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Deputy Robert Smith’s Inspiring Story

A Look Back At 2018


Snipers: Never Accept Average NEW COLUMN!


Exotic Hunts With Brittany Boddington

Competitive Shooter

CHELSEA DAVIS Answering Syren’s Shotgun Call



Reaper Magnum

C. Sharps Arms’ .44-70



American Shooting Journal // November 2017


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American Shooting Journal // November 2017 7


American Shooting Journal // November 2017


GUNFUN TARGETS GunFun Targets has released its first new products for 2018. Joining nearly 200 other unique and fun target designs is the third addition to the company’s Evil Clown series, Evil Clown 3, along with Cornhole – based on the popular beanbag toss game – and two new alien life form targets, Alien Dude and Titania 024. Founder Bennett Perritt says the company takes its name seriously. “We certainly stock numerous traditional targets in our inventory, but at GunFun, our philosophy is that shooting shouldn’t be boring. So, we work hard to bring unique and entertaining targets to the marketplace.” Last year saw the launch of Vital Dude, “a skeletal target printed with blacklight-ready inks,” and Rocket Man, “a caricature of a certain world leader,” Perritt says. Since starting business in 2007, GunFun has grown to become a leading supplier of paper targets for indoor shooting ranges, and now serves over 400 from coast to coast. GunFun creates, designs, prints, stores and ships all from one location, where over 5 million targets are in inventory. This allows for same-day shipping on orders. For more on GunFun targets, contact Perritt at (844) 556- 1911 or go to

SHOOTING JOURNAL Volume 7 // Issue 6 // March 2018 PUBLISHER James R. Baker GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andy Walgamott CONTRIBUTORS Brittany Boddington, Larry Case, Scott Haugen, Nancy Keaton, Phil Massaro, Mike Nesbitt, Paul Pawela, Nick Perna, Caylen Wojcik SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Rick D’Alessandro, Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER / COPY EDITOR Katie Sauro WEBMASTER / INBOUND MARKETING Jon Hines INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

ON THE COVER American Shooting Journal’s annual special law enforcement issue shares stories about an inspirational deputy sheriff, a SWAT team caper, sniper training tips, and much more. (INHAUSCREATIVE)

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @AmShootingJourn

MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S. Ste. 190 • Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 •


American Shooting Journal // March 2018 11




26 37

NEVER ACCEPT AVERAGE How can law enforcement snipers avoid the dreaded “institutional inertia” that often slows progress at police agencies? Caylen Wojcik, a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper and current law enforcement and military consultant, shares some good ideas.

BEHIND THE BADGE: GIVING HIS ALL – AND THEN SOME The remarkable story of how Iraq veteran Robert Smith became the first sheriff’s deputy in Florida to serve with a prosthetic leg.


THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD You know it’s deadly serious if SWAT is called in, and when northern California officer Nick Perna arrived on the scene, things were in even worse shape than usual as patrol officers tried to contain a dangerous, machete-wielding man.


GUN REVIEW: CZ-USA’S REAPER MAGNUM With turkey season just ahead, are you shopping for a new gobbler getter? West Virginia tom tackler Larry Case has the details on a new 7-pound, optics-ready over-and-under that just might be a perfect shotgun for run-and-gun-style hunting.


CALL OF THE SYREN Chelsea Davis grew up plinking with her dad, has won several regional and national competitions, and she’s now a brand ambassador for Syren. Learn more about this remarkable shooter and the only line of shotguns made entirely for women!

107 BLACK POWDER: ‘AN INSTANT FAVORITE’ True, Mike Nesbitt may not have seen many buffalo rifles – both historical and replica versions – that he didn’t much care for, but he took quite a shine to a new C. Sharps Arms in .44-70. Grab your possibles bag, we’re heading to the test range!

131 BULLET BULLETIN: GAME, SET, MATCHKING Accuracy is the name of the game with Sierra’s match-grade bullets. Phil Massaro takes a look at the offerings from this venerable line.

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 // March 2018





This issue marks the debut of our newest hunting columnist, Brittany Boddington, the daughter of you know who, and this month the globe-trotting huntress takes us to Namibia, one of Africa’s most underrated hunting destinations!

Also Inside 93

Road Hunter: Shed antler hunting

COMPANY SPOTLIGHTS 61 Spinta: Aiming for the Glock parts market 115 FrogLube: Dispelling myths about bio-based cleaners, lubricants 125 Iosso: A clean-‘AR’ way to care for guns 141 Matt’s Bullets: Art meets science 142 TRL, LLC: Reloaders, rejoice!


The Publisher’s Note Competition Calendar Gun Show Calendar


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

NE W 2017 15

Our booth at January’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas was loaded with great prizes that could be won with our Golden Ticket and a spin of our prize wheel. Here are some of the show-goers who went home happy. (AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL)


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Publisher’S NOTE


ur American Shooting Journal team had a fantastic time at SHOT Show 2018. Our group, led by Sales Manager Katie Higgins, and including Ryan Kennedy and Kelly Baker, enjoyed a record number of visitors at our booth. We gave away many prizes, including an Avidity Arms PD10, Grand Power Q100, Hi-Point 995 9mm carbine and Layke Tactical LT10-HD in 6.5 Creedmoor, plus a Mathews Z3 bow. Special thanks to international hunter Brittany Boddington, who stopped by to sign some autographs. I’m also happy to announce that she’s our newest columnist! A number of our writers attended the media events, and logged in stories, videos and interviews that we will share in upcoming print and digital issues, as well as online at coupled with our social networks. A shout out to our Golden Ticket outlets throughout the show, including Aguila Ammunition USA, American Built Firearms Company, Beyer Barrels, Black Hills Ammunition, Can Can Concealment, DEZ Tactical Arms, FrogLube, H&M Blacknitride+/Rubber City Armory, Kershaw and Zero Tolerance Knives, Layke Tactical, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Metalloid Corporation, MKS Supply, ShotLock, Tandemkross, Triple K, TruckVault Inc., UltiClip and Western Powders. We look forward to visiting with you at the 147th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Dallas, Texas, this May! James Baker, Publisher 17


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American Shooting Journal // November 2017



March 2-4

March 18

Spring Shotgun PTO Kerrville, Texas

International Air Gun PTO Milford, Mass.

March 7

March 19-25

ACUI Western Super Shoot & USAS Qualifier Tucson, Ariz.

2018 USAS Shotgun Spring Selection Tucson, Ariz.

March 11

March 26-April 3

Queen Anne 4H Marksmanship Centreville, Md.

2018 USAS Rifle/Pistol Spring Selection Benning, Ga.

March 9-10

March 31

PTAC - Jabs Alabama Sectional Midland City, Ala.

Single Stack Showdown Clearwater, Fla.

March 3-4

March 16-18

March 24-25

Benton Gun Club GSSF Challenge III Bauxite, Ark.

River Bend Ballistic Challenge XI Dawsonville (Canton), Ga.

“This is Sparta” Challenge VII Sparta, Ill.

March 10-11

March 17-18

Delaware State GSSF Challenge III Bridgeville, Del.

Northern California GLOCK Challenge X Yolo, Calif.

March 3-4

March 17

Nevada State Championship Las Vegas, Nev.

Riders of the Purple Sage XIII Turlock, Calif.

March 10

March 23-25

2018 Go Green Shoot Gill, Colo.

LazyE Classic Guthrie, Okla.

March 14-16

March 30-April 1

AQHA Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Championship Houston, Texas

ATP/CMSA Easter Sunrise Shoot Powell Butte, Ore.

March 1-4

March 25

2018 Glock Florida State IDPA Championship Homestead, Fla.

Southern California Regional at Prado Chino, Calif.

March 2-3

March 30-31

2018 Louisiana State IDPA Championship Thibodaux, La.

AFSP Charity Match Hot Springs, Ark. 21


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018




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How law enforcement snipers can avoid the dreaded ‘institutional inertia’ that often slows progress at agencies.


American Shooting Journal // March 2018



s I travel around the nation providing instruction to various law enforcement agencies, I see a consistent trend that greatly inhibits growth and development in the areas of training and equipment. That trend is a lack of time, money and resources related to sustainment training, and identifying advancements in equipment and tactics.

A man far wiser than I once told me that the three critical assets needed to accomplish tasks were time, money and resources. He continued on by saying that if you’ve got all three at your disposal, tasks get completed quickly and, for the most part, effectively. However, if you’re lacking in one, then you’d better have a lot of the other two to make up for the deficiency. That makes sense, but what happens when you don’t have a whole lot of any of the three? This

is what most agencies are up against, and it’s an uphill battle. As a result, what usually happens is acceptance that this is the way it is, and the way it’s always going to be. Let’s call it what it is: institutional inertia. It’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss. It’s stagnation, it’s a lack of progress, and the results can be deadly in this line of work. Is there a way to get your big boat turned? Absolutely, but in order to turn a big boat, pressure needs to be applied in specific places, and it 27

Advanced-level sniper students utilize tripods as a mobile shooting platform. With this capability, a sniper’s rifle should never be separated from a tripod when it comes to equipment load out. These students are using tripods as a problem-solving tool as they navigate obstacles between themselves and the target.

takes patience and time. Learning where and how to apply that pressure is critical to making gains and removing your team from the grips of institutional inertia. As a young sniper I quickly learned that gaining the trust of your leadership is critical to opening the doors to new opportunity. If you want work for your team, your command structure needs to have complete trust and confidence in your abilities. How do we establish that confidence? It starts with effective communication skills, and creating awareness of deficiencies. Make an effort to deliver solutions to problems rather than simply highlighting problems. That simple act can go a long way, and presenting multiple courses of action to solve one problem shows that you’re open to suggestions. I’ve also had a lot of success by inviting leadership to training events. The intent here is to create awareness through illustrating what you do, and what you may be 28

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

A sniper student awaits his turn to fire on a selected target as part of a qualification course.

up against when it comes to time, resources and money. Maybe you’re trying to convince your department that you need an infrared illumination capability to augment your current night vision assets and you’re getting pushback because of cost. Reach

out to an IR laser company to get a test and evaluation unit, and set up a night shoot for your leadership to see the undeniable pros and cons of positive target identification with that IR asset. How do you sell it? That’s easy; who doesn’t want to

With new advancements in technology, snipers (above, middle right, bottom right) can now confirm elevation data at great distances with less time and ammunition spent. At top, a student dials elevation for a distant target as he collects data for his precision shooting system.

Night vision, although used in low percentages of situations as documented by the Police Sniper Utilization Report, is an undeniable advantage which should be explored by all law enforcement sniper teams. 29

shoot a sniper rifle with night vision and lasers? This is just one example of an attempt to get your leadership engaged with what you do. Good relationships with your leadership generally equal positive results. Another trend I see is a lack of progression with equipment. The world of precision rifles, optics and other support equipment has literally exploded with innovation in the last 10 years. With that comes a wide variety of solutions that aren’t necessarily associated with a high cost. Still shooting that tired old Remington M700 PSS that your department bought 10, maybe 15 years ago? Tired of using foam and duct tape to build up a cheek piece that’s inconsistent and unstable? Can’t mount an in-line night vision optic to your rifle? There are plenty of cost-effective stock replacement options out there that will solve those problems. I’m honestly blown away when this topic comes up in class and only a handful of students are aware of these advancements. The only way you’re going to stay abreast of these advancements is to take the initiative and do the research. With the information age being a way of life, there’s no excuse to not be current with equipment advancements within your discipline. We don’t always have to do more with less.

Here a student utilizes a modified rifle sling to apply a technique that increases stability while shooting from a tripod.


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Snipers work for different types of law enforcement agencies, including the one that has the most land to police, local county sheriff’s offices.

Let’s say you’ve taken the initiative and educated yourself on the current state-of-the-art as it relates to equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures. You’ve carefully and artfully developed your sales pitch for some more training time and updated equipment. You’ve outlined solutions before highlighting the problems. You make your pitch, and it’s answered with “Why do we need this? We’ve always been able to make it happen

with what we’ve already got. It’s good enough.” It’s incredibly frustrating, and like mentioned above, it’s institutional inertia at work. Change is scary, change is resisted, and change takes time. How can we find a chink in that armor? A lot of this comes from education and using as many resources as possible to solidify your position. As an example, I always ask my students if they’ve ever heard of the American Sniper Association’s

Taking a systematic approach to your training program should allow your team to progress through a variety of skills with regular recurrence, while adding other advanced techniques to learn and apply. 31

Police Sniper Utilization Report. Surprisingly only a small percentage of hands go up, and quite frankly, I see that as completely unsatisfactory. The data in that document alone can be enough to support your position and get your leadership to see merit in your request. Seeing a trend here? Initiative and education are powerful tools, and they both go a long way to building credibility and defeating institutional inertia. I wish I had all the space necessary to touch on all the topics that law enforcement snipers need to address. There are so many small things that contribute to the overall preparedness of a law enforcement sniper, and for some, you may be fighting an uphill battle. My intent with this article was to provide some insight and tools for those in need, and to get the creative juices flowing so you can hopefully invoke some positive change. Snipers are selected based on certain personality traits. Intelligent, intellectual, creative, resourceful and passionate are just a few that come

Incorporating non-rifle-sling-supported positions into your training routine is invaluable for understanding capabilities, limitations, and building a high level of confidence in your ability to construct a solid position when misses aren’t options.

to mind. If you’re one of the many who are plagued with some of the problems mentioned above and want to invoke positive change, be humble, take the initiative, educate yourself, use every available resource, and be relentless in your pursuit. Never accept average. 

Editor’s note: Author Caylen Wojcik is the owner/founder of Kalinski Consulting & Training Services, which specializes in providing precision shooting instruction to law enforcement and military professionals. To learn more, please visit

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BEHIND THE BADGE Deputy Smith with his girls, Kiera and Khloe.

Smith quickly proved to author Paul Pawela that he was more than capable with a handgun.

Robert Smith, a medically retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and his wife Natalie.

Despite losing a leg in Iraq, Smith was driven to be a cop. Here he trains with former Delta Force operator Dale Comstock.

Force-on-force training is just one aspect of the intense training that Smith has undergone ...

... and which also included hand-to-hand combat drills with Grand Master James Barry.


How Iraq vet Robert Smith became the first sheriff’s deputy in Florida to serve with a prosthetic leg. STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL PAWELA


any years ago, pop and country western singer Billy Ray Cyrus wrote a haunting musical ballad titled “Some Gave All.” The song, a riveting tribute to our armed service members, is equally fitting for our law enforcement brothers and sisters, and no person better embodies its lyrics than Deputy Sheriff Robert Smith. No doubt being a police officer is a thankless job, and eventually you will get hurt while on duty. It is a certainty that arresting people will get you headbutted, punched in the face, kicked in the crotch or worse. Then there are the dangers of highspeed pursuits and gun battles with criminals. Officers may sustain grave, permanent injury or even death, and if

they survive the ordeal, psychological wounds will forever be in place. Yet every new recruit who volunteers to enter the police academy – to raise their hand and give the oath to protect and serve – knows this full well before going into the job. That takes a special kind of person. ENTER ROBERT SMITH. I was working on the gun range when I noticed this rather rugged, well-built, handsome man who kind of looked like movie star Eric Bana, only more muscular. The way Smith carried himself said confidence; the way he presented himself said operator. Working at the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum (, the sister organization of the National Association of Chiefs of Police where I serve as the director of law

enforcement training, I am constantly exposed to operator types. I could tell Smith was a seasoned vet. Besides the aforementioned build, throw in some meaningful tattoos and sarcastic wit and everything about him screamed United States Marine. Inquiring how I could be of help to the young man, without any hesitation Smith exclaimed his burning desire to become a police officer. “That should be no problem, especially with your veterans preference and combat experience,” I said. I asked a follow-up question: “Can you shoot?” Smith didn’t say a word. He simply rolled his eyes, expressing utter contempt and disbelief that someone had the audacity to ask such an asinine question to a marine. So off to the range we went, and he quickly showed everyone what an excellent shot he truly was. 37

BEHIND THE BADGE I was so impressed with this young man that it was a no-brainer for me to offer him a position in my private training company, teaching civilians selfdefense shooting. As we shook hands and he accepted my offer, I suddenly noticed Smith had a slight limp. I inquired if he was a wounded warrior and he conďŹ rmed he was a Purple Heart recipient. Without skipping a beat, he went into graphic detail about what happened. Smith served several combat tours overseas. During one tour, he survived an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion, which was featured on Al Jazeera Television as a propaganda tool for the terrorist group Hezbollah. But it worked to their disadvantage because the video shows a very pissedoff marine coming out of the explosion ready to kill his enemy with extreme intensity, the true quality of a United States Marine. In that incident, Smith was able to


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Smith demonstrates gun techniques for a student.

A rifle training session.

walk away. However, on another combat tour, he and his squad were on patrol in war-torn Fallujah, Iraq. Another powerful IED had detonated, and the intensity of the blast was so powerful that it wounded several members in his squad. Sadly, one of Smith’s closest

friends died from his injuries. It was at this point during his retelling of the incident that Smith informed me that he lost his leg in that explosion. Stunned, I had no idea this stud of a man standing before me had a prosthetic leg. I knew right away that Robert Smith was a 39

BEHIND THE BADGE very special human being. Not only did he wish to give quality training, but he insisted that my staff and I put him through the same physically demanding training that is required of any student who trains with us. He was put through intensive close-quarter training that covered hand-to-hand defensive tactics, knife/ counter knife, handgun, shotgun, rifle and submachine gun. Never once did Smith ask for any kind of special treatment. When he was shooting on the move, in the prone or the kneeling position, you could always hear the distinct clunking sound of his prosthetic leg as it hit the deck. Smith was instrumental and inspirational in all of my civilian assault counter tactics classes. He trained side by side with some of the greatest warriors America has produced. He worked with guest instructor Dale Comstock, former Delta Force/CIA operator, both in


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

hand-to-hand combative and firearms training. He also worked side by side with Special Forces and Ranger Hall of Famer Gary O’Neal, another guest instructor. Both O’Neal and Comstock were extremely impressed with Smith and his abilities. This shows the level of professionalism he exhibits. THEN THE DAY came when Smith approached me about a meeting he had had with our popular county sheriff, Wayne Ivey. The sheriff had told the young Marine, “If you can pass the physical fitness test, I will hire you as a deputy.” That was all the incentive he needed. I watched as Smith pushed himself to the level of a professional athlete, lifting weights and running. He was a driven man. The requirements just to get into the police academy include a 400-yard hurdle, a long low crawl, dragging a 150-pound mannequin, and a mileand-a-half run, plus push-ups and

sit-ups. Smith passed every single one with flying colors. While in the police academy, Smith not only did physical training with his fellow classmates, but he led them on the runs, out-running many of his classmates who had two legs. To say his physical training was intense is an understatement. He was going through so many prosthetic legs that the Veterans Administration did an entire study on him to figure out how they could build better prosthetic legs for future wounded warriors. In June of 2014, along with Smith’s lovely wife Natalie and his two beautiful daughters Kiera and Khloe, as well as Col. Danny McKnight, I had the honor and privilege of watching Robert Smith walk across the stage as a graduate from the Law Enforcement Academy at Eastern Florida State College in Brevard County, Florida. McKnight, the ground forces Ranger commander made famous by 41

BEHIND THE BADGE the best-selling book and blockbuster movie Black Hawk Down, was a motivational inspiration for Smith while he was in rehab. He selflessly gives many hours of personal time to our wounded warriors, helping them integrate back into society. I wish to honor this hero for still-serving military members long after he has been retired. Thank you, sir! On August 1, 2014, Sheriff Wayne Ivey kept his word. Medically retired Marine Robert Smith was the first amputee in the state of Florida to be sworn in as a deputy sheriff, with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department. Through personal hardship, determination, perseverance and a lot of intestinal fortitude, Smith’s lifelong dream of becoming a police officer was realized. His story has been so inspirational that he was featured on FOX News primetime. The definition of a hero can be interpreted many ways. Usually it is ordinary people who do


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

extraordinary things under extreme conditions, then humbly shrug it off as just doing their jobs. Tattooed on Smith’s arms is “All Gave Some, Some Gave All,” a powerful reminder of the sacrifices so many have given in the line of duty, as well as a constant reminder of fellow brothers in arms lost in battle. Robert Smith is the true embodiment of what it is to be a law enforcement officer. He represents brother and sister officers of past and present, and even future officers, as he truly bleeds the colors red, white and blue. This article is dedicated to anyone who desires to become a police officer. If you ever have any doubts over perceived limitations, please think of Deputy Robert Smith with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department. We would always do well to think of Smith and heroes like him with the neverquit attitude that makes this country so great.

Smith teaches a hand-to-hand combat lesson.

Editor’s note: Paul Pawela is a nationally recognized self-defense trainer of 35 years, the director of law enforcement training for the National Association of Chiefs of Police, and CEO of Assault Counter Tactics, a civilian-based selfdefense training company. 






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THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD After attempts to contain a threat are bungled, a SWAT team is called in to save the day.



t’s the best seat in town for the greatest show on Earth.” A fellow officer told me this about being in law enforcement. I couldn’t have said it better. Cops get to see everything: car fires, mangled bodies, bloody crime scenes. All the things normal folks stop and gawk at, rubbernecking during rush hour traffic, we get to see, up close and personal. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, though. For every cool thing you get to see, you also bear witness to others you wish you could “unsee” – things too horrible to describe. Overall, though, despite the drawbacks, I love having a frontrow seat. A little bit about me. I’ve been making my living with a gun for almost 30 years now. I’ve been an Army paratrooper and am a veteran of the “sandbox” (Iraq 2003). For a short time I made a living as a “fugitive apprehension specialist” (aka, bounty hunter). Now, as you probably can guess, I’m a cop. I’ve been on the street for close to two decades. I’ve spent the bulk of that time in special operations units: 15 years on SWAT as an entry team member, tactical medic, sniper and team leader. I’ve been a detective tasked with combating gang and drug crimes, sometimes working undercover. I currently supervise a unit of hard-hitting detectives who go after gangsters, drug dealers and pimps. Most days I show up to work in my street clothes, throw on my gun and badge, and hit the street.

If law enforcement is “the best seat,” I currently have tickets on the 50yard line. Author Nick Perna (right) during his early days on SWAT. We all have to start somewhere, though. Many years back I was a was in the department’s gym, working rookie cop, rolling around in a patrol out (as SWAT guys often do), when I car, working a beat. I worked the ran into one of the patrol sergeants. highly sought 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, “You’re SWAT, right?” Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Truth “Yeah, Sarge.” is, I loved it. Criminals are naturally “Swing shift has something going nocturnal and tend to be busiest on the West Side; sounds like an on the weekends, so working that armed, barricaded subject. You shift provided me with a target-rich should probably get geared up and opportunity. head out there.” Life is pretty simple in the wee With that statement began an hours of the morning. There are odyssey that would end up being one generally two types of people on the of the longest nights in my career up street after 2 a.m.: crooks and victims to this point. (and cops, garbage men, newspaper I turned on my police radio. A delivery folks, and a few others). harried, nervous patrol sergeant was I was fortunate to be on our parton the air requesting all kinds of time SWAT team at the time. My crazy stuff: “Get me a canine! I need military experience garnered me early some ladders! I need more less-lethal entry onto the team. ammo! Get me some SWAT guys and There are mixed feelings about some gas!” SWAT in the law enforcement As I headed to the locker room to community. Those who aren’t on it get suited up, I bumped into another make disparaging remarks like “sit, SWAT guy. I asked him if he knew watch and talk” (get it? Spells SWAT!) what was going on. We’re looked upon as a bunch of “I don’t know, dude, but Sergeant knuckle-dragging shaven apes who are Williams (whose name has been more adept at breaking things than changed to protect the incompetent) anything else. is asking for (tear gas) and a bunch of But here’s the inconvenient truth other stuff.” that even the most ardent hater About gas: It’s usually used in must admit: They need us. In other conjunction with a tactical team, words, when the police call 911, i.e. trained officers with the proper they call SWAT. protective equipment. Also, certain types are flammable. Hot gas, as it’s IT STARTED OUT like any normal day. I referred to, can start a building on 49

fire. It’s a great tool, but one best left to the professionals. Sergeant Williams wasn’t a SWAT sergeant, nor has he ever been on SWAT. Not good. I jumped in the only available patrol car, bumper number 44. Now, No. 44 is an old, beat-up car. It’s a favorite of new officers because 1) it’s the only one available since the senior guys take the good cars, and 2) since it is so beat-up already, nobody tends to notice (or care) when it comes back with a few new scratches and dents, the calling card of new officers driving too fast and with reckless abandon. Another SWAT officer jumped in with me. It was January and it was raining. I work in northern California, so a cold rain is our version of winter. Bad things happen around this time of year. I’ve been in three officer-involved shootings and they happened around the same time frame. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Old No. 44 took to the road like a sled on an icy trail. We were

SWAT officers approach a target while one bears a tactical shield as cover.

fish-tailing all over the place. I was running with my lights and sirens, but since the roads sucked so bad, I was only going about 30 miles per hour. Everyone on the street stared as we drove by. WE MANAGED TO make it on scene in one piece. There we were greeted

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by the strangest of sights. A bunch of cops were crowded around an open bay window in the front yard of a small house. No one had a weapon out. That can’t be where the suspect is, I thought. The officers are too close! Then, as if on cue, it happened. All of the officers started to run away


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from the window! This was bad. From a tactical standpoint, you can’t give up the containment of a dangerous suspect. From a personal standpoint, the whole scene was pretty embarrassing. I hoped the neighbors weren’t seeing this. I jumped out and asked one of the fleeing officers what happened. “There’s a crazy dude inside! He’s got a machete and a homemade spearlookin’ thing! He charged at us at the window! Dude is crazy!” Pop quiz: When law enforcement is confronted with a potentially lethal threat, do they: A) run away, B) call in an air strike, or C) use the proper force necessary to stop the threat? If you said C, you are correct. If you picked A or B, you’re probably a fireman. There were a total of three SWAT officers on scene (me and two others), and we’d come prepared. At the time, only SWAT officers had rifles. I had a Colt M4. Since I was a sniper, mine was equipped with a Surefire

suppressor. I liked it mainly because it looked cool, but I rarely used it because it made my rifle extremely dirty. Plus, it was an old-school “can” that weighed a couple of pounds and added almost a half a foot to the rifle’s overall length. I didn’t use it that day. Being the good little post-9/11 operators that we were, all of us SWAT guys had our gas masks. We found Sergeant Williams by the front door of the residence. He looked worried. “I don’t want to lose my house over this!” were the first words that came out of his mouth. Not exactly encouraging. I had just bought a house a month prior, and I wondered if old Williams gave a crap about that? Probably not. More on my house later. Williams wanted a gas deployment. We politely refused, telling him of the inherent risks. We told him to call SWAT, but he said he didn’t want to make a “big thing” out of all of this (too late). We came up with a compromise:



Send in a three-man team to disperse pepper spray on the subject in hopes of getting him to come out. Not a great plan, but better than gassing the hell out of things. Somehow, I ended up in charge. Ken would carry the ballistic shield, Steve would dispense the pepper spray, and I would be lethal cover with my M4. I took a peek into the room through the window and didn’t get a good feeling. For one, I couldn’t see the suspect. He was hiding in a closet. Two, I saw a bunch of holes in the walls from where 37mm less-lethal rounds had been launched. At the time we had six-shot 37mm guns for less lethal. They looked like something Elmer Fudd would carry when hunting Bugs Bunny. That being said, they worked. Williams informed us that the suspect had been hit several times by the rounds. Great, I thought. We’ll be dealing with a heavily armed psychopath who is apparently impervious to our most potent less-lethal weapon system. What’s pepper spray going to do?

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We donned our gas masks and moved in. We managed to dump an entire can of spray into the closet with no reaction. We backed out. “You have to go back in again!” Williams told us. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results. The definition of bad tactics is to use the same approach more than once. We repeated the process, this time dumping two cans of spray into the closet. Still no effect. The room was full of pepper spray. Most of the officers who had been at the window had now since fled, as they hadn’t brought their masks. They weren’t of much use anyway, so I didn’t miss them. We went in a third time. As Steve was hosing down the closet, the suspect pushed his shoe-covered hand out the door, a feeble attempt to block the liquid heat. BANG! A round went off in the room. I flicked the selector switch on my M4 from “safe” to “pew, pew, pew” (full auto) and prepared to light up the closet. The suspect shot at us! I thought. 54

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

“Less lethal!” I heard from behind me. Another sergeant – I’ll call him Snake, since that is what he is – had fired a 37mm over our shoulders at the suspect and had forgotten to sound off with “less lethal.” A note about 37mm rounds: They are lethal at close distances, especially to unprotected areas, like the back of the head. Say, my head. Sergeant Snake had almost killed us, and I’d almost shot the suspect (thinking he had a gun). It was turning out to be a bad day. We told Williams we were done with the half-baked scheme. We set up as an arrest/react team inside the house. Williams tried the following: more 37mm rounds, a Taser, and a negotiator who screamed at the suspect in Spanish, scaring all of the involved officers. At one point, Williams got on the radio and yelled, “Send in the arrest team!” Okay, I thought, he wants us to go in. Steve, Ken and I started moving towards the door.

Williams got on the radio again: “It’s a ruse! It’s a ruse! Cancel the arrest team! I’m trying to trick the suspect into coming out!” Why he decided to do “the ruse” over the radio I’ll never know. The last act in this three-ring circus was when Williams decided to send a police dog in. Great plan, send a dog in to get chopped to pieces with a machete as officers sit and watch. I objected and actually managed to convince Williams not to do it. Finally, after all of the pepper spraying, less-lethal round launching, attempted tasing, and failed negotiations, Williams realized that he probably did more to lose his house than to keep it. He called 911, and the bat signal was broadcast across the sky – SWAT was called. NOW DON’T GET me wrong, patrol officers can handle most everything that comes their way. But some things are best left to the professionals. Not surprisingly, Williams and the Snake quietly left the scene. They had done

enough damage for one day. SWAT Sergeant Dan Mullholland (real name) arrived. He’s a legend in the SWAT game and I was really glad to see him. I briefed him on what was going on and we came up with a quick tactical plan. He gave me a few more bodies and I stayed inside with the arrest/react team. He put the rest of the team outside the bay window. We came up with a hasty plan: If the suspect ran out the door and posed a lethal threat, my team would engage him. We wouldn’t fire any rounds past the hinges on the far side of the door. This was important because the rest of the SWAT team was almost directly in front of us outside, just to the left of that door. He put a similar limit on the outside team to ensure they wouldn’t hit us if they had to fire. I know it sounds risky, but we were a well-trained team that did live fire training in close quarters all the time. We were trained and ready for it. Necessity is the mother of invention and SWAT operators are the


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

masters of improvisation. The outside team knocked a hole in an outside wall, penetrating the closet wall where the suspect was hiding. They borrowed a pike pole from the fire department and proceeded to poke the suspect with it. He came out, diving out the window with machete in one hand, spear in the other. Fatal mistake: He’d brought a knife to a gun fight. The outside team opened up on him with M4s, MP5s, handguns and a 37mm. He was dead before he hit the ground. For me and the rest of the crew inside, all we could do was listen to the shots, take cover and hope for the best. The plan worked. None of the outside team’s rounds hit us. It was close, but it went according to plan. After the fire, we learned that the suspect had swallowed a number of 7.63x39 AK rounds. Apparently, during the initial response, he’d thrown some of these rounds out the window at officers. They’d forgotten to tell us that. Williams’ and Snake’s poor

handling of the situation was swept under the rug. All’s well that ends well, right? I mentioned I bought a new house. After work, I drove past the crime scene. For the first time I realized I lived less than two blocks from where the shooting occurred. We had moved here from a rougher part of town because it was safer. There goes the neighborhood.  Editor’s note: Nick Perna is a sergeant with the Redwood City Police Department in northern California. He has spent much of his career as a gang and narcotics investigator. He served as a member of a multijurisdictional SWAT team as an entry team member, sniper and team leader. He previously served as a paratrooper in the US Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. He is a regular contributor to multiple print and online periodicals dealing with tactics, gang and drug investigations, and veteran’s issues.



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SPINTA AIMS FOR GLOCK PART MARKET California AR-barrel maker ‘trying to keep [it] affordable’ for shooters with new handgun offerings.

Spinta Precision-sponsored shooters take aim during competitions.



he passion for Sam Hong started with cars. “We originated from the automotive industry. We used to manufacture forged wheels.” Indeed, around the racetrack Sam “Boost” Hong had a goal. “I was the guy trying to squeeze every p.s.i out of my turbos with a boost controller,” he says. A lover of high-performance Italian cars, Hong took the Italian translation 61

Company SPOTLIGHT of his nickname “Boost” and used it for the name of his other passion, Spinta Precision. “I have a passion for cars, but even more so for guns. With Spinta, we transitioned from wheels to AR15 barrels.” For Hong, it’s always been about the people. “Personally, we think everyone should own a firearm. At Spinta, the product development cycle often begins outside of the corporate offices, and several parts currently in production began as customer requests via email or over the phone. We listen to our customers,” Hong says. “We have built a loyal customer base not only by offering a product but backing it with some of the best customer service you will find in the industry.” That loyalty extends to where Spinta is based, California. “We call this state ‘Commiefornia’ because of the ridiculous laws,” Hong relates. “We have thought about moving out of state multiple times, but with Californians losing their gun rights every year, we don’t want to abandon ship.” Spinta Precision prides itself on its reasonable pricing and affordability. “We are a company that started out during the price gouging during the panic buying in the Obama era,” Hong says. “When the price gouging happened, we started making products for the AR-15 market that would be affordable no matter where the market goes. We did not want the folks with a smaller net worth to not get into the sport due to their finances.” The latest product development for Spinta is its Glock line. “The Glock industry is going through changes, and while getting custom Glock slides are expensive, the prices have come down quite a bit,” Hong says. “Most of our business comes from manufacturing for other companies to supply them with their OEM products. We make slides and AR-15 parts and private label for them. We are trying to keep the Glock market affordable.”  62

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Spinta’s newest product line targets the Glock market, and includes offerings such as a fourthgeneration slide (clockwise from top left), fluted barrel, noncaptured guide with titanium nitride coating and spring, and slide completion kits with titanium nitride coating. Glimpses into Spinta’s manufacturing process. 63




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gun review

The over-and-under CZ-USA Reaper Magnum is perfect for shooting turkeys at close range. (CZ-USA)

RUN AND GET THIS TURKEY GUN! New over-and-under from CZ-USA weighs just 7 pounds, features optics-ready rail. STORY BY LARRY CASE


urkey hunters and turkey guns have changed a lot over the years. Time was, the turkey hunter in your area was probably a real character. The old-timers were great woodsmen, they lived close to the land and they certainly knew their business of turkey hunting. Most were not a fashion plate when it came to the hunting clothes and camo they wore. They required a dependable shotgun, but more or less used whatever they had; same gun for turkeys, ducks, quail or whatever came down the pike. Times change. Today, turkey hunters want a dedicated turkey gun and most of us have some pretty strong ideas on how we want that scattergun to shoot. Tight patterns are the order of the day and not only that, we want tight patterns at ranges most of us

would have thought impossible a few years ago. Fifty yards has become the new 40, and to be honest, many turkey hunters are reporting regular kills north of 50. Opinions vary about all this, but one thing is for sure. Unless a shotgun, choke tube and shell combination can produce a pattern roughly the diameter of a Folgers coffee can at 40 yards, most turkey hunters will not pay much attention. All of this is well and good if the turkey presents himself at these ranges, but what happens when Mr. Gobbler steps out at 15 paces? Your ultratight-choked shotgun is shooting like a rifle at this range; this is where the overand-under shotgun shines. I have advocated the use of an over-and-under shotgun on turkeys for a long time. I would love to take credit for this great idea, but I must admit the O/U’s versatility was revealed to me by none other than

Jim Crumley. That’s right, the same Jim Crumley who gave us Trebark, the first camo made for hunting, many years ago. The over-and-under allows you to have an extra-full turkey choke in one barrel and in the other have an open choke, modified or even improved cylinder. This will allow you to deal with the gobbler that pops up right in front of you. Dave Miller, shotgun product manager at CZ-USA, has hit another home run with the unveiling of the Reaper Magnum turkey gun. This is an over-and-under 12-gauge, chambered for 3½-inch Magnum (also shoots 3- and 2¾-inch shells), that will do anything you need a turkey gun to do. The receiver is flat black (with the cool Reaper logo), and the rest of the gun is coated in Realtree Xtra Green polymer. The 26-inch barrels on this gun give it a compact, easy-handling feel, and the 7-pound weight makes for an easy 67

gun review carry if you want to run and gun for turkeys all day. The CZ-USA Reaper Magnum comes out of the box ready to take you turkey hunting, with QD sling swivels and five chokes, including an extra full. MSRP on this shotgun is $959 and we all know if you shop around a little you will find it for less. The CZ-USA Reaper Magnum comes supplied with a Picatinny rail if you want to install an optic. One option is the Burris Fast Fire (, a light, compact, red-dot optic that will readily mount on the Reaper Magnum. I like the Fast Fire sights because they are light, tough, and have a low profile on the gun. Some optics perform well but can be so bulky that they are about as ugly as a mud fence. This sight puts an unmistakable red dot on the target and is very fast for target acquisition. A red dot sight, being parallax free, releases you from the old demon of missing because you raise your head off the stock. If the optic is sighted in correctly and you have the dot on the target (the turkey’s neck), that is where your pattern will be centered. Windage and elevation adjustments are accurate and easy to use and the top-mounted battery offers easy access, without removing the sight.  Editor’s note: For more information on the CZ-USA Reaper Magnum or any of their other products, visit


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

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Chelsea Davis grew up plinking with her father, has won several regional and national competitions, and now is a brand ambassador for Syren, which crafts the only line of shotguns made entirely for women. (SYREN USA)


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

CALL OF THE SYREN Chelsea Davis, champion shooter and brand ambassador, introduces women to shooting sports, shotgun line.



helsea Davis says there are two questions she gets asked most often: “Nonshooters ask what sporting clays is. Everyone seems to know what skeet is. So I explain that it is set up as different stations and we drive from station to station.” “And then they ask how I got into it, since it’s such a man’s sport,” she smiles. Davis grew up around guns. “My dad was a Green Beret in Vietnam,

so he shared his love of guns with me,” she says. She started shooting on steel targets with pistol and rifle when she was about seven years old. About 10 years ago, she started working in oil field sales. Part of her job was to take customers out to dinner and provide fun activities to entertain them. One of those entertainment activities was shooting. “I’d just go along and watch,” she explains. “Then one day a customer asked me if I wanted to

try it. So I did. I broke a few clays that first day and I was hooked.” Thank goodness the customer didn’t tell her the gun she was shooting was a custom-made $17,000 Krieghoff shotgun. “I wouldn’t even have touched it,” she laughs. From that day on, she started shooting with her customers rather than just driving the cart. “And then I started beating them. And that’s where I am now,” says Davis. She’s humble about how far she 73

has come since first introduced to shooting clays 10 years ago. “I’ve won some local matches, won the Louisiana State Match several times, and won my women’s class at Nationals twice.” Davis’ current job is in pharmaceutical sales, which has much stricter policies about customer interaction, so entertaining clients with shooting is no longer part of her job. “Now it’s just me in my spare time on the weekends,” she says. However, she is now sponsored by Syren USA, a division of Caesar Guerini, which offers “fine Italian shotguns designed for the American shooter.” The Syren line is the only line of shotguns in the world specifically designed for women. Prior to shooting Syren, Davis was shooting the Fabarm line. “They wanted a female shooter down south. They came down here [to Louisiana] and heard about me and picked me up.” But Fabarm is made more for a man’s physique. “I loved Fabarm but it didn’t fit me quite right. I had to basically alter the stock, crank the comb up and shove it over, and alter the butt pad,” she explains. When the Syren line was created, she was asked to try it out. “As soon as I picked it up, it fit me,” she smiles. “I didn’t have to make any adjustments. It improved my shooting tremendously.” Syren worked hard at figuring out the best shotgun for women. “A lot of gun companies will just chop off the stock and paint it pink,” laughs Davis. But Syren met with stock makers who created custom stocks for women. Then they took the average of the stocks and created a Syren stock that fits the majority of women right out of the box. “It has a shorter length of pull – the distance from trigger to center of butt pad. It’s about an inch shorter than men’s guns, sometimes even an inch and a half. It has a higher comb [cheek rest] because women typically have higher cheekbones and a longer neck. This makes it easier to see downbarrel. A shorter reach to the trigger helps smaller hands with shorter fingers. It also has a smaller 74

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Davis loved shooting for Fabarm but when approached to try out the new Syren line by Caesar Guerini, she was excited to find that models fit her right out of the box. (CHELSEA DAVIS) Davis had a chance to join nearly 20 other brand ambassadors from around the country for a day of shooting with Wes Lang, president of Caesar Guerini/Syren. (CHELSEA DAVIS)

palm swell, where you wrap your hand around, and then the bottom of the butt stock angles outward because women have more cushion and padding in that area. So it cants out to fit better, to fit our bodies more properly,” Davis explains. “The Syren shotguns fit almost every woman at SHOT Show who tried them,” brags Davis. And that’s likely because Syren is not just one

shotgun. There is a large line of options. Shotguns for trap, skeet and sporting clays. Hunting guns for waterfowl, and for upland game for quail and pheasant. “We have over 70 options, even left-handed. A lot of gun manufacturers don’t even have that for men. Every model has different barrel lengths and some have adjustable combs. All you have to do is turn a wrench a few times to fine 75

The rich warm wood and intricate engraving of the Syren shotguns make them a beautiful addition to any woman’s collection. (SYREN USA)

tune it to make sure it fits perfectly. We’re the first company that has a whole line for women.” Syren’s wide variety of shotguns also spans a wide variety of price points that can help any woman get started in shotgun sports. “Entry models start at around $1,900 and go up to $5,500. The more expensive ones have the more intricate, beautiful engravings as well. Syren is continuously adding new models,” explains Davis. She uses the over/ under Syren Tempio for sporting clays and the Syren Waterfowl for hunting. “I want to keep my pretty one nice for competition,” she laughs. As part of her job as a brand ambassador, Davis now gets to go to industry demo days around the country. Much like her work in oil field sales, she gets to take women out to a range to try out the Syren line. When she isn’t doing that, she goes out and shoots every weekend during the season. Living in Louisiana, her season is around mid-February to November. She shoots a lot in Texas 76

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

because many ranges in Louisiana have closed down due to the economy. “Texas is the center of the sporting clay world,” she laughs. “It’s huge in Houston, and San Antonio has a national shooting complex that has clays, rifle, pistol – everything you can think of. The Nationals are held there every year as well.” When learning to shoot shotgun sports, Davis also had to learn about ammo. “I prefer 1-ounce loads, 1,250 feet per second, just because I can shoot them all day long. They’re not going to beat me up but they have enough power and ‘oomph’ behind them, so I’ve never had any problem reaching clays out a ways. I usually choose 7½ shot. In sporting clays, the ‘rabbit’ is a clay that rolls on its side and can jump in air. It’s made out of thicker clay so doesn’t break when rolling. I’ve seen them with small holes in them that didn’t break them. But shooting with 7½ shot, your BBs are bigger and will make sure you break it,” she explains. Davis encourages more women

to get out and try shotgun sports. In local matches, fewer than 10 percent of competitors are women, with just a few more at nationals. “It’s growing, though; it used to be just me and maybe one other woman. But more husbands are introducing their wives. It seems the wives have wondered where their husband is going and what he’s doing, so she starts going along. Almost every woman I see is the wife of a shooter. But they are starting to see there are more things for women.” There can be one problem with that, however – women come out and take in their husbands’ habits and styles of shooting. If there are problems with his shooting, she picks them up. Another aspect that is interesting in sporting clays, as it is with most shooting sports, is the way that women support each other. “Oh, yeah, men trash talk each other,” laughs Davis, but women are very supportive of each other. Shooting clays is a small world, and there is a lot of competition, but “there’s a lot of camaraderie; we’re all very

supportive of each other. It’s exciting to have so many women shooting shotgun because it has really been seen as a man’s sport,” says Davis. Davis also reports that there is an increase in shooting teams in high schools and colleges. More and more of those students are then continuing on with shooting once they have graduated, and are coming out and shooting sporting clays. Which brings up another question. Why use a side-by-side or over/under instead of a semiauto shotgun? Davis explains, “The advantage is that with two different barrels you can use two different chokes. Say your first clay is only 10 yards, but the second one is at 50 yards. You know you can put a looser choke in for the first shot and a tighter for the second shot. If you used a semiauto, you would have to pick a middle-of-the-road choke and hope for the best. There is also less of a chance of a gun malfunction; the reliability is important. I also like having more weight on the front end, which helps when I swing the barrel.”


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Sporting clays is Davis’ favorite type of shooting. “There’s such variety to it. I get to shoot a few birds at one station and drive to another station and shoot a completely different setup. I always say it’s like skeet mixed with golf – you drive a golf cart and you never know what set-up you’re going to get,” she laughs. As for her future, Davis is certain. “I want to be more active within the firearm ambassador community. I definitely want to stay with Syren and hope to continue to do more demo days and get more people involved. Women are often intimidated by men and won’t go ask questions, but approaching a woman is easier. They see a woman with a gun and they’re intrigued and will go talk to them. At a recent demo day in Dallas, women were coming up left and right wanting to shoot the gun.” What advice does Davis have for women who want to get started in shotgun sports? “I would say to get a gun that fits and a shell that you like that doesn’t beat you up because that

makes shooting more pleasurable. I didn’t know much and was trying to shoot a shell that men shoot. I developed a bad habit of flinching because I would get bruises on my face and shoulder. After I got a gun that fit me and I figured out shells that didn’t beat me up, then I had to get over that habit of flinching.” Davis has an easy answer to the best part of being a Syren ambassador. “Honestly I’m so passionate about the Syren because of what they’ve done for women. We’re the first people to create an entire line of shotguns for women. I get to go around and talk about them and explain shotgun sports. I get to meet women, let them see how the shotguns feel, let them shoot them and see how great they are, see what we have to offer. I get to go to SHOT Show every year and I love getting to share what I love about the shotguns. I think we’re doing something great for women.”  Editor's note: For more info on Syren shotguns, go to



American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, features some of the continent’s most underrated hunting, including plenty of large antelope known as roan, which author Brittany Boddington pursued during her trip there last summer. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)


One of Africa’s most underrated hunting destinations offers antelope species both large and small to pursue. Editor’s note: We’re proud to bring on Brittany Boddington as our newest hunting columnist. The daughter of famed hunter and author Craig Boddington, Brittany travels the world in search of big game. She has penned articles for these pages before, including a notable interview with The Gunny, R. Lee Ermey, in our January 2015 SHOT Show preview issue. We hope you enjoy her adventures afield as much as we do!



ast summer I had the chance to return to Namibia and hunt with Dirk de Bod. I had my very first safari with de Bod back in 2003, on my first trip to Africa, so I was thrilled to go back and visit the spot where my passion for the continent began. There are a few animals left in Namibia that I have not gotten a chance to hunt with de Bod’s Safari Namibia.

This trip I was focused on roan and klipspringer. De Bod’s hunting area is great for plains game and he was sure we would find some awesome animals. FIRST UP: ROAN The roan, a savanna antelope, was the first species we hunted. We drove around and glassed from hilltops until we spotted a male. It looked like a nice one, so we decided to get a closer look. We dipped into the valley and 83

stayed in the brush line. I couldn’t see the roan but I knew it must be on the hill above us. We closed some distance before we spotted him again, moving slowly through some thick bush. I got on the sticks, settled myself and waited for a window of opportunity. I saw the shoulder come clear of some thick brush and de Bod told me to shoot. I hit the roan hard but it didn’t go down; instead, it ran and stopped in a nasty and thick thorn bush. We gave it some time to settle down and went in. We managed to find the bull lying in the shade under a tree and I finished it off. It was an incredible roan bull, but not my best shooting. THE ELUSIVE KLIPSPRINGER I’ve always wanted to hunt a klipspringer, a smaller African antelope, but luck has never been on my side with those little guys. I’ve missed two and didn’t get a shot on several others. They are small, fastmoving animals that scale rocks like our mountain goats – only faster. The name klipspringer literally translates from Afrikaans as “rock jumper.” They leap from rock to rock and are typically 84

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Scenes from an African adventure: Sunset in Namibia; natural quartz crystals are found all over the hills; Boddington and her boyfriend Brad Jannenga helicoptered to an area full of small antelope known as klipspringer. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON) 85

found on the very top of outcrops. Klipspringers are tough to hunt in this area. There are not many and they hang out in tough-to-access spots. I was thinking I might have to leave that one for another trip, but my boyfriend Brad Jannenga had a surprise planned. He organized a helicopter to take us to the south of Namibia, to a game ranch that had just acquired a large chunk of land that had not been hunted in 35 years and was crawling with klipspringers. I had no idea we were headed there until the helicopter showed up and whisked us away for an overnight stay at the other ranch. We headed out in the truck on roads that were in terrible disrepair. In the first 10 minutes we saw two klipspringers and got very excited. The third one we spotted was a shooter. De Bod got me set up and steady, and I took my shot. The animal dropped in its tracks and when we got up to it we were all amazed at how long its horns were. De Bod had to bring out a tape measure because he was in shock, but after measuring we looked online at


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

The author and her roan, a savanna antelope that’s one of the largest in the animal family. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

the Safari Club International record book and it would be the third biggest ever shot in Namibia! It was a monster and I could not be more excited. Next up was Brad. He didn’t have it

as easy as I did, since my klipspringer stood still at about 50 yards. He kept having millisecond-long shot windows at over 200 yards on an animal the size of a house cat. It was not ideal 87

conditions, but finally on the last drive of the day he was able to get a very nice animal. We flew back to Dirk de Bod’s place that afternoon after lunch and continued to hunt for a few more days. Namibia will always hold a special place in my heart, since I started my African hunting career there, but every time I go back I find another reason to love that country. If you haven’t hunted Africa yet and you are considering it, you owe it to yourself to look into Namibia. It is safe and stable, and it’s absolutely stunning. The hunting is first class and the people are kind and friendly. Dirk de Bod runs an amazing operation ( and really gives his clients a top-quality experience. We are already planning return trips, as there is no shortage of amazing adventures to be found there. 

A smaller antelope, the klipspringer has always been on Boddington’s bucket list. She and Jannenga each managed to score one on this trip. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Editor’s note: For more on hunter, journalist and adventurer Brittany Boddington, check out and facebook .com/brittanyboddington.


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

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American Shooting Journal // March 2018



Our man in the field shares his expert tips for finding dropped deer and elk antlers. STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN


unting for deer and elk antler sheds continues to grow in popularity. From coast to coast, Canada to Mexico, now is the time to start searching for those prized sheds. Not only can sheds teach you a lot about the size of bucks and bulls in a hunting area, as well as their population densities, it can be a fun pastime for the entire family. It’s also a great time to be afield. Spring usually means good weather, and now is the perfect time to start hitting the road. Here are some tips to help make the most of your shed hunting adventures. ONE OF THE BIGGEST challenges faced by shed hunters is figuring out where to go. Start by determining whether you’re looking for sheds of migratory deer and elk, or homebody animals. Some states have restrictions in place where shed hunting can’t begin until a certain date, later in the spring. Such rules are in place to ensure migratory animals have left the area and aren’t stressed by intruders. While the sheds of migratory deer and elk are often found on flat, semiopen ground, that’s not always the case. In hill country, concentrate your shed-hunting efforts on south-facing slopes. This is where animals often spend the most time, as that’s where the sun hits this time of year and forage first begins to flourish. During prime shed hunting months, buck and bull movement can be limited, which is why it’s common to find multiple antlers in a small area; this is especially true for migratory

Shed antlerrs can often be found where deer are forced to jump over objects, like this log across a trail.

animals. Late February and March are good times to start looking for sheds of nonmigratory deer, and April and May are good for elk. Make sure not to wait too long to start your search, as tall grass can quickly cover up what you’re searching for. When afield actually searching for sheds, look along trails, near bedding areas and around logs or in brush by

nearby trails. Often, when deer and elk get up from their beds, they shake, which sometimes busts the antlers free of the pedicles. When animals hop over a log, brush or fence line, the jarring often breaks the antlers free. Sometimes racks drop when the animal is simply walking or standing, which is why trails and feeding areas are worth searching. 93

ROAD HUNTER When it comes to finding sheds, there are multiple ways to go about it. THE MORE GROUND YOU COVER, the more sheds you’ll find. Hiking is one way to cover ground. You can also take mountain bikes, even off-road motorized vehicles into areas that allow it. Riding horses through shed country is another great way to locate sheds, and it elevates your viewing point so you can more easily see antlers scattered on the ground. Many shed hunters simply head afield with a pack frame on their back, looking for sheds as they walk. The key to success here is covering ground where bucks and bulls hang out this time of year. Stopping on ridge tops and high points and glassing for sheds in open country is also a great way to cover ground. It’s far more efficient covering ground with your eyes, not your feet, in terrain that allows it.


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Using remote cameras to monitor game trails is a good way to time when deer and elk are dropping antlers and, thus, when to search. 95

ROAD HUNTER When glassing for sheds, be in position early in the morning and the last few hours of daylight. These are good times to catch the rising and setting sun at a sharp angle, when it might reflect off an antler, making it easier to see. Glass for sheds as you would glass for game during hunting season. Grid the land, look for parts of the rack and keep going over the same spots as the sun continues to shift. The better the quality of spotting scope you have, the less eye fatigue you’ll experience, which means you’ll locate more sheds. WHEN WE SHED HUNT, we’re locating them by sight. But bring a dog into the equation, and they can detect them by smell. In habitat that’s too dense to locate sheds by glassing, trained dogs are the perfect shed hunting companions. They will also pick up sheds in areas you glass, as antlers often drop behind bushes, in tall grass


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

and in depressions that we can’t see. Dogs can be trained to find sheds by sight and by smell. Teaching a dog to recognize what a shed looks like is easy, especially with today’s synthetic training antlers. These training antlers are white, just like bleached, old sheds. Dogs don’t see in color, so the contrasting white coloration and unique shape of a shed are something they quickly learn to recognize. Teaching a dog to hunt sheds by smell is a great idea if you want to boost the number of antlers you find. Start training sessions when the pup is young, by introducing pieces of antler. Never let an antler become a chew toy, as a dog may not retrieve one found in the woods. Introduce the antler, let the dog mouth and play with it for a minute or two, then take it away. Take it away while the dog still desires it, as this will develop drive. When training dogs to find sheds, first wash the antlers of all human scent

and wear rubber gloves before placing them in the field. Be sure to toss the shed away from where you are standing so the dogs can’t smell your footsteps to the shed. Dogs have incredibly powerful noses and can easily smell the oils from your hands on the antlers, and the tracks from your boots. Be sure to make your dog work at finding the planted shed; don’t make it too easy for them. Change up where you toss sheds, be it in tall grass, thick brush, sage or timber. The greater the variance in terrain you train your dog in, the more sheds they’ll find when it comes time for the hunt. I trained both of my pudelpointers to find sheds, and they continue to impress me. Last year they found blacktail sheds near my home and mule deer sheds while hunting quail and chukar in rocky, mountainous terrain. They also found moose and whitetail sheds while on a spring snow goose hunt in Canada, and they did well on 97

ROAD HUNTER elk sheds last May. Once a dog gets a sniff of an antler, they never forget it. Using trained dogs to locate sheds will boost the number of antlers you find, revealing just how many deer and elk are truly in an area. In fact, dogs can be almost as helpful as trail cameras, in terms of learning what’s out there. TRAIL CAMERAS ARE A GREAT tool to use year-round, even in the spring, as they reveal exactly when bucks and bulls drop their antlers. If targeting non-migratory animals, then go in and look for the sheds as soon as they drop, before a fox or coyote runs off with them. When setting trail cameras during shed season, position them so they shoot up and down trails, not at a 90-degree angle. The more of the trail you can capture in frame, the greater the chance of getting a shot of a deer or elk that you can closely study the

Dogs can root through brush and sniff out antler sheds that would otherwise go undetected by us.

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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

ROAD HUNTER image of, at home. If possible, check your trail cameras in daylight hours, when the deer and elk are bedded. Going in too early and too late to check cameras can spook the animals, possibly driving them out of the small area they occupy this time of year. Buck movement is often limited during the months when their antlers drop. This is because when they come out of the rut, bucks go right into winter, which can be hard on a body that’s depleted of fat, nutrients and often battered and bruised. There’s little nutrition in their diet this time of year, too, which explains why they hang in a core area where they feel safe and burn fewer calories by restricting movement. Hanging cameras near these core areas helps reveal when deer drop their sheds. Be sure and use a trail camera with a good infrared system so photos taken at night will be clear and easy to see. My

Glassing open hillsides is a very efficient way to locate sheds, such as the elk antler at center.


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018


two favorite trail cameras are Cabela’s Outfitter 14MP IR HD Trail Camera, and the Moultrie A-series. Both of these cameras are easy to use and retain long battery lives. They are also affordable and reliable in a range of conditions. If looking to learn more about the bucks and bulls you plan to hunt, hit the road this spring in search of sheds. Think outside the box and make the most of your time afield. Dogs, trail cameras and quality optics can all take your shed hunting to the next level. When you just might appreciate your shed hunting efforts the most is this fall, as you’ll know exactly where your hunt will begin.  Editor’s note: For copies of Scott Haugen’s comprehensive DVD, Field Dressing, Skinning & Caping Big Game, send a check for $20.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This, along with his many books, can be ordered online at 103



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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

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American Shooting Journal // March 2018


This C. Sharps Arms Model ’74 Hartford has a heavy 32-inch barrel.


Author’s new C. Sharps in .44-70 yields accurate results at the range, in competition. STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT


very nice rifle from C. Sharps Arms became mine in a rather quick way, even though this rifle sat on the “ready rack” for about eight months before I had them put my name on it. This rifle is a rather standard Hartford Model and it has the added option of a No. 1 heavy barrel, 32 inches long. The rifle is chambered for the .44-70 cartridge, which we might call a black powder wildcat because cases are simply formed by necking down standard .45-70 brass to accept the .446-inchdiameter bullets. That appealed to me because I expected it to offer me some good shooting with lighter recoil than the .44-77 and the bigger .44-90. Along with the rifle, I got some custom Redding reloading dies (marked for the .44-70 C.S.S., meaning .44-70 C. Sharps Straight), as well as new sights on each end of the gun. Before leaving the shop, I used their loading bench and hastily prepared 25 rounds of shiny new .44-70 ammo. Those loads used some 400- and 450-grain bullets (I had both weights with me) loaded over 60.0 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F. That gave me just a few rounds to try in the new rifle

Author Mike Nesbitt takes a shot with the .44-70 at the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match.

on the firing line at the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match in eastern Montana, where I arrived the next day. Toward the end of the day but still a full hour ahead of the evening’s cease fire, Allen Cunniff and I went back to the firing line with the new .44-70 and the 25 rounds that were

loaded just to give the gun a good try. My cross-sticks were set at the shooting line for the “diamond,” which is a rather small square-shaped target turned 45 degrees to give it the diamond shape. That target was 405 yards away from the firing line and I guessed at an elevation, set the sight 107

BLACK POWDER This mold by Steve Brooks features the original Postell style. Nesbitt settled on a “fairly light” 415-grain bullet out of the mold.

for that, and then fired, only to see the bullet strike about 30 feet low. My guess was way off! More elevation was cranked in and another shot was fired. That was closer … Some other “close misses” were noted before “Cease fire!” was sounded. We both tried the new rifle and enjoyed the shooting. One point I noticed was the rather sharp “crack” from this new rifle. That has no bearing on this tale except that it did remind me of comments by John R. Cook in his book The Border and the Buffalo, when he said he could hear the “booms” of the .50-caliber Sharps rifles mixed with the sharper “cracks” of the .44s. MORE SHOOTING WAS done with the .44-70 after getting back home, with a variety of bullets, both grease-groove and paper patched, over a fairly wide span 108

American Shooting Journal // March 2018

of powder charges. Bullets from 400 grains up to 515 grains were tried, mostly favoring the lighter slugs. Powder charges from 57 grains on up to 69 grains were also tried. The load settled on for the most use uses 65 grains of Olde Eynsford 1.5Fg powder under a fairly light “original Postell” designed bullet from Steve Brooks, which weighs right about 415 grains when cast with a 25-1 alloy. That load pleases me in a number of ways; in this 12-plus-pound rifle it has a rather soft recoil and it performs very well on paper. That’s the load I’ll continue using until I stumble across something better, perhaps with heavier bullets. Also, those loads were primed with a Winchester large rifle primer. I did try loading some large pistol primers, but in this rifle that resulted in pierced

primers, which is simply not the best. Doing well on paper targets was a prime concern to me with this rifle because it was to be used in the Old West Centerfires matches, which my shooting club hosts six times per year. The selection of a rifle to use for the matches actually fell to two rifles, this .44-70 and the rolling block .5070 that was completed shortly after the Quigley doin’s last June. The .50-70 put up a real good fight but the standoff ended with the .44-70 more consistently turning in higher scores. MY SELECTION OF a load for this .44-70 Sharps was made after several loads and bullets were tried, as was already mentioned. But there was more to it than that. Several of my loads simply wouldn’t shoot and I was getting to feeling a bit low about this rifle’s

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BLACK POWDER performance. That was when I talked (or listened, actually) to Dennis Mitchell, a shooter I often shoot with in silhouette matches. One of the first things Dennis asked me was what diameter of over-powder wad I was using. I replied that I was using the .456-inch-diameter “veggie wads” that were recommended for .44-caliber rifles and .45-caliber pistols. Dennis also shoots a .44-70 rifle on a custom Highwall. He quickly pointed out that for the .44-70 and other .44-caliber Sharps cartridges, the correct wads have a .446-inch diameter. With the larger wads in the load, the rifle just wouldn’t shoot well. Why? That’s really an unknown, but we must accept that it simply creates an inconsistency somehow as the bullet is moving through the bore. That’s all I want to say about it, but I certainly did follow Dennis’s advice. When the ammo for this .44-70 (and for the .44-77, which might be


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

A practice target shows a 10-shot group at 100 yards, with five hits in the X. 111


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

another story) was loaded with the .446-inch wads between the powder and the base of the bullets, instant results were noted, quite pleasingly. From then on, this .44-70 Sharps performed very nicely. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when my practice really began. Shooting from a benchrest was over with. That is the best way to test the gun. But to test the shooter, using a benchrest can â&#x20AC;&#x153;make things look too good.â&#x20AC;? So, in order to see how well I would do with this new riďŹ&#x201A;e in a match where shooting is done from the sitting position with the riďŹ&#x201A;e ďŹ red over cross-sticks, I did my practice while shooting in that position with cross-sticks. Practicing over cross-sticks does make a difference and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve found that my riďŹ&#x201A;es often need a slightly different elevation setting when used over cross-sticks than what they like while being ďŹ red from a bench. The reason for that must be that there is something different in the way the riďŹ&#x201A;e is held, which allows it to recoil in a slightly different way. This means the barrel or the muzzle is at a slightly different altitude when the bullets exit, which results in a slightly different point of impact at the target. (Similarly, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve found that my shots generally hit lower when I shoot offhand than when the same riďŹ&#x201A;e is shot from a benchrest. That is most evident when trying to knock over the target chickens in the silhouette match. Perhaps I allow the muzzle to drop slightly before ďŹ ring the shot. At any rate, hits â&#x20AC;&#x153;on the railâ&#x20AC;? seem to be common when I try for chickens.) With this new C. Sharps Arms ( riďŹ&#x201A;e and that good load, in the ďŹ rst Old West CenterďŹ res match where this riďŹ&#x201A;e was used, I was able to take second place, with scores of 89-2X at 100 yards and 95-2X at 200 yards, for a match score of 184-4X. My score was just 3 points behind the winner. That made this riďŹ&#x201A;e a real favorite and you shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be surprised when you hear about it again. Â?

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American Shooting Journal // March 2018



Success of bio-based cleaner, lubricant company hasn’t come without attacks from internet trolls. PHOTOS BY FROGLUBE


rogLube is a two-product system consisting of bio-based cleaners (degreasing solvent) and lubricants used together to provide complete gun care. BACKGROUND: HOW FROGLUBE WAS BORN FrogLube’s development began in 2009 with the search for a “biobased” lubricant as a replacement to compete against traditional petroleum-based lubricants. The initial bio-based formulation performed as a “cleaner, lubricant, preservative,” or CLP. These first formulas were derived from existing products found in commercial use in a small manufacturing plant in Huntington Beach, California. The company, Elasco Guards, was owned by David Lasky, brother of Capt. Larry Lasky, U.S. Navy SEAL (retired). The two brothers experimented with the use of the bio-based lube for various possible commercial uses. Capt. Lasky, along with a group of active and former SEALs, took the formula to the live fire range and applied the formulas to their tactical weapons. Capt. Lasky documented a series of empirical “stress” tests to evaluate the bio-based lube for performance in modern firearms. The SEALs’ ability to “run guns” hard, and test a great variety of functional and performance measures, such as time between cleaning, time between failures, accuracy and performance in environmental extremes, cold, hot, dusty and wet, proved there was great potential for a bio-based lube and led to further design and formula

The first guns FrogLube was tested on were actually a pair of 3-pound cannons stashed in a Southern California field and used for Scottish clan reenactments. The barrels were rusty before application of the bio-based cleaner, which polished them right up.

adjustments which continue today. Capt. Lasky’s intent was to evaluate and develop the formulas in the field, during actual live-fire testing in firearms, rather than in a sterile lab during non-operational conditions. After extensive testing, FrogLube CLP was officially introduced to the firearms market in January 2010 to reduce or eliminate lube malfunctions, maintain stable accuracy and function in all environmental extremes. In 2012, FrogLube added a line-up of biobased degreasing solvents, FrogLube Solvent and Super Degreaser. In 2015, FrogLube launched their newly developed CLP, FrogLube Extreme. In 2016, FrogLube introduced an optics cleaning kit, named OPTX. FROGLUBE RESPONDS TO FAKE NEWS AND MYTHOLOGY FrogLube receives some amusing inquiries, and sees its share of bogus

claims on the internet. It seems like in the last 10 years or so, when the phone makers thought it would be a good idea to give an 8-year-old the ability to upload anything, the value of the internet has declined precipitously. We deal with the phenomenon of “astroturfing” from keyboard commandos with rogue handles, making fictional statements without divulging their identity. And we get the occasional tool who simply wants to say something sensational in order to draw more hits on his flagging YouTube channel. When we receive these, we normally send back a professional response. Most of the time, we don’t get anything back, which kind of validates that it was astroturfing to begin with. We also see an impressive amount of attention, both good and, shall we say, unusual, bouncing around in the blogosphere. As a 115

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT matter of policy, we don’t respond to blogs. We view the blogs as bastions of 1st Amendment protection and feel an injection by us might “taint” the free exchange of ideas on the blog. If someone wants to hear something official, they can contact us and we’ll validate it and document it so they can then use it as a reference. No, we’re not going to answer the ones that ask us if we put mint in our formula, or does our product contain any oil of the beluga whale? The vast majority of our customers have realized the very significant benefits to switching to a bio-based care product for their firearms. But here are some of the more memorable statements and our responses: The claim: FrogLube is made from placing frogs in a blender. The reality: Really, dude? Next question … The claim: FrogLube CLP causes mold. The reality: FrogLube doesn’t mix


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Though some shooters believe they can fire their guns and only ever have to lube them, this view into a disassembled Glock shows weapons also must be cleaned after usage to keep them in top performing condition.

with water. In fact it repels water, so without water, mold cannot grow. The claim: FrogLube doesn’t work in winter.

The reality: Two things cause guns to fail in freezing temps: 1) Something between moving parts; 2) Condensation from the operator going from cold-hot-cold. The first issue is negated, since FrogLube works dry. Only the operator can prevent No. 2. The claim: FrogLube makes your gun gummy. The reality: No ingredient in FrogLube gets gummy. Here’s a hint, internet sleuths, something else is causing that. Keep looking … The claim: FrogLube turns rancid and creates a smelly, brown mess. The reality: Sorry, after 10 years, we still haven’t been able to make it do this. The claim: FrogLube increases muzzle velocity and improves accuracy. The reality: No. Why would anyone want to pour something inside their rifle that’s going to change a specification of the rifle or the ammo? Only weirdos make these kind of claims. The claim: FrogLube is coconut oil. The reality: If it was, we couldn’t sell it at the price we do – and we wish we could make it less expensive. The claim: FrogLube doesn’t work for storage. The reality: Our storage testing is going on 10 years; so far, no problems. Occasionally, we run across an interesting review of our product that brings a smile. Here’s the conclusion from a blogger going by the name “Unobtanium,” who set out to disparage our product, but then gave it a positive review. The writer began by saying, “I don’t trust things that are marketed using the ‘SEAL,’ ‘Special Forces’ or other types of name.” “Anyway, I don’t think it can get any more non-biased than this, as I don’t sell it, don’t want to sell it, and started out trying to prove that the product sucked. I still hate the marketing, but it’s a solid product and I strongly recommend it to friends, family, and whoever cares about what I have to say on the ’net.” Our claim is, “Seeing is believing – 117

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT just try it and decide for yourself.” ONWARD AND UPWARD Capt. Lasky explains the three reasons FrogLube is blazing the future of gun care: “These are areas we’ve pioneered in product development that are getting a lot of

BENEFITS OF FROGLUBE PRODUCTS  Significant fouling reduction  Dissolves rust and hydrocarbons on contact  Expanded temperature capability, -40 degrees Fahrenheit to greater than 700 degrees  Works in any environment  Longer storage interval (go from months to years)  Reduced temperature rise during firing – non-flammable  Products are safe to handle and dispose – food-grade ingredients.


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

attention from our competitors.” By removing petroleum from the firearm, FrogLube is eliminating the major cause of fouling malfunctions and performance degradation. Petroleum burns because it is flammable. It leaves a byproduct of burning, which is oxidized carbon, which builds up and gets inside actions, chambers and barrels. Even small amounts can begin to change the performance characteristics of the firearm. If you look at the inside of the exhaust pipe of your car, you can see what burned residues of petroleum look like. The FrogLube CLP is heat sensitive and its properties respond correctly for the firearm during use and storage. This applies to any firearm. What do we mean by respond? It’s a firearm, so by its name, it is a device that’s designed to abruptly heat up. If you think about it, it is a stick with a long chamber for hurling a piece of metal at a target using an explosion to propel

it. OK, a rudimentary explanation, but it serves the purpose to understand the basics. Over the millennia, guns have become way more sophisticated. Regardless, the principle of placing a device that initiates an explosion (cartridge) hasn’t changed. Explosion, pressure and mechanical action all elevate heat. FrogLube responds to heat by absorbing it. It doesn’t burn, it only gets thinner. It remains liquid to above 700 degrees Fahrenheit. What about cold? Since FrogLube is designed to absorb, it does not “film.” Once it is applied to the firearm, it bonds to it and forms a coating. The excess is removed. During cold/ freezing weather, the firearm will run without excess lube, therefore, the firearm can be operated as low as the rest of the firearm can go. What’s the coldest temperature a gun can be operated at? Probably a lot lower than we humans can be operated. What about storage? There’s a

GUN CLEANING zMAX For over 70 years, automotive racers and enthusiasts have relied on zMAX Micro-lubricant to help extend the life of their engines. Today, you can also clean, condition and protect your firearms with BoltLube and Bore Cleaner & Conditioner, both by zMAX Micro-lubricant. zMAX soaks into metal to reduce carbon build-up and condition metal parts. It does not gum up. Proudly made in the USA, zMAX Firearms Formulas are NTOA (National Tactical Officers Association) recommended and are safe for use on all firearms. BoltLube: • Provides ideal lubrication • Suspends direct gas residue • Reduces wear and friction • Provides fast and easy clean up • Flows when cold, stays viscous when hot Bore Cleaner & Conditioner: • Cleans and conditions gun bores, barrels, actions and contact surfaces • Helps keep particles from adhering to metal • Reduces build-up of combustion particles, lead, and copper, preventing bore fouling

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saying, “rust never sleeps.” FrogLube is an antioxidant by design. It does not react with air or moisture like a petroleum-based product. It actually inhibits the corrosion reaction and prevents rust. The interval between rust inspections can be four times longer than if using petroleum. Some test guns are going on nine years without any signs of corrosion. FrogLube uses food-grade components in the manufacturing of the cleaners and lubricants. This is the first completely bio-based foodgrade product system placed on the market for firearms, that works. There is zero human risk for exposure. This is a tremendous breakthrough in our industry. The exposure hazards to the various hazardous ingredients derived from petroleum will make your head spin. Most gun care products have realized the need to “clean up” their products due to the close exposure people have with their firearms, like they’re touching them, right? The best place to look for the exposure hazards of gun care products is the safety data sheet. Normally, the SDS is available on a Google search. Some companies require you to make a formal request, so what is this telling you? The pace of improvements and innovations in the firearms market is dizzying, except in one area: firearms care products. For many years, we have stuck with our petroleum, largely because that’s all we have had to choose from. The difference between products was the label, bottle, sprayer or pour top. The contents, being petroleum, really aren’t much different. Recently, manufacturers have been turning to a page out of the automobile oil world, additives. Additives address one of many issues like corrosion protection, pourability or friction/wear prevention. But no other company has changed the entire paradigm like FrogLube. Just remove the petroleum and replace it with something that works better.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit




American Shooting Journal // March 2018


Made in USA



Iosso has popular modern sporting rifle lines in mind with new complete cleaning kit.

Iosso’s new AR Complete Cleaning Kit comes with precision-fit brushes to clean different parts of a modern sporting rifle, as well as handle, extension rod, bore rope and patch puller.



ith a customizable platform that is attractive to competitive shooters, hunters, soldiers and civilians alike, the AR-15 has become one of the most popular guns on the market. But with ownership at an all-time high, many new shooters do not know how to properly clean and care for their AR. In fact, improper maintenance often leads to jamming and other more significant problems. That’s where Iosso comes in. The Elk Grove, Illinois-based company, which has been manufacturing cleaning products for nearly 35 years, makes it easy to maintain your new rifle with their AR Complete Cleaning Kit.

The cleaning kit contains six precision-fit brushes to clean the upper receiver, chamber, bolt carrier, bore, bolt carrier key tube and gas tube. The gas tube brush inserts easily into the guide tube to clean the entire length of the gas tube without disassembly of the upper receiver. Using this brush with the Iosso Triple Action Oil will remove carbon build-up. The kit also includes a handle, extension rod, bore rope and patch puller. These tools are so versatile that they will allow complete cleaning of any pistol, rifle or shotgun. A handy accessory pouch is included to carry all of the components of the kit, including the solvents. The Iosso Bore Cleaner and Iosso Triple Action Oil Solution are

recommended cleaners to be used with the kit and are sold separately. Both products are bio-based, meaning they are made from plant extracts. While safe to the user, it also keeps the environment healthy. Both products are low-VOC (volatile organic compounds), biodegradable, non-petroleum and odorless. Iosso Bore Cleaner is a concentrated paste formula. It reduces cleaning time by removing copper, lead, powder fouling, plastic wad residue, surface rust and the carbon burn that occurs at the neck portion of the chamber. This paste formula cannot spill or run into wood stocks, grips or mechanisms, therefore eliminating the potential for chemical damage. The Bore Cleaner works chemically and will not scratch or 125

company SPOTLIGHT wear down the lands and grooves of even the finest barrels. Iosso Triple Action Oil cleans, lubricates and protects. It penetrates to loosen powder, carbon and plastic wad. It is an excellent lubricant for parts and inhibits corrosion. Iosso Premium Brushes are made with a nylon composite fiber, which is cobalt blue in color so it can’t be mistaken for any other type of brush. Made in the USA, it meets Berry Amendment requirements. The brush fiber is very stiff and thick, which holds its shape well. It allows for back and forth action unlike traditional brassand bronze-type brushes, and it lasts 10 times longer than traditional brushes. The AR Complete Cleaning Kit is available in AR-15 and AR .308, and soon to be introduced is a brush for the 6.5 Grendel chambering.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Iosso’s paste-based cleaner won’t dissolve and get into places you don’t want fluid, while its precision-fit brushes last ten times as long as others, according to the company.

Iosso’s Triple Action Oil Solution is part of the Illinois company’s cleaning kit for ARs. 127


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

BULLET BULLETIN The original, No. 1400 – the .224-caliber 53-grain flat-based MatchKing bullet from Sierra.

GAME, SET, MATCHKING Accuracy is the name of the game with this California company’s match-grade bullets. STORY AND PHOTOS BY PHIL MASSARO


n the history of firearms projectiles, from the crude round ball to the space-age designs we employ today, few have had a run at the top as long as the Sierra MatchKing. Dating back to the late 1940s, when a group of aircraft machinists in a small, rented corner of a Quonset hut began to manufacture precision bullets, the California company made an immediate splash. After the conclusion of World War II, there was a market for accurate bullets, and these three gentlemen saw to filling

that void, initially with a neat little .22-caliber bullet. That bullet – a flatbased hollowpoint – would go on to be a bullet that I hold dear, as I have literally launched thousands of them from my .22-250: the Sierra No. 1400 53-grain MatchKing. It took off from there, and the company has had a firm foothold in the component projectile market ever since. A “match grade” bullet is one that is held to extremely tight tolerances, and in the shooting world often refers to a bullet whose only function is that of accuracy; no consideration is given to the terminal ballistics whatsoever, and they are not generally recommended

for hunting use. The jackets are made to be as concentric as possible, the cores designed as uniform as possible and without voids, and the procedures used for construction require both time and expense. Simply put, these bad boys are made to shoot, and shoot seriously. However, as any experienced target shooter will tell you, not all match bullets are created equal. Sierra – which brands itself The Bulletsmiths – takes match bullets very seriously, and it shows. I remember Dad, who shot nothing but .308 Winchester for decades, always had a box of 180-grain .30-caliber MatchKings on hand for target 131

bullet bulletin shooting. They were from the late 1960s or early 1970s, in the dark green box with the steel reinforced corners, and I would watch with amazement as his rifle – by no means a target gun – would print those little tiny groups. From those days forward, whenever we had a rifle that wasn’t happy with factory ammo, we would start our handload development with MatchKings, and go from there. Yup, they’re that accurate. Ironically, the No. 1400 MatchKing that shoots so well in my Ruger .22-250 is one of the few flat-based MatchKing in production. Most are boat-tailed, and of varying ogive configurations. The 168-grain .30-caliber MatchKing has long been a favorite for .308 shooters, and while by modern standards it isn’t what some would call “exciting,” it still delivers fantastic accuracy. And while Sierra has had an

The new 150-grain 6.5mm MatchKings, with .27-caliber ogive, will fly out of a well-tuned rifle!


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

These 69-grain hollowpoint boattail MatchKings are perfect for long-range work, if your barrel has the proper twist.

bullet bulletin impressive stable of bullets for decades now, it is not the type of company that will sit on its laurels, riding on former successes. Most recently, Sierra has had a couple of new bullet designs that have proved their dedication to research and development. A couple of years ago, they gave the MatchKing a facelift by introducing the Tipped MatchKing, using a signature green acetyl resin tip to create a consistent meplat, to increase ballistic coefficient figures and to aid in feeding in repeating rifles. Available in .224, 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm and .308 caliber, there is a Tipped MatchKing available for almost all the popular smaller bore diameters, and they work very well. I’ve had very good results with the 168-grain Tipped MatchKing in a .308 Winchester that has proven itself with traditional MatchKings; they fly very well. Sierra also continues to expand the line of traditional MatchKings, and they’ve evolved along with the


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Sierra’s special pointing technique – used to produce a consistent, uniform meplat – will increase ballistic coefficient values, as is evident on these 150-grain 6.5mm bullets.


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AMMO REVIEW rifles that continue to take advantage of faster twist rates. The 150-grain 6.5mm MatchKing (No. 1755) uses a sleek boattail and has an of ogive of .27 caliber, to give serious wind deflection values and retain as much energy as possible, keeping the trajectory as flat as possible. It does, however, require a twist rate of 1:7½ or faster, and few factory rifles are equipped with that twist rate. If you have a rifle built for these bullets, you should immediately see the benefits of this bullet. With a G1 BC of .713 (when moving faster than 1,760 feet per second), this is a serious projectile. The new Federal .224 Valkyrie – released at the 2018 SHOT Show – was actually designed around the Sierra 90-grain MatchKing (No. 9290), using the long-range capabilities of the bullet to maximize the potential of the cartridge design. I’ve shot the cartridge, and the flat trajectory along with the minimal recoil allowed me to












The 52-grain MatchKing with a boattail is on the left, and the 53-grain flat base is on the right. Both are great for the classic varmint calibers like the .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington and .220 Swift.









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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

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AMMO/RELOADING Sierra’s new Tipped MatchKing, with an acetyl resin tip for consistent BC values, shown here in the .30-caliber 168-grain configuration.

watch the vapor trail and call my own shots at 800 yards and beyond. A .22 bullet with a G1 BC of .563 is rather rare, yet the combination of a fast twist rate, properly designed bullet and an efficient cartridge makes for a true long-range .22 centerfire. Oh, and that recommendation about not using the Sierra MatchKing for hunting? I am totally on board when it comes to hunting deer and similar-sized game, but I will admit to using those 53-grain flat-base MatchKings as my bullet of choice for coyotes and foxes. My rifle puts them into ¼-minute-of-angle groups on calm days, and they are frangible enough not to blow a hole in the offside fur. There are many choices when it comes to match bullets, and to be completely honest, some of the other brands are very, very good. But with the Sierra brand comes longevity, and a level of dedication that I appreciate. They aren’t the only match bullet I use, but I use them as often as not, and with the modern developments coming out of their workshop, that’s not about to change. Sierra was a pioneer in the match-bullet industry, and I’m glad they’re still at the head of the pack.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit


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American Shooting Journal // March 2018

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t’s no secret that reloading your own ammunition can save you money. Heck, you may even enjoy it so much that it becomes a fun new hobby. But where can you get the best deal on all the supplies you need? Look no further than TRL, LLC. Run by Todd Lindstrom, TRL sells reloading products and supplies at auction on (find the shop at search?IncludeSellers=1227719). There, you will find the products you need from the brands you trust, and at a great price. TRL specializes in rifle and handgun brass, carrying brands like Lapua, Hornady, Berry’s and Starline Brass. “The 45-70 Starline brass is a favorite of my customers due to its consistency,” says Lindstrom. He also recently added Peterson brass casings to his stock and is excited about it, citing the “tight tolerances” of the company’s precise and consistent brass rifle casings. Not only does TRL sell brass, but they also feature an array of black powder supplies. In fact, one of their most popular and soughtafter products is the Mag-Spark nipple replacement from Warren Custom Outdoor. “The Mag-Spark nipple replacement allows you to use Black Horn 209 powder in your side-lock muzzleloader,” explains Lindstrom. “It’s a great combination; very clean and accurate.” TRL aims to stock all the

A ton of items are set to ship from TRL’s headquarters. (TODD LINDSTROM)

Brass cases, including the popular Lapua and Peterson cases, are in stock. (TODD LINDSTROM)

reloading essentials, but if they don’t have what you’re looking for, Lindstrom says just ask. “If I don’t have what you are

The Mag-Spark is one of TRL’s most popular sellers. (TODD LINDSTROM)

looking for, shoot me an e-mail ( and I will do my best to locate it for you and get a great price.”  141



Matt’s Bullets offers a wide range of handcrafted, premium-quality products. PHOTOS BY MATT’S BULLETS


ight years ago, Matt Hoppe saw an opportunity to make a little money doing something he enjoyed and was good at, and he ran with it. Thus Matt’s Bullets, specializing in unique handcast bullets, was born. The small operation, located in the Arkansas Ozarks, has since grown, but its mission to produce high-quality, individually crafted bullets hasn’t changed one bit. “We cast our bullets by hand; that means we don’t use automated machinery,” explains Hoppe. “We use both bottom-pour pots and ladle pouring, depending on what gives the best bullets for each mold, and we pour each bullet one at a time. Hand-casting bullets is as much an art as it is a science and our experience allows us to cast crisp, consistent, beautiful bullets that our customers love and


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

say are very accurate.” Hand-casting also allows Matt’s Bullets to customize the product to the customer’s specifications. “We are able to do a lot of things, like change alloys or bullet size, at no extra cost,” says Hoppe. The result is a satisfied, loyal and steadily growing client base that appreciates the unique products that Matt’s Bullets has to offer. “One of our most popular products is the 700-grain .500-caliber bullet,” says Hoppe. “Also very popular is a 260- and 280-grain .45 Keith and our 255-grain .44 Keith. Also our hollowpoint bullets are popular with those who want something that will open fully at slower velocities. Our very tiny 75-grain wadcutter is popular in .38, as is our 160-round flat nose. We also sell rifle bullets in calibers from .22 to .45.” Hoppe says they have added an array of new products to their arsenal, including a very low recoil .38 Special cartridge that allows those who

Matt’s Bullets founder Matt Hoppe takes pride in the fact that the company’s bullets are cast by hand.

are recoil-adverse to still get their practice in, as well as a .44 Special cartridge optimized to expand well out of a .44 snubnose revolver. The company has also added new calibers, including .512, .475, .22 and .264. Matt’s Bullets offers just about anything a bullet-head could ask for, both in quality and in variety of products. But if you’re more in the market for ready-to-shoot ammo, don’t worry – Matt’s has your back. “We sell both bullets and ammunition,” says Hoppe. “We specialize in .500 S&W ammunition from 350 grains up to 700, and are the only ones we know of that make a .500 shotshell. Our .500 S&W ammo comes in boxes of 20 and 50.”  Editor’s note: For more information on Matt’s Bullets and any of their products, visit 143


American Shooting Journal // March 2018

Am 3 18 web  
Am 3 18 web