Is Steel Ammo Good or Bad?
Since we have an AK-47 derivative (Norinco MAK-90) we like to keep the "low cost/rugged" experience as real as possible by using steel case ammunition in the firearm; even though there is a wide variation of opinions related to using steel vs. brass case ammo.
Based on talking to other people that shoot steel case ammo, several detailed internet reviews and our testing at the range we found that steel ammo is a very viable option – but is probably not what we want to shoot in all of our firearms. In addition, we found that Wolf and Bear ammo are probably the best choices. TulAmmo seems to have significantly more issues with both reliability and cleanliness.
If you want to see a detailed comparison of brass versus steel ammo - then you might want to look at the detailed 40,000 round test that Luckygunner performed. You can find it here: “Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test”
In addition, here are two great YouTube videos from the Military Arms Channel that discuss the pros and cons, and dispel the myths, about steel case ammo:
The Truth About Wolf Ammo
Wolf Ammo Demonstration
You can see more information about the ammo we use on the Shooting/Ammunition page.
Added Photos of Some of our Adventures in Acadia National Park
During our recent trip to Maine, in addition to visiting lighthouses along 200 miles of the Maine coastline, we also hiked all over Acadia National Park. From the Beech and Canada Cliffs, to the Seawall. From Sargeant Drive along the Somes Sound to Bass Harbor. From Pretty Marsh to Jordan Pond. In fact, the only part of Mount Desert Island that we didn’t visit was Bar Harbor because that’s where all the casual tourists flock.
In addition to the beauty of the mountains and coast, of particular note was the Asticou Azalea Garden of the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve which was designed to resemble a Japanese stroll garden. Having spent 16 days in Japan only 2 months ago we were impressed by how a much the garden, which was designed for a coastal Maine setting, looked like the gardens that we saw in Tokyo and throughout Japan.
You can see all the photos of our Adventures in Acadia on the Adventures/North America page.
How to Never Have a Serious Poison Ivy Rash Again
Well, now that Summer is in full swing, all the plants are growing like crazy here in New England; even the poison ivy (and it's cousins poison oak and poison sumac). So if you want to enjoy hiking and camping in the woods, but avoid getting a serious poison ivy rash what should you do?
The first thing that you need to know is that you don't get poison ivy rash from contacting a poison ivy plant - you get it because you didn't wash off the Urushiol oil that comes from contacting the plant or another object that contacted the plant.
Urushiol oil in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac is what produces a severe skin rash. Timely removal of the urushiol oil will prevent poison ivy skin reaction. Clean your skin within 2 to 8 hours of contact. When doing this, the most important thing is not the type of soap that you use - but that you use a wash cloth to apply vigorous friction to make sure that you get all the sticky urushiol oil off of your skin. To make sure that you do this it's a good idea to soap up and wash off 3 times.
Here's a great video from retired biomedical scientist Jim Brauker that clearly demonstrates the poison ivy problem and solution.
Added Photos of Some of our Adventures in Maine
We just got home from a trip to Maine where, as a part of the trip, we visited seven of the larger active lighthouses (there are ~60 active lighthouses) along the Atlantic coast to include:
1) Cape Neddick (Nubble) Lighthouse - York, Maine
2) Cape Elizabeth and Cape Elizabeth West Lighthouses - Cape Elizabeth, Maine
3) Portland Head Lighthouse - Portland, Maine
4) Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse - Portland, Maine
5) Pemaquid Point Lighthouse - Bristol, Maine
6) Owls Head Lighthouse - Rockland, Maine
7) Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse - Acadia National Park, Maine
You can see all the photos of our lighthouse Adventures on the Adventures/North America page.
If you want to learn more about the lighthouses in Maine here is a great website that has detailed information on 29 of the lighthouses:
Trying Out New #8 Shot Shells
Normally we use 2 ¾” 00 Buckshot shells in our shotguns since they are “tactical” in nature (as opposed to being used for skeet shooting or hunting). However, recently we have been doing more 3-gun shooting, where 00 Buckshot is overkill when shooting at clay and paper targets.
Because of this we decided to try a few different types of #8 shot shells. The four types of #8 shells that we are trying out are:
If you want to read more about why #8 shot is better than 00 Buckshot for 3-gun shooting you might want to check out the detailed blog post about shotgun shells last November.
Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what we figure out after we’ve run a bunch of them through our shotguns.
Bought New BluCollarTactical 2 Point Rifle Sling
If you are planning to carry your carbine or rifle any distance, or need to support your firearm for longer than 30 minutes, then you need a sling. We have lots of different types of slings since each firearm, and how you use it, is a little different. Recently we purchased a pair of new slings for our Colt AR-15 carbine (R6430) and rifle (R6550). For our AR platforms we don’t really need anything too sophisticated, so we just went with a standard sling; the BluCollarTactical Patriot Model 2 Point Rifle Sling.
You can find the details about the BluCollarTactical 2 Point Rifle Sling on the Shooting/Slings page.
What Are Chokes and Why Do You Need Them?
Back in November I wrote a detailed blog post about shotgun shells and what all the specification numbers mean. Since then I’ve had several people ask if I would write another blog post about shotgun chokes. If you thought that all the information about shotgun shells was complicated – just wait until you try to sort out choke tubes.
Before getting into the details about choke tubes, let me answer the two questions that most people initially have:
1) What do chokes do?
2) Why would I want to use a choke?
Fundamentally chokes are added to shotguns to focus the shotgun pellets so that they stay in a tighter pattern as they leave the gun’s barrel. In short the choke controls the spread of the shot – making it narrower or wider depending on the choke in use. The addition of a choke makes it so that a single shotgun can be used in a wide variety of situations. Although shotgun chokes were first patented back in the mid 1800’s, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that chokes really began to be used by a large number of shooters.
Since I use 12 gauge shotguns made by Benelli (and Franchi which is owned by Benelli these days) let me cover their chokes, which are similar to the standard industry chokes – but tailored to Benelli shotguns. Standard Benelli Crio® chokes sit flush with the muzzle and come in the following five (5) constrictions:
The Benelli Crio® chokes are cryogenically treated to relieve the stresses caused by hammer forging, creating a smoother and more uniform surface. This allows them to pattern better and they stay cleaner longer.
Each Benelli choke has notches cut into the top of the choke tube to indicate the choke tube constriction. A lower notch count means more constriction (tighter). A higher notch count means less constriction (broader).
1 notch = Full (F)
2 notches = Improved Modified (IM)
3 notches = Modified (M)
4 notches = Improved Cylinder (IC)
5 notches = Cylinder (C)
The standard bore diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun ranges from .725 to .730 inches (18.4 to 18.5 mm). Benelli’s are .725 inches. The tube exit dimensions on standard Benelli Crio® chokes are as follows:
Full .695 inches
Improved Modified .700 inches
Modified .705 inches
Improved Cylinder .715 inches
Cylinder .725 inches
Note: Chokes for other shotguns and from other manufacturers (e.g. Briley, Carlson’s, Trulock, Muller, Patternmaster, Hevi-Shot, etc.,) will be constructed differently and may have different dimensions. Here’s a good link to a page on Carlson’s website with lots of information on the sizes of available chokes by shotgun manufacturer:
A gun with no choke is called a cylinder bore and delivers the widest spread. There are also a number of specialty chokes that provide narrower or wider spreads—these are typically used for skeet shooting and turkey hunting.
The Modified (M), Improved Cylinder (IC) and Cylinder (C) chokes are recommended for steel shot.
Most people find that the Modified choke (M) works best for pass shooting while the Improved Cylinder (IC) and Cylinder (C) chokes work well on decoying birds
A Cylinder choke (C) is recommended for shooting rifled slugs in a smooth-bore barrel. Sabot slugs should only be shot through Benelli’s fully-rifled slug barrels. It is not safe to shoot slugs through chokes tighter than IC or C.
The constriction on Full (F) and Improved Modified (IM) chokes is very tight. Because steel does not compress, it can damage the barrel and choke as the shot charge passes through them.
When you put together the type of shotgun shell and the choke tube you can get a wide variety of shooting configurations – good for any situation. Here’s a great chart showing what the best configurations for different situation are:
A great source of information on this, and many other related topics is the "Official Hunter Safety Courses for Today’s Hunter" website. They’ve worked with International Hunter Education Association (IHEA-USA), more than 45 state agencies responsible for hunter education, and various industry partners to develop comprehensive online hunter’s safety courses that teach students important laws and regulations, game identification, and safe, responsible firearm handling. You can find their website at:
An example of the Course Outline for one of their Study Guides can be found at:
An example of the level of information that they detail in their Study Guides can be found at:
Bought New Buck 110 Auto
Many times in the outback we find that we need to cut something - but have our hands full because they are holding other items – normally the items that we are trying to cut. In situations like this you need a knife that has the ability to flip open or open automatically. Because of this, although we have several other knives in our gear, we recently purchased a Buck 110 Auto.
You can find the details about the Buck 110 Auto on the Camping/Tools page.
A Mother’s Day Hike Instead of Brunch
Most people go out to brunch on Mother's day. Since we love the outdoors we did something a little different; we took a hike at a few locations on the Massachusetts North Shore (Ship Rock, Devereaux Beach, Marblehead and Castle Rock.). It was a great way to spend the day!
Added Photos of Some of our Adventures in Japan and South Korea
In April we took a 16-day trip to Japan and South Korea - and I’ve finally had time to catch up, review, edit and post some of the 2,500+ photos that I took during the trip. It was a great trip that allowed us to see a lot of spectacular sights and hike all over the countries (both in the woods and in the urban areas). Here’s a short list of the places that we went and the sights we saw:
You can see all the photos of our Adventures on the Adventures/Asia page.
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