Is it Ever Too Cold to Go Shooting?

With the high temperatures forecasted to only be in the single digits this coming week I was wondering if it’s ever too cold to go the rifle range. I’ve shot the Winter Pistol League when the temperature has been as low as 5 degrees. When it’s that cold trying to get a good score isn’t much fun.

I try to dress for the weather and have as much prepared for the chilly weather so I’m not exposed to it any longer than I have to be. Learning to reload your pistol and get it shooting again with gloves on is something everyone should learn. Shooting with multiple layers and a heavy Carhart coat on is a lot different than a shirt on a warm Summer day. My biggest lesson was getting my ear protection fitting properly with a stocking hat on!

I’ve learned I can still shoot when the temperatures are in the low double digits, but when they drop to single digits and close to zero things change. Once it’s that cold I’ve found any training value is quickly lost. I start focusing on the cold instead of shooting.

Do you have a temperature you decide it’s just too cold to go to the range?

Stay warm, or better yet stay inside and reload!!

Winter Day at the Range

In Minnesota when the weather cooperates it’s time to head to the range. With the temperature nearing the freezing point and a bright sun in the sky I headed to the range to try out a few reloads I had worked up.

Range set up on a Winter day


I only stayed out there for a little more than an hour, but I tested out some .38 Specials through my Colt Detective Special. I also shot several magazines of 9mm through my EDC S&W Shield to keep myself some what proficient with that pistol.

Usually the cold Minnesota Winters keep people indoors as much as possible. This Winter I have set a goal to get to the range whenever the weather permits and when I just can’t get outside I have several indoor ranges I can visit for a quick session. Don’t let the weather affect your range time too much this Winter!

Cheap Ammo

Walking through a large outdoor store the other day I noticed the price of a box of 9mm was selling for $6.99 a box ! It was a large manufacture 115 grain full metal jacket in a white box. This is the same ammo many of use for practice or a fun day at the range. It was far cry from a few years ago when it was tough to find any type of ammunition at any price

!I have noticed that 9mm and 5.56 ammunition is the most reasonable. This makes sense because of the supply and demand principle. I hope this will cross over to .44 magnum and .357 magnum, but I doubt that will ever happen. Eventually I’m sure these low prices will start to raise to the level they were at a few years ago. This might be a good time to stock up if you can afford it! Just be sure to leave some for the next guy!

I thought I couldn’t reload 50 9mm for $6.99. I enjoy reloading as a hobby and as a way to get some accurate ammunition for my M-1 Garand. My time is worth something and spending it producing practice 9mm ammunition is not wise. I would rather spend it making accurate loads for the M-1 or .44 magnum.

Are you seeing the same prices in your area and are you buying a few more boxes than normal?

Do you need a Mosin-Nagant 91/30?

The Mosin-Nagant 91/30 rifle has been around for well over 100 years. Used by many armies around the world and very popular within the surplus rifle market this rifle has millions of fans, but has it’s time come and gone? I own several and still enjoy taking them to the range for some fun shooting holes in paper targets. If you don’t already have a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 you need to ask yourself if you really need one.

The days of the $49.00 rifles are gone and are not coming back! Even with millions of Mosins produced they are getting harder and harder to find a decent one at a decent price. I haven’t seen one in a local gun shop for several years and the gun show rifles are priced around $250-$300 for an average rifle. The importation of the ones that are in the Ukraine will be many years in the future if at all. Supply and demand for these rifles will force the price to continue to raise.

The same issue the rifle has goes for the 7.62x54R ammunition the 91/30 shoots. The famous tin can of 440 rounds are tough to find at a decent price. Gun show prices hover around $150 for one tin can. New manufactured Wolf, which is noncorrosive, can be had for under $15 a box on sale and seems to be more accurate than the surplus ammunition. The days of cheap ammunition for the 91/30 are over also.

The Mosin is known for its simple hard to see iron sights. Every rifle I have shot shot about 12″ high at 100 hards. Trying out to 250 or 300 yards the 91/30 usually holds 5 shots in a 6″ circle. Better ammunition usually tightens up these results by an inch or so. The 5 round magazine isn’t too bad to use, just remember it is a rimmed cartridge and you must be careful loading the rounds into the magazine for proper feeding! There is a reason the rimmed cartridges are not coming back!

I really enjoy shooting the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 for a fun time at the range. As much as like the rifle, if I didn’t already own one I probably wouldn’t go out looking to get one. The prices are increasing, the ammunition is getting tougher to find at a reasonable price and with all the entry level rifles in the market you can get a much better rifle for around the same price.

Try a 3 Gun Event

I’m always looking for a new way to enjoy some time at the range. Punching paper targets at 7, 25 and even 100 yards is my standard shooting practice at the range. This standard shooting routine can get a little boring after awhile and I like to change things up a little bit. Recently I had a chance to shoot at a local 3 gun shoot !! Not knowing what to expect I loaded up a pistol, a shotgun and a AR rifle and headed out to the range. I’m a huge fan of shoot what you have and went just with my basic firearms. The men and women at the range made me feel welcome and after walking the course with a mandatory safety brief we watched everyone go through the course for score. Most people there were pretty new to this type of competition so I felt pretty comfortable.

PISTOL stage- Using my Springfield Armory XD9 I shot 2 rounds from the left side of the barricade into 2 targets. Performed a magazine change and then shot another 2 rounds into 2 different targets from the right side of the barricade. The range was around 15 yards and there was a “friendly” target in between the two real targets you had to watch out for. Dropped my pistol onto the plastic drum and headed for my shotgun.

SHOTGUN stage- The 5 shots in this stage was a bit challenging. It had been a long time since I shot my Mossberg 500 and it felt good to bring it out again. Working from right to left trying to hit 3 3″ steel targets sitting on stands across the width of the range. Ranges were from 15 to 25 yards. One target was a falling target that sprung a clay target a few feet in the air to shoot.  Once this stage was done I headed over to my AR.

AR stage- This was by far the most difficult stage. Starting from 20 yards away trying to hit a 2 man sized targets and 2 10″ targets all while slowly backing up! This is something I’ve never tried before and my score showed it! Every was talking about this stage and admitted this is something they haven’t tried before.

Conclusion- I met some new people, had a blast and learned more about my equipment (like take the plug out of your shotgun)! If your AR is sighted in for 100 yards I would suggest shooting it at 25 or 30 yards to have an idea where it strikes at that distance.

Even though this was a local 3 gun shoot ran by volunteers and there were no experts there, people shared their tactics with everyone. Even though I didn’t do as well I hoped I would I’m going back Tuesday to change things up again! If you want to try something new in the shooting sports I urge you to try a local 3 gun shoot!


.357 Love

After 70 years the .357 Magnum is still a one of the most popular cartridges around. This popularity is well deserved. Firearms chambered in the full power .357 Magnum caliber can also shoot less powerful, and cheaper, .38 Special loads. This benefit can increase range time and let new shooters get used to the recoil before moving up to full power loads. Three reasons I like the .38 Special/.357 Magnum combination are firearms chambered for them, the wide selection of factory ammunition available and the ease of reloading.

Firearms– Most of the .38 Special/.357 Magnum firearms available today are revolvers. From short barreled carry pieces to huge long barreled hunting handguns there are .38 Special/ .357 Magnum to fit every need. Single action .357 Magnum revolvers are powerful enough for deer size animals at close range. Even the .38 Special could be used for small game given the right load. There are a few auto loading pistols chambered for the .357, but I don’t have any experience with them.

A lever action rifle in .357 can be used for hunting or self defense. Using a heavy load the combination of a quick handling carbine in .357 could be powerful enough for deer out to 100 yards. For self defense the .357 Magnum in a lever action rifle is sufficient to defend your home.

Factory Ammunition– Just about every sporting goods store will carry at least one .38 Special/.357 Magnum factory load. All across the country these two calibers are easy to pick up if you are in need of a box or two for your firearm. These offerings might not be exactly what you’re used to shooting, but at least your have something! The fact you can find ammunition almost anywhere you go can be a great advantage for the .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolver.

From the cheapest target load for your .38 Special to the most powerful .357 Magnum hunting load you’ll be able to find ammunition almost anywhere.

Reloads– Being a new reloader I started with the .38 Special/.357 Mag. A straight wall case eases reloading the .357 . A wide variety of powders drive different weights of bullets to a wide range of velocities. Since there are so many choices to make a reloader can find a combination to fit any need they might have.

Now might be the time to add  a .357 Magnum to your collection if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, perhaps it’s time to add another !


What to do on a cold Winters Day

Old man Winter is back in Minnesota. Limited hours of light and brutal temperatures keep most people inside for days at a time. Please don’t let this time go to waste. Instead of watching movies or taking long naps this time can be used to get your firearms in shape for the coming Spring. Here is a small list I have been using this Winter to keep busy.

I have been using this Winter to improve my reloading. I’ve worked up some great loads for my .45 ACP and .357 Magnum over the last few months.  Loading up some light target loads that are wonderful to shoot has helped me put cold days to good use. I’ve also stocked up on some loads so when the weather finally warms up I will be ready to hit the range.

Besides reloading I have found these days to be great to clean and inspect my firearms. Pulling firearms out for a quick going over and basic cleaning keeps your firearms at the ready if you might need them. On really nice days a quick trip to the range to verify a rifle zero and practice with it gets me out to enjoy the weather!

Visiting Winter time gun shows is another way to break the Winter blues. Seeing new firearms and some old ones can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Looking over tables of all types of firearms and firearms related items you might make a discovery that you’ve been looking for. Some people use these as one way to improve their collection of firearms or trade firearms they never use anymore.

Winters here in Minnesota are long and cold, but we’ve learned to adapt to them. I spend the time inside to be ready for a break in the weather to enjoy a warm afternoon at the range. If it’s been cold for a long stretch of time I find my way to an indoor range. Since it’s just a 25 yard range I’m limited to what I can shoot, but for testing some hand loads, or improving my pistol shooting, it’s a good alternative to my outdoor range. Hopefully this will give everyone a few ideas for putting these long Winter days to good use!

Why I started reloading.

When it’s raining or snowing outside, or the temperature drops below freezing for days on end I find ways to keep busy. Oh, I still take the dog for a walk and get outside as much as possible, but I find those Wintery days a perfect time to make some bullets! In just a few hours I can produce some accurate and inexpensive rounds to shoot from a .38 Special or .45 ACP. With the price and availability of ammo always changing reloading is one way of bringing some stability to my ammunition storage.

Even with my single stage press I find the time I spend very relaxing. By taking my time and following loading data from reliable sources I can produce the exact ammunition I need. From lower powered target ammo to some powerful hunting ammo I get exactly what I need. By choosing different  bullet weights I can match what each firearm likes to shoot for even better results.  After a long day at work the ability to sit for one hour and de-prime and resize 100 rounds of .38 Specials is priceless.

Networking with others that reload is a great source of information. Talking with others at gun shows or at the range I have learned a lot about reloading. If it’s just a tip about different things to try or experience with different powders networking with others is fun. I have gotten boxes of reloaded ammunition from some to try in my firearms. Some worked amazing and I’ve copied their data to produce my own. Others haven’t worked very well and I gave their half used box back to them.

I tried to justified the savings reloading has given me but quickly realized that probably wasn’t the case. If you shoot just a few hundred rounds a year you’re probably better off buying factory ammunition and having fun. But if you shoot quite a bit, or want better results I would suggest reloading. Once you have your press set up and running you will save money on your ammunition, but the best pay out is with the knowledge you gain and the great people that will help you in your new hobby.

So while I have saved a little bit of money reloading, I find the friendships I’ve made and the quiet peaceful time I’ve spent making my own ammunition to be the best part of why I reload.



Gun Show Report

Need somewhere to go on a cold Winter’s day? Need a hard to find firearm item? Need a place to walk around and look at new firearms and a few old ones? One place that fulfills all of this is your local gun show. Many gun shows are held on a regular schedule and is a great place to get to know firearm experts in your  area. Forget the idea of a bunch of old men wearing plaid shirts trying to out do each other in firearm knowledge. The gun shows I attended recently are a fun place for the entire family to spend a few hours wandering the aisles to find a treasure or two.

We have had our table of clean and sorted brass at two recent gun shows and have had a great time each weekend. The other vendors went out of their way to make us feel welcome and a few gave us a few tips about the gun show trade. Of course there are the big vendors that sell strictly firearms, but most of the vendors we talked with have a few items on one table.

One lady had non-lethal self protection items for sale. Pepper spray, bright lights and the stun gun marketed toward females were very popular. Her table was well set up and was very busy all weekend.

There were several tables of knives to look through. Most were inexpensive copies of popular styles both small pocket knives to huge machetes. I even found a British Commando knife that I just had to bring home!

Leather goods were available also. Custom made belts while you waited, holsters and leather purses designed for firearms carry were all available.

If you need ammunition for an obsolete caliber I’m sure you’ll be able to find it at the next gun show. At our table people asked for .221 Remington Fireball, we don’t sell ammunition, but pointed him to the table that had it! Old surplus ammunition was easy to find for many older rifles. New production ammo was plentiful, even some powder coated red, white and blue made an appearance. Make sure you check the prices between vendors!

Besides the standard firearms, ammunition and reloading supplies many other items are for sale. Training classes to become a better shooter along with permit to carry course sign ups were available.

So the next weekend of bad weather, or if you have a few hours to do nothing head on out to your local gun show. You’ll be surprised at the number of people and the wide variety of items for sale!