30 September 2020

Let’s Talk About Scatterguns

 Some of you may recognize parts of this from an old article I did years ago. I have added more current and specific information and decided to make a new post out of it.

Enjoy!

Let’s Talk About Scatterguns

by Cope Reynolds

For personal protection, the shotgun has no peer in most cases. It is a graphically devastating weapon. For most of the purposes considered in this article, a pump-action 12 gauge is hard to beat. Although the 20 gauge is a very comfortable and effective gun to shoot, it’s best reserved for hunting. This is because you’ll often have a hard time finding either buckshot or slugs for the 20 bore. Wal-Mart, for example, rarely even carries the heavier 20 gauge stuff, simply because there’s not enough demand for it and it’s hard to get them to special order things for you sometimes. A lot of men buy a 20 gauge for their kids or wives, but they mostly use them to hunt birds or rabbits, so most stores don’t see a need to carry anything but the smaller shot. Compared to the 12 gauge, there just aren’t that many people who hunt deer with a 20 gauge or use it for home defense even though it will do fine for either.

There’s not anything wrong with the 20 gauge by any means, I have two of them. But for a survival situation, the 12 gauge is a much better choice, primarily because of ammo availability and selection. Police, military, hunters, survivalists, militia members, ranchers, etc., all use the 12 more than anything else. If you do insist on using the 20 gauge, and plan on storing a bunch of shells to make up for non-availability, what happens if you have to “bug-out” on foot? You can only carry so much and leaving the gun behind shouldn't be an option, as I think a shotgun is essential. When you use up what you can carry, you’ll just be out. You can’t carry all that reloading stuff with you, either. I personally am not really stocking up on any reloading supplies. Of course, I have a bunch anyway, just because it’s a serious hobby of mine, but I figure when things go bad, I would rather have all those components already assembled into something that I can use.

Something else to consider is power. While the velocities of the 20 gauge are comparable to the 12 gauge, the weight of any given shot charge or slug is much more with the 12. Granted, this generates a little more recoil, but my 5’5”, 135-lb. daughter can handle a 12 just fine. The 20 gauge usually shoots a slug that either weighs 273 grains or 328 grains. And I have one “recipe” for a 341-gr. slug. Compare that to a 12 gauge that shoots slugs weighing anywhere from 437 grs. to 575 grs. That’s a hell of an increase in delivered energy, which translates to penetration and longer range.

As far as buckshot goes, #3 buck is the by far the most common for the 20 gauge. If you get much bigger than that, the 20’s little shell just doesn’t hold enough pellets to do any good. If the 12 gauge only holds between nine and 12 double-ought buckshot pellets (depending on manufacturer and type of wad used), you can safely assume that the 20 would hold only five to six of the same pellets. While you can put eight pellets of #1 buck in a 20 gauge shell, most 12 gauge loads will hold 16. In any case, you’re not looking at a very dense pattern from the 20 for defensive purposes.

So let’s talk just a bit about patterning. Without getting too deep into it, the degree of pattern spread of the shot fired by a shotgun is determined by the amount of restriction in the last 2 or 3 inches of the barrel. It’s called “choke”. For the purposes of this article, we will only concern ourselves with four different chokes; Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder and Cylinder Bore. Full choke is the tightest of the four. It generally provides for more pellets on target at a longer range. It is not as useful for shorter ranges, especially when hunting. The Modified choke is a little more open and is a pretty good all ’round choke. Improved Cylinder is more open yet and is at its best at closer ranges. Improved cylinder works well for quail, pheasants and grouse or other critters that jump right out from under your feet. Cylinder bore is completely open, meaning the there is no restriction at all in the barrel. Cylinder bore also works well for birds and bunnies that are close in. It is also the most popular for self-protection shotguns. More on that in a minute… There are a number chokes besides these and it seemed like they came up with something new every few years but I think they have most of the gaps filled now. For my money, I can accomplish everything that I need to do with one of the four chokes mentioned above.

Depending on the configuration of the barrel and the type of ammo used, the shotgun can be used for hunting upland game birds, waterfowl and virtually all game animals from the smallest to the largest and most dangerous that America has to offer. It can also be used effectively for most African game. It can be used for breaching doors, signaling, less lethal applications, stopping vehicles and making bad guys really wish they had chosen a different profession. Long story short, there’s not a whole lot the scattergun can’t do. It is an incredibly versatile weapon in the hands of someone that knows it and understands its limitations.

Let’s talk about defensive uses for the shotgun for just a minute. Its an amazingly effective and devastating weapon with a wide range of applications. Buckshot is great for home defense. My favorite is #4 Buck for the home because of the reduced possibility of exiting the average sized person and injuring a family member or other innocent. One of these days, we’ll explore that at great length.

Slugs are yet another trick up the sleeve of the shotgun. As the name implies, a slug is a single projectile. A single, massive, awe-inspiring projectile. The 1.25 ounce, .73 caliber, 12 gauge slug, at somewhere’s in the vicinity of 1300 or 1400 fps doesn’t take no for an answer. Solid core or steel doors, block walls, engine blocks, wheels, transmissions, grizzly bears, etc are little match. Contrary to popular belief, the popular and affordable Foster-type, rifled slug can be fired through any choke. It is a complete myth that the rifling on the rifled slug is there to impart a spin on the slug. Not true. The rifling facilitates the firing through ANY choke, even Full Choke. However, you will probably get the best performance out of Improved Cylinder or Cylinder Bore.

Before I leave, A couple of the best choices for defensive shotguns in my not so humble opinion are the Mossberg 590 or 500, and the Remington 870. While some will tell you that the 590 is far and away better than the 870, it really comes down to what you like. I’ll admit that the 590 has a slight edge over the 870 in my opinion, simply because it was designed solely as a combat shotgun. It really has no sporting purpose. There are plenty of after-market accessories available for both the Mossberg and the Remington. Also, Winchester makes a couple of suitable defensive-type shotguns, but I have little personal experience with them. 

 Here's a comparison of popular shot sizes for reference...


 
So… there’s your crash course on all things shotgun!

 

In Liberty, Cope Reynolds (Desertscout) 

Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona 

If you'd like to help support our efforts, you can do so by donating to The Shooting Bench by clicking the "DONATE" button below!

Colts and Kimbers are what you show your friends. 

GLOCKS are what you show your enemies!

07 September 2020

Getting the Most From Your Baofeng...

The novices love them and purists hate them but their usefulness cannot be denied. The little handheld Baofeng radios are dirt cheap, rugged, loaded with features and they just plain work! Whether you choose the 5-watt UV-5R, the 8-watt BF-F8HP (which is really nothing more than an upgraded UV-5R), the 5w UV-82 or 8w UV-82HP, you'll have a radio that will bring you years of enjoyment and potentially life-saving capabilities in emergency situations. The radios listed above are by far the most popular amongst outdoorsmen, preppers and survivalists and they are all dual-band radios, which means that they can operate on VHF which is, depending on model, 136 to 174 MHz and UHF which is 400 to either 480 or 520MHz. Understand that while you can listen to all of these, there is only a limited range that you can actually LEGALLY talk on.

Are there better radios out there? Of course there are, for 10 times the money and half the frequencies. You see, the U. S. government restricts domestic radios to a very specific range of frequencies, most of which require a license. I will post another article soon that will clear up some the whys and where-to-fores of some of the laws and restrictions imposed by our Federal Communications Commission and how they affect you but the purpose of this article is for all those that already have their radios and are trying to figure out what kind of accessories they need for them and brother, there are plenty to choose from!

Let's start with antennas...

Generally speaking, no matter what kind of radio you have, the higher you can get the antenna, the clearer your radio will sound and the farther that it will both transmit and receive. A 5-watt radio may talk 50 or even 100 miles from the top a 10,000' mountain but may barely reach a couple of blocks in town. The antenna is key.

Antennas used for two-way voice communication MUST be tuned to the radio that they are servicing. This means that the Standing Wave Ratio or SWR must be set to the radio. To accomplish this, one must have an SWR meter and the knowledge to use it. However, all of the antennas described below are tuned close enough from the factory and should work fine with the exception of the detached, base antennas. If your SWR's are too far off, you can fry your radio. Don't chance it. No matter where you live, there is most likely a radio shop, a ham operator or hobbyist nearby that can help you with this procedure.

  • The flexible "rubber ducky" antenna that comes stock on the radio lacks in performance but is sufficient for most day-to-day activities. It is flexible and handy for general, portable use like hiking, hunting, etc where your contacts are not too far away.
  • A step up from that is the flexible whip antenna which is nothing more than rubber ducky on steroids. Its quite flexible and is 15.6" long. The one I use is the Nagoya NA-771. The whip antenna greatly improves performance and range but is a tad awkward to carry in the woods. It works best sitting in a window sill at home or at a campsite or something like that.
  • The collapsible or retractable antenna is the best of both worlds. When it is collapsed, it is maybe 5" long and will do anything the rubber ducky will do. Extended, it is the equal of the whip antenna. A word of caution on this antenna... it is NOT flexible! If you drop it and it lands on the antenna, it will likely break. Carry a spare in your pocket or backpack if your going to be out in the boonies or carry a cheap rubber ducky as a back-up! Mine is a Nagoya NA-771R
  • Another option for rigorous, outdoor activities is the "tactical" antenna. They are very similar to older military antennas. They are flat, exceedingly flexible and actually fold for transport. Approximate lengths of the 3 that are commonly available are: + 18", 30" and 43". These will do almost anything that your radio is capable of doing. They are not at all expensive and very useful.
  • Looking for communication security? Well, practically speaking, there's really no such thing, but here's something that will help. The "stubby" antenna. The stubby is 1.5" to 2" long, depending model and manufacturer. Some of them are VERY flexible and pretty much indestructible. The fact that they are so short means that they will not transmit very far. Use one of these and turn your radio down to low power and you're not providing information to people across the valley or giving away that favorite hunting or fishing spot. You might squeeze a mile out of this antenna combined with low power on your radio if there is nothing in the way. In the woods or in town, you may only get a few hundred yards out of it compared to maybe 10 or 20 miles, depending on conditions, out of a whip antenna and a full power radio.
  • There are also magnetic antennas that you can sit on the roof of your car and turn your handheld into a mobile or set it on the rain gutter or a piece of steel on your house and have an instant base station. They vary in height from about 14" to over 30".
  •  With the right connectors, you can hook up a big base antenna to your little handheld and get performance out of it that will blow your socks off! That's right, turn it into a respectable, boomin' base station! 
  • You can also build effective, expedient antennas very easily and very inexpensively with nothing but a couple of connectors and a roll of wire. There are hundreds of examples on YouTube.
  • One last thing regarding antennas. Make sure your antenna is right for your radio! Just any old antenna will not work. For instance, CB antennas will not work on ham radios. You need to make sure the antenna will handle the power that your radio puts out and that it is specifically designed for the frequencies that you plan to use.
 
OK, let's move on...
 
Power and Charging Options
 
Of course, your radio comes with an AC cord and charging cradle to charge any place that there's AC current. But, behold the options!
 
All variations of the UV-5R and UV-82 (and some others) have optional extended batteries available for them. The extended battery for the 5R series has a built-in jack for a charging plug to allow you to charge the battery sans charging cradle. Some of these more than double the time you can spend on your radios. The less you talk on your radio, the longer the battery lasts. Talking uses much more juice than just listening. When I'm out in the field, I usually run the extended battery first. If I'm going to be out for quite awhile, I'll drop one of the stock batteries in my shirt pocket to get home on.
 
Another battery option is the battery pack which is available for both types of radios. A battery pack uses commonly available alkaline batteries installed in a case that is dimensionally identical to the stock battery. The 5R series uses AA batteries while the 82 series uses AAA. The idea behind this is to simply have one more option to keep your radio running in the absence of power to charge your batteries. 
 
Next up, we have a charger that plugs into your cigarette lighter or power source. The other end plugs into the charging cradle that came with your radio. Be very careful of 2 things here. Some of these really are chargers as described above but there are a couple of imposters. One of them is a charger alright but it has a smaller plug and works only in the extended battery of the 5R series, NOT the charging cradle! The other one is not a charger at all. It is a power source only. It plugs into the cig lighter socket but the other end of it is a blank case that installs in place of the stock battery in your radio. This allows constant power, enabling you to run your handheld radio as a dedicated mobile radio without using batteries. They have one for both series of radios. This little gem along with a magnetic antenna and a hand mic equals a mobile radio!

OK, let's see what else we have here... Oh! Here's something, a USB charger. This little $10 accessory lets you charge your radio any place you can charge your phone. Plug it in to any USB power receptacle in your car, home or your PC. You can also use one of these to plug into one of those little solar phone chargers. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR HAVING A DEAD RADIO!

Next order of business is microphones. Four choices, really. Quite naturally, you can just use the built-in mic in the radio. Next choice is the little headset that comes with the radio. They work ok but they not my favorites. For recreational purposes, they're fine. Next is the hand mic or collar mic as some call it. This is a separate mic that plugs into the side of the radio like the stock headset. You know, like the cops use. This is a must if you are using your radio for a base or mobile. Lastly is the throat mic. Hands down my absolute favorite. As the name implies, it wraps around your throat and places two sensors right beside your larynx. The throat mic picks up vibration, not sound. This means no background noise to clutter your transmission and you don't have to holler to talk over the noise on your end. You can even whisper and still be heard!

There's probably something that I'm leaving out but this should keep you busy for a little while!

 

 

In Liberty, Cope Reynolds (Desertscout) 

 Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona 

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Colts and Kimbers are what you show your friends. 

GLOCKS are what you show your enemies!

05 August 2020

Dark Times

DARK TIMES

by Cope Reynolds

I posted something on Facebook a few days ago that some of you may have seen. It was about my childhood. It was nice to reminisce and I think many of you felt the same way. However, the more I think about it, the darker it becomes.

A recently married young friend of mine texted me not long after I posted that with some serious concerns. This young lady is on the young side of Generation Z Millennial age but she was raised right and she gets it. She's desperately concerned about the upcoming election. She understands that if we lose a couple of seats in Arizona, we turn Blue. She understands that if Trump loses, the Nation turns Blue and she understands what that means. She understands that widespread violence in this country is inevitable and all of this disturbs her deeply. But the biggest thing that concerns her is bringing children into this world in its current state of affairs. Oh, how I grieve for her and those like her! Kids her age should not have to worry about such things.

I know times change and things evolve. This has been going on since the beginning of time but I don't believe that any generation in history has witnessed as much deterioration of morality and loss of human values in such a short time as mine has.

Every generation in history has witnessed a certain degree of evolution in technology. But mine? I can remember fresh milk being delivered to our front porch in glass bottles with cardboard lids. I remember party lines and phones with dials and cords. I remember mercurochrome and merthiolate. Roller skate keys, church keys and bicycles with steel frames, fenders and one speed. Etch-a-sketch, Spirograph and Slapjack. No digital watches, cellphones or portable computers. Word processors were called typewriters. 

I remember going from no such thing as automobile air conditioning to having a little plastic unit with a fan that sat on the transmission hump that you filled ice cubes. Virtually no 4-lane highways, no radial tires and the standard car warranty was only good for 1 year/12,000 miles. Yes, I remember when postage stamps cost a nickel and all long-distance calls went through an operator. I remember when gas was 19 cents a gallon and a new car cost around 2500 bucks. Minimum wage was a buck and quarter and a dozen eggs was about 40 cents.

I could go to the Sunday matinee at the Allen Theater with a quarter and that would get me into the show with enough left over for a coke and popcorn and penny bubblegum was everywhere. We listened to wonderful, wholesome music and every movie on TV was suitable for every member of the family.

Hunting was normal. Nearly every family we knew went to the woods during deer season and spent a few days together camping and enjoying the clean air and beautiful scenery. Practically every boy (and a few girls) got a .22 rifle for their birthday by the time they were 6 or 8 years old. Most of us that were fortunate enough to live on farms and ranches were allowed to go hunting for small game and varmints by ourselves shortly after that.

We rode in the back of the truck, drank out of the garden hose and went skinny dippin’ in the river. We didn’t wear seat belts in the car or helmets when we rode bicycles or horses. There was lead in the paint on our walls and on the baby crib, water pipes were made out of lead and toothpaste came in lead tubes.

Kids were allowed to walk home at dusk or even a little after dark. People routinely went to neighbors’ homes to play pinochle and Yahtzee, eat dinner and visit. Doors were never locked and there was a rifle in the back window of practically every pick-up truck you saw. Guns were purchased at the gun shop or hardware store over the counter like a screwdriver. Age didn't matter unless the clerk knew your daddy and questioned your permission to buy one. Almost everyone had a daddy.

Dynamite and strychnine could be bought over the counter at the hardware store and I could walk into Ross Sporting Goods and buy a box of. 22 shells when I was 9. All of this and still nearly every report of violent crime was a fist fight down at the Office Bar.

What I remember most is freedom and liberty. These wonderful benefits were exercised regularly and we didn’t even really know we were doing it. It was just life. It’s the way things were. We didn’t realize we had it so good until we didn’t. Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free". Have we reached that generation?

DAMN, what a wonderful life we had in those days! Where are we at now? Compare every item above to present day and throw in some of your own. People can't do anything for themselves anymore and the "life skills" that kids are taught are how to play games on electronic devices and change the settings on grandma's cell phone. Kids are raised by X-boxes and Play Stations and many of them are introduced to drugs, sex and crime before they have pubic hair. I understand that there are exceptions but most kids nowadays can't sharpen a knife, build a fire, gut a rabbit, shoot a gun, change a tire, drive a nail or dig a ditch. How are they to save our Nation?

Its no damned wonder my friend is worried about her future! Dark times are upon us...

By the way, about having kids…

God has a Plan. He put us here to work out our salvation and “be fruitful and multiply”. At no time did He say, “OK, things are looking a little bleak so you can disregard everything I said previously”. No, the Plan has not changed. Babies still need to come into this world to be given the opportunity see how they do on this test called life. Whatever happens, it is supposed to happen. We may not like or agree with it but it is not our decision. Live your life, love your life, have fun when you can, fight when you have to. Things change but this is your world now. Make the best of it!