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First Seen At Browning B i SIG Sauer Meopta Cimarron CMMG TenPoint & More!

TV Host & Country Singer

CRAIG MORGAN From The Heartland To The Last Frontier


Savage’s New Bolt Actions For Southpaws

4 Things To Know Before Buying Binocs

International Hunts For Couples, Families

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018 9


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SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 7 // Issue 5 // February 2018 PUBLISHER


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Craig Hodgkins



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ON THE COVER When Tennessee-based country music star Craig Morgan wants to get away from it all, he heads to Alaska and his remote cabin for a little R&R involving fishing and hunting the Last Frontier’s big game, including its blacktail deer. (SUB7)

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

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Nashville music and television star Craig Morgan is an avid hunter and fisherman with a home away from home in the Last Frontier. Oh, and he has a new wine line. Pour a glass and read all about what Morgan’s up to these days!




SIG Sauer expands their air gun category with two new products: a We The People BB pistol and the ASP20 break-barrel air rifle.


ROAD HUNTER: INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEART HUNTS For this Valentine’s Day, our man in the field goes global with more great hunts you can take with your significant other.

SCORING A PERFECT TEN Join an Alaska hunter’s quest to harvest an animal from each of the Super Slam’s North American big game categories.




4 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BINOCULARS Although fall is the traditional time to think of “hunting season,” there’s no time like the present to zero your rifle, add a scope, or pick up just the right set of binoculars.

Savage Arms expands its already extensive lineup of rifles targeting southpaw shooters, a development which suits the editor just fine.

AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Ave South Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2017 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.


American Shooting Journal // February 2018



THERE’S PLENTY NEW W UNDER THE SUN AT S.H.O.T. 2018 Tag along with writer Dave Workman as he goes booth-to-booth at the most recent SHOT Show to f. check out the best new products he saw on our behalf.

Also Inside 97 103 117 125

Meopta Rangefinders CMMG’s Mk4 DTR2 Rifle TenPoint Crossbows A Better Bow Sling

DEPARTMENTS 17 19 21 25 131

Editor’s Note Competition Calendar Gun Show Calendar Industry News Company Spotlight: Jones Arms


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE irst off, a very happy February to you. There’s plenty to love about this time of year (Valentine’s Day comes to mind, of course), but especially if you had the chance to attend the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. There is plenty to see, as always, and we’ve tried to cover a whole lot of it between these covers last month and in this issue. This season, it seems as if more manufacturers dangled at least one “carrot” product in front of us media types to make sure we carved out a few minutes to visit their booth. That’s usually an indicator that attendance is down, but that is clearly not the case. I spent the morning walking extremely slowly up and down jam-packed aisle

after aisle with 65,000 of my closest friends. And while it is true on one level that we brave the crowds because we want to see all the new stuff, in all honesty, I’d want to be here even if there weren’t a lot of “new” things to see. In my opinion – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – one of the great things about a show like SHOT is the opportunity to be surrounded by people who share a common bond; a like interest; a similar source of joy. I do believe that human diversity and different opinions can make the world a better place, for if there’s someone out there who thinks and acts exactly like me, one of us is superfluous. But with so many fractions dividing our everyday lives, there is a certain pleasure in spending time with like-minded people – kindred spirits, if


you will. Frankly, in this day and age, I get a lot of information sent directly to my inbox, and what doesn’t arrive automatically I can easily search out on the internet. But a show such as SHOT is the perfect time for me to catch up with other editors and writers to find out what new product they saw that got them excited, or what new story they are working on (we “borrow” story ideas from each other all the time), or even how that new job is working out for them. It is also the best time to talk with company representatives to get the inside scoop on what is coming down the line. So far, I’ve discovered that there’s quite a bit coming soon, and we plan to fill these pages with as much of it as we can as the year goes on. -Craig Hodgkins


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American Shooting Journal // February 2018



Julie Golob is a picture of focus and determination in competition, even when organizers throw her and fellow shooters a curve ball (right). At left she is captured in the midst of a magazine change. (JULIE GOLOB)

February 2-4

February 3

February 12-18

February 24-25

Golden Bear Trap Championships Pasadena, Calif.

Sandy Ford Olympic Pistol Streator, Ill.

Robert Mitchell Rifle Championships Colorado Springs, Colo.

Southeast Regional Trap & Skeet Gainesville, Fla.

February 15

February 23

Florida Open 2018 Frostproof, Fla.

The Space City Challenge Rosenberg, Texas

February 17-18

February 24-25

Sweet Home Alabama Challenge VI Montgomery, Ala.

Northern Florida Regional Classic V Tallahassee, Fla.

February 3

February 9-11

February 17-18

2018 Snow Fall Shootout Gill, Colo.

Southwest Regionals Queen Creek, Ariz.

Saddle Life Florida State Championship Lady Lake, Fla.

February 3

February 14-17

Winter Wonder Shoot Unadilla, Ga.

Bishop’s Trailer Sales Winter US Championship Queen Creek, Ariz.

February 24

February 3

February 10

February 17

Oregon TCDPL Match Sherwood, Ore.

Falling Steel Handgun Match Kempner, Texas

Blue Grass Sportsmen’s League Wilmore, Ky.

February 9

February 11

February 24

Volusia County Gun & Hunt Club IDPA New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Caliber IDPA Waukegan, Ill.

2018 Chesapeake Cup Lexington Park, Md.

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018



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February 3-4 February 3-4 February 10-11 February 17-18 February 17-18 February 24-25

Pensacola, Fla. Fort Meyers, Fla. Panama City, Fla. Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Miami, Fla. Tampa, Fla.

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Memphis, Tenn. Cartersville, Ga. Somerset, Ky. Gray, Tenn. Overland Park, Kan. Sedalia, Mo. Corbin, Ky. Kansas City, Mo. Columbus, Ga. Leburn, Ky. Knoxville, Tenn. Memphis, Tenn. Lebannon, Mo. Atlanta, Ga. Lexington, Ky. Great Bend, Kan.

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February 17-18

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Brenham Fireman’s Training Center

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February 10-11 February 17-18

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Larimar County Fairgrounds Denver Mart

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Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Deschutes County Fair Expo Center

To have your event highlighted here, send an email to 21


American Shooting Journal // February 2018



Cimarron’s exclusive US Marshal 1873 Model carbine honors service’s history in taming the American West, while Primos Hunting’s new blind acts as two-way mirror.

The US Marshal 1873 Model carbine from Cimarron debuted at last month’s SHOT Show. (CIMARRON)



n celebration of “The Gun that Won the West,” Cimarron Firearms revealed their exclusive US Marshal 1873 Model carbine at last month’s SHOT Show. The project was launched by a request the company received from an active marshal who wanted a duty carbine that honored the U.S. Marshals Service’s illustrious past, but one that was also functional for today’s lawman. Cimarron worked tirelessly over the past year to develop a historic design on the Model 1873 carbine that was ready to serve in the

name of law and order again. Cimarron Firearms based the new US Marshal 1873 on an original 1873 Winchester presented in 1880 to a marshal by his boss, Judge Isaac Parker of the Indian Territory. The Cimarron is an accurate copy of the original Winchester 1873 carbine, with stock slightly shortened and the barrel cropped by 2 inches, making it easier for marshals to carry in their vehicles. Built for the .44 Mag cartridge, the US Marshal 1873 carbine lever-action features the traditional saddle ring, ladder rear sight, sliding dust cover and the

A gift to a U.S. Marshal from Judge Isaac Charles Parker, known as the “Hanging Judge,” inspired Cimarron’s newest carbine. (CIMARRON) 23

NEWS iconic semi-crescent steel carbine buttplate, all on a blue steel frame and barrel with U.S. Marshals Service markings. The US Marshal 1873 has an MSRP of $1,402.70 and will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2018. “The 1873 carbine was a very popular firearm used by those men deputized to preserve law and order in what was truly the wild, wild West,” Jamie Wayt, vice president of media for Cimarron Firearms, remarked. “To receive this request from an active U.S. Marshal for a firearm that represents their history and service and to make it to be fully functional for today’s marshals was not only a challenge, but truly an honor.” The U.S. Marshals and their deputies have been instrumental as a civil authority in most of America’s

major historical episodes over the past 200 years. The U.S. Marshals, created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, fulfilled the function of authority under the federal government, and brought law and justice to an ever-expanding western wilderness. As each territory was established, marshals were appointed as the voice of the law. Besides acting as lawmen, marshals and their deputies were also administrators, setting up courts, documenting cases and serving the communities in a civil capacity. Judge Isaac Charles Parker, known as the “Hanging Judge” for trying more than 13,490 cases, and sentencing 160 people to death, of which 79 were eventually executed, respected the marshals’ ability to track down fugitives and bring the lawless to justice.

Between 1875 and 1889, Parker’s court held sway over the Indian Territory. Cimarron’s new US Marshal 1873 Model pays tribute to Parker’s action of ceremoniously giving a Model 1873 to a U.S. Marshal for his service. The original 1873 carbine was designed by Winchester Repeating Arms Company and first offered in the powerful .44-40 cartridge. The gun became every deputy’s favorite side arm for its accuracy and its lever-action repeating assembly performance. Over 720,000 were produced, thus it became the most popular lever-action long gun in America and was marketed by Winchester as “The Gun that Won the West.” For more information on Cimarron Firearms and accessories, visit



rimos Hunting, a leading innovator of game calls and hunting accessories, recently announced a revolutionary new hunting blind to flagship the


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

The material featured on the new Double Bull SurroundView blinds from Primos offers unique properties that allow it to function like a two-way mirror.

NEWS premium Double Bull brand. The Double Bull SurroundView blind, dubbed the first “Blind Without a Blind Spot,” was unveiled at the 2018 Archery Trade Association Show in Indianapolis. This year, Double Bull introduces a brand new technology – SurroundView. This exclusive material has unique properties that allow it to function like a two-way mirror – hiding the hunter from the game outside the blind, but offering a full view without gaping windows. “The basis of the technology is a special tiny pinhole pattern,” explained Jason Harris, senior product manager for Double Bull. “Thousands of very small holes dot the fabric. On the outside, the camo print and natural light force human and animal eyes to focus on the camo, making the holes

‘invisible.’ On the inside, the black print and darkened interior allow your eyes to focus on the holes, so you see ‘through’ the fabric.” Hunters who were not at the ATA Show can also experience the new SurroundView blind with a revolutionary augmented reality app from Primos. Using the latest Apple ARKit technology, the SurroundView App allows consumers and trade professionals to experience an interactive Double Bull SurroundView blind at home, in the field, or even in the store. For the first time, hunters can “set up” their blind with just their phone to view shooting angles and concealment. They can also experience the SurroundView product differences and experiment with window locations and shooting ports to

view what they’ll see through all three models of SurroundView wherever they. To download the app simply go to the iPhone App Store and search for SurroundView. An Android version will be available soon. Primos, a Vista Outdoor brand, is one of the most recognizable and trusted names in hunting calls, attractants, trail cameras and accessories. For more information, visit Vista Outdoor is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of consumer products in the growing outdoor sports and recreation markets. The company operates in two segments, shooting sports and outdoor products, and has a portfolio of well-recognized brands that provides consumers with a wide range of performance-driven high quality and innovative products. 

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Nashville star, hunter, TV host Craig Morgan on his Alaska cabin getaway, upcoming album, new wine line. BY CHRIS COCOLES


e lives on a sprawling Tennessee farm, but Craig Morgan’s home is a quick drive from Nashville’s bright lights of the honkytonk joints of Broadway Street, the Times Square of the country music cosmos. But when Morgan, who has 17 singles that have reached the Billboard country charts – including a No. 1 hit and six more in the top 10 – wants to literally get away from it all, he heads to Alaska. And while he finds it funny that his cabin in the state’s interior gets better cellphone service than his Tennessee property in Dickson, 40 miles west of Nashville, it’s about as wild a setting as a diehard sportsman like Morgan could ask for when he wants to unplug from his hectic life of making music, hosting an outdoors television show and running a family business. “It’s one of those deals where if you’re there, you know that you truly are in the depths of Mother Nature,” the 53-year-old says. He’s been hunting and fishing in Alaska for roughly two decades, though he’s owned his cabin for just about three years. The Last Frontier is one of Morgan’s first choices to satisfy his outdoor cravings. “Oh, god. It was probably 20 years ago I guess for my first visit. And since then we’ve done everything from fishing to hunting to cruises,” he says. “And I’ve been from the lowest southeast point to all the way up to the Yukon. So I’m just absolutely fascinated with that part of the world. It truly is the Last Frontier.”


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

GETTING TO MORGAN’S HIDEAWAY isn’t super easy for anyone who wants to tag along on one of his trips. Fly into Anchorage, then either board a floatplane for a 50-minute flight onto a lake adjacent to the cabin, or fly to Talkeetna and drive three hours on a gravel road to the end of the line for a 6-mile, 4½-hour walk or – in winter – snowmachine journey to get there. “It’s off the grid completely; there’s no electricity, no running water. The closest town is Talkeetna. Actually it’s Trapper Creek, but I don’t know if Trapper Creek is considered an actual town,” Morgan says. So yeah, this getaway allows him to really get away. That’s what this intrepid hunter was looking for when he began getting serious about investing in an Alaskan home (“It’s more of a trapper’s cabin than a house,” Morgan says). It took him about year and a half of looking around to finally settle on what he owns now. He says it’s actually easier to get there in winter via the snowmachines. But it’s exactly what he hoped for: a place in the wilderness in one of his favorite outdoor playgrounds. “I just wanted a place to go that we could call ours. It’s quite an effort to get there, but when you get there it’s just an awesome thing. And I’ve always wanted to be a bigger part about what’s going on there,” Morgan says. He identifies himself far more as a hunter than an angler, but the nearby lake is teeming with trout, Arctic char and grayling, so he makes sure to have fishing gear close by. Yet it’s the big game and other wildlife as the main event that keeps him occupied

when there is a season open during his visits. Morgan’s native Tennessee is chock-full of sportsmen and -women who secure their tags and stalk everything from deer to turkeys to black bears. And his TV show assignments have sent him all over the map. But Alaska is Alaska and there’s no other place quite like it.

A native Tennessean who grew up hunting – mostly for subsistence and not for sport – country music star Craig Morgan makes several trips to his remote Alaskan hunting cabin to experience the Last Frontier’s outdoor bounty, including its Sitka blacktail deer. (SUB7)

“The thing that you really understand is the gravity and intensity of Mother Nature when you’re up there. You don’t get that when you’re in the woods in Illinois or Iowa or Texas, or anywhere else. Because you know that you can generally walk in some direction and come across some form of civilization,” Morgan says. “In that part of the world, you can walk in some

direction and may walk for a month and not come across civilization. If you go in the wrong direction, you might never find it. It’s just a super-intense outdoor experience.” And what Morgan loves about the Last Frontier is it’s the last place you want to be if you run into trouble. Not that he’s eager to be in harm’s way, but it’s the thrill of the unknown you’re

walking into that attracts the Lower 48 outdoors lover to these parts in the first place. On one trip, one of Morgan’s buddies suffered a deep gash while they were cutting wood, which could have been a lot more serious if they weren’t prepared. “We were 45 minutes from getting anybody to help us. So you have to 29

be extra careful. An accident up there can turn from a simple one into a catastrophic event pretty quick if you’re not careful,” he says. The cabin has only a generator for power, so satellite phones and emergency medical equipment come in handy in a beautiful but potentially hazardous front yard. “You can have the most peaceful moments in your life sitting atop a mountain, and then in 15 minutes have the most horrific experience as you’re going down that mountain,” Morgan says. “And that terrain can absolutely beat you up. It will just take you before you know it. So many obstacles that just make you truly appreciate how that moment of beauty can turn to something ugly.” “In everything else that we do, for the most part, you feel like you have a sense of control a little bit and a sense of security, I think, to some degree. In Alaska all that goes away. You know that you are not necessarily at the top of the food chain in where you’re at and what you’re doing.” CRAIG MORGAN GREER’S FAMILY made do with what it had in their Tennessee 30

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

Morgan considers himself more of a hunter than a fisherman, but when in Alaska, who wouldn’t want to bring home seafood? He also fishes the nearby lake when at his cabin. (SUB7)

home. Kingston Springs is a don’tblink-or-you’ll-miss-it town of about 2,000 along Interstate 40 west of Nashville. Craig’s family – like many in that part of the country – had a passion for hunting. But it was far more than just the sport of it that got his parents outside. “As much as they enjoyed it and that was it was local and on public land, it was really for the meat,” Craig

says. “My family and parents weren’t trophy hunting; they were hunting for the meat.” “We were eating organic before organic was a term. But it was out of necessity more than a choice. When you’re born into a lower-middle class income family, you have to do those kinds of things. So we grew up eating wild game or pork from pigs that we had raised ourselves. We had a better 31

idea of what was going into our bodies than most.” That lifestyle never left Morgan’s mind as he progressed on into his own path – first during 17 years in the Army and then his singing career that elevated him into a fixture on the Nashville music scene. “Now I’m in a position in my life where I can afford to go buy what I want to eat, but I choose to hunt because I know the meat that I’m getting is going to be better for me,” he says. “It’s going to be cleaner. We try to use that term a lot in our house: eating clean. But it was very much a part of my life and still is, probably more so today than it was then.” As his career took off, Morgan’s outdoor roots scored him a gig as host of Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors, which chronicles fishing and hunting adventures from around the globe. Among his most memorable episodes was a northern California turkey hunt with friend and former major-league baseball player Ryan Klesko. “We donated a hunt with he and I to the (National Wild Turkey Federation), and I’ll never forget the lady who bought the hunt; she was so excited to be out hunting with Ryan and I,” Morgan says. “We all killed turkeys and it was just a phenomenal hunt (near San Francisco). It was awesome because we hunted for a few days and then got to visit all the wineries.” Indeed, those early days of subsistence hunting with his family in rural Tennessee spawned quite the dedicated sportsman. AROUND THE TURN OF THE century, he cut his first album to kick off a successful career that’s included 17 singles that reached the Billboard country charts and a No. 1 hit, “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” that tops his discography. Ironically, making records, touring, hunting in exotic locales around North America and abroad and all the other perks that go with celebrity status have complicated Morgan’s personal life. “My family is always going to 32

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

A wine aficionado as well, Morgan contributed to the creation of his own signature cabernet sauvignon, Old Tattoo. (SEAN O’HALLORAN)

A DIFFERENT KIND OF HARVEST There’s something about a glass of wine after a long Alaskan hunt that makes Craig Morgan smile. It’s also a reason why this country music star and outdoors TV host is now a celebrity vintner. “I just became a wine guy who loved wine about 20 years ago. And as my knowledge grew, so did my desire to be more involved,” he says of this grapeinfused project. “Having said that, I never want to own a winery. I never want to be a winemaker or nothing like that.” Still, it’s difficult to not consider Morgan a bit of a wine savant. So when he collaborated with a company called Lot 18 to create Old Tattoo ( craigmorgan), which is being released this winter, it only strengthened a passion for good wine, particularly enjoying a glass or two with some of the wild game this outdoorsman has harvested for years. Old Tattoo – its American Flag logo matches the ink that adorns Morgan’s left arm – is flavored by grapes from Paso Robles, California, along the central coast and one of the state’s hidden gems for wine lovers. While Morgan helped in determining the cabernet’s flavors – “hints of coffee, cocoa, currant, dark cherry, graphite and plum,” the wine’s introductory press release explained – he was mostly in tasting mode as blends were tested. But the entire approach was based upon his name being attached to as close as you can come to producing an organic wine. And for someone who prefers to eat his own harvested game and fish, Morgan’s fascination with wine was one that was a more natural blend.

“One in particular that kind of started it was a wine called PlumpJack, which is a partner of the Cade Winery in Napa (California). The one thing that I loved about the PlumpJack was that it was organic,” he says. “It’s very rare that you find an organic wine against one that isn’t. And I just fell in love with it – a fabulous wine.” Morgan also took to heart the message of another of his favorite California winemakers, Sonoma County residents and avid sportsmen whose brand is known as Ammunition Wines. Their reds and whites are catered to fellow anglers and hunters and specifically blended to pair with not just traditional dishes but also wild game like venison, duck and upland birds. While Morgan’s idea wasn’t to market his wine for a specific audience – “I just wanted to have a wine that at that price point ($22 a bottle) you would be super excited,” he says – it’s clear he wanted Old Tattoo to showcase who he is as a hunter and organic eater. When Morgan returns to his Alaska trapper’s cabin and spends some time hunting, fishing or just enjoying the solitude of the surrounding quiet, he’s never without a bottle of Old Tattoo or another favorite wine. “My kids and my friends make fun of me that even in Alaska I have a good cab glass or at least a glass of some kind (to drink the wine),” he says with a laugh. “It may be a tumbler, but how bad is that I don’t want to drink the wine out of a Solo cup or Styrofoam cup? It has to be a glass.” CC 33

come first and a lot of people would question that, just because of the amount of time that I spend with them, which is so little,” he says. “But I tell my kids all the time that I make a choice as a dad to make certain sacrifices in order that they and my wife and family are better off. And one of those choices was choosing this occupation, which requires me to be away from home a lot.” The Morgans have also started a family business, the Gallery at Morgan Farms in their hometown of Dickson. They make various items out of recycled and reclaimed materials (the UP TV network is working on a series revolving around the family juggling an already hectic schedule to make the business work). But having so much access to the beauty of the outdoors has also been a blessing in that Morgan’s family has joined him on so many of his outdoor adventures, both on camera and off (he and his wife Karen Greer had four children but lost their son Jerry to a tragic swimming accident

Morgan’s TV hunting show, Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors, which appears on the Outdoor Channel, takes him all over the place, including California, where he got this gobbler. He says his favorite shows to shoot involve our military veterans and his family. (CRAIG MORGAN)




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Morgan’s musical resume includes 17 songs that hit the Billboard country charts, seven reaching the Top 10 and one, “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” hitting No. 1. (SUB7)

in 2016). When asked about his favorite episodes of Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors, while he’s enjoyed the tributes to veterans – Morgan’s Army background made it only natural that’s been heavily involved in giving back to the troops through charitable causes – his mind came racing back to his family, where his own hunting passion’s roots grew. “Probably my favorite hunts to do throughout the filming are the ones that I do with my family, in particular my kids. I’ve always loved spending time with them in the outdoors and trying to educate them on the process,” Morgan says. “And I have something that a lot of people that get to do that don’t, and that’s the footage of it. So I get to go back and reexperience that with my kids, which is a real blessing.” 36

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

IF THERE’S ONE ALASKA adventure Morgan is still hoping to cross off his bucket list, it’s to harvest a muskox (he also wants to hunt one of those semi-mythical creatures in Europe someday if not in Alaska). “A friend of mine just did it and the reason why they loved it was the weather. There’s nothing like hunting in the Arctic,” he says. “It’s a little more entertaining, weather-wise. But I would suffer the cold in the Arctic for a muskox.” When he does make his periodic pilgrimages from Tennessee to Alaska, Morgan appreciates the value in his purchase. Alaska, like his TV show and family time amid a busy schedule recording and performing music, is another facet in a life where few hours of the day aren’t taken advantage of. It’s clear that heading north makes

for a spiritual moment of clarity. “I try to go at least two or three times a year, and I think in the last couple years I’ve been up four times a year. Every time I land in Anchorage I get this excited feeling – like a little kid at Christmas about to open up a present,” he says. Early in 2018 Morgan is working on his 11th album and expects he’ll continue to make new music until his fans no longer want to listen. But while it’s his primary job he really does enjoy it, likening the process to those backyard grillmasters who live for cooking that perfect steak on the barbie. Songwriting and performing feels like a hobby, and even if he’s not earning a paycheck Morgan will likely always channel his musical gifts. Of all the songs he’s cut and hits that made the charts, the tune that makes him most nostalgic is 2008’s “Lookin’ 37

Back With You,” in which he pays homage to growing old with wife Karen. “When we’re sittin’ on our front porch,” “In our cracker barrel rockers.” “And we don’t long to dye the grey out of our hair,” “We’ll sit and laugh and talk about all the things that we went through.” “Yeah, I look forward to looking back with you.” It could be sitting on a porch in a trapper’s cabin in the isolated but magnificent Alaskan Interior. “It just talks about when we get older, and I look forward to looking back on my life – my wife and I in particular,” he says. “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but it’s one of my favorite songs.”  Editor’s note: For more on Craig Morgan, check out his website craigmorgan. com, follow on Twitter and Instagram (@cmorganmusic) and like at facebook. com/craigmorganmusic.


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

Morgan bought his Alaska home about three years ago, but he refers to “more of a trapper’s cabin than a house.” (CHELSEA GREER)

HOLSTERS NEW GUN WORKS Optic Cuts / Serrations


Preferred way to carry a WML

Piqua, OH 45356 // 937-269-8958 // 41

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New gun offerings from Browning, Mossberg and others, optics from Swarovski will turn shooters’ heads this year.

Browning is offering a number of new models in the X-Bolt and X-Bolt Pro Long Range lines. (BROWNING)



anuary is getting to be more of a “favorite” month as I get older because it brings an annual trek to Las Vegas and the four-day Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, arguably the biggest gun industry gathering on the planet. Although the news of late has talked about slumping sales and less interest in gun and gear buying, there are some good things coming this year, based on recent announcements from several companies. IN THE RIFLE DEPARTMENT, Browning is unveiling the X-Bolt Pro and X-Bolt Pro Long Range models, which feature an exclusive Generation 2 carbonfiber stock with palm swell. Receivers and barrels are stainless steel with Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish. They have spiral fluting on the bolt body and bolt handle, target crowns and a threaded muzzle brake protector. They are offered in the following chamberings: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., .300 WSM, 26 Nosler, .270 Win., .30-06 Sprg., 7mm Rem. Mag., 28 Nosler and .300 Win. Mag. calibers.

Browning’s X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan rifle has a McMillan Game Scout stock with integrated aluminum pillars. The free-floating barrel is 26 inches long and is fluted. Winchester will introduce the XPC precision chassis long-range bolt-action rifle with a 60-degree bolt throw and large locking lugs. The bolt has a Nickel Teflon finish and the steel receiver has a Perma-Cote black finish. Also from Winchester is the Model 1873 carbine with blued barrel band and blue steel buttplate and saddle ring, walnut stock and forearm. It will be chambered in .357 Magnum, .44-40 Winchester and .45 Colt with a 20inch barrel. There’s a Model 1892 Winchester chambered in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44-40 Winchester and .45 Colt. And Mossberg is adding lightweight bolt-action rifles in the MVP LC series with a lightweight aluminum chassis, and three barrel lengths matched to three different caliber options: 6.5 Creedmoor, 7.62mm NATO and 5.56mm NATO. IN THE SHOTGUN ARENA, Remington recently announced the Model 870 DM, a magazine-fed pump shotgun

that is the newest incarnation of the famous smoothbore model. I haven’t had the chance to try one yet, but plan to get my hands on one promptly. It can be fitted with three- or sixshot magazines and is a 12-gauge chambering. It comes with a cylinder bore barrel and will be offered in several finishes. Mossberg will offer the Model 835 Ulti-Mag with new Mossy Oak Bottomland camo finish or in basic blue with a synthetic stock and forearm. Chambered for 3½-inch 12-gauge shells, the new camo model comes with Accu-Mag chokes and the Ulti-Full turkey choke, and a fiber optic front sight. The blued model has a bead front sight and Accu-Mag chokes. They have 26-inch barrels. Now in its sixth year, Browning’s High Grade Program offers a limited run of Citori 725 Grade VI Field models in 12 and 20 gauge. This year’s entry features gold enhanced engraving on the silver nitridefinished receiver and a grade V/VI walnut stock. It is available with either 26- or 28-inch barrels. The new Citori 725 Golden Clays Trap gun in 12 gauge features goldaccented engraving on the silver nitride-finished receiver. The stock 43

seen ffirst irst a at ts shot hot

Browning’s Silver Field 12-gauge semiauto shotgun is chambered for 3½-inch shells and has an aluminum-alloy receiver. (BROWNING)

and forearm are grade V/VI walnut with a gloss oil finish and Pachmayr Decelerator XLT recoil pad. The Browning Silver Field, Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades 12-gauge semiauto model has an aluminum alloy receiver and black/charcoal bi-tone finish. It is chambered for the 3½-inch 12-gauge shell and is available with a 26- or 28-inch barrel. Winchester will offer a Super-X


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

4 semiauto dubbed the SX4 NWTF Cantilever Turkey model. This one has a 24-inch barrel with a Weaverstyle cantilever rail for mounting an electronic sight or scope. It is chambered for 3½-inch 12-gauge shells. I LIKE GOOD HANDGUNS, and there are some dandies on the way. Late in 2017, Springfield Armory announced the .45 ACP version of

the XDE pistol. It has a polymer frame, dual recoil spring with fulllength guide rod, exposed hammer, ambidextrous manual safety/ decocker, 3.3-inch hammer-forged barrel and fiber optic front sight. Taurus will be spotlighting the new 1911 Commander and Officer model pistols, the Raging Hunter revolver and two other wheelguns, the Model 692 in .357 Magnum and

Savage MKII/93 Pro Varmint Stock, Heavy Bottom Metal & Aluminum Trigger Guard, One Piece Scope Base, 1� Action Screws ORDER DESK: 208-660-9974 45

seen first at shot the Model 856, a .38 Special snubby. nubby. mbered The Raging Hunter is chambered for the .44 Magnum with a rail on top of the heavy ported barrel for a scope, soft rubber grip, adjustable rearr sight and blade front sight. The Model 692’s cylinder has lue seven chambers, a stainless or blue ďŹ nish, Ribber grip, ported barrel available in either 3- or 6½-inch lengths, adjustable rear sight and tant ramp front sight and, most important der of all, it comes with a second cylinder for 9mm ammunition. For concealed carry, the Model 856 in .38 Special has an exposed hammer, six-round capacity, blue or nd stainless ďŹ nish, soft rubber grips, and is +P capable. And Taurus will also offer a new .380 ACP called the Spectrum in a variety of color choices. It’s a lightweight with polymer frame and holds six rounds in the standard magazine, or seven rounds in an

The Taurus Raging Hunter in .44 Magnum features a rail for mounting a scope. (TAURUS)

Hodgdon’s new IMR Enduron 8133 is designed for the .264 Winchester M Magnum, 28 Nosler and .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. (HODGDON)

:HEXLOGSUHFLVLRQULĂ HVWRSUHFLVHVWDQGDUGV providing uncompromised accuracy whether they are for competition, hunting, law enforcement, our military or just exercising your QG$PHQGPHQW5LJKWV We have now added Titanium versions of the Pierce Round actions to our Action line-up. Titanium is very strong and comes in at about 42% the weight of steel and has a high strength to weight ratio of 1.5+. We only use the best 6Al-4V known as Grade 5 Titanium.

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

seen first at shot extende magazine. extended Brow Browning is introducing the Black Label 19 1911-380 Pro Stainless model in both Compact Co and Full Size models. There w will be an accessory rail option. The Black Blac Label has a matte black composi composite frame and machined 7075 aluminum sub frame and slide rails. aluminu

The Swarovski Optix BTX features the eye cups of a binocular and the single objective of a spotting scope. (SWAROVSKI)

I’M A DEVOTED DEV HANDLOADER, and this year, Ho Hodgdon has announced a new IMR magnum propellant called Enduron 8133, scheduled to start shipping in February. Available in 1and 8-pound 8-po canisters, IMR Enduron 8133 is specifically s designed for cartridges cartr such as the .264 Winche Winchester Magnum, 28 Nosler and .300 Remington Rem Ultra Magnum. Hodg Hodgdon is also continuing its Annual Manual, a magazine-style reloadin reloading guide with thousands of load rec recommendations for hundreds of cartri cartridges. The new edition includes data for the 22 Nosler, 6 C d Creedmoor, 6x47mm Lapua, 6.5x47 Lapua, 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum and .450 Bushmaster, along with updates for more than 30 cartridges. Redding offers the fourth in a series of weight range specific powder measures called the Competition PR-50. Made in America, this new powder measure offers efficient metering, a precision ground drum, honed metering chamber and hemispherical micrometer-adjustable plunger. And there’s a new 6.5mm MatchKing hollowpoint boattail bullet from Sierra. It has a .27-caliber elongated ogive and is designed for use in rifles with a twist rate of 1:7.5inch or faster for stable flight. FINALLY, SWAROVSKI OPTIK is unveiling the new BTX model, combining the features and benefits of a spotting scope and binocular. It’s got dual eyepieces, like a binocular, but a single objective, like a spotting scope. The BTX is available with either a 65mm, 85mm or 95mm objective module. 


American Shooting Journal // February 2018 49

Custom Guns

“Black Mamba” Gary Reeder Custom Guns presents the Black Mamba. This Python-looking beauty is built on your Ruger GP-100 and is available in calibers up to .44 Magnum.

“Mastodon” Gary Reeder Custom Guns presents the new Mastodon. Chambered in .475 or .500 Linebaugh or the .510 GNR this one is ready for Alaska or Africa. It’s built on your Ruger Redhawk.

Seen First at shot


SIG Sauer expands its air gun category line with the We The People BB Pistol and the ASP20 break-barrel air rifle. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


IG Sauer is pleased to introduce the 1911 We The People BB Pistol – the company’s newest semiautomatic, CO2-powered airgun and first air pistol with a functional takedown lever for field stripping. Modeled after the exceptionally popular 1911 We The People full-size centerfire pistol, which is inspired by a rich, patriotic history, the BB pistol version of this uniquely American handgun features the same custom grips adorned with 50 stars (25 per side) that represent each state of the Union. A distressed finish on the stainless-steel slide and frame includes patriotic engravings, such as 13 stars atop the slide and “We The People” and “1776” on the slide flats. “This new 1911 BB pistol is as close to an exact replica of its centerfire counterpart as possible,” said Joseph Huston, vice president and general manager of the SIG Sauer Airgun Division. “The weight and feel are virtually identical, and this BB pistol version features our first drop magazine in an air pistol. It is also our first model that is field strippable, for maximum authenticity.” This high-performance air pistol also features a full-metal slide and frame with realistic blowback action of the slide and a 17-round, drop magazine which holds 4.5mm steel BBs. The slide remains open after the last BB is fired. The pistol fits in current 1911 holster systems and has the same weight and controls

SIG Sauer’s new We The People BB Pistol.

of a traditional 1911 firearm, making it ideal for training. It also has a functioning grip safety. The pistol is single action only (SAO) and has the same skeletonized trigger as the centerfire model. The front and rear sights are fixed, and the 12-gram CO2 cartridge is housed in the drop magazine for quick and easy reloading. The gun shoots up to 340 feet per second, although velocity results may vary depending on temperature and altitude. THE COMPANY IS ALSO EXCITED to release the ASP20 break-barrel air rifle. Available in .177 and .22 calibers, this suppressed single-shot, Advanced Sport Pellet (ASP) air rifle delivers downrange power and accuracy with the lightest cocking effort in its class, making it ideal for hunting small game. This SIG break-barrel air rifle also features the smooth, crisp and

adjustable ASP MatchLite trigger, a completely new, two-stage adjustable match-grade trigger system designed to perform better than traditional airgun triggers on the market today. It is ultra-smooth in its operation and can be adjusted to break at one of eight different pull rates – from 2.5 to 4 pounds – allowing users to select the break that’s most comfortable for them. The trigger breaks at 4mm, regardless of the pull rate selected. A proprietary cocking mechanism in the SIG ASP20 makes it significantly easier to use than other break-barrel rifles. The ASP20 cocks at 33 pounds versus the standard 48- to 52-pound cocking force typically found in competitive products in this power range. The action of this air rifle is larger in diameter and shorter in length than most on the market. This brings the pivot point closer to the body, not only making the air rifle much easier 51

seen first at shot

The ASP20 break-barrel air rifle is available with wood or synthetic stock and in .177 or .22 caliber.

to leverage but also more balanced and easier to shoot accurately. Exceptional accuracy is another hallmark of the ASP20. SIG’s proprietary breech-locking system precisely aligns the barrel to the action, ensuring consistent accuracy. The company rifles its own barrels for the new ASP20 at its New Hampshire headquarters. The ambidextrous safety of the SIG Sauer ASP20 is located outside the


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

trigger guard, not inside. The safety location makes it easy to engage using either the right or left hand. The .177-caliber ASP20 air rifle is ideal for hunting small game such as squirrels, crows and rodents while the .22-caliber model is well suited for hunting slightly larger animals such as woodchucks and groundhogs. The ASP20 has a SIG Sauer rifled steel barrel and is available with either a synthetic or wood stock.

The SIG Sauer Whiskey3 ASP 4-12x44 Adjustable Objective (AO) riflescope, designed to handle the extreme bidirectional recoil of air rifles, will also be available for the ASP20 in May 2018. MSRP for the We The People BB Pistol is $119.99. MSRP for the ASP20 break-barrel air rifle is $359.99 to $489.99. For more information on SIG Sauer airguns, visit  53



Layke Tactical’s .308-caliber custom pistol weighs 5.6 pounds, has a 10-inch barrel and is made with custom titanium parts.



The Heckler & Koch HK416 Pistol is configured on the 416 receiver, but with a handgun-length barrel and short quad forend; it does not have a buttstock. The semiautomatic pistol in .22 LR is manufactured exclusively by Walther under license from H&K. It is the only genuine H&K tactical rimfire replica available in the world.




The Guncrafter Industries Model 4 in 50 GI is the perfect platform for hunting, or getting the most out of your handloads. 54

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

Based on a Glock 17 frame with custom slides, internals and barrel, this semiauto can be built in 9mm, 10mm, .357 SIG and .40 S&W. We hand cut and fit the frame, then coat everything in proprietary Blackstone coating, which is extraordinarily durable and has outstanding lubricity.



The new SAR9 semiauto 9mm striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol was NATO-tested against the best from Germany, Austria and the U.S. After 90,000 rounds, there was one clear winner – SAR9.



The Fusion Freedom Series is a high-quality 1911, the frame, slide and barrel of which are made from bar stock. It also features real wood grips and is priced at an incredible $795 MSRP.



Get superb accuracy (under an inch at 25 yards) and dependability from the Titan Model 1911. Fitted to perfection, it features a 5-inch slide, holds eight rounds and is chambered in .45 ACP. Many upgrades are available.



Since 1987 our Black Widow has been one of our most popular revolvers. It’s built in the caliber of your choice and built how you want it. 


The finest 1911 Auto you will ever own, the Match Master pistol will shoot 1.5-inch-or-smaller groups at 50 yards. A certified hand-held target fired at 25 yards is supplied with each order.



The best, most reliable pistol caliber AR platform on the market today is the Kronos 9mm. Call us and get it how you want it! 55


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

ROAD HUNTER Last March, Chris and Dana Stewart traveled to New Zealand to hunt red stag. They liked it so much, they’re already planning a return trip.

INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEART HUNTS For this Valentine’s Day, our man in the field goes international with some great hunts you can take with your significant other. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN


year ago in this column I highlighted hunts in North America that provided great opportunities for husbands and wives, couples, and families to share. It received some wonderful feedback, so this year, we’ll take a look at international hunting options to consider this Valentine’s season. SOUTH AFRICA South Africa is the most popular overseas destination for hunters from North America. For decades hunters have traveled to Africa, and within the

11.7-million-square-mile continent, the country of South Africa has the most to offer couples and families looking to experiencing a safari at its finest. My wife Tiffany and I, recently returned from one of many African safaris we’ve taken over the past 25 years, and this one was the most memorable. Together we shared a week of incredible hunting, then a week of traveling on our own. Getting to Africa is easy, and once you’re there, it’s safe, fun and breathtaking. Our journey began from our home in Oregon. We flew to Seattle, then Amsterdam, then Johannesburg, South Africa. There we painlessly cleared customs and checked into a

hotel in the airport. The next morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast, then walked to the domestic terminal and boarded a plane for a short flight to Port Elizabeth. There, we were met by our hosts, Charl and Julia le Roux, of Rosedale Safaris, and taken on a beautiful two-hour drive to their country lodge. On our first day of hunting we saw 23 species of big game animals, in some of the most diverse terrain we’d ever hunted in Africa. From elephants to rhinos, kudu to sable, warthog to duiker, it was the most game species we’d ever seen on a safari, let alone in a single day. The hunting in South Africa is 57

ROAD HUNTER Photo safaris are just one of many additional, exciting things to experience while in Africa.

straight forward. You drive, looking for game or signs of game, then commence on foot. Spot-and-stalk hunting is the norm, as is sitting in blinds at waterholes. Archery hunters find the best success sitting in blinds, waiting for animals to come to them, while rifle hunters cover ground, stalking to within comfortable shooting range. The number one rule of hunting plains game in Africa is the focus can change at any moment. Kudu usually top the most wanted list of hunters, but if stalking a bull and a nice gemsbuck or cagey bushbuck magically appears, you might postpone the kudu stalk. That’s the great fun of hunting in Africa; you never know what animals will appear, when or where. While on safari, seeing majestic elephants, giraffes and white rhinoceros only adds to the authentic adventure. Birds carrying colorings unlike anything you’ll see in North 58

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

America make the experience even more special. Following our hunting safari, Tiffany and I rented a car and drove to Cape Town. We took two days to make the nine-hour drive, stopping to take in the special sites along the way. We enjoyed a couple mesmerizing photo safaris in game parks catering to tourists. We went bird watching, hung out on a beach with wild penguins and indulged in tasty cultural foods from around the world. Spending a couple days in the city of Cape Town, hiking in the nearby mountains and dancing at night was the perfect ending to our African adventure, and the celebration of our 27th wedding anniversary. We’re already planning our next African safari. NEW ZEALAND New Zealand is one of the easiest travel destinations on the planet. The people are as friendly as you’ll meet anywhere, and the countryside

is captivatingly beautiful everywhere you go. While the South Island of New Zealand offers a mix of hunting opportunities for a range of game, most couples focus on hunting the majestic red stag. For this, I’d highly recommend the North Island. Simply board an international plane to Auckland, then hop a domestic flight to Taupo, where you’ll be picked up by your outfitter. I’ve been fortunate to hunt many places in New Zealand, and rate my red stag hunts with Gerald Fluerty of Wildside Hunting Safaris as the best. His habitat is unmatched and the stags he hunts are magnificent, being very massive and dark antlered. Hunting the red stag “roar” is something every serious hunter must experience at least once in their lifetime. Elk hunters will envy this special hunt. The day starts with a light breakfast, then you’re in the field to

ROAD HUNTER greet the rising sun. If there in March or April, you’ll follow the sounds of roaring red stags. Unlike bugling bull elk that stand their ground when calling, red stags travel fast, roaring as they go. When they stop to scrape the ground and thrash trees, hunters move quickly to close the distance. The rolling, wooded terrain of this land makes for perfect spotand-stalk opportunities. There are so many big stags, if you blow one stalk, don’t worry, as the next one will soon commence. I recently hosted a family on their first New Zealand hunt, capturing it all on film. You can watch it, and learn more about traveling to and hunting in New Zealand, on my website. Dana Stewart made a long stalk on her first red stag, followed by a perfect shot. The stag was herding hinds (females) and had no idea Dana was near. Following hugs, photos, and packing out the big stag, we enjoyed


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

New Zealand’s red stag “roar” must be experienced to be appreciated. March and April are prime months to hunt rutting deer. 61

ROAD HUNTER The best time to embark upon an African safari is during our summer months, which is winter in South Africa. Here, the author and his wife Tiffany Haugen are all smiles over Tiffany’s magnificent East Cape kudu.

a celebratory dinner. Dana’s children, both in high school, also took nice stags, as did her husband, Chris. A bowhunt was on the docket for Chris, and he closed the deal on a whopper stag on day four. Following the hunt, the Stewart family rented a car and toured the entire North Island over the next 10 days. From fishing to speedboating, exploring glow worm caves and the rich Maori culture, it was a family vacation none of them will ever forget. In addition to hunting red stags on the North Island, fallow deer, sika deer and arapawa rams can also be hunted here. If looking to hunt prized Himalayan tahr and chamois in New Zealand, the South Island is the only option. You need to be in shape for these mountain dwellers, as it can be one of the world’s most physically demanding hunts. Also available on the South Island are red stag, rusa and 62

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

sambar deer, and much more. AUSTRALIA Darwin, Australia, is a place I’ve been to multiple times, and one I look forward to returning to. This is the true Outback, existing just as it has for centuries. Because much of the land lies under Aboriginal ownership, it’s unscathed and rich in wildlife. Here you’ll experience the best water buffalo hunting in the world, seeing hundreds of animals a day. Wild pigs are plentiful, and prized banteng (wild cattle) call this area home, too. The bird life is second only to Africa, and the remote adventure is surreal, peaceful and relaxing. You’ll fly into Darwin, where you’ll be met by your outfitter and guide, Peter Edser of High Country Safaris. I’ve personally hunted multiple times with Peter, and filmed some TV shows with him. In fact, if you really want to

see what hunting in Australia is like, you can watch some of our hunts with Peter on The Hunt, on Netflix. Breaking into the open plains and swamps of the Northern Territory is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the world. The clean air, unique beauty and stunning amount of game will leave you speechless. When it comes to hunting water buffalo, the most challenging part is finding a bull you want. You’ll see bulls that look big, with horns spanning 4 feet from tip to tip. But if you’re hoping for a big bull, you’re looking for one that will stretch the tape to 8 feet or more. These things are giant, and many have never seen a human. After your hunt, there’s so much to see and do in Australia. It’s a huge country with a deep cultural history, and I’ve found it best to make the most of your post-hunt traveling by taking in what’s close to where you are. In the Northern Territory, there are hikes 63

The hardest part of water buffalo hunting in Australia is getting to the remote Northern Territory. From there, get ready for stunning scenery and more buffalo than you ever imagined.

in the remote Outback throughout Kakadu National Park, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef – the best we’ve seen – and much more, all of which are worth the time and effort. If looking to hunt red stag, rusa deer, fallow deer and axis deer in Australia, Edser has some great opportunities near Brisbane. This is a great city to base a fun, family hunting adventure out of, and there’s a lot to see and do right there. No matter where in Australia, or the world, you’d like to go, planning it around a sweetheart hunting adventure can be fun and easy. For my wife and I, we enjoy combining travel with hunting. Much of the time, were it not for hunting taking us to some of the world’s most amazing places, we’d not see it. For us, hunting has been responsible for opening up so much of the world to us. Life’s short, and goes faster with each passing year. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy all it has to offer, including some spectacular hunts that will be deeply etched in your memory bank for eternity. What better way to spend time than with your spouse, or maybe even the whole family, hunting, traveling and seeing the world.  Editor’s note: Scott Haugen runs a booking service specializing in hunting. He is host of The Hunt, on Netflix and is a full-time author and speaker. Learn more about him at, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 64

American Shooting Journal // February 2018 65

During author Paul Atkins’ quest to score an animal from each of the Super Slam’s 10 categories of North American big game, the mountain goat had become his white whale, the one animal he just couldn’t score. (PAUL D. ATKINS)


American Shooting Journal // February 2018


TEN An Alaska hunter’s quest to harvest an animal from each of North America’s 10 big game categories. BY PAUL D. ATKINS


never set out to take an animal from all 10 categories of North American big game. I didn’t even realize I was close until a few years ago when I joined Super Slam and saw that they had the program in place. So for me to accomplish the goal was really an accident, but something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Since I was a young hunter, I’ve always been fascinated with the Super Slam (superslam .org) and those who have accomplished such an incredible task. At its fullest extent, the slam involves taking the 29 “traditionally recognized species of big game animals native to North America,” which fall into the Super Ten categories (antelope, bear, bison/muskox, caribou, cat, deer, elk, goat, moose and sheep) that I found myself aiming for. Honestly, I’ve always dreamed of doing it myself, but as a teacher I never thought I would have the means or time to complete it all.

Alaska Yukon moose are one of three members of the family included in the Super Slam category (the others being Canada and Shiras), and are also the largest of the species. Atkins has taken several over the years, but this bull from 2014 will always be one of the greatest during his time in Alaska. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

Teacher hours and time at school, specifically during the fall seasons, just don’t allow for such things. But if you love hunting and/or adventure, you usually find a way. In the end, things sometimes seem to work out. I believe it was famed author and hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick who said, “I wouldn’t walk across the road to shoot the biggest bull in the world if I had to do it alone.” I feel the same way. Hunting big game is better served with friends. Living here in Alaska has helped me immensely, but more importantly I’ve had a lot of good friends who have accompanied me and shared in this success – something I wouldn’t trade for two slams. I’m currently at 15 animals in my quest for the Super Slam, and even though I may never get there, at least I was lucky enough to take one 68

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

from each of the 10 categories. It’s a goal that is obtainable with a little research and planning. MY SUPER TEN BREAKDOWN is a mixed bag. Eight have been taken with bow and two with a rifle. Two of those 10 have been guided and the rest selfguided on do-it-yourself-type hunts. The Super Ten really has no starting place for me. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be with whitetail deer. Growing up in Oklahoma, they were king, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I took a good buck on my own property. Yes, I’ve taken several others in places far and wide, but that deer means more to me than any other, especially being able to share that evening with my son and nephew. It was truly special and one of my favorite hunting moments of all time.

My first taste of something different was pronghorn antelope. I lived in Kansas for several years and was lucky enough to draw one of the first tags allocated back in the 1990s. It was a fun afternoon that day in the sunflower field, where my broadhead found its mark on what I considered at the time one of the most challenging big game hunts I’d ever been on. There were no blinds and no decoys, only spot and stalk with very little cover. I can still picture the buck standing there on the edge of the field, quartering away as my arrow found its mark. Foot-sore and tired after hundreds of failed attempts, this hunt gave me a satisfaction like no other. A FEW YEARS LATER I moved to Alaska, which was a game-changing decision. It opened up a whole new world, 69

After moving to Alaska from the southern Great Plains states, caribou became the author’s primary quarry. He hunted them relentlessly and still does today. Barrenground bulls, like this one, Atkins’ best, are among five subspecies in the caribou category of the Super Slam. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

both hunting-wise and financially. I started writing again with the thought that the more I hunted, the more I could write. My young self concluded that, with a little research and a whole lot of luck, maybe I too could take a moose, a bear or a muskox – maybe even a sheep. If all else failed, maybe I could even take a caribou or two. It was a win-win situation, one that still works quite well. In northwest Alaska where I live, caribou are king and the barrenground bulls that migrate south 70

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

each fall are truly special to behold. When I arrived in the 1990s, they immediately became my new “whitetail.” I’ve hunted them every year since then. However, it wasn’t until 2008 on a bowhunt along the Omar River that it all came together and I was able to take a bull that I was truly proud of. Not because he was big, but because it was an incredible experience. Five yards with nothing but a lone willow separated us; the old bull had no idea I was there. He was so close I could count his eyelashes

and feel his breath, but like all good things one of us had to give, and when I blinked he did too; luckily, I made the shot. Sheep were next up, as they represent the pinnacle for most hunters who pursue the loftiest of goals. Alaska’s western Brooks Range is notorious for sheep and I was lucky to take one with my bow during our special, though no longer held spring season. I had a surreal feeling walking up to that downed ram; sometimes I still can’t believe it even happened.



Wrapping your hands around sheep horns – your own sheep horns – is a cherished moment. Luckily, I’ve been able to experience such a moment four more times since then. Muskox have kept me busy too. Six bulls later and I still can’t get enough of these mystical creatures. It’s true that I like hunting them, but I like eating them even more! It’s by far the best meat of any big game animal I’ve taken. There’s also something truly special about a muskox hunt. I don’t know if it’s venturing out in extreme weather in more clothes than you dare wear, or the snow and ice. Maybe it’s when you’re close to frostbite, then all at once you find a group with a good bull. One thing you do know is you don’t forget! BEARS ARE PLENTIFUL IN Alaska also. I’ve taken a boatload of grizzly – both in the fall and the spring – with both a bow and a rifle. But black bears are my favorite and southeast Alaska is one of my favorite destinations to hunt them. I’ve taken black bears in other states, but the big boys around Haines are incredible. There are a lot of bears and in different color phases. I took my best one a few years ago after an all-night date with a tree stand overlooking bait. The bear was dark black with a beautiful hide, giving me quite the experience! In my opinion, moose rank second in terms of meat quality. A lot of people will disagree and I can’t blame them. They make incredible table fare and do an awesome job of filling a freezer. They’re also on many hunters’ bucket lists. I’ve taken several over the years, and it is always sheer joy when I connect on any bull. But my biggest came in 2014, during what turned out to be one of the oddest hunts I’ve ever been on. We had hunted off and on for three weeks with no luck. Only cows and calves roamed Alaska’s Kobuk Delta where we had been hunting. After a long day of glassing and calling, Lew Pagel and I went to sleep tired and disappointed. During the early dawn hours a thrashing outside 72

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

Wild sheep are the pinnacle for most hunters and were no different for the author. Hunting a special spring season, which no longer exists in northwest Alaska, he was able to arrow this fine Dall ram. Others in the Super Slam category include Rocky Mountain, California and desert bighorns and stone sheep. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

The author, who hails from Oklahoma, checked off the Super Slam’s deer category with a whitetail in the Sooner State, antelope with a pronghorn in Kansas, and cat and elk categories in Arizona with a cougar and Rocky Mountain bull. (PAUL D. ATKINS) 73

of the tent awakened me. I quickly slipped on my boots and cautiously checked to see what the racket was. I was prepared to see a grizzly, but what I saw wasn’t a bear; instead, there were two monster bulls smashing each other in a terrible fight. As I stood there in my long johns, I watched in amazement before realizing the opportunity I had and ran back to the tent to grab my rifle. When I returned to the scene, the bulls had separated and the loser was heading into the willows. The other guy just stood there. I raised my rifle and the bull dropped 30 yards behind the tent. It was a case of you’d be rather be lucky than good! SPEAKING OF LUCK, I always thought luck would be needed to take a mountain lion, the lone listing in the Super Ten’s cat category, but after seeing one on a Coues deer hunt in southern Arizona I knew I wanted to hunt them. I also knew I needed a local guide. I talked to many who had done it before, but my good friend and longtime hunting partner Garrett Ham suggested Jim Bedlion out of Flagstaff. I called and we booked the hunt. The drive to the north rim of the canyon was long and I was tired from jet lag, but Jim and I hit it off, and his tales of cat hunting kept me awake for the ride up. However, the hunt didn’t last long. A freak blizzard blew in and without some quick thinking on his part, we would have been trapped there for a week. I was bummed, but Jim told me to come back next year and we’d for sure get it done. A year later I did return, but this time we headed south to “Red Rock Country.” It was quick hunt, actually, as Jim’s incredible dogs cut a track on the first day and 22 miles later we had a big cat treed. The BowTech found its mark and the Boone and Crockett cat that lay before me was incredible! It’s still one of my favorite all-time hunts! Generally, elk have eluded me too, and to be honest I haven’t 74

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

His old nemesis, the mountain goat, had evaded Atkins for years. But working out and eating right put him in shape to finally be able to take a billy and put a check mark next to the final category in his Super Ten puzzle. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

hunted them that much. If I’m also being honest, they weren’t high on my list either. Only twice in my career have I pursued wapiti, both times in Arizona. The first was in 2004, in the state’s Unit 10, the crown jewel of elk hunting, especially during bow season in early September. I passed up several bulls in search of a monster, which I still kick myself for doing. I went home with an unused tag, but an incredible experience. The second time and six points later, I applied for an easier unit with more tags and more elk, but also more people. I also hired a guide, one

of only two for the animals on my Super Ten list. Yes, I hired Jim again for the elk hunt and I told him that I wanted a chance at an elk. Like the cat, he delivered. At 7 yards the BowTech was spot on, and even though the bull was only a four-point, I was happy. Sharing seven days in camp with my good friend, plus all those elk, gave me a new appreciation for elk hunting, something that now is at the top of my list. LAST, BUT NOT LEAST is the mountain goat, my old nemesis. This was the one animal that I thought I would 75

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

never be able to take and ultimately make me call it the Super Nine and not Super Ten. Over the years Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve hunted goats three times with three instances of bad luck. I came up empty twice in southeast Alaska and once on Kodiak Island. The ďŹ rst time we had to cancel due to an overabundance of snow, making the climb impossible. The second time I just couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get into position on any goat, plus I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t in the best shape. Both were learning experiences, something that I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t trade for anything and ultimately, I believe, helped me achieve my goal. My third time was last March on Kodiak, where sheer steepness combined with underlying ice and the fact that I had a near fall, kept me in camp a couple more days than I wanted. So, I knew that if I was ever going to get this done, I had to do it now. Age is a huge factor when it comes to goat hunting. At 50-plus years old with bad knees, I knew there would only be a couple more trips up the mountain before I had to hang up the spikes. But in October, on a remote lake high up in the mountains of Kodiak, my dream ďŹ nally came together. After seven months of training, eating right and getting into the best shape my old self could possibly be in, I traversed the 5 miles in. A few thousand feet up I had my goat less than 50 yards from where I was standing. After dropping where he stood, I immediately sat down on a boulder in disbelief. I tried to comprehend the fact that I had not only taken a goat, but the reality that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d fulďŹ lled my dream of taking the Super Ten started to sink in. It was an incredible feeling and something that I will never forget. Â? Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note: Paul Atkins is an outdoor writer from Kotzebue, Alaska. He has written hundreds of articles on big game hunting and ďŹ shing in North America and Africa, plus surviving in the Arctic. Paul is a monthly contributor to Alaska Sporting Journal, one of our sister publications. 77

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Seen First at shot

The newly expanded line of lefthanded rifles from Savage Arms puts the bolt exactly where the author always thought it should be.



Savage Arms expands its already extensive lineup of rifles for the left-handed shooter market.



’ve been proudly lefthanded all of my life, and yet, in the vast majority of cases in my many (ahem) years of experience, I have nearly always had to adapt myself to right-handed tools to get what I needed accomplished. It began in elementary school with right-handed scissors, which always left a nasty indentation bruise on my left thumb. Of course, I didn’t have it as tough as my left-handed mother did a generation before me. She was forced to learn to write with her right hand in elementary school, so I guess I got off pretty easy by comparison. But I ran into similar trouble the first time I tried to shoot a boltaction rifle at Boy Scout camp. There was that big old bolt, staring me in the face on the wrong side of the rifle, daring me to pull it

back with my offhand in a manner resembling coordination. And don’t even get me started on shotguns, many of which are seemingly designed to spit spent shells into the faces of all unsuspecting lefties. John Moses Browning may have been a design genius, but he was clearly a righty. While attending my first Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show a few years ago, I was delighted to discover that Savage Arms holds lefties in high enough regard to design firearms with us in mind. Even back then, I saw more left-handed models in their booth than at most other major manufacturer booths combined. At this year’s show, the company released even more options in centerfire target, hunting and rimfire rifles. It was like Christmas in January for me. “One of the keys to Savage Arms achieving an impressive

stronghold in the firearms industry over the past two decades has been the company’s ability to dominate niche markets,” said firearms senior brand manager Jessica Treglia. “Savage’s everexpanding selection of left-handed firearms is an excellent example of this strategy in action. Research reports approximately 10 percent of Americans are left-handed. Then there are those who are righthanded but left-eye dominant. These hunters and shooters greatly benefit from a left-handed firearm, and Savage is proud to supply them with dependable choices.” Only 10 percent of Americans? I feel so special. ON THE PRECISION FRONT, Savage introduced the new left-handed Model 10/110 BA Stealth and Stealth Evolution. Both feature a heavy fluted barrel with a monolithic aluminum chassis 81

seen first at shot popular among long-range precision shooters. Both models also feature Savage’s zero-tolerance, threadin headspacing, user-adjustable AccuTrigger and 5R button rifling, and produce sub-minute-of-angle accuracy at extreme ranges, out of the box. The rifles are available in some of the hottest calibers in long-range shooting, including .338 Lapua Mag., .300 Win. Mag., 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win. and .223 Rem. The Stealth Evolution is also available in 6mm Creedmoor. “Savage didn’t forget lefthanded hunters,” Treglia noted. “The upgraded Model 110 Storm is available in a left-handed configuration. It is built off the same 110 action as the past but now features the all-new user-adjustable AccuFit system, which allows shooters to customize comb height and lengthof-pull for better fit and function.”


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

THE MODEL 110 STORM also features a detachable box magazine, stainless steel action and stainless steel matte-finish barrel to withstand the most brutal weather conditions. The left-handed version comes in .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., 7mm Rem. Mag., .308 Win., .30-06 Sprg. and .300 Win. Mag. “The Model 110 Tactical also comes in a left-handed .308 Win.,” she continued. “It is suppressorready and fitted with a heavy, fluted, 24-inch barrel, ideal for extreme accuracy in all conditions.” Savage adds to its rimfire family with left-handed versions of the B17 .17 HMR, B22 .22 LR and B22 .22 WMR bolt-action rimfire rifles. “All feature a sporter barrel and black synthetic stock,” said Treglia. “The B Series’ ergonomic stock, higher comb, top tang safety and target-style vertical pistol grip

allow shooters to hold the rifle in a more natural position that puts less pressure on the wrist.” Like the popular A Series rimfires, all B Series rifles feature a 10-round rotary magazine and the accuracy-boosting adjustable AccuTrigger. The B Series also features Savage’s accuracy-boosting zero-tolerance, thread-in headspace system similar to that of the company’s centerfire models. So if you are a lefty like me, make sure to check out the expanded offerings from Savage Arms at the next outdoor show or at your local dealer. Then, like me, you’ll probably feel a sense of pride, as only 10 percent of Americans truly can. Savage Arms is a brand of Vista Outdoor Inc., an outdoor sports and recreation company. To learn more about Savage Arms, and especially their expanded lefty line, visit 

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Whether you’re patrolling backroads for grouse or backcountry basins for bugling bulls, you’ll undoubtedly be hoisting a pair of binoculars, perhaps as well-used as this one, to your eyes. But if you’re shopping for some, author Dave Workman has some tips to check out before you buy. (DAVE WORKMAN)


Here are four things you should know before you spend your hard-earned dough on a new pair. STORY BY DAVE WORKMAN


oooooooooooooo ... looks like Christmas came and went without anybody picking up your hints that you needed a new pair of binoculars. And now with the clock ticking down on 2018’s hunting seasons – ack, late summer is only seven months away! – better start shopping for some new glass pronto. But it’s not as easy as just

buying any old pair. There are four things you need to know. I use binoculars all the time, from opening day of grouse season to the last day of elk and late buck seasons. If you hunt anywhere there are antler restrictions, you need binoculars because a riflescope is not a spotting scope, and it is not designed for that purpose. If you instinctively – and almost reflexively – raise your rifle to look

at something, say, across a canyon, you’re aiming a loaded rifle at whatever got your attention, and it could be another hunter. I’ve had people do this to me, and it is mindnumbingly stupid. As I drive along old logging roads early or late in the day looking for grouse that might be picking up pea gravel or just waiting for somebody to follow them back into the brush, there is always a binocular on the seat or 87

Workman says to buy the best you can afford, and you won’t go wrong, and he’ll attest to the quality of Swarovski Optik’s EL family of binoculars. (SWAROVSKI)

dashboard. If you can spot a grouse or two in the road early enough, it’s easy to devise a strategy to get them when they move back into the bush, as they almost always do. Since it’s not legal to plug them in the road, it’s necessary to flank them, and I have never been surprised by their stupidity. Many times, instead of flying, the fool hen will trot off the road and scurry back into cover. If they do fly, it’s often onto a tree limb within 25 yards or so. I’ve plugged a fair number of them with a .22 rifle or pistol, or managed to get them with a shotgun if they did fly up into a tree. I’d never have seen many of those birds without binoculars. As for deer and elk, it is important whether hunting big timber or wide-open spaces to be able to glass the landscape. Many times I’ve seen deer from a distance that later ended up in my freezer, but only thanks to my binoculars. IF YOU’RE SHOPPING for a new binocular, here are some things you 88

American Shooting Journal // February 2018




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should consider: • Know the difference between roof- and porro-prism models. Traditionally, porro-prism binoculars – those with the “dogleg” bodies – have provided a slightly brighter image, but thanks to remarkable advances in roof-prism designs and the quality of glass lenses, that may not be the case anymore. But it will cost you. Truthfully, I own both types and cannot always tell much difference. I think the human eye may not be capable of discerning differences in binoculars. Porro-prism models are inherently bulkier than roof-prism models. The latter might be more expensive than the former. There is a trade-off, so examine both types and see which you prefer. • Binoculars needn’t be big and heavy, and don’t overpower yourself. That is, 8X or 10X binocular models get the job done, and I like lower power models for hunting in timber because they have a wider field of view. I once actually won a 10X


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

binocular with a well-known name brand from the manufacturer. I asked that they send me an 8X instead, and that binocular has proven itself more than once by allowing me to see movement at a distance (you rarely see a whole animal immediately) that led to a notched tag. Out on the Great Plains, the highest power I’d opt for would be 12X, and that would not be for running around the landscape, but for glassing the countryside from a fixed position. If I really need to see something so close I can “touch” it, that’s a job for a good lightweight spotting scope. • Smooth center focus is a must. I’ve used binoculars with center focus knobs that felt like a wrench or pliers were necessary to rotate. A stiff/tight center focus control is a pain in the neck, especially while wearing gloves, and it just might ruin an opportunity. Before you buy, try the focus wheel, and do it with gloves on. Likewise, make sure your eyecups adjust smoothly. Good binoculars

have adjustable eyecups, and twist up/down models are the best. I wear eyeglasses these days and a binocular needs to accommodate my specs. If they can’t be adjusted quickly, that’s a problem when you need them to work. The neck strap should be made of neoprene or be of the wide padded variety. Your binocular may hang from your neck for long periods. That can be a problem when it’s time to shoot, and you won’t sleep too well with a stiff neck, either. My hunting partner carries his binocular via a shoulder harness. These are available at most sporting goods stores. • Fully multi-coated lenses are best. This layered coating contributes to a good sharp image edge to edge. These coatings help with light transmission from the objective lens to the ocular (eyepiece) lens. THERE ARE PLENTY of good binoculars available, depending upon how much one can afford to 91

spend. The prevailing guideline is buy the best you can afford and you will not be disappointed. Swarovski Optik’s EL binocular family has models in 8X, 10X and 12X. These are all roof-prism models, and having used Swarovski binoculars on various occasions over the years, I can attest to their quality. The EL models all feature Swarobright, Swarotop, Swarodur and Swaroclean optical coatings. They deliver 90 percent light transmission and have a rough exterior. Weaver offers the Kaspa binocular series, with models in 8X or 10X (the logical choice for someone setting his riflescope at 9X). They have rubberarmor exterior surfaces, and all are roof-prism models. Bushnell’s latest binocular family is called the Engage series, and I recently had the chance to try out an 8x42mm model that provided a remarkably sharp image, with BaK-4 prisms. There are also 10X and 12X models available. New from Leupold is the BX-4


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

“Binoculars needn’t be big and heavy, and don’t overpower yourself,” advises the author, who adds that 8x and 10x models get the job done, with the exception of 12x’s for wide-open areas like the Great Plains or Southwest U.S. deserts. (DAVE WORKMAN)

Pro Guide HD binocular family, with two 8X models, three 10X models and a single 12X model. They are waterproof and fogproof and have BaK-4 prisms. Leupold also introduced the BX-1

Yosemite binocular series, the BX-5 Santiam HD binoculars and BX-2 Tioga HD. Whichever brand of binos you raise to your eyes this season, here’s hoping your pair reveals plenty of game.  93

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

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Meopta introducess a red dot duo for hunters seekingg better eye y relief witch quickly between magnification settings. and the option to switch COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


unters and shooters are always seeking king some sort of edge, e, whether in the field or in competition, and Meopta, pta, a leading manufacturing partner to many of the world’s finest optical al brands, is pleased to launch two o products conceived to do just that. at. Designed for use with red dot sights, hts, the new MeoMag 3x magnifier can an also be used as a monocular, and the MeoRed T reflex sight (1x30mm) 1x30mm) offers unlimited eye relief, ef, regardless of eye position n behind the sight. The MeoMag, a new generation Meopta magnifier, features res supreme optical performance, ance, dioptric correction and can an be used with any red dot sight ht on the market today. An added benefit of the MeoMag is its ergonomic body shape that fits comfortably into the user’s palm when used as a monocular. “When extra magnification is required for longer shots,” said Reinhard Seipp, general manager of Meopta USA, “the MeoMag 3x can be swiftly attached with the quick release mount and removed when additional magnification is no longer needed. A hinge mount is also available that allows the user to quickly flip the magnifier to either the right or left and out of the line of sight at a moment’s notice.” Meopta’s proprietary MeoBright lens multicoatings eliminate glare and reflections, ensuring the

The Meopta MeoMag 3x.

highest level of visual clarity in adverse weather conditions, easily repelling rain and snow in addition tto skin ki oils i and dirt. The MeoMag 3x is also waterproof, shockproof and fogproof and comes with Fast Opening Lens Covers (FOLC). THE OUTSTANDING OPTICAL QUALITY and unlimited eye relief of the MeoRed T sight enables fast and accurate target acquisition when it matters most. “The MeoRed T is an excellent tactical sight for today’s MSR platforms when quick target acquisition is a must,” added Seipp. “This reflex sight is also compatible with night vision optics and magnifiers which makes it versatile for various situations in the field.” The MeoRed T features a 1.5-minute-of-angle illuminated

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seen first at shot SPECIFICATIONS – MEORED T Magnification: Objective diameter: Eye relief: Recoil resistance (g): Operational range: 140 degrees Maximum length: Maximum height: Maximum width:

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and snow, in addition to skin oils and dirt. The MeoRed T is also waterproof, shockproof and fogproof. MSRP for both the MeoMag 3x and the MeoRed T reflex sight is $999.99. For more information, visit or call Shannon Jackson Public Relations at (804) 343-3608. The Meopta Group is a U.S.

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018



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American Shooting Journal // February 2018


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EARLY TO MARKET CMMG jumps into the .224 Valkyrie business with the release of their Mk4 DTR2 rifle chambered for the new Federal Premium round.

The Mk4 DTR2 from CMMG is chambered for the new .224 Valkyrie round from Federal Premium. (CMMG)

A left-side view of CMMG’s new Mk4. (CMMG)



hen Federal Premium introduced the .224 Valkyrie cartridge last December, it was only a matter of time before top AR manufacturers began to chamber rifles for it. One of the earliest to do so is central Missouri-based CMMG, which continues to live up to its reputation for delivering innovative and practical products to market with the release of the new Mk4 DTR2 rifle, chambered in .224 Valkyrie. Federal’s intent for the new round is to deliver exceptional long-range performance comparable to 6.5 Creedmoor, but out of a smaller, AR-15-sized caliber. The .224 Valkyrie is designed to be an incredibly flatshooting round by achieving supersonic velocities out to 1,300 yards. With the added benefits of minimal recoil and an affordable price point, .224 Valkyrie has the potential to be the go-to cartridge of long-range shooters for years to come. Recognizing this potential, CMMG’s engineers quickly went to work developing a rifle that would

SPECIFICATIONS: MK4 DTR2 IN .224 VALKYRIE Barrel length: Muzzle: Hand guard: Receivers: Trigger: Magazine: Weight: Length: MSRP:

24 inches MT 416 stainless steel SV Brake, threaded ½-28 CMMG RML14 7075-T6 aluminum lower, forged 7075-T6 upper Geissele SSA 10-round 6.8 magazine 9.2 pounds (unloaded) 44.5 inches $1,699.95


Mk4 DTR, .224 Valkyrie; MSRP: $899.95 Lower group: Mk4, with PRS rifle stock, SSA, ambi safety; MSRP: $749.95 Bolt carrier group: . 224 Valkyrie; MSRP: $174.95 Barrel subassembly line: 24.0 inches MT 416SS, .224 Valkyrie, SBN; MSRP: $259.95 103

The Mk4 DTR2 is built on a 7075-T6 aluminum lower receiver and a forged 7075-T6 upper receiver for optimum durability. (CMMG)

maximize the effectiveness of the .224 Valkyrie and meet the needs of long-range shooters straight out of the box. The result is the Mk4 DTR2. The Mk4 DTR2 has all of the fundamental features expected in a long-range AR-15, including: a 24-inch medium-taper barrel with a 1:7 twist, CMMG’s SV Brake to reduce muzzle rise, a Magpul MOE Pistol Grip and PRS Stock and a Geissele SSA 2-Stage Trigger. Additionally, CMMG has outfitted this new rifle with an RML14 M-Lok hand guard and all-new CMMG Ambi Charging Handle. The Mk4 DTR2 is built on a 7075-T6 aluminum lower receiver and a


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

forged 7075-T6 upper receiver for optimum durability. It ships standard with a 10-round 6.8 SPC magazine and is backed by CMMG’s lifetime guarantee. CMMG also offers five different Cerakote colors as an optional upgrade. CMMG’s Mk4 DTR2 in .224 Valkyrie made its public debut at the SHOT Show’s Industry Day at the Range, and the rifle was also on display at the CMMG Booth on the SHOT Show floor. For more information, please visit You can also follow them on Facebook at CMMGInc and on YouTube ( 


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MIDWINTER LULL GOOD FOR RELOADING, GUN SHOPPING With most hunting seasons over, it's time to replenish your ammo supply – and shop for new ways to burn it. BY DAVE WORKMAN


inter is when I like to settle down to some serious reloading of brass that’s been sitting around in boxes for months, having been polished and, in the case of rifle brass, sized, trimmed and perhaps even primed. That said, I think the people at Hodgdon Powder and Lyman have me figured out. At late January’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, they were set to introduce some products that ought to delight anybody who brews their own. I should also mention before I move on that with this year's show about to happen as this issue goes to press, I can’t wait to see what they and several other companies in the reloading component business have in mind for

as me this time. But back to what I was writing about those new products from last year. MY RELOADING ACTIVITIES as spring ter looms will include .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield rifle loads,, mmo brewing up some .257 Roberts ammo er for coyotes using 100-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips and a healthy dose of ment IMR 4895 powder, plus an assortment of .357 and .41 Magnums, .45 Coltt (there is no such thing as a “.45 Long Colt”) and .45 ACP. n Hodgdon introduced WinClean 244, a smokeless ball powder for es, reloading some handgun cartridges, d including the 9mm, .38 Special and cally .45 ACP. Spring and summer typically nities, offer lots of competition opportunities, and now is the time to load up that brass for action over the horizon. For the muzzleloading crowd,

BIG NEWS FROM INTERIOR Just as this issue was being prepared, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the creation of the national Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council. This group will ostensibly “provide the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture with advice regarding the establishment and implementation of existing and proposed policies and authorities with regard to wildlife and habitat conservation,” according to a press release. This council will look at encouraging partnerships among various interest groups, with an eye on benefiting hunting and recreational shooting opportunities. This council will be “strictly advisory,” the announcement stressed. Now here’s the good part: You get to nominate people to serve on this council. You can submit those nominations and/ or comments to Joshua Winchell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Lyman’s new single-stage Brass Smith Victory press runs for less than $200 and will “pay for itself in savings from buying factory ammunition,” according to author Dave Workman. (LYMAN)

National Wildlife Refuge System, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803, or you can email nominations to Joshua_winchell@ Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke at a signing ceremony last year. (DOI) Some people don’t care for Zinke, but since he took the helm at Interior, he has reversed a last-minute order from the previous administration that would have banned lead ammunition and fishing tackle on U.S. National Wildlife Refuge system lands, and he’s expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 10 NWRs. This council will have a two-year life span from the time the charter is filed unless it is renewed. –DW 109


Ruger’s PC Carbine takedown model is chambered for 9mm cartridges and lists at $649. (RUGER)

Hodgdon has introduced Triple Seven FireStar pellets. This black powder substitute has attracted a strong following among muzzleloaders, and the FireStar pellet is designed for .50-caliber inline front-stuffers that use No. 209 primers for ignition. These pellets will be shipping this month and they come in a 60-count clamshell package. Federal is offering four new .30- and


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

.270-caliber and 7mm/.284 Edge TLR hunting bullets for handloaders. If you’re looking for a new singlestage press, Lyman has introduced the Brass Smith Victory model. Built on a classic “O” frame from heavyduty cast iron, this press has a sturdy 1-inch ram-and-compound linkage, and wears a tough orange powdercoat finish, which is something of a Lyman trademark color. It uses

7/8-by-14 thread dies and accepts standard shell holders. The MSRP is less than $200, which ought to fit anybody’s budget, and before long – as I discovered many years and many thousands of rounds ago – it will ultimately pay for itself in savings from buying factory ammunition. SPEAKING OF AMMUNITION, Federal has a bunch of new loads that cover a lot of bases. Keep your eye on dealer shelves, because if you burn factory ammo, these new entries should keep you busy. For handgunners, there’s a new 9mm Hydra-Shok 135-grain selfdefense load, and a trio of new offerings in the Syntech lineup for NRA Action Pistol shooters in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Looking ahead to spring turkey hunting, there’s the new Grand Slam loads. There are 10 loads in the series, all featuring copper-plated shot with FliteControl Flex wads. Federal also announced a Gold Medal Grand Paper series of seven paper-hull 12-gauge loads with SoftCell wads and PrimerLock heads. There are six new 12- and 20-gauge additions to the Black Cloud line, all with FliteControl Flex wads. They’re offered with No. 1 or No. 3 shot. Waterfowlers can look ahead to fall and stock up on redesigned SpeedShok steel loads. They feature a faster, cleaner-burning propellant, according to Federal, and there are a whopping 48 different load choices. For people shopping around for a


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Hodgdon’s new Triple Seven FireStar pellets, a substitute for black powder, is designed for .50-caliber inline muzzleloaders that use No. 209 primers for ignition. (HODGDON)

new gun – it won’t be long until those tax return checks start showing up for some of you! – Ruger recently announced a couple of new long guns. The PC Carbine is a takedown model chambered for pistol cartridges, and it has interchangeable magazine wells that will accept common Ruger and Glock magazines. The PC Carbine is chambered for 9mm cartridges and there are two models, both with 16.12-inch barrels. The MSRP is $649. The other Ruger could be a sizzler, not to mention an eye-catcher. It’s a new variation of the AR-556, and it’s a distributor-exclusive with a turquoise Cerakote finish. Chambered for the 5.56mm NATO round, it comes with a single 30-round magazine. The new Ruger has a cold hammerforged 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel with a 1:8-inch rifling twist for bullets weighing between 35 and 77 grains. It’s got an adjustable post front sight and Rapid Deploy folding rear sight. It weighs a comfortable 6½ pounds and is available from TALO. 



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TenPoint Crossbow Technologies ggies launches the new Nitro X and the Shadow NXT lines. es. COMPILED BY THE EDITORS


enPoint Crossbow Technologies recentlyy announced a couple of “new for 2018” products: the Nitro X and the Shadow NXT. “The Nitro X is an industrytranscending crossbow,” said Rick Bednar, TenPoint CEO. “It is the most powerful and most compact crossbow ever manufactured. The new Shadow NXT exemplifies the evolution of the crossbow. At its price point, you cannot find the same combination of width, speed, and durability in any other crossbow on the market.” The Nitro X is one of the fastest and smallest crossbows ever produced. Measuring an ultranarrow 7 inches wide, the Nitro X unleashes supercharged speeds up to 440 feet per second, generating 166 foot-pounds of kinetic energy and unmatched downrange accuracy. Fueled by new RX7 cams and sling-shot technology, the reversedraw bow assembly is what really makes the difference for this topof-the-line crossbow. The newly designed, maximum rotation cam system powers the assembly’s Dual Flex limbs, while the sling-shot

(Top) The Nitro X from TenPoint Crossbow Technologies is one of the fastest and smallest crossbows ever produced. (Bottom) The Shadow NXT is narrower than the Nitro X, but still produces speeds up to a devastating 380 feet per second.

technology provides an extra turbo boost to produce speeds up to an unprecedented 440 fps. Meanwhile, the assembly’s revolutionary vector quad cable technology utilizes four cables instead of the traditional two for increased strength and stability. Connecting at the cam, wrapping around the turnbuckle, and terminating on the riser, the cable system balances torsion and tension to essentially eliminate cam lean, generating pinpoint accuracy. At the bow assembly’s foundation is a lightweight CNC-machined 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum riser featuring the company’s Tri-lock

pocket system that ensures perfect alignment between the pocket and limbs for increased accuracy. THE NITRO X BOW ASSEMBLY IS mounted to a black anodized, 20-inch Tac-lite aluminum barrel that dramatically reduces the weight of the crossbow. It is fitted with the company’s 3.5-pound auto-engaging safety trigger housed in a lightweight machined aluminum trigger box. Its Weaver-style dovetail is fitted with a nylon-filament arrow retention brush that improves arrow grip and alignment to further reduce noise and vibration and improve accuracy. Like all TenPoint models, 117

seen first at shot the trigger assembly is equipped with a Dry Fire Inhibitor (DFI). An integrated string stop system is also included and fits into the end of the barrel to reduce noise and vibration. The Nitro X features TenPoint’s lightweight, three-piece C3 stock. Designed to reduce weight, noise, and vibration, the stock is molded from glass-fiber-infused PolyOne OnForce, and is fitted with an adjustable cheek piece and butt plate. The rubber cheek piece adjusts to three separate positions by removing the screws and sliding it to create perfect eye-level alignment. Likewise, the rubber butt plate adjusts to two positions to match the shooter’s length-of-pull. The bow and stock assemblies combine to create a perfectly balanced, sharp-shooting crossbow that weighs 7.8 pounds, measures only 30.7 inches, and shoots up to a supercharged 440 fps – making it one of the fastest and smallest crossbow ever.


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

The Nitro X features TenPoint’s lightweight, three-piece C3 stock.

This model is also equipped with dual-purpose rubber safety wings to reduce noise and vibration as well as helping to keep the shooter’s fore-grip hand safely below the flight deck. The Nitro X is double dipped and fluid imaged in True Timber Viper

Western camo and ships completely assembled in two different packages. The Standard package includes the ACUdraw Pro, a RangeMaster Pro Scope, a six-pack of Evo-X CenterPunch premium carbon arrows that improve a crossbow hunter’s





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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

accuracy by 25 percent, an integrated string stop system, and a quiver. The Elite package includes the ACUdraw Pro, an Evo-X Marksman Scope, TenPoint Stag Hard Crossbow Case, six-pack of Evo-X CenterPunch premium carbon arrows, integrated string stop system, and a quiver. MSRP for the Nitro X MAP is $1,999.99 for the Standard package, and $2,199.99 for the Elite. ALSO NEW FOR 2018 IS THE Shadow NXT, the company’s “next generation” in their long line of benchmark setting crossbows. Built unlike any crossbow in its price range, the Shadow NXT combines TenPoint’s Narrow Crossbow Technology (NXT) bow assembly measuring 6.5 inches wide with a lightweight, carbon-injected barrel to produce pinpoint down-range accuracy. Fueled by new XR6 cams and featuring vector quad cables, the NXT bow assembly is the difference maker for this top-of-the-line crossbow. Like the Nitro X, the newly designed, maximum rotation cam system powers the Dual Flex limbs, producing speeds up to a devastating 380 fps. Also like the Nitro X, the bow assembly uses a lightweight CNC-machined aluminum riser featuring the company’s 70/75-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, which attaches to the barrel in five different locations to prevent front-end movement and aid in downrange accuracy. The Shadow NXT, however, embeds its new barrel and trigger assembly in the company’s lightweight Functionally Superior Bullpup (FSB) stock. Molded from glass-fiber-infused PolyOne OnForce, the high-tech stock is built with optimal comb-height and length-of-pull and uses strategically placed cutouts in the butt stock to reduce weight. The bow and stock assemblies combine to create a crossbow unlike any other at its price point – weighing in at 7 pounds, measuring only 32.2 inches long without foot stirrup, and shooting up to blistering speeds of 380 feet-per-second. Equipped with an illuminated 3x Pro-View 2 Scope the ACUdraw, and packaged with 50 Sled or Rope Sled cocking devices, the Shadow NXT is double-dip fluid-imaged in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo. The model ships completely assembled and sells only as a complete package that includes a cocking device, three Pro Elite carbon arrows, integrated string stop system, and a quiver. MSRP for the Shadow NXT MAP is $1,099.99 with Rope Sled, $1,199.99 with ACUdraw 50 SLED, or $1,299.99 with ACUdraw. TENPOINT CROSSBOW TECHNOLOGIES is 100 percent American owned, operated, and all its crossbow models are manufactured in Mogadore, Ohio. For more information, visit, or call (800) 548-6837.  121


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The writer tests the Slogan Outdoors bowsling for comfort.


Idaho archer shares his serendipitous discovery at the Dallas Safari Club Convention of a super sling. STORY AND PHOTOS BY TOM CLAYCOMB


he only thing that I hate about bowhunting – well, besides missing shots, elk being too close to pull back my bow and sticking arrows in trees – is carrying a bow all day. Bows can be just a little more awkward to carry than a rifle,

especially while scrambling up and down mountains, from daylight to dark. I know many companies make bow slings, but I’ve just never seen one that looked like it worked. They all look dysfunctional to me – at least the ones that I’ve checked out. I forget who it was, but a year ago some company wanted me to test their bow sling, which definitely

wasn’t made for hunting in the mountains. It resembled a sleeping bag. There was no use in trying it, in my opinion, so I told them no thanks. I conduct more than 50 seminars a year, so I hit a lot of the shows and outdoor stores and get to see a lot of new gear. Well, recently, I gave four seminars at the Dallas Safari Club Convention & Expo, 125

PRODUCT FEATURE A closeup of the sling attachment to each cam.

The fully adjustable sling allows the bow to hang at arm’s length if desired. The Slogan Outdoors 12-in-1 bow sling also offers a nylon strap for body support. A closer look at the sliding adjustment.

and between presentations I was walking the aisles checking things out. I saw a man demoing rifle slings in the Slogan Outdoors booth, and observed him out of the corner of my eye. I knew right away that I wasn’t interested but, for some unknown reason, turned around and was drawn to his booth. HIS SLINGS WERE ABOUT 1.5 inches wide with a semi-thin rubber strap. Right away I knew I wouldn’t like them, but out of courtesy I listened to his pitch. After his demo and trying on one, I changed my mind. Most slings, in steep country, slide off your shoulder. Sure, I’ve tested some that really grip, but they often bunch up your shirt and sometimes nearly choke you. For whatever reason, this sling seems to conform to my body and not slip or bunch up my clothing. It 126

American Shooting Journal // February 2018

has a double strap so that in extreme terrain you can throw one strap over your head and leave the other one on your shoulder. I had to leave to conduct another seminar, so I told him I’d catch up with him later. The next day I stopped by again and he said, “Hey, I forgot to show you, but I also have a bow sling.” I said, “I’ve been wanting to find one I like and test it out.” It is the same basic format as the rifle sling, and is called the “12-in-1 Sportsman Bow Sling.” It has a loop on each end which fits over both cams. Each loop has a lock washer, which you tighten down when walking. If you are getting into some elk country, loosen the lock washers. To remove your bow slip, just take the front end out of the loop and then lift the back end slightly, drop the front tip, and slide it out of the back loop,

without even looking. Just like with the rifle slings, in extreme terrain you can lift one band and put it over your head to further stabilize your bow. In brushy country you can change the position from sticking out on each side to a more up-and-down position. I think it will also work in moderately brushy country. In bad chaparral, of course, you’d have to unstrap it and crawl out. Wow, was I impressed. I’ve never recommended anything this fast, especially that I’ve just looked at, but I think it is worthwhile checking out and seeing what you think. So this winter, if you see someone skipping down the trail whistling Dixie, don’t worry. It’s just me with my new bow sling from Slogan Outdoors. Editor’s note: For more information, visit 127

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018

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TBA SUPPRESSOR GEMTECH Model: Aurora II Length: 3.4 inches Caliber: 9mm/.380 ACP Mount: Thread mount (½-28 and 13.5x1mm LH) Weight: 3.5 ounces Decibel: 135 decibels Materials: 7075-T5 aluminum MSRP: $399 More info:

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American Shooting Journal // February 2018



Jones Arms is building a loyal customer base for their growing list of AR platforms by following a ‘less is more’ strategy. STORY BY CRAIG HODGKINS


he phrase “Keep it simple, stupid” has acquired plenty of cultural mileage since it was initially coined in the early 1960s by a lead engineer at the famous Lockheed Skunk Works, but like its close cousins “less is more” and the theory behind Occam’s razor – that simpler solutions are often better than complex ones – it remains a very functional business and manufacturing concept. Just ask Eric Jones, president of Jones Arms, makers of a growing lineup of AR platforms, pistol-caliber carbines and associated parts. “The more complex something is,” he told me recently, “and the more parts that it has, the more likely it is that something is going to go wrong, the more likely you are going to have something that fails. So the fewer parts that you have, the more simplified the firearm is, then it’s less likely that you are going to have a failure.” The word “simplify,” in fact, is their primary business mantra. “We’ve got two mottos here,” Jones said of his northwest Washington state-based company. “Number one, for the customers, it’s ‘Get it how you want it.’ We’re probably one of the few if not the only AR manufacturer that is a true a la carte manufacturer. A customer can walk into our place, call us up or go online and say I want one of your Hyperions or Kronos or Artemis and

A Jones Arms AR-15 with Leupold scope, a Hexmag magazine and an Odin Works handguard. (JONES)

(get it) however they want it. We walk it through with the customer. How do they intend to use it? What do they expect to get from the firearm? Are they going out hog hunting with it? Is it for home security? We really try to gear the firearm build around the customer and what the intent is for the firearm.” JONES ARMS BEGAN AS A contract machine shop. Jones himself had been designing AR platforms on his own and wanted to transition to the outdoor industry, but a request from another company was the step he needed to finally get started. “The company wanted to have their own AR-15 platform design and have it manufactured for them because they don’t have any manufacturing capability in-house. And since they were a paying customer, we went ahead and did the design engineer

work for their platform. About two years after we were manufacturing for them, we had enough cash flow, so we decided to gear up and create our own product line.” Unlike other newbie companies who get their manufacturing feet wet by building and selling parts before working up to complete rifles, the first product produced under the Jones banner was their Hyperion rifle in 5.56mm. Today, Jones Arms makes the product in just about every caliber, including the .458 SOCOM. Starting out as a firearms platform manufacturer first required the new company to test many different manufacturers’ parts, as well as see who had good customer service and follow-through, a process that worked out well for Jones. “We actually learned a lot from how other companies do business – what they do well, and what they don’t 131

Company SPOTLIGHT do so well,” Jones told me. Through all of the learning, Jones always had a specific niche in mind for the company. “We’re in business to make a good quality, high-end, reliable rifle that’s been simplified,” he said. “Our AR-15 platform guns do not have the forward assist. That’s standard. Reduce the number of parts, reduce the weight, reduce the number of potential problems with the firearm. With modern ammunition, the forward assist is like a dead relic.” THE COMPANY RECENTLY EARNED solid sales from a large metropolitan police force, but not in the usual fashion. Although the company bid on a contract with the City of Spokane, Washington, the powers that be went with the lowest bid. However, shortly after that decision, several officers who knew of the tests privately ordered ARs from Jones Arms for


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

Wearing an olive drab green coat, this Jones Arms 9mm AR-15 has a Leupold LCO red dot sight. (JONES) 133

Company SPOTLIGHT their personal use. Jones came up with the idea of personalizing these guns by engraving each officer’s badge and badge number on the mag well. Word of mouth reached the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, and Jones is currently fulfilling more than 20 additional private orders for those officers as well. The company also started going to regional PCC (pistol-caliber carbines) competitions. “We did the Vision X Night Match Shoot just recently,” Jones said, “and we’ve had up to three of our rifles at those competitions every time we go. Our pistol-caliber platform just runs flawlessly. It’s a huge thing, because so many of those platforms have cycling issues.” Jones Arms debuted multiple products at the 2018 SHOT Show, including new hand guards, a lightweight PCC barrel, muzzle brakes, and a last round bolt hold


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

This Jones Arms AR-15 features a Hexmag magazine and Leupold sight. (JONES)

open (LRBHO) with ejector that’s simplified with fewer parts that is integrated with the ejector. Word of mouth continues to be solid and grow, and Jones has a characteristically “simple” goal for the coming year. “We hope to get more people to

find out about us and know who we are,” he said, “and know what we do.” Not a big surprise for a company that aims to “KISS and tell.”  Editor’s note: For more information on Jones Arms and their full product line, visit 135


American Shooting Journal // February 2018

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