Dust Clouds in The Spring

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

Many of you remember the groundhog hunts between myself and my hunting buddy Jack. There was one time of the year that we looked forward to more than all others and that was springtime. Because springtime was when we got the most “dust clouds.”

Now, I’m sure more than one of you guys is wondering, what do ‘dust clouds’ have to do with groundhogs? Well, in the spring groundhogs clean their den out and do some spring cleaning in general. If this is done right just after a rain, and the ground is a little muddy, then they will get a good coat of mud in their hair. (And yes, a groundhog has hair, not fur.) Now, when the mud dries on them, in much the same way wild hogs get mud caked on them, you usually have about 36 to 48 hours before a lot of this dried mud comes off naturally from the groundhog going in and out of his den. If you hit him with a 22-250, 243 or any number of other varmint calibers, you get a nice dust cloud upon impact.

Hand drawn cartoon designIn our area, between about mid-April until mid-to-late May was prime “dust cloud” time. If we were lucky, we would sometimes get four to six dust clouds in a day of shooting. Naturally catching the groundhog at just the right time with plenty of dried mud on him was just a matter of luck.

I’ll admit, the best dust clouds came in areas where the soil was light in color. When dried, this kind of soil gave a lighter colored dust cloud that could be seen easier and farther.

The best dust cloud we ever had came from a field on Dan DeVine’s place. The field was orchard grass and clover with a light colored soil. It was my turn for the next shot and a good sized chuck came out from a den at about 275 yds. in a terrace. Looking  thru my scope showed a nice light colored dirt mound just in front of his den. I took the safety off my .243, took a breath and let half of it out. When the cross-hairs settled in the center of his chest, I sent a Sierra 75 gr. hollow point on its way. When that bullet connected, we heard a loud “WHOOP” and a dust cloud that was huge drifted away on a light north breeze.

“DID you see that?!?” I ask Jack.

“Yeah, I seen it alright. It looked like a miniature Hiroshima.” Jack answered.

When I went out to get the groundhog, he was covered in heavy dried mud. The rest of that year Jack called my rife the .243 Hiroshima.

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The Wheels on the Sierra Mobile Go Round and Round

Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

Sierra_Mobile_April_2014WPSince the Sierra Bullet’s ’05 Equinox was purchased in 2004, I have been to over 150 major matches in the US, in 25 states. (For small club matches, I drive my personal vehicle.)  It would have been several more matches if I hadn’t got knocked 25′ out of a tree in 2010 that laid me up for 2 months and from getting my knee replaced in 2013 which laid me up for 3 months. I spent many, many nights in motel rooms and a lot of nights I drove all night either because of time restraints or just to keep from having to spend another night in a motel. It has been serviced about 65 times. I have been stopped twice in it. Once in Arkansas for a burned out headlight and once just a week ago in Arizona for a burned out license plate light.

**The Sierra Mobile had 200,697 miles on it when the picture above was taken in April 2014.  Larry Anderson was our hat winner in our mileage guessing contest.

Major matches the Sierra Mobile has been to (most of them several times):
USPSA Single Stack Nationals, ( Illinois )  Limited Nationals, Open Nationals, Multi Gun Nationals ( Illinois, Oklahoma, Nevada, Louisiana )
USPSA Regional and Sectionals ( Assorted States )
Bianchi Cup ( Missouri )
Big Dawg Steel Match ( Iowa )
The Masters ( Illinois )  and Shooting Industry Masters ( Kentucky )
IHMSA Internationals, ( Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma ) plus State and Regionals ( Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas )
Sportsman Team Challenge Nationals ( Texas )  and Regionals ( Missouri )
American Handgunner and Winchester World Speed Shoot ( Colorado )
Varmint Hunter Jamboree ( South Dakota )
Rocky Mountain 3 Gun ( New Mexico )  and Johnson 3 Gun ( Colorado )
Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun ( Arizona )
FNH 3 Gun ( Missouri and West Virginia )
Midwest 3 Gun ( Missouri )
Pro – Am 3 Gun ( Kentucky ),  Pro – Am Steel Match ( Oklahoma )
Blue Ridge Mountain 3 Gun ( Kentucky )
LaRue Tactical 3 Gun ( Texas ), Surefire Texas Multi-Gun
Colorado State Multi Gun
Ozark 3 Gun ( Missouri )
Kentucky State 3 Gun
Arkansas State 3 Gun
DPMS Tri Gun Challenge ( Minnesota )
Pandemic Zombie Match ( Nebraska )
Cold Turkey 1000 Yard Handgun ( Wyoming )
Drazy 500 Steel Match ( Illinois )
Sierra Classic ( Pennsylvania )
F Class Nationals ( Tennessee, New Mexico )
NRA Benefit Match ( Kansas )
COPS Fall Classic ( Missouri )
Ozark Shooters Couples Classic ( Missouri )
NRA High Power Silhouette Nationals ( New Mexico )

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My First Deer

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks

I was deeply interested in hunting from a very early age. I had coon hunted with Dad from the time I was big enough to keep up in the woods at night. I had squirrel hunted on my own from the time I was about 6 years old. I had received my first rifle at age 4, and was a hopeless gun enthusiast since I can remember. So naturally I was going to be a deer hunter also.

I had went with Dad deer hunting for a couple of years, just as a companion, before I was actually allowed to carry a firearm. I hunted for a couple of years with a Noble model 60 pump 12 gauge without ever seeing a deer at all.

Then the year came that I convinced Dad that I was ready to become a committed, dedicated, official deer hunter. The night before deer season opened, we went to the local gun shop and dad bought me a Marlin 336 30-30. I can still remember that the gun, a box of ammo, and the deer tag came to the grand total of $105. To me that was the best firearm ever designed. I had a true deer rifle now. The first year was pretty much a bust. No deer were sighted.

The following year, we were on our stands very early before shooting light the first morning. The excitement was building by the minute. By mid-morning, the excitement was pretty much gone and the thought of breakfast was over-powering. So back to the house where Mom had pancakes waiting. I remember after we ate Dad said,“You can’t get a deer setting in the house.” So back to the stand I went. After setting there an hour or more, I was getting so sleepy that I slid down by the roots of the tree I was sitting by and started nodding off to sleep. In a bit, I could hear movement in the woods down the branch a little ways, but could not locate the source. The next thing I knew, there were three deer running slowly right in front of me. I can only remember pulling the 30-30 up and pulling the trigger when one of the deer fell. I could not believe what had just happened, I had actually taken my first deer!

I have taken my daughters and wife past this spot in the woods several times and told them this story. I live just about 1/4 mile from where this all took place. There have been many hunting experiences since that day, but this is one that won’t be forgotten.

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Why Can’t I Find .22 LR Ammunition?!?!?

Written by Sierra Bullets Vice-President of Sales Matt Reams

Even though Sierra BulletQuestionMarks does not make .22 LR ammo or projectiles, we are constantly asked “Why can’t I find any .22 LR ammo anywhere?” Even the conspiracy theorists are at a loss on this one as they can’t even blame it on the government. They toss around thoughts of warehouses full of .22 LR rotting away just to keep it out of their hands, but that does not seem very realistic – even to them.

So what is going on here? Why is it that 1.5 years later, the shelves are still empty and bricks of .22 LR can still be seen selling for upwards of $75-$100 at gun shows? I do not believe there is one answer, but rather a few. Here are my opinions on the matter, for what they are worth.

Hoarders – Some people are piling it away in their basements, garages, bunkers, and under their beds due to fear of not being able to find it again. This is not a huge factor in it, but it is still a factor to some degree. When these hoarders can’t find it on shelves, it only panics them more and causes them to buy even more when they do find it.

Gougers – These are the guys who prey on the fear of the hoarders. These are the guys that wait in line at Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. to buy up the daily allotment that Wal-Mart puts out at normal retail prices and then double or triple their price on the weekend gun show circuit. Again, not a huge factor, but keeping the shelves looking empty which keeps the panic level higher for those that are looking.

Demand – Now we are getting to the real meat of the issue. You hear manufactures say they are running 24/7 on their Rimfire lines which is putting somewhere around 25-30 million rounds PER DAY (estimate on my part from numbers I have heard from the big rimfire guys) into the market – so how can there be a shortage? I have asked this myself – until we start doing even a little basic math. You hear all kind of numbers about how many firearms owners are in the USA, but you hear 70-80 million quite often. So for the sake of us not arguing that number – let’s cut it to 35 million. Do you know a gun owner that does not own at least one firearm chambered in .22 LR? Do you know any that are not looking for .22 LR ammo or would at least buy some if they saw it for normal prices? How many would they buy when they found it? A lot – right? But again, just to keep the argument on the low end, let’s say they would all be satisfied with just a single 500 pack. 35 million multiplied by 500 .22 LR rounds for them all – is 17.5 BILLION rounds. Let that sink in. Even at 25 million rounds being made PER DAY – that is 1.92 years’ worth of production.

Starts making some sense then doesn’t it? Hoarding and panic emptied the shelves. Gougers try and keep them empty and demand does keep them empty. Then factor in that I probably cut the real number of 22 LR shooters in ½ and probably underestimated the amount everyone would buy if they found it at normal prices by 300% and you can see how deep the problem really is and why it is not going to go away tomorrow. It also does not take into account the world market – just the USA.

How will it get better? Slowly. The hoarders will get to a point that they feel they have enough or will run out of money. The shelves will start getting enough on them that the gougers cannot buy it all. This will make people stop paying $50-$75 for a brick at gun shows. That will make it less profitable for the gougers to spend their money on and they will stop. The shelves will start to have product again which will ease people’s fears and get them back to buying what they need today instead of what they need for the decade. There is no fast answer.

Are the manufactures hiring people for extra shifts and adding capacity – sure they are. But it is easy to just expect them to ramp up production overnight to take care of our needs, but that is just not realistic. We get the same thing here. The market certainly has not grown 500% so what happens when companies add all that super expensive equipment when things get back to normal? They take a bath on it for sure and waste capital that they could have used to improve their company in a way that makes them stronger. Instead they just added equipment they may never need again and have to mothball while they lay off workers they no longer need. Not a great way to run a business and not a fair way to treat employees.

We all just have to trust that it will get better, do not buy more than we need and wait it out. It will not get better overnight. It will start out with a box here and there and then a few and then slowly the shelves will get back to having all the supply and selection we picky consumers are accustom to and will certainly appreciate much more than we ever did before……if only for a little while.

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Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Match Report

Written by Sierra Bullets Sponsored Shooter Bruce Piatt


Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Match in Arizona


Bruce Piatt

“First match of the year is under my belt. This past weekend I traveled to sunny Phoenix for the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Match. The 85 degree weather was a welcome change from the horrible winter we’ve had here in NJ. I managed to get to the range twice to zero and shoot new guns just for this match. Traveling to the range the first week of March and getting turned away because the snow was too deep. Then getting stuck in the snow on the range with only 4 days before the match didn’t help. I dug myself out, then shot.


Carroll Pilant demonstrating the “cooky” chair.

It was better than their average match with some excellent stages, but I will say, one was a little cooky, having us strapped in a chair and spun sideways to shoot a rifle!! Why? I guess just to be different. Anyway, it was a well attended match with 351 registered shooters enjoying the sunny weather.

This was my first attempt at shooting Heavy Metal division at 3 gun, which requires a .308 rifle, a .45 pistol, and a pump shotgun. Remington Defense sent me a classic 870 pump shotgun I tuned up a little. Caspian Arms had sent me a .45 wide body I built a few years back to get ready for this division, so that was running like a top. What was exciting was that this match was the debut of the DPMS model GII .308 rifle at a 3 gun match, after it’s release at the Shot Show. Another DPMS sponsored shooter and myself ran them with some good results. I loaded it up with some Sierra 125 grain bullets (#2121) that were designed for the 300 blackout, pushed them to almost 2900 fps and nearly matched the trajectory of my 55 grain .223 bullets (#1455). I managed to pull out a 3rd place finish which, with the little prep I was able to muster, surprised me.

I did have a lot of fun shooting this division and will continue to whenever I can during this season. In two weeks I’m off to the USPSA Multigun National Championships in Las Vegas. Oh my, another trip to warm weather ;-)

Once again, I’d like to thank you all for your continued support. Be well everyone.”

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Every Gun Is Loaded

Written by Sierra Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin

This is a continuation from my previous article about gun safety.

As I was standing on the 4-H shooting line watching the youngsters do a bang up job (pun intended) of putting holes in paper, I was reminded of all the safety rules they just received and was watching to make sure they were followed to the letter. Accidents can turn deadly if safety rules are forgotten temporarily in the excitement of a good shooting string.

This particular match was especially unnerving, because my son was on that line. As a parent, we try to prepare our children for the trials of life, but firearm safety is one lesson we cannot fail to teach correctly from the start.

Personally, I think of the rule ‘every gun is loaded’ as a foundation to all other rules. By keeping this rule in the front of your mind at all times, the muzzle of the firearm is kept pointed in a safe direction. Trigger fingers are kept off, and away from the trigger until it is time to shoot, but is that just rules for the firing line? The answer to that is no.

This frame of mind can be applied to everyday scenarios at home also. Children are naturally curious and can find their way into anything including a safe that they have seen the combination to only once. They also have friends who may have parents that shoot and have firearms in their homes.

How do you keep them safe from their own young ignorance?

You need to prepare them from the very start. Before my boy was ever allowed to visit friends, he knew that anyone else’s firearms were off limits and if one was ever presented or he was invited to see one, he was to go directly to the adult and report what took place. Fortunately, he has never had to resort to this, because his friends have parents that have prepared them also. He also knew that if he ever had a question on a firearm related topic, I would be more than happy to answer it, thereby defusing the curiosity.

Through everyday conversations, firearm cleaning sessions, and disassembly/reassembly tutorials, he knows that a muzzle is always to be pointed in a safe direction, even after he witnessed the ammunition being removed from the firearm. This is the same mindset that I wanted to convey here. Accidents can happen at any time and hopefully we can reduce them to learning experiences instead of being tragic life changers.


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Sierra Bullets Employees Thanked For Service


Patrick Daly and Willie Tague


Patrick Daly and Duane Siercks

Sierra Bullets employees Willie Tague and Duane Siercks were recently thanked for 35 years of combined service.

Tool Setter, Willie Tague was recently thanked for 20 years of service with a diamond added to his commemorative pocket watch. Pictured congratulating Willie is Sierra Bullet’s President, Patrick Daly.

If you have ever called into the Sierra Bullets tech support line, you just might have talked to Ballistic Technician, Duane Siercks. Duane was recently thanked for 15 years of service with a diamond added to his commemorative pocket watch. Pictured congratulating Duane is Sierra Bullet’s President, Patrick Daly.


Sierra Bullets commemorative pocket watch and knife.

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