Friday, May 5, 2017

See3D Clothing Kickstarter

From time to time I get contacted by companies about a new product or article review.  I can be choosy about who I test for, or endorse. After all one of of the missions of this website is a hunter helping other hunters with quality product reviews, advice, or just a good story.

In the spirit of that mission I would like to share with you a new style of hunting clothing that was designed by a father/son team out of Vermont.  It is essentially a orange suit with leafy material on it.  It is interesting concept, and I am excited to see where they go.

Just a heads up this may not fulfill the legal requirements for daylight orange use by hunters in all states, check your local laws. Find See3D's website here

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Iron Will Broadheads

Video Review of Iron Will Broadhead

We called it Red Dirt Pond.  I would like to tell you that I hunt with a sophisticated, creative group of hunters, but that would be a lie.  The pond was named for simply what it is: a small water hole in the red clay of Colorado. Surrounding the pond was a stand of white bark aspen trees, and perched 20 feet up was a predator.

The Red Dirt Pond
I had never hunted Red Dirt Pond before, but the circle of elk tracks in the ring of dirt told me I had to.  It was nearing the end of light, just about the time you decide nothing is coming in for the night, when they appeared.  A small herd of elk coming through the aspen grove, and He was with them.  A decent bull pushing his cows directly past my tree stand.  Before I knew it was time, the moment had come.  He stood 19 yards away, unaware of the whisper of an arrow moving across the rest. 

I let the arrow fly and instantly felt sickness in my gut when the arrow impacted the front shoulder of the bull. He immediately ran away, my arrow impotently dangling out of his side.  I whispered a prayer the bull would live and not suffer from my poor shot.  If only the expandable broadhead could have penetrated the shoulder, it would have been over.  I looked for that bull for a long time, but I had lost him.  It is a feeling of defeat, and a soul sickness only archers know and loath.  The loss of an animal who had to suffer for its last few hours, never to be recovered. If you hunt with a bow long enough, you too know this feeling.

Since that fated autumn day I have been seeking a strong, small, two blade broad.  One that is tough as nails, accurate as field points, will pass through an elk on a clean double lung hit, and perhaps break bone on a shot too close to the pocket.  In my quest for this perfect broadhead I tried many, each with its own strengths and drawbacks.  I have to admit I have even glued an old Zwickey to a ferrule shaft adapter and given it a go, but the flight was less than optimal out of a compound bow.  In our modern world of large diameter, mechanical, or three blades, this broadhead has been hard to find.

Enter the Iron Will V100 and V125 Broadhead (IWBH).  When I first learned about these heads I was intrigued by their slogan: "As Reliable as Science Allows."  What I quickly learned was how much metallurgy and design has gone into building these heads.  

The IWBH is a short delta designed broadhead with small bleeder blades placed at the back of the ferrule. The main blade is one inch wide and the bleeder blades are .75 inches wide. This broadhead reminded me of the lines and heritage of tradition broadheads that relied on two blades and heavy, thick designs for maximum penetration on wooden shafted arrows.  Your grandfather did not have the opportunity to shoot this broadhead, but I can tell you he would recognize it and want to use it.

Bill with a bull taken with an Iron Will Broadhead
When I met with lead designer/owner William (Bill) Vanderheyden, what pleased me most was to learn that he is a hunter.  A true Colorado bow hunter who completely understands what the archer needs to make ethical kills.  Bill is also a science and math wiz, and has spent the last 25 years working as a mechanical engineer. Out of this knowledge and hunting experience, the Iron Will was born.

By hearing Bill talk about his broadheads, I could tell how passionate he is about his design.  He speaks of the metal used to create the heads the same way a computer geek talks of processors and hard drives.  He has a true love for his design and his pursuit of its perfection.

The metal used in creation of the heads is certainly special.  The ferrule on the V100 is made of grade 5 titanium .  This is a super light, super strong metal, giving the broadhead a tough backbone to support the blade.  The ferrule on the V125 is made out of hardened stainless steel, which is an exceptional metal and replaces the titanium on this model only to increase the weight of the head to the 125 mark.

Bill and great bull taken by an IWBH
The blades on both models are made out of A2 Steel that has a cryogenic treatment and is triple tempered.  This steel is the same steel that tools  and high end knife makers use. Add all of this metallurgy and design together and you get one tough broadhead. To find out more about this broadhead, visit Iron Will's website.

I have to admit the price of the IWBH is steep.  At $99 for three, these are not your bargain basement broadheads.  These are serious hunting tools, developed for the archer who craves meticulous, fine-tuned, deadly hunting implements. The upside of this price is the backing of a lifetime warranty.  As long as you own the broadheads, if any of them break or are damaged for any reason, they'll be replaced free of charge. You can buy Iron Will's broadheads here.  Custom engraved broadheads are also available for an additional fee.

IWBH/field point combo at 30 yards
Bill supplied me with several IWBH, and I could not wait to try them out. My initial tests floored me.  I have often had difficulty with fixed blade heads and have always had to tune them to the bow.  My groups were amazing!  At 30 yards I was stacking the broadhead equipped arrows on top of field points.  I was very impressed with the accuracy of the head. It flew like a field point.  I then pushed the tests out to 40 yards.  Once again the impact was nearly identical to the field point.  I did notice about an inch drop of elevation at the 40 yard mark.  My suspicion is this is related to the increase in air resistance as the head has cutting through the wind.  You can hear a marked increase in flight noise of the head, but nothing more than what is common with fixed blade heads. What I can tell you is the IWBH is more accurate than I am!

IWBH/field point combo 40 yards

Once I had completed my accuracy testing I decided it was time to see just what the heads could penetrate and withstand.  The bow set-up I used for this was a Matthews Outback, shooting a 29.5 inch, Gold Tip Hunter XT with blazer vanes (check out the arrow here).  The bow was set at draw weight of 65 pounds, an arrow speed of 267 FPS, weight of 419.5 grains, with an average kinetic energy of 66 ft-lbs. See photo for full details of speed/ft-lbs test with this arrow, broadhead, and bow set up.

IWBH through two sides of OSB
For the first test I set up a panel box made out of 1/2 OSB ply board.  From 20 yards the arrow was able to penetrate both sides of the board.  I shot several other broadheads into this set up and found mechanical broadheads and three bladed fixed heads could not penetrate the second board.  Additionally, the IWBH showed no damage and the blades were still sharp after 5 shots.  The mechanical broadheads were destroyed and unusable after one impact with the OSB.

The IWBH through metal grating

The next test was shooting through metal flat wire grating.  I folded the grating over itself so there were a total of eight layers of metal grating.  The IWBH sailed through all eight layers and through most of the foam block behind it.  The mechanical could barely penetrate the metal grating and were again destroyed. I shot the IWBH through the metal 5 times and examined it afterwards. The head showed signs of dulling but was otherwise completely intact and functional.  I could have sharpened this head and gone hunting with it.

IWBH after testing, still intact
The last and ultimate test will be to go hunting with the IWBH.  Unfortunately, given the timing of this article I will have to wait for a few months. Check back in the future for part two of this review after a (hopefully) successful hunt.

While shooting the Iron Will broadhead, I found it to be stable in flight, durable upon impact, and penetrates deeply.  I highly recommend this broadhead, and hope you'll check them out.  Also, I came up with my own slogan for them after reviewing their strength and warranty: "Iron Will Broadheads:
The Last Broadhead You Will Ever Buy."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Catahoula Training Video

Finally got around to completing this project from the summer. Great video of Bohannon and I working an unknown track.  I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Federal Fusion MSR Review

I stumbled across Federal Fusion MSR several years ago while looking for a commercially manufactured Mountain Lion load for a .223.  I needed a bullet that would expand, but at the same time have a high weight retention for deep penetration.  This combination was not often found readily available in the venerable .223 cartridge, as they are often relegated to varmint and small predator duty.  To complicate the situation further, I wanted to use this round in my favorite AR15 platforms, many of which sport 16 and 18 barrels.  Enter the Federal Fusion MSR round, especially designed for this very purpose.  Federal designed this round as an answer to whitetail deer hunting with the .223, as some states have lifted a long time ban on the small center fire.  I was equally excited to discover they offered the Federal Fusion MSR in 308 Winchester.  The perfect compliment to my AR10 for all medium sized game.

The Bullet
Federal Fusion @ 100 yards
Federal designed the Fusion bullet to offer a high rate of expansion while still maintaining a large
amount of weight retention.  The bullet has a traditional lead core and a copper jacket. Where it differs is that Federal states they have, "electrochemically" bonded the core of the bullet with the jacket, ensuring they do not separate during the expansion process.  Additionally, they internally skive the exposed lead core tip of the bullet.  For all of you non-bullet geeks out there, this means there are small cuts on the inside of the jacket near the tip of the bullet that pre-program its opening and expansion.  The bullet is a boat tail profile and has a ballistic coefficient in .223 62 grain of .31 and in 308 165 grain of .446!  The gold standard in 308 in ballistic coefficient is the 168 grain Sierra MatchKing is only slightly higher at .464 BC.

Federal Fusion @ 200 yards
The MSR Cartridge 
While Federal offers a complete line of Fusion in rifle, and now some handgun ammo, they specifically designed the MSR line cartridge for use in modern sporting rifles.  This is the polite way to say assault rifle or AR platform.  The cartridge itself is military style primed and works with free floated firing pins.  Federal also states they use a clean, fast burning powder to boost velocity in shorter rifle barrels. There is a bit more that goes into this cartridge, so for further details on it I suggest you head over the Federal's website and get it directly from the source.  

Federal Fusion @ 200 yards
By far the best part of testing any new cartridge.  As I wanted to use both the .223 and .308 Fusion in my AR platforms, I loaded up on both the 62 grain .223 and 165 grain 308 rounds.

I sighted in two separate AR15s to the 62 grain bullet and cycle tested over 100 rounds of the
ammunition between the two rifles. During the testing there were no malfunctions and the ammo ran smoothly through the rifles.  Accuracy was sub MOA on one rifle, and just over on the other at 100 yards.  The AR15s were a Colt SP1 Sporter, and custom build rifle with a 16 barrel featuring a RGuns upper assembly and Palmetto State Armory lower.  The SP1 had the greater accuracy of the two.

I next shot the Fusion through my AR10 over the course of several outings to the range.  I put over 60 rounds through the rifle and again experienced no malfunctions, head stamping, or any other indications of cycling issues. I have seen some metering issues with other ammo before and did not find any here.  What impressed me most was the accuracy.  MOA at 100 hundred and near Sub MOA at 200 yards!  This ammunition seemed to be made for my rifle. Alos, the 165 grain bullet drop was perfectly matched to my Nikon M308 with a BDC built for the 168 grain built.  I was easily hitting an 18 inch target at 400 yards just by holding the correct drop dot.  The AR10 tested was a custom built with an 18 inch free floated barrel by Black Hole Weaponry, and a DPMS upper and lower.

Field Testing

Coyote taken with Federal Fusion MSR 223 62 grain
Many people talk about ballistic gelatin tests, but I prefer the real thing: actual hunting situations.  I put 20 rounds in mag of the SP1 and headed out with the call box to try to find some coyotes.  I was in luck on my first outing and after several calling stands I had a nice pair of coyotes running into the caller.  The shot was at 70 yards and the coyote was on a trot directly toward the caller. I hit the dog a little farther back than I would have like to, but it knocked him over and he didn't get back up.  Later I found the bullet had entered and exited the coyote, with the exit hole larger than the entrance.  I was convinced these would be my new all-around predator calling round.

Mule deer taken with Federal Fusion 308 @ 162 yards
I had to wait a bit long for deer season to role around in Colorado to further test the 165 308. On the first day of the hunt I was sitting up in a rock pile enjoying my thermos full of coffee when a little buck popped up at 199 yards.  An easy shot for sure, and after setting down my coffee, I lined up on him and took the shot. He tumbled over backwards and could not rise, a 308 hole through his chest.  It was quick and humane.  Upon skinning him I found again the bullet had exited with a hole slightly larger than the entrance.

Exit hole after passing through a shoulder
The next day I had a new hunter with me and we were on the prowl for a buck for her.  After a hike up one of the tallest mountains in the area, we found a beautiful buck bedded above us.  He stood for a shot and at 162 yards the new hunter dropped him with a front shoulder shot from my AR10.  The bullet had entered one shoulder and exited the other.  There was clearly more expansion on this exit hole.  This buck was very large and again he never took a step after the hit- just dropped in his tracks. During skinning and butchering I did not find any bullet fragments that would indicate the bullet broke apart.

A large bobcat taken with Fusion MSR 223

The Federal Fusion round is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to hunt with an MSR, or a traditional hunting rifle.  It is accurate, expands, and retains it weight.  Overall it's devastating on game.  I am sold, and plan to use it for all of my MSR hunting situations from predator, to medium sized game, up to Elk.