New Savage 110 Prairie Hunter Bolt-Action 224 Valkyrie

Savage has just launched its new Model 110 Prairie Hunter, a precision bolt-action 110 platform rifle built for the cartridge that bent the rules of ballistics when it was introduced in 2017. This is the new configuration of their older Model 110 first released in 1958. Model 110 Features Bolt-action 224 Valkyrie Cartridge offers the […]

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Dove Hunting in Style with Texas Dove Hunters Association

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Robert Green alongside his trusty canine Tucker — a Chocolate Lab — take to the fields in pursuit of doves. Beretta 686 Whitewing 12-gauge Over/Under Shotgun in hand, Green stalks through the tall grass of his hunting haunt sporting duds tailored for the occasion.

Equipped with a Texas Dove Hunters Association shirt and Austin Clothing Co. cargo pants, Green stakes out the doves with Remington T-72 Amber Lenses ($14.99). Green and Tucker place Mojo Outdoors battery-operated VooDoo Decoy Dove ($44.99) and wait patiently on a Ridge Hunter Dove Hunting Stool ($8.99) courtesy of Cabela’s. For extra storage, Green dips into his Cabela’s Men’s Targetmaster Half Vest ($29.99) stocked with supplies for the hunt.

Take a look through Tucker and Green’s adventure in the fields.

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Dove Hunting

(Photo: Don Summers/

Jacki Billings contributed to this article.


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Upland Bird Hunting Guns for All Price Points

Finding a quality over/under double-barreled shotgun can be tricky business. Is buying cheap the best way to go if you don’t know what you want? Or should you pony up cash to buy top-of-the-line so you have a gun that lasts?, with a little help from the used gun vault, shows off a variety of new and used doubles that span price ranges from budget-friendly to collector-quality. Each of them has the features, build, and looks that an uplander hunter will love at prices that just might be a pleasant surprise.

Ruger Red Label

Though the Ruger Red Label O/U’s have risen in and out of favor — and production — over the years, fans of the American-made double have never faltered. Though again out of manufacture after a brief re-run in the aughts, demand for Red Labels remains. Initially, William Ruger saw a need for an O/U that would be priced more affordably than the Browning Superposed and Citori family of doubles. His design has been the only Ruger shotgun, and whether for birding or clays, the Red Label remains a solid option–when shooters can find them on the used market, that is.

Just so happens, uplanders are in luck. Our T&E Ruger Red Label comes from the Vault, and this particular specimen is a rare bird indeed. Chambered not for the more common 12-or 20-, but rather, 28-gauge on a true small frame. Further, this is not the blued receiver but the stainless version. Our test Red Label wears 26-inch barrels fitted with interchangeable chokes and a straight English-style stock rather than the more common semi-pistol grip.


The lightweight Red Label in 28-gauge, built on a true small-frame, swings quickly on both birds and clays and looks just as good as it shoots. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Speaking of wood, the walnut stocks wear classy checkering and some fine figure to boot. The gun weighs in just a hair under six pounds, svelte and attractive as well as a true deadly pleasure in the field. Used price at the Vault is $2,166. If a more potent 12-gauge is a better suitor, check the Vault for those as well.

The single selective trigger and tang-safety-selector are nice, though the automatically-engaging safety takes some practice for those not accustomed to it. We blasted clays with the 28-gauge and it hung right in there with the bigger gauges, hitting true to point of aim and patterning well.


Charles Daly Field

The Charles Daly name has found its way onto so many shotguns over the years, its difficult to know what shooters are getting from the used racks. But in the way of older O/U shotguns, plenty of well-made upland bird and clay guns exist under the brand. One such trustworthy model that was never fully appreciated in its time but is quite coveted today is the BC Miroku built Charles Daly O/U shotgun. Quality on the Italian and Turkish made versions varied widely from fine to floppy. Astute gunners, however, will recognize the Miroku name from the side of Browning Citori shotguns, which come at a much, much higher price point.


There’s no better place than the sporting clays course when upland bird seasons are closed, and both the Charles Daly Field 12-gauge and Ruger Red Label 28-gauge from the Vault made great clay-busting companions. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The Vault has multiple used Daly options at the moment, with several Miroku’s among them, priced in the $630-$840 in different variants. Our T&E gun comes from the Vault and is a 12-gauge with 30-inch vent rib barrels and fixed Full/Full chokes. This double wears a gold-plated single trigger with the tang safety and selector.  The gun is tight, comes up and swings like a dream, and would be great for either clays or upland birds.


Browning Superposed or Citori

One of the most revered over-under shotguns in the American upland birding fields and clays courses is some variant of the Browning Superposed or its Citori successor. Original round-knob Superposed doubles were made in Belgium with great attention to detail, and their quality today comes at a premium price and collectability. Our 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels is a nicely engraved Pigeon grade that has been well-loved over the years and is more a hunter than a safe-queen.

The Browning timeline progressed from Belgian-made Superposed to the similar, albeit feature-upgraded Citori line of O/U’s with interchangeable chokes and many more options.


Three of the four in our test wear silver receivers. Most wear lovely engraving and all have barrel selectors, and that goes to show that even more inexpensive guns needn’t sacrifice looks or performance. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Many of the later manufacture Citori doubles came out of the Japanese Miroku plant, a name recognizable on the Charles Daly above. While the original Superposed pieces are as collectible now as they are good shooters, the newer manufacture Citori’s are available with many specialty variants from sporting clays to skeet to all types of hunting editions. As far as our test goes, both the Superposed and Citori represent the top of the cost market, but quality is also concurrent with price, generally running $1,500 – $2,700 on both used and new forums.


Stevens 555

There has always been a market for affordable O/U shotguns, but Savage has not been a legit player in that game until fairly recently. The Stevens by Savage Model 555 doubles first came out in 12- and 20 gauge, followed quickly by 28 and 410 as well. But now, life is complete, for the company has begun shipping the new 555 and 555E in 16-gauge, one of the most underrated upland and clay guns yet.

The 16-gauge 555’s wear 28-inch chrome lined, carbon steel barrels. Many folks, myself included, appreciate having interchangeable chokes for different types of hunting, and the 555 ships with five tubes in a small hard case. There’s a single selective mechanical trigger as well as an easily operable tang safety. Length of pull is a standard 14.5-inches. The vent rib barrels are finished with a simple brass bead.


While some of the older guns have fixed chokes, the newer ones offer interchangeable tubes. Both the Stevens 555 and Ruger Red Label come with flush mount, interchangeable chokes. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The lightweight aluminum 555 receivers are not only reinforced with steel, but also built to scale, meaning the company is not merely swapping barrels and gauges on a single bulky frame. Sub-gauges get their own appropriately scaled-down receivers. The guns are Turkish-made by KOFS, and while many are quick to scoff, Turkey is putting out some lasting guns these days. While quality can vary widely, a company like Savage maintains control, and the differences are obvious over some of the cheaper Turk doubles from other companies with overseas factories.

Shooters can choose between the blued Model 555 with manual extractors or the upgraded 555E with its silver receiver, engraving, upgraded wood, and dual ejectors. MSRP runs $705- $879, with real world prices considerably lower.

A Fine Collection of Over/Unders

These fine guns are proof that O/U’s of all price points make ready companions for shooting birds of either live or clay variety. Whether you spend $600 or $2,600, the expectation should never change for a gun that patterns well, has features and options for hunters, and looks the part as well. Of the guns on our list, three of the four wear silver receivers, though all have blued options. Most wear lovely engraving and all have barrel selectors, tang safeties, and vent rib barrels. That goes to show that even more cost-effective guns needn’t sacrifice looks or performance. Buying either the cheapest or the most expensive is seldom the wisest option, and with guns like these, it needn’t be. Regardless of choice of O/U, the most important thing is finding an gun that fits well and get you out in the field.

For other great handgunsrifles, and shotguns, check out the Vault and collection of Certified Used Firearms

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New Illinois Law Could See More Hunter Ed in Schools

Savage shotgun

The new law clears the way for schools in Illinois to hold hunter education courses on school days or after hours. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A bill designed to promote hunting safety by allowing school districts to offer students a course on the subject was signed into law last week.

The proposal, HB 3462, was inked by Gov. J.B. Pritzker without comment on Friday along with a host of other bills. The new law gives school districts the option to include hunting safety classes in their curriculum.

“Students who are exposed to lessons in hunting safety have a greater chance of respecting firearms and using them properly for the rest of their lives,” said state Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, a sponsor of the bill. “As the law is shifting to emphasize the importance of safe handing—adopting legislation like this could make for an accessible path for students to learn these methods in-depth, early on in their lives.”

Current state law requires hunters in the Land of Lincoln born after 1979 to have a valid hunter education certificate before they can be issued a hunting license. The most common course is a 10-hour event that can be partially completed online. Under the new law, which became effective immediately, schools can elect to make such courses part of the curriculum during regular school days or as part of an after-school program.

The bill was introduced in February by state Rep. Monica Bristow, a downstate Democrat who worked for the Olin Corporation for over two decades before taking office. “With hunting and other outdoor activities at the cornerstone of our local traditions, teaching students how to safely hunt and use a firearm is commonsense,” said Bristow.

The measure had the support of the Illinois Farm Bureau and passed the legislature unanimously. The State Board of Education can make resources regarding hunting safety available to local school boards under the act.

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How Does a Rifle Scope Work?

zero a scope


At the root of it, a rifle scope serves one major purpose: magnification of the target for more accurate shooting. Similar to looking through binoculars, a riflescope makes the target – be that paper or a game animal – appear larger, clearer and in greater detail than seen with the naked eye. This magnification allows shooters to place a shot with a much greater degree of accuracy, especially at extended ranges. Rifle scopes are especially popular for serious target shooters and big game hunters.

To oversimplify things, riflescopes work very much like telescopes with light passing through a series of lenses. Generally speaking, the more expensive the scope, the higher quality the components used to build it, and ultimately, the clearer and better the optic will be. Unlike a telescope, however, riflescopes have a reticle, also sometimes called crosshairs. That reticle, which is traditionally a “plus” shape superimposed over the target, is essentially the aiming point on the target when the shooter pulls the trigger. Riflescopes are mounted on the rifle using available mounts to fit the particular rifle or handgun, and then adjusted – or zeroed – to shoot at the chosen distance, most commonly 100 yards.

Different Types of Scopes

Any respectable gun shop owner will be able to help even a beginning buyer choose the correct scope for their rifle. The best way to start is to handle and look through some scopes. Observe the different types of reticles. Look at the turrets, the dial adjustments on both the top and side of the scope that allow adjusting the impact point for both elevation (up and down) and windage (left to right). While riflescopes with a 1-inch tube diameter — the measurement of the body of the scope — are most common, 30mm tubes or even larger are growing in popularity for their perceived increase in light transmission.

Scopes have many different power settings, and again, these are best decided by the type of use the shooter anticipates. While there are fixed power scopes with a single magnification, the vast majority use a power ring for shooters to adjust the magnification lever. For instance, many deer hunters will select perhaps the most common magnification, which is a 3-9×40. That particular scope will allow the hunter to see targets anywhere from three- to nine-times closer than they actually are. The “40” measurements refers to the size of the objective lens as measured in millimeters. Longer distance shooters may opt for something with greater power, like a 6-18×44.

There are scopes built specifically for hunters, others for target shooting, some more tactical than others, and still more ideal for handguns or even rimfire plinkers. Regardless of your skill level, there’s a scope that will serve you well. Though this has been just a very basic explanation and riflescopes get infinitely more technical in nature, this bit of information on how and why riflescopes work will set you on the path to more accurate and enjoyable days on the range.

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How to Make the Most Fun for a Family Range Trip

A home range gives you access to some pure American family fun, but there’s more to consider before setting up some empty soda cans and grabbing an old plinker. So, I invited Chris and his son James to demonstrate how to operate a home range.

At 12-years-old, James was more safety-conscious than most shooters. While he’s more involved in the shooting sports than most kids, his dad introduced gun and hunting safety to him at an early age.

Chris explained that he wanted to give James the same experience that he had when he was a kid. Chris’s dad taught him to shoot as well. “I started shooting when I was 10. I got my first BB gun and it was the greatest gift I ever got, so I wanted to start James along that path,” Chris said.

So, when James turned eight and got his first BB gun, they started on gun safety lessons. Then, he became more proficient with his BB gun, Chris decided James would be ok handling something with a little more power and accuracy. “I have a CZ 452 that I really love and I searched around and found him a CZ 452 Scout, so it’s just like mine but kid sized,” Chris said.

family range

James showed off his first “real” rifle, this youth sized CZ bolt action .22LR gifted by his father Chris. Not only did James demonstrate proper safety in loading, muzzle direction, and firing, but he shot with incredible accuracy, ringing the steel and punching out bullseyes at 50-yards! (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

“I got it for my (ninth) birthday and it was probably one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever gotten,” James said.

With the new rifle, they hit up the range and practiced the fundamentals. “He wanted a scope right away and I told him ‘no,’” Chris said and explained he wanted James to learn how to shoot with open sights first.

From age 9 to 12, James practiced with open sights. As promised, though, Chris gave him a scope after he mastered the basics. “So, I lost my scope and we put it on his rifle,” Chris said. “We’ve had a lot of fun shooting with open sights and with scopes.”

“When I started with the open sights, it was funny, because I would look at targets from a long range and just — they would disappear — and I was like ‘where are they?’” James said, recognizing the need to master the fundamentals before upgrading equipment.

family range

James bears down with the Ruger Mark IV Target pistol in .22LR. His practice with a proper pistol grip and knowledge of iron sights helped him ring the steel. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

For this demonstration, we set up a mix of reactive and paper targets, but a benefit to a home range is that it doesn’t always need such an organized set up.

Using a scope, Chris and James pickoff staged clay pigeons, quarters or whatever is available. “We have some competitions and contests. I can usually come out ahead, but on a good day he can take me down,” Chris said.

“It’s kinda fun,” James added.

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Reading the Wind for Better Marksmanship


Making adjustments for wind doesn’t have to be a headache with the right tools and know-how. (Photo: Jeff Wood)

Anyone who has shot in the wide-open spaces in the plains states knows that wind is an old nemesis for marksmen. Wind is one element that’s ruined more than a few shots over the years for many shooters. Therefore, a better understanding of this gusty adversary could help put more hits on the scorecard.

Wind deflection refers to the physical effect of air currents that a bullet is forced to combat as it travels towards a target. Wind can come from any direction and the effect on the bullet can vary greatly depending on air density, humidity, temperature and other atmospheric conditions.

Though shooting in the wind can be intimidating it becomes a simple a matter of familiarity. Instead of sticking to fair weather shooting, shooters are better off forcing themselves to get out there in the breeze and learn from it. Let’s take a look at the wind’s effects and address some tips on what you can do to counter it.

What Is Windage


Adjusting windage means making small changes to the point of aim. (Photo: Jeff Wood)

Windage refers to the correction for the effect of the wind. Rifles should be zeroed to the center of the Point-of-Aim. Then, wind is the obnoxious character that blows bullets away from that POA. Adjusting windage comes down to making small changes to your POA depending on how far away from the POA the wind pushes the bullet. For instance, if the wind blows your bullet 3-inches to the right of POA then you would aim 3-inches left of where you want to impact the target.

The effects of wind and other air currents are exacerbated with more exposure time. Simply put, the longer the bullet travels, the more the wind will affect its trajectory. Based on this concept, it’s important to note that bullets traveling faster will be less affected by wind than slower bullets, all else being equal. Regardless of velocity, however, the further away from the target the shooter is, the more shooters will have to account for the wind.

How to Determine Windage


Apps and charts can help shooters determine windage and offer measurements to correct for wind. (Photo: Jeff Wood)

Bullets drift with the air they are flying through. A marksman’s job is to know how much deviation they will encounter at a given distance or angle. There are many ways to calculate or estimate those offsets, including apps and charts designed to make the process easier.

Downloadable ballistic computing apps installed on smartphones and tablets offer a great means of predicting wind corrections in most scenarios. Some require hardware such as a wind-meter like a Kestrel, but then it’s as simple as inputting data to access corrections. Additionally, there are wind charts that offer estimates for specific bullets in a given set of conditions. Keep in mind they are estimates, and results may vary.

Calculating windage isn’t just about the speed of the wind, but also the direction. A wind coming at 90 degrees will have a greater wind deflection on the bullet than one that comes at a 45-degree angle. A wind coming from straight behind will cause the shot to hit high while wind coming head-on will cause it to hit low. When you compound the effects by the wind coming from strange angles it can get a little tricky and, to be honest, the best way to get better at it is to shoot and observe the results. Soon, you will realize that some shots require both a windage and elevation corrections.

Another thing to watch is multiple wind effects. The wind blowing from your shooting position might be different than one downrange. The wind up close could be blowing right to left, whereas 400 yards away it may be blowing left to right at different speeds. Again, sometimes the only way to know for sure is to make an estimation and just shoot. Be ready then for a quick follow-up shot that includes a better wind correction.

Holding or Dialing for Wind


Holding for the wind allows is the author’s preference when it comes to dealing with wind. (Photo: Jeff Wood)

There are a couple of ways to correct windage, the first and probably more common is to hold for it. If the wind is blowing from right to left, then hold aim right of the target and the wind will carry it into the target. The other common way to correct is dial a wind offset into the riflescope. If the wind blows a foot left of the target, then dial the equivalent of a foot to the right and then aim dead on. Much like leading a shot on a bird when shooting a shotgun, shooters must aim shots into the wind if the target is in a cross-wind.

Some people like to hold wind corrections using the reticle in the scope, while others prefer to dial the wind correction into the turrets of the scope. Which is better? Well, wind is fickle and always changing. Even between shots there can be significant switches in the wind. Using a good reticle with wind offset marks allows shooters to hold a precise value into the wind. Should that wind slow down or change, shooters can adjust simply by holding a different point on the reticle. Alternatively, dialing the wind into the scope turret requires shooters redial every time there’s a shift in wind. Often time, it’s easier to hold for current wind conditions.

Final Thoughts

Windage should be taken into account in almost every shot taken. When shooting even a .22 LR even the lightest of breezes could potentially blow the shot off the target. Distant shots are especially subject to the wind. During distance shooting, a slight breeze can blow your magnum rifle off the POA at significant distances.

Before shooting, take a good look at the conditions downrange. If there are signs of wind, such as blowing grass, it is good practice to analyze it before sitting down to shoot. This would be the point when a wind meter and ballistic app is helpful to determine how much windage to correct.

Whether shooters prefer holdover or dial, assess the wind by observing conditions or use apps, shooters need to be students of the wind. Pay attention to conditions and if a shot is missed or hit, learn from it.

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