Down Range: December 2011



If I must say, one of my most endearing traits is the ability to buy perfect presents for anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmas — just ask the CFO, who’s snorting coffee out her nose as she reads that. Seeing as this is the traditional time of year

for commemorations of Christ’s Mass, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, and Yuletide, I wanted to pass along three thoughtful gift recommendations that are sure to wow your family, friends, and range buddies, though perhaps not in that order.

First up is a gift of range time at one of five Gander Mountain Academy shooting ranges. National Academy Training Manager Billy Hieb walked Product Coordinator Kevin Winkle and I through the new Gander Mountain Academy in Spring, Texas. Impressive. The Academy contained a well-ventilated, well-lit, live-fire L-Range, the V-Range target simulator, and the Pro V SIM 180 and Pro V SIM 300 Virtual Simulators. Rates for a variety of classes are $99. Live Range fees at the Spring location are $25/hour. Virtual Range rates are $25/30 minutes. The 300-degree Pro V SIM 300 is $45/30 minutes, which includes an instructor. The 180-degree Pro V SIM 180 is $35/30 minutes. In addition to Spring, locations include Lake Mary, Florida; La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin; Lakeville, Minnesota; with Wichita, Kansas, coming on line soon. Learn more at

I recently got a Brownells Do-It-Yourself Magpul M.O.E. Upgrade Kit, a handy package of Magpul Original Equipment parts, including a pistol grip, a trigger guard, a handguard, and a vertical front grip. The fifth M.O.E. part in each kit is a collapsible stock, which I bought for the Mil-Spec 1.15-inch-diameter buffer tube. There’s also a Commercial Kit that fits a 1.17-inch-diameter buffer tube. To install the parts quickly and easily, Brownells added an AR-15 Handguard Removal Tool and a Roll Pin Punch Kit, a 1-inch Nylon/Brass Hammer Combo, and a Rifle Bench Block. In about an hour, I dressed up a barebones AR with the Magpul items and was very pleased with the results. A full video description of the parts and installation video are available at The kit is $200, #080-000-913.

A less-expensive alternative is my new book, the Shooter’s Bible Guide to Cartridges. An review of Cartridges said, “Printed on slick, heavy stock in full color, it is generously illustrated and includes tongue-in-cheek chapter titles like ‘The Pipsqueaks,’ ‘The Mice That Roar,’ and ‘Thumpers on Both Ends.’ Some of the neatest parts of the book are all the great vintage ammo advertising art that’s reproduced on the pages.” Get unsigned copies at your local bookstore, or at or Signed copies from moi are $20. Email me a note with “Cartridges” in the subject line for details on ordering signed copies and delivery-date cutoffs for the holidays. GT

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