It’s the little things that can give you the edge. Certain small details can make the difference. That’s why guys, particularly snipers, are always making modifications to their equipment. Snipers have been trained and taught that the small details could be what gets them spotted, what gets them killed. Its ingrained in their heads that they need to change their situations, gear, and environments to produce the best possible outcome. So when there comes around a new item to use, they go about making the necessary changes to make it work more effectively.
I recently came across a bullet tray that I picked up for around $5. Always looking to improve accessibility for my loose rounds on my rifle that isn’t magazine fed, I was eager to try to give it a shot.
The specifications were loose at best, since it was made for 30 cal and larger, meaning that it was also meant to be able to hold magnum rounds which are much larger than your standard .308 or 7.62 nato. Even at it’s most collapsed point there was still a lot of wiggle room for the rounds to beat around, making a nice rattle upon your movements. The first immediate solution was to cut up some foam padding (isomat for you salt dogs) and place it in the top of the cover. I ended up having to go two layers thick to make it sit snug. This actually served a dual purpose of keeping the round from moving in and out of their slots as well as keeping them from banging side to side in their individual holes. The padding being a great choice here as well because with precision rounds, even small nicks in the face of the round can change the trajectory.
The next modification came in the form of using two hair bands (bitch bands for those who don’t concern themselves with political correctness) looped over the top cover and taped down. When thinking about it, the whole case was a little loose, to the point that it could easily loosen itself in a pocket or pouch and then you are back to square one with your rounds rattling around and making noise. Securely fastening it closed would prevent this from happening.
As you can see when slide to the sides the bitch bands retract appropriately and the top can be removed effortlessly. But you have to consider that we were gloves a lot in this job and manipulating tiny elastic bands with gloves isn’t always as simple as it would seem. So some quick looped over tape tabs were placed on the bottom side for ease of grasp.
Now that the tabs were installed, it was found that the smooth outside of the holder was very easy for the bitch bands to slip across, so a simple stopper needed to be place on the outsides of each band. A bit of folded over duct tape laid on the bottom and then taped down to the sides, with a wrap around the base provided a great stop for the bands and prevented slippage without a little bit of lifting.
Now with this wrap around the base, everything was snug. It was air tight. Literally. It was to the point that the top was difficult to pull off because of the suction that was being produced. Simple fix on the fly, however. Removing a small section of the tape provided a groove for which the air could flow as the top was pulled away. Now, obviously, the florescent green needs to be covered up. This is nothing that a little spray paint can’t take care of, but this project was built in my basement, and it was 4 degrees outside. Obviously, having my house smell like spray paint wasn’t an option, so for now it will have to wait. At least I got the functionality out of the way already though.
These simple hooks with screws are meant for hunters to screw into trees where their deer stands are and then be able to hang their equipment, instead of fumbling with everything in their lap and potentially dropping items from the stand. I give credit to Just Send It on finding these in Walmart while I was searching the aisles for a bottle brush for my wife (dad life).
By the way, if you get the chance, Just Send It (my friend that is behind the thermal blanket) has his own Facebook page now. He’s been putting up a lot of conceptual and innovative ideas for the sniper community. While my blog is centered around whatever I choose to write about he has deemed to strictly stick to work related topics, and it’s worth the read.
You can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/youdontneedazero?fref=ts
Plug complete, moving on though…
So the hooks, repurposed, would be an excellent quick platform to be easily screwed into the side of a tree (or other semi-hard object) and then used as a stable shooting rest in the field.
This three pronged version caught my eye rather quickly, while Just Send It preferred the single hook model. I initially liked it for the side prongs providing additional leverage in screwing it into the tree on the fly. But upon further examination, the angle of the hooks showed that you would be able to maintain a more stable platform, while being able to maintain at least two points of contact while being able to large traverse over a 90 degree span. Upon further experimenting and resting my rifle on it, I found that the prongs held the legs of my bipod perfectly.
Providing even more stable of a platform than I imagined it would. Now, its one thing to simply rest a gun upon something and have it appear to be stable. The true test will come tomorrow at Range 25. Photos will follow. Stand by until then.
I was able to make it out to the range today and put the tree hook to the test. It worked pretty good and provided an excellent support position. It took roughly 45 seconds to twist it into the tree, which, on the fly will be an eternity, but in a longer term situation it will be relatively quick. Also, it probably would have taken less time had the tree not had a sheet of ice on it from freezing rain that came through the other day.
As you can see, the color blends pretty well to its surroundings and is hardly noticeable. Do be aware that the metal part of the screw needs to be all the way into the tree or your risk a potential shine hazard. I stabilized the rifle by grasping the sling and pushing forward. This extra push keep the rifle steadier by loading the bipods with positive pressure. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I also used my non-firing hand to support the butt stock and that proved to be pretty stable as well. I would say which ever way feels more comfortable for you, go for it.
One of the things that was brought up in use with this item was turning yourself into “tree cancer”, where you look like a lump sticking out of the side of the tree randomly. While this is a possibility, that is where it is on the shooter to use this hook appropriately. Ensure you have established a proper screen in front of your position and tailor yourself to your environment. If you look like the tree, then you will surely look like tree cancer. If you make yourself appear more like the snow surrounding it, like in this case for example, then you will likely look more like what is beyond the tree instead of a part of the tree.
And as well, use netting to mask the signature of your rifle and obscure the shape and color of it. Ultimately, if you can keep the rifle from looking like a rifle, then guys that are looking for a rifle won’t see a rifle. The human eye is an amazing thing, but it will also exclude a lot of information when you are scanning for something particular or when you have too much area to scan across. Always remember, positioning is key when placing your firing position. You should strive to be where they aren’t looking anyways. That in itself is its own camouflage.
Stay hidden; stay safe.