Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Review: Ulfhednar Range Bag

Ulfhednar; if Kifaru was made in Norway. Really.

SBW's First rule of hobbies: Every hobby begins with a hat, and a bag. Regular readers will know how much I love gear, handmade in small batches, by enthusiasts. I've seen all kinds of range bags over the last couple of years, but I've never seen one as well thought out as the Ulfhednar offering. It was my birthday, I put one on the list and was delighted when one showed up. I took it with me to sight in my CZ527 and it went from box-fresh to lived-in on its first outing.

Based in Kløfta, Norway their gear is 'made for harsh arctic conditions',  with classic scandiwiegen understatement: "Our relatively harsh Arctic climate makes us set extremely strict requirements for the materials used in our products." 

"The Ulfhednar (pronounced Ulf-heth-nar) were a group of Viking warriors. They wore wolf skin, and their own skin was black-died. Like the Berserkers, they preformed chants and ritual prior to battle to get in a "Berserker Rage”. Through adrenaline they became much stronger and faster, became immune to pain, and bled less." - Snorre Sturlason "Ynglinga Saga"
It's all in proper 1000D Cordura with real YYK zippers but in their own grey with a comedy wolf rather than coyote brown with a Taliban/Zombie hunter logo.
With Wolf-like cunning they differentiated themselves by making gear for the guys who want beyond-military-grade equipment but don't want to endorse that tiresome wannabe-military-contractor [playing soldiers] look that so puts the public off target sports. 

SBW's fourth rule of outdoor websites: 'the better the company the more laughable the website'

Optics Warehouse (bless'ed be their name, great company) stock some of the range, but make little mention of the different options - there is another stockist, but what they may or may not stock is a complete mystery. In accordance with the fourth rule Ulfhednar's own website is horrible and doesn't reveal that much more. Fortunately a couple of the sites listed on the stockists page shine a light a bit further into the cavern of wonders that contains Ulfhednar's output. They make really really good stuff.

I'll do a round up of some more of their offering soon 
In the meantime, Work, curse of the stalking classes.
Your pal

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Running Deer: For Competition And Practice

There's a game we play at Bisley, some people for fun, and some as deer stalkers looking for an insurance policy for the deer that doesn't drop to the first shot. They call it Running Deer.

You stand in what's probably fairly described as a draughty shed.  100m away a picture of a two headed push-me-pull-you deer, mounted on a motorised sled, crosses a 23m gap. It's only actually doing about 13 mph, giving you an exposure of about 4.3 seconds, but when you're holding the rifle it looks quicker. You get one warm-up run at 6mph, then its either a round a run, or two rounds a run. Engine room shots, 4 for a centre, then 3, then 2, with 1 for a body hit, nothing for a haunch hit, total derision for a miss.

There are two classes: an open class where as long as it complies with the range orders you can shoot it, and the Deer Legal class.
Lots of people choose their all purpose sporting rifle; for the CSR crowd that's usually a straight pull AR15 in .223/5.56 Nato, stalkers use their stalking rifle, some people bring short barrelled  .22 CF's in thumbhole stocks, the other strategy is to shoot something a bit weighty, being Bisley the Enfield's of old England are always popular.  For the two shot game, the smoother/faster straight-pulls like Heym, Strasser, Merkel, and Blaser all work wonders. If the open sights of the Enfield aren't for you Red Dot's are becoming popular. For the aficionado, the aficionado with deep pockets, very deep pockets. There are specialist scopes with two aiming marks or for the same money you can buy a very nice rifle. New.

The competitions pre-date the NRA at Bisley and were shot at the previous site on Wimbledon Common from as early as 1862. Victorians didn't have digital scoring. Outside the NRA building these are the original thick steel plate push-me - pull-yous that, being victorians, were probably pulled back and forth by impoverished orphaned ten year olds, on day release from the workhouse or debtors prisons.

Back then you got one point for a haunch hit [seems a little unsporting to me] and between 1908 and '48 Running Deer was an olympic sport, at its 1908 debut Oscar Swahn of Sweden won gold in the single shot, and took the bronze in double shot. With Walter Winans of the US of A taking gold in the double. Over the next 40 years Sweden took more medals that any other county. Vikings init.

Although the NRA had kept the sport going from 1862 it was dying out, the targets only being used at the Imperial Meeting. Until 1962 when the splendidly named Archie J. Butterworth, rose to the occasion and formed the The British Sporting Rifle Club which has run the facility ever since. Rumours that the hut was second hand then remain unconfirmed.

Displayed at the bottom of the stairs in the NRA building you will find an important piece of running deer's history, in the form of a table cloth on which Landseer drew the original sketch for the Running Deer target.

For more history and some sage advice on equipment and technique here's a link to
RJ 'Bob' Maddison's Shooting at Moving Targets which may be the definitive work.

More Soon
Your pal

Friday, 3 January 2020

Review: MSA Sordin Pro X

You can pay all kinds of money for your ear defenders. So I'm just going to ask you this.
How much is being able to hear worth to you? Serious thing.
One of the artful codgers I shoot with had been shooting for well over 40 years when he fired a ten shot string from a 308 wearing a muzzle break, he'd left his ear defenders in the car and didn't bother. Now deaf in one ear. Its not just cumulative.

Do you wish to avoid the 'NRA handshake"?
That's the one where you shake with right hand, cup the left hand to your ear, and shout "whatcha say yer name was?"

Here in Blighty 3M's Peltor are the default choice for the target shooting fraternity, all the shops at Bisley sell them. A lot of MSA's efficacy is in how well the cup seals to your noggin, here's where MSA Sordin Pro X stand out over their other models and other brands. Gel Cups: Done. End of.

In scandiwegian Viking Rifle Series matches for well over half the field MSA Sordin's seem to be the default setting. The shotgunning crowd run the whole gamut from; nothing, foam plugs, to cast in-ear plugs, I've got cast plugs myself and they are excellent at damping the sound but nothing beats a big pair of solid cans that make an almost perfect seal. For those of you sucking a lemon at the price I also have a building site pair of one of the cheaper MSA models they don't have the socket for the radio, the gel seals,  or the microphone but they really really deaden sound.
Standing in the pissing rain I recently met a bird shooter wearing a pair of Sordin's so old they'd been slightly discoloured by the wind and the rain, [I was going to say the plastic looked bleached by the sun but that's just not plausible] his best guess as to their age was 'oh years' he reported them working exactly the same as they'd always done, but was on his second set of batteries.  At a quoted 600 hours a set, that's a fair amount of use.

More kit-tart-ism and adventures afield to follow
Your pal

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Review: VFG Rifle Cleaning

Bore patches have made it into the 21st century with this innovation from VFG weapon care.

VFG should stand for Very effing Good!

Little woollen pellets that fit snugly in your barrel, or very snugly if you buy the intensive version that have brass strands mixed into the wool. You can pull them on a wire, or you can push them with a rod. They really do remove an unbelievable amount of crud. Making a satisfying squeak as they do it.
Horrible price, but if you hunt around you will find them for about half the price of the most expensive offer. Only ever buy the bags of 500, they're only twice the price of the boxes of 50.
I got the last lot posted from Norway which was cheaper than the previous purchase from Amazon.
It took me a while to accrue the calibers I shoot, and I still don't have .303. No one seems to stock every size, and the intensive's have similar availability to rocking horse poop.

More soon
Your pal