My 5 Most-Used Shooting Products


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Lots of folks (including us) share their favorite guns, holsters, and various types of shooting gear. That’s nice, and I also appreciate hearing about subjective likes and dislikes of various products — you know, the things that swell us up with pride when we brag to our buddies. But I got to thinking: what is the stuff I actually use the most? We’re talking about pure, unrefined utility here, which, by definition, could include stuff assigned no special passion or sexiness but simply gets the job done. You know, like that pair of socks always chosen first after laundry day.

Being ruthlessly honest in my selection to leave out the things I just like, I came up with these five.

1. Little Red Wagon

Tom's Little Red Wagon

If a Radio Flyer and a Caterpillar 772(07) 56.1-ton Off-Highway dump truck loved each other very much and had a baby, it would be this 800-lb.-capacity utility cart complete with off-road tires. Whether my range outing is for work or play, this is a back saver. As you well know, guns, ammo and gear are heavy. And I just might have a tendency to bring too many different guns when I plan a range trip …

The steel mesh construction makes this one indestructible, and the “real” inflatable tires allow it to handle rougher outdoor range environments with ease. I got mine at Tractor Supply, but you can find them at most home improvement stores.

2. Dillon 550C

Dillon RL550C Reloading Press

As of last count, I have four reloading press setups. I use them all, but the one to which I default is the Dillon RL550C.

When talking to the Dillon Precision folks pre-acquisition, I was dead set on a fully progressive press. After all, how could I allow my blazing reloading speed to be slowed by having to advance the shellplate manually? It would be an egregious affront to my soul.

I. Was. Wrong.

As it turns out, the manual advancement feature is truly a benefit. It doesn’t slow down my rounds per hour production at all, yet it offers what I’d call “reloading forgiveness.” Want to double-check something? No problem. Primer seat problem? No sweat, just stop and fix. You get the idea. In fairness, I do not use a case and bullet feeder on this press as I enjoy tinkering with smaller batches, so if I were to automate fully, I’d admit an auto-indexing progressive would be faster.

Why this press gets the reps is its precision. By that, I mean absolute fit and finish on the button repeatability. Everything moves precisely as it should, cycle after cycle, and that leads to no stoppages and high-quality ammo. This is truly an example of getting what you pay for.

3. Stanley Organizer Boxes

Stanley Organizer Boxes

I have two, and as they fasten together, that gives me one easy-to-transport system that holds screw, Allen and Torx driver bits, spare parts, miscellaneous tools, spare ear protection batteries, BandAids, tape, staples and much, much more. The internal dividers are adjustable so I can size compartments for a wide variety of range outing necessities. Without exaggeration, I dig into one or both boxes on every single outing.

The ones I use are the Stanley SortMaster type, but there are a million styles and brands on the market.

4. Ransom Multi-Caliber Rest

Ransom Multi-Caliber Steady Rest

Going back many moons, I can’t remember the last time I did not use the Ransom Multi-Caliber Rest on a range outing. Yes, I use it for testing the accuracy of handguns and sometimes rifles for work, but I also use it plenty to verify zeroes of optical sights. I also tend to upgrade iron sights on “stock” pistols, so it’s quite handy for that chore as well.

This all-real-metal rest has rubber feet and easily adjustable gun support, so you can easily set the desired elevation to match that of your target. Do get the optional V-Sock that slips over the gun rest portion. This one is by far the most versatile and useful handgun rest I’ve tried, and I’ve not found one steadier. Works great for rifles, too.

5. Real Avid Master Gun Vise

Real Avid Master Vise

Yes, this is a list of things I use most frequently. No, I am not a gunsmith, nor do I do gunsmithing on a daily basis. As Austin Powers might say, “Allow myself to explain myself.”

My Real Avid Master Gun Vise is permanently mounted to a heavy steel and butcher block table. It is almost always configured with the reversible “Gun-Fit” sleeves over the jaws. These are molded plastic covers, one side with various grooves and bevels to hold barrels, frames and whatnot, and the opposite side heavy-duty, closed-cell foam. I keep the foam side in action 90% of the time to act as a miscellaneous third hand. You can hold most anything, in any orientation, without damage or marring of gun finish. I use it for cleaning, mounting stuff like optics, sights, and grips — you name it. In the process, I’ve discovered the obvious. The more stable something is when you’re messing with it, the less likely you are to butch it up. Think stripped screw heads and such.

The real beauty of this one is its ease of adjustment. No dozens of turns of handles like old-school vises, just a locking throw lever allowing easy movement of a ball joint. Locking pins allow you to lock down a position even harder for high-torque jobs.

So that’s a few items from my most-used list. Now, let’s hear from you! Email [email protected].

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