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Volume 13, Issue 4 May
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti

     My article on guns safes must have hit a responsive note as several readers have called or e-mailed to relate their own experiences in shopping for a gun safe. These experiences illustrated a couple of points that I didn’t cover in the article. For instance: 

     Delivery. When buying a gun safe, look for a full service dealer. What’s that? It’s a dealer that not only sells safes, but will deliver and install the safe as well. Most people just don’t have the right kind of transportation to haul a 1600 pound safe from the dealer to their homes, much less the specialized equipment to safely unload it out of the rear end of a pick up. Now once you’ve got it out of the truck, how do you lug it up the front stairs. A full service dealer can do all that for you.   

     If you’re buying your safe out of a catalog, you’ll note that there will be an extra charge for “driver’s assistance” in getting the safe into the house. Once it’s in the house, you’re on your own. If you don’t pay the extra fee, the driver’s only obligation then is to drop it on the driveway and that’s it. 

     Installation. Before you even start to bring the safe into your house, there are some things to consider. First, where are you going to put it? Safes are heavy. Some times they’re really, really heavy. Is the floor where you want to place the safe strong enough to support its weight? If you live in an older house, maybe it’s not, and it needs some reinforcing before you take delivery. Perhaps the floor needs some reinforcing just to accommodate the tie down bolts as well? 

     Another basic question to ask is “Can you get the safe through the front door without ripping out the frame?” Take some measurements before you go to visit the dealer. 

     Do you have the tools, knowledge, and most importantly, the inclination to install the tie down bolts for the safe? Look for a dealer that can do that for you. It’s extra, but they’ve done it a million times before and can do it for you with a minimum amount of hassle. 

     Service. If you need warrantee service, can the dealer handle it promptly? Safes rarely need it, but when it happens it’s usually not a small thing. 

     The bottom line is to look for that full service dealer. They can take a lot of the hassle out of your buying experience. If you live in an area that just doesn’t have a full service dealer, do some planning ahead of time and line up some burley friends (a case of beer and big plate of sandwiches often helps). Many thanks to Dave Taylor from Idaho and the many others who called or wrote. 

Weaver V-16

     Some number of months ago, I did a review of the mechanical and optical differences between a rifle scope and an airgun scope. I also included a matrix of the features that were offered by the various scope manufacturers. In that matrix, I showed that Weaver rifle scopes were not suitable for use on airguns. 

     Shortly after the article appeared, I was talking to a friend at Blount headquarters (now ATK) about the situation when he said that he wanted to check something with the Weaver engineers and would call me back. The following day he called to say that the engineers thought that the Weaver V-16 model, while not specifically designed for airgun use, was built in such a way that it should be able to handle the double recoil of a spring type air gun. However, they had never tested it for such an application. Would I be interested in doing so? I said “sure”, and so a V-16 showed up on my doorstep about a week later. 

     The V-16 is a very nice 4 X 16, target style scope marketed primarily for varmint hunting. It falls in the middle range of things price-wise ($250 -$275) and is an excellent value for the money. The target knobs are nice and high and the clicks very positive. It also comes with a very nice sun shade. More importantly, the image that it provides the shooter is bright, clear, and impressively crisp. 

     In fact I was so impressed with the sight picture I did a side by side comparison with a similar Leopold scope and could see no difference between the two. Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I wrapped a towel around each scope to mask their identities and asked two other people to look through them and judge which provided the better sight picture. Both people said they thought they were about the same with one person giving a slight edge to the Weaver. When I unwrapped the towels, both persons were surprised that one of the scopes was a Weaver. 

     In my article I said that an airgun scope had to do two things. Focus down to 10 meters and be able to withstand the double recoil of a spring type air gun. In order to see how the Weaver test scope would stand up to these requirements, I mounted it on my RWS Model 45 spring air rifle using a set of high BSA scope mounts and a Gamo scope stop. 

     The RWS M45 is a powerful, heavy duty air rifle with an advertised velocity of 1000 fps. Scopes take a true pounding when mounted on this rifle. The plan was to fire approximately 25 rounds per day through the gun for 90 days straight to see how the V-16 would hold up during real world conditions, and that’s exactly what I did.  Problems? None. Based on my own experience, I’d say that the Weaver is tough enough to do the job. 

     I also instantly found that the V-16 when adjusted to its highest power setting can not only focus to 10 meters, it can actually go down to around 8 meters. Image quality is just as nice at 10 meters as it is at 100 and beyond.   

     The bottom line here is if you want a middle priced scope that offers high quality performance that you can use for your big bore, small bore, or even your airguns, the V-16 deserves your close consideration. 

Kudos to Uncle Mike’s

     Everyone has their own way of hauling their ammo and gear to and from the range. Personally, I’ve always favored range bags, especially those made by Uncle Mike’s. Particularly, I’ve been using their model #5247-1, which is their Police/Sportsman Equipment Bag. It’s primarily designed as a personal equipment bag for police officers. 

     This bag is big. It measures 18.5” X 12” X 7.5” and is made from tough, 600 denier, water resistant nylon. I can stuff my fat Nikon 80mm spotting scope, bench tripod, screwdriver kit, notebooks, ammo, glasses, targets, marking pens, feeler gauges, lens cleaner, pens and a million other things in this baby and still have room left over. 

     The bag is not only large, but it comes with rigid plastic panels that go into the bottom and the two sides to mold it into a true rectangular box shape.

     As a result, it’s easier and more efficient to load and unload, and finding that elusive little gizmo that always seems to be hiding in one of the corners is a lot easier than it would be otherwise. If you’d rather have a bag with soft, loose sides for easier stowing in small spaces, no problem. Just remove the panels. There’s also lots of zippered pockets on the front, sides, and lid of the bag for even more gizmos and thingamabobs. 

     I’ve had my bag for about 6 or 7 years now and it’s given great service, but my bad habit of tying to stuff 50 pounds of gear in a 20 pound bag finally caused the main zipper to split apart. I really loved that bag and so there was no way that I wanted to give it up. So I called Uncle Mike’s to see if they could repair it. I was ready to pay whatever it cost. I didn’t care. I wanted my bag to be whole again. 

     To my utter surprise, they said to return the bag and they’d replace it for free!  Now that’s what I call customer service!  Well, they gave me a product return number for the old bag and I shipped it off back to the factory. In about 2 weeks time, I had a brand new bag in return. To my delight, I found that the main zipper had been upgraded over the years and was now beefier and more robust than the old one. Once more, the double zipper pulls on the main zipper on the top and the two large side pockets have been redesigned so when together, you can pass a small pad lock through them to secure the bag if you wish. Before I couldn’t say enough nice things about this product, now I can’t say enough nice things about their customer support. Hats off to Uncle Mike’s!

     There’s a certain kind of internet user who loves to circulate rumors and conspiracy theories. These people are instantly ready to believe  preposterous stories, inaccurate stories, misleading stories, or stories which are sometimes deliberate, malicious lies. Their philosophy seems to be “If I heard it on the internet, it must be true and it’s my duty to spread it around as much as possible. After all, I’m just trying to help people”. Sure you are.

The Sky is Falling (Yawn) Again

     The latest bit of silliness involves the most insidious type of distortion - the half truth. It goes like this. The Canadian supplier of powders to IMR has gone bankrupt. IMR Powders are going to disappear. Better stockpile all you can now before it’s all gone. 

     Yes, the Canadian supplier of IMR’s extruded powders, a company called EXPRO, did go bankrupt. In fact, this was actually the second time that happened. The first time, the local Provincial Government, the Canadian Federal Government, and the various labor unions involved, bailed them out. 

     There was just no way the Canadian government was going to let them go under at that time, or this time either for that matter. EXPRO is only one of two extruded powder manufacturers on the whole North American continent, and as such, they’re a critical supplier to the Canadian military. They also make the mini, rocket motor-like gas generators used to inflate automotive air bags, and as such, are also vital to the country’s automotive industry. Lastly, It also happens to be one of the largest employers in the somewhat remote region where it’s located, an area where there are very few employers of any significant size at all. 

     In a deal brokered by the Canadian Federal Government, the assets of EXPRO, were sold on Dec 6, 2001 to SNC TEC, a very large military ammunition manufacturer for the Canadian army and NATO. SNC TEC, which used to be owned by the Canadian government before they let it go public, makes artillery, tank, and aircraft ammo, as well as small arms ammo, mines, mortar shells, training rounds, etc. etc. All of the key EXPRO personnel have been retained by SNC TEC and, most importantly, powder production has not been interrupted, nor will it be interrupted. End of story. Now what am I supposed to do with this 200 pounds of  IMR 4759? 

California Nuts & Dan Wesson

     A “safety” law recently went into effect in California which requires that all handguns being commercially sold in the state to meet strict, functional mechanical requirements - supposedly to ensure that the guns will operate properly when used. I guess the nuts in the state legislature wanted to be sure that the Saturday Night specials favored by the gang bangers will function in a reliable fashion while they’re murdering each other and the innocent. 

     In order to meet those requirements, a manufacturer must furnish guns, ammo, spare parts etc. to the state for the required testing and in addition, pay California an exorbitant amount of money for the privilege of doing so. The president of Dan Wesson once mentioned to me that it would cost his company over $300,00 to get his guns tested. However, without this testing, no handguns can be commercially sold in the state. (I’d like to see them pull this stunt on the automobile industry).

     However, there’s a loophole. For some reason, single action revolvers are exempted from this requirement. (There’s been some speculation that the single action cowboy shooters successfully lobbied for this exemption, although I haven't been able to confirm this.) Consequently, Dan Wesson is making available a single action version of all of its revolvers for sale in California. In fact, the 32 H&R Magnum Dan Wesson that I evaluated in these pages last year was actually a single action. Originally, the gun was sent to me before the law went into effect as a standard, double action model, but as an experiment, I converted it to a single action through the removal of two very small parts. The gun functioned perfectly as a single action and accuracy was not affected in any way. 

     So if you’re a California silhouette shooter and you want to buy a Dan Wesson, fear not. You can special order a “California Model”  single action through your local gun shop or FFL holder with no problem. Just have them call the factory direct to do so. 

Mac 1 Pellet Wax

     Lead Fouling in an airgun? You bet. You won’t see it but it’s there and it’s affecting the accuracy of your gun. I remember the first time I pulled a patch on a piece of fishing line through one of my air gun barrels. It came out as black as the devil’s heart. I was totally flabbergasted. I had no idea that kind of fouling could build up like that in an airgun. 

     MAC 1, one of the premier airgun distributors in the U.S., is run by Tim McMurray, one of the top air gun mechanics in the world. His shop is only about a 50 minute drive from where I live and so I drop by from time to time to buy supplies or an occasional new gun. Tim and his sidekick Steve always have time to chat and talk about this or that aspect of air gunning. There are very few subjects on air gunning that they’re not expert in. It’s really a cool place to visit. 

     Anyway, Tim is now distributing the first pellet wax product that I know of. Essentially, its a small plastic bottle containing a extremely thin wax lube that must be about the same weight as a light sewing machine oil or perhaps the new Iosso gun oil. It evidently was originally developed as a bicycle chain lube. The spray nozzle on the bottle is designed to dispense the lube in a very fine spray. To treat, stand the pellets in a group, head up, and give them a light mist from directly overhead. Don’t over do it and don’t spray the bottom side of the pellets. 

     To treat your barrel, first clean thoroughly, and then shoot the treated pellets through on a regular basis i.e. every shot or as little as every third or fourth shot. The wax is supposed to prevent lead from building up in the corners of the lands and thus preserve accuracy. After 500 shots, clean your barrel again and then go back to using the treated pellets. I haven't used this stuff yet, but plan to shortly. The suggested retail price is only $4 for a 2 ounce bottle which will last a long time. A $9 twelve ounce bottle will last a life time. Call 310-327-3582 for more info or visit them on the internet. 

Stoney Point Target Knobs

     These have been around a while, but surprisingly not that many silhouette shooters seem to be aware of this very useful product. Scope shooting has definitely become mainstream in silhouette competition these past couple of years. As we all well know, quality scopes can easily cost as much as the gun they’re mounted on, or more. Buying a scope with target knobs bumps up the price even more. However, there can be no doubt that target knobs are a highly desirable feature to have on a competition scope. They’re easy to grasp with no fumbling around when you want to crank in a sight setting change and the numbers and graduation markings on the turret are larger and much easier to see which helps to avoid mistakes. 

     If you already own a scope without target knobs, you always have the option of sending it back to the factory to get it upgraded. However, doing so is not inexpensive. Then there’s the time issue. It’s a fact of life that prior to certain hunting seasons, the repair departments of various scope manufacturers usually get inundated, and the wait to get your scope back can be easily 6 to 12 weeks. 

     Another less expensive and far more timely option is to use Stoney Point’s aftermarket target knobs. Originally manufactured only for Leupold scopes, they’re now available for a wide variety of brands including Burris, Tasco, and Simmons. My good friend Dr. Jim Williams first got me interested in this product. Turned out that he’d been using them on one of his silhouette  guns for some years now with perfect satisfaction. I had always assumed that the knobs on his scope were original equipment. Based on the scores he shoots, they obviously work well, so I got a set. 

     Installing them couldn’t be simpler. First remove the dust cover caps on your scope. Now grip the lower half of the Stoney Point knob and screw it down, insuring that the internal screwdriver like blade is in the coin slot of the elevation or windage turret of your scope. You want to make sure that one of the large hash marks on the bottom of the knob is facing directly to the rear (toward you, the shooter). This is your reference  point. You also want to be sure that the knob is tight against the dust cover rubber gasket on the scope so it doesn’t come loose when shooting. Now loosen the set screw on the top rim of the knob with the furnished allen wrench, and turn the top half of the knob until the “0” is aligned with your reference mark. Tighten the set screw, and that’s it. 

     Now if your scope is not equipped with clicks, the Stoney Point knobs won’t provide that capability. However, you will have all of the other advantages of a classic target knob and at a very reasonable cost. If your scope already does have clicks, the installation of the target knobs won’t degrade their operation in the least. In fact, the knobs actually seem to enhance the “feel” of the clicks. For more info call them at 507-354-3360 or visit them at (

Good luck and good shooting. Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.