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December 19, 2008

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Petzal: More on Plaxico and Christmas

A judge of my acquaintance--a regular reader of this blog and a hard and pitiless man to whom the mere mention of mercy is a mortal affront--takes issue with my prediction that Plaxico Burress will skate because of who he is. There are, says Ye Judge, ways around mandatory sentences, but the uproar over Burress’ Glock groping has eliminated them, and he is surely looking at prison.

Whether I am right or the judge is right, what Burress gets will not be justice, but public relations, and the whole wretched business points out how capriciously gun laws are often enforced.

Anyway, back to greed and covetousness:

Vero Vellini rifle slings. I have no idea who Vero Vellini is, but he makes the most comfortable rifle sling I know of. It’s heavily padded, has just a little spring to it, and best of all, does not slip off your shoulder ever 7.5 seconds. Depending on model, $20-$50. Widely available.

HSM rifle ammunition, sold by Cabelas. Much cheap ammo is loaded with bird droppings and melted-down T-34 tank hulls by people who subsist on cabbage and other cheap, gas-producing vegetables. HSM is loaded in the USA by people who go to Taco Bell to get gas, and it’s extremely good stuff that always shoots well, and sometimes spectacularly well.

WheelFrom Battenfield Technologies (battenfeld.com): Wheeler Engineering’s 72-Piece Screwdriver Set. In terms of quality and versatility, the best I’ve ever used. It’s $81, and if you need to get the sideplate off a Velo-Dog revolver, there is the 89-piece Professional version for $116. A couple of years ago, I mangled a bit from my set, and was sent the correct replacement, plus a couple of extras, at no charge. This is very encouraging.

Wheeler’s Professional Scope Mounting Kit contains scope ring alignment bars, ring-lapping compound and rod, a torque wrench with 10 bits, thread locking compound, a reticle level, and a DVD that shows you how to mount scopes (This is a good idea, as the directions that usually come with scope mounts vary between worthless and useless.). I’m not so sure about the lapping; it’s a quick way to wreck a perfectly good set of scope rings and is very seldom needed. The kit is $130 in 1-inch or 30mm versions.

Caldwell Shooting Supplies’ Stable Table is a good, solid, simple shooting bench that anyone can assemble (I did it in 15 minutes, and was not hauled away foaming at the mouth.) for $320. It is not so infinitely adaptable as the RCBS Rapid Acquisition Shooting System bench, but it is cheaper, lighter, and breaks down smaller for transportation.

Hornady ammo generally, and the Hornady SST bullet in particular. The ammo is first-rate, and the SST is a super-violent-expanding polycarbonate-tip slug that is very accurate, carries well at long range, and does not cost a fortune. SST stands for Super Shock Tip, and trust me when I say that Hornady is not kidding about this.

CsLansky Professional Crockstick Knife Sharpener comes with medium and fine ceramic rods and a handguard (which takes some of the adventure out of the experience) and is the best device I’ve seen for getting and keeping a shaving edge on a knife. Only Bill Heavey has been unable to use it successfully. It will bring a very dull edge back from the dead, but the process takes forever. That is about its only drawback. $28 from knivesplus.com.

RWS Diana Air Rifle. This is a very fine air gun that comes in .177 and .22, has a 19 5/8-inch barrel, and excellent fiber-optic sights. The stock is walnut, and can be used by either a right- or left-hand shooter. There are no bells and whistles.  It is very accurate, and very, very powerful. If you haven’t used an air rifle before, or have been embittered by a lousy one, the Diana will show you the light. The price is $430, which is an investment, but the ammo is dirt cheap. The Diana is available from umarexusa.com, which does not carry it on their website (they swear they will get it up there), but they have it nonetheless.


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WA Mtnhunter

Merry Christmas Dave!

Since I rarely take exception to things you write, including "like trying to hoist one of Hillary Clintons's legs" (LOL) , from a long ago post, I thought I might exhibit a bit of Bah Humbug for the season.

While maybe not mandatory, lapping scope rings certainly ensures a better alignment and eliminates torque on the tube, assuming the rings are aligned. In my experience, the Wheeler alignment tool has shown rings to be slightly out of alignment in the vertical axis that simply adjusting the dovetails cannot correct.

So what if a set of $40 rings are violated? I'll continue to lap my dual dovetail Leupold rings.

WA Mtnhunter

BTW, HSM ammo has shot well for me and is a bargain compared to Remfedchester. Their boxed (not bulk) ammo is also carried by Sportsman's Warehouse out here in God's country.


The HSM .243 Win. ammo I picked up at Cabela's is excellent shooting ammo. I've been able to put bullets in the same bullet hole at 100 yds from my Browning A-Bolt with BOSS rifle.

Diana RWS does indeed make a fine pellet rifle. I have the 350 Magnum in .22 cal. and it has outshot every other .22 cal. (or .177 cal.) air rifle that has crossed my path. At 1050 fps, it'll make apples explode using wadd cutter or hollow point pellets. For my indoor plinker, I have a multi-pump Daisy model 822 in .22 cal. that is a tack driver. I've hit pennies with it at 25 yds with open sights. Daisy has since renamed this to the 22SG, which you can find at Pyramydair.com. For less than $100, you can't go wrong with this baby. Put in the new Gamo .22 cal. PBA Raptor or the Cabela's lead-free hollow point pellets and it'll shoot even faster than the 600 fps max. rated speed.

As for knife sharpeners, I find that the Chef's Choice 3-stage sharpener is the best and easiest to use all-around. The first stage will grind off nicks on the blade. The second stage will hone down the roughness left by stage 1. Stage 3 is a stropping stage that will put a razor edge on your blades - even serrated blades. I have one of these sharpeners and I will never go back to ceramic rod sharpeners unless I have no other choice. Cabela's sells them as does Bass Pro.

Merry Christmas!!!


WA Mountainhunter,
What is it with you folks and God's country? My uncle Bill Lived there for 50 years and would say that every time I talked to him.(I lived in N.J. at the time) But I might be prejudice, since that's what I think of my little corner of southwest Montana.


For the incompetent knife sharpeners like Bill Heavy and myself, the line of electric sharpeners from Chef's choice are a good investment. I have model 320 and I'm sure all the other models are good.


If you do not have the patience of God or Mr. Petzal diamond is the fastest, bestest way to go for sharpening 'stuff.'

jim in nc

Here's an Xmas present for *you*, DP: I know "Non Sequitur" is not exactly your favorite comic strip, but you might have appreciated that of a couple of days ago. It featured a butcher shop in these recession times, with Santa behind the counter and such cuts as ground Vixen and filet of Comet in the meat case. Ho ho ho.

Jim in Mo

I was considering ordering a new sling from Murray Leather but reading about the Vellini has me curious. Slings slipping off my shoulder is a pet peeve of mine. How would you rate the two?

WA Mtnhunter

As a New Joisey transplant, you might need to soak for a while. MT, WY, CO, UT, ID, WA, & OR IS God's Country! You can keep the rest. (sorry Dave)


Dave Petzal

To Jim in Mo: If you like to use the sling as a shooting aid, Murray is better than Viero because the latter is flared, which gets in the way. Murrays cannot be worn out (if they get wet, just rub a little vegetable oil into them). Viero wins in the comfortable and non-slip category. All told, it's a tie; you just have to figure out which properties are most important, or better yet, buy both.

Dave Petzal

To Dickgun, who is generally right about everything: If you want to take off a lot of steel, fast, there is nothing like the DMT Diamond Hones, I agree.

Steve in VA

All --

Regarding Dave's observations on Vero Vellini slings, I've used one for years and agree it's a good product. Mine uses neoprene, which grips the shoulder well but, as Dave indicated, has some bounce to it. In fact, this is my one gripe, in that it lacks the solid feel necessary to use the sling as a shooting tool. One sling I would strongly recommend is the Quake Claw -- it's a nylon sling overlayed with rubber that won't slip, but also has the stiff backbone to be useful in creating a solid shooting stance. It's also butt ugly, but as a hunting tool, I like it.

Happy holidays and good hunting!

Steve in VA

One additional comment on slings -- I have a Murray sling as well. Love the look -- the classic leather -- and you can adjust the length easily. Down side -- it'll slip off your shoulder in a nano-second if you're not paying attention.

WA Mtnhunter

Anyone like the Montana Sling? All leather and adjusts quicker than a cat can lick his whiskers. My favorite shooting sling.


WA Mtnhunter,
When I was a kid my folks went to the great state of Washington to visit my uncle and could not understand what he saw in it. that's why they are still back in Jersey and clueless.they complain about all the damage the bears and deer do but support a government that limits/bans hunting that would control the problem. I don't know how Jersey pig can stand it!

WA Mtnhunter

Well, all the Seattle politicans and activists would ban hunting here if given the chance. The Seattle metro population swayed an election intiative to effectively ban hounds and baiting for bears and cougars, now both are problems in some areas of the state. Sounds like the same sorry state of affairs as Jersey. Common denominator = liberals.

The hunting here has declined in recent years, except for waterfowl. That's why I go to Colorado most years for elk and deer.

Merry Christmas to all!


I hate to be a pain in the, well, neck, to you guys this close to Christmas but... I am an old, card carrying butcher who loves good knives and hates those Chef Choice knife eating grinders and their clones. I find them hidden under the counter for the lazy apprentices and the guys with the shakes. I've never seen a decent cutter use one.
I am sticking to my stonea and sticks that give an edge that lasts. But now that you can get a Buck knife for as little as $15.00 at Gander Mountain, well, you guys just go right ahead and grind like you're in a body shop. But just stay on the low side in deer camp.

Jim in Mo

I've always wondered about those Chefs Choice sharpeners. I figured they'd sharpen but at what cost to a good blade. I 'sharpen' my hunting knife with a Lansky stone set but I don't with my butcher knives, they're just too long bladed and wear out the stones. So the first time I took them to a pro sharpener he said no sharpening is needed on these blades it only takes metal off. He just adjusted the bevel on the blade and stropped them of burrs. Sharp as needed.


I have used the Wheeler kit for several years with much satisfaction. Use a little patience with the ring lapping and you will have no trouble. I suppose the result is worth the effort as I have unlapped rings on rifles that also shoot well. The torque tool is almost a necessity as well as the scope crosshair leveler tool. You can also buy them separately.
I'm glad WAMtnHunter mentioned the Montana sling as I spoke of it on this blog a couple months or so ago. No one responded probably because they were unfamiliar with the item. At least one person apparently agrees with me that the Montana sling is of similiar quality to my old Murray, easier to adjust, and a bit cheaper.
One other craftsman I want to mention is Von Ringler of Clark, Wyoming. Von is a fine man with a great family who cowboys, hunts, and create works of art using leather. He makes all kinds of holsters including his own design "Wyoming Holster". He makes cartridge cases, flashlight cases, and about twenty years ago I even convinced him to custom build a breast collar for one of my foxtrotters. It has been used a lot and I will never wear it out. Check out his web site or give him a call if you want your own custom idea put into leather. Von does not know I am writing this but I feel that you will never be disappointed in his work so am happy to introduce those of you who don't know about him and his leather products.

Walt Smith

Get yourself a Lansky sharpener, the type with the aluminum clamp that holds the knife with three different sharpening angles. These work really well with the standard stones but if you really want a demon edge on your knife blade,pay a little extra and buy the diamond stones, Then when you think you're done run your knife backwards ( drag the edge) over a old leather,the type the butchers use. (the best ones are made in Russia) Then be very, very careful.


Bizzydays, the Chef's Choice sharpeners have 3 stages of grind, but you don't have to use all 3. Only if you have bad nick in the blade would you grind down the metal so you get a continuous edge. Stage 2 then starts the edge on the blade and Stage 3 hones it to razor sharpness. Most of the time, I just run my blades through Stage 3 to resharpen. I can literally shave with my knife blade after using stage 3. And I have Benchmade knives with 154CM steel, that cost over $120 each, that I run through it. I wouldn't trust anything else with my Benchmade knives. You can use all the sticks and stones you want (and I've wasted a LOT of money over the years on them) but I have yet to come across a set that will put the razor edge back onto a 154CM steel blade like the Chef's Choice does.


I would put the Spyderco Sharpmaker on the list. It is set up like a Lansky whose mother was frightened by a bench stone. The stones are triangular with flat sides, and take off more steel per pass than round ones do. Plus you can get different grade stones, and the rough ones work well on really dull or large blades. The base is plastic and on the whole it seems a little overpriced at about fifty bucks for the lot, but it's like a Glock; you don't pay so much for what you get as what it can do. Like Walt Smith says, learn how to strop your blades after using one of these sharpeners and you can put your hunting knife under your pillow at night and wake up the next morning with a clean shave.

Dick Mcplenty

I'll second the spyderco sharpmaker.You can buy diamond sticks for it also.Not to mention there isn't a sharp edged tool that can't be sharpened on it.

Butler creek makes a mountain sling thats as good as the vero,but costs much less.

Del in KS


You left out Alaska IMO the best one of all. Also don't forget Canada. Mucho lake comes to mind.

Del in KS

One small Diamond stick has lasted over 20 years for me. The Buck knife in my pocket will take all the hair off my arm. All it takes is 3 very light strokes on each side of any good knife. The key is to use light strokes.

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