Long Distance Marksmanship

When it comes to long range shooting accuracy there are a lot of small factors that can have a big impact on your accuracy and the success of your shot. You might even need to tap into those high school physics classes you slept through and crunch some numbers if you really want to make a long shot. World class snipers are known for a keen attention to detail among other things that makes it possible to hit a target over a mile away. How does one go about making the necessary measurements and calculations to make such difficult shots? It’s important to first recognize what factors will change your bullet’s trajectory and then understand how to change your aim to compensate. Here we’ll look at some of the different factors that come into play when shooting long distances and how you can learn to calculate your own shots.

Wind

When it comes to wind it’s important to recognize when it will be a problematic factor for making a long shot. Typically, when wind is steady it can be easily calculated and won’t be a huge issue for an experienced marksman. However, gusty and unpredictable winds can make even the most professional snipers lose their accuracy. Now, imagine a target 1,000 yards away with a windspeed of 5 m.p.h. moving perfectly perpendicular to the target. How much will this cause your bullet to drift? Assuming a caliber between .45 and .90 with a velocity of 1,300 feet per second the bullet will drift a full 75 inches. Each additional mile per hour increase in wind speed will add another 15 inches of drift. Of course this is a textbook example but the basic idea remains the same for real life conditions. With some basic math and geometry you can get a general idea for how much the wind will impact your bullet’s trajectory in a real life scenario.

Temperature

This is one factor that might often be overlooked by amateur marksmen. In general warm air is less dense than cool air and will experience less of an elevation drop and will even retain more of its kinetic energy upon arrival at the target. Using the same scenario as before with a target 1,000 yards away we can get a general idea of just how much the air temperature will impact the accuracy of a long range shot. Again, using a bullet caliber between .45 and .90 and a velocity of 1,300 feet per second a bullet will drop 1,700 inches at a temperature of 40 F, 1,650 inches at a temperature of 60 F, and 1,600 inches at a temperature of 80 F. This works out to an decreased drop of 50 inches per 20 degrees Fahrenheit over 1,000 yards. In terms of impact energy every increase in temperature by 20 degrees yields about an extra 40 joules. Additional temperature factors include the temperature of the barrel, the shooter, and the ammunition though these get a bit more complicated and much more difficult to calculate.

Humidity

This is one factor that is actual less important that you might think. The general reasoning is that humid air is going to be more dense because it is holding more water however this is not the case. In fact, humid air is less dense than dry air. Here we’ll look at the same scenario before and we can see just how much humidity will impact a long shot’s accuracy. The difference of elevation drop between 100% and 0% humidity (over 1,000 yards with a bullet velocity of 1,300 ft/s) is only 5 inches. Compare this to a 20 degree change in temperature that causes an elevation drop difference of 50 inches and you can see how minimal of an impact humidity actually has.

Elevation

Lastly, another important factor is the elevation or barometric pressure of where you are making your shot. This can have a significant impact on your accuracy for the same reason that temperature does: air density. Assuming the same conditions as the rest of our examples a bullet at sea level will drop ~1,670 inches while one at 2,500 feet will drop ~1,640 inches and one at 5,000 feet will drop ~1,610 inches. As you can see and might have expected by now the increase in elevation means the air is less dense which causes the bullet to retain more energy and decrease its drop in elevation.

Gun Locks

When it comes to securing a firearm there are a ton of great options available aside from the often immovable gun safes. Gun locks are a great alternative when you need a more mobile security solution or something that will fit a more conservative budget. While it’s certainly no replacement for a safe it does make for some nice supplemental firearm security. The basic idea is quite simple: prevent the gun from firing so long as the lock is secured. Seems simple enough, right? It is. However, there are also a lot of different varieties available with different perks and drawbacks that could make a difference. Here we’ll look at how different gun locks operate and what to look for if interested in purchasing a gun lock.

Trigger Locks

This is perhaps the most controversial gun lock available that recently gained publicity through the supreme court case D.C. vs Heller in 2008. The basic gist of it is a small locking mechanism that is placed over the trigger of a gun that prevents the trigger from being activated. In theory it’s a great idea with a low impact and great potential to make firearms safer but there is one worrisome caveat. Trigger locks are notorious for being used improperly and resulting is dangerous misfires. Imagine a loaded revolver with a trigger lock and a cocked hammer. You can’t lower the hammer without access to the trigger nor can you open the cylinder with the cocked hammer which leaves you in a precarious situation having to remove a trigger lock very carefully on an armed weapon. Hopefully the trigger lock design will be amended in the future but for now there are a number of safer alternatives available for securing a firearm.

Cable Locks

With the black sheep of gun locks out of the way it’s time to move onto the more trusted designs available for safely securing a firearm. The tried and tested method and almost ubiquitously endorsed method for securing a firearm is the cable lock. The great part about this is that it’s not even a special ‘gun specific’ design but rather just a clever method for rendering a firearm inoperable with a basic cable lock. So, how does it work? A cable lock is simply a braided metal cable that is secured with a padlock or combination lock that is threaded through the ejection port and out the magazine port of semi-automatic pistols. This means that the firearm cannot return to battery nor have an inserted magazine. A cable lock can even be used on a revolver to prevent the cylinder from closing or on rifles with some clever attachment.

Bore Locks

This is another interesting approach to securing a firearm with a simple locking mechanism that is inserted into the bore of the firearm. These are basically long slender pieces of metal that are inserted through the bore of a pistol that prevent the chamber from being loaded as well as prevent the cylinder from rotating in the case of revolvers. These are typically equipped with a key for locking purposes. In general the biggest perks of having a bore lock is it is the quickest way to go from inoperable to operable while still maintaining a high level of security when locked.

How to Disable a Firearm

While earlier we looked at a number of different gun locks available there are also a lot of different methods for rendering a firearm inoperable without a lock. Knowing how to disable a firearm temporarily is a very important skill and will make you a more knowledgeable and safer firearm owner. Additionally, there are some interesting methods for permanently rendering a firearm inoperable (deactivating) that may come in handy under certain circumstances. Here we’ll look at different ways to safely and effectively disable a firearm. This is a fundamental skill when it comes to firearm safety and something every firearm owner should at least have some rudimentary knowledge about.

Permanent Inoperability

There’s a big difference in methods when it comes to rendering a gun inoperable temporarily compared to permanently. Permanently rendering a firearm inoperable is typically a good solution when you want to display a firearm or you plan on regularly using it for safety demonstrations. There are a few different methods for permanently rendering a firearm inoperable that we’ll look at here. Firstly and probably the most common method is removing the firing pin (the part of the firearm that transfers contact from the hammer to the live round) and welding the hold closes. This method is viable for most guns. If the firing pin cannot be removed it can be ground down or cut so that it cannot make contact with the ammunition chamber. Another option to permanently render a firearm inoperable is to prevent a round from being chambered by welding a small steel bar in or across the ammunition chamber. This is a slightly less eloquent solution but equally effective in rendering a firearm permanently inoperable.

Temporary Inoperability

One method that is very popular for temporarily rendering a firearm inoperable is the use of gun locks. There are a lot of different types of locks available that are all very effective in making sure your firearm won’t be able to discharge live ammunition while locked. In general for a firearm lock to be legally recognized as temporarily inoperable the key needs to be stored separately from the firearm. Another very simple method is to remove any and all ammunition and store it separately. Lastly, there are a number of crucial parts on any firearm that can be removed to temporarily render it inoperable. This includes: the firing pin, the breech block, or the bolt among others. If you have any experience field stripping a weapon this should be a relatively easy task.

Biometric Finger Scanners

Biometric locking mechanisms are quickly becoming a favorite for gun and gun safe owners. There are numerous perks to this kind of locking mechanism that really outshine the competition for your home gun safe. The main perk is the quick and easy access that can be granted with a fingerprint scanning lock. This kind of locking mechanism is best suited for gun owners that keep their firearm in a safe for purposes of home security. Biometric locking mechanisms can be outfitted on any kind of safe; and are even in recent years being used for laptop computers and automobiles.

Imagine the scenario of a home intruder late at night in your suburban home and in your moment of panic you cannot properly enter your combination safe in a timely manner or you fumble with your digital keypad and the automatic lock down goes into effect. With a biometric finger scanner you have the quickest and easiest way to access your gun safe in case of a home emergency requiring self defense for you and your family.

The additional perks of a biometric fingerprint scanning mechanism is that it can be programmed to read a variety of fingerprints including those of your family as well. In the past these have been at times untrustworthy and inaccurate but with advancements in technology these scanners are quickly becoming incredibly reliable. Biometric locking mechanisms are quickly coming to represent the pinnacle of avant-garde home security.

Furthermore it is possible for those seeking additional security to pair a biometric lock with a digital keypad. This allows for additional security and a wide range of customizable options. Also, biometric locks are not solely limited to fingerprint scanning but can also include retinal scanning, voice recognition, or even face recognition. For the purposes of a gun safe, fingerprint scanning is likely the quickest and most accurate of the bunch but there are many options to choose from.

Bear in mind the perks of a biometric locking mechanism when you plan to purchase your next home gun safe. The ease of access it provides could be the difference between a thwarted robbery or a dangerous situation for your family.

Military Surplus

It’s no secret that being a hobbyist gun owner can be expensive. There are tons of peripherals that seem to just add up over time and might be putting a dent in your wallet. One often overlooked way to pick up gear for cheap, however, is military surplus. This is equipment that has been retired or discarded from the army and is being sold at discount prices to the general public. This equipment may not be the top of the line but it’ll be cheap, usually fairly well made, and generally you can find tons of great stuff with lots of applicable uses. Military surplus stores can be found all across the country and here we’ll look at a few different things that you’ll likely be able find and might make for a good and cheap purchase.

Clothing

Clothing and camouflage is generally ubiquitous among military surplus stores. This means boots, hats, pants, shirts, jackets, and pretty much everything. This gear is usually cheap to purchase and generally of a ‘practical’ quality. It will be sturdy and well made but perhaps not the highest quality available. This gear is great for hunting and camping. Additionally there is a lot of tactical gear that can be bought which includes vests, belts, helmets, backpacks, gas masks, and all sorts of goodies. Check it out and you might just be surprised what you’ll find.

Survival Gear

For any survivalists out there you might want to think about becoming friends with the employees at your local military surplus store. There are tons of great options for those who are interested in preparing for the unknown catastrophes of the future. You can buy bulk emergency meal kits, medical kits, compasses, water purification systems, and all sorts of goodies that’ll come in handy in the event of a disaster. I was even able to find a radiation detector while browsing military surplus online.

Camping

Military surplus is also a great boon for all of the campers and hunters out there. You can buy tents, mosquito nets, backpacks, boots, lanterns, flashlights, camo, cots, canteens, rope, and more at most military surplus stores. Camping equipment can be quite expensive when you shop at some of the high end retailers and it really shouldn’t be when you can pick up most of the same stuff for half the price at military surplus. While it might not be name brand it will certainly get the job done.

Firearm Peripherals

Lastly, there’s lots of good gun peripherals to be bought as well. Some stores will sell ammunition though this is actually less common. More likely you will be able to find hard and soft cases, sights, grips, holsters, ammo cans, slings, and much more. Really, you never know what you’ll find but there will always be a lot to choose from. Check out military surplus next time you’re looking for a budget solution to a need for gear.

Sport Shooting

For the competitive spirits out there it might be time to check out sport shooting. If you think you’re the fastest or the most accurate shot around it might be time to really put it to the test and see if you’ve got what it takes. There are a huge number of fun sub-categories to competitive shooting so it’s likely you can find a niche for yourself and some wholesome competition. Here we’ll look at some of the basics and how to get involved in competitive shooting; it can be a great way to learn about local gun culture and firearm safety.

Shooting is a serious sport. It has been a staple of the summer olympics since its inception in 1896. The lineup has changed over time and many of the subcategories have come and gone during that time but shooting has always remained. It might not take the same athleticism as some sports but the concentration, dedication, and precision are all qualities of sport shooting that are unparalleled by other sports. Current sub-genres being practiced at the summer olympics are: 10 meter air pistol / air rifle, double trap, 50 meter pistol, 25 meter rapid fire pistol, 50 meter rifle prone, 3 position 50 meter rifle, skeet, and trap. If you’re very serious these are going to be the most important to practice.

So, how do you get started? The first step is pretty simple: learn to shoot. The basic hub for your initial foray into the world of shooting is likely going to be a local shooting range. This is where you will begin to practice shooting as well as where you can find help, clubs, teams, and like-minded individuals to help keep the competitive spirit alive. There are youth shooting clubs available in most places that will place a high emphasis on safety as well as local adult leagues where you can compete for small prizes and, of course, prestige.

While you can certainly pick much of this up as you go it also might be a good idea to get a look at some of the basic rules of sport shooting before you begin. The largest governing body for sport shooting is the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) which is where you’ll be able to find most of the basic guidelines as well as upcoming competitions and pretty much everything you need for sport shooting. It’s another great way to begin though in general it’s going to be catered towards the more serious competition while as an amateur you’ll be better off in your own local scene for some time.

So, check it out. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to instill some discipline in today’s rowdy youth. Sport shooting is highly regulated and not dangerous. All it takes to get involved is get out there and find some friends or join a club and start shooting!

Brand Breakdown: Fort Knox

You’ve surely heard the name before. Synonymous with security, Fort Knox safes have been called the ‘Cadillac’ of gun safes and for good reason. With lifetime warranties and impeccable build quality Fort Knox lives up to the name. What exactly is the story behind this brand though? Here we’ll look at some of the history behind this brand of gun safes and find out exactly what sets it apart from the rest.

Warranty

Fort Knox safes are about as all American as it gets. Named after America’s iconic symbol of security, Fort Knox safes have been designed and manufactured in America for over 30 years. In this time Fort Knox has been an industry leader in reliable innovation as well as customer service and satisfaction. With great pride in their product, Fort Knox offers the single most comprehensive lifetime warranty available for any home or commercial safe. The Fort Knox lifetime guarantee includes burglary, fire, flood, incidental damage, and even lock and paint. With the conviction to stand behind their product and high quality American engineering, Fort Knox safes have quickly become a fan favorite for gun safe enthusiasts.

Innovation

Among the many innovative features utilized by Fort Knox safes, the most intriguing is perhaps their patented rack and pinion gear driven locking mechanism. This is one of the most technically sophisticated pieces of mechanical engineering to make its way into home or commercial safes. The basic idea is a series of gears (sometimes even coming with a clutch on the handle) that convert rotational motion into linear motion. Today this method is commonly used in the steering mechanisms for modern cars as well as some bank vaults. This method is generally believed to be stronger, more precise, and require less maintenance than alternatives.

Quality

In addition to innovation, Fort Knox doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality materials. The best part is that virtually every piece of Fort Knox safes are customizable and upgradeable. You can even upgrade the steel used to ArmaKnox Ballistic Metal (three times stronger than mild steel with a level three ballistics rating) or simply increase the thickness. Fort Knox safes come with 90 minute fire protection (tested at 1680 F) with two sets of intumescent seals.

Now for the bad part. These safes are not cheap (as you probably expected). Especially true in the world of safes and vaults is that you get what you pay for. Fort Knox are top of the line premium products designed explicitly for the consumer that needs the best. That said, if you can afford it Fort Knox will not disappoint.

Installing a Home Wall Safe

Installing a safe into your wall can be a fun home project that is manageable with a little bit of research and some do-it-yourself know how. Everyone secretly wants to have a sleek wall safe hidden behind a knock-off Van Gogh in their lounge or den and with this simple guide you can be on your way to a cool new approach to holding your valuables. Bear in mind that while fairly basic, this project may be best suited for a professional if you do not feel especially comfortable with home do-it-yourself projects.

The first step is buying a safe. It is important for it to be small enough to fit between the studs in your wall and shallow enough to fit between walls. There are specially constructed safes specifically for in-wall installation that are highly recommended for this project. These safes are typically more shallow and come with pre-drilled holes for securing it to the studs. It is important before buying your wall safe to get an approximate idea of the distance between studs at the intended location.

Next you are going to use a stud finder to locate the studs in your wall in the location in your house that you want to have your wall safe. It is important at this time to take measurements of your safe to ensure that both the width. height, and depth are going to be able to fit into the designated area. Additionally make sure that there are no electrical or plumbing fixtures where you want to install your safe.

Using a drywall saw and a level or straight-edge you are going to create an opening in your wall. It is advisable to begin with a small hole so that you can check for plumbing or electrical fixtures. Once you are sure that the location is good you are going to cut a hole the same size as the rear dimensions of your safe.

Depending on the space between your studs and your drywall opening it may be necessary to fill in the extra space with shims or small pieces of plywood so that your safe will sit flush against the studs. Finally you will place the safe in your wall and secure it to the studs with screws. It may be necessary to drill small pilot holes in your studs before hand. Once you have done this you can install shelves if desired and you now have a home wall safe. Hopefully this project doesn’t seem too daunting. It is always a little bit intimidating when you have to cut holes in your wall but this project should be fairly manageable for most people.

Gun Safe Overview: The MonsterVault

Is there a monster under your bed? There should be! The monster vault is a new and innovative under-bed safe designed specifically to keep your firearms close by, secure, and hidden. It’s like the little brother of the bed bunker and another highly effective way to manage and store your firearms (or anything for that matter!). The monster vault brings an interesting take on the gun safe and presents a unique solution to the gun owner’s dilemma. Firearm owners have always wanted 3 basic things when it comes to a safe: security, proximity, and space though typically they have had to compromise for two out of three but not anymore. Here we’ll look at some of the basics of the monster vault and the details of what makes this a unique and interesting solution for gun owners.

Dimensions

Outside: 7” H x 48” W x 28” D.

Inside: 5” H x 44.5” W x 26” D.

Interior Cubic Feet: 3.35.

Weight: 140 pounds.

Build Details

The monster vault is constructed with a double wall design of cold rolled steel with a minimum wall thickness of ⅛”. The basic design is a shallow box with a single drawer that slides in and out on rollers (it is important to note that the drawer’s glide capacity is limited to 100 pounds). The monster vault comes with a programmable digital combination lock and two half inch steel rods for a secure locking mechanism. Additionally the monster vault comes with pre-drilled access holes for floor mounting. Finally the monster vault is finished with a black powder coating inside and out to give it a cool sleek design. The bad news, however, is that the monster vault has no protection against fire or water damage. There is no fire rating and while it shouldn’t have any trouble with light condensation it will not react well to submersion in liquid.

As for burglar protection the monster vault has surpassed the California Department of Justice’s construction standard for gun safes. This is a good sign and bodes well for the quality of the monster vault’s construction.

The Perks

There’s a lot of great things about this safe that can be attributed to its very clever design. Finally gun owners have a secure way to store their long guns without investing in a 1,000 pound stand up gun cabinet. This is a pretty big development and the monster vault is poised to fill this gap in the market with style. Additionally, and a very important point to make, is that the monster vault can be easily placed into most SUVs or trucks with relative ease. Again, there is a lack of serious security options when it comes to vehicles so it’s great to see another innovation available. All in all the monster vault presents a breath of fresh air in a world where the basic design for safes hasn’t changed in 100 years. There’s a lot of potential uses for the monster vault and so far reviews have been positive.

Long Term Gun Storage

If you’ve got a firearm collection that you are planning to store for extended periods of time there’s some important details about maintenance that you should heed to make sure your guns will make it to the future unhindered by damage or rust. When it comes down to it one of the most important parts of storing firearms is the initial condition they are in when you put them into storage. Of course there’s some basic regular maintenance and checkups to ensure all is going to plan but the crux of long term storage is about the maintenance and cleaning before you even begin storage. Here we’ll look at some of the problems that may appear during long term storage and how to prepare your firearms for storage with thorough cleaning and maintenance beforehand.

Humidity Control

Controlling the interior humidity levels in your gun safe is an important aspect of antique firearm storage that is especially critical for older antique guns. Moisture over time can cause rust on the metal parts and cracks in wooden stocks. The simplest solution is to store your antique gun with desiccant packs that will absorb moisture and keep the humidity under control in your home gun safe. Another option is to keep a dehumidifier with your antique guns. This will have the same effect though will be more expensive than desiccant packs. As a bonus though, unlike desiccant packs, you won’t have to replace an electric dehumidifier periodically.

Temperature Control

While it may not be practical for most gun collectors to diligently control the temperature of their antique guns; the most important aspect is consistency and stability. Drastic changes in temperature can be damaging to antique firearms. Rapid swells in temperature can cause expansion and retraction in wood which may cause cracks and other damage.

Protective Coating

There are a lot of different products on the market to protectively coat the exterior of your antique firearm. Most experts recommend a thin coat of wax to create a protective layer that will not harm the gun. Different oils will often be advertised for this purpose but have the potential to seep into a wooden stock and cause damage. A thin layer can be used on both wooden and metal parts of the gun without damage.

There are a lot of different ways to keep your gun in pristine condition. The above offers only a short insight into the world of proper care and maintenance for firearms. Seasoned gun collectors will likely be your best resource on the matter; so if you’re new in the game find a club or a group of enthusiasts and you’ll have no problem finding information to help secure your investment and keep your hobby alive.