Friday, March 14, 2014

Testing my gear under pressure

Now that I've got at least a semi-acceptable load dialed in, I can use it for practice far cheaper than even the Prvi factory ammo.  That's a good thing.  I still need to get a chronograph and see how the velocity compares to factory ammo, but based on the shot placement, it should be about right.  I reckon I'll load up about 40 or so rounds of this current load in preparation for the PR&GC Safari Rifle match at the end of the month.

The first time I shot this match was a year ago, and my rifle was brand new and just barely sighted in.  I hadn't gotten any real accessories for it, just the rifle, scope, sling and some ammo.  My goal then was to get used to the rifle and optic, and I was pleased as punch with both.  Now, my goal is to practice with my shooting sticks and fine-tune my walking-around loadout for the safari itself.  So let's make a short list of things I know I'll be lugging around on my own person:

1.  Rifle
2.  Ammo
3.  Water
4.  Snacks
5.  First aid kit
6.  Multi-tool
7.  Knife
8.  Flashlight
9.  Compass
10.  Rangefinder
11. Survival/possibles kit

I won't have all of these on my belt, of course, but I do want to fine-tune my belt setup further than I have in earlier posts/thoughts.  That generally means ammo, water, snacks, multi-tool, knife and flashlight.  My daily carry rig, as I mentioned before, is a Frequent Flyer belt from the Wilderness.  I've worn this for years, and it's comfortable, yet rigid enough to carry a pistol and all my daily accessories, and bomb-proof durable.  I see no reason to try anything else on this trip.  On the belt will be my Leatherman Wave (11 years old and still going strong) in the factory leather belt sheath, my Sure-Fire G2 (nearly as old, albeit with a replacement KX4 LED conversion head that makes it significantly brighter and longer-lasting) in an even more ancient Blade-Tech scabbard, a Twin Loader (also from the Wilderness) for two fast rounds, and my Westley Richards belt carrier for five more rounds.  For the purposes of the match, I also plan to carry a sidearm as I do when deer hunting.  In this case, it'll be a Beretta 92G in a Wilderness Safepacker holster.

So, how well does all this kit work on a single belt?  I'm used to having the Beretta on my strong side hip, plus the G2, Wave and a spare magazine on my left hip.  All I have to do is find room for the rifle ammo.  Now, ordinarily I like spare ammo on my left hip, but the manual of arms for a bolt-action hunting rifle generally means I reload with my dominant hand.  As such, I'll put the TwinLoader just in front of the pistol, and the belt carrier just behind it.  I'll give it a whirl at the match and see how I like it.  Since none of the stages are more than 5 rounds, I will download my rifle a bit so that I have to reload on the clock and put my setup to the test.  I have a set of suspenders designed for military 'war belts' if I need any support with all that gear as well.

Where does that leave the rest of my gear?  Well, my folding knife will live where it always does, in my right front slash pocket.  As for the rest, right now I'm looking at either a small daypack or using my existing Maxpedition Jumbo EDC Versipack.  The Versipack can hold quite a lot of gear, and is actually quite comfortable to wear over long periods (I use it a lot when hiking or even just going to the zoo with my family).  My concern is that it is not tied down (though I could conceivably lash it to my belt if I so chose), and I worry that it will get in the way of my right-side gear if I position it so the strap isn't on my shooting shoulder.  I may end up looking at a fanny pack of some sort.

I'll also test out some clothing choices at the match.  I've got a pretty solid choice of hats, either boonie-style or baseball-style.  I tend towards the former because I've got fair skin and get sunburned rather easily, so I appreciate the extra coverage.  I'll likely bring both in case the boonie proves too cumbersome in the brush.  I also tend towards long pants and sleeves when outdoors, for the same reasons.  I live in a desert, so it's not as punishing to have my lower limbs covered as it would be in, say, Houston.  Since I'll be hunting in the dry season, I hope South Africa will be similar.  For the past few years, I've been wearing Cabela's Trail Hiker pants.  They're a bit heavy and hot in the summertime, but they wear like iron and are very comfortable for me.  Everyone's a bit different when it comes to fit and cut, so your mileage may vary, but for me the Trail Hikers have the best wear, best pocket placement, and least chafing in long use of any pant I've worn in the past decade (which admittedly, isn't a lot of them).  Of course, footwear is also crucial, and until my Russell Joe's PH boots get here, I'll stick with my comfortable New Balance sneakers with Smartwool medium hiker socks for the match.


  1. I would add a pocket camera to your everyday list.

  2. Holy cow that looks like fun. I'd love to come down there sometime and shoot with you guys but my biggest guns are an M77 in .300 Win Mag and an 1895 in 45-70! Maybe I can convince my local range to host something....

    1. The last match was won by a guy shooting a side-by-side 12 gauge. Granted, it was an 1880s-vintage Holland & Holland Paradox, and he was shooting blackpowder loads out of paper cases, but still it's a 12 gauge slug gun.

      Also, the same match director does a hunting rifle match geared towards more traditional North American calibers. I reckon your .300WM would be right at home there.

      And finally, the .300WM would be sufficient for a good portion of the safari match. This might be just the excuse you need to get a .375 of some sort for the pachyderm and buffalo stages :)