10 Best Rifles for Elk Hunting in 2017

Any serious gun fanatic might tell you that all rifles are awesome, but not all rifles are awesome for every type of shooting and hunting.

When it comes to elk hunting, you want a rifle that is durable but light enough to carry up the mountain with ease. But you also want it to be able to hold large caliber rounds with minimal recoil and handle well when firing off-hand shots in the event of a surprise game sighting.

To put it another way, you want a versatile weapon that packs a punch and can offer long range accuracy without being a burden.

Most of us want an affordable rifle that is damn near indestructible and can fell an eight-hundred pound beast at four-hundred yards or more. We also want an attractive firearm that looks as good as it shoots. Choosing the right rifle for the job is one of the joys of hunting.

If you think this sounds like a dream gun that can’t possibly exist, you’d be pretty wrong. The rifles on this list come fairly close to meeting all of the aforementioned requirements.

  • Browning A-Bolt Composite Stalker
  • Browning BLR Lightweight ’81
  • Kimber Model 84M Classic
  • Marlin Model 338 MXLR
  • Marlin Model 1895G Guide Gun
  • Remington Model 673 Guide Rifle
  • Ruger No. 1S Medium Sporter
  • Weatherby Mark V Deluxe
  • Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe
  • Winchester M70 Super Grade

Browning A-Bolt Composite Stalker

This bolt-action model comes in a number of long and short action calibers, but when it comes to elk hunting you can’t go wrong with the .338 Winchester mag. It’s a great option for hunters who are on the move and performs like a boss at 100 yards, making it a monster for bagging does.

The most economical of Browning models, the Stalker retails for $820, but you can usually find a lightly used one on sale for around $700.

With black synthetic straight stock, a fiberglass graphite composite grip and black rubber butt pad, the Stalker is a real beaut. Personally, I like to load it with Black Hills Gold hunting ammo when I take mine out for a bit of proper stalking.

Browning BLR Lightweight ’81

No list would be complete without at least two Browning models. They’re a leader in the field and their rifles are always a lot of fun for a reasonable price. The BLR ’81 is a compact and user-friendly rack-and-pinion lever-action rifle that is carbine-length and cranks out quite the shot.

They can chamber a range of hard-hitting ammo from the 270 WSM to the 358 Win. It features an aluminum alloy stock, a detachable four-round box magazine with a fast release and a rotary bolt locking system.

It’s ideal for mountaineers and woodsman by virtue of the fact that it’s a mere 7 ¾ lbs and 40” long with mount and scope. The fast-loading mag makes for quick follow-up shots. At a retail price of $900, it’s slightly more expensive than the Stalker, but it’s every bit as exceptional. Well worth the price for the durability and versatility it provides.

Kimber Model 84M Classic

Another bolt-action hunting rifle, the 84M weigh just 5.5 lbs and sport handsome steel or stainless steel barrels. Kimber’s 22” barrel makes them unique among most Model 84Ms.

They commonly feature trigger crowns, match grade barrels and a bolt with a Mauser claw extractor. The adjustable trigger and Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad are just two of the things that makes it an unbeatable option when it comes to elk hunting rifles.

The average retail price is around $1,225 which places it firmly within the mid-range of affordable hunting rifles.

Marlin Model 338 MXLR

Ideal for timber and brush alike, this lever-action rifle offers a flat trajectory and pinpoint accuracy. With a 24” stainless steel barrel, Ballard rifling, hammer block safety and a fluted bolt, the MXLR is a top of the line machine that holds a 5-round magazine that makes it a viable choice when it comes to game hunting.

It’s got semi-buckhorn iron sights, a trigger guard plate and a laminated hardwood stock with deluxe recoil pad. I’ve tested this one out myself and have found it to be a boss when it comes to long-range precision.

The $930 retail price places it securely in mid-range and is available for layaway gun financing.

Marlin Model 1895G Guide Gun

This big bore lever-action rifle is considered my many to be the strongest lever-action in history. It can be stored virtually anywhere thanks to its compact design.

The Ballard-style rifling carves six deep and wide grooves that aid in improving accuracy. The stubby 18 ½” barrel makes it one of the shortest and lightest hunting rifles on the market.

Paired with Garrett Cartridges’ fire-breathing custom loads, the 1895G is a veritable force to be reckoned with. And while it works rather well with iron sights, the level of accuracy it provides is perfectly suited to a low-powered scope.

Cabela’s currently has offers on this model starting at $629.99.

Remington Model 673 Guide Rifle

The 673 is yet another bolt-action hunting rifle that packs a wallop. My personal favorite is the one that’s chambered for the .350 Remington mag because it offers superior shootability to others.

With a Leopold quick release base and rings, and a 22” barrel, it’s a lot of gun compared to most of the rifles on my list. In fact, it kicks pretty hard compared to the others which may be off-putting to some. But it’s definitely a well-made firearm with a rather unconventional look.

At 7 ¾ lbs, it’s not the lightest hunting rifle around, but it’s not overly heavy or cumbersome in any way either. All in all, it’s a worthy option, especially since Remington stopped making them in 2004 so there are plenty of gun owners selling their used Model 673s online.

Ruger No. 1S Medium Sporter

A single-shot model, Ruger’s No. 1S Medium Sporter is not the right gun for continuous shooting, but it’s tailored to the disciplined, methodical hunter who’s a skilled Marksman.

The front sling swivel is sited forward on the barrel, causing the rifle to ride low on your shoulder. But the receiver is so short that it’s almost identical to the Marlin, making it a compact and easily transportable in a rifle bag.

For the more frugal gun owner, this might not be the best choice on my list as it retails for around $1,199.99 and doesn’t exactly hold up to other rifles in that price bracket, but it remains a worthy option if you have money to burn and you want a solid single-shot rifle with dead-on accuracy. Keep an eye out for deals in any major online gun store and you could find great seasonal discounts.

Weatherby Mark V Deluxe

With a .300 Weatherby mag and a beautiful claro walnut design, the Mark V Deluxe is something to behold. Not only is it a top of the line weapon, but it’s the perfect display piece for proud collectors with a bit more bank than others.

At $1,399.99, it’s a luxury rifle but one that won’t let you down when you’re out in the thick of it. Simply a choice rifle all around.

Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe

Like the Mark V Deluxe, this Weatherby rifle is unmatched for the sheer beauty of its wood design. It’s got a classy black finish and exceptional bolt action, chambering .270 Win rounds and offering no less than three safety positions.

Like Remington’s Model 673, it’s a bit heavier than some of the others on the list, but it’s still a fairly lightweight and compact rifle for hunting, and it’s got an adjustable trigger which is attractive to most game hunters.

Cabela’s has Weatherby VGDs with modular chassis for $1,199.99.

Winchester M70 Super Grade

This finely checkered, deeply-blued steel rifle has a maple finish that makes it another worthy display piece. In terms of hunting, it lives up to its name by offering above-grade accuracy.

Chambered with .308 Win rounds, it’s another stylish and superb choice for those looking to bag some deer or ward off a grizzly.

Conclusion

There you have it, my full list of the five best hunting rifles for hunting elk. Good luck making your selection. I know you’ll be in good hands with any one of them. Happy hunting.

 

A Holster Manufacturer’s Guide for Your First Holster

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Unless you plan on every handgun you buy being a safe queen, you’ll want to find a quality holster that allows you to use it in comfort and safety. Handgun holsters come in a wide array of styles and can be made from several different materials. With so many options available, it can be hard to choose the best one for you. By better understanding the available holster styles, you can be more confident you’re choosing the right one. Read on here for a basic guide to buying your first holster.

Materials

Most holsters are made of leather, Kydex, or nylon. Some holsters, called hybrid holsters, combine two or more of these materials. The style of holster you decide on can have a bearing on what kind of material is used as each has its own benefits and limitations. Conversely, if you prefer a certain material over others, that could limit the styles available. Let’s take a close look at each material:

Leather

Leather is the most traditional holster material. It has proven durable and effective over the centuries for holding weapons securely. Leather holsters can be extremely comfortable, but if not cared for properly, can lose their shape or become scuffed and damaged.

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic nylon is lightweight, fairly stiff, and offers good protection mixed with breathability. This material is used often in popular budget holsters, but don’t let that fool you. Nylon is a good, versatile choice for many carry situations.

Kydex

Kydex is a thermos plastic made by Sekisui SPI. It’s extremely lightweight, durable, and easily molded by manufacturers to fit a specific firearm. In many ways, this material revolutionized holster production. The downside is that the plastics are not breathable, and some cheaper holsters can cause increased wear to your gun’s finish at rub points, usually around the trigger guard and muzzle.

Hybrid

Technically, hybrid holsters can use of a combination of any of the above materials. The most popular, however, are made with leather and Kydex. This allows you to have the molded security and lighter weight of Kydex, backed with leather for greater carrying comfort.

Choosing The Right Style

When selecting the best style of handgun holster, it’s important to consider how you intend to carry your weapon. That will guide you toward a set of styles you can further narrow down based on your body shape, personal preference, or ease of use. If possible, try on the holster prior to purchase or, borrow a similar holster from a friend to see just how well it fits you in real life.

Open Carry

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While there is sure to be an article of clothing that can cover any holster, some are designed for use primarily as open carry rigs.

Drop Leg

The drop leg holster is a familiar style to tactical shooting enthusiasts. This holster is suspended from your belt and secured to your thigh by straps, and is sometimes referred to as a thigh holster. This positions your weapon for a more natural draw from a relaxed position, but makes the holster more difficult, if not impossible, to conceal.

Outside Waist Band (OWB)

Outside the waistband holsters are exactly what they sound like: holsters that clip outside the waistband of your trousers or have a loop your belt runs through. They come in a wide range of styles and materials. While these can be used for concealed carry under a bulky outer layer, they tend to hold the gun looser against your side, making other holster options far superior for the purpose.

Paddle Back

These holsters are a variant of the OWB holster that relies on a large paddle shaped piece of the holster rather than a clip or belt loop. Popular due to the speed with which it can be donned and removed, the paddle slips inside your pants, leaving the bulk of the holster and your weapon comfortably on your hip. It otherwise functions the same as other OWB holsters.

Concealed Carry

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Concealed carry holsters are designed to help hide the fact you carry a handgun. They may be mandated by law for carry in your location, but even in open carry states, some people choose to obtain the documentation necessary to carry concealed. Make sure you understand your jurisdiction’s laws before you start your holster search.

When selecting a holster for concealed carry, consider your body style and the clothing you typically plan to wear. The majority of concealed carry holsters are hidden easily under a coat, jacket, or long sweatshirt, while others require far less. Make sure you choose a holster that will allow you to carry 2½ pounds of metal under your clothing comfortably year round.

Pancake

The pancake holster is one of the best looking concealed carry choices. While it is technically an OWB holster that is worn on the belt, its design keeps your weapon close to your body where it rides high on your hip, so it’s concealed easier.

Inside Waistband (IWB)

IWB holsters clip to your waistband, but ride inside your pants. An IWB concealed leather holster is great for concealed carry, although you will have to wear pants that both fit around the waist snugly and provide room below the waistband to help conceal the weapon’s silhouette.

Combo

The combo holster is a variation of the IWB holster that allows you to change the clip’s position, so it can function as an OWB holster as well. This can be a good option if you wear a variety of different clothing styles that may suit one method over another — or in states that allow both concealed and open carry.

Horizontal Shoulder

Popular with movie secret agents everywhere, the shoulder holster hides your gun in your off-side arm pit. It allows for you to draw across your body. If you get your clothes tailored, request additional room through the back and shoulders of your jacket and it will work well under a suit.

Ankle

Ankle carry is popular among law enforcement as a carry position for a backup weapon. The ankle is fairly accessible, and few people watch your feet, so the likelihood of it being noticed is low. This is also a great carry style for to and from the gym, as it is well-hidden by sweatpants.

Other Holster Options

There are a few other features of holsters you need to be aware of that aren’t directly tied to their manufacture material or style of carry. Keep an eye out for these options:

Magazine or Speedloader Pouches

Some holsters will have a pouch for an additional magazine for your pistol or a speedloader for your revolver. If your favorite holster doesn’t offer this option, they are also available as standalone carriers in a similar style to most carry rigs.

Weapon Securement

Some holsters will have a feature meant to secure your weapon in the holster to prevent accidental drops and make it harder for your weapon to be taken away from you. While some use a tightly molded form to grip the weapon, especially the trigger guard, others will use a strap or a thumb break to keep you weapon secure.

Breaking In Your New Holster

When you buy a new holster, it’s not uncommon for it to be extremely rigid. While some choose chemicals (or in the case of Kydex, heat) to condition their holster, the easiest way to loosen it slightly and start the breaking in process is to place your handgun in a shopping bag, such as the plastic ones used by larger national retailers, and holster the firearm overnight.

To continue the process, you should to train with it. Under stressful situations, you will react the way you train. That means using the same rig at the range as what you plan to carry. Drawing and holstering your weapon repeatedly will not only help the holster give you a smooth, consistent draw, it will help you develop one too. It also helps your form muscle memory that will serve you well in case you need to use your weapon.

Informed Choices Are Smart Choices

By understanding the design intent and materials that go into holster production, you are better able to choose the best holster for your carrying needs. Make sure to evaluate yourself openly and honestly, and you will be able to find the right fit for your range rig or everyday carry.

Author Bio:

Brian Claywell is a freelance writer and blogger based in Austin, Texas. With a love for hunting, hiking, and the great outdoors in general, he spends much of his time writing outside. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at the shooting range.

You Would Probably Be Dead If You Tried To Put Out This Fire

Last week we had some heavy winds roll through the Pacific Northwest where I live and, as a result, we had a tree branch break free and contact a power line. You can probably see the branch on fire but not the power line it’s touching:

Well, we called the fire department and they came out, but only stayed for several minutes before running off to deal with more pressing matters. Apparently this is normal for them when major wind storms hit the area.

Anyway, I wanted to point out that if it ever did cross your mind to grab a garden hose and try to put the fire out that it would be a VERY bad idea!

That’s because water and live power lines simply do NOT mix… you’ll likely be electrocuted trying to put out the fire.

Ultimately, the fire died out on it’s own and eventually the local power company came out and cut down the offending branch so no big deal, but it was alarming to see.

I made it a point to make this a teaching moment for my kids as well because who knows what they may try to do in the moment… and I’m reminding you as well.

Be safe out there.

PSA: Massive Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall

I just heard about this recall on the radio this morning and looked it up here.

It seems that Kidde is recalling quite few of their plastic-handle model fire extinguishers (134 models, in fact) manufactured roughly between 1973 and 2015 because it can become clogged and not discharge. Yeah, that’s not good!

FYI, if you still have a fire extinguisher from 1973… replace it, lol.

Here’s a diagram to help you figure it out but, really, you should go here to get the model numbers affected:

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You can contact Kidde for instructions on getting a free replacement. Here’s their contact information:

Call Kidde toll-free at 855-271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday

Or do so online at www.kidde.com and click on “Product Safety Recall” if you prefer.

4 Reasons Why Biometric Gun Safes Are a Smart Choice

Choosing the right gun safe is a crucial move for anyone who keeps firearms at home. This type of storage will give you a high level of security while keeping your guns safe and allowing you easy access to them.

Many people make the mistake of only looking at the size and the strength of the safe, though. While these issues are hugely important parts of your overall decision, there is also the matter of how you are going to access your firearms to take into account.

Safes that are opened with the turn of a key or by pressing a keypad remain popular but there is also a more modern option that gives you a greater level of control and security. With a biometric gun safe you will have a terrific place to keep your firearms safe and far from harm.

What Is Biometric Technology?

The most important point with this type of technology is that it uses your unique physical features to allow you to open the safe. You have probably seen how this works on some futuristic movies, which typically show the likes of eye retina scans and facial recognition technology being used.

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In the case of current gun safes, it is fingerprint scanning that is normally used to let the owner get to their guns anytime they want them. Since we each have completely unique fingerprints we can use them to clearly identify that we are who we say we are.

The good news is that you don’t need to be an expert in modern technology to do this. You only need to slide your finger over the scanner to let it know who you are, before doing the same every time that you want to open the door.

This makes biometric technology a fool-proof and trustworthy way of keeping objects secure. You might also decide to keep valuable, important documents in here too, as it is such a secure method of keeping things locked away.

1. Unauthorized People Can’t Get In

Naturally, the biggest benefit with a biometric safe is that no-one else can get into it if they aren’t authorized. There is no key for them to find and use or access code that they could guess or find out.

This means that any intruders who get into your home simply can’t open the door of the safe no matter how hard they try. If the walls are sturdy and it is bolted down to the floor then it is going to be a massive job for anyone to get hold of your guns.

Just as importantly, if there are children in the house then there is no way of them getting a firearm in their hands without you knowing. One of the dangers with keys and keypads is that kids can kind a key or discover a code that is written down and use it without anyone seeing them do so.

Don’t leave this to chance by having keys or access codes lying around the house. With biometric access you can make sure that anyone who isn’t authorized to open the safe simply can’t do so.

2. You Can Add Other Users

As we have seen, it is impossible for someone who isn’t authorized to open the door using their fingerprints. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t allow other people to use this safe if they need access.

In fact, the ease with which other users can be added is one of the big advantages of biometric technology. If a large number of people need to use the guns inside it then there is no need to worry about the hassle involved with giving people keys or codes.

All you need to do is get each person who is going to use the safe to scan their fingerprints in order to register them as users. After this, they can use it in exactly the same way that you do, by scanning their prints every time.

Users can be added and removed very quickly as needed. This means that is a sensible option for a company or some other group that has frequent changes to its users.

3. They Are Easy to Open in an Emergency

With luck, you might never have to open your gun safe in an emergency but what if you do? When you hear the sound of intruders breaking it then it is sure to be a heart-stopping moment.

In this sort of situation it can be a time-consuming hassle to open a gun safe if you need to fiddle with a key or a code. This is especially true if you get disturbed in the middle of the night and need to open the safe in darkness while bleary-eyed.

With a biometric safe you can very easily open the door at any time in an instant. This means that using it as a bedside gun safe is a smart move that can greatly improve your security as well as your peace of mind.

You should also find that this kind of entry mechanism makes it easier for you to get hold of your guns in a hurry at any time. Even if it isn’t an emergency you can still open your gun safe quickly and without any fuss.

4. They Aren’t Particularly Expensive

Since this is a modern, cutting edge option it is easy to think that a biometric gun safe is an expensive option. Yet, the truth is that it isn’t as expensive as you might believe.

In general terms, these safes often cost a little more than traditional safes that are key operated. However, given the extra security that they offer it is a fairly modest extra cost that many people consider to be worth paying.

Of course, it is always worth taking into account the value of the firearms that are being stored in the safe. If you have particularly expensive guns in there then you will most likely be happy to pay a bit more for a top quality safe to keep them in.

It is also clear that you may feel that your situation merits paying more money for something that provides more security. For example, if you have inquisitive children in the house then paying for the best possible safe makes a lot of sense

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Clearly, any type of safe has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the case of biometric technology there are far more good points then bad points.

However, when we look at the drawbacks we can see that there are some factors to take into account. Thankfully, most of them can be dealt with if you plan ahead.

For instance, one issue that some people find is that it is difficult for the scanner to recognize their prints. The solution that many owners find is to make a number of scans of their different fingers, so that the safe’s database has a big range of different prints that it can match them with.

You may also be worried about what would happen if there is a power shortage or if you can’t get into the safe for some reason, such as your prints not being recognized. This isn’t as big a problem as it might first appear, as these safes comes with a back-up key that you can use to open it open and re-set the database if necessary.

Summary

The benefits of biometric gun safes mean that it is the best type of technology on the market right now for responsible owners of firearms.

People who should be particularly interested in this technology include those who have children at home, those who have guns for home security reasons, and those who need to give easy access to a lot of others.

Author Bio

Tom Ginevra is the chief over at Gun Safe Guru, the ultimate resource on gun safes. He’s an avid firearm safety expert, part-time gun enthusiast and amateur blogger. You can find Tom at his blog

The Best Self-Defense Ammo For Pistols in 2017 (and Beyond)

Best Pistol Ammo, Image Credit

We spend a lot of time talking about the best pistol to use for self-defense, but a lot less thinking about what ammunition to use in it. This is a shame, because ultimately it is your ammunition that generates the power you need to stop attackers, and that is going to potentially save your life in a dangerous situation.

While the most important consideration in choosing a self-defense round is the caliber, there are many other factors to consider, and an undue emphasis on getting the largest caliber available can actually be detrimental to your shooting performance. Powerful rounds like the .40, or .45 generate a lot of recoil, and unless you have a significant amount of experience in firing these rounds, and practice constantly, they can be very inaccurate in a dangerous situation. Even simple 22-LR ammo can have a kick for smaller shooters, such as kids and some women.

For this reason, it is critical that whatever pistol you are carrying for self-defense, you learn how to use it properly. Accuracy is more based on your technique than your gun, and learning how to draw your pistol quickly and effectively is much more effective than getting a fancy gun.

What is Stopping Power?

“Stopping power”, in reality, has a lot more to do with how a bullet is constructed. Lead bullets, in particular, tend to expand very rapidly on collision with a target. This means that a lot of energy is transferred, but also that these bullets have very poor penetration performance. At the other end of the scale, full metal jacket bullets (FMJ) have a lead core that is fully surrounded by a harder material, most commonly copper. Because copper is harder, it does not deform as much, and as a result gives higher penetration at the cost of less energy transfer.

Both types of ammunition have their uses, but for self-defense purposes what you need is a combination of the two – both energy transfer and penetration. Today, is is possible to get bullets that combine the penetrative power of jacketed bullets with the energy transfer of a lead round.

This is most commonly achieved by using a jacketed hollow point, or JHP, bullet. These rounds have a partial copper jacket around a lead core. On impact, the hollow point of the bullet begins to expand, but the copper jacket controls this expansion to improve penetration.

This works fine, as long as the copper and lead portions of the bullet stay together at the critical moment. Cheap ammunition tends to separate on impact, significantly reducing the power of your round.

Today, I’ll take you through some of my favorite rounds for self-defense purposes. Most of this ammunition is available on online ammo shops, and can be ordered in a variety of calibers to suit your gun.

Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection

Speer were one the first manufacturers to produce bonded core ammunition, and their patented Uni-Cor process effectively eliminates the possibility of jacket / core separation.

The hollow point design used in this round makes use of two stages. The first controls how much the bullet expands on contact with a target, and the second controls the rate of this expansion. This design works very well, and offers a good balance between energy transfer and penetration.

In addition, the nickel-plated cases mean that these bullets are really reliable, and the quality primers used in them ensure you get basically zero misfires.

Federal Premium Personal Defense HST

HST bullets are pretty new to the civilian market, though they’ve been available to professional users for quite some time. This design has a lead core surrounded by a copper jacket, and gives a good balance of stopping power and penetration.

These bullets are mechanically bonded together. The thickness of the copper jacket is matched to the caliber of the bullet, which means that the way in which the hollow point of the round expands is precisely controlled in every caliber.

In addition, one of the best things about these rounds are that the point is specifically designed to penetrate through various types of barriers, including heavy clothing. This makes the round reliable in self-defense situations.

American Eagle Jacketed Soft Point

These are great rounds that also represent amazing value. They are significantly cheaper than most soft lead or FMJ rounds, and offer better performance in self-defense situations. If your budget for ammunition is limited, these rounds are a good choice.

The design used here is essentially the same as the two rounds above – a lead core is encased in a copper jacket, which controls expansion. Though these rounds are not as technically advanced as more expensive ammunition, in most situations they will deliver a good mix of power and penetration.

So that’s it. Three brands of ammunition, all of which are great for self-defense. If you can, give each one a try and see what works best for you. For more tips check out recommendations for our top everyday carry kit.

Edible vs Poisonous Mushrooms – What Is The Difference?

Overview

Mushrooms are one of the most striking and intriguing vegetation in the world – highly regarded for their nutrient composition. All mushroom varieties are characterized by beautiful forms and shapes. Though some have medicinal properties, others are poisonous and lethal.

Picking of mushrooms is steadily becoming a hobby for many people, often for food but also for recreation. We hope that this course will guide you in taking up this activity too.

Realize that many poisonous mushrooms will resemble edible mushrooms from other climatic zones of the world. Hence, it’s paramount that you are certain those you pick for food are harmless beyond any reasonable doubt. This article will focus on helping you distinguish edible mushrooms from the otherwise poisonous mushrooms.

[Editor’s note: Please consult a local knowledgeable expert and/or guidebook before attempting mushroom picking! You health and safety are nothing to be taken lightly as choosing the wrong mushroom can be potentially lethal.]

Types of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are classified into two broad categories: edible mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms.

  1. Edible Species

People normally have diverse reactions to the foods they ingest – this fact holds true for mushroom consumption. What may be edible for some people may not be necessarily edible to everyone. North America is known to be home to approximately 250 mushroom species. Edible mushrooms are those that pose no health issues whatsoever when consumed.

The safest way to identify edible from poisonous mushrooms is via accurate verification of their specie by an expert collector. Though books are an acceptable alternative means towards identification of edible mushroom species, it can occasionally prove catastrophic. Empirical identification methods such as smell and taste can be extremely dangerous as some poisonous mushrooms could exhibit a pleasant smell and taste.

  1. Poisonous Species

Poisonous mushroom species are those that cause health complications when ingested. Their mere resemblance to edible mushroom varieties has in numerous occasions confused mushroom collectors. In some cases an unwitting victim does not exhibit symptoms of poisoning immediately after consumption, but often shows up after 48 hours. Symptom severity, however, varies from case to case.

Poisonous mushrooms can lead to death within 3 to 6 days after ingestion. As such, it is very important that the victim seek medical attention immediately. Mushroom poisoning symptoms include dizziness, breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Some of the most poisonous mushroom species include the death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, Amanita virosa (the destroying angel), Amanita muscaria (the fly Agaric) and Cortinariusrubellus.

Identification of the different mushroom species

There exist numerous methods for the identification of mushrooms and all methods should be employed when out foraging. The criteria include:

  • Do the mushrooms possess distinct smell?
  • Do the mushrooms change their colour when bruised or cut?
  • What is the shape, texture, color and size of the cap?
  • What is the shape, texture and size of the stem? Does the mushroom have a skirt/ring and are there any visible markings on it? Is the base narrow, bulbous, sack-like or rooting?
  • Do the mushrooms have any pores, gills, or spikes under their cap? If gills are present, how close are they? Do they fork? Are they linked to the stem? Are they soft or pliable and brittle?
  • What is the flesh texture? Texture (soft, brittle covered with hairs).
  • At what time and season of the year is it?

Remember to always confirm with various pictures and guides as mushrooms can appear different in regard to their age, the locale they grow, as well as the type of climate they grow in.

Difference between Toadstools and Edible Mushrooms

Although some varieties of mushrooms out there are edible, others are highly poisonous and lethal; however, there exist no hard and fast rules or test through which one can safely discern the poisonous varieties other than accurate identification of the species.

Most people are familiar with the common mushroom varieties since these are the edible mushrooms that are readily available for purchase at the supermarket and grocery. You may not necessarily go out looking for mushrooms in the wild, but many people are known to identify, collect and ingest wild mushrooms. Again, only people with appropriate knowledge and training in mushroom identification should collect and consume mushrooms from the wild.

There are so many factors one need to take into consideration when trying to identify mushrooms in the wild. In this guide, we will go through mushroom identification process regarding their habitat, spores, gills and much more.

Typically, physical characteristics (such as color and shape) are the first attributes one will notice. Upon successful examination of these mushroom traits, the identification process becomes much easier and usually straightforward.

We’ve categorized the main mushroom characteristics into four broad sections: the toxins, habitat, physical characteristics, and the smell.

Toxins

The main difference between the edible and toadstool mushrooms is the toxins present in the latter. These toxins are naturally produced by the fungi, and no known mechanism of toxic removal, including cooking, canning or freezing work for mushroom toxins.

Mushroom toxins are usually sub-divided into four broad categories including.

  1. Protoplasmic toxins – poisons that destroy body cells, and eventually cause organ failure.
  2. Neurotoxins – compounds that lead to various neurological symptoms like hallucinations, excessive sweating, coma, convulsions, a spastic colon and depression.
  3. Gastrointestinal irritants – cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  4. Disulfiram-like toxins that only exhibit symptoms if and only if alcohol is consumed (within three days after consumption); the victim will usually experience a short-lived acute toxic syndrome.

Habitat

Where does the mushroom grow? Is it growing on trees or grassland? What kind of tree are they growing atop or under? Are they growing in a ring or singly, tuft or troop?

Edible mushrooms typically grow in lawns or open paddocks and not under shrubs or trees like the toadstool varieties. Amanitas, for example, start appearing in fall and summer, especially on the floor of woodlands. They are quite common in most places.

Physical Characteristics

The following is a detailed list of some of the common physical characteristics that distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous ones:

  1. Warts or scales on the cap.

These are universal veil’s remnants that encompass the mushroom while it is young. Sometimes these patches look more like rows of raised dots.

Edible mushrooms have smooth and more or less white caps with no visible or noticeable raised warts or scales. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms, for instance, the toxic fly agaric have a different colored cap (usually red with white spots) which has conspicuous scales and raised lumps.

  1. Cap shape.

Most of the edible mushrooms have bun-shaped or convex caps and sometimes with a wide low-hump. Other edible mushrooms such as chanterelles have caps that are concave and wavy or even trumpet-shaped. Poisonous species, however, have convex caps while young and flattens as the mushroom matures.

The cap of many edible mushrooms stretches from the stem as it grows developing a ring of tissue around the stem also known as the annulus. Toadstools or poisonous varieties do not have this ring around the stem.

  1. Base Stem.

Some mushrooms have a rounded cup commonly referred to as the “volva”, which is a universal veil remnant. To observe the swollen base clearly you may have to dig up the mushroom as it’s usually under the ground.

The base of the stem of edible mushrooms is narrow or not thick like the rest of the stalk. On the other hand, many poisonous mushrooms usually have a noticeably swollen base. The Amanita muscaria, for instance, has a bulbous base.

  1. Spore print

A spore print is an important diagnostic trait for identifying mushrooms. Identifying the color of the spore print can be very helpful as it helps you distinguish the different mushroom varieties. The color of mushroom spore can range from white to black and many other shades depending on the mushroom species. Some of the common poisonous mushrooms such as Amanita have white-colored spore prints.

You can easily obtain a spore print for color-testing by removing the stem and putting the mushroom gills on a dark or white piece of paper for several hours. Once you know the color of the spore refer to a mushroom guide to know the exact species and its edibility.

  1. Gills

Another distinctive feature is the size and color of the mushroom’s gills. You will find most of the edible mushrooms with gills attached to the cap and not to the stalk. This means that the gills will stay attached to the cap even when the stalk is removed from the mushroom’s base. The poisonous mushroom’s gills, however, are attached to the stalk and will remain there even after you’ve removed it from the base.

The gills on the cap of a young edible mushroom cap are usually pink in colour. However, the pink colour changes as the mushroom mature to brown or black. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms have white gills that do not change colour throughout their entire lifecycle.

Smell

Another common difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms is their smell. Some mushrooms have distinct smells or a unique smell which can help you to distinguish species that are visually similar. Some of the edible mushrooms, for instance, the Chanterelles have a distinctive fruity smell like apricots. Some of the poisonous species such as Agaricus xanthodermus, commonly known as the yellow-staining mushroom are known for their almond scent.

When you are testing for odors, crush a part of the mushroom’s cap for best results. Many mushrooms lack a smell, while others have quite a distinctive odor; thus, make sure you have a local mushroom guidebook to cross-reference.

Also, you need to keep in mind that not all mushrooms with odors give a certain smell of something as most of them have vague descriptions like “farinaceous,” meaning consisting of or containing starch.

How to Avoid Poisoning

To prevent mushroom poisoning you must be knowledgeable in the various mushroom identification methods when collecting mushrooms.

Remember that there is no simple cut-and-dry method or set identifiable features to distinguish poisonous mushrooms from edible ones; thus, once you collect mushrooms, never mix the two species, and only consume the edible mushrooms that are healthy and in good condition.

Always preserve your edible mushrooms by properly refrigerating them, and discard any mushroom you are in doubt about whether it is edible or non-edible.

Although there are numerous poisonous species, knowing how to properly identify the various mushrooms species will help to keep you from getting sick and even to enjoy your new mushroom foraging hobby.

The bottom line

There are numerous mushroom species and knowing the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms can be a daunting task. Some mushrooms are edible and delicious, while others will give you a nasty tummy upset… maybe even lead to death. Please equip yourself with the right information and always take proper precautions when you are on the lookout for edible mushrooms.

Last, never taste a mushroom to identify whether it’s poisonous or edible because some poisonous species taste good, yet they’re deadly. Instead, remember to check on the unique physical characteristics, smell, and the habitat in which the mushroom grows to establish whether it’s safe for consumption or not.

Author Bio: Hi there, I am Jason Shiflet from HuntingPleasures.com – a website help people exchange knowledge about hunting pleasures!

15 Things You Don’t Actually Need To Survive Disasters

Last week I’d heard about a story of three family members who died during Hurricane Irma because they ran a generator inside their home. Although I couldn’t find more details, I did find this article about the incident.

Sadly, such a tragedy was entirely preventable by understanding what carbon monoxide (CO) is, how it can kill you, and perhaps most importantly: what items produce CO.

Here’s some good articles about carbon monoxide and safety:

And here’s a good article about running generators safely: How To Safely Operate A Backup Generator.

Anyway, what that tragedy really got me to thinking about was those things (or actions) you don’t actually need to have (or do) to survive in a disaster, such as with the recent hurricanes.

Now, I’m assuming that this family was running a generator to power an air conditioner because it was relatively warm weather at the time, but that’s pure speculation on my part. If they were running a generator for any other reason then it’s even worse because there are honestly very few reasons why you’d need electricity after a disaster.

Now I can hear you saying, “But, wait! I need to keep my refrigerator and freezer food from spoiling!”

No you don’t.

You SHOULD be able to do so… but you don’t HAVE to, especially if it means doing something ignorant like running a generator inside your home.

Regardless, you don’t need to have or do many things, such as:

  1. You don’t need power to keep the lights on if you have other light sources such as candles (not my first choice) or battery-powered lanterns (a better option). Heck, you could just sit in the dark but that sucks.
  2. You don’t need power to run a stove or oven or even a microwave if you have alternative cook sources like a BBQ grill or even makeshift stoves. (Note: BBQ grills can also produce carbon monoxide if charcoal-based and even propane grills can put off CO as well).
  3. Heck, you don’t even NEED to heat most foods so long as it’s been precooked, such as with canned foods. That said, some foods just need to be boiled to make them edible like rice, beans, pasta etc.
  4. You probably don’t need hot water either for any reason (except as noted in #3); this makes for cold showers and cold teas but it still works.
  5. Like I said above, food can be allowed to go bad and so the refrigerator doesn’t need to be kept cool. That said, I understand there are some cases where you’d hate to lose many hundreds of dollars worth of food and so you should be able to keep them running but it doesn’t have to be a generator that does it (hint: your car works pretty well for this purpose) and, besides, coolers and ice work well enough for a few to several days.
  6. You probably won’t need to do laundry in most cases since most of us have plenty of clothes in the closet which can be dusted off.
  7. You don’t need to bathe for weeks or longer in most cases (but I’m sure it would be appreciated by most people around you, lol). Even a simple washcloth rinse off is better than nothing.
  8. You sure don’t need WiFi or the internet or television… except then you couldn’t read this. 🙁
  9. I’d suggest that you don’t need your cell phone but it is our primary means of communication these days and so you really should try to keep it powered… and, of course, learn to text during and after disasters since they’re FAR more likely to get through jammed cell towers.
  10. You probably don’t need to go anywhere in your car if you’re hunkering down but I sure would prefer you had the option and so storing some extra gasoline with fuel stabilizer is a good idea.
  11. You don’t need almost ANY beverage (such as soda or beer) besides water to survive; sorry, you’ll live without either.
  12. You don’t need water to flush toilets or for most common household activities; keep water for the most necessary activities such as drinking, cooking, and minimal personal hygiene including brushing your teeth and the washcloth bath… and for pets too.
  13. In many cases you don’t need to air condition your home. Granted, there are some locations and times of the year where you’ll be miserable but so long as you can stay hydrated, in the shade, with a breeze,an so on then you’ll live. Of course, there are some folks who simply cannot tolerate the heat such as the elderly and so must be planned for.
  14. In some cases you don’t have to heat your home either. Yes, there are locations and times of the year where you’ll literally freeze to death if you don’t (and you know who you are) but most of us will survive by putting on more clothes and huddling under lots of blankets.
  15. You won’t need to do any dishes for weeks if you bother to stockpile some disposable supplies. Even if you want to use your dishes then items like cups, for instance, could be labeled with names and reused for quite a long time. I’d assume you could get creative too with your other dishes.

I’m sure I could go on listing items and actions you could likely do without in a relatively short term survival situation, but I’m sure you get the idea.

That said, there are some items/actions that you really shouldn’t go without. For example, any life-necessary medications or other medical equipment that literally keeps you alive come to mind. As such, it behooves you to have plenty of these medications on hand as well as the ability to power medical equipment for several days or longer if the power goes out.

Similarly, it would be silly to not be able to care for your basic needs, such as being able to heat your home if you live somewhere that you could truly freeze to death (as mentioned previously) and, of course, at least some minimal amounts of food and water. I still can’t believe people run out at the last minute to grab bottled water before a hurricane… ugh.

I’d encourage you to prepare yourself properly so that you don’t HAVE to go without… it’s not hard to do and I can show you how to get it done in only 5 minutes a day but you have to take action to make it happen.

Beginner’s Guide To Concealed Carry: Choosing Your Holster

CCW Holsters, Image Credit

Once you make the decision to carry a concealed weapon, you should make sure that how you choose to conceal your weapon is both safe and comfortable for you.

This means looking at a variety of different types of concealed weapons holsters and making a decision on what type best suits your style and your weapon of choice.

First, here are some basics to consider when carrying a concealed firearm:

What To Consider Before Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Do Your Research

If you are a true beginner, then you may feel overwhelmed by all the choices in concealed holsters.

The best way to combat this is to research each type of holster a few at a time, then expand your research to a variety within each category that includes shoulder, waist, ankle, leg, pocket, and pouch holsters.

This includes knowing which holsters are best for which types of firearms. If you are unsure, always consult an expert either online or at a local gun shop for advice.

Your goal is to find a gun and holster system that best fits your physicality and needs.

Take your New Holster for a Trial Run

Once you’ve made the choice in a holster, the worst thing you can do is immediately strap it on and go out in a crowd or other social environment without really knowing how it will feel over a period of time.

You want to get a feel for the holster on your body and how it moves with you with the firearm intact. The best way to do this is to wear the system around the house a few times while sitting, standing, and generally walking around with it on.

You can then adjust it accordingly, keeping in mind that all holsters have a tight fit initially before they are worn over a period of times.

Drawing Attention is a Deal breaker

The whole purpose of concealing a firearm is so that no one has an idea you are carrying a weapon.

If your gun and holster system is uncomfortable, then you will naturally pull at it, adjust it, and generally draw attention to it.

If this occurs, go someplace private and make adjustments and then return to a public area. This includes generally acting as natural as possible while you have it on.

Remove the Bells and Whistles

Sometimes a new item is like a new toy; we want all the add-ons that go along with it and we want to use them all at once.

This is not a good idea with a concealed weapon. The more stock you keep your concealed weapon the more natural it will look. The only extra should possibly be sights.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is nothing more dangerous to you and to others than to have a gun and holster system concealed on your person and not be able to skillfully remove the weapon if you need to use it.

This could lead to an errant discharge of the firearm that could harm you or someone else.

The only remedy for this is to practice firing the weapon at the range with the holster on.

This also means wearing different styles of clothing including overcoats and zipped jackets. Practice drawing the weapon directly from the concealed holster for as long as it takes you to become sufficiently skilled to do it safely and with relative ease of motion.

Leave Social Media Out of the Equation

You may be proud of your new gun and holster, but letting the whole word know on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media sites defeats the purpose of a concealed weapon.

Because so many strangers have access to our social media through other friends’ threads and phones, it is never a good idea to brag on social media about how you carry a concealed weapon or the type of weapon that you carry.

Keep this information only between a few close friends privately.

Here are several types of holsters to consider in a variety of styles from IWB, belt pouch/pocket, shoulder and ankle holsters that are available:

Different Types of Holsters, and Where To Find Them

IWB (Inside the waistband) Holster

A comfortable IWB holster is the Leather Canted Tuckable Concealed Carry Holster, designed for total concealment.

This IWB holster has a design which lets shooters conceal the weapon inside their shirt, or inside their waist and over the weapon itself.

The leather belt loops which are part of the design are integral to the concealment of the firearm. It also is very easy to draw from this holster, especially for beginners, and it can be carried on your back as well.

Leg Holster

A popular leg holster is the Tactical Drop Leg Holster With Extra Magazine Pouch, owing to its comfort, durability and space for extra mags.

This concealed holster for the leg is manufactured with durable plastic that has a fabric liner.

Its best feature is a thumb break that can be either removed or adjusted to custom fit each user. There are two straps for the leg, and each has an anti-slipping exterior so that there is no need to overtighten the straps.

These straps also include elastic components that will expand when you sit. It also comes with an additional magazine pouch and both right and left-handed designs.

Ankle Holster

When ankle-carrying, I use the Elastic Ankle Holster For Concealed Carry. It has special calf straps so that the holster doesn’t slip down, no matter what pistol it holds. The liner is also soft and doesn’t chafe my skin.

This holster is a very basic design and made of all elastic. It is best used with smaller revolvers and pistols and comes with a small pocket for carrying papers or small documents.

It comes in left and right-handed models, making it a solid option for ambidextrous shooters. I like to use the Falco Elastic Holster when carrying my little Glock 43, one of my favorite pistols for CCW.

Shoulder Holsters

My go-to shoulder horizontal holster is the Horizontal Leather Shoulder Gun Holster.

A thumb break made of reinforced steel acts as an added measure of security in this conceal shoulder holster model, and the entire barrel is covered and has an open muzzle.

It also has a horizontal configuration with a cross-shoulder type harness. It is available as a right or left-handed model.

My favorite vertical shoulder holster is the Leather Vertical Shoulder Gun Holster.

This concealed gun holster is virtually the same as the horizontal version except it has a vertical holster at the shoulder as well as a vertical harness. It also has the steel thumb break for added security.

Many people think that using a vertical shoulder holster is only for police or active duty military. The truth is, that is usually the case, but there’s no reason the average civilian can’t do it too. I often carry my Glock 26 in a shoulder holster, which makes for a super fast draw.

Pouch/Bag Holsters

Probably the best belt pouch holster on the market today is the Falco Belt Pouch For Concealed Gun Carry.

This model has two front pouches—one for the gun itself and another for other carry items of your choosing. It is a zipped compartment that is easily opened and can hold a gun with dimensions of up to 220 x 140 mm.

You can see it at

If you’re looking for a leg carry option, you should try the Leg Bag For Concealed Gun Carry.

This model is worn on the thigh area and has a generous-sized pocket in the back for the firearm itself (up to a 220 x 175mm) and two smaller pouches for other items. Because the pocket is so large, a tactical light could be included with the firearm of your choice.

There is a non-slip material on the back of the bag and for added securing, a belt and leg straps are included in the design.

Conclusion

Following the prescribed considerations for carrying concealed weapon as well as taking the time to look at the suggested models should give you a secure and skilled start at being a concealed weapons carrier.

Author Bio

Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer and writer at Gun News Daily. He’s is an avid hunter with over 30 years experience.

Checked Your Fire Extinguishers Lately? I Haven’t And That Was A Mistake…

Fire Extinguisher,

Just the other day I’d decided to check on my smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and while I was at it have my youngest son try to put out a very small (and controlled) fire in our driveway just so he had an opportunity to hold and use a fire extinguisher which I don’t think I’ve ever had him do.

Well, as it turns out the first fire extinguisher I grabbed indicated “red” meaning it needed replaced; I gave it a try anyway… it was dead as a door nail. So I grabbed another one that indicated “green” and with a quick test THAT one didn’t work either!

I thought, “Uh oh… when’s the last time I checked these?” Believe it or not, I used to keep a good list of all the prepping tasks I needed to check on and when but, sadly, I can’t find the list anymore let alone remember the last time I even looked at it.

As it turns out it’s probably been a LONG time since I’ve actually looked at one of my fire extinguishers and, sadly, I found another one that needed replaced too. Surprisingly, the extinguishers I have in our vehicles still worked even though I would have assumed they–if any of them–would be bad since they’ve been exposed to both extreme hot and cold for many years… go figure.

The good news is that this has caused me to create a new prepping tasks list and, of course, to replace my fire extinguishers too.

I did briefly look into trying to refill them but apparently the type I have can’t (or shouldn’t) be refilled because they have plastic heads as opposed to metal ones and are prone to leaks… perhaps that’s why they don’t work any longer.

Anyway, just last night my wife was cooking dinner when the kitchen smoke alarm went off which isn’t unusual and so I didn’t bother to move from the basement couch as my wife was sort of yelling something incoherent which I did my best to ignore. As it turns out one of the burners had something stuck to it and caught fire. It wasn’t a big deal but I’ll take that as a sign I need to replace my fire extinguishers sooner rather than later, lol.

My suggestion: go check on your fire extinguishers and while you’re at it your smoke alarms just to be sure they’re still in working order.