Walking out the door of a sporting goods store with your new rifle is the first step. Now it’s time to accessorize your firearm to its maximum survival potential. You’ll be thankful you have all the needed add-ons when you have to provide food for your family, or even defend them, in a survival situation.
1. Scope Covers
You spent a wad on optics, so protect that investment, especially the glass ends of your scope. Rain, dust, limb scratches and the like can impede your scope’s clarity. Protect your targeting tool until it’s needed.
You basically have two choices when it comes to scope protection: flip-up scope covers or a bikini wrap. Despite its alluring name, the bikini wrap is simply a rubber or neoprene stretch covering for the objective and eyepiece ends of your rirlfescope. Some neoprene models wrap the entire scope, but both are removed with a tug-and-lift procedure. What you do with the cover after that depends on the situation unraveling at the moment. That’s why the second choice ranks higher.
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Flip-up scope covers slide onto the eyepiece and objective ends of your scope. Depressing or flicking a lever or latch deploys a spring-activated lid, moving the cover out of the way for quick target acquisition. Companies like Quake Industries (quakeinc.com) and Butler Creek (butlercreek.com) provide quality options for both the law enforcement and hunting communities.
2. Rifle Slings
Unless you have a rifle strictly built for the bench, you’ll want to deck it out with a rifle sling. You also have two options here: springy or rigid slings. Both types have benefits, but they don’t offer the same benefits. Traditional rigid slings can be constructed of leather, nylon or another non-stretch material. In addition to providing sturdy stability on your shoulder, its other main benefit is to provide a brace for a steadier shot when you wrap it around your forearm or lock it into an elbow. In all shooting positions, it can stabilize your shot. Add a wide pad to the rigid strap and you get a comfortable ride for your rifle.
For even more comfort and the ride of air-shock comfort, consider neoprene. A neoprene-padded sling grips your shoulder for a non-slip advantage yet provides bounce and spring to reduce the perceived weight of your rifle. Although the stretch can decrease the rigidity of using the sling as a stabilizing agent, you can still utilize it, but with the possibility of some sway and movement during the shot.
3. Extra Ammo
Targets move, you flinch, the wind blows—any number of things can create a situation where you may empty your magazine and need to reload. Have those cartridges ready and within easy reach. It amazes me how many hunters still carry a handful of cartridges in their pockets that rattle and poke them throughout the day.
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In most instances, a magazine refill is sufficient, meaning that you should carry at least five to six extra cartridges in the field. Most carriers accommodate nine or more, including my favorite, a buttstock bullet band. You can also use a padded, wallet-style holder that fits on your belt and is secured by Velcro to fold out quickly. Most hold 10 cartridges. Leather belt carriers, clip-on forend carriers and cartridge holders sewn onto slings all give you a speedy resolution to follow-up shots.
4. Shooting Stability
If you’re a crack shot like most of the actors I see in movies, your sling will suffice for rifle stability. For those with mediocre shooting skills, consider boosting your accuracy with a portable rifle rest. If you find yourself in a stump-less environment, the easiest answer is a sturdy set of shooting sticks or even a tripod version. Bog Pod (btibrands.com) and the Primos Trigger Stick (primos.com) provide quality options to shoot from sitting or standing positions with the brace of an adjustable shooting rest. The bonus of the Trigger Stick is the ease of adjustability by pressing a trigger to release tension on the legs.
Military and law enforcement agencies worldwide lean toward the adjustable bipod for sniper-like precision. It’s also my rest of choice. Most models secure to the forend swivel stud yet allow a sling to be attached to the bipods. This attachment guarantees no change in zero from the rifle. The legs fold down for deployment or out of the way if you want to freehand the shot. Springs retract and extend legs in models like those from trusted Harris bipods (harrisbipods.com) and even swivel to accommodate uneven terrain of all kinds.
With all the interest now in ground blinds, a good rest is essential to guarantee precision shooting from the small windows. Caldwell (btibrands.com) answers that challenge with the DeadShot FieldPod. This portable rest cradles the forend and buttstock of your rifle on an adjustable-track platform, all stabilized on adjustable tripod legs.
5. Go Mobile
Moving your rifle from home to field requires consideration. Companies like Strong Case (strongcasebytnb.com), Plano (planomolding.com) and Cabela’s (cabelas.com) market cases with reinforced sides, rugged latches and layers of shock-absorbing foam. Or take your protection one step further by sliding your rifle into a moisture-resistant case such as those developed by Envelop (envelopcovers.com). This company designs and manufactures protective covers used by the military in all environments, including open-water settings worldwide. The Envelop case uses a five-layer system to repel moisture, cushion the firearm and control the humidity in the surrounding environment.
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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Winter 2016 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.