Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1 Upgrade?

| April 25, 2021
Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Objective Lens Diameter | 24mm
Tube Size | 30mm
Weight | 17.6 ounces
Magnification | 1x-6x
MOA Adjustment | .5 MOA
Eye Relief | 3.5 Inches
Illumination | 11 Levels. No NV Compatibility
Mount | None. Requires a Picatinny Rings or Cantilever
Battery | 2x CR2032
Battery Life | ~150 hours
Waterproof | Waterproof, and Fog Proof, Nitrogen Purged
Country of Origin | China
Warranty | Unlimited, Unconditional, Lifetime
Includes | Flip Caps, Microfiber Lens Cloth
Price | $299

Vortex updated the Strike Eagle line of scopes with a second generation, but is the Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1 still worth it? Or should you be in a hurry to upgrade?

Our experience unboxing the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24 was nothing short of what you’d expect from Vortex. We have a lot of experience with Vortex scopes. We’ve had the opportunity to use the Razor, Viper, Diamondback, Crossfire, and Strike Eagle series of scopes from Vortex. Many of our hunting rifles are adorned with Vortex optics.

We have unboxed quite a few Vortex rifle scopes, as well as binoculars, and spotting scopes, and unboxing the Vortex Strike Eagle was no different. The Strike Eagle was packaged in a nicely branded box, with adequate protective foam materials. The box also contained a manual for the scope, as well as a manual for the AR-BDC Reticle.

Fit and finish were of the highest high quality, just like all of the Vortex scopes we’ve ever had in our hands. The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24 uses common 30mm rings, or a Cantilever mount intended for 30mm tubes.

The 3.5 inch eye relief makes it easy to see through the scope and maintain a comfortable cheek weld without having to crane your neck forwards or backwards. The glass on the Strike Eagle is very clear, and the AR-BDC reticle is very crisp.

The Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1 Turrets are solid and accurate.

Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1 in the Field

The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6 lives on a CZ bolt action rifle, set up specifically for bear and big mule deer hunting in a strange variety of thick brush.

Yes, the reticle is designed for .223/5.56, but if you put your chronograph data into a great little ballistic calculator app called Strelok, select your scope mount height, projectile weight, B.C and a couple other data points, you’ll get reliable hold overs for the reticle sub tensions.

The close combat application with the ability to zoom up to 6x, made the strike eagle a perfect optic for a bear rifle, where sight lines are short, and a opportunities fast fleeting.

A throw lever for faster magnification manipulation, would have been nice on the Gen 1, but Vortex realized that, and did add a throw lever to the Gen 2.

The Gen 1 was easy to sight in with the solid elevation and windage turrets. After the initial sighting, the scope has seen a lot of miles, and some bumpy travels. Years later, season after season, the scope has held a perfect zero.

During many seasons of hunting, the illuminates reticle has provided a greater level of confidence during early morning and late evening hunting hours. The illumination is sharp, and the adjustment knob makes it easy to dial up or down the level of brightness.

Vortex Strike Eagle Magnification Ring

The Vortex Strike Eagle Gen I magnification power ring, unlike the Gen II, does not have a throw lever.

Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 1 Conclusion

There is no great reason to be in a hurry to ditch the Gen 1 Vortex Strike Eagle for a Gen 2. Spending more money on a new optic, to basically get the same optic with a slightly better reticle and a thread-in throw lever, just isn’t high on our to-do list. Aftermarket throw-levers can be used on the Gen 1 to make it easier to dial the magnification, giving you even less of a reason to upgrade it.

Maybe price is not an issue. If so, consider something like the Razor Gen 3. The Razor Gen 3 is more compact, lighter weight optic, and provides 1x-10x magnification. However, it is also a couple thousand dollars, not a couple hundred dollars. In the more affordable range of optics, the Strike Eagle Gen II would be a good first buy, but not so much better for folks that currently own a Gen 1, that it would make tons of sense to replace it.

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What Can You Hunt with 22lr in California?

| April 7, 2021
A Boomer Squirrel Taken with a 22lr
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

What can you hunt with 22lr in California? Maybe you are new to hunting in California, or maybe you just want to pursue something different. We’ve put together a short species list of animals that are commonly hunted with a 22lr, and included a few others that are less typical.

Small game hunting with a .22lr in California is a great way to hone game spotting, hunting, stalking, and shooting skills. You can hunt high deserts, semi-arid deserts, hardwood and conifer forests, marshy wetlands, and chaparral in California, making it a fun place to hunt and that’s just scratching the surface.

The sheer size of California, and its wide range of terrain provides the opportunity to pursue a variety of small game, non-game, and invasive species with a .22lr. However, it’s fair to say, while there is a lot of opportunity in such a big and unique state, the reputation for overzealous regulation, is real.

I’m commenting from the knowledgebase, experiences, and understanding that I have about California hunting laws at the time of writing. I am not a lawyer, and I provide information with no warranty of accuracy. It’s worth spending time researching any seasons, method of take, and legalities involved in hunting any animal, in any state where you intend to hunt.

Sportsman’s Magazine, myself, and other contributors aren’t responsible for your stupid life choices, and resultant consequences. You should consider both ethics and legalities, as well as know your skills, abilities, and effectiveness of a .22lr bullet. Consider whether or not you can effectively and humanely harvest an animal, and whether or not it is safe and ethical to do so. Just because you can legally do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Disclaimer aside, let’s move on…

Hunting Jackrabbits, Hare, Cottontail

If you have ever hunted jackrabbits then you know that they can be a challenge. Skittish jackrabbits in big sage deserts rarely give up an easy shot. Shots are often greater than 50 yards, between plant life, and rarely is a jackrabbit static. The brief pause that most jackrabbits and hare make between hundred yard dashes, can sharpen hunting skills very quickly.

Despite what others may have told you, jackrabbits, like snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbits, are great table fare when treated and prepared properly.

Jack O’Connor, the famous hunter and writer, not only supplemented his family’s diet during rationing, but also credited his ability to shoot moving animals to hunting jackrabbits.

Cottontail rabbits are often easier to hunt, less skittish than jackrabbits, and wait longer to flush. They are smaller than a jackrabbit, and even when they do run, they cover less ground, do so more slowly, and pause more frequently. We’ve conducted blind taste tests with schnitzel made from Cottontail rabbit and chicken, and the Cottontail was hands down the favorite. Cottontail are fun to hunt with a .22lr, and very enjoyable to eat.

Hunting Squirrels

Ground squirrels are a great way to turn a hobby of plinking, into hunting, and while most regard california ground squirrels as inedible, they are edible, with a caveat. They do have a reputation for having higher rates of bubonic plague, as well as the reputation for being cannibalistic, and just sort of gross. Like any animal, choose to hunt, process, cook and eat at your own discretions and risk.

Moving away from terrestrial critters, but sticking with squirrels, tree squirrels are incredibly fun to hunt with a 22, and make for a tasty meal. A lot of people hunt squirrels with a shotgun. It’s an easier method of harvesting a fast moving squirrel jumping from tree branch to tree branch, but it also leaves you with bruised meat that is full of steel shot.

Hunting squirrels with a 22lr is a little more challenging than hunting with a shotgun. Similar to jackrabbits, it requires a pause in a squirrel’s movement, fast site acquisition, and a clean head shot. The result is a squirrel that often looks like a bloody mess from the neck up, but provides completely undamaged meat that is nicer for butchering.

Hunting Bigger Critters

Bigger animals on our list of things you can hunt with a 22lr in California include, skunks, opossum, raccoons, pigs, and coyotes. However, as animals get bigger, they require more foot pounds of energy to humanely dispatch. Since the max energy of a 22lr is about 140 foot pounds, shot placement becomes paramount.

While a skunk, opossum, and raccoon can be taken with a shot to the vitals, a head shot is a faster, more effective way to dispatch animals that size. Don’t underestimate the tenacity of an opossum, or any other small mammal, to stay alive.

At the largest end of the list of animals you can hunt with a .22lr, are small pigs and coyotes. Iit is possible to take a coyote with the proper ammunition at close range, and the perfect shot placement.

However, and this is a very serious caveat, just because it’s possible, it doesn’t mean it’s recommended. Poor shot placement will just maim an animal, even small ones. It can be cruel, and I’d venture to say sadistic.

Know Before You Go!

Cottontail rabbits and tree squirrels are considered small game in California, have a season, shooting hours and require a hunting license.

Muskrat, mink, beaver, badger, raccoons, and grey fox are all considered fur bearing, and also have seasons and require a license. Fisher, marten, river otter, desert kit fox and red fox are all protected.

Non-Game species include english sparrow, starling, domestic pigeon, coyote, weasels, skunks, opossum, moles and rodents. In California any hunting, including non-game, requires a hunting license and legal methods of take, even if there is no season or limit.

Since we are specifically looking at California, you may not be legally allowed to hunt in certain counties, or near cities with a 22lr. The idea behind the restriction being that small shotgun shot sizes have a shorter lethal range than the typical 36 to 40 grain 22lr bullet. In more densely populated areas, someone is less likely to accidentally be shot, and injured by stray steel shot, than a .22lr bullet.

Check the CDFW regulations, to see if your county is an area with any of the aforementioned restrictions.

Alternatives to a 22lr, for hunting small game and pest control, are .22, .25, and .30 caliber air guns. Some pack enough energy to humanely take coyotes, and more powerful air guns can humanely take big game. Good air gun options for small game and pest control at close distances, include the Beeman Chief, Benjamin Maurauder, or even an upgraded Crossman 1322. Air guns may require pumps, and optics. Some may be fairly expensive. However, in today’s pandemic buying environment, there is no issue finding air gun pellets, like there is finding .22lr ammunition. California also requires lead free .22lr ammunition for hunting, whereas there is no such regulation for air guns.


There are things to hunt with a 22lr in California, and while I’ve tried to be thorough, I make mistakes. I could have provided more commentary on hunting a specific species, but I intended this to be more of a what can you hunt with a 22lr, and not a how to hunt with a 22lr article. Maybe I missed a critter, or you have some additional thoughts. Share them in the comments.

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AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle

| April 4, 2021
Ambi Charging Handle Latch on AR-15
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The AR-15 Ambi Charging Handle Latch by Guntec is a must have upgrade for the AR-15. It’s designed to add easier charging handle functionality for left handed shooters, but also enlarges the charging handle latch for normal charging handle operation. It is more ergonomic, making charging an AR-15 even easier to use with gloves on, in extreme weather, or with sweaty or wet hands.

At under 9 bucks, the AR-15 Ambi Charging Handle Latch by Guntec is one of the cheapest upgrades that can be made to a standard AR-15. All that is required to swap the handle latch on a mil-spec charging handle is a 1/16 inch roll pin punch and a small hammer.

AR-15 Ambi Charging Handle Latch Assembled

The Guntec AR-15 ambi charging handle latch on a Strike Industries charging handle.

We decided to swap the latch on a Strike Industries charging handle. Unfortunately, our combination of parts was not plug and play. The geometry of the mil-spec Guntec ambi charging handle latch did not match the non-mils-spec geometry of the stock Strike Industries latch. Fortunately, we were able to grind the Guntec latch to match the geometry of the stock Strike Industries latch.

For most people, the latch upgrade is a plug and play endeavor for mil-spec charging handles. However, if you are unsure about your parts compatibility, then it may be worth purchasing one of the many commercially available enhanced charging handles, and skipping the DIY latch upgrade.

Guntec also offers a fully assembled AR-15 charging handle with the ambidextrous latch we used. Available here.

AR-15 Ambi Charging Handle Latch

AR-15 ambi charging handle latch geometry comparison.

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| April 2, 2021
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Materials | Steel and Aluminum
Adjustable Range | 6 to 9 inches
Finish | Black Anodized
Settings | 5 Leg Lengths
Mount | Sling Swivel
Accessories | Includes Picatinny Adapter
Price | $23.99

CVLIFE Bipod – Initial Thoughts

The CVLIFE Bipod is a budget, no-frills, rifle bipod. Its crude, lacks refinement, utilizes large clunky external springs, and has some rough edges and weird shapes, but successfully extends and collapses without issues. The CVLIFE Bipod is designed to attach to a sling swivel mount on a wooden stock, but also includes an adapter for mounting onto picatinny rails. While its a nice feature, allowing it to be used across a range of rifles, it does add to the overall bulkiness, height, and chunkiness of the bipod.

CVLIFE Bipod – Field Test

We used the CVLIFE 6-9 inch bipod at the range, on both a 270 with a wooden stock, and our AR15 test platform with a picatinny rail. The 6 to 9 inch range is sufficient for shooting off of a table or bench. We also used it in the field whilst predator hunting. There really isn’t too much to say about the user experience, except that it gets the job done, assuming you set it on something, or are shooting prone from a high spot where 6 to 9 inches of elevation is sufficient. The feet are easy to adjust, although the springs for the feet are a little weak compared to the very stiff springs used to aggressively fold the legs. Some improved geometries or minor design tweaks would definitely make things a bit ‘smoother’.

CVLIFE Bipod Picatinny Mount

The 6-9 CVLIFE Bipod gets even taller when sing the Picatinny mount adapter.

CVLIFE Bipod Sling Swivel Mount

Mounting the CVLIFE Bipod via the sling swivel maintains a lower profile.

CVLIFE Bipod – Conclusion

We can’t say we dislike it, nor can we say we love it, but we can certainly appreciate the CVLIFE 6-9 Bipod for being a functional bipod at a twenty-four dollar price point. The folding and collapsing action could feel better, and the feet could have greater springiness, but it’s hard to be critical of a cheap bipod that works. Match your expectations to the price point, and don’t expect it to replace a Swagger, Magpul, or higher-end Caldwell bipod, and it will serve you well for most applications needing a 6″ to 9″ bipod.

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Beretta a300 Outlander

| April 1, 2021
Business End Beretta A300 Outlander
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Action | Semi-Automatic Gas(Self Cleaning)
Barrel Length | 28 inches
Chokes | Mobilchokes F, M, and IC included
Rib | Vented (grooved)Sights
Stock | Synthetic Black
Sling | Swivel posts on stock and fore-end cap
Capacity | 3 + 1
Loads | 2-3/4 - 3 inch
Weight | 7.1 lbs

The Beretta A300 Outlander is an entry-level, gas operated, semi-automatic shotgun that makes for a great first shotgun or as a first foray into the world of semi-autos. Capable of shooting 2-3/4 in or 3 in loads, this shotgun offers up enough firepower to serve you well for everything from upland game to waterfowl. The gas driven semi-automatic action significantly reduces the felt recoil and makes this gun a pleasure to shoulder and shoot all day long.

I spent this past waterfowl season using one in a wide range of conditions. From sunny days in the mid 60’s down to single digits spent in the snow, this gun had no trouble cycling through any commercial or hand-loaded ammunition. On an exceptionally cold day, after belly crawling through the snow, I did have one jam, but it’s almost to be expected after filling the action with snow and freezing the bolt carrier group. That being said, I also managed to fully submerge my Outlander after stumbling in deep lake mud and the shotgun continued to fire and cycle loads without any trouble immediately after pulling it out of the drink.

Beretta A300 Outlander Receiver

Beretta A300 Outlander gas operated semiautomatic receiver.

As with most modern shotguns, the Outlander features removable chokes and comes with a full, modified, and improved cylinder choke, giving you a wide variety of options depending on your style of hunting and quarry. There are also a number of aftermarket extended chokes that are compatible with this gun, giving you even more options for dialing in your patterning.

Available in both synthetic and wooden stock options, this shotgun is a versatile tool that’s ready to be put to work. If you’re a die-hard goose hunter or just prefer lobbing 3 ½ in rounds, you might want to consider the Beretta A400 or other options that accommodate larger shells. Any of those options will cost you around double the price of the Outlander and at the end of the day I had no trouble harvesting everything from doves to big ol’ Canada geese with the Outlander. Assuming you are shooting the right size shot with the correct choke and understand how your gun patterns, it’s unlikely the gun has anything to do with missed shots. This is a high quality shotgun being offered at a great price that will serve both new and experienced hunters quite well.

Don’t forget to grab an extended choke, like the Carlson's Ported Cremator Long Range Choke, for those long shots!

Beretta A300 Outlander Stock

Beretta A300 Outlander walnut stock and gas operated receiver.

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