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Get the Biggest Bang Out of Your Equipment

Posted on 04 March 2010 by Cork Graham

Cork Graham collects his shooting dope

Cork Graham collects his rifle’s dope

In an economy where many are actually wondering where they’re going to get their paycheck, getting the most out of what you buy is an utmost priority. When I received a review sample of the Blackhawk!®, as I do with any new set of equipment or clothing, I immediately went into that mode of how to get that best bang for the buck.

At first, it was hard as Blackhawk!® does a lot in making sure that a product delivers a variety of capabilities above the apparent. For example, instead of just offering a rifle case or a shooting mat, they delivered both. Actually, in the Blackhawk!®’s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™ they offered two capabilities, but delivered three: it also has a drag bag loop for it to be used as not only the advertised shooting mat and gun case, but also a sniper’s drag bag.  Remember what I said in a previous column about how Blackhawk!® answers questions before they’re asked? Well, they made it in spades with the Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™.

BLACKHAWK!®'s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it's a gun case...

BLACKHAWK!®’s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it’s a gun case…

Constructed from 1000 denier nylon, and well-insulated by closed cell foam, it has a large compartment sealed by #9 YKK® zipper and sliders with silent zipper pulls. Easily able to fit a 50-inch rifle, it’s also adjustable by the appropriately placed straps and ties to snug up a normal sized scoped rifle. I really enjoyed the strap system that makes it a great pack scabbard. As for the drag bag capability, I would recommend adding tie-down spaghetti straps, all along the length, to be able to attach a Ghillie half-jacket as camo, or even local foliage directly.

An extra compartment on the outside of the case can carry a number of items (I carried my extra ammo and trajectory tables in the Blackhawk!® Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch  inside), and easily fit the variety of hydration system options. There’s enough room for food, a space blanket, and water, along with 8 to 10-power optics and even a spotting scope in the pouch.

What really surprised me was how comfortable the Long Gun Pack Mat was when deployed as a shooting mat. The HawkTex™ really helps keep you from fighting to keep your elbows propped up and not sliding around, depending on the type of coat you’re wearing.

BLACKHAWK!®'s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it's a shooter's mat...

BLACKHAWK!®’s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it’s a shooter’s mat…

When the gun case is unfolded and deployed as a shooting mat, you not only have a pouch for accessories or a box of ammo sewn into the mat, but also another pouch that fits a shooter’s logbook for recording your rifle’s dope.

On the initial introductory ride with Michael Riddle at his Native Hunt Ranch, it worked perfectly as a vehicle scabbard, protecting my large objective Nightforce 3.5-15×56 NXS, keeping the dirt and drizzle out with no problem. It was during this same trip that I thought this would also make a great system to mount on a horse for my elk hunt planned for this fall.

There are two D-rings on the case that enable an easy mounting to a saddle. During the jerry-rigging, I noticed that another D-ring about five inches above the edge might help raise the makeshift scabbard a little higher, permitting the rider to have a more proper stirrup handling. That the open edge faces down (when the mat if folded into the form of a gun case) is perfect for protecting the firearm from any water or snow.

To utilize the product as a gun case or drag, there are three quick-release straps that retain the rifle in a centered position. For deploying the Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™ as a rifle scabbard, I suggest either only using the two straps that hold the forestock and barrel, or don’t utilize at all them as I did: the sides do well in keeping the rifle inside with the barrel pointed down, as in the following photo. It makes it much easier to just slip the rifle in, barrel foreword, like a regular rifle scabbard, instead of restrapping every time you reinsert the rifle. I’d also recommend using actual webbing, say 3/4  or one inch, instead of jerry-rigging paracord as we did in the photo.

Those special forces operators who have to fight in mountainous terrain on indigenous horses, such as has been in Afghanistan, should find merit in the added rifle scabbard modification.

...BLACKHAWK!®'s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it's a rifle scabbard!

…BLACKHAWK!®’s Long Gun Pack Mat with HawkTex™, it’s a rifle scabbard!

So, the next time you purchase worthwhile equipment or clothing, be sure to think out of the box and get your money’s worth!

Get Your Dope

BLACKHAWK!®'s Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch with two windows for checking your dope before your shot, along with the sliderule style Mildot Master.

BLACKHAWK!®’s Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch with two windows for checking your dope before your shot, along with the sliderule style Mildot Master.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I meet hunters in the field who don’t know exactly what they’re rifle does, or think that 300 yards is a long shot for the average modern rounds: .270 Winchester, .30/06, .243 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum, .280 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, not to mention all the new rounds that have come out in the last decade.

All of them, zeroed at 200 yards can permit you to shoot without any adjustment out to 275 to 325yards, depending on the round. Adjusting for bullet drop comes in from 315 on up. That’s when knowing your ballistic tables becomes mandatory. Just being able to have a set of trajectory values at your beck and call really helps when you want to really start shooting long ranges effectively. Knowing what your rifle and the bullets it sends down range is what those in the shooting community call, knowing your dope.

Blackhawk!®’s Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch is just what the shooter ordered. Manufactured from 1000 denier nylon (in digital camo, coyote brown, and olive drab), and closed with two velcroed and easily adjusted quick release buckles,  it holds 20 rounds. Described as holding 20 rounds of .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) in the marketing material, it easily fits 20 .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges, and creates a perfectly angled box, enclosing not only my preferred long-range ammunition, but my Mildot Master, designed by the late Bruce Robinson. Bruce Robinson cut his teeth on woodchucks at impressive ranges.

An engineer by trade, and shooter and a tinkerer by aspiration, Robinson took his knowledge of what every engineer, mathematician, and scientist never left home without (before the advent of the modern electronic calculator) the slide rule, and used it to create what is now issued to every Marine at the graduation from sniper school. Along with a repeat business to member of the military and law enforcement, Robinson’s widow does well selling the Mildot Master to hunters and especially those who enjoy shooting ground squirrels, prairie dogs and other varmints at long range. Not only was I able to easily keep the .300 WM rounds secure and silent, but the ammo pouch made a great two sided retainer to hold that Mildot Master.

As an added bonus in the Blackhawk!® Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch, there’s a loop for you to keep a pencil or pen to record your dope, but also two plastic windows on the inside of the loop. Using the Nightforce® BALLISTIC PROGRAM (I will be reviewing this well-designed product in detail soon) I was able to calculate my MOA and Milli-radian sheets for adjusting for wind and elevation. I placed those documents for easy reading in the clear plastic window pouches of the Pro Marksman Folding Ammo Pouch, truly a great addition to any shooter or hunter’s go-bag.

Related Links

  1. Blackhawk!
  2. Nightforce Optics
  3. Mildot Master

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