First Gear | Warne Rings, Hornady Steel Case 7.62x39, Bullet Pens

posted on January 10, 2016

Warne Rings

There are a few things we just can’t get along without in our biz, and Warne “Quick Detach” scope rings aren’t just on that list, but darn near the top. And they don’t appear in First Gear now because they’re new, but rather because they’re first quality, first utility, and—often for us—an obvious first choice. 

We’ve used them on everything from rimfires up to magnums, and bolt guns to MSRs with uninterrupted success. When you look at the lineage of the products, this is really no surprise: founder Jack Warne’s experience in the firearms industry goes all the way back to 1947, and his eye for an opportunity and talent for making that opportunity commercially viable is, well, legendary. From serious tactical to plinker, they’ve got a mount or ring set that will fill the bill, and an easy way to search for them to boot.

Three things make Warne QDs tough to beat. First, nearly every QD is available in either aluminum or steel. If absolute strength is paramount, steel is the deal, but we have to say we’ve never buggered up a set of the lighter aluminum rings, either. Our favorite “problem-solver” review optic has been locked up in a pair of 30 mm QDs for years, and topped probably a dozen rifles. Not only has it gone repeatedly on and off individual rifles without a hitch (and no loss of zero), but rifle to rifle with equal ease. 

Next, we love the vertical split of the rings. Look around, and you’re seeing more and more mounting systems that work this way. While they’re a little trickier to get started—you can’t just prop your rifle up and plop the scope in the bottom half of the mounted ring—they’re superior at the end of the process. The superiority takes the form of less rotation as you snug up the rings: The cant that so often results in an off-plumb reticle (through the micro-friction of scope in rings because tightening forces aren’t perfectly symmetric) routinely seems half as apparent in our Warnes. There may be a more sophisticated engineering explanation to be had here, but just read “faster,” “easier,” and “less cussin’,” and you’ll have our point. 

Finally, all the fastening tech is superb. Now also widely emulated, Warne was one of the first to put “star drive” or Torx screws in their ring sets. Again, all but bugger-proof, especially when you use their preset driver. The attachment of the ring to your base/rail is also slicker than you-know-what, and altogether tool-less. Using an “indexable lever system,” the built-in lever clamps the rail and snugs the stainless steel “key” into the rail slot. Once tight, the lever itself can be repositioned to present the absolute minimum snag hazard, yet at the ready if the optic needs to come off or be otherwise adjusted.   

A last thought: some folks don’t need–or want–QD. We get it. But take a look at Warne’s other rings (and bases). From serious tactical to plinker, they’ve got a mount or ring set that will fill the bill, and an easy way to search for them to boot. 

Visit Warne at Find a dealer at this location, or visit Brownells

Hornady SST Steel Case 7.62x39

We’ve just completed a rifle review—and no, we can’t tip which just yet—but it gave us our first crack at this ammo. 

Steel cases don't have the eye-appeal of brass, but the groups sure do.

Holy cow. 

We concede we’re a tad snobby about the whole accuracy thing. Not because we’re fabulous shots, really— “middling” is all we’d dare claim—but more because we came along at the end of a generation in which noteworthy accuracy was seldom achieved without handloading, even in rifles of some lineage. If factory ammo shot well, we’d buy the lot, and count ourselves lucky. Broke, mind, but lucky. 

All of which applied “in spades,” as the old expression goes, to the 7.62x39 mm. While most rifles in this caliber (the SKS and AK-47 especially) were interesting in a historical and engineering sense, most attempts to shoot them for accuracy were at best short-lived, if not outright unsuccessful. Minute-of-paper plate stuff, you know, and the bigger that paper plate, the better. 

That brings us back to our earlier “holy cow.” In our review rifle, we routinely shot 100-yard, absolutely malfunction-free groups at an inch, and many well below. Crafted by Hornady in a lacquered steel case with top-grade priming, powder and topped with their SST bullets, this ammunition puts new pressure on a whole class of rifles: With the ammo question now decisively answered, there’s no longer any reason for firearms in the caliber not to live up the available ammunition. 

At least if that ammunition is Hornady SST Steel Case

MSRP for Hornady SST Steel Case is $46.79 (50 rounds). Visit Hornady at  

Junior’s Bullet Pens

Whether you recognize it yet or not, you need a new pen. And since you’re reading NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom, that new writing implement ought to be a Junior’s Bullet Pen. 

A nice writing tool, to say nothing of a good conversation starter.

If your memory is good, you may recognize the name behind the pen: U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Chris “Junior” Falkel. His story is one we’ve touched on before: Like so many of our Special Forces, it’s one of tremendous bravery and of sacrifice, of a life lived in service, and decidedly not for self. 

The pen was an idea SSG Falkel had relayed to his father Jeff on a ski trip the two took after Chris graduated from the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course—otherwise known as Special Forces sniper school. The Silver Star recipient never got a chance to make that vision come true, but two years after his death in 2005, Jeff Falkel brought it to life in memory of his son. 

In an era short on gratitude, it’s a pleasing counterpoint that 150,000 of Junior’s pens have been sold, each and every one a thankful nod to a young man’s sacrifice. But the story gets better, because every pen sold also supports the organizations that serve our Special Ops community: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Green Beret Foundation, Task Force Dagger, American Snipers, Fallen Heroes Project and Remembering the Brave, to name a few, and to the tune of more than $200,000.    

Like we said, you need a new pen, or 20. 

Junior’s Bullet Pens include the original 7.62, two case pen, as well as Sharpie and Highlighter designs starting at $18.95. Visit Junior’s Bullet Pens at


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