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The Battle Of 2016 Begins

The launch of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in April set the stage for high drama — not that there hasn’t been plenty of political antics before the no-surprise announcement. This would almost be fun to watch, if there wasn’t so much at stake for the future of our country.

The Clinton announcement added an extra dose of anti-Hillary commitment on the closing day of the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting gathering in April. More than 70,000 packed the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., to handle thousands of firearms and related products, and to begin the battle for the White House.

A host of Republican presidential hopefuls took the NRA stage to present their pro-gun message, along with plenty of criticism for the Obama administration’s attack on guns, gun owners and the Second Amendment. Clinton’s presidential run was also noted.

“This weekend Hillary Clinton is announcing for president. Well, I’ll tell you, if Hillary Clinton is going to join with Barack Obama and the gun grabbers and come after our guns then what I say is ‘come and take it,’” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in addressing NRA members.

Yes, there’s going to be plenty of high drama between now and November 2016.

Morale Booster

The NRA’s annual gathering is a tremendous morale booster. The crowded booths and hard-to-navigate aisles reinforce the strength of the consumer market and American’s passion for firearms, gun ownership and the Second Amendment.

And the NRA event is fun. It’s a delight to see all types of consumers swarming booths, eagerly handling products and asking endless questions of exhibitors.

From seasoned gun owners to young families with infants in carriers, they all had a seemingly unquenchable desire to visit every booth to make purchases — and collect pins, patches, hats and other branded free-bees.

There were also many celebrities in attendance, providing plenty of handshaking, autographs and selfies. The speeches, concerts and rallies are unabashedly red, white and blue — a celebration of Americana.

The takeaway from the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits: The consumer base is strong and passionate about the Second Amendment — and hang on, because it’s going to be a wild ride to the White House.

Slight Recovery Signs

From an industry standpoint, there were a lot of positives at the NRA gathering. Many companies are beginning to see signs of a recovery from the downturns of 2014 and earlier this year. It’s not significant. In fact, in most cases, it’s very slight. But given the significant downturn, any increase is encouraging.

In March, NICS conducted 1,187,823 (NSSF-adjusted) background checks, a 3 percent decrease compared to March 2014. However, the total number of background checks for this year’s first quarter was the second highest first quarter in the history of the NICS system. The 3,521,089 (NSSF-adjusted) background checks during the quarter were a 1.8 percent increase over the first quarter of 2014. Not surprisingly, the most checks conducted in a first quarter took place in 2013, with 4,926,193 (NSSF-adjusted).




Savage Axis

The Savage Axis II XP is an “entry-level” centerfire rifle with upgrades and features that only a generation ago would have required the services of a talented gunsmith costing hundreds of additional dollars. Specifically, those upgrades and features include a fully adjustable trigger, name-brand scope that is professionally mounted and boresighted, free-floated barrel and pillar-bedded action. Those are hardly things bargain guns have been known for, but there they are, on an American-made rifle costing around $500 from a company known not only for the price of their guns, but also their accuracy.

One of the new variants for 2014 is the Axis II XP Youth dipped in Moon Shine’s Muddy Girl camo. To say this camo with attitude compels consumers is an understatement. Savage’s Director of Marketing, Bill Dermody, credits the look with getting their guns “noticed in the sea of product at the point of sale,” and says that Muddy Girl is so “different from everything else out there that it is just impossible to ignore.”

But catchy looks aside, the functional aspects of the Axis II are also impossible to ignore. “One of the biggest customer requests we’ve gotten on the Axis is for an AccuTrigger,” says J.J. Reich, Public Relations Specialist for Savage’s parent company, Vista Outdoor. “It’s one of the upgrades for this year,” he explained, and it’s one of the features that separate the Axis II from the basic Axis.

The AccuTrigger was the first rifle trigger I recall that is something of a “trigger within a trigger” — a style that has since become a very popular feature on modern rifles. Its inner blade has a forward extending arm that blocks the sear from releasing the firing pin unless the blade is fully depressed. It’s a “passive” safety, in that you don’t have to actually put it “on” or “off” safe — just pull the trigger to shoot — and its inherent safety is one reason Savage makes the AccuTrigger user-adjustable. Pull range is 2 1/2 to 6 pounds, and with a simple twist of the supplied adjustment tool, I had the sample Youth Muddy Girl down to a smart 2.7 pounds pull.

The other significant upgrade to the Axis II XP over the basic Axis package is the Weaver 3-9x40mm Kaspa scope. Seeing as this is a value-priced package gun, don’t expect the Kaspa to be comparable to a Weaver Super Slam, but according to Reich it does have “higher-quality coatings” than found on the Bushnell scope packaged with the standard Axis rifle, plus it has Weaver’s limited lifetime guarantee if there is a problem. Mechanically, it offers one-piece tube construction, is nitrogen-purged, and has 1/4 MOA click adjustments and a Ballistic X reticle with hash marks for downrange hold-overs. In the Axis II XP package, the scope is factory installed and bore-sighted, meaning that your first shot on the range should be on paper, but you will have to do the final sight-in. Likewise, you will need to fire shots using the hold-overs to figure out their downrange values for your specific load.

Under those upgrades is the basic Axis platform that, since its introduction in 2011, has proven itself as a quality, affordable rifle. It’s not exactly a variant of Savage’s Model 110 like the discontinued Stevens Model 200 was, but instead is more of a modernized version of the 110 with manufacturing tweaks that make it possible to offer the Axis at a low price. “The manufacturing of the [ejection] port is way easier,” Reich explains when describing steps Savage took to keep the cost down The Youth Muddy Girl is available in .243 Win and 7mm-08.

Other manufacturing efficiencies include a complete departure from the traditional recoil lug arrangement. Many manufacturers machine the recoil lug as part of the action or as a separate piece sandwiched between the barrel shoulder and the action face. Instead, the Axis has a rectangular cut-out in the action face, and the recoil lug is a steel piece fitted into the synthetic stock that locks up into that cutout. That, combined with solid, dual pillar bedding and a fully free-floated barrel all but eliminates any possible stock-induced inaccuracy.

Another interesting departure is that the trigger guard is a removable part of the stock. That goes immediately into my “like” category because it lets you get to the AccuTrigger adjustment without having to take the entire barreled action out of the stock. Another thing in the “like” category is the detachable four-round magazine. I like it because instead of the staggered left-right feeding of traditional Savage magazines, it feeds in line with the chamber. Whenever I’ve had a feeding problem with a Savage, it has consistently been from one or the other side of the magazine. With the in-line feeding, Savage eliminated that potential problem.

This is a very safe gun beyond the obvious AccuTrigger. The sliding tang safety is easily in reach for a young or smaller shooter, and its large size is easy to operate. Its red position indicator combined with the detachable magazine and cocking indicator at the bolt’s rear provides comfort knowing I can tell the condition of the rifle at a glance. Ruptured cartridges are rare, but Savage’s bolt head baffle blocks gases from riding the action rails back into the shooter’s face, and any gas that does get out that way is deflected by the large baffle formed by the top of the bolt handle.


Credits:  Scott Mayer from
Photo Credits:  Scott Mayer from

Hunters Often Overlook Hearing Protection

While most shooters would never walk onto an active gun range without ear plugs or muffs in place, hunters who use firearms tend to neglect precautions to protect their hearing.

In the heat of the hunt, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Yet every shot at a bird, deer or elk erodes one of our most valuable hunting assets.

“Shooter’s ear – we see it every day in our business,” said Lance Kraemer of Starkey Hearing Technologies, a manufacturer of hearing aids and electronic hearing protection.

“And every day we hear from hunters who wish they’d been clued in on hearing protection at a younger age.”

Procrastination used to be understandable. Ear plugs may prevent a hunter from hearing the wing beat of a flushing pheasant or the snap of a stick that might indicate a deer is approaching.

But technology has erased the shortcomings of the standard ear plug. Excuses for neglecting hearing protection in the field are obsolete.

A single gunshot, rated at about 140dB, can cause permanent hearing damage, according to government guidelines. Maybe it’s just a little at a time, but the damage adds up hunt after hunt.

Bird hunters who shoot multiple rounds a day are at high risk, especially waterfowl hunters in a blind where they are bombarded with the deafening muzzle blast from their partners’ guns as well as their own.

Ear plugs of some sort should be on the required equipment list for every member of every family headed to the field to hunt with a firearm.

Inexpensive ear plugs with noise-suppressing mechanical baffles ($10-$15) are a viable alternative for any budget.

But any plug must be properly inserted. “Foam plugs are notorious for working out slightly so they’re offering less than 50 percent of maximum protection,” Kraemer said, citing Occupational Safety and Health Administration research.

I’ve been using standard ear plugs while hunting for decades, but not before I’d already lost some hearing acuity. Even in my protective years, it’s been hard to be consistent at plugging my ears.

For instance, while hunting wild turkeys, I usually insert ear plugs before taking a stand and calling. But I often remove the plugs when I’m moving or setting up again for a better chance of hearing distant yelping or gobbling.

More than once I’ve had a gobbler come into sight unexpectedly while my plugs were out. Since the movement of reinserting the plugs could spook a sharp-eyed tom, I’ll bite the bullet, call the bird and perhaps take the shot with ears unprotected.

Technology has made these lapses of protection unnecessary.

Trapshooters and other gun-range enthusiasts have been steadfastly using electronic hearing protection for years. Amplified muffs allow a shooter to hear conversations normally while instantly suppressing the sharp noise of a gunshot.

Muffs are very effective and continue to be my choice at a shooting range. In fact, I used the maximum protection of ear plugs combined with muffs to safely endure a Ted Nugent rock concert after interviewing the celebrity notorious for being extremely loud.

Bulky muffs aren’t always handy in the field, but small, convenient electronic alternatives are available.

Some manufacturers are using hearing aid technology to produce electronic hearing protection devices, with automatic noise suppression, that are no more bothersome than ear plugs. Models come in three styles:

. Custom (about $1,200).

. In the canal (about $400).

. Behind the ear with a tube to the plug in the canal (about $300).

I field tested two of these types with positive results.

In-the-canal models are ready to use out of the box. The tiny devices come with different sized soft-rubber covers that fit the product in the ear like a regular ear plug.

Custom models are fitted by hearing-aid dealers, who make an impression of your ear canal for a perfect and comfortable fit. These larger devices also have more features and volume adjustments.

Electronic hearing protection devices are not considered hearing aids, although they share some of the same technology.

“Most hearing aids don’t have a seal; they’re vented,” Kraemer said. “They let air into the ear so the user can hear ambient sound to prevent the feeling of having the ear plugged in everyday living.

“A hearing aid can be adjusted so it won’t amplify damaging loud sounds, but since there’s no seal, a hearing aid is not providing ear protection.”

Also, hearing aids are custom-engineered to pick up frequencies an individual is missing. “There’s a lot more science involved in a hearing aid, hence the extra cost,” Kraemer said.

The SoundGear custom and in-canal products I tested provide about the same amount of protection as a properly inserted foam plug. The big difference is that the user can hear normally as though the ear isn’t plugged.

The digital sound enhancement has a slightly unnatural sharpness but is not uncomfortable or distracting.

The custom model with volume adjustment enhances hearing with high-definition sound reproduction that’s especially useful when hunting from a stand.

The amplification is meant to compensate only for the hearing loss from insertion of the device. However, while the manufacturer can’t claim hearing enhancement, I found a clear improvement with both models in what I could hear without the devices in place.

I spend a lot more time listening to chickadees and other critters than I do absorbing the blast of a gunshot, but I want to be equipped for both.

The electronic hearing protection models I tested have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 24-25dB. That means a muzzle blast rated at 140dB, which poses immediate danger to hearing, is reduced to about 115 dB – the rate of a baby’s cry or a jet ski.

National standards say 115dB will cause hearing damage if sustained for 15 minutes.

Electronic devices use sound-activated compression to trigger instant suppression of any noise over 95dB.

“These products are bringing noise down into a safer range,” Kraemer said. “You’re still exposed to loud sounds, but at a safer level. The guideline is that exposure to noise over 85db for eight hours will cause permanent damage.

“The biggest problem is that most hunters don’t wear any ear protection at all, not even kids,” he said. “They rationalize that they’ll only take a few shots.”

Take this advice from someone who’s already lost the joy of hearing the cascading call of a canyon wren or the distant bugle of a bull elk: protect your hearing with something.

If you want the best performance, buy electronic protection devices that will guard your hearing from muzzle blasts while helping you hear clearly for better communication, hunting success and safety in the woods.

Let’s hope that educated observation doesn’t fall on deaf ears.





Browning® Buckmark Semiautomatic Rimfire Pistols

o Renowned for accuracy and reliability
o Built to exacting tolerances
o Ergonomic Interactive Surface grips for consistent aim
o 10+1 capacity

Browning Buckmark semiautomatic pistols set a standard of excellence in .22-cal. rimfire firearms. Each is CNC-machined to exacting tolerances from a solid block of 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum. Crisp, single-action triggers team with hand-reamed chambers and target crowns on the barrels to enhance accuracy. Grips incorporate Ergonomic Interactive Surface technology for optimal control, comfort and consistent aim. Renowned for accuracy, these pistols deliver exceptional performance for small-game hunters and target shooters. All come with 10-round magazines.


Practical – A durable, affordable general utility pistol with a name that says it all. The alloy frame sports a matte-gray finish, while the 5-1/2″ bull barrel has a matte-blued finish. Ergonomic Ultragrip RX ambidextrous all-weather grips. Adjustable Pro-Target™ rear sight, TRUGLO®/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight.

• Plus Matte Blued/Walnut UDX – Matte-blued finish on the frame and receiver complements the walnut Ultragrip DX™ ambidextrous grips. Ergonomic design with finger grooves for a pleasing feel in the hand. 5-1/2″ slab-side barrel mated to a blowback action with a single-action trigger. Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight, TRUGLO/Marble’s® fiber-optic front sight.

• Camper Kit – The tapered 5-1/2″ bull barrel and fully adjustable sights make it a real tack driver. Composite black grips sport checkering to enhance grip in any weather. Choose a Camper with all matte-blued finish or select a version with a black frame and stainless steel barrel slide in a kit that includes three 10-round magazines and a zippered soft-sided pistol case.

• Camper Blued UFX – The upgraded overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grip with slight finger grooves fits just about any hand size making it feel right at home in yours. It’s excellent for plinking, competition and shooting leagues. Adjustable Pro-Target sights. Matte blued finish.

• Camper Stainless UFX – It has the same features as the Camper UFX, including upgraded overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grip with slight finger grooves to fit just about any hand size making it feel right at home in yours. It’s excellent for plinking, competition and shooting leagues. Adjustable Pro-Target sights. It features a sleek matte stainless steel, tapered bull barrel to complement the matte-blued-finish receiver.

• Hunter – Engineered to take on pests and varmints with exceptional accuracy. The heavy-tapered bull barrel is topped with a TRUGLO/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight and integral scope rail (scope not included). Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight. Smooth cocobolo-wood target grips. Matte-blued finish.

• Buckmark Lite Gray 5.5 – Alloy-sleeved, fluted barrel with Ultragrip RX™, the latest in grip technology. The finger grooves, laser stippling and wave patterns form an Ergonomic Interactive Surface (EIS) putting your hand in the same place on the grip for every shot. Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight, TRUGLO/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight. Matte gray finish.

• Buckthorn Pink – Alloy frame and tapered 5-1/2″ bull barrel display an eye-catching thorny pink finish. Pink overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grips provide ergonomic finger grooves for better control. Pro-Target adjustable sights deliver a 16-click fine-tuned range of adjustment. Two safety mechanisms ensure piece of mind: a large, manual thumb safety and trigger disconnection when the magazine is removed.

Springfield XD

In 2001, Springfield Armory® redefined what a polymer pistol should be. The XD® series set the new industry standard for ergonomic comfort, ease of operation, features and performance. Whether you reach for a Full-Size, a Compact or a Sub-Compact, the first thing you’ll notice is how it nestles perfectly in your hand. Next, discover the ease with which you can acquire your target. Because it uses the same perfect grip angle as John Moses Browning’s proven 1911, the XD® points effortlessly and naturally.


Shooters Gun Shop Inc.
335 Christine St. Suite 101
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703


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Saturday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
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Phone: (573) 651-9091