Panzer – Magellan eXplorist 350H reviewed

At shot show 2013 I was called over to the Magellan booth by Atticus because Magellan was interested in Gears of Guns reviewing their new Magellan eXplorist 350H. This was perfect because I was planning an elk hunt for the following October. So I listened very attentively to the 30 minute presentation Carol Bardia had for me and the Crew. I will be up front with you, I was unfamiliar with Magellan, as well as GPS systems designed for outdoor enthusiasts, so the learning curve was steep at first. Fast forward to August 29th 2013 when the product arrived and I immediately discovered my lack of experience did not matter. The applications in the field and at home after the trip are so numerous it is difficult to list them all but here it goes.

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The eXplorist  350 H is above all else very user-friendly and within the first 10 minutes I had already begun planning my trip by locating the exact area I would be hunting within 10 feet. I had topographical data, county roads and game management areas (GMU) all loaded with the push of a button. The five button control panel was easy to use, with or without gloves and I liked the way you could quickly access trip information without excessive toggling.

Field Functions:

Upon arrival to the campground I mapped out the my various points of interest using several of  the handy custom marker icons specially created for hunters including; campsite, blinds, stands, glassing areas and trail heads to name a few. Or you could mark way points using specific game icons, bedding locations, scat, blood trails, scrapes, rubs, sheds and many more.  I also used the text function to enter field notes when a custom marker wasn’t enough. My first few days before the hunt I was glad to have the eXplorist on hand because it allowed me the chance to get oriented and to map and section out the large area quickly and effortlessly. After taking a long ride on my 4 X 4 with the eXplorist on board, I had all my ATV trails marked without having to do very much but enjoy the ride. At no point during my two weeks there did I have to worry about finding my way back to camp day or night.

In an effort to conserve battery life I utilized the active suspend function which worked like a sleep mode but with continued tracking. Also the screen saving mode turns off when not in use within 20 seconds. It takes two double A batteries of which I replaced once the entire trip. While it is stated to have a battery life of 18 hours (if you use lithium), if you fail to use active suspend don’t be surprised if the hours of battery life vary. Another annoyance is that the Duracell alkaline batteries got down to 25% remaining and a message would appear telling you to change them and soon after that the device would shut off. The batteries I used after the first change were (Duracell AA alkaline), however Magellan recommends using two AA lithium batteries.

Once I had my hunting area mapped I could track prey, mark glassing areas and establish which group members were hunting where. The stated temperature range for this device is between 14 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While it continued to work for me at 20 degrees F your experience may vary, however at times it was cold enough for my smart phone to stop working while the eXplorist continued to worked. Magellan has used the IPX7 waterproof standard for this device. During my trip I exposed the device to rain and snow and had no issues with it working properly.

Computer Application:

Even though I enjoyed using the GPS in the field once I returned home and plugged the eXplorist 350H into my computer and downloaded the Vantage Point software onto my PC, my experience only got better

You must be using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to use the Vantage Point software or if you are running a MAC you can use the Magellan communicator for MAC which is compatible with a website called Geocaching.com. Once installed the Vantage Point software took all the data I had collected on my two-week trip and plugged it into the DigitalGlobe format where I could play back  every movement I made while the device was active using either  satellite images or the topographical map. There are countless ways you can use this software from planning available routes, tracking animal movements or  measuring distances. The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing the user to plan, track and view all movements in the field. So when I was ready to relive the experiance, Vantage point software painted the picture for me. When I am ready to plan my next trip I can easily build of the info gathered by the eXplorist and displayed on Vantage Point.

Having access to such a great tool takes your hunting or hiking game to a whole new level and I highly recommend it for everyone from the beginner to experienced outdoor enthusiast.

Pros:

  • The five button control panel is very easy to use when scrolling through the various menus.
  • Can be used with or without gloves without much difficulty.
  • Thirty custom markers for hunt mode plus ability to add custom field notes.
  • Active suspend mode conserves battery life while continuing to track  your movement.
  • Screen is bright and display is clear with sharp contrast.
  • The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing user to plan, track and view all movements in the field.
  • Cons:

  • One  con was that the 350H is a bit bulky when carrying it around in my pocket so I eventually started keeping it in my day pack which was not always convenient.
  • The screen size was a bit small but the display is bright and clear and it did come with a screen protector.
  • Stated battery life is 18 hours but when left on not in active suspend much less battery life.
  • When alkaline battery life got down to 25% remaining, a repeating message to change batteries appeared and the device would power down, however Magellan recommends using a AA lithium battery for optimal battery life.

Aaron – Steyr M9A1 first impression review:

This is my first impression on the Steyr M9A1

Technical Specs
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 10,14, 15 or 17
Barrel Length: 4 inch
Method of Operation: Short recoil, locked breech
Sights: Fixed iron sights, trapezoid notch and triangular front blade
Overall Length: 6.9 in
Overall Width: 1.2 in
Overall Height: 5.4 in
Safety Type: Multi-stage safety system consisting of two automatic internal safeties, two external trigger safeties and a manual lock safety.
Weight w/out Mag: 26.3 oz (1.6lbs)
Trigger and Tigger pull weight: Double Action trigger – 5.6lbs

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The first thing I noticed with this handgun was it was just beautiful. It has the lowest bore axis of any polymer handgun, which helps with follow up shots and bring the gun back on target.

This is a medium frame pistol which fits my hand nicely.

When I first held this gun it was love.To me it felt like a Tempur-Pedic mattress that conforms to you. It was like the grip was custom made for my hand.

The front sight is a triangle while the rear is an inward facing trapezoid notch. I got used to them

very quickly and I almost prefer these to any sights out there.

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The trigger pull is fairly light at 5.6 lbs and breaks very cleanly.
The takedown of the M9A1 is very quick and easy without any tools.

(Note: this is a random youtube video and was not made by the GEARS crew)

Personally I’ve never got the point of a trigger safety and having no manual one. Since owning this pistol I have fired 200 rounds through it and still love every shot. Muzzle climb is very minimal with the firearm being muzzle heavy and allows for quicker follow up shots.
The shell ejection is mostly uniform launching up and back to the right. Shooting at 6 to 10 yards away I’d say this is one of the more accurate pistols I have shot. A Steyr fan for sure.

Check back for more reviews on this gun in the coming months.

Panzer: Good Articles

Atticus and I are heading to the range to work on a few more reviews for you all so I figured I would post a few interesting articles from other bloggers.

 

.17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Review – GunsAmerica

First look: X Products Skeletonized AR drum – TheFirearmBlog

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Ruger Announces American RIMFIRE Rifle – RTB

What’s in a name –TheBangSwitch

 

The coolest thing you will see ever… – GunMartBlog

TDSA: The new GEARS Range

For the past year I have been looking for a new range to move my company to.

Since before I was blogging I always shot at a public range and after almost 3 years trying to write the best reviews I could with the amenities that range had I was frustrated. I would be working on a review and want to make a video to show the different parts of the gun or how the gun works and when I would get back to the office I would watch the video and it would sound like *BANG* Hi, my name is Attic- *BANG BANG BANG* *ONE SHOT A SECOND!* -sofguns.com *BANG*. that just doesn’t make for quality videos.

This article is by no means a diss on that range or even public ranges in general. I know that they have their place and for most gun owners are the best place in the world.

I will give my pros and cons to public ranges

PROS:

· Range officers everywhere to keep everyone safe.
· Safety rules like one shot a second to keep people from thinking they are Rambo the first time they ever pick up a MSR.
· Public ranges are relatively common in populated areas in the USA.
· Some have pro shops that can help you with basic questions about shooting and there is a good chance they have shooting clubs that meet out there if you are looking to get into that.
· For the gun owner who doesn’t get to the range but just a few times a year this is an inexpensive way to shoot.
· Typically there are experienced shooters who might be able to lend a hand if you are having problems.
· Safe for all types of shooters
(If you have a pro or con I might have missed please comment and share your thoughts)

Cons:

· Gun owners who shoot a lot can get bored.
· Public ranges typically have restrictions on types of guns and ammo that can be shot there (This is for safety reasons).
· Public ranges can get crowded at anytime.
· The noise level can get intimidating for new shooters.
· If you have more than one gun, space for cases and gear can be limited.
· Some ranges have a max amount of time you can shoot.
· If you are a frequent shooter cost for the range fees get overly expensive.
· The length of the ranges may not give you the distance you are looking for.

With all of that being said I have my own cons as a gun blogger that make working from a public range rather difficult.

Cons:
Space for guns, gear and crew.
Cost
Noise
Safety rules that stop us from testing triggers,holsters,over 10 rounds in a magazines, etc.

Since this has been making reviews and shooting more difficult I started looking to friends of the GEARS crew for help to see if they had a ranch we could shoot at and every time the answers were the same. No, we don’t know of a place or sure but it is a 5 hour drive out there.  I googled ranges in my area before and most were unable to help me any better than my current public range and that was when I spotted TDSA.net.

For any of you who follow Colion Noir on YouTube or watch Video Tuesday here on our site you might have seen Colion shooting targets from a golf cart and thought hey that is really cool… Well the cat is out of the bag. He was at TDSA in Ferris, TX.

I had seen when he released his video what range it was and never really thought about it again until I came back across the site when I was searching for a new range again and read the amenities they offer there.

7 Pistol Ranges:

  • Roughly 25 yards by 25 yards in size.
  • Rapid Fire is allowed.
  • Moving while shooting is allowed.
  • Drawing from holster is allowed.
  • Transitioning from rifles to pistols is allowed.
  • We also allow you to set up scenarios using barrels or barricades.
  • ***Upon request you may park your vehicle in the bays and shoot from inside your vehicle. (Remember this is based on request and approval ONLY).
  • ***We allow FULL AUTO FIRE in our pistol bays after a short Shooting Proficiency Test.

Rifle Ranges:

  • Shooting Proficiency Test required at 100 yards.
  • Full Metal Jacket is allowed
  • Steel Core is allowed
  • .50 and .338 caliber is allowed
  • All shooting done from a bench or prone position ONLY.
  • No Tracer or Incendiary rounds allowed.
  • Distances: 25 yards, 50 yards, 100 yards, 200 yards, and 300 yards.

Other Ranges (used for training and shooting matches):

  • 200 yard STREET with multiple cars lining each side.
  • 40 foot shooting TOWER with 4 floors and multiple ports on each floor.
    • TOWER can be used to train sniper initiated entries into STREET and CITY.
  • 200+ yard CITY with multiple rooms all around to shoot into and out of.
    • One large area is designed to resemble and Afghan village commonly seen by soldiers.
    • The CITY can be used for live fire, force on force training, and can take up to and including .50 caliber rifle fire.
  • Both CITY and STREET may be used to shoot from moving vehicles.
  • Rifle range can also be used as 270 degree 300 yard assault course.

Classroom:

  • There is a 1,300 sq. ft. classroom available upon scheduling. A white board and 60 inch TV monitor is included.

Other Information:

  • We allow Binary Exploding targets to be shot UPON REQUEST AND APPROVAL.
  • Night Fire is allowed on a “special needs basis” and UPON REQUEST AND APPROVAL.
  • Law Enforcement Discounts for Individual officers.
  • Corporate Membership Discounts.
  • Law Enforcement Agency Memberships.

[Taken from the TDSA website]

 

After reading all of that I was amazed and had to set up a meet with the Owner of TDSA, Len Baxley.

A few Mondays ago Panzer and I drove down to meet with Len and see this range.  The drive is about 45 minutes from where I live and the whole time I was thinking about the new and different reviews I could post on the website.

We pulled up and met Len in the classroom/his office and we sat down and started talking and getting to know each other. After 30 or so minutes of talking with Len and reading about his range I knew this is where the GEARS Crew would be shooting from. I told him that I didn’t need to see the range that I was ready to just sign up as a member. We talked for another 30 minutes when he said we should go and at least look at the range. He gave us the introduction/safety tour.  About halfway through the tour, I looked around and saw no other members were at the range. It was the most quiet and peaceful gun range I had ever been at!

Len is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He has built a range that is designed with a different kind of shooter in mind. This range is not for the gun owner who doesn’t shoot all that much or for the shooters who aren’t looking to take their shooting abilities to new levels. Len stresses that you are not going to have that range officer to keep you in check, this is the kind of place were you have to be in the mind-set that safety is your job.

I like this range because it opens new opportunities to the GEARS Crew and to the reviews we can offer.

If you live in North Texas and this sounds like the kind of range you are looking for, than CONTACT Len Baxley and tell him Atticus sent you.

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Video Tuesday!!! TDSA and X Products

Atticus testing the X-products X-15 magazine at the TDSA range in Ferris TX.

If you are interested in visiting the range call them and tell them Atticus sent you!

Gun Range: http://www.tdsa.net/
Drum Magazine: http://www.xproducts.com/
AR-15: http://www.americanweaponsystems.com/
AR-15 Review: http://gearsofguns.com/aws-zombie-annihilator-review-pt-1/

Ghost Targets

Last week I was contacted by Casper (Mike) over at GhostTargets.com wanting to meet up with us to review his reactive targets.

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The targets are about the size of a cap of chap stick all the way up to the size of a large marshmallow. The targets come in 3 sizes 5/8″, 7/8″, & 1 1/8″.

Ghost targets are a proprietary chalk looking target that poofs when you hit them. As we learned from talking and shooting with the owner of GhostTargets.com the targets work best if they are not sitting right on a backing that you might attach paper targets to so you want to hang them so they are dangling 6 inches or more away.

Ghost Targets are for firearms that are zeroed in only. Since you don’t want them against a paper targets you have to know that you are zeroed in.

I’ve been asked how I came up with the idea for these targets and the name. It started when I was watching the TV show Top Shot on the History Channel it seemed everything they shot exploded or re-acted in an extreme way, then was shown in slow motion, very cool! It was so cool that I was inspired to create targets that would re-act in the same way and be safe for kids to use. About 50 formulations later and I had my targets.

The name was thought of after talking to my friend that runs a shooting range and he said he just ordered the hottest new target “Zombie” targets. I asked what they did and he laughed and said they don’t do anything they’re just paper with pics of zombies. Zombies made me think of dead things and dead things lead me to ghosts and I had my name, Ghost Targets!

[From GhostTargets.com]

 

Panzer and I will be working on sighting in his new .30-06 and plan to have these targets up once we are zeroed in for a little friendly competition.

They might not seem all that much fun if you have never tried them but after hitting the three in a row I was ready to reset and keep blasting them. It reminds me of shooting and dusting clay pigeons when shooting shotguns.

This is a fun way to change-up your shooting trips and if you are looking for a way to test your sharpshooting skills this is a good way to do that.

The targets are hung up using small rubber bands and paper clips which helps keep the cost low for the targets as well as make it easy to replace if you hit the rubber band or paper clip and miss the target as I found out.

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First Impressions: X Products X-15 Drum

I have been provided the materials needed for this review. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

While I know I mentioned this product months and months ago I finally have been able to start my reviews back up and the first thing I had to talk about was the X-Products X-15 AR-15 style 50 round drum mag.

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First I would like to tell you some of the comments heard at the range this past week by range officers and other people who saw this magazine that day.

“You can feel the quality when you pick the mag up”

“You have this loaded with steel cased ammo? How are you not having feed problems?”

“This feels like I am shooting from a Magpul PMAG”

“I like the ease of loading and unloading” “Although it might be easier and more fun to unload it by shooting it”

(Noting the all metal build) “It feels like it can stand up to some hardcore abuse”

“For a drum mag, that is a reasonably affordable 50 round magazine”

“This is one of the nicest and most reliable drum I have seen on the range”

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When I first got this drum I had some problems, my Wolf Polyformance 62 gr .223rem ammo loaded without any problems but when I went to unload by hand the rounds were getting stuck in middle of the mag so I had to carefully take the mag apart like it tells you how in the owner’s manual. I made the assumption it was metal on metal friction that was causing the problems  but as this was just a few weeks before SHOT ‘13 I figured I would just meet with the company and tell them my problem rather than calling. I met James Malarkey he told me that when I got back home he was going to pay to ship it back and take a look at it.

After SHOT he emailed me and kept me up to date on what he found the problem to be and shipped out a new one he loaded and tested himself.

X-Products stands by their line of Drum Mags.

I look forward to more testing with the magazine.