I can hear “It’s the most wonderful time of year …” playing on repeat in the back of my mind as I scan through magazines and online stores while I start piecing together my Christmas wish list. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found that it gets harder and harder to not only buy gifts for the ones I know and love but also create a Christmas list for me to give to them. I mean I usually have to create a roadmap to the things that I like complete with links, pictures, and very specific instructions about color options and features, which pretty much sucks the fun out right out of it. I know I’m not alone in this too and I think being a long-range shooter makes the process a little more complicated because a) a lot of long-range accessories are expensive and b) my family knows nothing about long range shooting. I love them to death but they have no concept of optics, ammunition, or the multitude of accessories that are available, I might as well tell them to get me some uranium.
Now I took my time with this list because, well, it’s my actual Christmas list, I think it would disingenuous if I just put the newest, most expensive items on here. I’m sure like a lot of folks one of my problems is that there’s just so much cool stuff to choose from it wouldn’t be hard to create a Christmas list that could be listed on the NASDAQ. So recognizing this issue I think I did a pretty good job of sorting the wheat from the chaff so that I have some items that sort of span the cost spectrum to make it a little easier on my family. Not only are these items high-quality products that will make great gifts, any long range shooter is going to be able to find them useful.
The Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics is first on my list because it is the most the expensive and probably the one item that I’m going to get the most use out of. Call me old school or just slow to catch up with the times but I’m still using an older weather meter and data cards to work out my dope for long-range shots. When I had only a couple of rifles it was easier to develop this data and use but now that I have multiple rifles in different calibers it’s just not as easy as it once was. The Kestrel 5700 changes all of that because it integrates a fantastic ballistic calculator directly into Kestrel’s class-leading weather meters and the best part is that the two talk to each other. While the Kestrel getting information about the world around it, it’s also feeding that information to the Applied Ballistics program and in turn, it spits out real-time ballistic data for your rifle. Not only can the Kestrel track basic information like wind speed, temperature, and humidity, it can also read wind direction and compass points too. The Applied Ballistics program contains a large bullet library so that you can be sure you’re getting the right information and at the push of a button you can true the system up to match what you’re seeing down range to make more accurate. I’ve put off having one of these for too long and I think it’s time that I come into the 21st century.
MSRP: $609 – $709
Pound for pound the heaviest thing I carry for my precision rifles, either at the range or to a match is the assortment of bags that can help me support the rifle in different positions. Armageddon Gear recently created an option that I hope will cut down on the weight and bulk a little with their Armageddon Gear Clutch Shooting Bag System. This one bag is actually two that can be snapped together to form a larger support bag Transformers style, which means it could easily take the place of three of my other bags. One of the two bags is a wedge-shaped bag that is perfect for going under the buttstock to support the rear of the rifle when going for precision and accuracy. The second bag is more or less cubed shaped, which can be attached to the front of the rifle with the sewn-in strap and fastex buckle to pad it when shooting from various types of barricades. When the two bags are snapped together they create a larger support bag that is perfect for barricades, fence posts, gates, or just about any other shooting situation. I’m all about reducing the weight and bulk of the stuff I need to carry around and this seems like a great place to start.
A good bipod is a must have for any serious long-range rifle and Harris bipods are amongst the best that you can buy but how can you make a good bipod better? Primary Adaptive Solution Systems Bipod Adapters can convert your ho-hum Harris bipod into a versatile, modular bipod for just about any long range shooting situation. The PASS adapters replace the standard rubber bipod feet with a female socket that can accept Atlas bipod compatible accessories such as leg extensions, spiked feet, rubber feet, and so on. Instead of having to carry multiple bipods and/or a tripod, you can have a single Harris bipod with a few accessories and a set of leg extensions that can handle any terrain from mud to mountains. A Gen II version also makes the Atlas accessories even easier to change out since they now use a more quick disconnect style of attachment then before.
If you’re serious about hunting and shooting then chances are you’ve been out in all kinds of weather and one of the challenges is always how to keep the weather out of the action and bore. The Solo Hntr Rifle Covers aims to help with that by providing a lightweight solution to completely cover the rifle to keep out unwanted water, dirt, mud, and debris but still be fast and easy to remove. The body of the cover is made from durable rip stop nylon treated to be water resistant with tough Cordura nylon covering the muzzle and buttstock where it could see more wear. Elastic runs up the sides of the cover to not only hold it place but also adjust for different lengths of rifles with versions made to cover up to 56” long rifles. These covers are available in Stone and camo colors but I’m going to opt for the Stone color since it’s a more neutral color, which I prefer.
What do you absolutely have to have to go shooting? Ammo! If you’re anything like me you also tend to take a healthy amount of it to the range because it’s just not as fun with one rifle and a couple boxes of ammo. You start getting ready and you realize that there’s that .308 you hardly ever take out anymore, the 12 ga shotgun from Granddaddy, the pistols, you need to zero the scope on your precision rifle, and you can’t forget the ARs. By the time you load up all of those you could be looking at quite a few ammo cans you need to tote around so wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier solution? MTM has the answer to their line of MTM Ammo Crates made specifically to hold boxes and boxes of ammo or other items. The crates are designed to take a lot of weight and keep on trucking with the ACR4, one of the smaller crates, handling up to 65 lbs worth of ammo and the larger ones taking on up to 85 lbs. Now, I’m not sure I’d want to tote around 85 lbs of ammo but it’d be awesome either way. A new version of the crates accepts four separate MTM ammo cans in an easy to transport tote that offers a great way to organize your ammunition for the range as well as conveniently carry four ammo cans at once. All versions are also stackable for easy storage.
MSRP: $14– $20
When shooting at long range consistency is key and inconsistencies in your ammunition can spell the difference between a solid hit and a weird flier you’re just going to blame on the wind. As good as modern ammunition can be it’s not quite perfect and Hornady Concentricity Tool can help remove the runout from loaded ammunition so that it is more concentric to the bore. Being more concentric to the bore means it engages the lands evenly and consistently, which should mean fewer fliers down range. Hand loaders can also use this tool to true up their ammunition and make their load just a little bit better. The Concentricity Tool is easy to use and can be used for a variety of popular cartridges and calibers, I don’t think any serious shooter should be without one.
So there you have it, folks, my Christmas list, complete with links so you can’t get lost and you’re loved ones won’t have any excuses either. Merry Christmas!