Guns! Nothing gets me talking (rambling) more than talking guns and gun accessories. I love hunting and all the different shooting disciplines. It’s been while since my last match but shooting PRS style matches was one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday.
As the firearm industry gets more and more popular, manufactures seem to be popping up everywhere trying to cash in on this massive $13.5 billion dollar industry. Nature of the beast, a good chunk of these manufactures are going to produce crap. Hopefully I can help you navigate what to avoid and what to look for in certain guns and gun accessories.
You did all your research, went to the store two or three times to see how multiple different pistols felt in your hand. Hopefully you were able to test fire a couple, either way you finally made your purchase. Now its time to find a comfortable way to carry that new pistol.
One of the main reason gun owners do not carry (concealed or open) is because it can be uncomfortable if you do not have the correct holster for your carry style or for your body type. Holster fitment is critical. If you are constantly adjusting, printing, or not even carrying then you need to reevaluate your holster.
The main style of holsters can mostly be narrowed down to IWB (inside the waistband) and OWB (outside the waistband). There are of coarse others such as shoulder, ankle, purse etc.
Inside the waistband or IWB holsters are the main go-to style of holster for people who wish to conceal carry. Typically made out of leather to help combat sweat, IWB holsters are usually quite a bit smaller than OWB holsters. While there are several styles, most opt for either the appendix carry, or the small standard IWB with a single outbound clip.
When fitting a IWB holster it is important to be able to sit, stand, get in your car etc without having to adjust. While shopping online or at the store it can be difficult to test these things without buying but most places will allow returns as long as you do not break in the leather.
Another thing to be aware of with a IWB holster is printing. Printing is when you are conceal carrying, IWB or OWB, and others can visible see the out line of your pistol through your shirt. This is typically not the holsters fault as most people have to adjust the clothing they wear once they start conceal carrying. Nonetheless, it’s something to consider when buying a IWB holster as some ride up higher than others, causing printing depending on your body type.
Outside the waistband or OWB holsters are my personal favorite. OWB holsters are typically on the outside of your pants on the side of your dominant shooting hand. Some prefer to run on the opposite hip for a cross draw but this is fairly rare.
OWB holsters, unlike IWB holsters, are made in a huge variety of materials. From leather to kydex to molded plastic OWB holsters can be made in multiple materials since they are not pressing directly against your skin like a IWB holster would.
A common misconception is that you cannot conceal carry with a OWB holster. While it is more difficult to conceal with one it is definitely not impossible. Conceal carrying with a OWB holster is going to be heavily reliant on how high and tight the holster holds to your body. Personally, I prefer an FBI cant with a super tight fit to my hip. This usually makes it so the muzzle of the pistol is only below my belt line by a couple inches depending on which pistol I’m carrying.
When hunting or out in the field, I tuck my shirt in and the pistol is fully exposed making for easy draws. When just out and about, a light jacket, longer shirt or an over shirt is typically enough for full concealment.
Those that have been shooting a while know that a rifle sling has much more purpose to a shooter than just providing an easy way to transport and carry a rifle. Slings are a vital tool for any positional shooter and should be used as such.
Bolt Action Slings
Not long ago a traditional leather sling attached with two swivel studs was the standard type of sling. Adjustments were made similar to a backpack or belt strap. While slings like that certainly have their place and for some it is still a preferred design, many updates and innovations have happened since.
For the most part bolt action slings still utilize a 2 point design where the sling attaches towards the front of the stock and again at the rear. Where they are differing today is adding features like quick adjust, anti swivel flush cups, bungee, quick release, arm cuff, etc.
Quick Adjust Sling – typically means the sling can either loosen or tighten with use of one arm while the shooter is wearing the sling. The benefit behind it is the shooter can have the sling loose while carrying over his shoulder then quickly get into his shooting position and tightening the sling for a stable shot.
Anti Swivel Flush Cups – Most long range shooters have a bipod taking up the swivel stud underneath the forend of his rifle. This led to the development of the flush cup. The flush cup is a bush button type attachment method that is extremely strong and easy to use with one hand.
Bungee – We all know what a bungee is, but in the context of a rifle sling it acts as a tensioning device when trying to hold your rifle steady for a shot. These have proved very handy for when shooting off barricades or even prone without a bipod (unsupported prone). When using a sling with a bungee integrated into it, the shooter typically will shoot with the sling around his back, similar to how he would if shooting an ar15 from the muzzle down position.
Quick Release – Some slings feature buckles midway through them. These can have multiple functions. The obvious is if there is ever something caught or stuck on the sling you have a quick way to release the tension on it if disconnecting form the stock isn’t an option. Secondly, quick release buckles are very common on slings that feature arm cuffs. More on that later. Lastly, some slings with quick release buckles will place the buckles wards the end of the sling. This is so different attachment methods can quickly be changed.
Arm Cuff – The arm cuff is just an additional method of stabilization when shooting unsupported or supported. Featured typically on slings with quick release buckles, the shooter will slide his support arm into the cuff and tighten above the bicep. The shooter will then bring his or her elbow close to the body to create tension on the rifle, stabilizing it for a shot. This can be used in any unsupported position.
Ar15 slings can utilize many features that slings primarily used for bolt action rifles use as well. The main difference is many shooters have been converting to the muzzle down method of carrying their ar15. The main benefit of this is it is extremely quick to bring the rifle up into the ready position. It is also a hands free way to carry.
The main types of AR15 slings are 2 point, single point and hybrid.
2 point AR15 slings– Attaches at the front of the rail and on the stock typically. Usually utilize flush cups or HK style hooks. Can use bungee, arm cuffs, quick breaks etc as features. User typically can carry muzzle down on the front of their body or muzzle up behind their shoulder.
Single Point- Usually attaches around where the castle nut is on the buffer tube. Usually has a bungee integrated into it for additional stability. Utilizes flush cups or HK style hooks. Not the best for carrying long distances unless user can stabilize with their offhand. A popular choice for SBR or other short barreled rifles or AR15’s.
Hybrid- A hybrid sling has the ability to be ran as a 2 point as well as a single point. Slings that can do this usually utilize the Magpul MS4 connector or HK style hooks with an additional D loop for connecting one of the hooks. These are great if you do not know what style of sling you like and want to try both methods without buying both slings. Once you figure out the carry style you prefer, you typically do not switch around however.
Shooting mats are a fairly new piece of gear most rifle shooters are adding to their gear arsenal. Before, most would lay out a tarp or old strip of carpet they had laying around. These days we have dedicated mats designed for shooting.
Upsides to shooting mats: Shooting mats keep the shooter off the ground and give them one less outside element to worry about when trying to make a precise shot. Most quality mats can be reused for many years.
Downsides to shooting mats: Most padded shooting mats can be too large to carry for long range hunting, nor is there typically time to setup a mat when rushing to get a last minute shot off on game.
Shooting Accessories & Tools
There are various accessories and tools that many shooters like to utilize to get more consistent shots. Most of the tools I’m going to focus on are used by long range shooters as close range shooting doesn’t have as many external variables to worry about.
Few things throw long distance shooters off than the wind. In most cases it is an ever changing variable where you must make a decision in an instant on how to react to it.
With elevation, once we know our velocity we are able to through that and our bullet information into our ballistic calculators and we’ll have our drop. Simple enough, as the only thing that can vary our drop is the barometric pressure.
With wind, we must have a good sense for how its blowing where we are and also several points down range. A good wind meter will let you know the wind speed at your current location which allows you to at least have a base speed to go off of when adjusting for your shot.
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