Sportsman Gun Centre Blog

  • BOG Death Grip Tripods

    By Chris Parkin

    The BOG’s Death Grip tripods are available in aluminium and weight saving carbon fibre variants but are otherwise functionally identical. Starting out at the patented clamp, the rifle is held securely in a 115mm long saddle, with rubber lined walls 50mm high. The easily gripped 80mm triangular side handle clamps forends of width from 30 to 70mm, with firm rubber fins applying satisfactory grip without requiring excessive compression that might distort lighter synthetic rifle forends.

    An identical handle on the opposing side controls elevation/tilting tension to suit your rifle’s weight and balance point. Below, there is a 360-degree rotating axis to locate and track targets which can be locked in position by a 20mm handle if required after a bubble level helps align the intrinsically stable tripod on uneven ground by adjusting the leg length. Each of the three-segment telescopic legs in either carbon fibre or aluminium extends from 610 to 1515mm with independently tension adjustable locking levers. Both materials offer equally stiff support throughout descending diameter 35/31.3/28.4mm segments. A neoprene grip surrounds one of the legs for the off-gun hand. Each leg has a red, three-position aluminium locking stud traversing adjacent to the pivot axis, enabling 20-, 45- or 85-degree opening angle of the legs to further control height and span, especially helpful for working around obstructions on an uneven surface. This is a solid locking function and only needs the slightest of weight reduction on the particular leg to operate this latching mechanism, rather than having to fold legs inward slightly in this situation as some tripods require.

    Set at 20 degrees with full extension, the rifle clamp stands 1480mm from the ground, in contrast at 85 degrees and fully compressed, it’s just 220mm from the ground. That range covers any position from standing to prone as well as personal height variation and uneven ground or supporting surface or from kneeling and seated positions! Each foot offers a steel spike for extra grip on loose surfaces, the surrounding rubber spins anticlockwise to extend beyond the spike for grip on hard or easily damaged surfaces. A single rubber strap wraps around all three legs for transport minimising any noise when folded and all junctions can be individually tension adjusted, including the bearing supported rotating axis.

    The inherent grip of the rubber coated jaws prevents the need for excessive clamping force on the rifle forend which can tilt 45 degrees up or down. I didn’t miss a ball type head as when shooting in ambush situations for long periods (when shooting tripods seem of the greatest benefit), there is time to set up and level the head and rotating axis anyway. The independent axes also allow a compact format with less separation of the rifle’s mass from pivot location, aiding stability on this rifle specific, rather than photography derived head. Weight of the aluminium version is 3.9kg/8.6lbs, the carbon 3.6/7.9lbs with the latter also remaining slightly quieter if bumped and less thermally conductive in contact with skin in cold conditions.

    Price

    Aluminium £196.34

    Carbon Fibre £326.39

  • Elements Optics Helix 6-24x50 FFP, APR-2D MRAD

    By Chris Parkin

    It’s great to see Element Optics offering first as well as second focal plane riflescopes at most market price points to assure users of getting exactly the functionality they require. The Helix is just such a scope, with a smooth matt finish 30mm hard anodised maintube. The Helix is available in both Minute of Angle (M.O.A.) or Milliradian (MRAD) specification using corresponding reticle matching turret click values exactly, regardless of magnification setting. The turrets are particularly nice in that they are Tool-Free, once zeroed you can unscrew the cap on elevation and windage with just fingertips to remove the outer engraved marking dial and return it in position donating your exact zero. You will require a small, supplied Allen key to set up the zero-stop but this is fully visible, hence simply logical to set without any confusion or major disassembly. The turret’s column shows a vernier scale to indicate which overall elevation region you are dialled into with 18.9 MRAD or 65 MOA available overall depending on which model/units you choose. The Helix also includes a removable throw lever to aid speedy magnification change as well as a sunshade, lens cleaning cloth and rubber lens covers as well as flip up lens covers to suit preference. All lenses are fully multicoated with waterproof and shockproof assurance from the Platinum Lifetime Warranty. Nitrogen purging prevents internal fogging.

    Side parallax is adjustable from 10 Yards to infinity making this scope applicable to shorter range rimfire and airguns with full use of all reticle options at any magnification setting, not just for centrefires at long range. All controls move smoothly with a crisp reticle picture available from the fast focus eyepiece, featuring excellent knurling to match that of the magnification collar and mechanical turrets, assuring grip without excessive abrasion with fingertips or gloved hands. Importantly, all mechanical features work exactly as described with crisp etched reticle easy to hold position on target or aim off quickly and precisely compensating for external variables. Eye relief of 94-101mm with plentiful mounting space will adapt to the physical proportions of most rifles making this an ideal scope for use throughout any shooting lifestyle as your needs progress along with engagement ranges where 6-24x magnification can be moderated for most scenarios and target types. Allied with a bright overall image from the 50mm objective, the dots and lines of the reticle remain ideally proportioned even though varying as magnification alters with all detail laid out and explained clearly in the user manual.

    Conclusion

    A great riflescope producing exactly what it advertises in a well-made package adaptable to most rifle users, Excellent warranty as well!

    Price

    £429.99

    Specifications

    Magnification Range 6-24x
    Tube Diameter 30mm
    Objective Lens Diameter 50mm
    Exit Pupil 9.1-2.2mm
    Eye Relief 3.7 – 4 Inches
    Field Of View @100yds: 18.3-4.6 Ft
    Click Value 1/4 Moa (15 Moa / Rev) 1/10 Mrad (6 Mrad / Rev)
    Elevation Adjustment Range 65 Moa 18.9 Mrad
    Windage Adjustment Range 40 Moa 11.6 Mrad
    Minimum Parallax 10 Yds 10 Meters
    Length 14.3 Inches 363 Mm
    Weight 26oz 737gr

     

  • Clay Season Shooting Essentials

    Clay shooting is the popular and growing sport of shooting flying clay targets with a shotgun. Hitting the target requires skill, timing and hand-eye coordination and you can enjoy clay shooting at any level, from local club shoots all the way through to national and international competitions and the Olympics.

    There are a range of different forms of clay target shooting disciplines which tend to be roughly divided into Trap, Skeet and Sporting. All three types of clay pigeon shooting challenge a shooter to hit moving targets, but they each vary according to structure, rules and style. Although all of these shooting disciplines originated as hunting simulations, they have evolved to become unique versions of the same sport.

    Differences in Types of Clay Pigeon Shooting

    Trap clay pigeon shooting challenges the shooter by flinging the target straight in front and away. The marksmen fire five shots from each of the five different positions for a total of 25 shots per round. The shooter on station one fires the first shot, followed by each of the shooters on the other stations. Once all shooters have fired their total of five shots, each shooter moves to the next station. This means that the marksman at station five, walks behind the others to station one. All station changes are made with unloaded guns and open actions for safety.

    Skeet clay pigeon shooting involves the crossing over of the targets. Two target machines, 40 metres apart, launch the clay targets across a semi-circular arrangement of positions at a constant trajectory and speed. One target launcher, referred to as the ‘high house’, is 10 feet above the ground, while the second, called the ‘low house’ is just 3 ½ feet above the ground. This difference in height creates a greater challenge for the shooters as they move around the stations. A round of skeet shooting includes both single (one target at a time) and double (two targets at a time) target presentations. Similar to trap shooting, skeet involves the shooters moving through the various positions to complete a round. Also like trap, the different shooting positions in skeet create alternative angles relative to the targets.

    Sporting clays is thought to offer the greatest approximation to an in-the-field hunting experience as it is classed as the most unpredictable. A sporting clays course tends to include a range of different stations, each with unique target presentations and machine setups. For instance, one station might send a single target straight up into the air, while a second could send two targets simultaneously, one rolling across the ground and one heading towards the shooter.

    So how did clay shooting start?

    • The first clay pigeon shoots started around 1885 as an affordable alternative to competitions using live pigeons as targets.
    • Shooting schools – particularly those owned by London gunmakers – set up courses to simulate the flight of live birds. The new sport quickly became a hit with Victorian and Edwardian game shooters as a form of practice during the closed season.

    Tips for beginners

    1. Your first taste of clay shooting will almost certainly be on a Sporting range where targets are thrown to simulate the flight of game birds.
    2. In Sporting you will shoot from a number of different “stands” each offering a different target. These targets vary greatly in terms of trajectory, angle, elevation, distance and speed and it’s that variety that makes Sporting so popular with clay shooters.
    3. Determine your dominant eye - Determining your dominant eye is important- some right –handed people will shoot left-handed if they have a left master eye and vice versa. Likewise some people who are right handed but who have a left master eye will close one eye to help their aim.  Either way it will help you decide which eye to use to look down the barrel of the gun to focus best on your target.
    4. Comfortable and strong standing position - By getting your feet in the right position and holding your body correctly you will be able to maintain accuracy when firing shot after shot.
    5. Mounting the gun correctly - By holding the gun in the correct position you will be able to fire your shot comfortably and accurately.
    6. Bring your head to the shotgun - This is often a problem for new clay pigeon shooters. Instead of keeping the body steady and bringing the head into position, it can be tempting to lean back or slouch the body to be positioned.

    What do you need for clay shooting?

    The different forms of clay pigeon shooting do have an ‘ideal’ shotgun type that works best. However, if you’re just starting out in clay shooting, do not let a lack of the ‘right’ equipment stop you. You can start in any of the three shooting disciplines with virtually any form of shotgun, as long as it can fire two shots without reloading.

    Clay season shooting Essential accessories:

    •  Ear Defenders - Safety first, whatever discipline of shooting. We recommend wearing a pair of ear defenders.
    •  Eye Protection - All clay shooters should wear eye protection.
    •  Shooting Vest - This is the most essential piece of kit for most clay shooters.
    •  Shirt or Polo Shirt - As most clay shooting is within the summer months, a light shirt will be sufficient - or even a polo.
    •  Hat / Cap - Especially if it is a really sunny day, a baseball cap or flat cap will keep the sun out of your eyes.
    • Footwear - In wet weather, wellingtons are ideal.
    •  Jacket (waterproof) - If you are going to wear the coat while clay shooting, it needs to fit well and not restrict movement.
    • Shooting / cartridge Bag - To carry cartridges, chokes and any extra clothing you think you'll need for warmth would be ideal.
  • Primary Arms Holosun HS507C -X2 Awarded Silver Rating by NTOA

    The Primary Arms Holosun HS507C -X2 has been tested and recommended by the members of the National Tactical Officers Association.

    Primary Arms
    Holosun HS507C -X2
    Overall Score: 4.36

    Tester 1 of 4
    Tested by a police officer from California

    Design 5
    Performance 5
    Ease of Use 4
    Size 4
    Quality 4.5
    Durability 4.5
    Storage 4
    Versatility 4.5
    Convenience 5
    Application 5
    Comfort 3.5
    Accuracy 4
    Cleaning & Maintenance 5
    Individual Score 4.42

    As pistol optics have been around for years they have continued to improve to reach a duty grade level of durability and use. With the number of departments making the jump to RDS equipped pistols we often see a steep learning curve for officers switching from irons to dots, primarily with finding the dot in the optic window. The ACSS Vulcan reticle solves a big problem of maintaining the pistol in a correct orientation so that the dot is centred or in assisting the shooter to quickly reposition the pistol to see the dot. The enlarged ring around the centre chevron is such a great addition to help new shooters I am surprised it wasn't done sooner and I fully expect other manufacturers to follow suit. I've used the original Holosun 507c on my duty pistol for the last two years and it has been a great optic, changing the battery annually and daily cleaning the lens were all I e needed to do. I'm confident the 507c-X2 will be just as durable. I initially mounted the X2 on a 12 gauge shotgun, firing duty 00B and slug rounds. The optic performed well and had no issues maintaining zero. Once mounted on a pistol the optic was easy and quick to zero at 25. After a day of single handed manipulations by racking the slide off the optic and a range post, I've noticed no zero issues. The updated side battery tray is a big upgrade to older Holosun and the majority of other RDS optics. No need to remove the optic from the slide and check zero annually, just swap the battery. As an armorer, this is a welcome addition, as it saves us time from ensuring optics are properly mounted and saves us ammo in having students needing to re-zero. My only complaint is the chevron in place of a dot, but this is a personal preference. The more time I have spent behind an RDS equipped pistol the smaller the dot I want for increased accuracy. At this point I prefer a 2 or 1 MOA dot. Newer shooters do benefit from the larger MOA chevron and dot options because it usually means less searching in the window, however with the large ACSS Vulcan reticle to redirect the shooter to centre the optic, I feel a smaller MOA dot is better for accuracy. This optic, particularly the unique ACSS Vulcan reticle, performed better than expected. As an instructor it will be mandatory to have on a loaner pistol for RDS classes to help students having issues finding the dot on the draw/recoil. It will also be added to the departments approved RDS optic list.
    Tester 2 of 4
    Tested by a member from Florida

    Design 4.5
    Performance 4.5
    Ease of Use 4.6
    Size 4.2
    Quality 4.5
    Durability 4
    Storage 3
    Versatility 3.5
    Convenience 4
    Application 3.6
    Comfort 4
    Accuracy 5
    Cleaning & Maintenance 4.4
    Individual Score 4.15

    Overall a very sound piece of equipment. It carries enough weight to be solid yet negligible on the weapon. I used it in the rain, sun and sand. The illumination was adjustable as to work in varied light levels. The chevron shaped aim point was effective and easy to use. With practice, it can be used almost like a mil-dot. Once zeroed at 25yds, consistently hitting 12" steel plates at 100yds was no problem. Mounting this optic on the Glock 19 was as easy as pulling the plate and putting two of the provided screws through the optic. I had no issues with loosening due to vibration. The one downside to the ACSS Vulcan reticle was the outer ring. It served no functional purpose. If the point of aim was on it hit. The ring didn't help acquire the sight picture. All of the adjustments, (on/off, illumination + / -, windage and elevation) were all easy to reach and manipulate.

    Tester 3 of 4
    Tested by a member from Maryland

    Design 4
    Performance 4
    Ease of Use 5
    Size 4
    Quality 5
    Durability 5
    Storage 4
    Versatility 5
    Convenience 5
    Application 5
    Comfort 5
    Accuracy 4
    Cleaning & Maintenance 5
    Individual Score 4.69

    The Holosun H507C- X2 ACSS Vulcan work with your handgun or Carbine platform. I put the Holosun on my Glock 19, which does not have the MOS slide. I ordered a DPP Titanium Mounting Kit for Glock, which fit the Holosun HS507C-X2. The only issue with going with this method is you must remove your rear sight as the Mounting kit slides into the grove on your slide. To do this you will need a rear sight tool. The only issue with not having the MOS slide and removing your The Holosun HS507c- X2 ACSS Vulcan will definitely get my recommendation. This sight will work with rear sight is you solely depend on the red dot and you do not have a backup if the sight stops working. Once installing the sight, which was easy to do, I did several evolutions with an empty weapon just acquiring my target. I did not have any issues with target acquisition. The Chevron was easy to find and made shooting with both eyes open easy. This sight also has a large Halo around the centre chevron. When you punch out or present, if you have a good sight picture and have good alignment you will only see the centre chevron. If your alignment is off, you will start to see the halo around the centre Chevron, which gives you your corrections. For example, if you are aiming right, you will start to see the halo on the left side of sight giving you your correction. I found when in a standing isosceles stance and you press out, almost every time you will find your chevron with not issues at all and no Halo. Where this reticle really comes into play is when you start positional and barricade shooting. As we all know when you start getting in those awkward shooting positions, it easy to lose the dot and your moving the firearm all around trying to find it. The ACSS Vulcan reticle takes all of that guess work out of it. It gives you the corrections or reference you need to find the chevron. Now why the Chevron instead of just a dot. The Chevron is your bullet drop compensator. You zero the sight at 25 yards for a 9mm. Then the middle of the Chevron is zero for 50 yards and the bottom at 100 yards. Using this sight, I was able to hit steel with no issue at these distances. Now for CQB when you are within 5 to 7 yards you need to remember your mechanical offset. When you press out and aim at the 10 ring on a B27 target putting the point of the chevron on the X, your point of impact will be slightly low. When your close within 5 to 7 yards, you hold high using your point of aim as the bottom of the Chevron and your impact will be the same. Not to mention the clarity of the glass and lack of severe parallax is unparalleled. The ability to change reticles puts it a head above the rest and the battery life is second to none! Shake awake, auto brighten/dim, solar assist, chevron/ring, night vision capabilities, this has far more to offer than even the most expensive out there!!!!

    Tester 4 of 4
    Tested by a member from Maryland

    Design 3.99
    Performance 3.99
    Ease of Use 4.5
    Size 3.5
    Quality 4.5
    Durability 4.5
    Storage 3.5
    Versatility 4
    Convenience 4.5
    Application 4.5
    Comfort 4.0
    Accuracy 4
    Cleaning & Maintenance 4.5
    Individual Score 4.19

    The Holosun HS507C-X2 out the box was an impressive optic. The mini reflex sight was essentially zeroed from the factory and was easily mounted to an aftermarket pistol mounting adapter on a .40cal Smith & Wesson M & P pistol. It would easily mount to an optic-ready slide and comes with a picatinny mount for long-gun applications. The reticle view has the option of a traditional chevron or switching to the unique ACSS Vulcan Reticle. The large 250 MOA circle (ACSS Vulcan reticle) was a welcome addition to the reticle in comparison to other optics on the market. The circle provides quick reference for the shooter to properly sight in allowing for rapid target acquisition during instinctive/combat shooting drills without losing the chevron. This is especially true while firing on the move. Adjustability to the circle size or a slightly smaller circle would have been preferred allowing the shooter to see the outer edges of the large circle even when the sight is properly aligned. I was able to conduct a moderate drop test of the optic and the zero did hold. It performed well in various lighting and weather conditions with no unexpected issues. The sight would compliment any personal or duty weapon nicely and appears to be comparable to other brands on the market with the ACSS Vulcan reticle giving it a slight edge of some of the competition.

     

  • Customer Competition

  • FX Crown MKI Compact - FIT FOR A KING

    Alpha Militaria’s Rich Saunders gets delusions of grandeur when he tests the FX Crown MK2 Compact

    Two cups of tea and half a packet of hobnobs and I still can’t come up with a royalty-themed pun that isn’t rubbish or been used before, so I’ll just get on with it…

    Though perhaps best known for its market leading bullpups, such as the Impact, Wildcat and most recently, the Maverick, Swedish company FX Airgun’s take on a more traditional, sporter style air rifle is the FX Crown.

    Now in its second iteration, the Crown’s family lineage is easy to spot, with plenty of adjustment features, high power models and the ability to swap calibres, barrels and liners. In fact, the line up comprises .177, .22, .25 and .30 with barrels ranging in length from 380mm to 700mm – all containing the Smooth Twist X Superior Liner apart from the .177, which uses the STX liner.

    There are plenty of stock options too. Minelli designed walnut and black synthetic soft touch thumbhole stocks are complemented by Forest Green, Yellow and Black and Black Pepper laminate options. In addition, there’s a GRS designed Green Mountain stock with additional adjustment features.

    The stocks wrap around a fully regulated, side lever action that is fed by a 480cc carbon wrapped bottle (aluminium on the entry level VP Edition) and a large capacity magazine that delivers 22 shots in .177, 18 in .22, 16 in .25 and 13 in .30.

    High powered models range from 28 ft. lbs. in .177 up to 75 ft. lbs. in .30. In between you can have a 54 ft. lbs. .22 and 65 ft. lbs. .25. Adjustability to find the perfect set up for different weights and styles of ammunition has long been a feature of FX products and the Crown mk2 is no different. A dial on the left at the rear of the action adjusts hammer spring tension and another just forward of the breach alters power output by adjusting the transfer port. And whilst it’s denied to 12 ft. lbs. rifle users, high power owners can also change the regulator pressure.

    Of course, all that flexibility is at its most advantageous when you have more foot pounds to play with, but the control afforded by the two dials gives 12 ft. lbs. shooters the ability to fine tune and optimise the set up for different pellets.

    Once you have twiddled your knobs, the Crown sits comfortably in the shoulder. The butt pad can be adjusted for height and angle, and although there is no adjustment in the comb, eye alignment for a scope mounted on the split picatinny rail is spot on.

    The pistol grip is acquired via a thumbhole cut out and has grooves either side to accommodate your thumb and trigger finger regardless of whether you are right or left handed. However, the biathlon style side lever and the switch style safety catch are designed with right handers in mind.

    Shot count from the 480cc bottle, which takes a 250 bar charge (the aluminium bottle on the VP Edition takes 230 bar) is prodigious. I couldn’t get a figure from FX for the 12 ft. lbs. FX Crown mk2 Compact I tested for Alpha Militaria and got bored after 400 shots. When I checked the gauge, which is located under the fore stock next to the fill port and another gauge for regulator pressure, there was still plenty of air. This is a ‘tin of pellets on a fill’ rifle with no mistake.

    Incidentally, the test rifle was fitted with an Element Optics Titan FFP 5-25x56 scope which did an admirable job of exploiting the Crown Compact’s prodigious accuracy potential. On the chronograph, the rifle returned test string of 11.7 ft. lbs. with a spread of just seven feet per second, and I’m sure it would have continued to do so if my attention span hadn’t been spanned.

    The review FX Crown Mk2 Compact in the black synthetic soft touch stock has a 380mm barrel and weighs just under three kilos unscoped. With its 380mm barrel, it measures exactly a metre with the supplied silencer fitted.

  • Saving the UK's Native Red Squirrels

    The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel is a species of tree squirrel common throughout Eurasia. It is one of Britain’s most iconic and beloved mammals. Once the most common squirrel in the UK, they are now under threat. In Great Britain, Ireland, and in Italy numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the non-native invasive eastern grey squirrel from North America.

    The Red Squirrel South West project is committed to the restoration and protection of red squirrels in the South West of England.

    Red Squirrels

    The Eurasian red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel and has become one of the most beloved mascots of British wildlife. They are naturally found across most of Europe and part of Asia, but are unfortunately under threat. Habitat loss poses a threat towards the species as a whole but the introduction of the Eastern grey squirrel to the UK and Ireland has shown to have the largest impact on the red population. The estimated population in Great Britain is down to an estimated 120,000 for reds compared to an estimated 3,000,000 for greys which means reds now run the risk of extinction. As a result of this red squirrels are classed as a priority species in the UK and are now protected under law.

    Red squirrels are tree squirrels, preferring to spend the majority of their time in the canopy, and are found in mixed broad-leaf and coniferous woodlands. They have a varied diet which includes seeds, nuts, buds, flowers, fruit and even occasionally insects and eggs! Although they do not hibernate, they have been known to store – or cache – more food ready for the winter and periods where food is harder to get. They will also spend more time in their nests, known as dreys, when the weather is more difficult.

    Famous for their ‘tufty’ ears, their coats change throughout the year meaning colourings can differ from a bright ginger in the summer to a dark brown in the winter, with some even dropping their ear tufts when changing to their summer coat.

    Red squirrels live to around 5-6 years in the wild and sometimes longer when in captivity. They can start reproducing after the first year with their breeding season falling between March and July. Successful reds can have 2 litters a year, averaging 2-3 babies at a time, known as kittens, but some can have as many as 6 in a litter!

    Threats caused by Greys

    Since 1870, when the grey squirrel was introduced to Britain from North America causing the red squirrel population to drop.

    Grey squirrels are a threat to reds for a number of reasons:

    1. Grey squirrels carry the squirrelpox virus, which they themselves are immune too, but is fatal to reds. Reds and greys do not have to come into direct contact for the virus to spread, red squirrels can contract SQPV through sharing feeders or woodlands that are also used by greys.
    2. Greys are able to digest unripe foods such as acorns, something that reds are unable to do. This means that food sources are taken by the greys before they are able to be reached by the reds.
    3. When put under pressure, such as loss of territory and food sources, red squirrels do not breed.

    Red squirrels have also suffered from habitat loss. Areas where woodland has been destroyed or split due to development has taken away the red squirrel’s natural home. This leads to less opportunities to nest and forage, making it harder for reds to thrive in the wild. Combining this issue with the natural competition from greys and the squirrelpox virus, it is extremely difficult to sustain viable red squirrel populations in large areas of the UK and Ireland without intervention.

    Grey Squirrels

    Grey squirrels are not just a threat to reds, they also raid bird nests, taking eggs and nestlings. Research has found that greys have played a major role in an 85% decline of spotted flycatchers in the last 50 years and 57% decline of wood warblers in the last 23 years.

    Greys cause considerable damage to broadleaf woods by bark stripping, this action kills or deforms the tree and leads to the destruction of woodland and a loss of timber value. The European Squirrel Initiative has shown that greys cost the forestry industry in excess of £40 million per year through tree damage.

    Latest figures show a hectare of undamaged 150-year-old oak is currently estimated to value at around £54,370/ha, compared with a hectare of grey squirrel damaged 150-year-old oak valued at £7140/ha where squirrels have not been controlled – a difference of £47,230!

    Greys are especially concerning to The National Forest due to their specific targeting of Oak – the tree that makes up a large proportion of our woodlands. They will also target; Beech, Field Maple, Hornbeam, Silver Birch, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore and Willow, amongst others!

    Control

    There are an estimated 3 million grey squirrels throughout the UK.

    Many individuals and voluntary organisations already control greys in the South West area. Through monitoring populations and targeted control, we can help restore our biodiversity.

    By creating a network of likeminded people controlling grey numbers we will be able to restore our woodlands and provide a safe environment to reintroduce the red squirrel in the South West.

    Currently there is a 5-year project being carried out by UK Squirrel Accord looking into fertility treatment for grey squirrels. While this research is ongoing, previous studies have shown that oral contraceptives have been successful with rats.

    There is some research from areas such as Ireland and Scotland showing that grey squirrel populations have declined as a result of pine marten reintroductions which provides some hope for red squirrel numbers in these areas.

    The team at Red Squirrel South-West have been continuing with preparations for their grey squirrel clearance project on Exmoor National Park. The project, instigated by ENP is looking at removing grey squirrels from the area, which in turn will help to regenerate the natural Sessile Oak woodland of the area, and ultimately lead to the re-introduction of red squirrels back to Exmoor. With the valuable funding required even harder to attain than before, we continue to try and guarantee the money to begin  this ground-breaking and necessary work as soon as possible. Landowners, rangers and teams of volunteers stretching across the 35-mile coats are standing-by, eager to begin this important work. 

     

    Differences to Look out For

    1.  The main difference between adult reds and greys is size: a red is small, agile and dainty. Grey squirrels, in comparison, look big and chunky. Red squirrels weigh between 270-360g and with a head and body length of 19-23cm. Grey squirrels are much larger, typically weighing between 400-720g with a head and body length of 25-30cm.
    2. Their fur - red/ginger against grey/white
      (not definitive though) Coat colour can vary both geographically (i.e squirrels in different regions) and seasonally, as squirrels moult their body fur twice a year. The moult that occurs in the spring starts on the head and moves along the body, whereas the sequence in reversed in the autumn. Red squirrels have ear tufts in the winter but they usually moult out and loose them in the summer. Grey squirrels never have ear tufts.
    3.  One very clear distinguishing feature of a grey is that every hair on the tail is tipped with white, giving a ‘halo’ effect. Although red squirrels may have varying colour tails the hair will all be one colour.

     

    Red Squirrels (left) vs Grey Squirrels (right)

  • A Handy Guide to Gun Dogs

    When thinking of breeding from a current gundog that has been a faithful servant to you in the shooting field or looking online and asking fellow guns for recommendations for a new puppy, the job of selecting the future generations of the breed needs careful thought and consideration.

    Whether a stud dog from the litter your stud bitch has produced or something from a different bloodline you must consider the health and temperament you want. Therefore, steps to guide your choice may well follow some of those listed.

    Some of the things you need to look out for to produce a successful litter are:

    • Summary of health for sire and dam (hereditary history of previous generations)
    • Ensuring dogs have x-rays, for their hip scores checked and eyes tested at around a year of age.
    • DNA tests for retrievers and spaniels as this will show if the dogs are a carrier of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), SD2 (Skeletal Dysplasia), EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse), CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy) and other general muscle weaknesses
    • A good temperament. Bold but not too over the top, not a nervous dog but a sensitive one would be easier to train. Active and athletic with a good nose, quiet and loves retrieving.

    Just putting two dogs of the same breed together to mate would not suffice. Breeding is about strengthening and improving the breedline. It is important to recognise the positives and negatives of the two dogs you wish to breed together. It is always good to breed a dog with natural ability who can use its nose and is somewhat a natural gamefinder. The perfect gun dogs need to be intelligent, work as part of a team and willing to please. Dogs that can work all day as well as be athletic enough to jump walls and swim and then be ready to go again the next day after a good night’s rest are advantageous.

    Bear in mind that the owner of the sire may charge £1000 or more especially if the dog you have in mind is a Field Trial Champion. Or, the owner may choose to have the pick of the litter rather than a stud fee in cash.

    Over the year’s dogs have been bred to create different gun dog breeds each with particular strengths. You’ll tend to see lots of Labrador retrievers and Springer Spaniels out in the fields with both breeds having various sub breeds such as golden retrievers or flatcoat retrievers along with cocker spaniels and clumber spaniels to name a few.

    Training

    The important question of training should also be considered as if you opt for a dog with high energy and drive you will need to be able to adjust your training to cater for a successful outcome as time and patience will likely be required.

    On the other hand, you may well opt for a calm steadier bitch that won’t tolerate the pressures of daily training sessions thus a slower pace and tempo may be required while her confidence grows over time.

    In either case you will want to ensure your basic training is covered diligently as having a dog that is under control at all times in the shooting field whether sat at the peg or walking to heel between drives is both safe and rewarding.

    As the dog learns to work at greater distances from you hunting on the wind for a tucked in bird or being handled across water to a retrieve across an obstacle being under control and on the whistle for each command will be crucial.

    All training of which will need to be considered when deciding on the temperament you are looking to breed from or select.

    Gundogs need both physical and mental exercise which should include being social with other dogs and play with the boss, a variety of exploring in different terrains to keep their interest and grooming should also be part of their routine. Gundogs have much more specialist requirements for basic training thus good quality equipment such as slip leads/Whistles/dummies, and more are needed for the best results. For the best collars and leads tap here.

    Gundog owner checklist, you’ll be the perfect owner if you:

    • Love exercise and the outdoors
    • Make plenty of time every day to exercise and train your dog
    • Enjoy being out in all weathers
    • Like your dog to affectionate and demonstrative
    • Don’t mind mess being brought into the house
    • Live in a rural location with a big garden and plenty of space for activities

    Pictured are working gundogs from the Pebbleridge Gundogs. Pictures provided courtesy of Mark Twiggs, owner of Pebbleridge Gundogs.

  • CZ 457 Long Range Precision Review

    CZ 457 Long Range Precision Review by Chris Parkin for Gunmart - March 2021

    CZ’s 457 LRP is a heavy fluted barrelled, target stocked variant of the core 457 multibarrel platform and although not facilitating fast changes, allows extra barrel kits. Here, the major exhibit is the stock, something a lot of designers get creative with but do not always do very well, other than just looks.

    The action
    Twin extractor claws span CZ’s control feed bolt face with a mechanical ejector appearing below as the bolt is drawn fully rearward on its 42.5mm stroke. The rail is slotted and screwed over the machined in dovetails, so not only is it functional -allowing return to zero with barrel/scope swapsit helps stiffen the otherwise open-topped action supporting that 22mm diameter barrel. It’s cylindrical action profile blends towards parallel sides at the rear, with a long slot for bolt handle reciprocation. There is a single rear locking lug being the base of the handle itself. It can’t snag or stall on any surfaces, it never withdraws from the slot, enabling intrinsically smooth operation and minimal slop. The short shaft is 130mm long with a 33mm handle extending to support the 33mm spherical knob. It’s facetted like a giant gem and some say it looks too bulky, but this is the finest bolt action rimfire I have operated, regardless of price.

    Nice features
    A familiar-looking single column 5-round polymer magazine is supplied (10-round mag available) and the release catch sits at the front of the well. The rounds slide snag-free into the breech without damage or excess lubricant shedding and if you swap calibres, the feed ramp is part of the action insert. After fitting a different barrel, I can confirm everything worked perfectly in .17 HMR with ballistic tipped and hollow-point bullets.

    Swapsies
    The rifle is supplied with a radially ported ½” UNF muzzle brake wrapping the well-cut crown, to which I added a SAK sound moderator. The 20” barrel includes flutes along its profile, all the way back to the action. It shows a deep matt black/blue corrosion-resistant finish which has withstood extensive use in all sorts of rain, snow, ice and mud. The barrel swap involves removing the receiver from the stock with Twin T25 Torx action screws, slacken off two angled grub screws at the front of the action and the barrel will slide out. The small spacer within
    the action mates into a rebate of appropriate calibre, so if you change to say a .17 HMR, the
    job can be done in five minutes with basic tools. You do need the correct magazine for either .22/.17 cartridge length and a small spacer. Overall, its a good design.

    Furniture
    The purposeful stock is visually striking, featuring a height adjustable cheekpiece and
    recoil pad with angular float. Both need a T25 Torx to adjust and the cheekpiece may need
    removal to get the bolt out. Everything locks 100% solid and notably, the comfortable recoil
    pad fits nicely without slipping from your shoulder. Spacers allow the length of pull (LOP) to
    be adjusted from 351-382mm and the comb has a medium width of 47mm, maximising eye/
    scope alignment. I particularly like the lower scalloped sides to minimise lateral jawbone disruption, although they might just look like pretty curves, they are 100% functional.
    The beech structure shows a seamlessly machined compound material build including
    aluminium sections. All the timber is coated in a soft-touch finish which is easily cleaned. There is lateral stippling on the forend as well as the vertical pistol grip, which includes a delicate ambidextrous palm swell.

    Suitable Ammo
    I ran the gun in on all sorts of ammo but the main test was to use premium match ammo.
    Viking Arms supplied SK Standard, Match and Long Range variants for more detailed reviewing. All use a 40-grain round nose lead bullet with a delicate greasy feel but no excess wax. Average velocities in the CZ were 1071 FPS for Standard (extreme spread 10 FPS), 1079 for Match (ES 19 FPS), and 1127 for Long-Range (ES 14 FPS). The latter was clearly supersonic and although effective on targets at intermediate ranges, lost out to both subsonic examples at longer ranges beyond 200m. Although initially slower, these never suffered dropping back into the supersonic/transonic flight regions. It was also interesting to note that these bullets performed differently at the critically variable 0-5 °C temperature ranges through the test period, where the speed of sound is variable too. In the end, SK Match proved time after time to be the front
    runner over ELEY and RWS supersonic variants.

    Running the Rifle
    Bolt manipulation was light and fast with zero distraction from point of aim. The ability to reload quickly without disruption was appreciated, allowing shot strings to be performed more
    rapidly in consistent wind intervals. It was appreciably non-disruptive in awkward improvised shooting positions, where the slight rearward balance point left the gun pressed into the shoulder and feeling like it was 'part of you'. The inherent consistency of performance and the ability to spot and dial accurate corrections for downrange wind conditions at ranges out to
    305m allowed me to enjoy every aspect of shooting the rifle, with excellent head support.

    Conclusion
    In my opinion, CZ has demonstrated superb execution. Although perhaps not the rifle
    for everyone, it is a perfect example of a focussed design that meets or exceeds every one
    of its marketing parameters. It has actually introduced me to a whole new world of technical
    shooting challenges which I intend to continue pursuing. One of my all-time favourites for nearly every reason.

    PLEASE NOTE: This is not the full review. The full review can be found HERE.

     

  • FX Impact and PARD NV008P LRF - A Review

    Controlling pests on more than a thousand acres across the south of England means Alpha Militaria’s Rich Saunders is no stranger to shooting in the dark, in fact he finds it the best time of the day to tackle rabbits and rats.

    He’s been using ATN X-Sights for almost as long as he can remember, usually on Daystate rifles. In fact, his current set up is a .25 calibre FAC-rated Red Wolf on which he uses an X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x most of the time.

    However, having recently gained another permission, he needed a more compact and lighter set up. The farm grows strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as plants and shrubs for the garden industry. Covering some 300 acres, rabbits are a constant problem, causing thousands of pounds of damage each year by eating the crop and chewing through irrigation pipes.

    “They just can’t help themselves,” he says. “The problem is that breaks in the pipes cause water pressure drop and potentially crops to be ruined.”

    With such a vast area to deal with, covering the ground on foot isn’t an option so instead, Rich drives around in his truck, spotting rabbits with a thermal monocular and shooting them through the open window. It helps that the rabbits are used to farm vehicles and don’t pay them much attention.

    The only snag with the plan is that whilst his Red Wolf / ATN X-Sight 4K Pro combination is great for stalking and ambush tactics, it is too big in the confines of a truck. His solution has been to use an FX Impact mk2 and a PARD NV008P LRF. And because he is restricted to driving the lanes that criss-cross the farm, shots often present themselves at distances too far for 12 ft. lbs. legal limit rifles. To overcome that hurdle, his .30 calibre FX Impact has been tuned to deliver 95 ft. lbs.

    “People ask why I don’t use a .22 LR or .17 HMR,” says Rich. “The truth is I like airguns and the combination is easily capable of taking rabbits cleanly at 60 or even 70 metres. Although it’s a big area, there’s always the chance of a ricochet with a .22 LR and there are several cottages on the farm I have to be mindful of which puts me off using a .17 HMR.”

    With 44.75 grain pellets, the FX Impact hits extremely hard and is better able to withstand the effects of any breeze, although Rich is experimenting with a second rifle, an FAC-rated Daystate Delta Wolf, which he has set up to shoot slugs.

    However, regardless of the capabilities of his rifle, he finds that the limiting factor at night is the ability to see small quarry such as rabbits clearly. He finds the PARD NV008 LRF the ideal tool. Weighing only 450g and measuring just 162mm long, it’s the ideal partner for the compact and light FX Impact and Delta Wolf.

    The tiny onboard infrared (IR) illuminator has three brightness settings and is more than capable of lighting up targets at the range Rich shoots over. And despite sometimes spending all night shooting, the rechargeable 18650 battery usually provides enough power, although he always has a spare to hand just in case.

    As anyone who has shot at night knows, judging distance is extremely difficult, especially if shooting over open land. Having opted for the LRF version of the NV008, Rich is able to accurately measure ranges at the press of a button and adjust his aim point accordingly.

    As a writer for Airgun Shooter magazine and presenter on The Airgun Show, he also finds the Pard’s ability to record HD video and take photos invaluable.

    Visit Alpha Militaria for a full review of the PARD NV008P LRF and a run down on the FX range.

    Written by Richard Saunders of Alpha Militaria

    Both day and night, the FX Impact mk2 and PARD NV008P LRF make a potent hunting and pest control combination, and are perfect for enclosed spaces like vehicles and hides
    The PARD NV008P LRF’s light weight and compact dimensions make it ideal for use on tactical bullpups like the FX Impact mk2 and can be used day and night

    With day and night settings, complete with an integrated IR illuminator and laser range finder, the PARD NV008P LRF will not only help you convert opportunities but film them as well

     

     

     

     

     

     

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