I apologize for the dearth of posts for the past 2 months. After acquiring gainful employment with an awesome company, I've been acclimating to my new work environment and schedule. All of this job searching and orientation has left me with little time for creativity in the way of food, photography, or guns.
More specifically, on the gun front (the biggest focus of this blog), I've been on a tight budget due to prolonged unemployment, not wanting to put myself completely out of money prematurely. Imagine my irritation once I had money again to find that there is no range ammo to be purchased, unless you're shooting 7.62x39, .223, or a more obscure caliber. As I shoot mainly 9mm (and to a lesser extent .380) in my handgunning sessions, I'm out of business.
Wanting to get a range session in a couple of weeks ago, I searched my local big stores (Wal-Mart, Academy, Cabelas) without success. I finally broke down and went to the range with the 2 boxes of 9mm I had remaining. I couldn't bring myself to deplete my stock further, and grudgingly paid the $20 for a single box of Blazer Brass at the range. I rotated it into my stock and used a box of Monarch instead. I also tried some .22LR rounds from the one bulk box I was able to find, in a brand I've never tried and will be writing a review in the next several days.
As you may know from previous posts, 50 rounds is simply not enough to get back up to speed when I haven't put in range time in months. My range therapy didn't go so well that day. To add to my disappointments, my range has implemented a new rule that folks can no longer pick up spent brass. It seems that there were people abusing brass-pick-up policy and culling large amounts of brass they didn't shoot, so now no one is permitted to pick up spent brass. The only way to police your brass now is to put down a blanket/sheet or employ a brass-catcher of some sort. Neither are practical options when it comes to moving and shooting sessions, so I'm screwed out of my brass until I can figure out some other arrangement.
Things aren't all bad, though. I've been out of town for work, and visited a Bass Pro Shops for the first time. My first impression was that the place was exactly like Cabelas, down to the lanterns indicating a checkout lane is open. After walking around the store, I noticed a couple of key differences. First, there is a better selection of goods. As an example, when compared to the Cabelas in Buda, there's about quadruple the number of duck calls availble. Secondly, Bass Pro Shops is cheaper - and from what I can tell, this is pretty much across the board.
As hunting season is coming up, I've decided that it is time for me to purchase a proper bird shotgun. While the EBS will work, it's certainly not purposed for hunting - what with the lack of a choke and having to deal with that silly foot-long plug. So... I'm off to Bass Pro on my way back to Austin to buy a Stoeger Condor. I realize that my choice may disappoint some of you die-hard shotgunners. I honestly cannot understand why the common belief is that an Over/Under shotgun, one of the simplest designs possible, needs to command a price tag of over $1000. Hey, I can certainly understand and appreciate the quality of a finely-crafted firearm. What I can't understand is the reluctance of manufacturers to produce utilitarian-grade O/U shotguns. Were I a competition shotgunner or a prolific hunter, a $1000+ price tag would certainly be understandable. But I'm not. I shoot skeet a few times a year and go bird hunting only a bit more frequently than that.
Remington has actually put its name on a line of inexpensive shotguns and rifles (including an O/U) called Spartan, but it seems almost as if they're ashamed of it. They import them from a Russian manufacturer, and you won't find any detail or pricing info for the line on the Remington website; It took a Google search for me to even find them, as they're not listed in the normal product navigation menus. So... inexpensive O/U shotguns are currently made by a small niche of companies, Remington (who is afraid to really own the line), Yildiz (Turkish guns who seem to only exist at Academy), and Stoeger - which is owned by Benelli. All things taken into consideration, the Stoeger Condor appears to be the best choice for me.
Also in good news, I've got a range session with a coworker of my girlfriend. She's got an old Browning .22 Short that her father gave her when she was a child, and hasn't been shooting since those days. I'll be bringing a sampling of rifles, handguns, and shotguns for her to try as well. I'll have a range report to follow.
And with that, I'm off to go purchase my new Stoeger.
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