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Ask Randy

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Contrary to popular opinion, Randy does not know everything that there is to know about hunting, fishing, shooting, etc.  However, if he doesn’t know the answer or have an opinion he’ll try to find one.  Send your questions to him at  Questions are in red (bold).  Responses are in black.

What’s the best light to get for hunting at night?

Several years ago there weren’t many choices for weapons-mountable lights that were made for hunting.  Elusive Wildlife came out with their Kill Light XLR 250 and several FCS members, including me, thought that it would never be beaten.  With 340 lumens, it could see up to 250 yards away (depending on the moonlight/starlight), was tough/shockproof and waterproof, and included a scope/barrel mount, remote switch, and rechargeable battery.  You could get it with a green, red, or white lens.  It now includes a blue lens option, more weapon mounts, and three adjustments (hi, medium, and low) for $150 (you can get an “essentials” version without the pressure switch and with only one mount for $120).  There is now an adjustable lens XLR 250 HD for $200 and 500-yard ($230) and 750-yard ($270) versions.  But it has two shortcomings – the beam cannot be focused and if you want to switch from a green lens to a different colored one you have to buy and install another lens.  As there are now options that address those shortcomings, it is no longer my first choice.

The best light right now is the Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight.  It includes red, green, white, and IR850 infrared (invisible to the eye – must be used with night vision) lenses and adjustable focus.  Like the Kill Light, it is shockproof and has a rechargeable battery.  It’s water-resistant and has a Smart Remote Switch with a button that makes no noise.  It includes two weapons mounts.  Best of all it’s $91 ($59 cheaper than the Kill Light XLR 250)!  A con is it’s only 100 lumens but it shines out to 375 yards.

The runner-up is the Nitecore MH25GT 1000 Lumens 494 yards light.  The reasons that it’s the runner-up is at $129 it’s $38 more expensive than the Odepro (but it’s $21 cheaper than the Kill Light) and it does not have adjustable focus, as the Odepro does.  Like the OdePro it comes with green, red, and clear filers (but doesn’t come with the infrared lens).  Like the Kill Light and the Odepro, it is shockproof and waterproof.  It comes with weapons mounts and a pressure switch.  It also comes with four brightness levels and two special modes – strobe and SOS.  The Orion H30 has a similar price point but you have to choose between a green or red lens (and I haven’t been able to find anyone who sells a spare lens).  You can get the Nitecore P30 1000 Lumens 676 Yards light for $15 more.  The Orion M30C also shines to 700 yards but you have to choose between green or red lenses (and I haven’t been able to find anyone who sells spare lenses), it’s $25 more than the Nitecore P30, and weighs two ounces more.

What’s the best source for a case of 9mm ammo and a bucket or large quantity of .22 LR?

For hard-to-find ammo, I’ve been partial to gunbroker ( and ammoseek (, which searches everywhere for what you’re looking for.

However, if you don’t want to wait for it to be mailed to you, I’d try Academy.  They had several cases of dove loads and boxes of .22 LR the other day (325 shells per box).  I didn’t look for 9mm.

I have absolutely no clue about night vision scopes, so what do you think?  I know I don’t have $500 to invest in on.  Is it worth it to buy one of the less expensive night vision scopes or is it just a waste of money?

I don’t have much experience with them either but know that you’ll see a lot better with a generation 3 than you will with a 2 or especially a 1.  But that means big bucks.

Here’s an article titled Best Night Vision Scope – Top 10 Best Rated Night Vision Scopes Reviews.  Regarding digital scopes, it states, “Digital night vision technology converts ambient light into a digital image that is viewed on a screen. The image quality of most digital night vision scopes can be compared to Gen 2 traditional night vision technology.  Some digital night vision scopes can be used in daylight.
They may also have features that allow the shooter to record, zoom, and change reticles. These versatile devices also tend to be more affordable than Gen 2 or Gen 3 devices.”

#2 on their list is the Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope.  It’s Gen 1, but they described it as “the perfect entry level night vision optic for hog hunting, coyote hunting, or any other nighttime shooting endeavor.”  It’s designed for AR platforms.  However, as it’s Gen 1 you’ll see a lot of black grainy dots and it’s only good for about 75 yards.I’d spend more and get the ATN X-sight 4K pro 3-14x.  Regarding it, they stated, “We consider the X-Sight riflescope from ATN to be one of the best day/night optics on the market.”

For some events, you recommend to pay the deposit or pay for the event via PayPal.  How do I do that?

I highly recommend that you pay deposits via PayPal.  I’ve made over 200 eBay transactions using PayPal and easily that many from other vendors without any problems.  Just within the last two weeks, I’ve bought a bulk pack of AA batteries, an oil filter tool, two cordless work lights, a camo raincoat, three of my medicines, and a photo calendar for a Christmas gift online using PayPal.  This is not true of checks, which can become lost in the mail or stolen out of someone’s mailbox, which is what happened to some of our deposit checks (out of Mike Schumann’s mailbox) in 2017.  PayPal is one of three options for people to join FCS, renew their membership, or donate on our website.

It’s very easy to open a PayPal account.  Just go to  Click “Sign Up” on the top right.  Click “Personal Account” (unless you want to make it a business account).  Fill in the information requested (legal first name, last name, email address, and create a password and confirm it).  Then add the bank account or credit card that you want PayPal to debit purchases from and you’re done.

When paying with PayPal you can choose the “PayPal Credit” option which allows you to pay out purchases over six months at 0% interest (and charges you like a credit card if you don’t pay it out over six months).  I use this option a lot for bigger purchases like my duck mounts.

If you decide to pay a guide/outfitter via PayPal do the following:

  1. Go to
  2. Click “Send” on the top
  3. Click “Send money”
  4. In the “Name, email or mobile number” box type in their email address or phone number.
  5. Enter the amount that you wish to send. For example, if the deposit is $100.00 be sure to type in four zeros.  If you just type in “100” it will translate that as “1.00.”
  6. Select “Sending to a Friend” (by so doing the guide/outfitter doesn’t have to pay the 2.5% plus .30 PayPal fee)
  7. In the “Add a note” box put “For the 2/29/XX FCS hunt” (for example).  Click “Continue.”
  8. Select if you want the payment to come from the checking/savings/credit card account that you linked to PayPal or from PayPal Credit.  Click “Next.”
  9. Review the payment.  If correct, click “Send Payment Now.”  If incorrect go back and make whatever correction that needs to be made.
  10. Click “Log Out” at the top right

You can get a PayPal app for your smartphone that’s even faster than using their website.  I guarantee you that once you’ve paid via PayPal a couple of times it will be a lot faster than writing out a check, stuffing it in an envelope, addressing the envelope, putting a stamp on it, and mailing it.  Plus, you’ll save a lot of money by not having to buy stamps.  I haven’t mailed anyone a check in a long time with the exception of the insurance company for our FCS liability policy.

Where can I go for a walk-in self-guided duck hunt?

All the below walk-in hunts are 1/2 – 1 mile so travel light (gun, a couple of boxes of shells, calls, a stool or bucket, and a strand of decoys).  Hopefully, you’ll be carrying back dead ducks on the way back, so your return trip will be harder.  I once went with a friend on Granger where we each carried the above plus a Mojo each and an extra strand of decoys.  We were worn out when we were done.

For all of these hunts, it’s a good idea to go to the DU migration map to see how hunters have been fairing at a particular lake.  But realize that some hunters are deliberately deceitful.  For example, Granger might be their pet lake and they’ll make a post saying that all that they’re seeing on Granger is cormorants (when they’re really doing well), just to keep other hunters away.  So, it usually takes more than one report to sway me.

Your best bet for a walk-in hunt is probably Lake Stillhouse Hollow, near Salado.  I’ve walked in at the end of Union Grove Rd. in the Union Grove WMA (it’s the only road in the WMA).  When you get to the water either go left (preferably) or right.  Look for other hunter’s headlamps and set up at least 200 yards from them.  Stillhouse’s water level can vary considerably (as with all these lakes).  See  So, the cover that is normally at the shore’s edge might be inland or under water.  A good thing about Stillhouse is it does not require the TPWD Public Hunting Permit, nor does it require a US Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) permit.

Lake Somerville, near Somerville, has a CoE Day Hunt Area that does not require a TPWD Public Hunting Permit, nor does it require a CoE permit.   It is the bottom of a cup-shaped area on the opposite side of the lake from Birch Creek Park.  Most guys set up to the left side of the cup.  I recommend that you park at the end of Fisher Rd.  There is a good trail, but there are lots of vines and stuff to trip on.  Don’t park at the end of Iron Bridge Rd. and go to the right.  It’s a very tough walk and I poked about 10 holes in my waders the only time that I did it.

For Lake Granger, near Granger, I’ve walked in at #2 before.  It’s across from the Doppler Radar station.  It’s a fairly easy walk, going slightly downhill until you get close to the water.  Then it gets thick with trees and bushes.  Going back is tougher as it’s slightly uphill.  We’ve gone straight down to the cove below #2.  We’ve also gone to the cove on the right, which is a shorter walk.  We’ve also walked in at #6 straight down to the cove/San Gabriel River.  The bad news is I haven’t seen any good reports this season for Granger on the DU migration map.  Granger does not require a CoE lake hunting permit.  However, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) leases Granger’s WMA’s; consequently, a TPWD Public Hunting Permit is required.  The cost is $48/year.

I’ve walked in before at Owl Creek WMA on Lake Belton, near Temple, and do not recommend it.  It was a very tough walk through a lot of trees, bushes, and vines that love to trip you in the dark.  I’ve also walked in at White Flint WMA.  It was a long walk as well, but not nearly as tough as Owl Creek.  A problem with Belton is the shoreline can have very sticky mud.  I’ve sunk down to my knees before.  Fortunately, I had a young, much lighter, man with me or I would have never made it 30 yards out in the water to put out the decoys.  The good thing about Belton is it does not require the TPWD Public Hunting Permit, nor does it require a CoE permit.

If you get night vision goggles do you also have to get a night vision scope?
No, it’s not required; however, it’s preferred.  I own a first-generation (the cheapest) Night Owl monocular.  I can clearly distinguish game at up to 50 yards.  I can tell that there’s something under a feeder at 100 yards but can’t tell if it’s a small hog or a raccoon.  However, I’ll still have to use a constant on light (I prefer a red light) or a spotlight with a red or green lens in order to see the animal with my riflescope.
For a constant on light I use on similar to the Kill Light Feeder Light (they no longer make the one that I use).  For a spotlight, I use a Kill Light 250.  You can get a mount for it to attach it to your gun and a wired tactical switch.  I don’t have mine mounted to my gun as when I turn it on the hogs will run (unless you have the rifle pointed up at a 45-degree angle (at least) and then slowly bring the light down onto the hog (mimicking moonlight coming in through the clouds).  This is not easy to do and when using this method you might not have time to get a hog in your reticles, which is why I prefer the constant-on light.  Contrary to popular opinion a constant-on light will not scare hogs.

It all depends on where you are hunting.  I prefer Real Tree Max-4 or Mossy Oak Break Up as they fit in a variety of terrains, with the exception of South Texas, where Brush Country is king.  The general rule is to go with more greenish camo early in the season, when there are more green leaves on the trees, and a more brownish camo later in the season when the leaves have fallen off the trees.

Deer are red-green color blind like some humans.  Their color vision is limited to the short [blue] and middle [green] wavelength colors.  As a result, deer likely can distinguish blue from red, but not green from red, or orange from red.  So deer hunters up north, who are forced to wear hunter orange, appear to be green to deer.  Pigs can differentiate colors, but not as well as humans.

Waterfowl don’t see color the way we do.  They see reds, greens, yellows, and blues more vibrantly – thanks to their retinas – plus an extra set of cones allows them to see ultraviolet radiation.  This gives them exceptional light sensitivity.  As a result, shine and glare are the waterfowl hunter’s enemy.  For ducks, a lot of guys prefer Real Tree Max-5, as it has canes in it, which are often located on shorelines.  However, they aren’t on the shorelines where I hunt usually, so I get by with my one-camo-fits-all Real Tree Max-4 or Mossy Oak Break Up.

You can see the different styles in the below picture. Four of the guys are wearing Max-5.  I think that I’m wearing Mossy Oak Break Up, as is Earl immediately to the right of the ducks.  I’m just happy to find camo on sale that fits me.  I don’t pay much attention to the pattern.  You’ll often see me wearing a different pattern top than bottom for this reason.  Some guys, on the other hand, want everything to match.  But I kill deer, hogs, and ducks just as dead as they do – I just don’t look as good.

I’m wondering about recommendations on binoculars (for deer).

We don’t have anything specific on binoculars, but if you Google “Best Binoculars for deer hunting” I’m sure that several articles will pop up.  The important things to keep in mind are they should be waterproof/fog proof (if they fog up they’re of no use to you), weight (think light), and magnification/objective lens (8 X 42 or 10 X 42).  I own Vortex Sidewinders and Nikon Prostaff.  I got the former used on Ebay for $80 and the later new on Ebay for $90.  They both come with a lifetime transferable warranty.  They are both 10 X 42.  Go to a place that sells them like Academy.  Try out several pairs.  Read some distant signs in the store with them.  See which ones enable you to read the sign the best and are the clearest.  You certainly can spend a lot more money than I did, but I don’t see a compelling reason to.

I’m wondering about recommendations on clothing (for both deer and hog hunting) particularly since it’s hunting in Texas so I am not sure cold-weather gear would be as needed.  I’m trying to understand what all I’d need to purchase to have enough to get started.
Also if you have any recommendations regarding gear that could serve both for bird (e.g. dove, duck) hunting and hunting big game.
No, we don’t have a specific checklist for clothing.  However, we have a generic Trip Check List.  The weather in Texas can vary wildly, often on the same day.  The key is to dress in layers.  In that way, if you get too hot you can always take a layer off.
Depending on how cold it is, wind, rain, etc.  I might start with a base layer of medium weight thermal underwear.  Then a layer of fleece (sometimes two layers for my upper half), then bibs, and a heavy coat.
I usually buy hunting clothes at the end of or after deer season when Academy drops the price 30%.  I have a lot of their Game Winner brand.  They keep me warm enough.  I could spend a lot more (my son has a $200 coat for duck hunting), but if I’m going to spend $200 I’d rather buy a gun.  I’ve not been cold deer hunting since 1987, when I owned cheap boots.
The three biggies are your head, hands, and feet.  If they get cold you’re done.  You’ll at least get fidgety and have a terrible experience.  As with jackets, I have a variety of gloves, caps, face masks, boots, and socks.
Rubber boots are the best for deer and hog hunting, as they leave no scent.  I own Muck Edgewater’s (insulated ones).
I like gloves that are fingerless, with mittens that cover the fingers if they get cold.  If it’s too cold for that I’ll wear ones where the trigger finger is thinner so I can feel the trigger well.
I like to have facemasks with holes for my nostrils and mouth.
Wool socks are good, but they can make you sweat.  I like a base liner sock to ward off sweat.  I particularly like liner and wool sock combos (in one), such as the Cabela’s Ingenius socks, but they’re discontinued and hard to find.  I also like Randy Sun waterproof ski socks.  They keep me warm and dry quickly if they get wet.  I do not recommend Worn (formerly called Wetsox), as they make my feet sweat.  It does no good that they’re waterproof on the outside if your feet get wet on the inside.
Cold weather hog hunting requires the same clothing as deer.  Warm weather requires a lot thinner camo.  I’ll often wear my dove hunting wear while warm weather deer or hog hunting.
Scent-free hunting clothing is an unnecessary option in my opinion.  It’s a lot more expensive.  Instead, I’ll buy Scent Away spray and spray myself liberally right before I head to the stand.
Dove hunting is done in 90 – 100+ degree weather – think lightweight, thin, and comfortable.  Camo is fine, but so is khaki.
Duck and deer require basically the same clothes, with the exception of waders for duck hunting.  I own three pairs of waders.  One is for warm days (breathable), another is for cool days (3mm neoprene), and the new ones are for cold days (5mm neoprene).  If you’re only getting one pair get them stout in the chest so you can wear a heavy coat under them and 3mm or 3.5mm neoprene.  Buy the boots the size of your shoes.  Again, Christmas or after Christmas sales at Academy are the way to go.  Also, fleece pants with stirrups are nice for ducks as they keep the pants from riding up.
I see deals all the time on Facebook Marketplace.  I’ve bought several things there.  All have been good purchases.  I haven’t bought any clothes there, but I don’t need any (and in fact have way too much).

I’ve got an old shotgun that may be worth something.  Do you know of any place that deals in antique firearms?

Places that you might try include the Cabela’s Gun Library, McBride’s, and Blackjack Guns.  You also might see if one is selling on or

What is the best AR in your opinion?

I don’t have a clue.  I’ve always considered them to be ugly as sin so I’ve never bought one.  Plus, the typical cartridge (.223/5.56 mm) is designed for varmints (coyotes, bobcats, etc.).  It is not a deer/pig killer unless they’re very small.  You might make a post on the FCS Facebook page.

I’m kicking around the idea of getting an auto-loader shotgun.  Is there a particular time of year the stores put them on sale that you know of?  I’m trying to figure out if I need to try and figure out which one is a good fit for me sooner than later.  Any ideas?
Typically stores will run sales about two weeks before dove season starts and about two – four weeks before Christmas.  However, you can find deals year round at places like and
When you go on the FCS clay target shoot at Capital City Clays ask guys if you can shoot their guns.  It will give you a good feel for the different brands and features.  I’ll be happy to let you shoot my Winchester SX4.  Bruce Crockett also has a Browning Maxus for sale.  It is an excellent gun.  See
Here is an article that I wrote on the subject – Choosing a Shotgun for Birds and Clays.  Your biggest decision will be whether to go with a piston operated gun or a recoil-operated gun.
The former has the advantage that some of the expelled gases are forced into the magazine and operate the piston, through two holes in the barrel.  This causes the recoil to be more spread out and results in a softer felt kick.  Their disadvantage is the piston needs regular (around every 100 shells or so) cleaning or the piston can get fowled and fail to eject a shell or chamber a new one.
A recoil-operated gun has no piston so it kicks like a pump or double-barrel gun.  They also have the advantage that they don’t have to be cleaned nearly as often.  Their disadvantage is you will feel more recoil with heavy dove loads and heavier.  I haven’t updated the article in over 11 years, so be aware that there are newer models available.

I just purchased some property in South Texas and have been setting up feeders and never used Moultrie, but we have been having issues with them such as some get water in the units and timers fry, spinner does not work well, etc.  Do you have a recommendation on brand to use or what do you use.

I’ve always used Moultrie.  Here is an article on The 9 Best Deer Feeders.

How do I get an inexpensive gun appraisal in a short amount of time?

I’d go to www.gunbroker.comwww.gunsamerica.combudsguns, etc. and see what they’re selling for.  Look at several “buy it now” prices.
If you need something more official I’d go to Blackjack Guns or McBride’s.  Blackjack charges $20 to appraise guns.

Do you know anyone who does gun bluing?

I had McBride’s do a barrel once.  They sent it out to someone.  I didn’t last more than three duck hunts on the coast.  FCS guest Jim Irwin, Paul Irwin’s dad, owns Irwin Restorations LLC.  He is a fully licensed gunsmith located conveniently next door to Shady Oaks Gun Range at 3100 Woodall Dr., Cedar Park.  His phone number is 512-294-6331 and his email address is  Also, you might try Blackjack Gunsmithing at 13043 Pond Springs Rd., Austin.  Their phone number is 512-450-3535 and their email address is I don’t know if either does blueing, but I’ll bet that they do.

Do you know of anyone I can call and ask questions about a silencer?

Call the Silencer Shop at 512-843-0017.

Looking to buy three game cameras for our ranch in NE Texas.  Do you have a favorite?  Preference?  What should I look for in making a decision?

I own a game camera, but I bought it because it was 50% off at Academy, so I really can’t answer your questions other than to say that having a screen on the camera where you can view your pictures is a really nice feature (rather than having to take the SD card out and put it in another device to view the pictures).  Here is an article on the 5 Best Trail Cameras for 2017.

I’ve been intrigued by military history for a long time, and I’ve been pondering buying an M1 Garland for a while.  I don’t want to pay $1300 on GunsAmerica and don’t qualify for the $830 CMP deal.  Do you have any contacts or suggestions? 

I’ve had good luck with  I’ve bought six guns and sold three there.  They have where you can bid and buy it now prices.  Your gun has to be shipped to an FFL dealer.  You do the paperwork with him. There will be a transfer fee.  I use my son, Ryan, in Liberty Hill.  He only charges $20 to receive a gun.  He is a lot cheaper than the Austin boys.  McBride’s also has good prices on used guns.

Could you send me the process of how you do European mounts?

I wrote an article on the subject called Skull Mounting Basics.  Be forewarned – it’s a stinky job.

I saw your FB post with your boomstick for sale and the follow-up about not including prices.  Is there any other place, besides our FB, to list boomsticks that we no longer need?

I’ve had great success selling three guns on the FCS website.  Two sold in one day.  The last one took a week.  The three keys are:
  1. Sell something popular/not obscure.  For example, if you try to sell a 28 gauge shotgun you probably won’t get any interest because the shells are very hard to find and they’re expensive.
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words – the more pictures the better.
  3. Provide lots of information.  For example, if your shotgun is back bored list that fact and state how that is beneficial (i.e., back bored to provide tighter, more uniform patterns).  If your shotgun has six chokes list that and what they are (maker, constriction, and whether they’re extended).  If your gun has extras list those (e.g., sling, extra magazine, ammo, fiber optics sights, etc.).  Other important things to include are barrel length (especially true for shotguns), any blemishes on the gun/condition, and any special features (e.g., my Browning Gold Hunter had a speed load feature that loads the gun when the breach is open by stuffing a shell in the magazine – very helpful when you’re wanting to get off a quick fourth shot while dove or duck hunting).
I’ve sold nine guns on  There is no charge, but you can make a donation if you wish.
Travis County Anglers (a deliberately misleading name) allows guns to be listed.  Usually, folks just say, “PM me if you would like to discuss.”  Don’t put, “Gun for sale” or similar.  Also, don’t list the asking price.  If you do either of those things FB will suspend you.
I sold three guns on  Working with gunbroker is easy.  You just have to set up an account.  Bidding is similar to ebay, with a 15 minute “last call” rule.  You have to receive your gun via an FFL dealer.  I use my son, Ryan, in Liberty Hill.  He only charges $20 to receive a gun.  He is a lot cheaper than the Austin boys.
I’m happy to put your guns on the FCS Guns and Accessories web page – just let me know.

What are 2 – 3 of the best crossbows for your money?  Can you hunt crossbow in the archery season?  Where are some places that will let you test crossbows?

Barnett, Excalibur, and Horton are well known.  Tenpoint is very good but a lot more expensive.  I have a Barnett Jackal.  It cost about $215.  The only thing that I don’t like about it is it’s heavier than a lot of crossbows.  Barnet is the best bang for your buck.

Yes, the Texas Legislature passed a law several years ago that made it legal for anyone to hunt with a crossbow during archery season (or gun season), not just people with upper extremity weakness.

I’m not sure if Archery Country will let you shoot crossbows.  I advise that you call them at 512-452-1222 before you head there.

Have you ever noticed a difference in shooting a 12 gauge compared to a 20 gauge?  I have noticed my shooting is not as good with the 20 as with the 12.

20 gauge loads have, on average, 12 1/2% (1/8) less? shot than a 12 gauge.  A 12 gauge game/target load is 1 ounce and it’s 7/8 ounce for a 20 gauge.  Also, because a 20 gauge has a longer shell to width makeup, it has a longer shot string (it takes the shot at the end of the shell more time to reach the target than the shot at the front of the shell).  This can result in more “holes” in the pattern and missed shots.  You could be spot on but a bird could make it through your pattern easier with a 20 gauge.

Any recommendations on local Taxidermist? 

See our Service Reviews and Recommendations web page (the categories are in alphabetical order).  I recommend Top Gun Taxidermy in Holland, 10 miles to the east of Salado.
If that’s too far then my second choice is Professional Taxidermy Studio in Cedar Park on FM 1431.  The guy’s name is Dan Lansford.  He did a Catalina goat and a speckled belly goose for me that have held up well.  The reason that he’s not my first choice is he is more expensive than Top Gun Taxidermy and takes a lot longer.

Do you have a gunsmith that you use?  What is your opinion of his work?  Currently, I use Hank Fleming on South Congress.  I think he is good but he seems to take a while for repairs to be completed.

Hank does indeed have a good reputation, but he does take longer than most.
I use Blackjack Guns on Pond Springs Rd.  Their phone number is 512-450-3535.

I just noticed some surface rusts (toothpick size freckles) on the blued barrel of my Remington Wingmaster – my fault completely for leaving it in storage for too long and probably did not clean it well enough the last time I used it.  A quick Google suggests I should use 00/000 steel wool to wipe them and re-blue the barrel with Birchwood Casey’s Cold Blue.  Does this sound right to you?  Would you do it any differently?

I would take some gentle solvent and the finest steel wool that you can find to clean your barrel.  Scrub it very lightly.

Re-bluing is a time consuming and difficult endeavor.  I’ve never tried it, but it’s an all or nothing proposition (you can’t do just “spots”).  The one time that I needed a barrel to be reblued because there were dime to quarter-sized splotches on the barrel after a coastal duck hunt, I had McBride’s do it.  It cost $115 or so.

With toothpick sized spots a future buyer will hardly notice/care.  So, if it were me I’d leave it alone if you can’t clean it off.

I’m looking for a decent lever-action rifle in a caliber that I can find ammo for.  One of the most popular is the 30-30 and I’d be ok with it but was more looking for something in the .38/.357.  I had a Rossi 38/357 that I sold a few years ago and I really miss it.  To me, the gem would be a model 94 with something other than a .30-30.

For traditional lever guns, you might consider the Marlin 1895 (comes in .45/70 Gov’t.) and the Marlin 336C (comes in .35 Remington and .30-30).  The other two calibers have considerably more oomph than the .30-30, but they’re harder to find ammo for.  (I’d find a source of ammo before I bought one.)

For non-traditional lever guns, consider the Browning BLR.  It uses a box magazine, so it is not limited to flat-nosed cartridges.  It comes in popular cartridges such as .30-06. .308, .270. and .243.

I need advice on 9mm ammo.  I may do some target.  But also would like to keep some hollow points on hand should the need ever arise.  Not planning to carry.  I have a WWII German 9mm that I got checked out and it is good-to-go.  I‘m thinking run-of-the-mill, but brass, not steel.

For practice ammo, I’m partial to Winchester White Box and Remington UMC.

For hollow points, I’m partial to Remington Ultimate DefenseWinchester PDX1Speer Gold Dot, Speer LawmanHornady Critical Defense, and Federal Hydra Shock.

There is a gun show this weekend and I would like to pick up a shotgun that would be good for the clay shoots and bird shoots the club hosts.  But I have no idea what to get and could use some advice.   It needs to be a gun both I and my 12 year old son can use.  And not too expensive.

I wrote an article on the subject titled Choosing a Shotgun for Birds and Clays.  I last revised it in 2007, so all of the manufacturers have new guns to choose from.

As your son is not a full-grown man yet it will probably be difficult for him to shoot a regular sized 12 gauge (unless he’s bigger than normal, a boy really can’t handle a 12 gauge until around age 15).

The problem with youth models is after two or three years they’re worthless (as boys outgrow them) and then you’ll be stuck with a gun that few people are in the market for.  Also, it will be hard for you to shoot a youth model as it has a shorter stock.

Consider a Remington 1187 LW (lightweight) or 1100 LW (they only come in 20 gauge).  The barrel is normal length (26 or 28 inches) but the gun is lighter because of an alloy receiver and mahogany or composite stock.  The Premier is much better (steel, fit, etc.) than the Sportsman.  You can get a used one for around $450.

CZ 712’s are lighter than average 12 gauges, if you can find one, due to an alloy receiver.

I don’t recommend Benelli’s, Franchi’s, or Stoeger’s for boys (inertia/recoil) operated as they kick more than gas/piston operated guns.  The exception is the Franchi 720, which is gas/piston operated.

The Beretta A300 Outlander, Browning Maxus, Gold, and Silver, and Winchester Super X4 and Super X3 are fine guns but are probably out of your price range.

I recommend McBride’s Guns for used guns.  Although you’re going to have a harder time finding a used 20 gauge.

You might have to settle for seeing how new 20 gauges fit him at McBride’s and then finding a used one on or  I have sold nine guns on Texas Gun Trader and have bought six guns and sold three on gunbroker without a problem.  If you buy a gun online, it must be received a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealer.  I use my son, Ryan, Leander.  He only charges $20 to receive a gun.  He is a lot cheaper than the Austin boys.

A standard dove/target load in 20 gauge with 7/8 ounce shot only has 1/8 ounce shot (12.5%) than a standard 12 gauge dove/quail/target load with 1 ounce shot.  That translates to 50 less #8 shot (350 instead of 400).  So with dove/quail/clay target loads, you’re not losing that much firepower with a 20 gauge.  However, it cannot keep up with the 12 gauge with the magnum loads for ducks/geese/turkey/deer/hogs.

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