Long Range Hunting in the West
By Joe Byers
The wide-open spaces of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain West harbor some of Americas greatest game animals and create incredible hunting challenges and memories among those who pursue them. Long range hunting in the West isn’t a matter of choice, it’s often the only option. Along with savvy strategies, hunters need specific gear to meet the challenge of extended range, including flat shooting rifle, crystal clear scopes, and a host of shooting accessories to enhance accuracy and ethical harvests.
Cartridges that Count
(Image 7) The 30-30 and other straight wall cartridges may have won the West, but they are not preferred hunting rounds in most hunting circles. Magnum calibers such as the 7mm Remington or .300 Win Mag, .30-06 Springfield, .270 Winchester, and the new 6.5 Creedmoor have proven to be standouts at longer range for accuracy and a quick demise.
Most hunting outfitters and cartridge manufacturers recommend a 200-yard zero for Western hunts. For example, here’s data on the 30-06 Springfield from the Hornady ballistic chart: 178-grain ELD-X Bullet
Range Drop (in) Velocity (fps) Energy(ft-lbs.)
200 0 2,496 2,462
300 -7.23 2,372 2,224
400 -20.64 2,252 2,004
This quick ballistic snippet shows that a hunter chasing elk, bear, or mule deer can still aim nearly center of the chest at 300 yards resulting in a heart shot and top-of-the-shoulder aim at 400 yards to strike the vitals with a ton of knock-down power.
Long-range hunting equates bullet strike with caliber performance. Getting the bullet into the vitals is just as important as the cartridge that got it there. Scopes for long-range hunting fall into two basic categories: traditional duplex reticles with Mil or MOA dots and ballistic compensating scopes that allow the shooter to adjust the reticle to account for distance and wind and place the reticle exactly on target.
(Image 6) Both scopes have their place in long range shooting. For the person who will most likely have a brief encounter at 500 yards or less, the traditional duplex such as the TruBrite 30 Tactical 3-9X42 Tactical works well. If a bull elk or big muley buck suddenly steps into an opening, you must determine range, aim the reticle or mil Dot to adjust for drop and windage, and fire- a process that can be done in a second. If the animal runs toward you or away, you increase or decrease hold-over.
Using a ballistic compensating scope, the shooter must determine range, dial that range by turning the rifle turret and aim dead-on. Although this sounds like a precise method, remember that it will occur at a time of great excitement. If the animal moves and you must stalk closer to take a different shot, will you remember the previous adjustments?
Know the Range
(Image 4) Distance to a target is critical to all long-range hunting and shooting without this knowledge is just guessing and unethical. Fortunately, hand-held laser rangefinders such as those from Vortex, Sig Sauer, and Nikon greatly simplify this task as well as adjusting for angle. Mountain hunters must often make steep shots up or down a mountain and these laser rangefinders compensate for that angle and provide exact shooting distances. Team them with a compact pair of binoculars like the TruBrite model and you have a dynamic duo.
Range-finding binoculars are an equally good choice and actually reduce the number of devices needed on a hunt. Generally, these models will be larger in size and significantly more expensive than a two-optic program, yet having the ability to search and range-find in a single operation has great appeal.
Steady that Aim
(Image 5) A solid rest is essential for long-range hunting. Normally, bi-pods come immediately to mind, yet only use them if you are thoroughly familiar with the product. Jim Schell, career Wyoming guide and outfitter views a bi-pod with very mixed emotions. “I have seen guy have easy shots at moderate range, only to watch the animal disappear from sight while the shooter fiddles with the bi-pod,” he says. “Don’t use them unless you practice with them.”
Since most back-country hunters usually carry a daypack, use it to steady your rifle and make that precise shot. Teamed with the prone position, this tactic can be rock solid. Shooting sticks can also be an asset and allow a hunter to fire from a sitting or standing position. In a pinch, use a tree, rock, or other immovable object to prefect the shot.
Control Excitement and Maintain Form
The principles of long-range shooting can quickly be dashed with a heart rate that doubles and the heavy breathing that comes with exertion and big game excitement. Realistic practice is paramount before and during a hunt. Locate your longest shooting range back home and practice there. In the field, pick out rocks, stumps or trees at unknown distances, range, and sight for success. When opportunity knocks for real, you will be ready to take that trophy-of-a-lifetime with the shot-of-a -lifetime.
Hunting Hogs with a Red Dot Sight
by Brad Fitzpatrick
Texas has a pig problem. The state has been plagued for decades with an ever-increasing feral hog population (now estimated at over two million animals) and biologists claim that to stabilize the population sixty-six percent of the feral hog population in Texas would have to be harvested. Each year the damage to crops and property inflicted by pigs in the Lone Star state runs in the millions of dollars.
Think if you don’t live in Texas you’re safe from this creeping tide of invasive hogs? Think again. There are feral hog populations in 39 states and the national population estimate is around six million animals. If there aren’t pigs in your back yard today then you might want to check again tomorrow.
There aren’t a lot of silver linings in the pig population explosion, but if you are a hunter then there are great opportunities to hunt pigs in places like Texas or elsewhere where wild hog populations are growing and causing conflicts with humans and native wildlife. Pig hunts are usually very inexpensive and bag limits and season date restrictions are quite liberal. Plus, they provide great lean meat and you can fill your freezer quickly on a single successful hunt.
More and more hunting products are being designed with hog hunters in mind, and optics are a key consideration when designing your perfect pig hunting rig. Sure, you can hunt pigs with your favorite scoped deer rifle, but high magnification is not always the best option when hunting feral hogs. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself in the midst of a sounder (group) or pigs at relatively close range, and with multiple shot opportunities you’ll need an optic that offers a wide field of view, a clear aiming point and is designed to allow you to take running shots if needed. I’ve hunted pigs in rice fields, in dense semi-arid thorn country, and in driven situations in forests—all very different habitats. But one type of optic works perfectly in all these situations—a robust red dot sight.
One of the best options in this category is TRUGLO’s TRU-TEC 20mm Red Dot sight. For starters, it offers a 20mm objective lens and a 2mm dot, a great setup for hunting with ARs, bolt guns, shotguns, and a variety of other weapons. With unlimited eye relief and a wide field of view you get a clear sight picture for rapid both-eyes-open shooting. In situations where you are taking multiple shots in a hurry this is a great benefit because you can transition from target to target more quickly, maximizing every opportunity that arises to take multiple hogs from a single sounder. Pigs are frequently taken at close range; I’d guess that of all the hogs I’ve taken while still hunting or in stands roughly three-quarters of the shots I’ve taken were at close range in dense cover with multiple shot opportunities. In those situations, the TRU-TEC’s bright red dot allows for maximum awareness and rapid target transition.
The TRUGLO optic’s design is very versatile, and while it lends itself perfectly to those close-quarters shots that are so common you can also stretch your range out effectively to a hundred yards or more. Having a 2 MOA dot gives the TRU-TEC a major advantage because the dot is large enough for rapid shots at running hogs up close but it is also small enough for more precise long-range shooting as well. With the TRU-TEC’s red dot design you also have a huge advantage when hunting at last light since you won’t lose a blackened reticle. Smart old boars have learned that it’s much safer to forage at dawn, dusk, or during the night, and since you can hunt pigs legally around the clock in many areas there are fewer restrictions on shooting hours (although, of course, you must always make absolutely certain of your target). On hunts in both Texas and Oklahoma I had really large boars appear just on the edge of darkness, and a dark reticle can become lost on a dark pig in low light, especially if the shot is rather long. Not so with a red dot. The type of versatility that the TRU-TEC 20mm offers hunters is a big reason that this is an ideal hog hunting optics. If the pigs are close and there are several animals you have a non-magnified optic with a clear aiming point for making multiple shots and there are few better options when you are shooting at a running target. But if that big boar hog slips out at longer range on the edge of darkness you’ve still got an optic that’s up to the task. Having that level of flexibility is vital in a hog hunting optic.
The TRU-TEC’s robust and user-friendly design is also of great benefit when pursuing feral pigs.
There’s an integrated Weaver/Picatinny-style mounting rail included that allows you to quickly and securely affix the optic to your rifle (or switch between rifles, if you choose) and since TRUGLO offers both a low and high mount option with each TRU-TEC sight purchased you can be guaranteed proper eye alignment. A host of other user-friendly features also make this an appealing hog hunting optic. Digital push-button controls with multiple brightness settings allow you to quickly configure the optic as needed for the ambient light conditions, and the auto-on/auto-off feature helps preserve battery life. Speaking of batteries, the TRU-TEC runs on one included 3V-CR2032 battery that has a long life. And if you eventually run that battery down over time it’s easy and affordable to replace. Simple-to-use click windage and elevation adjustments are precise and they allow you to zero your rifle quickly and maintain a constant zero. In addition, the parallax-free design means your eye doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned with the optic for maximum accuracy.
Hogs prefer the safety of very rough cover (especially during daylight hours) so you must choose an optic that is robust and built to stand up to some very harsh elements. The TRU-TEC’s design is waterproof and shockproof and is shock resistant to 1000g. Odds are you won’t need that type of protection against the elements, but it’s certainly nice to know that the optic you are running on your hog gun is durable enough to stand up to the worst conditions. Dense brush can also take a toll on larger optics, and they add unnecessary weight to your rifle. The lightweight, compact TRU-TEC slips through dense cover and doesn’t add a lot of bulk. And with an MSRP of $221 the TRU-TEC 20mm is also one of the most affordable optics that offers this level of performance.
Hog numbers are rising and it’s time for hunters to step in and help control populations. To do so, you’ll need the right weapon with the right optic, and the TRU-TEC from TRUGLO is a versatile, functional, affordable choice. Setting up a hog gun with this sight allows you to extend your hunting season and increase your odds of success. Just make sure that you have plenty of room in the freezer. www.truglo.com
Pheasant Hunting with the Fat•Bead
by Brad Fenson
One of the best things I ever did to improve my wing shooting ability was to take a lesson from OSP Shooting School gurus, Gil and Vicki Ash. The experience turned me from an average shooter into one that pheasants fear.
Keep your head up, both eyes open, watch the target, and know where the end of your shotgun is as you swing it, and keep swinging it. One of the biggest mistakes we make as shotgun enthusiasts is trying to aim a shotgun when it needs to be pointed. The end of your shotgun and bead are a guide but aren’t meant to be your focus point. There are lots of things you can do to help keep the bead in your peripheral vision, as we all know we need to be watching the target.
A larger bead is easy to keep track of and the brighter it is, the more likely you’ll see it under varying light conditions. A TRUGLO Fat Bead could be the difference in you bringing home a limit of birds, or carting a shooting vest full of empty hulls.
A Fat Bead or Fat Bead Universal come in different models to attach to your shotgun. There are distinct size mounting screws to accommodate most shotguns. The large diameter bead has a fiber optic that is .100 inches and stands out like a colorful rooster. The fiber used in the bead is 0.5 inches long, meaning it can gather and emit lots of light and brightness. The fat, bright sight makes your shotgun easier to track while you’re watching birds fly.
Pheasants can be tricky fowl to hit on the wing. They usually rocket straight up out of cover, level off for a brief second, then jet away at breakneck speed. If you can catch them on the momentary pause between leveling off and heading for safer ground, you can usually collect more birds.
Pheasants are masters at using the wind and they often flush into the breeze, turn quickly, and use the Jetstream to carry them away as quick as possible. A crossing shot, on a fast target in the wind, is hard to hit. You need to concentrate on the speed of the bird and keep your gun barrel swinging at the same speed. The old saying, “back, belly, beak—bang!” often describes the swift swing of a trusty smoothbore to anchor your target.
If you have any vision issues or suffer from eyes that are aging, the Fat Bead just might be the quick fix to make you look like an all-star again. It is ideal for a replacement, or a repair, to existing shotgun bead. Whether you enjoy shooting clay targets, upland game birds, or waterfowl, a more visible shotgun bead could help you out. The fiber optics come in green or red and are available in several sizes and diameters. The Fat Bead can only be installed on a shotgun barrel with a ventilated, or solid rib design.
Deer Hunting with Shotgun Slugs
By Brad Fenson
The brisk, frigid wind bit at the exposed skin on my face, but I dare not move. I was waiting on a big whitetail buck to travel along the edge of a wetland and knew movement would mean he’d never expose himself. I’d been hunting the same buck for weeks and thought I finally had him patterned. The minutes turned to hours and just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to stand the cold another second a flash of brown fur caught my eye. It was a deer!
I had to keep my wits about me and not give away my location until it was time to shoot. I could see antlers dancing through tree limbs and knew it was the buck I wanted. Just as he had done several late mornings, the buck trotted out of the tree cover to take a shortcut along the wetland. I stood frozen behind a large aspen tree just 40 yards from where the deer would pass. I slowly started wiggling my mitt off my trigger hand, letting it fall to the ground as I shouldered my shotgun and sent a 12-gauge slug into the vitals of the old buck. I quickly pumped the gun and put a second shot into the deer for assurance.
There was no ground shrinkage on the deer. It was the biggest white-tailed buck I had ever taken and still stands as my largest buck to date. I was hunting an area where slug guns were the firearm of choice. I didn’t feel as though I was at a disadvantage. In fact, having a slug gun likely helped me connect at close range, while the deer was moving. All I remember is the deer turning his head to look in my direction when I dropped my mitt, and boom, it was over.
With the extra seasons and opportunities afforded to slug hunters, I’m not sure why more people haven’t embraced them? It is easy to set up an existing shotgun that is normally used for bird hunting, and prepare it to become your favorite deer slayer. TRUGLO Pro Series Slug Gun sights mount to the rib of any shotgun. There aren’t any magnets or tape, and the sights are properly secured with screws to withstand recoil and heavy hunting rigors.
All-steel construction makes the sights as durable as any shotgun, and once they are mounted, you can adjust the windage and elevation to have your shotgun punching clover leaves on paper. In TRUGLO fashion, the sights have fiber optics to make them bright and easy to see. The dovetail sight makes it easy to settle the front sight for repeatable accuracy. The front sight diameter is .029 inches, and the rear diameter is .035inches.
There are four different models to cover a wide range of shotguns. The only requirement is that your gun has a ventilated, or fixed rib to attach the sights. An Allen key tightens the screws and sights in place for sturdy reliability.
If you’re considering deer hunting with slugs, you should try a Pro Series Slug Gun sight. Chances are you might leave your favorite smoothbore set up for deer season and find a different one to cover your bird interests.
TRUGLO, A Broadhead For Every Need
By Patrick Meitin
By now most serious bowhunters have heard of TRUGLO’s new lineup of Titanium X Broadheads. These remarkable broadheads were designed with input from Bruce Barrie of past Rocky Mountain Broadhead fame, milled from Grade 5 titanium to include TRU-CUT cut-on-contact tips and holding stainless steel TRU-THRU .031-inch-thick, precision-sharpened blades. Titanium provides the strength of steel with the weight of aluminum—in other words, the best of both worlds. The TRU-CUT tip assures deeper penetration and bone-splitting performance. TRU-THRU blades includes spooky sharpness needed for superior penetration and fast kills on the toughest big game. All are spin and sharpness tested for assured field-point flight and devastating results on game. Each model comes in three packs with free broadhead wrench.
There are six models included in this new lineup, each filling an important niche in the bowhunting program. So let’s take this opportunity to investigate the inherent advantages of each design and where they best fit into your bowhunting pursuits.
White-tailed deer, especially tough old bucks, have a tenacity for life reviling a desert shrub. They’re also regularly hunted in thronged vegetation which complicates tracking efforts. The new standard in whitetail coverts has become a wide-cutting mechanical design, providing pin-point accuracy during the most demanding shots, and opening a world of hurt and blood-spilling wound channels which result in faster kills and blood trails that are much easier to follow under demanding conditions.
For whitetails taken with average equipment (according to most bow manufacturers I talk with, this means 65 pounds at 29 inches, or 65#@29”), it’s pretty tough to beat TRUGLO’s Titanium X 2-blade mechanical. It includes a solid-titanium ferrule like the rest, including TRU-CUT tip to start penetration off right. The two scissoring blades include a torque-balancing design that start cutting instantly on impact, self adjusting to push around bone without shedding energy (which also means it’s impossible for blades to open in flight), opening to a full 2 3/16-inch cutting diameter through soft tissue to inflict maximum damage. The blades remain folded flat against the ferrule in flight for superior accuracy, a design feature making them welcomed for archers who invest the time and effort required to become long-range proficient.
For those shooting energy above the national average (like my own standard 70#@30”) the Titanium X 4-blade offers yet more devastating, cross-cutting action. The 4-blade model works on the same principle as the 2-blade but inflicts twice as much damage. The cutting TRU-CUT starts penetration out right, opening to 1 ¾ inches to spill copious amounts of blood.
BIG Big Game
Mechanicals will certainly get the job done on the largest big game, like elk and moose, but I choose to prepare for real-world, worst-case scenarios, like the substantial bone comprising an elk’s shoulder. When game is larger than 250-pound Midwest whitetails, I turn to fixed-blade broadheads. TRUGLO has you covered there as well, including Titanium X 3- and 4-blade versions.
The TRUGLO Titanium X 3-blade includes an industry-standard 1 3/16-inch cutting diameter. This is a cutting diameter offering an ideal balance of easy tuning from today’s fastest compound bows, but also enough cutting diameter to produce ample trailing blood. With its blade-aligned TRU-CUT cut-on-contact tip and TRU-THRU sharp blades these heads slick through game like butter.
I’m also intrigued by the Titanium X 4-blade because it mirrors lines of the traditional broadheads I started bowhunting with, but with replaceable main and crosscutting bleeder blades. The TRU-CUT tip streamlines right into cutting edges to enhance penetration. It includes 1 3/16-inch cutting diameter. It’s a head that would give me utmost confidence while chasing bugling bull elk.
These fixed designs also make excellent options for smaller or weaker bowhunters—women, youth or elderly shooters with achy joints—while shooting average game such as whitetails.
TRUGLO didn’t forget the crossbow enthusiast while designing the Titanium X line. Crossbow-specific models include a 1 ¾-inch-wide 4-blade mechanical and 1 3/16 4-blade mimicking vertical-bow design, but including larger-diameter ferrules to better match larger-diameter crossbow bolts. Modern crossbows give you energy to burn, making the 4-blade mechanical ideally suited for blasting through any sized game, even at extreme ranges. The 4-blade fixed is perfect in states where mechanical designs aren’t yet legal, or for added insurance when hunting the largest big game at extended ranges.
Average, he-man or limited kinetic energy vertical bow shooters, or crossbow aficionados; TRUGLO has your broadhead needs covered with the new Titanium X series!
Precise Rest Setup for Improved Bowhunting Accuracy
By Patrick Meitin
Of all the moving parts of a bow and arrow outfit setting up and tuning an arrow rest is trickiest. You can leave this chore to a professional archery technician of course but I highly recommend learning to conduct this task on your own. Learning to tune your own bow saves money, but more importantly assures independence should the pro shop get swamped with work in the heat of hunting season, or your rig break down far from home during an important hunt. Setting up your own equipment also instills confidence that it is done as carefully as possible.
With that spirit in mind, let’s get started.
Before you begin always read the instructions for your rest. I’ve been setting up and tuning bows (including a couple stints in pro shops) for three decades, but still find this step helpful. Every design is unique, and I often glean time-saving advice by perusing instructions. Too, before you begin assure your arrows are properly spined for your draw length and draw weight, consulting manufacturer arrow-selection charts if unsure.
The general rule is to set launcher height so a nocked arrow passes through the middle of the mounting taps/holes when viewed from the side. Nocking an arrow is important, as launcher arms are spaced differently between various models. With a drop-away rest this might require disconnecting the activation cord (limb-driven design, spring continually tensioned upward) or wedging a piece of foam beneath the launcher to hold it in the shooting position (buss-cable operated system, spring continually tensioned downward). Ballpark is fine, as nocking point will be adjusted finely for clean flight.
Center-shot refers to launcher arms positioned so a nocked arrow viewed from behind, sighting along the cam flats, rides straight behind the bowstring. In other words, during launch the arrow is pushed perfectly straight by cams and bowstring. Roughing center-shot involves exactly that: sighting along cam flats, loosening the windage adjustment bolt and moving the rest left/right until the arrow rides exactly behind the bowstring nock to point. If done carefully this is often good enough to start, but I take an extra step to assure perfection.
Attach a laser center-shot tool, nock an arrow and align the laser with the nocking point/serving center. Rotate the mechanism to assure the laser rides down the center of the shaft and through the sharp tip of a field point. At this point the rest can be adjusted no finer.
Sans laser center-shot tool, you can also center a nocked arrow by measuring from riser edge to arrow edge in front and behind the riser, adjusting windage until two equal measurements are discovered.
Correlating Nocking Point
A simple T-square nocking-point tool is then used to assure your D-loop or nocking point is positioned properly. Generally, release aids allow a dead-zero to 1/8-inch high nocking point, while finger shooters might position nocking points up to ¼-inch high due to the added pressure of two fingers under, one over.
To fine tune use a bow vice plus bow and arrow level set, as launcher fork depth and arrow diameter can affect how precise readings are with primitive T-square tools. Place the bow in a vice and use bow level to level bow precisely. Then nock an arrow, attach the arrow level, level the arrow and mark the proper nocking-point position with silver felt pen or white correction fluid. This offers the most precise nocking point possible.
Check your work via paper tuning. This involves standing 5 to 6 feet before a taut face of newsprint or butcher paper stretched across a simple frame and stapled into place and shooting an arrow through. The tears produced provide insight into how arrows are exiting your bow. The goal is a clean bullet hole with three clean fletching cuts. Tears to the right (right-hand, reverse for left-hand shooters) indicate arrows that are under-spined or a point that’s too heavy. Correct by choosing a stiffer (or shorter) arrow, reducing draw weight, reducing point weight or adjusting launcher windage inward (toward riser). Tears to the left indicate an arrow that’s too stiff or a point that’s too light. Correct by choosing a lighter-spined (or longer) arrow, increasing point weight, increasing draw weight (when possible), or moving the launcher arms outward (away from riser). High or low tears are an indication of an improperly positioned nocking point, corrected by moving nocking point in the opposite direction of the tear; lower for high tears, higher for low. Work in small increments and patient trial-and-error fashion until clean tears result.
The Perfect Release … For You
By Aaron Carter
Are you in the market for a mechanical release? Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
For many archers, abundant consideration goes into selecting a seamless bow setup; however, seldom is much emphasis placed on a component that’s essential for extracting the utmost performance from the aforementioned outfit—the release. To attain top-notch accuracy with any bow requires a clean, consistent discharge of the arrow, and on a high-performance compound bow, employing a mechanical release is the best method to achieve such. With so many styles from which to choose, how do you know which release is the best for you? Read on.
Of the releases utilized by archery hunters, the overwhelming majority falls within the index finger- and thumb-activated categories, with the former being the most popular—for good reason. Why? Typically, index finger-activated releases have an attachment system consisting of hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, or some combination of the two. TRUGLO’s unique and user-friendly BOA closure system (available separately to upgrade your current connection system, too), that affixes it to the archer’s wrist, keeping it nearby and ready at all times. This is obviously an important consideration when hunting. As the release is secured to the archer, it cannot be dropped from a tree stand. Unlike a handheld release, which the fingers must hold during and after the draw, the wrist strap of an index finger-activated release places the drawing burden on the wrist.
As a class, index finger-activated-releases are quick and easy to attach to the bowstring—even in low-light conditions. Considering that most trophy-class animals appear suddenly and in diminished light, this is significant.
Index finger-activated releases use one or two jaws to attach directly to the bowstring (not suggested), D-loop, or metal nocking loop and, true to their name, are activated by the index or “trigger” finger. Archers who hunt with also firearms will find their operation instinctual and comforting; there’s nothing new to learn. And, like firearms, high-quality models—such as TRUGLO’s Nitrus —have a trigger that’s customizable for both sensitivity and travel. Additionally, these releases enable the user to shorten or lengthen the release head. Due to their numerous benefits, as well as myriad makes and price points, index finger-activated- (wrist-style) releases are the best choice for most hunters—especially new archers, those with compromised strength, and hunters who don’t practice sufficiently to master a target-style release.
Some archery hunters use thumb-activated releases which have features found on index finger-activated and target-style releases. Most thumb-activated releases are handheld—like tension/hinge- and resistance-activated “target” models. For the archer, this means back, shoulder, and arm muscles are used during the draw cycle, finger strength is still needed to hold the release. The string, which is held by a loop or jaw, is released by pressing the trigger with the thumb. It takes some practice to get used to—especially for firearm hunters. However, after sustained use most archers tend to stick with thumb releases.
Except for models featuring a wrist strap or lanyard, or are retrofitted with one, thumb-activated releases need to be attached to the bowstring (and thus left dangling) or placed in a coat or vest pocket. As such, there exists a risk of inadvertently dropping it from a tree stand, or not having it immediately accessible when needed. But, the benefit is that there’s nothing attached to one’s person for lengthy periods, which can also clang on the side of a tree stand. Price-wise, most thumb-activated releases are typically more expensive than index finger-activated releases.
Typically utilized in competition, a small segment of archers are now using back-tension/hinge- and resistance-activated releases for hunting. Attached to the bowstring, D-loop, or metal nocking loop in a manner identical to other releases, these finger-held variants don’t have a “trigger”. As the name suggests, the back-tension-activated release is activated after the bow is drawn and the back muscles are tightened (i.e. shoulder blades cinched), which causes the hand and release to naturally rotate. The rotation permits the string to free itself in a surprise manner—similar to that of a surprise break of a lightweight rifle trigger—so that one cannot flinch. Resistance-activated releases, on the other hand, fire from a build up of pressure and not rotation of the hand, or as Carter Enterprises explains, “pulling through an amount of poundage greater than your holding weight.” There’s now a new generation of mechanical releases that combine both release options of thumb- and resistance-activated releases, all in one model. Because of the nature of their operation, target-style releases require considerable practice to perfect, and even then they’re not the best choices for hunting because of the amount of movement associated with the sport—especially from an elevated position on a tiny platform, and where proper form is hard to achieve. All it would take for a poor shot would be to unconsciously make a wrong movement. Some hinge-type models have a click feature that signals to the user that it’s ready to fire; however, this wouldn’t be a good idea for hunting, as it could inadvertently alert game animals, too. As these releases are intended for competition, user adjustability is guaranteed; however, finding the perfect setting takes time and practice. As for other benefits and detractions, those of these release types are similar to thumb-activated releases.
In the end, the release that’s best suited for you will depend on a host of considerations, many of which were mentioned within this article. Once you’ve considered these, the choice will be clear. For me it’s the TRUGLO Detonator index finger-activated release. How about you?
Get the Most from Your Ruger 10/22 Rifle
The little “rimfire that could” can do a lot more with these simple upgrades.
by Rob Reaser
There’s no question that Ruger’s 10/22 carbine is the most popular and acclaimed .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle in the country. And for good reason. Its simple blowback bolt design leaves little room for malfunctions; it is remarkably accurate despite its “bolt-on” barreled action and given its short stature and light weight, it is the perfect range plinker and small-game hunting rifle.
Out of the box, the 10/22 is a winner. You can easily upgrade its performance and appearance to make it even more endearing to everyone; from serious shooters to hunters and even preppers.
If you’re looking to enhance your 10/22’s performance, or simply want to customize America’s bread-and-butter rimfire rifle to suit your own tastes, here are a few ways to go about it.
Nothing unleashes the 10/22’s inherent accuracy and fun quotient like a quality optic. Which optic you choose, however, depends largely on your intended use. Dedicated bench shooters obviously favor a high-magnification scope to zero in on their 50-yard cards. Such optics, though, are a bit unwieldy and impractical for plinking and hunting. For the latter, it’s hard to beat the standard fixed 4X rifle scope. With most small-game hunting requiring shots under 50 yards (and usually only in the 20- to 30-yard range), a 4X scope such as TRUGLO’s 4×32 Compact Scope (TG8504BR) is right on target. The 4X magnification offers quick sight picture acquisition for erratically moving game animals yet provides enough “optical reach” for accurate bullet placement on small targets. This is the scope we use on our Plain Jane 10/22 for hunting squirrels or when running trap lines.
For something a little on the uncommon side that also amps up the fun factor, consider a reflex sight. We recently modified one of our 10/22s with an M4-type fluted barrel and an old-school military style wood stock. Keeping the sighting system tracking with the tactical theme, we wanted a fast-action optic. The solution—the TRUGLO Multi-Reticle/Dual Color Open Red•Dot. Mount the rifle to your shoulder and you get a clear sight picture without losing your situational awareness (such as what can occur when sighting down an optic tube). Aside from the broad vision offered by this sight, we like the fact that it comes with four different reticle designs (to better match our target), red or green illumination (to accommodate the environment), and illumination level adjustment (to match the ambient light).
Fiber Optic Sights
Of course, one of the charms of a light carbine rifle such as the 10/22 is shooting with open sights—particularly when it comes to plinking. Open sights offer a challenge that is mitigated when using precision optics. To get the most out of open-sight shooting when lighting and environmental conditions are less than ideal, fiber optic sights are the solution.
TRUGLO offers a front and rear fiber optic sight set that is compatible with the 10/22 (with the exception of the Ruger Takedown® model). The Rimfire Rifle Fiber-Optic Sight Set includes CNC-machined front and rear sight bases with a 0.060-inch diameter front red fiber optic element and two 0.035-inch diameter green fiber optic elements. They’re ideal for low light or bright light shooting conditions, and easily replace the existing factory sights.
Let’s face it…most 10/22 OE stocks are about as exciting as a Model T at a Ferrari convention. Not only do they lack in the aesthetics department, their one-size-fits-all profile doesn’t necessarily provide the ergonomics needed to maximize the rifle’s accuracy potential.
There are many companies making aftermarket stocks for the 10/22. Choose your flavor, but try to make sure the stock actually fits you. Length-of-pull (the distance between the flat of the trigger hook and the back of the buttstock) is the most critical element. Too short or too long and you will always be adjusting your head position for the proper eye relief, and that’s a recipe for poor shooting form. Ditto for the drop-of-comb (the distance between the line-of-sight and the stock’s comb, where your cheek rests).
Our best stock upgrade was a laminated hardwood stock with a skeletonized buttstock (for light weight), pistol grip (for straighter trigger pull), and a free-float forend (to eliminate barrel torque). Whichever way you go, however, just make sure that the stock fits you.
One of the most accurizing elements of any firearm modification is a performance trigger. No matter how good your optic, how precise your barreled action machining, or the consistency of your ammunition, a rough, unrefined trigger can send everything south in a hurry.
Fortunately, trigger swaps are super simple in a 10/22, and if you’re not comfortable doing it, any qualified gunsmith can perform the work in no time flat. The downside to aftermarket trigger systems is that they cost almost as much as the rifle itself. For most plinking or hunting applications, a high-performance trigger is not necessary. Competitive shooters, on the other hand, should consider a trigger upgrade a must-have.
The 10/22’s factory barrel is good. A precision-manufactured aftermarket barrel is even better—especially if competitive shooting is in your plans.
One of the things that’s so great about the 10/22 is that swapping out the stock barrel could not be more simple. After removing the stock and barrel band (easy), removing the trigger assembly (pop out three retaining pins and you’re done), and removing the bolt and charging handle (also easy), you’ll see that the barrel is secured to the receiver by two screws and a V-block. Remove the screws and V-block and the barrel can be pulled apart from the receiver. Installing a new barrel is just the reverse of the removal process.
The Ruger 10/22 carbine is a favorite among shooters and small game hunters for several reasons—accuracy, weight, and reliability are key among them. What the 10/22 offers that so many rifles in its class do not is the ability to easily customize it to fit your specific needs and shooting style. So, if your 10/22 has been gathering dust, maybe it’s time to pull it out, shake it off, and treat it to some of the modifications we just mentioned. Who knows…you may rediscover the excitement and low-cost fun of rimfire shooting!