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Varmint Hunting In Extreme Heat

By Dana Webb

 

Thursday morning we left the house and drove several hours into the remote mountains of Southern California. Terry and I set up in a location away from our campsite to check zero on our Air Rifles and to scout several new areas for hunting Ground Squirrels. The temperature was in the high 80’s so the new EZ-UP helped immensely in keeping us cool.

Terry and I set up targets out to 100 yards and were happy to have zero wind that is a rarity in this part of the valley floor. We had a great time shooting both the EVOL .30 and the .22 Tapian Mutant Bullpup, both amazingly accurate Air Rifles.

American Air Arms EVOL .30 with DonnyFL Ronin Moderator

After some practice with the rifles we packed up and headed down the road to a spot I had previously seen some Ground Squirrel activity. By this time it was the middle of the day and the temperature was rising into the 90’s making hiking around a bit unpleasant.

Terry making his way back to the Jeep with is Tapian Mutant

After about a half hour of looking for Ground Squirrels we packed the guns up and headed about another 14 miles into the mountains to around 5,300 ft elevation. We had chosen this location as it would be cooler with many Ponderosa Pines that were nestled throughout the vast canyon. The area too had several creeks that are fed by natural springs where Marley could swim and play.

I was quick to set up camp as well as the new EZ-Up canopy, that thing is an absolute necessity on trips like this. The Jeep was loaded with several coolers packed with water, ice and plenty of food for the several days in the wilderness. Ater setting up camp we set out down a nearby trail that followed the creek and gave some shade from the scorching Summer heat.

  The terrain was quite rugged and in some areas was near impossible to cross over the creek due to the steep embankments. I found an area overlooking the creek where I had spotted several Ground Squirrels moving from the many holes and fallen trees.

One of the Ground Squirrel holes at 55 yards

I sat for awhile and spotted several Ground Squirrels going in and out of this hole, made a shot on one of them and missed. After making a poor shot i knew I would have to wait for a while before one would pop back out again. Within about 15 min one decided to show itself again where it was met with a 44gr JSB.

I moved a bit further up the hill as I could hear the distant bark of several more Ground Squirrels moving about around the many fallen trees. I spotted one standing on a fallen log just down the hill overlooking the creeks embankment at 68 yards.

The angle I had to shoot from was a bit awkward to work with as well as having to move my cameras tripod legs to keep upright. The shot was a bit low and made a gut shot sending the Ground Squirrel flying backwards. Almost immediately after I spotted another Ground Squirrel barking high up on a fallen log to my right at 83 yards.

 I took the shot on this one and hit just low sending a chunk of wood right into him, the heat was really getting to me and the sweat in my eyes was making it difficult to see well. I could hear Terry making several shots so went to meet up with him, together we hiked down next to the creek to try and get cool.

Marley and I were perfectly happy staying down by the creek and not moving around much, we sat for awhile and spotted several Ground Squirrels moving around the embankments. We were able to connect with several of them although most were on the run. This was such a beautiful place to hunt despite the brutal Summer heat, was happy to just be able to get out and enjoy. Later that evening the plan was to try finding some Cottontail rabbits that may be moving about and to hopefully cook that evening. We made way back to the camp where we set up some targets along with a steel plate at 125 yards.

Terry’s Tapian Mutant .22

After dragging that heavy steel swing target out to 125 yards I took a break for awhile before shooting again. I watched Terry do some 100 yard practice before getting on it with the EVOL .30, the wind conditions were nice and predictable for late afternoon. After a few shots I was getting amazing groups with my gun at the shorter ranges and finally decided to move out to the 125 yard steel.

I put 3 shots in a nice 1″1/2 cluster and think with better setup such as bags I could have done much better. Shooting like this really makes me appreciate how far modern PCP’s have come. Later that evening after we had rested a bit we took a walk around near the campsite searching for Cottontail rabbits. I had seen plenty of droppings as well as tracks but no movement at all, I think the heat has made them resort to coming out after sundown. After Marley and I took our stroll looking for bunnies we came back to camp and decided to cook up some chicken for an early dinner.

The moon was near full that night and was thankfully much cooler making things much more bearable and relaxing.


That next morning my plan was to wake up early before the sun came up although I slept so well that I didn’t awake till around 6:15am. Terry had already been gone when I woke up so Marley and I ventured away from camp about 3/4 of a mile to a big open field, perfect area to spot both Cottontails and Jackrabbits. 

I decided to hike up the barron hillside and work my way around looking for movement in the large open fields. Hunting this type of terrain on flat ground is difficult and usually never works well without a shotgun. Marley and I spotted several Jackrabbits moving up the hillsides at some 200+ yards away but nothing within reasonable range for and Air Rifle. By this time it was apparent that the day was going to be another scorcher, already had my jacket off by 6:45. Marley and I picked a spot in the small amount of shade next to a bush and waited near 20 minutes before we spotted several large Jackrabbit moving in the field at close to 100 yards. I took a shoulder shot on one that sent it running up the hillside before collapsing, the second one was at 98 yards just next to a bush. The Jackrabbit gave me a nice side profile to line up for a perfect headshot that sent it into a flip. Marley ran to recover as it was wildly flipping all over causing a huge dust cloud. I went and recovered the first and met up with Marley where she had recovered the second large Jackrabbit.

American Air Arms EVOL .30 at 85 fpe

 

Marley and I were both happy our patience had paid off and were able to get two huge Jackrabbits within several seconds of one another. We took a break before throwing them into the pack and heading back to the campsite where Tom from American Air Arms would be showing up to spend the day. As marley and I hiked back we spotted several deer as well as many chipmunks moving about near the creekbed. This area is loaded with larger animals such as Deer, Coyote, Bobcat, Mountain Lion as well as many types of birds.


We made way back to camp where Tom had just arrived just in time for the heat to really become overbearing at 90 degrees by 8:30am. Tom had brought a new Air Rifle he has created that shoots a 27gr .22 slug putting out 60+fpe, he spent some time shooting that against a small 2″ spinner at 125 yards just under the steel plate. Enclosed is a previous photograph of the rifle, we will take a more in depth look at this very advanced Air Rifle in our next article.

American Air Arms EVOL TAC .22 High Power


After our shooting session at camp we all headed back out to seek out some Ground Squirrel action, I headed East following the creek the other direction. Marley and I crossed to the other side of the creek and set up just under the shade of a large Pine tree.

This looked to be a great location and offered a great unobstructed view in near all directions of the large area. To our right as well as in front of us were huge fallen trees that had Ground Squirrel holes all around them. I spotted several Chipmunks running back and forth from one tree to the next as well as the several periodic Ground Squirrel barks. I took a shot at several of the Chipmunks that were sitting on a root from one of the Pine trees next to the creek. These shots were all around 30 yards, close range shots that required some hold-under for once.

After a few minutes I spotted a fairly large Ground Squirrel sticking it’s head up from behind a log at 115 yards.

I made the shot a bit high and it came down right on the back of his head drilling him right into the ground behind the fallen tree.

This area looked to have a large population but I think the heat had kept most of them in the Ground as it was well up to 100 degrees out. I can’t stress enough how important it is to carry a large amount of water, more than you think you need. This environment dehydrates you so quickly that heat exhaustion can happen very easily. When we are out in the wilderness like this, nobody will find you and when they do you just may be dead. With Marley I have to be especially careful about making sure she has enough water as well as keeping my eyes open for Rattlesnakes. Having her bit by a venomous snake is one of my worst nightmares, miles from any type of help. After sitting for about 20 more minutes with no action we looped around back towards camp following the other side of the creek. As we moved through the tall Ponderosa Pines I could see a Ground Squirrel in the distance moving about on a huge fallen tree. I set up the camera the best I could and tried to follow it with the lens while trying to set up the range and gun at the same time, very frustrating. The Ground Squirrel was at 68 yards but moving further up this fallen log.

I made the shot that finally ended at 73 yards sending the 44gr JSB right into his back sending up a cloud of dust as it smacked. The past two days were a great time spent with friends but the heat made moving around quite miserable. Marley and I continued back to camp where it by this time was around 12:30pm, we packed the Jeep and waited for Tom to get back before heading out. This was a slow few days of hunting but was very happy with how well it turned out considering how hot it was. As I’m writing this we are already planning for the next trip, can’t wait to share. Enclosed is the video of our adventures, hope you enjoy and will help us by subscribing.

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Airgun Flix Launch

In the past several weeks the Airgun community had lost many favored channels, some have been slowly restored and others may never return. This unfortunately is something we as creators will never recover from, the thought of losing our content and being restricted to what we can or cannot share with the world. I spent several sleepless nights thinking about this and finally decided to do something about it, not only for myself but other content creators. I think it’s worth more than anything to have a safe place to share, post and find other Airgunners. With the help of our very own web designer, a quick plan was set into place for the “Imperfect Airgun Community”

AirgunFlix.com was launched 3/1/2018 to satisfy the need for safe content uploading. Here your content will never just disappear all of a sudden, without any warning. Uploading videos, images and channel status is a breeze! It is based off of social media type platforms, with the airgun community in mind. This website like any other needs to be used and shared in order for it to grow and evolve into the great idea it started as. This site is free to the user and will rely on donations from Airgun related businesses to keep it running to the standards we all can enjoy. We would encourage sharing of this site to help us gain the content that will bring us all closer together. Please feel free to visit the site and sign up.

 

 

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Airgun Adventure’s in the Mojave

by Tom Costan

Dana Webb and I met for a much needed Airgun Adventure. The plan was to meet early in the morning at the crossroads leading into our location and caravan through the back roads to our spot. As with many plans, they don’t always go as anticipated. Dana and I both had some unexpected home duties to perform before leaving in the morning, even though we didn’t get to our meeting spot until well after lunch; I knew, once we arrived life would be good. The location was high in the Mojave desert against the foothills of the Sierra Nevada; very remote, quiet, and beautiful.

This spot is not unlike so many other special places which have extremely diverse terrain. There are Joshua tree forests, rock outcroppings, sandy arroyos, typical desert chaparral and the occasional juniper tree.

It was only two days after some very significant rain had hit the area, leaving the ground damp and dust free with most of the vegetation temporarily moistened leaving that wonderful after-rain scent in the air.


Upon arriving to our campsite, the hunt was on.  As usual when hunting with Dana, he spotted the first jackrabbit and we both took a few shot as it fleed up a small hill.

Dana was using a .22 cal Hatsan that was sent to him for evaluation and I was using a new 22 cal American Air Arms EVOL testing some new parts and a new configuration of the rifle.  The Jackrabbit got a way but Dana soon bagged a cotton tail that was hiding from predators in a small crevasse in a large rock outcropping.

I scouted the area, spotted a few jackrabbits, but did not get a shot opportunity although I did formulate my plan for the next morning.

The day was gone so Dana and I enjoyed an nice campfire and turned in.


I started my walk just after sunrise and within minutes spotted a large jackrabbit hiding in the shadows behind a bush.  I ranged him at 80 yards and took my shot.  Having a new gun and very little trigger time on it, I decided to make the shot for the vitals; this was a mistake as the 18gr JSB didn’t have the power to put him down.  Even though the pellet hit with a large thud, he still ran like nothing hit him.

 I spent a few minutes following the blood trail but never found the Jackrabbit. I have become accustomed to much larger and more powerful calibers that the thought of a .22 in the boiler room not being adequate never crossed my mind. It wasn’t long before I spotted a cottontail hiding in the shadows of a large boulder.

I took my time, ranged him at 79 yards and made a perfect head-shot; he rolled over and that was all.


I bagged my cotton tail and followed a small arroyo for what seemed to be about an hour when I spotted a nice jackrabbit tucked in between two bushes. For a moment, I reflected on the thought that the jackrabbit thought he was invisible, not realizing his form was very distinctive even though his color blended perfectly with  the surroundings. I have found there are only two ways of spotting jackrabbits – their motion or their form; with the latter having much better odds of success. I worked my way to a rock outcropping where I would have cover and some height over my prey, ranged him at 76 yards, added 1 mil of holdover and made a perfect head-shot.

The jackrabbit was finished; the incredible acrobatics that followed were nothing but lost electrical signals of the nervous system on display.


Within a few minutes Dana wandered into view with Marley, I bagged my prize and headed back to camp and Dana joined me shortly with several jacks he had taken with his EVOL 30.

(left) Dana Webb with Tom Costan 

 It was about noon and I was planning on leaving in a few hours but I did want to test some Nielsen Specialty Ammo in the EVOL 22. I set up some eggs at 50 yards, Dana and I hitting them with the 21 grain NSA slug was no challenge so put I some more at 150 yards.

Eggs were placed at 150 yards on a large rock outcropping

After experimenting with the holdover by shooting at a dirt patch at the same yardage, I was able to figure the hold over and dial into my scope.

  Hitting eggs at 150 yards with a 30 fpe .22 is not easy but I did manage to get some before I ran out of air. Here is the video that includes a good portion of footage from our adventures here. Please help us by taking a second to hit SUBSCRIBE.

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Hatsan Sortie Semi Auto Airgun field test

Several months ago I came across a short YouTube review of the Hatsan Sortie semi auto pistol that immediately got me excited. As some of you know I have quite the collection of pistols as well as several I frequently hunt with. For me I enjoy pistols for the simple reason of being able to transport and carry them easily into the field. This pistol looked to be a great match for me to use for a project field review. I wrote to Hatsan USA and ultimately got the go ahead to be sent the pistol to be sent out to me for a 4 day adventure in the Mojave desert. I received the Sortie pistol several days before my departure and it was packaged very well. The gun arrived in a very nice hard case and enclosed were 3 magazines, fill probe, extra o’rings and a manual. Hatsan was kind enough to enclose several tins of H&N Sport pellets, some 19gr and 14gr. The first thing I noticed was just how large and very futuristic the pistol looked. Cosmetically the gun is something that needs to grow on you but I was more concerned with its performance and function as a hunting tool. The gun comes equipped with fiber optic front and rear sights that can easily be adjusted or removed. After some debate I decided to mount a dot sight that I felt may add to quick target acquisition. The magazines are very well made from aluminum as well as having thicker plexiglass front covers.

 

Model Sortie Pistol
Caliber  .22
Max Velocity*  

.22 – 700fps

Shots At Optimal Velocity**  

.22 – 36

Stock Advanced polymer, ergonomic pistol grip.
Key Features Semi-Automatic Action

Fully shrouded barrel

62cc on-board air cylinder

Combo Optics Rail (11mm and 22mm)

Spring-Loaded Rotary Magazine

Overall Length 15.5″
Barrel Length 7.9″
Weight 4.4 lbs.

* Above maximum muzzle velocity figures may differ depending on the pellet weight & shape.

Filling the gun to 3000 psi was easy and the 62cc reservoir is small enough that it may even be hand pump friendly. After setting up the gun, sighting it in etc, it got packed into the Jeep for its long drive into the heart of the Mojave desert. I had planned to spend several days hunting Ground Squirrels, Rabbits as well as scouting some new areas for future projects. Marley and I left the house late Friday afternoon and arrived to our camping area to meet my good friend Mike by 8:45pm, wow was it cold. Upon arrival Mike and I immediately set up camp and started a fire to keep us warm as the temperature was rapidly dropping.

The next morning Mike, Marley and I got up fairly late as we were waiting for the sun to come up over the mountains to provide us a little more warmth. We soon headed South away from camp and down to an area known to have supreme Ground Squirrel habitat such as large rock outcroppings, fallen logs and miles of Oak tree pastures. Within a few minutes of hiking I spotted my first target that was sitting just on top of a large boulder at 28 yards. I aimed the dot sight at center mass and made a devastating spine shot that sent the squirrel tumbling down the other side of the rock leaving quite the blood trail.

After doing some more hiking around I spotted several more Ground Squirrels scurrying about, not easy to get in close to a spooked squirrel. From my experience with hunting them is once they get spooked it may take up to 20 minutes for them to come back out again. Mike continued on in a big circle while I stayed put with Marley to sit and wait for movement in the nearby rocks.

I really much enjoyed just being out with my good friend Mike and my dog Marley for several days and getting to do what I love. After what seemed like forever I finally spotted a Ground Squirrel popping it’s head just over the top of a flat rock at 25 yards.

I had to slowly set up my camera as I was trying to document as much as possible on video, this is sometimes very frustrating. Filming can sometimes be out of our control and we find ourselves having to position ourselves in uncomfortable positions to capture the shot. In this case I was having to hold my tripod down with my foot while trying to line up my shot, well it didn’t work out as planned and I pulled the shot hitting about an inch to low. After this I decided to head back down to do some other film work and to take some photographs of the gun.

Hatsan Sortie .22 Semi Auto PCP

After using the pistol I have concluded that front handle is very useful, the ugly thing was really starting to grow on me. I have learned that function over form is one of the most important things in designing a gun. I commend Hatsan for really thinking out of the box as far as design and thoughtfulness in ergonomics. One of the other things that stood out to me through use was how convenient the safety was to use, easily flicked on and off with my index finger. When doing a project field test we sometimes find out things about a gun that you just can’t get from the bench. After heading back around towards camp I spotted another Ground Squirrel high up on a rock at a very far 40 yards.

The shot made a perfect arch right into the Ground Squirrels shoulder sending it flying down off the backside of the large outcropping. This shot was really pushing the limits to what the gun is capable of with a dot sight, this made me realize a pistol scope may be a better choice for really pushing the limit to this pistol. In most of the reviews I have seen they classify this as a plinking type pistol, I really believe the gun was designed with hunting in mind. In the next week or so I plan to mount a pistol scope and take it out again for some Jackrabbit hunting. To note, the gun does have some recoil that in turn makes the muzzle jump a bit. The balance of the gun really aids to the guns accuracy, it does take some practice to get used to shooting it well. The semi auto feature will cycle shots as fast as you can pull the trigger but would be impossible to stay on target in most cases. The semi auto feature is very nice for simply not having to cock the gun after each shot and always being ready to fire. I was taking one shot, pausing, and then taking another giving myself time to recover my target acquisition. The 62cc air reservoir provides more than 25 powerful shots at over 700fps using the 14gr H&N Field Target Trophy’sThe gun is a prime candidate for a good pair of shooting sticks, this may even further aid in making further shots possible. My final thought is that this pistol has a ton of potential beyond just a plinking gun and may just take some patience to learn what works well. Here is the video of my adventure with this gun I hope you can enjoy. If you like what you see and have serious interest in owning one of these very unique Sortie pistols, you can visit Pyramydair.

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Three day Adventure Airgun/Bow hunt

Thursday evening I came home from work and started packing the Jeep for a three day long hunt in the high desert of California. The plan was for me to meet with Jon, a gentleman I had met on the popular SCHOUTDOORS forum and who had volunteered to help me with some filming. The next morning Marley and I left the house bright and early for the several hour drive into the desert where we would meet Jon and have him follow us up through the rugged terrain to our hunting spot. Thankfully when we arrived it wasn’t as windy as I had anticipated as well as being much cooler than planned. As we drove into the camping area Marley and I had already spotted several Cottontails as well as some Jackrabbits and Ground Squirrels. This area is very unique as it offers a wide variety of animals to hunt, all within walking distance. We unpacked our gear, relaxed for a bit and then started setting up the camera equipment, guns etc, for a short hunt where I would show Jon the lay of the land. Jon had never used an Airgun before and was primarily used to firearms as well as a compound bow. I offered him to use my custom MK1 .22 carbine pistol that was near perfect for this type of hunting and accurate enough to make shots out past 60 yards. Jon was excited and within several minutes from camp we decided to sit down under one of the many Oak trees that nestles among the large valley with many rock outcroppings and fallen trees, the best natural habitat for the California Ground Squirrel.

hunting cottontail

Within several minutes of sitting I had spotted a good size adult Ground Squirrel sunning himself atop a large boulder at 63 yards. I took aim while Jon maneuvered the camera that we had mounted on a tripod to film the action.

ground squirrel

ground squirrel kill

63 Yard headshot

After I had made the kill on the Ground Squirrel Jon spotted a Cottontail grazing in some grass just under another Oak tree at 45 yards, Jon was able to make a nice head-shot making it his first rabbit kill and his first time using an Airgun. As we moved our locations we spotted another Cottontail that was grazing further up the hill at 40 yards where I was able to dispatch with authority using the .30 American Air Arms EVOL. After a short trip back to camp where Jon decided to pick up his compound bow and some more water for our walk down the hill we set out again.

cottontail hunting

Over the next 20 minutes Jon, Marley and I walked down through the valley that followed a small creek with embankments that many Cottontails like to graze at. The grass near the creek is a bit greener as well as having a bit more cover for them to scurry into in the event they are attacked by predators. As we walked slowly down through a wooded area following a game trail I soon spotted a Cottontail at about 25 yards, perfect range for Jon’s bow.

cottontail bow hunt

cottontail kill with arrow

The arrows he was using were fitted with a large blunt tip that in turn is suppose to simply knock out the rabbit and not penetrate, this one passed through the entire rabbit. As Jon was collecting his kill we spotted another Cottontail that was heading up a hillside towards a large rock outcropping. I was able to make a nice kill at 64 yards that dropped the rabbit just before it disappeared under some rocks, Marley was fast to assist in the recovery.

cottontail kill

As we continued down the creek-side into an area that was a bit more open, almost like a field we spotted another Cottontail grazing. The position of the sun gave Jon a great silhouette to make sight on at what looked to be near 45 yards, impressive with a bow.

bowhunting

bowhunting cottontail

Jon and I continued a giant loop that lead us back onto a road that headed North up a hill and back to camp, by this time it was getting very hot. We made our return to camp where we were happily greeted by Nick, his wife Jessica and three boys. Nick was busy sighting in a few of his rifles and putting the final test on several lines of ammo he has produced.

The one thing I really admire about Nick is his drive for perfection in producing a quality product, he spends hours testing his ammo and is always open to suggestion. Over the next few hours we all relaxed at camp and enjoyed the shade and luxuries such as ice cold water, food and snacks. Jessica his wife was amazing and pretty much fed us all the entire weekend!

 

It was a great fellowship we had and I much enjoyed hanging with Nicks youngest son Josh who did join us on several hunts throughout the weekend.

After several hours of relaxing in the shade I suggested that we take two vehicles and head down the hill several miles to the Jackrabbit hunting area.

This area is huge and offers a wide variety of terrain to hunt in, flat areas, rolling hills and steep mountains. When Airgun hunting where we are trying to keep our ranges fairly close, similar as to what a bowhunter needs. After witnessing Jon’s several kills with a bow I was was excited to see what he was capable of in a more open environment. After parking our vehicles and unpacking our gear we headed East towards the mountains, I usually do this in late afternoon where I walk several miles away from the sun and then turn back into it. By doing this I can usually spot the amber ears of the Jackrabbits that are brightly back-lite by the sun.

As we all made our way East spread about 100 yards apart I was able to spot several Jackrabbits moving through the thicker bushes and tall luminous Joshua trees. As I looked over I could occasionally spot the other guys taking shots on the many Jackrabbits that call this area home.

As I walked I much enjoyed being here, this area is absolutely beautiful and in ways I almost felt like I had been transported back in time to the wild west. The look and feel of this location is unlike any other desert I have visited, amazing how the plants and animals can sustain such a dry climate. As Marley and I continued our slow walk, stopping every few steps to glass for movement I spotted several Jackrabbits at 75 yards in front of us between two Joshua trees. These two had frozen like statues and were near invisible with the perfect camouflage they wore. I had the EVOL .30 loaded with the 44gr Predator International Polymags that I have concluded are just about the best ammo for this type of hunting. They feature a polymer tip in the head of the pellet which implodes into the rest of the pellet, making for a devastating impact. This pellet is also lighter due to its polymer tip that in turn shoots a bit faster, these are not as great for super long range but out to 120+ yards they work very well.

Jon and I continued our walk where we eventually turned around to head into the sun hoping to spot the illusive amber ears, the evening was just breathtakingly beautiful.

As we walked a bit more Jon had suggested that I stay put and he would continue in a short half circle direction hoping to flush several Jackrabbits my direction.

Several minutes went by and sure enough I had a smaller Jackrabbit moving its way casually right towards Marley and I by about 65 yards. I was able to make a nice clean chest shot that sent the Jackrabbit into a back-flip where Marley was quick to make her retrieval.

As we made our way back to the Jeep we had noticed that our second party had left us, figured it may have been to hot or they simply had gotten to many or not enough.

 

I was very pleased with our short little hunt that turned out to be very action packed and successful, too the footage I had gotten of Jon stalking a Jackrabbit was spectacular. As we packed up the truck I took several more photographs and we headed back to camp excited to hear how the others did. The evening was nice and cool and offered some spectacular views of the stars, Nick, Jon and I stayed up late and talked for a bit with Jon and I deciding to call it a night as we planned to get up early and hunt.


This morning we awoke just after sunup and decided to follow the creek down through camp and cross the road where I had previously scouted for Cottontail the day before. We had been expecting Tom Costan from American Air Arms to arrive that morning so had planned to stay fairly close to the road so that we could hear his arrival. As we made way down the creek Jon and I had spotted several Cottontail that disappeared into the treeline and out of sight into the thicker bushes. This area was loaded with rabbits, no doubt one of the best habitats I have ever seen.

We continued down the creek-side path that led us into a giant open field that gave opportunities for much longer shots. As we took a break from our hike we stopped just near the creeks embankment where I soon spotted a Cottontail moving around next to a large bush at 115 yards. I set up the rifles bi-pod and took my shot that sent the rabbit into a backwards flip leaving a loud crack that echoed through the canyon.

 

cottontail hunt

After this photograph was taken we heard the distant crack of a Big Bore Airgun in the distance, figured it was Tom Costan from American Air Arms making his way into the field with his .357 Slayer. Soon enough Tom made his way down through the tall dry grass and across the creek to where we were posting up.

hunting

Tom was excited when we told him of the success we had that morning and was eager to accompany us on our hunt further out into the hills. We now headed Eastward where a large many Conifer trees were, Cottontails usually frequent the base of these areas and offer good opportunities. Tom was able to make a shot on one Cottontail at close to 75 yards that came in a bit low sending the rabbit on the run and into the thicker areas of bushes where we lost sight of it.

This area made way past several of these large trees and then into a more open area with Oak trees and scattered rocks. Jon spotted a Cottontail moving through the grass and up into the many nearby rock outcroppings, this was a great habitat for them.

bowhunting

After Tom had taken several shots getting after some rabbits he made a quick refill with his buddy bottle with a little help from Marley. As he was refilling I had noticed Jon stalking a rabbit so Tom and I decided to quietly continue down the path where we split up a ways so I could photograph.

Tom headed up into the mountains that offered him further shots and was soon to spot several ground squirrels sunning themselves on the many rocks that scattered the area. As he made his way through the rocks he made a beautiful 85 yard head-shot on a ground squirrel that left quite the mess on the rocks using 120gr  Nielsen Specialty Ammo Swaged slug.

slayer headshot

As we hiked further into the mountains we took a rest under a large Oak tree that offered shad and a great location to spot animals moving in the distance.

By this time it was late morning and the heat of the sun was starting to beat down on us pretty hard, especially Marley. We rested for about 20 minutes while glassing the vast valley for any visible movement, very little mount of activity other than birds as it was simply by this time to hot. We all stuck fairly close together on the way back as we headed down the other side of the mountain where we followed a trail that ultimately would return us to camp. As we made our way back I could see several rabbits in the distance scurrying in several directions, one made its way right in front of Tom at 40 yards where he was able to take it out even considering a small bush was in his way.

After lunch we headed down the hill where we had planned to do some long range shooting with the Slayer as well as some photography work I was doing with several other products. The area we drove to was only several miles down the road and offered a nice shaded area to park as well as ranges out to several hundred yards.

We had set up a soda can at 100 yards, eggs at 175 yards and a 3″ spinner at 250 yards that offered all of us some good challenges, especially in the wind. Tom was first to make some shots and make it look easy with the .357 Slayer, well he should have considering he built the entire gun from the ground up. The eggs were by no means easy in the wind, luckily Jon had brought his high end spotting scope that helped very much in identifying the shots.

After annihilating a bunch of eggs Tom turned his sights on a very challenging 3″ spinner that was set out at 250 yards, pretty hard to see at that distance.

Both Tom and I took turns with the gun and with some practice were able to consistently make hits, even in the wind that was swirling at times. His Valdada IOR Recon 4-28X50 scope is a beast and one of the nicest long range scopes I have used, perfect match for the Slayer.

We all had a great time shooting, John even had brought his .22 rifle that he had a great time shooting.

As the guys continued shooting I decided to set up the Kalibr Cricket .25 bullpup with the new Side-Shot phone mount that’s a great new product that allows you to shoulder the rifle like normal and look through scope while still recording. The kit comes with 1 complete Side-Shot, 1 Scope clamp of your choice (3 scope clamps are in the picture to show different sizes, comes with 1 clamp) in 1 inch (25mm), 30mm or 34mm size (to fit scope tube size) and 1 stabilizer bar (plastic piece that snaps onto your scope and dampens vibrations) Side-Shot is a universal phone adapter that holds your smart phone securely and adjusts to different phone sizes and brands so you don’t have to keep buying more holders each time you get a new phone. Its quick change system lets you switch from one gun to the next in seconds.

This  Kalibr Cricket .25 bullpup is set up to shoot .25 38gr NSA slugs at near 880 fps making this gun quite the hammer. I was setting up this gun to use for my hunt that afternoon and evening, hoping to capture some action on video. This is the first time I had really ever used any type of scope-cam and was very pleased with how easily everything went together. After I set the gun up I set out into the nearby field and immediately spotted several Jackrabbits. The cant was a bit off adjustment but I can see with a bit more time in fine tuning this may be the ultimate setup for recording.

I spotted several Jackrabbits and most were on the run after they spotted Marley, she chased a few after I had taken several shots. These Jackrabbits are amazingly fast, especially out in the open as they were here. I much enjoyed playing back the action on my phone and can see I will be using much more of the Side-Shot on future hunts. I think its really good for me because I can easily record and send to email, Facebook or even directly to YouTube. After making some very unsuccessful shots in the extreme heat of the day Marley and I made way back to the Jeep for some water and to join the other guys for our continued long range activities.

We all had a great time and felt a little more confident with our shooting skills after the several hours spent practicing, the 250 yard spinner was a ton of fun and really shows what Airguns are really capable of. The footage we got was impressive! We loaded up the vehicles and headed back to camp where we really just sat and relaxed until about 5:00pm when it started cooling down a bit, the high for the day was 112 degrees, much to hot to be out hunting. As we drove down the hill the plan was to follow a small Jeep trail that headed East up into a very remote part of this desert. I had previously found the area on Google Earth and had noticed it being a little greener that may have indicated some sort of water source.

Tom took off up into the valley a bit ahead of us where he soon made a beautiful 105 yard shot on a good size Jackrabbit, you can see in the photo just how close the Jackrabbits fur matches the ground cover.

Jon, Marley and I continued several hundred yards next to Tom following the many animal trails that were covered in tracks, this area was very active. We made our way into a field that seemed much greener just as I had seen on Google Earth and almost immediately spotted several Jackrabbits. I set my sights on one at 75 yards that had froze like a statue next to several bushes just long enough to make a great shoulder shot.

The .25 Cricket is a great bullpup for offhand shooting and has a ton of power to push the NSA 38gr slugs nice and flat for longer range shots.

As we continued our hike through the desert Tom continued his own busy hunt and even managed to get a very large Jackrabbit at 90 yards with a spine shot that dropped that jack on the spot.

 

.357 Slayer Jackrabbit kill using 120gr  Nielsen Specialty Ammo Swaged slug

Jon and I moved a bit further away from each other and I moved towards a strange area that had some sandstone hills with more open terrain with very little vegetation. I saw something out of the corner of my eye like a flash of something big moving, as I looked again I noticed it was a very large Coyote, unlike others I had seen this one almost had more of a winter coat. I tried getting my scope on it and was able to capture some on film but unfortunately it was moving way to fast to take any successful shots. I was caught a bit off guard by the sighting and was a bit disappointing that I had not had a better chance. As the sun moved down a bit more I was starting to see more and more Jackrabbits moving about through the bushes and sandy washes. Marley and I continued to follow the sunset in a slow walk down the sandy wash that led us to an opening where I spotted a good size Jackrabbit sitting next to a Cholla Cactus. I had a nice clear shot at 87 yards that I placed right in the head that sent the Jackrabbit flipping backwards where Marley was able to make a quick retrieval.

Over the rest of the evening we continued to see several large Jackrabbits but I think between all the foot-traffic they had become very aware of our presence in the desert. As we continued back and made our way to the vehicles Marley had spotted a Jackrabbit and gave it a pretty good chase, amazing how fast that little dog is when she is motivated. Over just the past two days she had gotten more action than any other hunting trip I can remember, near 20 rabbits between all of us. We took a break by the Jeep soon accompanied by Tom who had to say his goodbyes and head back home, what a great day we all had. That evening back at camp Nick BBQ some burgers and we had a great time hanging out and reminiscing the great day we had.


It was 4:15am and Marley, Jon and I awoke very early to head into an area I call “The Hills Have Eyes” a very desolate location that offers extreme long range shots. I had hunted here several times before with Tom and we had both always had great luck finding Jackrabbits and Cottontails. The area we parked was near a trail that wrapped around the base of a mountain that overlooked several miles onto the desert floor. It was barley light out by the time we started our long hike that’s terrain can be very unforgiving and rocky. As we made way over the first rise I spotted a Cottontail at 83 yards in the open that gave me opportunity to make an excellent head-shot.

Jon set up his GoPro camera to capture some time-lapse video that we planned to use in the video of this adventure. The morning was fairly quiet other than the distant chatter of a Coyote caller that someone had set out several miles down on the desert floor followed by several large caliber shots followed by silence.

As the sun started to come up over the mountains Jon and I were starting to spot several Jackrabbits moving about, most way beyond 200 yards. I knew most of the shots here may beyond what the Cricket was capable of but still was excited to see what Jon could do with his .22 rim-fire as I knew he had much practice with it the day before. Jon set up his rifle into his tripod that would assist him in making some shots that were out to 300 yards, amazing for almost any type of rifle.

We had spotted several Jackrabbits moving, some were simply lost due to the extreme distance and difficulty to track through the scope with so many bushes, trees etc,. After some patience Jon finally settled in on a Jackrabbit that I believe was just beyond 300 yards sitting next to a bush offering not much more than a sharp black silhouette as a target.

As you can see from the photograph this is an extreme long range shot and very similar as to what we were doing with the Slayer in a previous video we did. I manned the camera and even with a tripod and the friction head cinched down it was still difficult to keep still at these ranges.

After a few minutes of setting everything up Jon took the shot that through a video review took several seconds for it to reach out the 300 yards where it fell just short and to the left by about 8″, still impressive shooting as far as he was.

As it was now approaching 9:30am it was time for us to make our way back to the Jeep and make our way back to camp to start packing for the trip home. As we made way through the mountains and more nearing the vehicle we spotted several Cottontail, one of which we both took shots at with no luck of recovery, even by Marley. As we made out of the mountains and back to the Jeep Jon had spotted several Ground Squirrels that were sitting upon a huge boulder high above us.

With very little energy left to sit and wait for the Ground Squirrels to come back up we decided to call it a day and make our way back to pack up all our camping stuff and head back home. Over the three days we had taken many Cottontails, Jackrabbits, Ground Squirrels and even had a short encounter with a Coyote. For me this one simply just one of the best hunting trips I had had in a great many years and was so happy that everyone had such a great time. I learned a few new things and got to make a new friend out of the whole adventure. Marley and I said our goodbyes and headed down the long desert road left with the exhaustion and memories of another great adventure together. I want to thank Jon for his amazing photography and video work, Nick for his great company and allowing me to use his Cricket coupled with his NSA ammo that worked flawlessly throughout the hunt. I want to thank Tom for coming out and hunting with us and allowing us to do some long range shooting with his .357 Slayer. Over the next few months we plan on doing some more trips and as usual will try our best to bring all the action through video and photos. Enclosed is a video link of our three day hunt I hope you can enjoy. If you can help us by SUBSCRIBING to our channel it’s much helpful, Thanks!

 

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Fun and Gun weekend/hunting and shooting

Late Thursday evening I headed out with Marley several hours North into the secluded NF where I had previously scouted a good area to not only hunt, but shoot. My goal was to spend several days hunting and testing some ammo for not only the EVOL .30 but the .308 and .357 Slayers. After arriving close to dark I found a good place where I was meeting my friend Brent and his 20 year old son who were shortly behind me. After a short wait they had arrived and started making camp in our usual fashion along with a nice campfire to take the chill off our bones through the night.


The plan for us to get up early and to each scout several different areas for Cottontail, Jackrabbits and Ground Squirrels where we would meet up later in the day. I started out about a mile down the road where the foliage was just a bit greener along with a bit of water in the nearby creek. By this time it was about 7:00 am so I still had several hours until my friend Nick and his family arrived to a previously scouted area where we would camp, shoot and hunt for a solid 3 days. I decided to park the Jeep in a nice shady spot and take a long hike into the mountains with Marley and the EVOL .30



After a short hike across a creek and up a steep ravine Marley and I decided to take a break in the shade as it was getting fairly hot, we could hear the many birds such as Woodpeckers and Blue jays staying very active. After several minutes I was able to spot several ground squirrels moving about across a huge fallen tree.


I shot at several coming within inches, even close enough to blow one off the log with the shrapnel of splinters from the impact of the 44gr Polymag. After making some wind adjustments I spotted a good size Ground Squirrel poking his head up from behind the fallen log and just to the left of a small nubby branch.


When the wind had that moment of calmness I was able to make a beautiful 130 yard head-shot that blew that squirrel right off his rocker.


It always amazes me how far a shot really is when I have to walk it, was not easy making our way down the steep embankment and up the other side where we made our way to the giant fallen tree. The tree was massive and for some odd reason had what looked to be several doors someone had cut into it.??


Marley and I made our way around the other side and saw several more Ground Squirrel scrambling away through the broken mess of branches. We headed up from the other side and hiked up a hill where we sat in the shade at 90 yards looking down.


After about 10 minutes of patiently waiting Marley and I spotted several more Ground Squirrels moving about, one even stopped right on top.

The 90 yard shot was fairly easy for the .30 monster I was using so I was able to plug him pretty good as he made his way down off the log.



Marley and I made our way down to document our kills and to move to another spot where we would make way back to the tuck.



We continued down into the ravine and followed the creek back towards the Jeep when I spotted several more Ground Squirrels running up a steep embankment.


The Ground Squirrels seemed to all be invading a large tree that had roots that were protruding the ground from erosion. I sat in the shade while Marley played in the creek, trying to cool off from the Summer heat. I was having a difficult time positioning myself for a shot as the area was very off camber and too was forcing me to shoot near vertically. I finally spotted several and ended up killing the larger one on the right offering a bit larger target at 45 yards.



Marley and I headed a short distance back to the Jeep where we were soon met by Nick and his family. We set up a nice camp along with some EZups that would take the sun off and too offered a cool place for a shooting lane.


Nick was kind enough to set up his chronograph and Lab Radar

We set up several targets, spinners and later on my two friends even brought some heavy steel we set up at 130 yards through the trees.


After a full day of shooting we had a nice campfire followed by dinner, laughs and a few mosquito bites. The night was so peaceful and quiet other than a few Owls and the distant chatter of Coyotes.


Saturday morning came about and I woke up a bit late, being now after 8:00 am where we had expected Tom and several others to arrive throughout the day. Nicks wife was kind enough to make a nice pot of caffeine that I much needed to start my day of adventuring. Marley was so happy just to be outside and able to play stick with Nicks two boys.


Sometime around 11:00am Tom arrived with a .308 and .357 Slayer where him and Nick planned to test several different weights of Big Bore ammo. We had acquired a heavy steel quadrant target that I dragged 250 yards up through the trees, a great challenging target considering the small window it left to shoot through the thick branches.


Tom was using the nielsenspecialtyammo.com swaged 98.9gr .308 going 970 fps, gets out pretty quick and by the end of the day proved to be very accurate.


Later after lunch my friend Brent and his son Brian came to visit us and to tell us about the scouting they had done for Cottontail. My friend Brent is not an Airgunner but him and his son both showed great interest in the Big Bores we had on the table, heck who wouldn’t? Tom eagerly invited them to try them out and they both surly did.




After a bit more fun we took a break and relaxed in the shade talking about hunting, shooting and just having a few great conversations!
Tom sadly had to leave the fun and head back to his desert home so Nick, Marley and I loaded into the Jeep to do some scouting and to meet Craig down the road where he would follow us back to camp. By this time it was near 5:30 when we finally met up with Craig, was happy to see another friendly face join us in the reindeer games. Marley and I went out on another short hunt not far from camp where she was able to tackle herself some dinner down near the creek, a small Cottontail to be exact. That little dog is as amazing as they come and has brought so much joy into my life having such a good little companion as her. That evening we had more laughter along with some tasty chicken cabobs Nicks wife provided.


The next morning I woke up fairly early and headed up the hill to visit Brent and his son Brian and see how they faired with the opening day of cottontail season. They ended up getting one Cottontail not far from our camp using a shotgun at 30 yards on the run. I wish I had taken my camera but unfortunately did not. We all made way back to camp and enjoyed the shade from the EZup along with plenty of water that is so important on such hot days, especially when hiking around. I had suggested going on a Ground Squirrel hunt and Nick and Craig were both eager to attend. We packed our gear and brought plenty of water where I had planned to set them up near where I had gone the day before.

                                                                    Nick with his .25 Cricket
I set them both up about 50 yards apart where they both had some good view of the adjacent hillside.

                                                 Craig with his .25 Vulcan 

After several minutes Craig and I could hear the solid crack of Nicks .25 Cricket smacking a Ground-squirrel as it made its way up a fallen log. Nice shot at what looked to be about 35 yards or so. I sat with Craig for about 20 minutes before Marley and I decided to take a hike and circle back around to camp, I had hoped to find more active areas but the heat was taking its toll on us both. Craig had left not to long before Marley and I arrived back at camp, was hoping everyone would have better luck with hunting but it really was very hot. That evening Nick and I set out again where his son was able to spot a good size Cottontail at 35 yards sitting under a bush, hidden very well I might add. Nick took a great shot that put that bunny down with authority. Marley was happy to retrieve and was even allowed in the photograph.  ;D


Nick and his boy headed back to camp and Marley and I continued along the creek-bed when just before dark I was able to spot a small Cottontail at 45 yards just at the edge of the embankment.

                                                 American Air Arms EVOL .30
Marley and I had a great finish to a long weekend and were both super tired, we slept great that night. The following morning we got up a bit late and started packing up the camp for our long venture home, where we both needed a long hot shower. I thank everyone who attended and am embarrassed because I forgot some names and was not as organized as I usually am with photos. I have been doing a great deal of filming lately and have not been writing as much as I should, this is what I enjoy and can’t forget the importance of it. Through my writing I hope to not only entertain but to bring the spark of our sport to the newcomers. As some may know I started this online magazine along with my video series that can be found on YouTube, I have put much work into both and really appreciate all the support I have been given.

“The best gun’s the one you’re shooting”

Check our video page for more action and please subscribe!

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Afternoon with an old friend

by Ron Stephen

So I decided to pull out an old friend and spend a little time together. Sporting some very nice borrowed glass and a new bi-pod, we did a bit of bench work to get zeroed and reacquainted. It wasn’t very long before we were both getting pretty comfortable at 100 yards, and any rock smaller than a golf-ball was easy game.


I grabbed up my Bog-pod and cool little backpack/stool combo and we went for a little walk around the chicken farm. We strolled through some brush and was keeping an eye out for any Dirt Rats that may be in the area. The new spring pups have been starting to come out in droves on a few of our other permissions, so I figured I should do a little scouting for them on this permission. I did see several off in the distance, but they were moving too fast and would drop into there hole at the slightest sense of danger. I guess they had been watching me and my friend while we were zeroing in on the small rocks, hahaha. We headed towards the spot where the farmer piles up the dead chickens, to see what kind of activity might be going on over there, and to just do a little “Recon” for any possible Coyote action, (for a later hunt).


Yep,… there was definitely some evidence of recent Coyote activity.
They will go pull dead chickens off of the pile, and carry them into the brush for some cover to eat their meal.
This is obviously a favorite spot for them to feed on.


I decide to sit for a little while as the sun was getting low and hang out to see what might wander in.
No,… I wasn’t planning on using a .22 Marauder for Coyote, (as it really doesn’t have the power that I would prefer to use on them), but was just more interested in sitting for a bit to see what might come around for a photo op.
While sitting there, I noticed something strange on the trail a few feet from me.
I thought it kind of odd to find this laying in the middle of the trail, (and not really anywhere near any of our previous Coyote kills),
and it made me wonder if Coyotes would feed on their own dead? I dunno, but maybe they might ?


While sitting there and thinking about it, I noticed some movement a ways down the trail from me. I grab my rangefinder and I see two Cottontails doing a little sparring with each other. So I slowly get up from my seat, figuring they are not paying attention to me, and are more interested in “winning the battle” between themselves, to run each other off. From a standing position, I set my old friend into the Bog-pod yoke and steady myself. I adjust the side focus, and the Hawke Sidewinder is crystal clear, The magazine is filled with JSB 18’s, and I quickly chamber a round. The Rabbits a still challenging each other, constantly moving in and out of the edge of the brush line, jumping and running around each other. I’ve got to wait for the shot, and my friend is telling me to have patience and confidence in it’s ability to accurately deliver. After maybe 30 seconds, one of the rabbits gives up the fight and heads out into the bushes. He’s lost the battle, and is gone. The “Victor of the battle” claims his territory, and settles for a moment to munch on some grass. He’s calm and not moving now, but I can’t see most of him due to a bush and a rock. I still have to wait. Finger goes into trigger guard and makes ready. The rabbit makes a single small hop into a perfect profile view, giving me the view I’ve been waiting for. I squeeze of 2nd stage, and the JSB flies straight and true. I heard that satisfying “catchers mitt ” sound, and the rabbit rolls to his side with little more than a twitch.

He may have “won the battle”,… but he certainly “lost the war” !

Entry … (not too bad of placement I’d say  ???  ;) )

Exit …  (I’m pretty darn sure the fuse-box experienced a “direct short” with this  shot :o  :P  8) )

Satisfied with my friends loyal performance, the sun getting low and darkness coming soon, I decide to head on back to the truck.
I’ve still got to clean up camp, and drive about 50 miles home. As we approach the truck and are no more than 10 feet from it, I see some movement at about 30-35 yards to my right.  I quickly turn to see a very large Skunk just as he is heading into the bushes. All for the better, as I don’t really feel like dealing with that stinky mess , (and probably having to smell it all the way home),… so he gets a pass.
As I’m taking off my backpack and at that same moment I see another movement on another little trail at about 60-65 yards.  I raise the rangefinder to see another rabbit and “Mr. Simmons” says it’s at 67 yards. Good enough for me. The Bog-pod is quickly deployed, and my friend goes back into action, This will be my last possible shot for the day, as I can BARELY see through the scope in the near darkness.  My friend does not disappoint. The JSB leaves at around 850 fps and finds it mark to make Quite the mess !
Wow !, do you think it hit something major ? ? ?


OK, so time for a quickie Group Photo,
set up a cleaning table,
and get to work….


Cottontails dress out so clean and easily,
and they are both done in about 15-20 minutes.


As I’m closing up camp, and can barely see in the dark, I look down to see this coming up the toe of my boot, and heading towards my pant leg. Whoa !, don’t think I want to be getting THAT friendly with this Creepy Crawler ! A couple of good STOMPS and the size 10 takes care of it. Whew ! I’m REALLY GLAD I saw that dude before feeling him up my pant leg. now THAT would have freaked me out !



Ok,
Bunnies on ice, and everything loaded into the truck. Time to go home and get the Crock Pot warmed up.
Rabbit Stew tomorrow is sounding pretty darn good right about now. So it took me a couple of days to get the Rabbits cooked up into a stew, but I did get them into the crock pot yesterday.


2 rabbits on bottom covered with 2 chopped potato’s, 1 onion, and of course a few strips of Bacon.
sprinkle in one scoop of H&H Dry Salsa mix, (I Love that stuff ). Makes the BEST salsa I’ve ever had, so why not spice up the stew a bit with it ?  ;DTop that with one more rabbit from a previous hunt, and I had in the freezer. 

,

Top that with a can of green beans and a can of sliced carrots,

let it sit on low for about 9 hours, and let it cool in the pot.
This morning I pulled all the veggies and rabbits, de-boned the meat, separated the broth, add a couple of beef bullion cubes to the broth and I am about to reduce the broth to a nice gravy now.
I hope it turns out yummy !

Thank you my “Old Friend”,…. I had a good time.
We’ll do it again soon.
Cheers !

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2017 SHOT SHOW

We headed out 6 hours to the Sands Expo in Las Vegas Nevada where we would make our visit to the 2017 Shot Show. We were very excited to make the rounds through this very large convention center that had 3 floors of Airgun and Firearm vendors. After a short walk we made our way into the Sands Expo where we checked in and proceeded to try navigating through the mass of foot traffic. The amount of people attending this event was astounding, no doubt making it the most popular gun expo in the world.

2017 Shot Show

Our first stop was at the Airguns Of Arizona booth where we ran into Tony Roman from the popular site Airguns Air Rifles & Pistols as he was checking out  few very cool products they carry.

Tony Roman

Some of the new Daystate models were no doubt in our opinion some of the nicest Airguns of the show as they even attracted some popular faces such as Giles Barry from the Airgun Gear Show. The Daystate rifles are very well made kits that offer quality beyond anything else we had seen. The wood stocks, fit and finish were absolutely top notch.

Barry Giles from Airgun Gear Show

Daystate


Our next stop was over to the Crosman booth where we were kindly greeted by their friendly and knowledgeable staff that were happy to answer questions. I spoke with them about several new rifles such as the Wildfire and the New regulated Marauder field target.

Benjamin Wildfire

The Wildfire is essentially a PCP version of the 10/77 repeater that uses the same trigger and magazine system, but with the addition of a 2000 psi air reservoir. With a low fill up to 2000 psi it is perfect for those looking for a great gun to pair with a hand pump and at a reported 60 shots of .177 caliber pellets. The Wildfire is really going to be a good bridge gun that may bring PCPs into the mainstream market. The SBD system is Crosman’s new silencer design, which allows for an oversize baffle and maximum volume in the chamber without obstructing the shooter’s field of view.

Benjamin SBD system

This will be applied to all of the Gen3 Nitro Piston guns and we think the real reason for the design may have been to solve the cracking issues with the shroud on the older models. We really see no change in the performance of the gun by adding the SBD system other than cosmetics, strength and possibly sound of the break barrel.


Our next stop was to the GAMO booth where we were a bit surprised to not be greeted by anyone, we did spy on the new Swarm Maxxim “repeating” break barrel though.

GAMO Swarm Maxxim

The rifle is a 10 shot repeater that uses a rotary magazine that’s inserted into a slot in the top of the rifle. Each time the rifle is cocked it indexes the magazine and loads the pellet into the breech.

GAMO Swarm magazine loading port

GAMO Swarm rotary magazine

This is a great call by GAMO to create a repeating piston gun but would have loved to see it made as a side-lever design instead of a break barrel. The rifle really isn’t much different than any of the other models as far as overall power or performance, the new barrel design is a bit robust and obviously resembles a large caliber center-fire rifle.

Gamo

The great thing about the Shot Show is to see such a wide variety of Airguns and to find the good and bad in all of them.


The next booth we visited was BEEMAN where we immediately drawn to the new QB-78S synthetic stock rifle.

Beeman QB78S rifle

The QB-78S is an updated synthetic stock version that is designed to allow the use of a bipod, flashlight or laser. The gun is not changed other than the stock and may offer a little more versatility to some of you tinkerers. These QBs are great little guns for the money and no doubt will continue to be top sellers to the entry level and veteran Airgunners both.


After a little more browsing we made out way to the EVANIX booth where we were kindly greeted by Siyoung Lee the managing director of EVANIX. He was happy to show us all of the great guns they had on hand including the new very lightweight semi-auto bullpup.

EVANIX bullpup

The new semi-auto models use recycled blowback to automatically cycle the magazine and load the pellet. Evanix will be the first to incorporate recycled blowback into a modern tactical design.

Evanix bullpup

These new rifles are extremely lightweight and shoulder very well with great fit and finish. The innovation that goes into these guns is very advanced and no doubt is a stepping stone for many other companies in design. The REX pistol was a very neat little gun that looks to offer many features that any small game hunter would be really happy with.

Evanix REX pistol

Overall I have to say that EVANIX has really hit the market this year with some serious innovative products that I think unfortunately were overlooked by a few other hypes. We however will have our eye on them and hope to report some further reviews down the road.


Our next stop was a visit to see the new KRAL ARMS line of rifles that are newly imported from Turkey. These are the Puncher Breaker bullpups that are a bit crude in overall appearance but do offer some good features in .177/.22/.25 calibers.

Kral Arms puncher breaker

Some of the rifles are very sharp looking and the wood looks like fair quality for the price these rifles are going for. The one thing we noticed about the Puncher Pro model was its similar design cross between several guns such as Daystate, Evanix and Hatsan.

Kral Arms Puncher Pro

Kral Arms rifle

The overall fit and finish of these guns is not super and feel like the want of comparing it to a very very nice Hatsan. The Puncher EVO does have some nice bling to it along with some very pretty wood stock designs. I think we will be seeing a ton of these rifles in the next year and can see Kral Arms being a great competitor to the Airgun market.


Our next stop was to check out the Ataman line of rifles that too have been a fairly new import from Russia. They were originally known for building high quality Olympic rifles and have carried the tradition of bringing some new age technology into these rifles. The M2R bullpups and compact rifles are pretty sharp looking and offer some fairly impressive performance. All the models offer built in picitany rails along with good sturdy stocks offered in wood and synthetic.

Ataman M2R

Ataman M2R synthetic stock

The Ataman’s are high end guns but can see some improvement in making some of the edges a little less sharp. The side-levers and magazines are top notch and look as though they have been made to perform and last. These guns are hunters and have a great reputation for being built by the people who use them.


Our next stop was the Hatsan booth where we were very kindly greeted by the ever knowledgeable Cecil Bays from the popular YouTube channel AirGun Scout

Hatsan rifles

Cecil was happy to show us several of the many new models and we were able to get all the information we needed from someone who uses every single model. The newest model is the Bullmaster, a semi-auto bullpup that comes in .177 and .22 and has a 500cc bottle that offers a good amount of shots. The guns semi-auto operation is completely air operated and supposedly is a much more reliable and efficient way in design than some other kits offer.

Hatsan Bullmaster

The gun is very heavy as much all Hatsan’s are, still we can give credit for some creativity in design. The new magazines are surprisingly very well made and all seemed to fit very well.

Hatsan Bullmaster magazine

The Nova may have been a favorite as far as looks but have to say that its very hard to get around the weight of these guns. We think Hatsan needs to lower the overall weight of these guns and spend some more time on the finished metal.

Hatsan Nova

Most of the guns were all very robust and had some design features that are really difficult to make sense of. The fact that Hatsan is putting out so many new affordable models is great in the sense it offers something for almost any application. If Hatsan spent some more time on one rifle and raised the quality of the materials and QC we may see a huge step up because they do have the capability. Will they do it is the question?


The next stop through our massive wave of people was the UMAREX booth where we planned to look at two new models that have really been turning some heads. The first gun we looked at was the Umarex Gauntlet entry level PCP that is planned to retail for $300, a great value for the money.

Umarex Gauntlet

The gun will be offered in .177 and .22 and features a 13-cu regulated Ninja bottle that fills to 3000psi and can easily be filled with a hand pump. They claim 60 shots at 900 fps in .22 and 70 shots in .177 at 1000 fps. The magazine is near identical to the Marauder and self indexes each time its cocked.

Umarex

The comb is adjustable that is a very nice feature along with a shrouded type barrel that is claimed to quiet the gun considerably. The only thing that would have made this gun better would be picitany rail instead of the dovetail. Overall this looks to be a winner of a rifle and tough to beat for the money. The next gun we looked at was the new .50 Hammer that is very boldly claimed to achieve 700 fpe in a 3 shot repeater “pump action”.

Umarex Hammer

This rifle is no doubt very innovative but still very skeptical to being able to achieve the power level claims. ” The Umarex Hammer is a 700 ft. lb. 50 caliber PCP rifle in a compact configuration that will shock airgun hunting enthusiasts with its innovative approach of packing multiple shots with lots of power into a modern and rugged rifle that’s easy to carry and use.” ?? We are definitely shocked. The gun uses a stripper type magazine that moves to the side to load each slug into the chamber.

Umarex hammer magazine

The gun was showcased with a new Umarex ARX ammo that is essentially a sabot type that’s popular in the muzzle-loading world.

Umarex ARX

The Umarex staff was not able to answer many questions such as ammo weight or air capacity for this rifle. The barrel looked to be near 48″ long with some sort of carbon fiber sticker type wrap on it.

Umarex hammer

The thin walled, untensioned barrel may prove to be a serious problem with harmonics when producing 700 fpe. When asked about accuracy the quote was 2″ at 50 yards, good enough for a hunting gun?….The gun looks as though it may be using a large plenum that is housed somewhere near the back of the buttstock that may explain its ease of cocking. A heck of a hammer spring would normally be needed to put out such high numbers. The best guess is this gun may produce high numbers but with only one shot and several using a lightweight conservative slug. The gun does have a curb appeal that includes AR furniture, picitany rails and a fairly lightweight to it. Without seeing more than just a few prototypes we can really only speculate on weather or not the hype is all true or if its just a brilliant way to achieve some much needed publicity. Umarex did bring a good show and does look as though it has created a winner with the Gauntlet model.


Our last visit of the day was to Predator International where we met and talked to Richard Dixon.

Predator International

Richard showed us a few of his new lead free GTO line of pellets that look as though they are a great step in lead free technology. We are a California based company where many of our hunting areas may soon require a lead free alternative due to changing laws. Predator International is on top of the game in providing exceptional products for hunting and target practice.

predator international

We helped ourselves to a few stickers and had a good chat with Randy over at RL Airgun Supply  who seemed like a great guy who enjoyes the sport to its fullest.


The 2017 Shot Show was a great visit and found it as a valuable tool in being able to interact with the companies on a more personal level and to see the faces behind the media that promotes them. The goal for this trip was to make some connections and to try to share some serious truth as to what was seen in the light. All that was mentioned is just our own opinion and applied using the best facts that could be gathered, hopefully it can be taken as helpful.

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HUNTING WITH THE .22 SUMATRA CARBINE

The Sam Yang Sumatra 2500 is a powerhouse of an Airrifle in almost any configuration considering it’s ability to generate high muzzle velocity with heavy pellets. The rifle is powerful, but not a real efficient system as it uses a lot of air per shot on high power (it’s better about air use when dialed down) Yes, you can turn this thing down so as to get more shots. The .22 will sling a 43 grain Eun-jin pellet 1000-fps so John had chosen to use some 52 grain custom swaged pellets he had made specifically for this gun. The shot count on low settings is near 50 and on high power near 23 although some tuners such as Will Piatt are getting these to be much more efficient on air consumption.

Johns sumatra 2500

The Sumatra’s total weight with scope was a bit over 10 lbs making it a fairly heavy hunting rifle, especially for hiking around all day. I will say the under-lever design along with the well finished stock really makes the gun look sharp. The magazines are a rotary design, and pellets are loaded from the front (note) they do tend to fall out if you have some loaded in your pocket. This rifle is loud even at the lower power setting, so John contacted  Neil Clague to outfit him with and LDC to quiet the bark down to an appropriate level. With the LDC attached it does increase the overall length of the rifle, but well worth it making the gun nearly silent.

john shooting sumatra 2500

John was able to get very good accuracy with the rifle out to 60 yards being able to continually hit the same target with 1″ groups using his preferred ammo. The Sumatra is a great repeating rifle that’s fairly easy to operate and shoulders nice considering its weight and feels very sturdy and solid. After several days of getting the rifle set up and sighted in we had decided to take it out for some Rabbit hunting in the Mojave desert. John and I set out early that next morning and arrived near 8:30 am to a spot I hadn’t hunted in quite some years, but did offer some good Cottontail populations.

Hunting Mojave

After arriving and filling our guns we set out a ways North where the terrain was quite rocky with low knee high sagebrush that made great habitat for Cottontails and Jackrabbits.

Hunting area in Mojave Desert

It didn’t take long for the both of us to spot a few Jackrabbits, but unfortunately they were at quite a distance away making it difficult to get close enough to present good shots. After walking around for about an hour, spread 50 yards apart, I came around a corner of a rock face and spotted a good size Jackrabbit at near 60 yards that presented me with a good head-shot using my .22 Marauder.

.22 Marauder Jackrabbit kill

After taking a short break I decided to sit up on a rock that overlooked a good portion of our hunting area and too provided me a good view of John’s location.

John hunting in Mojave Desert

I sat for several minutes watching him almost certain he would flush a Cottontail from the nearby rocks and sure enough I heard that distinctive THWACK. John was able to get a great head-shot on a fleeing Cottontail at 30 yards, and it was very exciting to witness from my vantage point.

John's Cottontail kill with Sumatra .22

I soon after made my way down off the rock to congratulate John, and too was able to take some photographs to document his successful kill. Upon inspection of the Cottontail I noticed the large entry and exit holes that made way through the head and out the back of the shoulder, this Sumatra does pack a punch.

Cottontail kill

By this time it was getting later in the day, and we had a good amount of driving ahead to get home so we decided to call it quits. This was just one of many trips I have planned, and can’t wait till the next. Overall I think the Sumatra is an excellent choice for someone looking for versatility, power and accuracy from an Airrifle. I normally am not a fan of Korean guns but after shooting the Sumatra I have to say I was pretty impressed with its function in the field. Anyone looking for an entry level type PCP rifle I think should take a serious look at this rifle and the few unique features it offers. The gun is near ready out of the box but does require a few additions to make it more user friendly such as these enclosed items.

 

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DOUG NOBLE .257 AIRFORCE CONDOR

Many who are fans of the Airforce Condor platform of Airguns are most likely familiar with the name Doug Noble. Well known for his design and development of the components that modify these rifles to perform at long ranges, some well over 1000 yards. Doug’s Condors are near the ultimate of custom  airguns and their isn’t much room for improvement I might add. The guns he builds shoot like lasers and too are as quiet as a mouse with his custom built shroud design. He has spent years and countless hours building and testing his own guns for the pure love of shooting them. Along the way he has shared his results very openly to help others achieve they’re goal, and on occasion will build one for a customer. I have had the privilege to shoot several of his many guns and will say they truly are unreal in performance and quality.

Doug Noble .257 Condor

His .257 Condor shoots out to 400+ yards with ease with 70 MOA adjustments. (shooting from bench below) 300 yard steel plinkers.

shooting area

Doug Noble targets

Doug’s .257 has a 32″ 1:14 TJ Enterprises barrel and it runs one of his custom .257 valves in a tank adapter with a 62 ci tank.

.257 barrel

tank adaptor
Doug does most all of his own work and design including machining the .257 barrel and too the one piece bushing to go along with it.
Here is one of his custom made a cocking knobs and hammers.

condor cocking knob

condor hammer

The .257  uses a hammer cocking setup were the hammer clocks the gun instead of the breech. The breech on this rifle is aluminum and is just open and shut load design.  There are some interesting things that happened with these Airforce valves as they are a unique valve design for an Airgun. Here is one of Doug’s custom valves on the (left) compared to stock valve, as you can see his is much larger and created for more power and efficiency.

Custom Valve

On a .257  or .25 you can port all you want. .257/.308 valve has a 49 lb return spring. He says that you could use a smaller one on .257 but he got to a point where he was tired of experimenting so a .25 valve will work with almost no spring.
Here are some of his numbers he has achieved.
-3300 psi fill gets shots in the 1080’s with 74 gr Lyman. With 102 gr slugs it is in the 960’s.
-3950 psi fill gets shots in the 1140’s with 74 gr Lyman. He got 1060’s with 93 gr.

Here is a stock condor stem on the left along with his .25, .257, and .308. The opening is where the air comes in the valve then goes to the ports in the stem. He uses three ports instead of the two Airforce uses for ease of manufacturing.

Doug Noble stem

Doug has stated that for good accuracy its very important to size and weigh each slug, as Airguns don’t have the energy that a firearm has. If a slug is to large it takes away a lot of fps and you will end up with the base not being flat from trimming in the barrel. He only size’s .0003″ over on his .257 and it shoots dime size groups at 1080 fps. Too, barrels don’t lead up as bad either with proper sizing. This is Doug Noble’s designed .257, 91 grain super slug made by nielsenspecialtyammo.com . If you have a .257 capable of shooting this awesome slug it is definitely worth trying out.

.257 ammo

These Airforce Condors are excellent rifles to modify into the .257 for not only target shooting but long range predator hunting as well. Here is a Coyote taken by Tofazfou at 120 yards with his custom .257 with some of Doug’s ideas. If you get a chance to please check out his blog with the provided link, some very good reading. If you care to reach Doug for SERIOUS BUSINESS inquiries only he can be reached at dyotat100@aol.com

Cedric Tofazfou

As you can see, the .257 is a great long range tool but as anything can only get better with more experimenting. In one of our next issues we will take a look at one of Doug’s other customs such as his .338 that he used in the 2016 Extreme Benchrest where he was hitting silhouettes at 550 yards.

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