoil of the gun gave a slight forward motion to the slide handle, which released the action, enabling immediate cycling of the gun. If the operator was not firing the gun, the slide handle had to be pushed forward manually in order to release the action slide lock.

Winchester produced several variants of the Model 1897 until 1957. During its 60 years on the market, Winchester produced over one million 1897s. Recently, Norinco (Interstate Arms) has developed a Winchester clone called the 97. Modern variants include the 97W, and the 97T. The 97W is the standard Winchester clone, while the 97T is a trench gun replica. Both are popular models since the original trench guns can cost upwards of 3,000 dollars, and are highly valued by collectors.

The 1897 in all its variants continues to be a popular choice among shotgun enthusiasts. Its legendary wartime record, combined with over a century of hunting experience, makes the 1897 a solid choice for any collector.

Check out our available Norinco Shotguns here.

Carolina Cup Gear Review

On Monday at the Shooter’s Log, I took a look at the 2011 Carolina Cup and the kind of match it was.  In short, it was the perfect example of what an IDPA match should be.  Today on Gun Nuts I want to take a look at the gear I used for the match and how it performed, starting with my most important piece of gear: my gun.  I’ve been running a Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations for a while now, and as many people have seen the gun has picked up some customized touches.


The gun is now sporting a 10-8 Performance Flat trigger, TechWell TGO Magwell, 10-8 Performance u-shaped rear notch, and an STI single side thumb safety.  During the Carolina Cup, the Sig went 213 rounds of ammo without a single bobble or malfunction, and has fired over 2000 rounds now since its last stoppage of any type.  One interesting issue I ran in to is something I’ve experienced with Techwell grips in the past, where the grip screws will start backing out after 50 or so rounds of ammo.  I’m going to put some small star washers under the screws to see if that solves the problem, because the current remedy of “tighten the grip screws every couple of stages” is kind of annoying.

My holster remained the same holster I’ve been using all year for IDPA – a Comp-Tac Speed Paddle, although the model I use for the Sig TacOps is somewhat…modified.  To find a holster that fits the Sig’s slide profile, I actually special ordered a Speed Paddle for a Sig P250 with an open muzzle, and then cranked the retention down until it fit the TacOps.  The result is a really great holster that provides excellent retention and speed for IDPA.  At the upcoming Virginia State match this weekend I’m going to be using a Galco Triton, my actual carry holster for the entire match.  My belt is also a Comp-Tac, their polymer reinforced belts are absolutely top notch.

People don’t think that their clothes are part of their gear, but the fact of the matter is that they certainly are.  One of my biggest sponsors is Woolrich Elite Tactical Gear, who has provided me with vests, shirts, and pants for shooting IDPA and USPSA this season.  The Elite Pant has honestly been the best thing that’s happened to me this season.  Even in the sweltering North Carolina heat, I was comfortable in my Woolrich pants, and I was especially glad to be wearing them on a number of stages that involved low cover.  For CDP shooters, the pant’s “cell phone pocket” that’s located on the thigh is the perfect place for the barney mag.  I’ve got to stick that extra round somewhere, and it’s much easier to get to in a simple flap pocket than it would be if I had to fish around in a deep cargo pocket.

My magazines are probably the most important part of the gun, and for mags I have been using Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines with great success.  They work reliably, are cost effective, and the best part about the screw-on basepads is that they don’t fall off when you’re practicing reloads on an unforgiving concrete surface.  I have 10 of these mags, and whenever I’m at the gunshop I’ll usually buy 2 or 3 more if I can afford it.  Since life is too short for crappy mags, you can’t have too many!

The gear you use is an important part of your competition system.  On Monday I’ll talk about how important it is to have ammo in your gun that you trust 100% in addition to everything else.

Down Zero TV: Classifier Breakdown

On today’s special Down Zero TV, we take a look at our first USPSA Classifier Breakdown.  Today’s classifier is CM 09-14: Eye of the Tiger.  This is a classifier that has given me trouble in the past; when I shot it for the first time I managed to score 18% in what I termed my first ever “classifier meltdown.” So when I had the chance to go after it again, I was pretty excited. Plus I got to play with slow motion on my video editor and mess around with voice overs.

Now, I mentioned in the video that I need to work on my press-out, and that’s very true. The problem is that I’ve developed an excellent physical index for my draw, which means that in most situations when I’m facing the target I can just draw the gun and it will magically appear in the A-zone or the down zero area. This becomes an issue when I’m drawing to a low probability target like a head box or a partially obscured target. You’ll see in the video that my gun comes out to the target, then bobs up as I correct my aim to get the shots on target. That bob is HUGE in terms of the amount of time it takes in the draw stroke and was likely the difference between an A-class score and a B-class score on that particular run.

I’ll always probably be a little intimidated by Eye of the Tiger, since it’s the only classifier that I’ve ever well and truly screwed up on. But to go from an 18% to a 68% is a pretty huge improvement!

Tiny Gun, Huge Punch

Many people have differing ideas about what a backup gun is. Is it a good idea to sacrifice magazine capacity for size? What caliber is best? What about reliability or accuracy? Some of you might be familiar with small pocket-sized pistols such as the Ruger LC9 or the Kahr PM9. These small, concealable firearms allow shooters to carry a bit of extra firepower out of sight. The new Diamondback firearm is something to consider. What if you had a firearm smaller than most .380 pistols that can carry a six-round magazine of 9mm stopping power, ready to fly at a moments notice? Enter the Diamondback DB9.


The first and most obvious advantage to this firearm is the ballistic superiority of the 9mm cartridge. Some experts say that the .380 round, in general, will expand or penetrate, not both. 9mm ammunition tends not to have this problem. There is a reason why many law enforcement and military personnel use the 9mm. It is light enough to carry a lot of ammunition, and heavy enough to put a bad guy down, which, for a belly gun, seems ideal to me. The next major feature this firearm brings to the table is its incredibly small size. At only .8 inches wide, it is just a tiny bit wider than the handle on my coffee cup. It fits on the inside of my belt line much more comfortably than any other 9mm’s I have tried. This could be, however, due to the lack of a slide catch on the side of the weapon. The grip is still easy to handle despite its ultra thin physique. The extended bottom plate makes holding this firearm much more comfortable. The ridges on the sides of the grip help to hold the gun firmly in your hand. Striations along the slide aid in chambering a round. When empty, the gun weighs in at only 11 ounces and has a very balanced feel. A steel trigger with dual-connecting bars allows for a crisp smooth, five-pound double-action-0nly (DAO) trigger pull. I noticed almost no creaking when cycling the weapon. Accuracy seemed to be spot on, the rounds shot to point of aim with no problem. The three-dot sight system on top of the gun is adjustable for windage, but did not need adjusting out of the box.

In firing the weapon, recoil was fairly pronounced but in a straight line, as opposed to whipping to one side or the other when cycling. We experienced no jamming or feeding problems when firing rounds through the gun.

Overall, the Diamondback DB9 is an excellent choice for a backup or belly gun. I like the idea of carrying something with a bit more bite than your average .380 pocket gun. A lot of firepower in a tiny, travel-sized package is to me, just plain genius.

Specifications and Features:

  • Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
  • Weight: 11 Ounces
  • Length: 5.60″
  • Height: 4.00″ with mag
  • Width: 0.80″
  • Barrel Length: 3.00″
  • Firing Mechanism: Striker Fire

9mm 1911s

It is quite obvious that I am a big fan of the 1911 platform, so much so that I will shoot a 1911 in CDP at the inaugural IDPA World Championship later this year. That being said, shooting a lot of .45 ACP can be unpleasant, especially when you are running a 350-round practice session.

Down Zero TV Special: Bushmaster ACR Run & Gun

One of the hottest rifles to hit the market in the last year was the Bushmaster ACR, or Adaptive Combat Rifle. The rifle’s inclusion in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare caused a legion of fanboys to spring up overnight declaring the ACR the best rifle ever. I finally got to shoot one at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, where the side match was sponsored by Bushmaster using the ACR. However, I’m strictly an average rifle shooter. To really see the rifle put through its paces, here’s Dianna Liedorff from Team FNH rocking the Bushmaster ACR at the Bianchi Cup side match.

Dianna is one of the top female 3-gun shooters in the country, so watching her shoot the rifle is a lot of fun. It’s nice to see professionals doing what they do best. If you’re interested in getting one of your own, you can purchase a Bushmaster ACR here, and don’t forget to get some 30 round magazines to go with it!