Benjamin David

Benjamin David is an avid outdoorsman with a wide range of experience hunting and fishing. He brings his knowledge and wisdom from hunting in a variety of environments, to Sportsman's Magazine, and is a major contributor of content. Leave Ben a comment or question, and he'll do his best to reply.

Eberlestock A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier

| May 11, 2021
A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier
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.
features | Reinforced Muzzle End, Drain Holes, Drag Loop, Butt Cover, Semi-Rigid Sides
Webbing | MOLLE/PALS Inside and Out
Dimensions | 36 - 60 L x 12 W inches (Adjustable Length)
Materials | 1000 Denier nylon, Hypalon reinforcement
Weight | 3.5 lbs.
Price | $149

The A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier is a variable capacity scabbard from Eberlestock, and can be used standalone as a drag bag, a rifle bag, in conjunction with many of their packs and frames in the Eberlestock lineup, or as a back scabbard using a harness and/or accessory straps.

In The Field

Like most Eberlestock products, the overall construction of the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier is exceptional, and the product concept very versatile. Adjusting the fitment of a scoped AR weapon, equipped with a large compensator and fixed extended stock was very easy. You can see from the picture below, how the scabbard easily accommodates an AR15 with a full sized scope.

A4SS Fits an AR Class Scoped Weapon

A4SS easily fits a rifle length, scoped AR15 with a fully extended stock.

Standalone, the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier makes a great rifle bag, or drag bag. It provides more than ample protection for a firearm, has practical carry handles albeit a little flat and tight, and adjusts to a large range of rifle platforms.

The A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier includes Eberlestock’s GSTC Butt Cover, which utilizes a sort of awkward attachment system. While other users and reviewers have complained the GSTC Butt Cover leaves a gap, it might be a situation of misuse, or simply misunderstanding the product.

Butt Cover Attachment

The somewhat awkward attachment system of the GSTC butt cover.

GSTC Butt Cover

The properly extended GSTC Butt Cover, easily covers the attachment gap, and extends down into the scabbard.

The butt cover has a sleeve that folds into itself, but when extended, slips into the scabbard, leaves zero gap, and nearly doubles the length of the butt cover. It works just fine, and leaves no gap, but is sort of reminiscent of folks that tuck their jeans into their loosely laced boots. It’s an interesting style choice, but to each their own.

The system might have been better if it went over the outside of the scabbard, versus stuffing into the scabbard. Something more akin to blousing boots. With a minor design and material change, it could have doubled as a rain cover, when used in the expansion tunnel of a pack.

We inserted the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier into the expansion tunnel of a Eberlestock G1 Little Brother, and secured the included ALICE clips to the MOLLE/PALS webbing inside the tunnel. Read the full G1 Brother Review, and see photos of the pack with the weapon carrier.

A4SS MOLLE PALS ALICE clips

The A4SS features ALICE clips, as well as a ton of MOLLE/PALS straps, carry handles, and a drag loop.

We hiked around difficult terrain, including steep scree slopes, high stepped, and down stepped. The pack and weapon carrier stayed where they should, never got in the way, and performed like a single unit, as if the scabbard was integral to the pack.

Conclusion

If you want a weapon scabbard that can possibly be used standalone as a drag bag, rifle bag, or a minimalist pack when paired with ACST accessory straps or a shoulder harness, then the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier is a good choice for you.

Where the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier really shines is in its pairing with a Eberlestock G1 Little Brother, or other Eberlestock pack with an expansion tunnel. The scabbard turns a multi-use multi-day pack into a great multi-day hunting pack, freeing up your hands for glassing, or traversing difficult terrain. the value to price ratio is very good. You get the typical high quality product that you can expect from Eberlestock. The butt cover design and integration could be better, but you certainly can’t go wrong using the A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier with the Eberlestock G1 Little Brother.

Comfort | 4.7/5 |
Mobility | 5/5 |
Weight | 5/5 |
Volume/Accessibility | 4.8/5 |
Included Features | 4.5/5 |
Durability | 5/5 |
Price | 4.6/5 |
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Eberlestock G1 Little Brother

| May 11, 2021
G1 Little Brother A4SS Scabbard
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.
Use | 72 Hour Bag
Features | Harness, Expansion Tunnel, hydration sleeve, radio rack.
Compartments | Full Front and Top Loading
Webbing | MOLLE/PALS Inside and Out
External Dimensions | 23L x 12W x 6D inches
Internal Dimensions | 22L x 12W x 6D inches
Materials | Cordura Nylon, Polyurethane lined
Weight | 4 lbs.
Volume | 1800 cubic inches
Price | $229

The Eberlestock G1 Little Brother is a stand-alone 3-day pack that can also be used with Eberlestock’s J51 Warhammer, F1 Mainframe, or M1 Carrier packs/frames. We picked up the G1 Little Brother, in coyote brown, for multi-day backpacking, scouting, and hunting trips in the Eastern Sierra, and other rugged terrain. We also added the Endo G-Type internal frame, to give the pack more structure.

For short scouting days, the Voodoo Tactical Merced Hydration Pack has been our go to pack. However, the G1 Little Brother comes into its own on any excursion more than a few hours, and any trip requiring more than a few hours worth of gear and requisite storage space.

A few hours in the field carrying a rifle and wearing a day pack isn’t intolerable, in fact, it’s quite normal for light and fast hunting days. However, some excursions introduce more difficult situations, like loose scree fields, or technical ascents and traverses approaching low or moderate 5th class terrain. For those situations a weapon scabbard frees up hands, and also adds comfort for packing in and packing out.

G1 Little Brother Scree Field

The G1 Little Brother with the A4SS scabbard allows for free hands traveling up a scree field.

While other Eberlestock packs, like the Phantom, Operator, and Gunslinger II have built in weapon carrying systems, the G1 Little Brother does not. It does have an expansion tunnel, for use with their A4SS Weapon Scabbard, and it’s part of the reason we selected it.

We wanted a multi-use, multi-day pack that didn’t carry the extra bulk or weight of a built in weapon carrier/scabbard when not needed, but the option to have one when needed. We did pick up an A4SS Weapon Scabbard, in the matching coyote brown color, for an exclusive review on that click here.

In The Field

All the straps on the G1 Little Brother were very easy to adjust. It was a breeze to get the pack to sit securely, in the right spot, while maintaining good mobility. The amount of adjustability also allows for proper fitment of both smaller and larger torsos.

Adjusting The Harness on the G1 Little Brother

Adjusting the shoulder and chest straps of the G1 Little Brother is an breeze.

With and without the A4SS weapon scabbard, the fitment remained perfect, and load distribution was great. The length and adjustability of the weapon scabbard mounting system, allows it to be mounted at a height that still leaves plenty of room for high stepping and down stepping on steep terrain without obstruction.

The large top and full front loading panels makes gear very accessible. The brain of the pack is large enough to hold a lot of small items, with quick access, and the sheer number MOLLE/PALS attachment points makes it possible to expand both carrying capacity and versatility, with the near infinite number of MOLLE compatible packs and accessories on the market.

G1 Little Brother Open Front Panel

The full front panel on the G1 Little brother makes it easy to access gear.

Outside of wanting a hip belt to comfortize carrying heavier loads, we did not have any major criticisms about the G1 Little Brother. It is important to note that we chose the G1 Little Brother specifically for multi-day multi-use trips, and weren’t looking for a 24 hour assault bag, nor were we looking for a dedicated meat carrier, or ultralight bag.

Our expectations were very clear going into the review of the G1, because we researched then selected a pack that looked like it would meet our expectations. The Eberlestock G1 Little Brother met those expectations, exceeded them in some ways, and only came up short on the hip belt situation during our field use.

Conclusion

Fully Loaded G1 Little Brother

The fully loaded G1 Little Brother as a nice solid shape, good fitment, and remains comfortable.

Standalone, the G1 Little Brother is a great multi-day multi-use pack. The pack, for our intended use, would have received nearly perfect scores if it weren’t for a few minor things. At the price point, we feel any pack over a 20L capacity, meant for multi-day use, should include a hip belt.

The recommended HBSS hip belt can be added to the G1 Little Brother, and we would have for about $30 more dollars, if they were ever in stock. A lack of hip belt availability seems to have plagued Eberlestock and many pack owners, for at least a full year.

We resorted to purchasing another brand of hip belt, to make carrying heavier loads more comfortable, instead of holding our breath that Eberlestock hip belts would all of the sudden become available. Without a hip belt, the pack takes a lower score in the comfortability and included features metrics of our review.

For the size and strength of the pack, the weight is very reasonable. We even think it would have been reasonable to reinforce the bottom from wear, with their PU coated material, increasing durability while also increasing the weight an acceptable amount.

The G1 Little Brother combined with the A4SS Weapon Scabbard has sufficient amounts of space and flexibility, is very durable, and more affordable when compared to a similar set of products from other manufacturers.

As mentioned before, it can be attached to a couple Eberlestock frame carriers to take advantage of their frame and carrier systems, making it more suitable for a pack out situation, than it is standalone. Especially without a hip belt.

Durability, practicality, and flexibility seem to be the name of the Eberlestock game. With many expandable options, like frame carriers, saddle bags, batwings, weapons carriers, and duffels, Eberlestock offers some form of a system or pack option, to meet almost anyone’s specific use.

Comfort | 4/5 |
Mobility | 4.8/5 |
Weight | 5/5 |
Volume Accessibility | 5/5 |
Included Features | 4/5 |
Durability | 4.8/5 |
Price | 4.5/5 |
Overall | 4.6/5 |
G1 Little Brother A4SS Scabbard Side View

Side view of the G1 Little Brother with the A4SS Scabbard attached.

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Start Tenkara Fishing

| May 3, 2021
Start Tenkara Fishing
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.

If you don’t already know what Tenkara is, it’s a Japanese style of fly fishing that involves a long, collapsible, highly flexible fly rod that is directly attached to the leader, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll definitely want to start Tenkara fishing once you have.

There is no reel or extra line to manage, and the fight is done with the spring tension of the rod. Fishing doesn’t get much more simple, or enjoyable than Tenkara.

Getting started is simple, and only requires 4 things:

Why Start Tenkara Fishing?

Tenkara fishing doesn’t limit you to small fish. Tenkara rods are just as capable as normal fly fishing setups at hooking and landing giants. The style of fishing that Tenkara lends itself to is usually faster moving small water, and streams. Think cascading high elevation, carved granite inlets and outlets. A bigger fish can easily fight back into deeper faster moving water, making the fight technically a lot more difficult than just netting off the side of a boat. A really large fish can break your line, which isn’t unique to any fishing setup. However, it’s also possible to damage or break sections of a Tenkara rod. Fortunately, replacement parts are commonly available for most Tenkara rods, and repairs are easy to make.

tenkara fishing mountain fish

Tenkara fishing in mountain streams for some really attractive young trout.

Tenkara fishing rods are highly portable. The collapsing of the rod makes them an ideal backpacking or mountain stream fishing rod. If you have a true passion for beautiful fish, then Tenkara fishing is for you. Mountain streams offer the opportunity to fish low pressure, wild fish. Often some of the most attractive fish you can catch, and Tenkara makes it possible.

Its easy to get caught up thinking that Tenkara is some pretentious variant of fly fishing, and we all know that can already be somewhat pretentious. Fear not, for us fisherman at Sportsman’s Magazine, and many others, Tenkara is a simple, portable, and effective way to fish, that also happens to be highly enjoyable. If you are an elitist type, and find the need to defend a strike indicator as something other than a bob, Tenkara fishing can still be for you. Tenkara itself is non-discriminatory, and you can be as serious, purist, or casual about it as you’d like.

Our approach to Tenkara fishing is very casual, and it’s our experience that its not necessary to overpay for some specifically branded Tenkara flies, when a good combination of elk hair cadis, mosquito, and beaded patterns like a copper john will serve you very well.

tenkara fishing equpiment

Basic Tenkara fishing equipment, including an assortment of flies.

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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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CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Scope

| April 19, 2021
4x32 Compact Scope Objective Lens
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.
Reticle | Mil Dot
Objective Lens Diameter | 1.26 inches (32mm)
Tube Size | 1 inch
Length | 7.48 inches
Material | Aluminum
Weight | 12.8 ounces
Magnification | 4x fixed
MOA Adjustment | 1/4 MOA
Eye Relief | 3.3 inches
Illumination | NA
Battery | NA
Battery Life | NA
Waterproof | Waterproof, and Fog Proof, Nitrogen Purged
Country of Origin | China
Warranty | One Year
Includes | See Through Lens Covers
Price | 27.99

Is the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope any good, or just a waste of money? We’ve all looked at budget optics at one time or another, and wondered the same thing. In our pursuit of a budget compact optic for a Crosman 1322 air pistol, we decided to give the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope a try.

We considered the 3-9x40 compact scope, but thought that it would over scope the Crosman air pistol, and be a waste of a few more dollars should the CVLIFE scope not pass muster. We also considered the UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster scope, because it gets a lot of positive reviews. But again, we didn’t want to over scope the air gun, and passed on the BugBuster. The BugBuster is actually also more than twice as expensive as the CVLIFE scope.

CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Scope – Initial Thoughts

The CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope came packaged in a printed cardboard box, branded with the CVLIFE logo and their odd tagline “convenience your life”. For the price point it wouldn’t have been surprising if the scope came packaged in a blister pack, or just a generic brown box, but it was nice to see some branding pride and care associated with the packaging.

Right out of the box, there was nothing overly impressive, nor were there any real obvious concerns. There were no included manuals, stickers, disclaimers, or warranties, which is unusual for an optic, but not surprising for the price point. Aesthetically, the compact scope was actually pretty nice. The finish quality of the aluminum construction was on par with many optics, and the anodizing was even, solid, and smooth. The lenses looked clean, and scratch free.

CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Scope – Field Tests

We mounted the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope to a Crosman air gun with Redfield see-thru dovetail scope rings intended for .22 rimfire rifles. The glass is surprisingly bright and clear, and the reticle sharp, although maybe a bit thicker and heavier than reticles on a higher end optic. The lens coating is sufficient for letting light into the objective lens while doing a decent job managing glare.

4x32 Compact Scope

The CVLIFE 4×32 compact scope mounted to its permanent home, a Crosman 1322.

We took a first shot at 10 yards and started to adjust zero. We did not expect much from the elevation and windage turrets. At the price point, the turrets could be understandably mushy or have more than desirable play. However, the turrets were crisp enough, and made both physical and audible clicks for every 1/4 MOA adjustment. The adjustments were also accurate, and the reticle moved the posted 1/4 MOA increments. We gradually sighted the air gun to 25 yards.

To our surprise we suffered no parallax issues, didn’t observe any edge distortion, and the eye relief was sufficient at just over 3 inches.

CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Scope – Critical Observations

It is difficult to be critical of the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope, because we approached the scope with very reasonable expectations. The glass is not, and never will be, the glass from a $500 dollar optic. However, the glass, construction quality, and turrets don’t feel like you would expect them too on such an inexpensive scope.

CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Scope – Conclusion

The CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope is more than adequate on our air pistol, where the maximum effective range is about 50 yards. While we did set our expectations quite low, we were all pleasantly surprised that a scope, for less than $30, could offer the level of quality and performance that it does. We are also not alone in this opinion.

After more than 2400 reviews on Amazon, the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope has 4.3 out of 5 stars. Some reviewers use it on firearms subject to much more recoil and abuse than our air gun, like semi-automatic rifles. Others are using it for airsoft. Even with the mixed use case, the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope maintains very positive reviews.

The CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope, when properly matched with a rimfire or air gun, is a winner at the price point. The other unspoken winner in our review, is actually the Redfield see-thru dovetail scope rings used to mount the scope to the dovetail on the air gun breech. They are light, well made, mounted securely, and have a solid finish.

If you are looking for a scope at the sub thirty dollar mark and your expectations are reasonable, the CVLIFE 4x32 compact scope is an option we have verified gets the job done.

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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.

Conclusion

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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CVLIFE Bipod

| April 2, 2021
CVLIFE Bipod
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 ”CVLIFECVLIFE Bipod Picatinny Mount The 6-9 CVLIFE Bipod gets even taller when sing the Picatinny mount adapter.[/caption]

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 server you well for most applications needing a 6″ to 9″ bipod.

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Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32

| March 23, 2021
Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32
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.
Reticle | Dead Hold BDC
Objective Lens Diameter | 32mm
Tube Size | 1 inch
Weight | 14.3 oz
Magnification | 2x-7x
MOA Adjustment | .25 MOA
Eye Relief | 3.9 Inches
Illumination | NA
Mount | None. Requires Picatinny Rings
Battery | NA
Battery Life | NA
Waterproof | Waterproof, and Fog Proof, Nitrogen Purged
Country of Origin | China
Warranty | Unlimited, Unconditional, Lifetime
Includes | Plastic Lens Cover, Microfiber Lens Cloth
Price | $179

Vortex Crossfire II – Initial Thoughts

The Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32 has been around for a few years now, and while it’s not new, it’s still an affordable and available rifle scope, that may still be perfect for you.

The Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32 came packaged nicely and securely in a Vortex Crossfire branded box. The packaging included a microfiber lens cloth, and a manual for the Crossfire II scope, as well as a manual for the Dead Hold BDC reticle.

Because the Crossfire line of scopes is third from the bottom tier of Vortex scopes, just above the Copperhead and Sonora lines of scopes, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew, or at least had hoped, that Vortex would not sell a bad scope, but we were skeptical about what Vortex could offer in a scope with a $129 purchased price, and our hopes weren’t too high.

Right out of the box, we were pleasantly surprised by the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32. It has the fit and finish you would expect from Vortex, but couldn’t imagine you could get at the price point. The scope feels durable, has a solid matte black finish, clear glass, a sharp second focal plane reticle, and the turrets can be adjusted without tools.

Nothing about the Crossfire II would have you think it is a budget scope. We chose the 2-7x version of the crossfire with a reticle that is not-illuminated, so we can’t speak to reticle illumination on the Crossfire series of scopes. However, we have used a Vortex Strike Eagle 1x6 for years, and it’s an awesome scope, with an awesome reticle.

Vortex Crossfire II on an AR-15

The Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 mounted onto an AR-15.

Vortex Crossfire II – Field Tests

We mounted the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32 on an AR-15, chambered in 223 Wylde, with high profile quick detach rings by UTG. When the AR-15 isn’t being used product testing or predator hunting, the Crossfire II can quickly be removed and replaced by a Bushnell TRS-25.

Between the high profile rings, 3.9″ eye relief of the Crossfire II, and the ample mounting options of the AR-15 Picatinny rail, it was easy to achieve a comfortable cheek weld, and quickly get the reticle on targets.

To sight in the Crossfire II scope, we set up 3 Birchwood Casey 6 inch reactive targets. The targets were ranged at 25 yards, 50 yards, and 100 yards.

We took two shots at 25 yards to see where the point of impact was and then made appropriate adjustments. The turret caps on the Crossfire II are easy to remove by hand, and adjustments were also easy to make without tools. Each 1/4 MOA turret adjustment made an audible and tactile click. The tactile clicks could have felt stronger, or slightly less spongy, but they were easy enough to detect, and matched the MOA numbers on the turrets. So there was never any doubt about the adjustments that were made.

Vortex Crossfire II Turrets

The turrets on the Vortex Crossfire II, are marked for 1/4 MOA adjustments, and provide an audible and tactile click.

We took our third shot at 50 yards, made zero adjustments, and then finished zeroing at 100 yards. Sighting the Crossfire II was one of the easier sighting experiences we’ve had, largely due to the clear glass, sharp second focal plane reticle, and easy to adjust turrets, but also likely due to the low recoil generated by our AR-15 compensator and light predator rounds. We didn’t used a lead sled, although it would have been nice.

The scope held zero during the rest of our shooting, and made reaching out on targets very enjoyable for the rest of the afternoon.

Vortex Crossfire II – Critical Observations

Outside of a larger objective lens, which has more to do with cost than it does being a fault of the Crossfire II, we don’t have any real complaints about the Crossfire II. It’s hard to be critical and nit pick a scope that offers such great value and performance for the price point. Any improvements to the Crossfire II already exist in Vortex’s higher tier Diamondback, Viper, Eagle, and Razor lines of scopes.

Vortex Crossfire II – Conclusion

Its by no means a new product offering, but dollar for dollar, you’d be hard pressed to find a better scope for the same price. The Vortex Crossfire II is one of the best budget optics in the $100 to $150 range, backed by one of the industries best warranties. Under the $100 dollar mark, you may look at the popular UTG bug buster, but for another 20 dollar bill, you are unlikely to be disappointed with the better Crossfire II.

Vortex Crossfire II Dead Hold BDC

Vortex Crossfire II Dead Hold BDC reticle is clear and easy to use.

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