Category Archives: Uncategorized

NRA Foundation Provides Grants to SAR

The Student Air Rifle Program (SAR), an effort developed by the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance—a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization—has received a grant from the NRA Foundation that will help in the purchase of equipment for Pennsylvania schools.

“Programs like SAR allow students an opportunity to learn firearms safety and shooting sports fundamentals promoting character, responsibility, and self-esteem,” said Kory Enck, NRA Foundation senior field representative for Western Pennsylvania. “We are pleased to be a part of the SAR Pennsylvania effort.”

During the inaugural Pennsylvania Basic Air Riflery Instructor Training in October, SAR was presented with an $8,000 check from the NRA Foundation offsetting the cost of the first Pennsylvania SAR schools. “Funds raised locally in PA were used to offer two separate grants for SAR. The grants, one for Western PA and one for Eastern PA, help schools complete their SAR equipment purchase,” Kory explained.

SAR uses school-aligned units of study, teacher training, universal whistle commands and positive language to facilitate an introduction to the lifetime sport of target shooting to school-aged youth in grades 4 through 12. “Standardized equipment allows all participants to be on a level playing field and erodes the potential for financial background or social status to have an impact on the participation of any student,” its website explains. 

“We value our partnership with the NRA Foundation and look forward to expanding SAR in Pennsylvania,” said Jake Hindman, President and CEO of SAR.

Established in 1990, The NRA Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that raises tax-deductible contributions in support of a wide range of firearm-related public interest activities of the National Rifle Association of America and other organizations that defend and foster the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans. 

Mesa Tactical Magazine Clamp

A lot of aftermarket gun accessories are awesome—like the Mesa Tactical Magazine Clamp and rail. Unfortunately, small firearm gear is often overlooked and rarely gets much publicity. The ingenuity and engineering prowess packed into some of those tiny packages makes it a shame, too.

Writeups are usually limited to 100 words with a boring photo, if the company is lucky. A passing mention as a new product is more common, but full-blown tests with specifications are unicorn rare.

I have an undying passion for the “gizmos,” if you will. They can be functional, tough, effective, fun and even save money. I take a lot of photos as a result of that curiosity and wonder and I maintain a Fear and Loading YouTube channel to give enthusiasts a close look before they buy.

Almost all the images and videos there will never be published elsewhere. Such is the nature of the business, even though a lot of time was spent using the focus-stacking technique mentioned in my Mission First Tactical blog.

Mesa Tactical Magazine Clamp

The Mesa Tactical Magazine Clamp performs a variety of chores. It has a QD mount on both sides, allowing the use of a sling, yet quick removal after a day in the field if the shotgun is also pressed into home-defense duty. It can be used to anchor a weaponlight on Remington 870 or Mossberg 930 pump-action shotguns. A small Picatinny rail can be attached, which opens a variety of laser/light options. It also stabilizes aftermarket magazine extensions.  

This is one of those aftermarket items that make you hit your head and ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Two machined aluminum “halves” bolt together securely around the barrel and tube magazine contours. Far forward mounting is required to prevent obstructing the pump action’s stroke, though. If simply attached to the barrel, the “tunnel” created underneath can secure a 1-inch diameter flashlight. The rail will go on either side, making the setup completely ambidextrous.


This isn’t a flimsy piece of gear, either. I’ve been torture testing one and it’s come through without a scratch. It holds tight and no matter what I’ve wiggled onto that 2-inch mil-std 1913 (STANAG) rail, it’s gone on and stayed put. With the 1-inch flashlight configuration the shotgun gets a little nose heavy, but it beats not having hands-free light when someone is breaking down the door and law enforcement hasn’t arrived.

At $90 it’s not dirt cheap, but it’s going to last forever, that’s for sure.

If you have someone on your holiday shopping list who owns a Remington 870 or Mossberg 930 that doesn’t have a weaponlight yet, take a close look at the Mesa Tactical Magazine Clamp with rail. I suggest you start by watching this short video….at 4k, it’s probably best enjoyed on your TV.


Red Ruger 10/22 Target Lite

I recently had the pleasure of testing and photographing a red Ruger 10/22 Target Lite. Rimfires are always fun, but this one’s bright color had me worried about images.

They turned out great and my grandson is begging me to buy it rather than ship it back to Ruger. He probably sent 200 rounds through the gun without a single hiccup. That’s saying a lot considering he’s only 10 and never stuffed a 10-round, rotary magazine before.

That’s no stoppages, malfunctions or bruised knuckles the entire day. He was so comfortable with the thumbhole stock that we didn’t adjust length of pull, either, which is impressive with his spindly stature.

Amazing Accuracy

I wrote a review for Shooting Illustrated. The accuracy was amazing for a production firearm and—in reality—a little frustrating. Every five-shot group had one round wander significantly. They were random, too. The barrel never got warm, much less hot. I stuck to sub-sonic loads.

User malfunction is the only explanation. If you haven’t tried this new Ruger drop in trigger, you’re missing a real treat.

Red Ruger 10/22 Target Lite Photo Challenge

Red looks great in person and caught the eye of my grandson immediately. I surmise it does the same with customers in sporting goods stores.

My concerns stemmed from the fact that the color has an annoying habit of oversaturating and “vibrating” in photos. If you look at some of the images and video I posted on YouTube, it turns out I didn’t have a thing to worry about. The gun and all its details look great, although I think that gray/black layer did the heavy lifting.

Focus Stacked

A red Ruger 10/22 Target Lite is too good looking to leave things fuzzy and slightly out of focus. So, I focus stacked.

The technique is labor intensive and torturous. You find your exposure, manually focus on the closest point you want tack sharp, then hit the shutter.

Minutely change focus on the next furthest point and take another picture. You can do this by turning the lens or using a fancy contraption akin to a miniature model of a Medieval rack to stretch naughty servants.

Repeat (the shutter that  is, not more torture for the help) until you’ve run out of gun/parts you want in focus. Don’t touch the tripod or breathe heavily during the process. You might have to start over.

The above photo is somewhere around 50 separate ones combined using software. I quit keeping inventory when I ran out of fingers and toes.

I touched on the technique before, and there’s a lot of authoritative writing on the web about photo stacking. If you’re interested do a Google search. Adobe Photoshop gets it done nicely, but there are other programs available as well.

With the Mission First Compensator I used a 100 mm Macro Canon lens. For the red Ruger 10/22 Target Lite I went with my battle-worn 50 mm macro, just because I didn’t want to leave the county to finish the photos.

I think they turned out great, but take a look at my slide show/videos on YouTube and let me know what you think.