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Best Golf Practice Mats For Every Budget | Top 5 Review

Best Golf Practice Mats For Every Budget | Top 5 Review

Improve Your Game With A Quality Hitting Mat

Home golf practice is all about trying to simulate the same conditions of real golf. You wouldn’t sharpen your baseballs skills using a cucumber as a bat or practice your basketball dribbling in a swimming pool. So why settle for hitting golf balls off a piece of old carpet or a worn door mat?

When grass isn’t an option – perhaps you don’t want to ruin your lawn or maybe you want to practice indoors – a practice mat is an essential investment for the avid golfer. It’s also an investment in your health: smashing ball after ball from an inferior or inadequate surface can lead to injury.

If you’re thinking of setting up your own golf practice facility in your home or garden and need to find a quality mat, keep reading, this article was written for you. Golf practice mats come in a range of sizes and prices but not all of them are up to the job. Let’s take a look at five of the best (and don’t worry if your spending power is considerably less powerful than your golf swing because there’s a mat for every budget – from $25 to $600).


TrueStrike on

TrueStrike Single Golf Mat

TrueStrike Single Golf Mat

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TrueStrike MKVII Portable Golf Mat

TrueStrike MKVII Portable Golf Mat

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TrueStrike Golf Mat

One of the biggest problems with traditional driving range and home golf mats have is that they don’t provide accurate shot analysis and feedback. Why? Because the hitting surface is much harder than a typical fairway. An iron that descends into turf carves a divot. An iron descending onto a rigid surface bounces back up. This lack of realism greatly diminishes your capacity for quality practice. Any golfer who loves his 7-iron at the driving range but hates it out on the course will understand.

The TrueStrike golf mat addresses this problem head-on with an innovation called Fairway Forgiveness™. As the name suggests, this is a mat that imitates the softness of the fairway, absorbing the clubhead as if it were cutting through real turf. The result is an accurate ball flight (to within 5% accuracy of a shot taken off a genuine fairway according to the makers) and less strain on your body.

TrueStrike works by applying a layer of gel directly below the top surface. This gel reacts to the descending clubhead, compressing downward like actual turf, thereby simulating the real conditions of golf. Off the course, it doesn’t get more realistic than this.

As you’d expect for a practice golf mat in the $600 price range, TrueStrike is an exceptionally robust and well-crafted mat. It is hardy enough to be left outdoors and TrueStrike claim that the hitting surface is good for 55’000 iron shots before it needs replacing. To put that into perspective, you’ll be able to enjoy four 100 ball sessions each week for over two and half years before you need to worry about buying a new surface (which you can get for around $115).

Unlike other golf practice mats, TrueStrike is assembled with detachable sections. Should one part need replacing, you don’t need to purchase a new unit but only the specific section. The heavy duty $645 unit is designed to remain static but golfers looking for greater versatility can opt for the portable mat which retails for $345.


CCE Real Feel Golf Mat on

Country Club Elite Real Feel Golf Mat 4' X 5'

Country Club Elite Real Feel Golf Mat 4′ X 5′

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Country Club Elite® Real Feel Golf Mat 3' X 4'

Country Club Elite® Real Feel Golf Mat 3′ X 4′

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Country Club Elite® Portable Twin Combo System

Country Club Elite® Portable Twin Combo System

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Country Club Elite Real Feel Golf Mat

If the TrueStrike mat is outside your price range then don’t worry because the Country Club Elite Real Feel Golf Mat offers similar quality but within the $300 price range.

The Real Feel surface is comprised of a ‘Long Fiber System’ which soaks up the clubhead rather than resisting it. Catch the ground behind the ball and you’ll hit it fat like you would on the course. Catch it flush and the clubhead will continue down into the fiber system and impart accurate levels of spin and compression on the ball.

Like the gel in the TrueStrike, the Real Feel fiber system is designed to eliminate clubhead ‘bounce’ and react as though you were taking a divot. It’s just like being outside on the sun-kissed links. Okay, well not quite but at least you’re channeling your practice time into something productive rather than smashing hundreds of balls off an unforgiving surface and crippling your wrists in the process.

Starting at $177 for the portable two-piece mat, the Real Feel comes in a range of sizes and prices. Most players setting up an indoor or backyard golf range will find that the 3′ x 4′ ($239) or 4′ x 4′ ($319) versions are more than sufficient. One of the best features of the Real Feel, after its fiber system, is the sturdiness of the unit. This is a heavy duty product and consumers have praised the durability of the playing surface, even after sustained and prolonged use.

One highly practical feature of the Real Feel is its ability to accept a real golf tee. You can actually push a tee into any area of the mat to your specified height. Gone are the days when you’d spend five minutes trying to get the mat to hold your tee, only for it to topple over as soon as you addressed the ball with your 3-wood. Likewise, with the Real Feel, you won’t have to worry about hitting your driver from those thick plastic rubber ball holders (I resist calling them tees – they aren’t!)

The Real Feel is endorsed by 2009 PGA National Teacher of the Year, Mike Bender. If you’re trying to get a premium quality hitting surface at an affordable price, you’ve just found your mat!


FairwayPro on

FairwayPro Divot Simulator Golf Mat

FairwayPro Divot Simulator Golf Mat

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FairwayPro Golf Mat System

Have you ever noticed how it’s impossible to hit ‘fat’ shots at the driving range? That’s because those hard range mats aren’t as forgiving as real turf. Instead of taking a big divot and watching your ball come up thirty yards short of the green, the clubhead bounces off the range mat and catches the ball thin. The ball takes off and sometimes it looks like you’ve managed to hit a reasonably good shot, The only sign that something went wrong with your swing is the shock felt in your hands, wrists and arms. In short, standard range mats give poor shot feedback.

The FairwayPro addresses this problem with it’s brilliantly innovated ‘sliding turf’ mechanism. This ingenious mat mimics the actual forward motion of real turf giving way to the force of the clubhead. But instead of producing a divot, the FairwayPro mat slides forward on impact, before snapping back into place ready for your next shot. Check out the video to the right to see just how it works.

The people behind this product have labelled it ‘a divot simulator’ because allows you to hit down and through the ball (the optimal angle of approach which creates the divot on a real course) creating compression and gaining realistic analysis on the quality of your shot.

Not only does the FairwayPro enhance your practice time with added realism, it also imparts less stress on your body than a standard mat, greatly reducing the risk of injury.

Retailing around $150, this a serious product made from quality materials including German manufactured stainless-steel springs and premium turf. Despite all the seemingly endless things that could go wrong with a product of such complexity, this is clearly a golf mat that is built to last.

The FairwayPro measures 23′ by 17′ and features two flip-up panels. One of these panels is for golf ball storage and the other panel is used to hold the mat firmly in place by sliding under a larger ‘stance’ mat which, alas, must be bought separately. If you only intend to you use FairwayPro at the driving range then the ‘stance’ mat isn’t necessary but for a home practice range, you’ll need to purchase the golf and stance mat as part of a combo direct from FairwayPro for $219.95. Once your session is over, simply flip both panels back over to protect it from bad weather or pick it up with the handle and carry it away like a mini suitcase.

All-in-all, this an exciting golf mat for the 21st century that will not only help you improve your game via improved shot feedback but also bring a greater level of enjoyment to your practice sessions.


Monster Tee Golf Turf on

TT4860 48" X 60" Monster Tee Golf Turf

TT4860 48″ X 60″ Monster Tee Golf Turf

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TT3660 36" X 60" Monster Tee Golf Turf

TT3660 36″ X 60″ Monster Tee Golf Turf

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TT3660 Monster Tee Golf Turf

The Monster Tee Golf Turf operates in a similar fashion to the Real Feel Golf Mat using dense fibers, termed ‘spring crimped nylon’, to create a cushion that reduces clubhead bounce and minimizes impact stress on the body.

The Monster Tee has a thin urethane underside which reduces it to almost half the weight of its equivalent size in the Country Club Real Feel range. Although it may not have the heavy-duty feel of its costlier competitor, the Monster Tee Golf Turf will also accept a real golf tee removing the necessity to hit from a predetermined height.

Retailing at around $88 for the 3′ x 5′ unit, this product should easily satisfy any golfer who wants a large durable hitting surface with minimal clubhead ‘bounce’ but doesn’t want to spend top dollar. And one last thing. The Monster Tee would make a good, affordable accompaniment for a home golf simulator such as the Optishot, assuming you don’t want to spend $500 on a custom built mat.


Callaway FT Launch Zone Mat on

Callaway FT Launch Zone Hitting Mat

Callaway FT Launch Zone Hitting Mat

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Callaway FT Launch Zone Mat

This portable mat by market-leader Callaway is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a cheap but durable hitting surface.

At 8″ X 16″ it’s one of the smallest mats on the market but don’t let that put you off. The tough rubber underside is heavy enough to prevent the mat from sliding around – unless you make the type of swing that would dig up a bucket-sized divot out on the course!

Although Callaway have tried to design this Mat with the beginner in mind (see slopping front edge that minimizes chance of club-mat collision on the downswing), the Launch Zone is probably too small, and possible too intimidating, for new or hopelessly inept players. Have at least some experience and swing competence before buying the Launch Zone.

The cons of purchasing the Callaway FT Launch Zone are few however some consumers have reported that the mat emits an unrelenting rubbery odor that doesn’t appear to subside after sustained use: maybe something to consider if you’re buying this product to use indoors but hardly of great concern if you plan to use it in the garage or yard.

The Launch Zone comes with a tee-holder and the mat has a small hole at the front if you want to secure it to a hard surface with a nail or screw.

At $25 this is one the best value golf practice mats on the market.

100 Mile Per Hour Fastballs. The Hardest Throwing Pitchers In Baseball History.

100 Mile Per Hour Fastballs. The Hardest Throwing Pitchers In Baseball History.

The Rare Gift – The One Hundred Mile Per Hour Fastball.

Ah baseball, I so love thee. Baseball season starts in the Spring, and brings with it all the joy of the new year, and as regular as the sunrise in the morning, new heroes and new goats, and loads of terrific stories.

I fell in love with baseball at the age of twelve, and I’ve never fallen OUT of love with it. Baseball is a game of skill and a game of power. It takes immense athletic skill and determination to make it into major league baseball, but some people have skills that seem quite freakish, and the ability to throw a baseball one hundred miles per hour is most definitely such a thing. One can not learn to throw a ball at such a velocity, it is a gift, and a rare gift.

Now, one would likely think that only large men could ever toss a baseball sixty feet and six inches at speeds of one hundred miles per hour, or more; however, one could also find themselves very wrong. The size of the man throwing a baseball often has little to do with it – strange indeed.

Let’s not forget ever that these men with the rare gift of the superman arm are merely human beings, and as all humans do, they sometimes make terrific errors in life, and other times they sacrifice things like major league baseball for other things they deem more important.

Power, oh the sheer power in the arms of these men! It doesn’t matter how smart or how strong the guy on the other end holding the bat is; strength and brains will not avail you against the power of the hundred mile per hour arm on the mound looking down at you. You have to trust that man, as he literally could end your life with his power pitch, and yet you stand in the batter’s box wanting to show him up, to win the battle; but he has so very much power. Power over you, the batter, he has, and the power to make a mistake and end you.

It is the fascinating power these rare and gifted men hold that is so intriguing, but not all these men are truly baseball greats, they are all, however, baseball legends – legends of pitches never seen, but merely heard as they collided so solidly and swiftly with the catcher’s mitt.


Walter Johnson – The Big Train.


Walter Johnson – The Big Train.

Walter Perry Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946), can’t be said to have ever been recorded throwing a baseball at one hundred miles per hour or more. It wasn’t much his fault though, he lived and played in a time when such instruments for measuring a baseball’s speed simply didn’t exist. It would, however, be rather wrong on my part to not include The Big Train in this article about the hardest throwing pitchers to have every played baseball; as Walter Johnson’s statistics clearly indicate it being unlikely for him to NOT have had that rare and peculiar gift.

Playing in the segregated era entirely, Johnson faced all the early legends of baseball history, and was regarded as the fastest throwing pitcher ever seen by most of them. Ty Cobb had the following to say,

“…The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn’t touch him… every one of us knew we’d met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park.”

Walter Johnson ended his career as the all time strikeout king, a record he’d hold until Nolan Ryan would break it more than fifty five years later. Johnson’s four hundred seventeen career wins are second only to Cy Young, and he still owns an untouched record of one hundred and ten shutout games.


The Late Great Bob Feller Was Estimated To Throw Between 98 and 107 Miles Per Hour.


Bob Feller – A Legendary Pitcher And Man.

Learn About Bullet Bob Feller With!

Now Pitching, Bob Feller: A Baseball Memoir

Now Pitching, Bob Feller: A Baseball Memoir

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Bob Feller – “Rapid Robert,” or “The Heater From Van Meter.”

Robert William Andrew Feller(November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010), was the first flame throwing pitcher to have something like modern equipment measure his fastball’s velocity. How good was Bob Feller? He was so good he never went to college or the minor leagues, he debuted in major league baseball at seventeen years of age, and he dominated everyone he faced then too. The man who’d been sent to scout feller had the following to say,

“This was a kid pitcher I had to get. I knew he was something special. His fastball was fast and fuzzy; it didn’t go in a straight line; it would wiggle and shoot around. I didn’t know then that he was smart and had the heart of a lion, but I knew that I was looking at an arm the likes of which you see only once in a lifetime.”

He’d face and often defeat all of the best hitters of his age, and even grace the cover of the April 19, 1937 issue of Time magazine. He broke and created a new record for strikeouts in a game, with 18, he’d throw three no hitters, and created such a stir with his right arm that major league baseball set up a commission to see if they could determine how fast his pitches really were. Using a Harley Davidson motorcycle going 86 mph and with a ten foot head start, it was determined feller’s pitch traveled 98.6 miles per hour, later, an updated method determined Feller threw one hundred and four miles per hour.

Bob Feller was not just a baseball hero, no, Bob Feller had priorities, and baseball wasn’t the highest on his list. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Bob Feller enlisted immediately, and refused all military jobs offered to him – jobs that would have had him as more of a cheerleader than anything else. Bob Feller demanded front line military service, and he got it too, he served as a gunner on the USS Alabama, participating in major military battles between the Allied forces and Imperial Japan. Bob Feller was the FIRST professional athlete in the USA to volunteer for service.

When the career statistics of bullet Bob Feller are looked at, one must always realize the man sacrificed more than four seasons of his prime years towards the noble goal of defeating the brutal powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

At only six foot tall, and one hundred eighty five pounds – Bob Feller was not a large man by today’s MLB standards, but he returned from the second world war, and played many seasons more, and finished his career with two hundred and sixty six wins, two thousand five hundred and eighty one strikeouts. It could easily be imagined that he’d have one a hundred more games, and had more than a thousand additional strikeouts had he not sacrificed years of his prime physical condition for higher achievement in the most crucial conflict in all recorded history.


Steve Dalkowski, “White Lightening,” The Original “Wild Thing.”


Steve Dalkowski, Man And Myth

“He was unbelievable. He threw a lot faster than Ryan. It’s hard to believe but he did,” asserted Earl Weaver, who watched Nolan Ryan pitch dozens of times, and managed Dalkowski.

Paul Blair, who batted against Ryan, Sandy Koufax , Sam McDowell, Vida Blue, Dick Radatz and Goose Gossage, said of Dalkowski, “He threw the hardest I ever saw.”

A near-identical statement came from Cal Ripken Sr., who caught Dalkowski and whose professional career as a player, manager and coach spanned five decades. He observed Ryan, J.R.Richard,Dwight Gooden, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson, “Steve Dalkowski was the hardest thrower I ever saw.”

With a terrifying arm and a terrible drinking problem, Steve Dalkowski never once even played in major league baseball. He did have a long minor league baseball career – a career in which he terrified people with pitches rumored to average a hundred and four miles per hour, and to top out at an unheard of, and likely impossible speed of one hundred and twenty five miles per hour, a speed that is likely a physical impossibility for a human being to reach – Dalkowski was indeed a man who is also a myth.

More than anyone else, Steve Dalkowski demonstrates to us just what a freak of nature his strange ability truly was. He only stood five foot eleven inches high, and only weighed one hundred and seventy five pounds – and yet persons who saw large men like J.R. Richard and Randy Johnson pitch say Dalkowski threw not a little bit harder, but MUCH harder than those two, both officially clocked at over one hundred miles per hour on numerous occasions.

The anecdotes from other hall of fame baseball players are maybe even more telling. Ted Williams, often considered the greatest hitter who ever played the game, once faced Dalkowski in a minor league warm up. Ted had retired fairly young, and was still likely far above major league playing skills, and out of curiosity stepped in (as a coach) into the batting box against Dalwkoski in a batting practice session. Ted Williams greatness as a hitter was not just found in his swing, and determination, but in his eyesight, which was more legendary than the barely known of Steve Dalkowski. Ted took one pitch, and stepped away – he said he’d not seen the ball, he’d only heard it.


J.R. Richard Was Said To Throw One Hundred And Five Miles Per Hour.


The James Rodney Richard Story.

J.R.Richard – Greatness And Tragedy.

The rise and fall of J.R.Richard is not a pretty tale, it is a tale of a black man who rose to the top levels of major league baseball – a man with as much skill and power as greats such as Nolan Ryan. J.R. Richard, however, was black – and he surely DID suffer some discrimination down in Houston, Texas, a town where he ought to have been more loved and appreciated for what he brought there for them.

James Rodney Richard (born March 7, 1950) played his entire career with the Houston Astros, and from 1976 to 1980, only two other pitchers in all of baseball could compare to him, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan. Standing six foot and eight inches tall, J.R. Richard could regularly throw the ball at one hundred miles per hour, and even several miles per hour more. His five years as a Houston Astros starting pitcher showed what a winner he was on the baseball mound, as four years running he’d win 18 games or more. Twice, he struck out more than three hundred batters in a season, and in 1979 he led the National League with the lowest earned run average.

The 1980 season stared well for J.R. Richard, and now he had Nolan Ryan on the team with him – providing the Houston Astros the two most powerful right handed flame throwers in all of baseball, but it wasn’t long before J.R. would report to his staff that he wasn’t feeling quite right, that he wasn’t feeling strong and powerful as he was used to feeling, and his complaints and requests for examination were either ignored entirely, brushed off with derision, or just perfunctorily once’d over. Despite J.R. Richard’s being selected as starting pitcher for the year’s All-star game, he’d soon complain of having a “dead arm.” The Houston media said J.R. was just moody, and they even went so far as to say he was jealous of Nolan Ryan, who’d become the first pro athlete to make one million per year that year, and with Houston. J.R. Richard, however, was seriously ill, but team trainers and physicians hadn’t noticed the problem – a growing blood clot in his neck.

On July 14th of 1980 J.R. Richard would pitch his final major league game. He started well and strong, but left in the fourth inning due to complaints of blurry vision and numbness in his fingers. He was placed on the 21 day disabled list. On June 25 he was sent to Methodist hospital in Houston, and despite obstructions in his arteries, it was determined that no surgery was needed. June 30th saw Richards having a practice throwing session at the Houston Astrodome – he tried to shake off the symptoms he was having, a loud ringing in his ears, but he soon collapsed unconscious on the AstroTurf, a victim of stroke.

J.R. Richard would try, but never recover from the stroke he’d had at the age of thirty years old. The Houston television media had to apologize repeatedly for ever questioning that he was ill, he’d win a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Houston Astros worth a huge sum of money, but he’d wind up homeless, and living under a bridge just the same. The gift of a hundred and more mile per hour fastball, alas, isn’t a gift one can keep forever.


Nolan Ryan In His Prime With The California Angels.


Nolan Ryan Became The World’s First Million Dollar Athlete With Houston.


In His Mid 40’s With The Texas Rangers – Nolan Ryan Was STILL One Of The Best Arms In Baseball.


Nolan Ryan Memorabilia On Ebay!

1973 TOPPS #220 NOLAN RYAN  PSA 4 VG-EX   HOF    # 8


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Nolan Ryan – “The Ryan Express.”

Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. (born on January 31, 1947), nicknamed “The Ryan Express,” is without a doubt the single most successful and notable power pitcher in the history of major league baseball. Besides all of that, as a twelve year old boy, Nolan Ryan was someone I’d already heard of, and was without a doubt the single biggest legend in all of baseball. He was my total hero then, and in the years to come – he’d become that even more.

Nolan Ryan came into the major leagues as a kid with a phenomenal right arm – and he left after a record twenty seven major league seasons- still throwing baseballs nearly one hundred miles per hour. I myself saw many Nolan Ryan starts – and I witnessed with my only two eyes Nolan Ryan at 46 years of age, and in his second to last career start throwing fastballs at 96 miles per hour past bewildered men more than twenty years his junior.

Out of all the gifted men with the strange talent of throwing one hundred mile per hour fastballs,Nolan Ryan was the man who kept it the longest, and used it the most. In his twenty seven year major league career, there is no doubt Nolan Ryan threw more pitches over one hundred miles per hour than anyone else ever had. Besides the legendary fastball, known as “the Ryan express,” Nolan Ryan also had one of the best curve-balls in in the history of baseball

Of course radar guns, even after they were first used in baseball, were only seldom used. Guinness Book Of World Records shows Nolan Ryan as the record holder for fastest pitcher, but this is very outdated, and hardly reliable. Sometime in the early 1990’s or so, the radar guns caught on in earnest, and now every stadium seems to have one, and is using it on every pitch thrown in the game. In the big leagues today, we do have records of exactly who has the best fastball..

One of the major problems with measuring fastball speeds is there hasn’t always been much of a consensus on which way to take the speed. There’s been more than one kind of radar gun used, one thought to be a “slow gun,” the other said to be the “fast gun,” and then there isdoppler laser radar, which tracked Nolan Ryan at 108.1 miles per hour in 1974,which is still the fastest pitch ever recorded.

So how good was Nolan Ryan? Well, baseball is a game of statistics, and over the course of this longest ever major league baseball career, Nolan Ryan has a huge number of dominating statistics, and some of them will almost certainly never be touched. First and foremost, Nolan Ryan struck out more batters than anyone, and his record of 5, 714 strikeouts is impressive, but maybe what is more impressive is his record of seven no-hitters. He allowed fewer hits per nine innings of pitching over his career than anyone, an average of 6.56, held opposing batters to a lower batting average than anyone (.204), and he won 324 games despite pitching most of his career for losing ball-teams. His season records of 383 strikeouts in a season, and his six seasons with more than 300 strikeouts are also very telling.. There’s never been a more intimidating pitcher than Nolan Ryan, unless, of course, it was Randy Johnson.


Randy Big Unit Johnson With The Seattle Mariners.


A Much Older And Still Overpowering Randy Johnson With The New York Yankees.


Randy Johnson Memorabilia On Ebay!



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Randy Johnson, The Big Unit

Randall David “Randy” Johnson(born September 10, 1963), nicknamed “The Big Unit”, stood six foot and ten inches tall, and by the time he threw the ball, it seemed like his left arm was halfway to home plate. Consider the fact that he also threw from a three quarter position rather than straight over the top – were you a left handed hitter, every pitch would seem aimed at your head.

When Randy Johnson first made the big leagues, he had a wild and long mullet hairstyle, a big burly mustache, and he stomped around on the pitchers mound in a very angry manner, then threw one hundred mile per hour pitches in your general direction, assuming you, the batter, could keep your feet inside the batters box. This giant man had to have been the most frightening redneck to ever be seen on a pitcher’s mound.

Now I want you, the reader, to take a moment to think of a lever, and the many lever like limbs the human body employees when throwing a thing. When you are six foot ten inches tall – you’re levers are quite long, and regardless of how tall you are – the strike zone of a hitter is relative to their size. What I’m trying to say here is that for a man as tall as Randy Johnson, it can be extremely difficult to throw strikes because he’s just got longer levers, or limbs. On the upside, he terrified the living hell out of everyone – so maybe it all worked out evenly!

Very early in the Big Unit career, Randy had thrown a no-hitter, but possibly even more impressive, he became the first left handed pitcher to ever strike out Wade Boggs three times in one game, but Johnson was struggling quite a lot. He’d often walk so many batters he’d lose the game, and leave the game very early. But Nolan Ryan had seen Johnson pitch, and knew the potential he had, and Nolan Ryan scheduled a visit with Randy to show him some things that would change his career.

What Ryan suggested was that Randy focus on his feet, and where he’d land on his feet when throwing a ball, and soon Johnson would become the dominating pitcher he’ll forever be remembered as. In a 1992 game Johnson started against Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers, and he’s strike out 18 of Nolan’s team-mates, winning the game.

Though Randy Johnson did at times throw one hundred miles per hour, he didn’t do so nearly so often as someone like a Bob Feller, J.R. Richard, or Nolan Ryan, and despite his super fast fastball, it wasn’t even his best pitch. The Big Unit’s devastating slider is what made him so tough to hit. He’d end his career second only to Nolan Ryan in strikeouts with 4,875, and he’d tie Nolan with six seasons in which he’d strike out 300 or more batters. He pitched two no-hit games, the second of which was the far more rare perfect game, a game where no batter reaches base. Johnson’s five Cy Young awards are second only to Roger Clemens in major league history.


Justin Verlander One Hundred and Two Mile Per Hour Fastballs.


Justin Verlander

Now if there is anyone remotely comparable in the big leagues today to the men discussed above, then that man is Justin Verlander. At just 30 years old, Verlander has already accomplished quite a bit, and is looking for all the world like a man who’ll be just as good as he has been, or even get better – which is a scary thought for any major leagues opposition.

In 2007 Justin Verlander pitched a no-hitter, and finished the season with 18 wins, winning the American League rookie of the year award. With great years in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Verlander appears to be a mainstay ace, and he’s always got that fastball he throws anywhere from 94 to 102 miles per hour, and a big nasty curve-ball to go along with it. While his stuff and makeup reminds most of Nolan Ryan, his pitching motion (along with the outstanding fastball and curve-ball) truly are more reminiscent of another right handed pitcher who once threw one hundred miles per hour, Dwight Gooden.

How good is Verlander, really? Well in 2011 he won a Cy Young award, and the triple crown of pitching in the American league,i.e., he led the league in strikeouts, in wins, and had the lowest earned run average. 2012 wasn’t much of a drop off for Verlander, and the coming years probably won’t be either.


Aroldis Chapman – 105.1 Miles Per Hour.


Joel Zumaya -104.8 Miles Per Hour.


Neftali Feliz – 103.4 Miles Per Hour.


Mark Wohlers – 103.0 Miles Per Hour.


Closers: Wohlers, Feliz, Zumaya, and Chapman.

If we’re discussing who can throw the hardest, and who’s got the most powerful pitching arms in baseball history, then why leave the relievers for last? Are relievers not pitchers too? Well of course they are! Thing is, relief pitching is now a field all its own. In the days of Walter Johnson, all the way through towards the end of Nolan Ryan’s career – starting pitchers would start a game with the singular goal in mind of FINISHING that game, and with a win.

No of course it didn’t always happen, that is why there has been relief pitching all along, but nowadays pitchers do not truly expect to finish a game they’ve started. Nowadays there are things like pitch counts, and nobody in the major leagues has thrown more than 160 pitches in a game since the day Randy Johnson beat Nolan Ryan striking out 18 Texas Rangers in 1992.

When a closer is brought into a game, they are expected to get six outs tops, and generally speaking, they are only brought in in the 9th inning, to get three outs. Nothing wrong with any of that, it is a tough job, one of the most tense jobs in professional sports – but these guys are literally waiting to air it out, and to throw the baseball as fast as they possibly can when they throw a fastball – and they don’t have to worry about their arms so much as they’re not looking at nine innings, just one or two.

“Airing it out” is just what these men did or do when they are in the game and on the pitching mound, and outside of Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller’s doppler radar readings, now one has been recorded throwing faster pitches than these guys.

So how hard do these guys throw? Well, I’ve hinted already, there are various and sundry ways and loads of complexity involved in all of this. The research that will say one guy has thrown the fastest of fastballs will be contradicted by someone else’s research. They are using different instruments and different criteria for determining the data, so what I’m going to do here in the “closer section,” is just address the closer pitchers, and not the starting pitchers addressed above.

The “winner,” if such could be called, is Aroldis Chapman, the tall, thin, left handed throwing Cuban defector, who threw a pitch recorded at one hundred and five point one miles per hour as a reliever for the Cincinnati Reds.

Just behind Chapman would be the very large Detroit right handed closer, Joel Zumaya, who once threw a ball 104.8 miles per hour, which broke another semi official mark held by Mark Wohlers, who’d tossed one 103 miles per hour. Last but certainly not least, there is Neftali Feliz, who was clocked more recently, in 2010, at 103.4, at the Ballpark In Arlington, Texas

Conclusion – Throwing Heat.

Now pretty obviously with all the years and thousands of players to have played major league baseball, I’ve left some very relevant names and faces and statistics out of all this. There is just too much to say and too many to mention, so please accept my apologies for persons you feel were unfairly omitted.

Concerning statistics, measuring devices, and data gathering methods for determining pitch velocity – it can all get complex and confusing, so rather than attempt to explain it all myself, the interested party should go HERE where it is explained in quite a lot of detail.

Thanks for reading.

How Do You Feel About Gun Laws?

Top Ten .45 Pistols to Own


Top Ten .45 Caliber Pistols to Own

Whether you are a recreational gun owner, one who uses a gun for home defense, or a first-time buyer of a gun, you will highly appreciate this article, an in-depth discussion and review the top ten .45 pistols available based on performance, features, and pricing. Each weapon mentioned here has been tested and reviewed carefully to provide you with the most accurate information possible, and to aid you in finding the right weapon for you.

  • First, I’ll list the top 10 .45s to own, detailing special features and MSRP value for each,
  • then you’ll find a section of things to do and know before you buy a gun, including whether or not a gun safe is necessary,
  • and finally, you’ll find a section discussing gun laws. Please read and add your opinion to the ongoing (and fairly heated) debate at the end of this article.

Note: While I do include MSRP values for each pistol, you should remember that prices change and that you may find a weapon that is more or less expensive when you make your purchase.


1. Heckler & Koch HK45

The HK45 was developed as an improvement of the highly-regarded USP45. The Caliber .45 ACP HK45 includes several user-inspired enhancements, including changeable grip panels (backstraps), a Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, better ergonomics, and more ambidextrous controls.

The HK45 was designed as a possible candidate for the Combat Pistol and Joint Combat Pistol program replacement for the widely utilized M9 by the U.S. military. It uses an HK proprietary O-ring barrel for precise barrel-to-slide lockup and optimal accuracy. HK45 barrels are made using the famous HK cold-hammer forging process for superior performance and increased life-span of the firearm.

Suggested Retail Price: $1,147

Top Features:

1. Integral MIL STD 1913 Rail molded into the polymer frame dust cover for mounting lights, laser targeting, and other accessories.

2. Ergonomic Grip with replaceable grip panels to adjust the feel and grip circumference of the weapon and suit it to its owner’s hand size.

3. Ambidextrous Controls allow for ease of use with the left or right hand, with dual slide releases and enlarged magazine release.

4. O-Ring Barrel allows for precise barrel-to-slide lockup.

5. Polygonal Rifling allows for longer barrel life and better accuracy.

Beretta Px4 Storm
Beretta Px4 Storm

2. Beretta Px4 Storm

The Beretta Px4 Storm pistol, being as handsome as it is effective, was built with the concept that a pistol can be adapted to different needs and modes of operations without compromising on ergonomics and the renowned Beretta reliability and performance. The Px4 Storm emphasizes power, ease of handling, performance, and reliability. Manufactured in three calibers, the Px4 Storm uses an exclusive Beretta-designed innovative locked breech with a rotating barrel system.

The Px4 Storm is available in three calibers: 9mm, .40, and .45. The Px4 Storm uses a proprietary Beretta design with an innovative locked breech with a rotating barrel system—the strongest action to date. This design is supposed to minimize recoil from each firing, thus increasing the shooter’s overall accuracy and producing more accurate shooting during rapid-fire situations. However, while the Px4 Storm was designed for combat, it also makes an excellent home defense weapon and addition to your collection.

Suggested Retail Price: $650.00

Top Features:

1. Accessory Rail. The Px4 Storm frame has an integral Picatinny MILSTD-1913 rail for rapid attachment of tactical lights and laser-aiming devices.

2. Visible Automatic Firing Pin Block that prevents any forward movement until the trigger is pulled completely back. The block is located rearward, far away from the fouling and debris of the breech face, and is visible so that the user can ascertain its proper operation. Even if the pistol falls on a hard surface, the firing pin will not strike the primer.

3. Ambidextrous Safety Lever, easily accessible by the thumb for a right or left-handed shooter, which is spring-loaded so it’s either positively “on” or “off.” The safety lever also functions as the pistol’s decocking lever. When the safety lever is pushed down, the rear part of the firing pin is rotated out of alignment with the front part of the firing pin. An additional hammer drop catch prevents striking of the firing pin unit in case of an unintentional hammer drop.

4. Individual Size Grips in small, medium, or large backstraps to individually fit the hand of each shooter. The backstraps are checkered to ensure a firm grip in both wet or dry shooting conditions. Three backstraps are included with every pistol.

5. Reversible Magazine Release. Multiple-sized and reversible magazine release buttons allow for customization to the individual’s hand size. Small size comes standard on the gun, while medium and large buttons are available as accessories and easy replacement. Each size may be positioned for right-handed or left-handed use.

6. Simple Field Stripping which is extremely quick and simple. Dis-assembly latch does not remove from the gun, preventing accidental dropping and loss. Reassembly is easy and any accidental incorrect assembly of parts is prevented by the distinctive design.

7. Light Techno-Polymer Frame, which is light and durable, employs modern thermoplastic technology through the use of corrosion-resistant fiberglass reinforced polymer.

8. Rotating Barrel. The Px4’s unique rotating barrel and locking system dissipates recoil energy radially, reducing felt recoil and muzzle rise. This is the strongest Beretta pistol action. Chrome-lined barrels provide extreme corrosion resistance, as well as ease of cleaning. Barrels also feature a deeply recessed combat muzzle crown to protect the rifling. (NOTE: Sub-Compact models feature tilt-barrel locking system and stainless steel construction.)

Taurus 24/7 45 ACP OSS
Taurus 24/7 45 ACP OSS

3. Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS

The Taurus 24/7 .45 ACP OSS was developed through direct feedback from Special Forces teams stationed around the world. It is one of the most advanced firearms in the history of pistols. Built to meet and/or exceed all requirements laid down by USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) for its new sidearm, this extreme duty pistol offers unprecedented reliability, durability, accuracy, and ergonomic functionality.

The 24/7 .45 ACP OSS is capable of firing thousands of failure-free rounds in virtually any environment, whether it be jungle humidity and mud, desert heat and sand, or arctic cold and ice. Its versatility is definitely undeniable. It is packed with features that real-world professionals were asking for and is available in three calibers, .45 ACP, .40 cal., and 9mm.

Suggested Retail Price: $686.00

Top Features:

1. The Novak Night Sight is a self-luminous sight. This feature is proven to give shooters five times greater night fire accuracy, with the same speed as instinctive shooting.

2. The Taurus Security System operates with a key and is hardly noticeable. It is accessed by a very small round screwhead above the thumb safety on the right-hand side of the slide, and can be rapidly activated and de-activated. In the locked position, the firearm will not release the safety.

3. Ambidextrous Thumb Safety. Even after the 24/7 is striker fires, it can be carried cocked and locked by moving the thumb safety up from firing to safety position. If the thumb safety is pushed all the way up, it is de-cocked. When the safety is in the cocked-and-locked mode and pushed to the firing position, the trigger pull is approximately 6 1/2 pounds; if the pistol has been de-cocked, it can still be fired by moving the lever to the firing position, however it then requires considerably more than 6 1/2 pounds to fire. If for some reason it fails to fire, the pistol is now in the de-cocked mode and the trigger can be pulled again for another chance at a recalcitrant cartridge.

4. Checkered Polymer Grip allows an aggressive, glue-like purchase on the gun, even with sweaty or bloody hands.

5. SA/DA Trigger System. Taurus’ revolutionary Single Action/Double Action trigger system fires normally from a smooth single action mode, but if a primer fails to ignite, it provides a life-saving second try at firing, a feature offered by no other pistol on the market.

Glock 21
Glock 21

4. Glock 21

The “big bore” .45 caliber belongs to the United States like stars and stripes. Americans have always had a very special relationship with this timeless caliber. The Glock 21 gives you everything you would expect from a .45 pistol. Countless law enforcement units swear by this superior pistol for more than just its above-average magazine capacity of 13 rounds.

Suggested Retail Price: $598.00

Top Features:

1. Octagonal Polygonal Rifling provides a better gas seal in relatively large diameter rifled bores, since an octagon resembles a circle closer than a hexagon.

2. Internal Locking System (ILS) is a manually-activated lock located in the back of the pistol’s grip. It is cylindrical in design and each key is unique. When activated, the lock causes a tab to protrude from the rear of the grip, giving both a visual and tactile indication as to whether or not the lock is engaged, and rendering the Glock un-fireable and impossible to disassemble.

3. Loaded Chamber Indicator. When a cartridge is present in the chamber, a tactile metal edge protrudes slightly just behind the ejection port on the right side of the slide.

4. Lightweight & Superior Durability. The Glock’s frame, magazine body, and several other components are made from a high-strength nylon-based polymer called Polymer 2, invented by Gaston Glock. This plastic was specially formulated to provide increased durability and is more resilient than carbon steel and most steel alloys. Polymer 2 is resistant to shock, caustic liquids, and temperature extremes where traditional steel/alloy frames would warp and become brittle.

Springfield XDM 45
Springfield XDM 45

5. Springfield XD(M) 45

Moving beyond comfort and fit, Springfield Armory explored new ground in tactile response. With the introduction of the M-Factor, Springfield’s reputation in ergonomics, intuitive operation, and handling is taken to an all new level. Also, with the XD(M), you get more custom choices for a personalized fit right out of the box.

Suggested Retail Price: $685.00

Top Features:

1. Minimal Reset Trigger has shorter travel than any currently available polymer pistol, along with similarly short reset which keeps you on target with greater ease for faster, more accurate follow-up shots.

2. Match Grade Barrel takes precision manufacturing to a whole new level, and allows for +P, +P+, and BMT APLP round firing.

3. Melonite. Traditional black oxide finishes are a few millionths of an inch thick and offer no corrosion resistance, but the Melonite finish on the XD(M) is a salt bath nitriding process that leaves a thick, corrosion-resistant, hard surface.

4. Minimal Error Disassembly. By removing the need to pull the trigger during dis-assembly, the process is now easier and faster.

5. Multi-Adjust Rail System: A triple-position Picatinny rail readily accepts lights, lasers, or other accessories. More importantly, it allows them to be adjusted to the shooter’s hand position.

6. Mould-Tru Backstraps are interchangeable and add to the comfort and customized fit of the XD(M). Choose one of three backstraps for personalized fit.

7. USA Trigger System guards against accidental discharge from dropping or bumping by locking the gun’s trigger in place until direct, rearward pressure is applied.

8. Loaded Chamber Indicator allows the shooter to verify visually, or by touch, to ascertain if there is a round in the chamber.

FNP-45 Tactical Handgun
FNP-45 Tactical Handgun

6. FNP-45 Tactical Handgun

Developed for the U.S. Joint Combat Pistol Program (JCP), this pistol offers .45 ACP performance and a host of unique features that no other handgun can match. The checkered polymer frame is offered in Flat Dark Earth and has a low bore axis for reduced recoil and enhanced operator control. Two interchangeable backstraps to quickly customize the grip feel come standard. All operating controls are fully ambidextrous for ease of use. The 5.3″ stainless steel barrel has a threaded muzzle to accept sound suppressors, compensators, and other accessories. The FDE stainless steel slide has high-profile combat sights and includes two mounting bases to accept multiple styles of optional red-dot electronic sights.

Suggested Retail Price: $1000.00

Top Features:

1. Threaded Barrel. The 5.3″ threaded barrel allows for attachment of compensators or suppressors onto the weapon.

2. Mounting Rail. The weapon has a MIL-STD 1913 accessory mounting rail, allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.

3. Fully Ambidextrous Design for de-cocking/safety levers, slide stop levers, and magazine release button.

4. SA/DA Trigger System. Double-action/single-action (DA/SA) operation with decocking/manual safety levers (MS).

SIG Sauer P220 Match Elite
SIG Sauer P220 Match Elite

7. SIG Sauer P220 Match Elite

The SIG Sauer P220® is defined by its accuracy and reliability in a .45 ACP. But many SIG shooters have asked for a P220 with a longer slide, one that would compete head-to-head with other five-inch-barreled 45s. The result? The first P220 Match prototype went to our testing range, where it shot an eight-round group measuring 0.64″ at 20 yards. After extensive review, our engineers concluded that this was a good starting point.

The P220 Match Elite adds the most sought-after features to the P220 Match: Beaver-tail stainless frame, front strap checkering, adjustable target sights, SIG’s innovative Short Reset Trigger (a DA/SA trigger system with a 60% reduction in trigger reset), and black anodized aluminum grips.

Suggested Retail Price: $1,100.00

Top Features:

1. Short Reset Trigger is a newer feature, with a 60% reduction in trigger reset, keeping you on-target with greater ease for faster and more accurate follow-up shots.

2. Beaver-Tail Stainless Frame. This feature was in high demand from 1911 owners wanting the same classical feel in a modern weapon with advanced features.

3. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail, allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45
Smith & Wesson M&P .45

8. Smith & Wesson M&P .45

Meet the M&P from Smith & Wesson which is CA Compliant, comes with three interchangeable Palmswell grip sizes, and has a reinforced polymer chassis, superior ergonomics, ambidextrous controls, and proven safety features. This is the new standard in reliability when your job is to serve and protect and your life is on the line, as well as for home defense.

In the design of the M&P, they considered the needs of military and law enforcement from every conceivable angle. No other polymer pistol offers this combination of versatility, durability, and safety. Plus, the weapon is backed by the Smith & Wesson Lifetime Service policy.

Suggested Retail Price: $790.00

Top Features:

1. Ambidextrous Design for decocking/safety levers, slide stop levers, and magazine release button.

2. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail allowing for flashlight, laser, or any other desired attachment.

3. Interchangeable Backstraps add to the comfort and customized fit of the weapon. Choose one of three backstraps for personalized fit.

4. Lifetime Service: Smith & Wesson has a lifetime service policy that ensures they will repair any defect in material or workmanship without charge for as long as the original purchaser owns the handgun.

Kimber SIS Custom
Kimber SIS Custom

9. Kimber SIS Custom .45

Meeting excessive expectations: In 2002, LAPD’s SWAT selected a Kimber 1911 .45 ACP as their duty pistol. In 2005, SWAT Team members put Special Investigation Section (SIS) detectives in contact with Kimber, and the detectives requested that Kimber create a duty pistol that met their high standards. They got what they were hoping for.

These pistols have specialized features including slide serrations and lightweight SIS Hammer™ SIS Night Sights™ have a cocking shoulder that allows the slide to be cocked or released with one hand if necessary. All SIS pistols have flat top slides, along with a premium gray KimPro II finish that is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to the elements, salt, and moisture. Models with five inch barrels have short or military-length guide rods. A beavertail grip safety with pronounced bump and memory groves, serrated mainspring housing, ambidextrous thumb safety, and special partially-stippled Kimber logo grips are standard. A solid match grade trigger is tuned to break between 4 and 5 pounds.

Suggested Retail Price: $1,316.00

Top Features:

1. Beavertail Grip Safety was one of the top safety features for 1911 pistols, and it is no different here.

2. Match Grade Trigger with a 4-5 pound break.

3. KimPro II Finish is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to the elements, salt, and moisture.

4. MIL-STD 1913 Accessory Mounting Rail, allowing for flashlight, strobe, laser, or any other desired attachment.

5. Cocking Shoulder allows the slide to be cocked or released with one hand.

Dan Wesson Valor 1911
Dan Wesson Valor 1911

10. Dan Wesson Valor 1911

CZ-USA has been listening to customer demands again and this gun is the realization of all of their desires in a full-sized, defensive style 1911. This gun has everything you need and nothing you don’t. The Valor has a stainless steel base with their new “duty” matte black ceramic coating that has set the standard for all coating tests.

Other features include forged frame with 25 LPI checkering and undercut trigger guard, adjustable defensive night sites, and Slim line VZ grips, as well as all the other premium small parts you have come to expect from Dan Wesson.

Suggested Retail Price: $1,577.00

Top Features:

1. Hand Fit Match Grade with hand fit match grade components throughout.

2. Ceramic Based Coating provides excellent corrosion protection, outstanding abrasion resistance, extreme hardness, and unmatched durability.

3. Adjustable Night Sight is a self-luminous component. (Night sights are proven to give shooters five times greater night fire accuracy with the same speed as instinctive shooting.)

Test Before You Buy

These are the top ten pistols, according to my research. However, each and everyone has their own experience with every gun model, so I highly recommend that you test shoot any weapon before buying.

Since I learned to shoot with a .45, I find firing it to be easy and comforting. However, someone who learned with a 9mm may find it to be a little too powerful for their liking. I highly recommend that you find a local gun range that will rent you these models and test each of them for yourself before buying.

Do I Really Need a Gun Safe?

Gun safes are a necessity! The safety of your children is paramount. Having a safe should be synonymous with having a gun. Yes, guns have come a long way in regards to safety and often include a lock that will lock the safety of a gun in place. However, children are just as intelligent and industrious as we were at their age. If they can get their hands on the gun and the key, they will.

There are some gun safes available that will allow you quick access to your weapon(s), as well as keep them safe from your children. Keep your family safe, buy a safe, and pay heed to the following:

1) For combination safes, use a combination that your children cannot figure out. (No familiar numbers or dates!)

2) Never open your safe when your children are present, unless it is an actual home invasion emergency.

3) While the safe needs to be accessible to you, ensure that it cannot be removed and carried away from its location. This will help to minimize gun thefts, keeping your guns out of criminal hands.

4) Educate your children in gun safety and apply strict punishment if you find them trying to gain access to your firearm(s).

Note: I also highly recommend that you practice getting your weapon(s) out of your safe from time to time to ensure that you can do so in a timely manner should you wake up to a home invasion.

Stack-On PDS-500 Drawer Safe with Electronic Lock

Stack-On PDS-500 Drawer Safe with Electronic Lock

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The Law

  • Remember, when purchasing or owning a weapon, you must abide by gun laws within your state as well as those at the federal level. Be sure to educate yourself.
  • Keep your ownership paperwork and identification in order and up-to-date.
  • Immediately report any lost or stolen weapons to the police.
  • Practice proper gun safety whenever carrying, cleaning, or firing your weapon at the range. Most accidental shootings are self-inflicted and due to the fact that the owner assumed that the chamber was empty, then mishandled the weapon by not engaging the safety and keeping the weapon pointing away from them or down-range.

How Do You Feel About Gun Laws?

How Do You Feel About Gun Laws in the U.S.?


Gun laws should be more strict to ensure that fewer weapons are owned by the public, or that only military or law enforcement should own guns.

How to Catch Dungeness Crab: Pots, Bait, and Strategies

How to Catch Dungeness Crab: Pots, Bait, and Strategies

What a haul!
What a haul!

Whats your favorite way to eat crab?

  • Fresh out of the shell, nothing else.
  • Garlic Butter! Mmm
  • Crab Cakes
  • Crab Chowder
  • I don’t like crab. (Good thing this quiz is anonymous, or else I’d have to ban you haha)

See results without voting

I don’t know what it is about this odd looking crustacean scavenger that gets me so excited every year when the season rolls around. It may be the TV show we’ve all seen, but then again my trips are nothing like theirs. Or maybe its the thrill of pulling a heavy pot, not knowing if you’ve hit the crab jackpot, or if you’re just giving another monster sea star a ride to the surface. Maybe it even has something to do with the burn of jellyfish stings on your hands because you forgot your gloves in the truck. Could it just be how amazing they taste dipped in garlic butter? Either way, one thing is for certain- I love crab season.

I know I’m not alone in this obsession either. After spending a summer in retail at a local outdoors store, I know first hand how high the demand for crabbing gear is as the season rolls around. With this kind of attention, I thought for sure theres some people out there who would love a few free tips on the subject. Now I wouldn’t consider myself the best there is by any means, but I pull limits, and hopefully these tips will help you do the same

Now I realize that there are many ways to catch crabs: wading, diving, and casting to name a few, but as the picture up above would suggest, I will be concentrating primarily on traps.

And with that, let’s start with a rundown of some different trap types.

Ring trap with harness and float
Ring trap with harness and float
Danielson FTC Pacific FTC Crab Trap Folding w/2 Escape Rings Square 24"

Danielson FTC Pacific FTC Crab Trap Folding w/2 Escape Rings Square 24″

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Types of Traps


These are the simplest and usually cheapest of all crab traps. The consist of two concentric metal rings with tethers attached to the outer ring. Netting is attached covering both rings. When the trap in resting, it lays flat on the sea bottom. When the trap is pulled up the outer ring rises above the lower ring creating a wall around the inner ring.

In order to fish these style of traps effectively, a few things must be kept in mind. Rather than trying to attach the rope directly to the outer hoop, use a harness. These harnesses will attach to the outer ring in multiple places to ensure the outer ring is pulled straight up, rather than sideways. You could try to rig one of these yourself with some spare rope lying around the house, but they don’t cost much. Additionally, use a float. These floats attach to the top of the harness and float the harness ropes up about the trap. Without the float, the ropes will lie flat on the trap, and when pulled, any crabs who happen to be straddling the ropes will be tossed off the trap. Often these floats will be sold in combination with the ring, just make sure you have both.

Ring traps fish much faster than any other pots. This is because the crabs can walk directly onto the trap without dealing with any ramps or doors. Of course, without these doors the crabs are free to leave whenever they want. Consequently, these traps should be pulled very often. The longest I will leave a ring down is maybe 20 minutes. 

Since rings draw in crab fast, I often use these to “scout” for potentially effective spots.

When pulling these traps, you need to move quickly. Crabs can swim fairly quickly, and if you do not pull fast enough, they can swim right out the top. 

One last benefit of these traps is that they stack flat. When space is an issue, (sometimes I go kayak crabbing) these make a lot of sense.

Slip Ring

These are a little hard to describe. They consist of two metal wire circles spaced ten or so inches apart by vertical metal posts. A cylinder of netting is attached to the bottom circle and then again to a metal ring which wraps loosely around the vertical supports. A harness is then attached to the free metal ring. The crabs can then run freely into the trap. When the trap is pulled, the metal ring pulls of the netting, creating a complete enclosure.

As far as function, these traps fish very similar to rings. The crabs are free to come and go as they please. The main difference is that once you begin to pull the trap, no crabs can leave. Much like the rings, these should be check fairly often.


Pyramid Trap

These consist of a metal mesh square base with four triangular sides. When lying flat, it take the shape of a four pointed start. When pulled, the four walls lift up, creating walls for the base and pushing all the crabs to the center. While I have never fished with this style of trap, I have spent countless hours untangling crossed and knotted lines on the display models when I sold them. In my opinion, there are just two many moving parts and most seem poorly weighted. My initial impression of these is therefore not a good one. If anyone has fished with this style I would love to hear what you think of it.

A high end crab trap by Protoco. Note the inclined ramps leading to the doors, easy access top hatch, round design, and included bait box. This ones got it all!
A high end crab trap by Protoco. Note the inclined ramps leading to the doors, easy access top hatch, round design, and included bait box. This ones got it all!


I know this term is used broadly to classify most all crab traps, but here I am talking more specifically about door style traps. They come in all shapes and sizes. These traps are completely enclosed on all sides, with one-way doors being the only entrance. Once a crab is in, he is in for good, hopefully. The truth is, many crabs escape from these traps. Sure, the number is less than open traps, but its not zero. Doors can get propped open by other crabs, can get wedges open if the trap settles in the sand, sway open if the trap is resting unevenly on a rock or other debris, or even swung open by a strong current. The most effective style is therefore one with both doors and inclined ramps leading up to the doors. Spacing the entrances off the bottom of the trap eliminates many of the before mentioned issues. Additionally, look for traps with the most doors. More doors equals more crabs. One last thing I have been told, though never tested, is that circular traps are more effective. Apparently the crabs have an easier time circumnavigating a round object when looking for a route in than they do with a square object. Who knows.

One definite plus, although it is not necessary, is a bungee operated hatch on the top of the trap to allow easy access inside. Those crab doors trap your hand almost as well as the crabs, and trying to pull an angry crab back out that door is even worse. These easy-open hatches will make checking and collecting crabs a breeze.  

Round or square though, these traps fish much more slowly than the ones previously listed. This is simply because the crabs have a harder time finding a way in. Once inside though, it is much harder for them to escape. As a result, these traps can be left out for a long time. A few thing to keep in mind: once the bait is gone, no more crabs will join the party. Also, some states have regulations regarding leaving traps out overnight.

Danielson Pacific FTC Crab trap: 4 Door

Danielson Pacific FTC Crab trap: 4 Door

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Willapa Marine Complete Crab Pot Kit

Willapa Marine Complete Crab Pot Kit

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Danielson Conical Dia Glow Crab Pot (34-Inch)

Danielson Conical Dia Glow Crab Pot (34-Inch)

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Protoco 4 Tunnel Crab Pot, X-Large

Protoco 4 Tunnel Crab Pot, X-Large

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Scotty Trap Ease Trap Roller with 241 Side Deck Mount

Scotty Trap Ease Trap Roller with 241 Side Deck Mount

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Danielson Collapsible

Function wise, these traps fall into the previous category, but since they likely the most common of all traps, I figured I would address them separately.

Arguably one of the best values in crab fishing. These pots are a collapsible version of a door style trap. They do have many short-comings though, most of which can be fixed with rather inexpensive modifications.

The first issue is durability. I find that these traps demonstrate Murphy’s Law as well as anything. Since this trap is made to come apart, it will, and usually when you least want it to. Unless the collapsible feature is a definite must have for you, I would suggest using a pair of plier to pinch each of the attachment points to ensure the thing stays in one piece. In the case that you want to be able to fold them down in the off season, try using zip ties to assist with support. These will hold the pots firmly together, and can then be cut at seasons end, allowing the trap to be folded up and stored conveniently.

Problem number two is weight. They weight nothing. For a trap to work effectively it must sit flat and hold the bottom. These traps are simply too light to do this reliably. How can you fix this? Just add weight. A good amount of weight. One I hear a lot is to put a brick or two inside, but I find this cuts down the available space inside the trap too much- less room for crabs. What I do is cut sections of rebar and zip-tie them to the outside bottom of the trap. This provides plenty of weight for the trap to anchor itself. (Note the bricks in the picture at the top of the page)

And now for another piece of “Can that Really Make a Difference?” information. Steel rebar oxidizes in water, and even faster in salt water. The result is an electric cell which produces a net voltage. I have been told that this voltage wards off crabs. (Many animals, including salmon and sharks, are attracted to such electric signals as they use them to sense prey.) Although apparently crabs think the other way around. Or maybe it doesn’t make a difference, believe whatever you like. If you subscribe to the belief that the crabs are scared by this net voltage, just leave any metal weights outside to completely rust over before tying them to your traps.

Problem number three- the doors. I find the doors to be much too light and not swing freely enough to work effectively. Three things for this one. One- weight the doors. Again, no real right answer here. I thread big lead fishing weights over the metal wire. Do whatever you like, just add something. Two- pry open up the “hinges” that fold over the side of the trap. You don’t want to open them to he point where they fall off, just enough to let them swing more freely. Finally, I clip the bottom pegs of the gate off so they only cross the “stop” on the side by a half inch or so. The crab is not going to muscle out of the cage, so this extra metal just makes it easier for the doors to get accidentally propped open- so get rid of it.

Problem number four- the tie on. While a harness is not as necessary here as it is on ring traps, it will help. If the crabs inside are unevenly weighted (which they will be, every time), when the trap is pulled up it can tilt sideways allowing doors to swing open. Any make shift harness will work- three point minimum here.

Alright so that was a lot of writing for about four, three minute fixes. Ans even after buying the extra things needed to spiff these traps up, they are still much, much less than comparable traps. These modifications have definitely improved my catch totals when using this brand of traps.

While there are all sorts of other traps, these are some of the more common styles.


Now for the Tips

The following are tips I find helpful no matter what style of trap you are using.

The Bait

Anything works. A lot of people use chicken. Fish guts are a good one. Old frozen herring that no salmon would ever conceive taking a bite out of that your wife keeps telling you that you really need to get out of the freezer because they are absolutely putrid but you don’t want to waste them- well heres a chance to make them work.

But the Best Dungeness Crab Bait? My favorite is turkey, with a twist. To bring in the crabs really fast, get some crab attractant Smelly Jelly and smear it between the meat and skin. (Then get your friends to smell your hand). Instead of being instantly washed off and released, the extra scent slowly oozes out attracting crabs much longer. If you want, poke some extra holes through the skin. Additionally, as the crabs begin to eat the turkey, more will be released. This will do the trick every time. (If you want, get a cheap kitchen flavor injector to shoot it full of goo, just make sure that it never makes its back to the kitchen.)

Whats your favorite crab bait?

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Just a jar of scent, nothing else
  • Other

See results without voting

Bait Box

These are key. For starters, this eliminates tying bait to the bottom of the trap, which never seemed to work very well anyway. This is especially nice if you are dealing with some pretty rancid bait like fish parts. Just toss them in and clip it shut. Some new traps even come with built in bait boxes now. 

Bait boxes also prevent the crabs from completely devouring the bait all at once. They are open enough to allow for little bites here and there to keep the crabs happy, but closed enough to keep your bait working all day long. 

In most traps, I find it more effective to stand the bait boxes upright, as this maximizes floor space. One might be tempted to affix the bait box to the inside ceiling of the trap to allow even more room, but this allows crabs to crawl onto the outside top of the trap and feed without entering the trap- not what we want.

Churn the Water

When I drop my pots, I first wait for the pot to hit bottom, then repeatedly lit and drop the pot in the sea bottom. This not only ensures a good, solid, flat resting place, it churns up the surrounding water. Small bits of food that were sitting on the bottom, along with bits of food from inside the trap drift up and away attracting any crabs in the area.


Alright this ones obvious. It just one of those things I often forget so I thought I would mention it. These prevent jelly fish stings from tentacles wrapped around your rope along with alleviating some of the pain in handling crabs.

Eelgrass. The crabs are close.
Eelgrass. The crabs are close.

Where and When

While this alone could probably be its own book, I’ll try to keep it simple.

As far as where, I stick to the edge of eelgrass beds. If you have a quality fishfinder that can interpret bottom type, this can assist in finding good drop spots. In the case that you don’t, just look for seems of eelgrass and other debris floating on the water’s surface and drop there. Usually if theres eelgrass nearby you will have some on the trap when its pulled. The crabs hang out in the grass so thats where the pots should be.

As far as when, it seems like slack-tide is a favorite, and I would have to agree. This is the roughly one hour time slot on each side of the high and low tides for the day (One hour on each side equals a two hour time slot). At this time the tide is moving the slowest, allowing scavengers, like crabs, to roam around and look for food without needing to fight the current. This is only a general rule though, crab can be caught anytime. I rarely plan my crabbing trips around the tides, (fishing is a different story).

Shop in the Off Season- or at least a few weeks prior to the opener.

If you have all the gear you need now, go ahead and skip this part. After spending a summer selling fishing gear, I can not even begin to tell you how high the demand for traps, ropes, buoys, and rings is in the weeks leading up to the opener. We were completely sold out and back-ordered for a month, and every third phone call was looking for Danielson pots. So don’t let this happen to you. Don’t wait for the last minute to shop for gear.

The Regs

Alright so this isn’t a tip for getting more crabs, its a tip for not getting a fine. Crabbing regulations are pretty strict, at least where I’m from, and therefore its a good idea to read up. I’m not even going to start to list the rules as they may be different in your area, and very well could change in my area. Things to check: On which days can I crab? How many pots can I have on board/ per person? What kind of buoy do I need? What kind of rope can I use? What features must my pots have? (things like release gates in the case your pot gets lost). Also make sure you have a crab measurement device on board and can identify the gender of crabs and if they are molting. These are all topics best researched with your local fish and wildlife agency.

Well this turned out to be longer than I imagined, but thats a good thing, more for you guys to read up on. I really hope that you found this helpful and that your next crabbing season is a productive one! I’d love to hear how it goes!

Winning Bikes Of The Tour De France

Winning Bikes Of The Tour De France


Miguel Indurain climbing alone in the mountains in the last days of steel bicycle success in the Tour De France

Miguel Indurain riding a steel Pinarello bicycle in the the mountains during the Tour De France
Miguel Indurain riding a steel Pinarello bicycle in the the mountains during the Tour De France

Source: Numerius CC_BY 2.0 Flickr

A look at the bicycles that won the Tour De France

Sometimes we can get overawed by the human accomplishment of the riders in the Tour De France yet they’re all riding a bicycle and bikes have changed dramatically over the years as frameset materials have evolved from the traditional steel to modern flowing lines of superlight carbon fibre.

Gear systems have progressed dramatically over time from the early riders using single speed bicycles to ride across the vineyards of France and up high into the Mountains. Now technology is starting to take bicycles to new levels.

This article addresses which bikes have the yellow jersey winner over the Tour De France ridden? What were they made from and what groupsets lead them to the yellow jersey.

A guide to the bicycles of Tour De France Winners

Below is a detailed and concise guide to the bicycles that have been riden to Tour de France glory, the wheels that have rotated their way around France and the equipment which has helped the riders achieve the goal of winning the Tour De France.


Miguel Indurain in Tour de France Time Trial action

Indurain in yellow leading the Tour De France during a Time Trial stage while riding a Pinarello.
Indurain in yellow leading the Tour De France during a Time Trial stage while riding a Pinarello.

Source: inkjetprinter CC-BY 2.0 Flickr

The last day’s of steel: Miguel Indurain 1991-1995

Spanish strongman and time trial specialist Miguel Indurain was the last cyclist to win the Tour De France on a steel framed bicycle. He rode a Pinarello steel frame in each of his 5 Tour De France wins.

Bicycle Nationality: Italian

Groupset: Campagnolo

Wheels: Campagnolo

Indurain was one of the best time trial cyclists in the world and Pinarello made some very specialist time trial frames which helped Indurain claim his five Tour victories. Indurain was always able to capitalise on his time trial ability while conserving his position while never being spectacular in the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees.


Ride a your own Italian Pinarello

Pinarello Pina Dogma 60.1 Carbon Road Bike Frame Set 51.5cm SMALL Movistar

Pinarello Pina Dogma 60.1 Carbon Road Bike Frame Set 51.5cm SMALL Movistar

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The 90’s Were The Years Of Italian Bike Dominance In The Tour De France

Alongside the wins for Indurain on a Pinarello there were two more wins for the Italian bicycle manufacturer for the German Telekom cycling team with Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich.

Win’s for the Telekom Team aboard Pinarello bicycles 1996 and 1997

Rider: Bjarne Riis (1996), Jan Ullrich (1997)

Bicycle Nationality: Italian

Groupset: Campagnolo

A tortured genius riding a Bianchi: 1998. Marco Pantani

Another Italian bicycle manufacturer took control of the Tour De France yellow jersey in 1998. Pantani was a flawed genius whose personal troubles led to problems off the bike and subsequently meant he was unable to win the Tour De France more often in line with his immense potential.

The Italian bicycle manufacturer Bianchi is famous for it’s celeste colourscheme which worked extremely well with the yellow of the Tour De France leaders jersey. Bianchi provided Marco Pantani aluminium frames to win the Tour De France.

Bicycle Manufacturer Nationality: Italian

Groupset: Campagnolo

Lance Armstrong in the yellow jersey riding a carbon fibre Trek Madone ahead of 1998 Winner Marco Pantani on an aluminium Bianchi

Lance Armstrong climbing ahead of Marco Pantani. Lance Armstrong is on a Trek OCLV Madone with Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Shimano Dura ace components
Lance Armstrong climbing ahead of Marco Pantani. Lance Armstrong is on a Trek OCLV Madone with Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Shimano Dura ace components

Source: Placid Casual CC BY 2.0 Flickr

1999 To 2005. Lance Armstrong’s American Dominance Aboard A Trek Bicycle

Lance Armstrong became the first American to win the Tour De France on an American bike with and an American Team in 1999 and led to an American dominance within the sport alongside the Wisconsin based Trek bicycle company

Tour De France 1999- 2005 Winning Bicycles Trek Oclv (Optimum compaction low void) Carbon and Madone model. These were the first carbon fibre frames to win the Tour De France

In 1999 Armstrong rode a Trek 5500. This was the first carbon bicycle frame to win the Tour De France.

Bicycle Nationality: American

Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace

Wheels: During the 1999 Tour De France the US Postal Team used Rolf wheelsets on their Trek 5500 series OCLV Race bikes. In 2000 Armstrong utilized French company Mavic’s Ksyrium wheelset and from 2001 onwards Armstrong rode wheels made by Trek’s in-house equipment manufacturer Bontrager.


Lance Armstrong On His Trek Madone Bike At Le Tour

2011 and 2012 The years of Shimano Di2 electronic groupsets

Traditionally the gears of a bicycle have always used wire cables to change gear and brake. 2009 saw the launch of Shimano’s first high end electronic bicycle groupset. Shimano Dura Ace Di2 which promises more reliable gear shifts due to the requirement for no more wires and less hassle- if it all works right!

Luke Rowe of Team Sky with a Pinarello Dogma like the one used by Bradley Wiggins in the Tour De France

Team Sky's Luke Rowe at the Tour of Britain 2012 with a Pinarello Dogma like the one used by Bradley Wiggins in his Tour De France win. Equipped with Di2 Dura-Ace
Team Sky’s Luke Rowe at the Tour of Britain 2012 with a Pinarello Dogma like the one used by Bradley Wiggins in his Tour De France win. Equipped with Di2 Dura-Ace

Source: CyclingFitness Photos

Ride Shimano DI2 like Bradley Wiggins

2015 Shimano Ultegra 6870 Di2 Electronic 11s Group Groupset Kit - Internal

2015 Shimano Ultegra 6870 Di2 Electronic 11s Group Groupset Kit – Internal

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Tour De France 2012: Bradley Wiggins Wins aboard an Italian Pinarello Dogma

2012 saw the rise of former British Track star Bradley Wiggins and the meticulous preparation of Team Sky which stemmed from the success of their incremental gains approach derived from the highly successful British Cycling Track Team led by Dave Brailsford.

Tour De France 2012 Winning Bicycle: Pinarello Dogma

Bicycle Nationality: Italian

Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Electronic groupset

Wheels: Mainly Shimano Dura-Ace Carbon Fibre wheelsets however sky did have some unbadged wheels which were used on some stages.

The Team Sky Pinarello Dogma getting a clean

A Team Sky Pinarello Dogma getting a clean down after a long day at work in the Tour De France
A Team Sky Pinarello Dogma getting a clean down after a long day at work in the Tour De France

Source: Petit Brun CC BY 2.0 Flickr

2010: The year of Swiss engineering genius and Cadel Evans

In 2010 Cadel Evans became the first antipodean to win the Tour De France. The Australian was successful riding two rather unique looking bicycles from the Swiss BMC brand of Andy Rihs.

Evans used two road bicycles

The BMC Team Machine SLR01 was one of the first road racing frames to incorporate Nanolight technologies to further improve the performance characteristics of carbon fibre

Evans’ BMC Impec was at the forefront of cutting edge carbon technology. Entirely machine built when traditionally carbon fibre framesets were made in frame moulds. BMC claim that their technology of ‘Load Specific Weave’ creates completely flawless carbon fibre tubes while their ‘Shell Node Concept’ creates a high density bonded shell to hold tubes in place and maintain structural integrity.

Tour De France 2011 Winning Bicycle: BMC Team Machine and BMC Impec

Bicycle Nationality: Swiss

Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Electronic groupset

Wheels: Easton

2013- Another year of Sky dominance with Chris Froome

2013 saw the rise of Bradley Wiggins’ trusted lieutenant from 2012- Chris Froome. Froome had threatened to drop Wiggins in the mountains during the 2012 edition and the more mountainous route for 2013 signified he would be team leader.

Froome won the 2013 Tour de France in a way that would have pleased the purists- He won it on the attack in the mountains whilst also time trialling well. His attacks were electric and his riding meant that he didn’t need to rely on what appeared to be an at times struggling Sky team.

Tour De France 2013 Winning Bicycle: Pinarello Dogma

Bicycle Frame Nationality: Italian

Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Electronic groupset

Wheels: Mainly Shimano Dura-Ace Carbon Fibre wheelsets.


Sram Red won it’s first Tour De France in 2009 with Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador Rode his Astana Team Trek bicycle to Tour De France Victory in 2009 to take the first ever victory for Sram.
Alberto Contador Rode his Astana Team Trek bicycle to Tour De France Victory in 2009 to take the first ever victory for Sram.

Source: CyclingFitness

Which groupset manufacturer has won the most Tour De France Races?

Over the course of the history of the Tour De France the Italian manufacturers groupsets have graced the most Tour De France Yellow Jersey winners bicycles.

Shimano first graced a Tour Winners bicycle in 1999 with the first win for the legendary Lance Armstrong who after battling testicular cancer went on to win a record breaking 7 Tour De France Titles

The American groupset manufacturer Sram first won the Tour De France on the Astana Trek bicycle of Alberto Contador in 2009 featuring their unique ‘Double-Tap’ shifting mechanism (pictured right). The win helped to establish the company in the cycling marketplace as a rival to the established Shimano and Campagnolo brands.

The table below shows details of Tour De France Winners since 1986, what bicycle manufacturer they rode, their cycling team and the groupset manufacturer whose equipment took them to Tour De France victory.

2014- Nibali Aboard A Specialized S Works

Team Astana riders aboard Specialized S-Works Tarmac bikes as riden to Tour De France Success by Vincenzo Nibali
Team Astana riders aboard Specialized S-Works Tarmac bikes as riden to Tour De France Success by Vincenzo Nibali

Tour De France 2014- Vincenzo Nibali Wins on Specialized and with Campagnolo

It’s been a long time since an Italian won the Tour de France and in 2014 Vincenzo Nibali showed just what a classy rider he was as the Tour had it’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire for the very first time.

Nibali showed his dominance aboard a Specialized bicycle on the second stage by winning after a challenging parcours across the Pennines and into the Peak District with climbs of Holme Moss and the notorious Strines area on the run in to Sheffield. Nibali’s dominance continued on the mountain stages where no riders were able to match his strength.

Nibali’s win was aboard a bike equipped with an 11 speed Campagnolo groupset for the Kazakh Astana team after withdrawals by Chris Froome and Alberto Contador following crashes.

Tour De France Winning Bikes 1986 to present

Bicycle Brand
Groupset Manufacturer
Vincenzo Nibali
Christopher Froome
Team Sky
Bradley Wiggins
Team Sky
Cadel Evans
Andy Schleck(1)
Specialized S Works
Saxo Bank
Alberto Contador
Carlos Sastre
Team CSC
Alberto Contador
Discovery Channel
Oscar Pereiro(2)
Caisse D’Epargne
No Official Winner(3)
Discovery Channel
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
No Official Winner(3)
US Postal
Marco Pantani
Mercatone Uno- Bianchi
Jan Ullrich
Team Telekom
Bjarne Riis
Team Telekom
Miguel Indurain
Miguel Indurain
Miguel Indurain
Miguel Indurain
Miguel Indurain
Greg Lemond
Own brand labeled
Greg Lemond
Pedro Delgado
Stephen Roche
Greg Lemond
La Vie Claire
(1). Alberto Contador winner in Paris was disqualified due to a positive doping test. (2). Floyd Landis winner in Paris disqualified due to doping offence. (3) Lance Armstrong’s Tour Wins were removed from the record books October 2012 as a resultr o

Which bike brand has won the Tour de France most often?

Looking back on the history books for the modern era as featured on the table above it would appear that Trek as a bike manufacturer has won the Tour De France the most times.

However as the table above states in the footnotes that with Lance Armstrong being stripped of all of his Tour wins as of late 2012 this would now indicate that the Italian bicycle manufacturer Pinarello have won the most Tour victories in the modern era

Pinarello Bikes Won The Tour in..

1991-1995 with Miguel Indurain, 1996 with Bjarne Riis, 1997 with Jan Ullrich, 2012 with Bradley Wiggins and 2013 with Chris Froome.

Top 10 Greatest Men’s Tennis Players of All Time

Top 10 Greatest Men’s Tennis Players of All Time

International Tennis Hall of Fame: Newport, RI

The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum
The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum

Source: By Smart Destinations via Wikimedia Commons

I grew up playing tennis in the 1970s, which was a great time for the sport of tennis. It was then that tennis really became more of a mainstream sport than a sport for the privileged, especially here in the United States. With the likes of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others, there were plenty of personalities to fuel the rivalries that took place on and off the court. Since that time, many great players have come and gone. Because it is difficult to compare players of different eras in any sport due to technology changes and higher fitness standards, selecting a greatest player ever can be a difficult and very subjective task.

Despite the challenge, here is my list of the 10 greatest male tennis players of all-time.

10. John McEnroe

John McEnroe
John McEnroe

Source: By WolfRayet via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: February 16, 1959
    Wiesbaden, West Germany
  • Resides: New York City
  • Turned pro: 1978
  • Retired: 1992
  • Career prize money: $12,547,797
  • 71 career titles
  • 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 Wimbledon, 4 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1999

John McEnroe: What do we do about Johnny Mac? Well, for starters we include him on our list of all-time greats. When it came to hard courts, fast surfaces, and creative shot-making, there may have been no one better.

His fiery attitude and occasional bad-boy behavior made tennis fans either hate him or love him. Underneath was a highly competitive athlete who hated to lose and sometimes let his emotions get the best of him.

Who can forget his epic battles with rival Jimmy Connors and his five-set loss to Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final, one of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history?

9. Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi

Source: By Akademan via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: April 29, 1970
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Turned pro: 1986
  • Retired: 2006
  • Career prize money: $31,152,975
  • 60 career titles
  • 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 1 French, 2 US Open, 1 Wimbledon
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2011

Who can forget the young, brash, long-haired Andre Agassi when he first arrived on the tennis scene in the late 1980s? I have to admit that at first I was put off by his seemingly “rock star” looks and attitude. But something happened along the way, and by the time he finished his 20-year career, I was not only a fan but I had also come to respect him as a great player and spokesman for the game.. With those killer ground strokes and returns of serve, no top-10 list would be complete without Andre Agassi.

Off the court, Agassi has proven to be a champion as well. There may be no athlete out there who does more for their community than Agassi and his wife, tennis legend Steffi Graf.

8. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Source: By Yann Caradec via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: May 22, 1987
    Belgrade, Yugoslavia
  • Resides: Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • Turned pro: 2003
  • Career prize money: $82,346,218
  • 54 career titles
  • 9 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5 Australian, 3 Wimbledon, 1 US Open
  • Current active player

Placing Novak Djokovic on this list was an easy decision, but where to place him was not. At just 28 years of age and in the prime of his career, Djokovic has the potential to win many more Grand Slam titles. By the time his career is finished, he could very well find himself well into the top five all-time. But, in the highly competitive world of tennis, he could also succumb to injury and miss out on his best years, so the jury is still out on Djokovic. Based on his body of work to date he has certainly made the case that he is the best player in the world at the moment and deserving of a top ten all-time.

Djokovic’s 2014 Wimbledon title, where he defeated Roger Federer in five grueling sets, was certainly a match for the ages. Give Djokovic credit for withstanding a huge momentum shift when Federer came back in the fourth set to send the match into a fifth set. With nine Grand Slam titles now secured, including his 2015 Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, and at just 28 years of age, Novak deserves to be elevated to the number eight position. The likeable Djokovic certainly has the potential to rise further.

7. Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors

Source: By Suyk, Koen / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: September 2, 1952
    East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Resides: Santa Barbara, CA
  • Turned pro: 1972
  • Retired: 1996
  • Career prize money: $8,641,040
  • 109 career titles
  • 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 2 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1998

No one dominated tennis more during the mid-1970s than Jimmy Connors. In 1974 alone, Connors had a staggering 99-4 record and won the three Grand Slam tournaments that he entered. Connors was banned from playing in the French Open in 1974 due to his association with World Team Tennis, and this prevented him from a possible Grand Slam sweep. Despite peaking in the 1970s, Connors had a long and impressive tennis career, retiring in 1996. Connors still holds the record for ATP tour titles with 109.

6. Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl
Ivan Lendl

Source: By Anefo / Croes, R.C. via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: March 7, 1960
    Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
  • Resides: Goshen, Connecticut
  • Turned pro: 1978
  • Retired: 1994
  • Career prize money: $21,262,417
  • 94 career titles
  • 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 Australian, 3 French, 3 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2001

The quiet and stoic Czech with the big serve was the most dominant player of the 1980s. Lendl wore down his opponents with his powerful ground strokes and topspin forehand and incredible level of conditioning. He was the world’s top-ranked player for four years and held the number one ranking in the world for 270 weeks, a record in that day. In contrast to many of his more outspoken peers, Lendl was known for letting his game do his talking.

5. Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg
Bjorn Borg

Source: By Anefo / Croes via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: June 6, 1956
    Sodertalje, Stockholm County, Sweden
  • Resides: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Turned pro: 1973
  • Retired: 1983
  • Career prize money: $3,655,751
  • 64 career titles
  • 11 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 French, 5 Wimbledon
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1987

What was not to love about the long-haired, blonde Swede with the killer ground game? With ice water in his veins, the quiet Borg dominated tennis in the late 1970s and had some memorable matches with the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg dominated Wimbledon, winning the title five consecutive years (1976 – 1980).

Despite his relatively brief career (he retired in 1983 at the age of 26), Borg won 11 Grand Slam titles, all at Wimbledon and the French Open. Borg was the first player of the modern era to win more than 10 majors.

4. Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Source: By Brett Marlow via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: June 3, 1986
    Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  • Resides: Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  • Turned pro: 2001
  • Career prize money: $71,773,993
  • 65 career titles
  • 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 9 French, 2 US Open, 2 Wimbledon
  • Current active player

Were it not for the recurring tendonitis in his knees, Rafael Nadal may well have a few more Grand Slam titles to his already impressive resume. At 28 years of age, the fiery Spaniard, known as Rafa and “The King of Clay,” already has 14 Grand Slam titles and certainly has the potential to surpass Pete Sampras’s total of 14. Rafael is regarded as the greatest clay court player of all-time, although fans of Bjorn Borg may dispute this claim. His record 9th French Open title certainly makes it difficult to imagine anyone being better on clay. His latest bout of tendonitis seems to be behind him, so look for some great head-to-head matches in the coming years with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Roger Federer.

Rafa’s comeback from injury in 2013 saw him return to form. His two Grand Slam titles in 2013, the French and US Open, marked his return to the top of world rankings. If he stays healthy, look for more Grand Slam titles to come.

3. Rod Laver

Rod Laver
Rod Laver

Source: By Evers, Joost / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: August 8, 1938
    Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  • Resides: Carlsbad, California
  • Turned pro: 1962
  • Retired 1979
  • Career prize money: $1,565,413
  • 200 career titles
  • 11 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 Australian, 2 French, 2 US Open, 4 Wimbledon
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1981

It’s difficult to assess how Rod Laver would have fared against the players of today, but I suspect the redheaded Aussie would have done just fine. It’s hard to argue with the “Rockets” record. He was ranked number one in the world for seven straight years (1964 – 1970) and has more career titles (200) than anyone in the history of the game.

He is the only player to have twice won the Grand Slam, doing it once as an amateur in 1962 and again as a pro in 1969. If Laver was not excluded from the Grand Slam tournaments during a five-year period in the mid-1960s, who knows how many he would have won. During this time period, the pre-open era, the Grand Slam tournaments were for amateurs only. The “open era” in tennis did not begin until 1968, when professionals were finally allowed to compete in the Grand Slam events. Given that Laver was ranked number one in the world during this five-year period, it’s likely he would have won many more Grand Slam titles.

2. Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras

Source: By Craig ONeal via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: August 12, 1971
    Potomac, Maryland
  • Resides: Lake Sherwood, California
  • Turned pro: 1988
  • Retired 2002
  • Career prize money: $43,280,489
  • 64 career titles
  • 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 Australian, 7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2007

If the likes of Roger Federer had not come along, Pete Sampras would certainly be the number one player of all-time. When Pete retired in 2002, he was considered to be the best player of all-time. He was number one in the world rankings for six consecutive years and his 14 Grand Slam titles was a record at the time. Who can forget his epic battles with Andre Agassi that made the 1990s a great decade for tennis? Pete went out on top when he won the 2002 US Open, his last Grand Slam tournament.

1. Roger Federer

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Source: Mike McCune, CC BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: August 8, 1981
    Basel, Switzerland
  • Resides: Wollerau, Switzerland and Dubai, UAE
  • Turned pro: 1998
  • Career prize money: $90,936,295
  • 86 career titles
  • 17 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 1 French, 5 US Open, 7 Wimbledon
  • Current active player

It’s hard not to select Roger Federer as the greatest of all time. His record 17 Grand Slam titles speak for themselves, and even at the age of 33, he is still capable of winning another title. His 302 weeks ranked as number one in the world is an open-era record. From 2004 to 2008, Federer went 237 consecutive weeks being ranked number one in the world, a record that may never be surpassed. Even though younger players are now finding a way to beat Roger, his consistently high level of play over his almost 15-year career is a testament to his conditioning and ability. In my books, Roget Federer is the greatest of all-time.

Top 5 Bullpup Shotguns

Top 5 Bullpup Shotguns

Silhouettes make things more intense.
Silhouettes make things more intense.

Source: volkstudio

It’s that time. Time for another countdown. I’ve done my homework on these things, ate like 6 cookies in the process, and drank a beer or six. I’m ready to share all of my opinions.

Bullpup shotguns are quirky and eye-catching. They boast a couple of advantages too. In fact, a bullpup configuration naturally suits the role of a tactical shotgun well. A hypothetical home defense situation might demand the need for tight cornering, for instance, and a bullpup shotgun’s length is typically a little over half that of a traditional full-stock shotgun. Perhaps counter intuitively, a few shotguns on this list boast a high capacity (even higher than most traditional shotguns). As a result of their emerging capabilities, bullpup shotguns as a whole are expanding their market share of tactical shotguns. It’s worth noting they don’t sell well to hunters and skeet shooters (which probably is to be expected).

For some, home defense is a top priority.
For some, home defense is a top priority.

Source: wikimedia commons

In order to try and rank these guns, I’ve decided to use a typical home defense situation where you would need to shoot buckshot about 10-15 yards away as a metric. Other typical civilian situations seem to be better suited for traditional guns (except maybe simply showing off a new toy). Also, a disclaimer: all five of these shotguns were very similar in many categories. The distinctions that separate them are very tiny, and so the rankings had to be more subjective than I would’ve liked.

#5: Mossberg 500/590 Bullpup

The Mossberg 500/590 bullpup edition will start the countdown at #5. These Mossbergs are 80’s movie stars, starring in Predator 2, the Running Man, and Robocop probably due to their futuristic appeal. Collectors should be on alert: their value is set to only rise, because there isn’t anything like them currently being manufactured by Mossberg. (Update: I’ve been told there are bullpup kits out there for newer Mossbergs, and there’s a chance Mossberg will convert an existing shotgun to a bullpup for you.) And, being a Mossberg, they carry a certain degree of intrinsic reliability.


Like reliability, there are more pros that aren’t just superficial…the Mossberg 500/590 bullpups are good shotguns, too. Even though the stock has a lot of gadgetry in it (as with most bullpups), it does really well to mitigate recoil. This attribute is in part due to being heavy, which could be seen as a con. They still boast an 18.5” or 20” tactical-length barrel. They are easy to clean and break down for whatever purpose. The pump action is smooth and makes a great intimidating (for some too loud) sound, and it comes with a nice grip.

Modified Mossberg 500 bullpup
Modified Mossberg 500 bullpup

There are, of course, some nitpicky cons that prevent it from being higher on the list. The sight is disappointing to me. Admittedly, you won’t need a good sight if the target is close enough. Admittedly, you can change the sight to any one that you wish if you know your way around a gun. However, I don’t think I’m crazy when I think that a sight doesn’t need to double as a carrying handle. Personally, I don’t value a carrying handle enough to start sacrificing optics. There have been vast improvements in optics since the gun came out in the 80’s, so my critique might be a little unfair. Anyway, moving on, here is a list of other cons:

  • Annoying and unnecessary grip safety (there’s another safety on the trigger)
  • Heavy by any standard
  • Long/heavy trigger pull, although not unreasonable
  • The Mossberg 500 has a low capacity relative to others on this list (5+1), although the Mossberg 590 has a better capacity (8+1).
  • High cost because they’re pretty hard to find
  • Ejection port is going to be on the right side next to your face (and literally in your face as a lefty, so lefties can’t use it).

The Mossberg conversions are still good weapons, and there isn’t much that separates them from #1 on this list.


#4: Remington 870 Bullpup Conversion

Coming in at number four in the countdown is the Remington 870 bullpup conversion. This is a great build, only takes about an hour to convert for the mechanically challenged, and although it’s virtually all plastic, it carries with it the Remington reliability. It’s impressively almost 10 inches shorter than a traditional 870.

I haven’t carried out 10,000 round tests on these shotguns myself, but my top bet judging from a random sample of internet comments and intuition is that the Remington bullpup would perform the best on this list. Obviously I’d love to gather data to confirm that, but that’s just not practical to do for me at the moment. Sometimes reliability alone is the most important quality in a home defense shotgun. If you don’t feel comfortable buying a lesser known brand, the 870 bullpup will get the job done. Also, a Remington 870 + the conversion kit + accessories are going to be very reasonably priced at about $750.

This is from a Youtube video made by Buds Gun Shop, but I'm almost sure I can't provide a link due to terms and conditions.
This is from a Youtube video made by Buds Gun Shop, but I’m almost sure I can’t provide a link due to terms and conditions.

Other than a small edge in both reliability and price, the Remington doesn’t really separate itself from the pack much. There were three other small things I liked about it that I’ll mention quickly. First, it has a pump grip guard that prevents your hand from accidently sliding in front of the barrel (which is a potential issue with other shotguns on this list). Second, it has rails on the top, side, and bottom for a sight, grip, laser, flashlight, and so on. While rails are an upgrade over the Mossberg, it’s something that I almost come to expect these days. Finally, it’s not super fast to reload, but it is faster than others on this list.

There are a few cons, none of which are deal breakers. The most significant of these in my home defense metric is the pump. The pump action is noticeably unsmooth, and this could be an issue with a gun that is already prone to short shucking (see comments–this might have been resolved). The second biggest issue is that it “only” holds 6+1, which is satisfactory, but like the Mossberg, isn’t exceptional. Third, like the Mossberg, its ejector port is on the right side next to your ear no matter what. This is obviously especially frustrating for lefties, but also frustrating for right-handers because of the smoke, noise, and heat that are right next to your face. This might seem inevitable for a bullpup, but we’ll look at a gun later that has a fix for this.

I’ll list the rest of my grievances:

  • Takes a long time to clean…requires complete disassembly
  • Only one color
  • No place for a side saddle

You might notice the Remington has similar problems as the Mossberg. The difference makers for me were Remington’s lightness and rails. Some small edges that the Mossberg has (such as grip and guards) can be bought for the Remington, and the price will still likely be cheaper.

#3: UTS-15

Number three on the countdown is the Turkish UTAS UTS-15. I’m not sure why they didn’t go ahead and just call it the UTAS-15, they were only one letter short. Anyway, it’s a gun that immediately catches the eye (perhaps the word ugly comes to mind, but I prefer the term eye-catching). The UTS-15 has a lot of cool features that makes it and immediate competitor in the bullpup shotgun market. If you haven’t heard of its maker UTAS, you probably aren’t Turkish. I hear UTAS is kind of a big deal over there.


With that being said, it’s not a brand that I would immediately trust simply out of lack of familiarity. As expected, most of the negative comments that I’ve seen have been about reliability. The sources that I trust more seem to agree that it is in fact reliable. Nevertheless, I would recommend trying the gun out as much as possible before buying. Reliability is why I’m timid to rank this gun higher. Well, reliability and these small cons:

  • Loud when moving
  • No choice of pump grip. The grip it comes with is frighteningly slippery, especially (potentially) when wet.
  • Speaking of that, in my opinion, there isn’t enough guard to prevent a hand from slipping in front of the muzzle.
  • Like the Mossberg and Remington it only ejects to the right side, next to your face
  • Expensive in that most go for over $1300, and you’re going to need to add a sight
  • Relatively bulky

See results without voting

With all of those cons, does it really deserve a high place on this list? I believe so, for two main reasons. For one, it holds 12+1 2 3/4″ 12 gauge ammo and 14+1 3″ ammo. That’s a ton. There aren’t a lot of situations where that isn’t enough to get the job done. The second reason compliments the first. The UTS-15 feeds from two different barrels, and UTAS designed a selector switch that allows you to choose which barrel to feed from. Not only is it nice to be able to choose what type of ammo you want, but also you’re given the choice to alternate between the barrels. Also, one feeding barrel is selected and then emptied, the UTS-15 automatically switches to the other barrel. The selector feature is unique and offers quite a bit of versatility in a small package allowing you to potentially choose between two different types of ammunition on the fly.

There are a few smaller pluses as well. The UTS-15 is incredibly light and durable because it is manufactured with state-of-the-art materials. It can optionally come with a built-in flashlight, laser, or an attachable extended barrel. The extended barrel could be handy if you wish to shoot skeet. It wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice for a clay gun, but it might be kind of a fun one to take to the range. It has rails to attach a sight, and like I said before you’ll probably need to do that. Lastly, it’s easier to reload than the other pump shotguns.

Just as a note…If I hear more sentiment that this is an unreliable gun, it will probably drop to #5 on the countdown.


As a side-note, whereas normally with semi-autos you have to worry about occasional faulty cycling (and no exception with this gun), I’ve seen pump bullpup shotguns short shucked a lot too. I’d assume the Saiga-12 will reliably cycle with the right choice of ammo. I’d also assume the bullpups wouldn’t be prone to short shucking once the shooter is familiar with the gun, and so I didn’t really let those things factor into my list.

#2: Saiga 12 Kushnapup conversion

Coming in as the first loser is the Saiga-12 Kushnapup. I’ll admit I was a bit biased against this gun at first. The finicky plastic look made me think the semi-auto Kushnapup would fall apart or have too much recoil.

My skeptical predisposition was soon lost after witnessing the firepower of this gun. Semi-auto of course is potentially lifesaving fractions of a second faster than pump shotguns. With that being said, I think even professionals are more likely to go through ammo faster with the semi-auto shotgun. This could lead to emptying a clip without adequate and thoughtful target selection. Pump versus semi-auto is a matter of personal preference, and that is probably what determines this shotgun’s place on a top-5 list for a reader.

The Kushnapup is undoubtedly a fun gun. There’s not a whole lot of kick, and you can fire it one handed. Rich mavericks (or pretenders) might potentially try to dual wield two of these babies, but again, the ejector port is on the right side, which is troublesome. The one handed thing has been known to come in handy in a firefight because hands are sometimes at a premium. If one arm is shot, if you have to open a door, etc. it will come in handy (don’t think that I’ve been in that sort of situation, but it makes sense).

There are a couple of more notes that I’d like to share with you. The capacity of the gun is low, but can be improved by buying an extended clip. Drum magazines don’t work particularly well because with the bullpup configuration the feed is farther back; hence the drum magazine is gaudily sitting on your chest.

There are sight rails, and you’ll need a sight if you’re accustomed to shooting traditional builds. Also, there isn’t an easy, straightforward way to add a flashlight and a laser. The grip isn’t optional but the one it comes with is satisfactory and ergonomical. Lastly, the Kushnapup conversion at times can be hard to find and acquire.

And with that, we move to #1…


Numero uno: The Kel-Tech KSG shotgun

The KSG is Kel-Tech’s first shotgun, and it set the a good standard for bullpups. I must admit I get a little swoony over it, so I must ask that you bear with me. The KSG started as a curiosity for most gun owners but it has earned some enthusiasts since it came out in 2011. Unfortunately, demand is high and they have gotten very pricey. One might have to be patient for the prices to come back down. Here is my take:

Finally, we come to a bullpup that ejects downward, making it 100% ambidextrous. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the conversion kits and UTAS were more accepting of lefties, but when comparing it to other guns on the list downward ejection seems like a luxury. Also, at the range the KSG is more pleasant simply because there is less heat and smoke in your face.

I promise they aren't paying me.
I promise they aren’t paying me.

You want capacity? You have capacity. The KSG can hold 7+7+1 rounds, meaning it has two feeding tubes that hold seven rounds each and of course you can chamber a round. Like the UTS-15, this means that you can have 7+1 rounds of one type of ammo and 7 rounds of another, and quickly choose between each whenever you desire. Also, there’s a handy slide release on the trigger.

What really sets the KSG apart for me however is its lightness and compactness. There isn’t a shotgun off the top of my head that I would rather have in tight corners or spaces. It doesn’t look or feel like it should have 14 round capacity or an 18.5″ barrel. Thus it is a true representation of what a bullpup shotgun should be. Plus, it looks pretty sexy. The most similar gun, the UTS-15, is bigger than the KSG but I don’t like the feel as much, and you don’t get anything (except for a selector switch mode) that the KSG doesn’t offer. There are pictures of the KSG everywhere for good reason.

It’s also pleasant to have rails. Like any of these bullpup guns, if you’re used to shooting traditional shotguns you’ll probably have trouble at first. The KSG can be fitted with any optics you desire to fix this problem, and you can add things like a grip guard and other accessories to the bottom.

If I had to complain I would complain that it’s awkward to reload because the feed is so far back on the stock. However, I haven’t seen a bullpup that really solved this problem except for the Saiga with a magazine feed. I would also complain that once a feeding tube is empty you have to find the selector switch and switch to the other tube or reload. This could be costly in the heat of action, although 7+1 is pretty good if you just count one barrel. Lastly, the MSRP is pretty cheap in the $800-900 range, but they’re hard to find so they will probably go for much more than that ($1500 plus or minus $500).

The overall package is just a fun and reliable shotgun. When the KSG is laid out on a table next to other guns, it’s hard not to pick it up first. Hopefully Kel-tech will come out with another model and/or there will be more shotguns like it in the future. For a first gen model, they knocked it out of the park.

Thanks for reading, be safe, and I hope to come out with some more weapons hubs in the near future. Suggestions welcome!

Excerpt from the FIG 2011 Trampolining and Tumbling World Championships in Birmingham, England

What is Power Tumbling and How is it Different From Gymnastics?

My own daughter competing at the USAG Junior Olympic Trampoline &Tumbling National Championships. She is completing a half twist (barani) in the air during her double mini trampoline dismount.
My own daughter competing at the USAG Junior Olympic Trampoline &Tumbling National Championships. She is completing a half twist (barani) in the air during her double mini trampoline dismount.

Source: SmartAndFun

Power Tumbling, also called ‘Trampoline and Tumbling,’ is a form of Gymnastics

Have you ever heard of the sport called power tumbling? Although kids and adults all over the USA and the world are involved in this sport, power tumbling, which is also called ‘trampoline and tumbling’ or simply ‘T&T,’ remains relatively unknown to much of the general public.

Power tumbling is a form of gymnastics, although it is different from traditional gymnastics. Traditional gymnastics, often called “artistic gymnastics” by those involved in the sport, is the form most people are familiar with. For girls and women, artistic gymnastics involves performing skills on the floor, balance beam, uneven parallel bars and vault. Boys and men who participate in artistic gymnastics perform their skills on the floor, pommel horse, vault, rings, high bar and parallel bars.

So then, what is power tumbling? Power tumbling involves many of the same skills as artistic gymnastics, but uses a different set of equipment. In power tumbling, men, women, boys and girls alike all perform tumbling skills on the floor, a traditional trampoline and a double mini trampoline.


An example of a level 3 (beginner) tumbling pass

Examples of level 10 (advanced) tumbling passes

Power Tumbling Apparatus: Rod Floor

In power tumbling, the piece of equipment known as the floor is a long, narrow, slightly elevated tumbling surface. It is often referred to as the “rod floor,” because it is made from a series of fiberglass rods. The rods flex and provide additional bounce that an ordinary floor does not. The rods are covered in padding, and the padding is covered in a flooring material suitable for tumbling.

Unlike traditional artistic gymnastics, where routines are performed on a large 39′ x 39′ floor, power tumbling’s rod floor is a 6′ x 84′ runway. Although some lower-level skills are executed from a standing start, power tumblers typically begin at one end of the floor, take a running start, then complete a series of skills called a pass. In competition, power tumblers perform and are judged on two, three or sometimes four passes, depending upon their skill level and the rules of that specific competitive meet.

Many of the skills performed in power tumbling passes, such as back handsprings, layouts, whips and tucks, are the same as those performed in artistic gymnastics floor routines. However, artistic routines take longer to perform than power tumbling passes, and female artistic gymnasts perform their routines to music. Power tumbling passes are not set to music.


My own daughter’s level 7 trampoline routine.

Synchronized Trampoline

Power Tumbling Apparatus: Trampoline

Power tumblers also perform skills on the trampoline. Regulation competitive trampolines are similar to standard back yard trampolines, but are designed to provide a higher, more powerful bounce. Competitive trampoline routines look effortless as the athletes fly high into the air, sometimes performing multiple skills within each bounce. Lower level trampolinists typically perform and are judged one trampoline routine. Higher-level trampolinists may perform two routines, depending upon their level and each meet’s rules.

Most trampolinists compete indiviually. However, higher-level trampolinists may also choose to compete in synchronized trampoline, provided they have a partner and attend a competitive meet that offers this event — not all of them do. In synchronized trampoline, two athletes perform the same trampoline routine at the same time, on side-by-side trampolines. Each two-person team is judged on how well they execute the routine, as well as how closely the athletes’ movements mirror one another.


An example of a level 8 double mini pass.

Power Tumbling Apparatus: Double Mini Trampoline

While just about everyone knows what a trampoline is, most have never seen or heard of a double mini trampoline. From its name, you have probably already guessed that a double mini trampoline has two jumping surfaces and is much smaller than a standard trampoline. To perform a pass on a double mini trampoline, athletes typically take a running start, jump onto the first jumping surface, which is angled toward the floor, jump onto the next surface, which is parallel to the floor, and then perform a tumbling skill as they dismount. In competition, athletes usually complete two different double mini passes. The scores from each pass are added together to get the athlete’s final score.


Athletes of all ages and levels can compete, growing and improving from this: level 4…

To this: FIG World Championships.

Competitive Power Tumbling

Like artistic gymnasts, power tumblers may choose to compete against other athletes who are at the same skill level, are the same gender and around the same age.

If you’re serious about competing in power tumbling and do well, you can travel the world for your sport. In the United States, competitions start at the local level, and advance to state, regional, and national levels. If you are 12-18 years old and progress past USAG level 10 to the elite level, you may qualify to compete at the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) World Age Group Championships, an international competition which is held in a different location each year. Some recent past locations include Birmingham, England; St. Petersburg, Russia and Metz, France.

At the most advanced level and/or for those older than 18, the FIG holds Wold Championships in trampoline and tumbling each year as well. See the video to the right and at the bottom of this page for an example of the incredible skill and talent on display at the FIG Wold Championships.

Governing Bodies

In the United States, there are two major governing associations in competitive power tumbling: the USAG and the USTA. The two organizations are similar but each runs their own set of competitions, requires their own tumbling passes and trampoline routines, and each summer holds their own national championships.

U.S.A. Gymnastics (USAG)

In addition to trampoline and tumbling, this organization governs artistic, acrobatic and rhythmic gymnastics across the country. The USAG is associated with the FIG and feeds its best and most dedicated gymnasts into programs which can take them all the way to the World Age Group Championships and the Olympics. According to their website, “USA Gymnastics is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of gymnastics in the United States, consistent with the Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act, the Bylaws of the United States Olympic Committee and the International Gymnastics Federation. The mission of USA Gymnastics is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of gymnastics.”

In other words, if you dream of some day competing in the Junior Olympics, Olympics, World Age Group Championships or FIG World Championships, train with a gym that belongs to and competes through the USAG.

USAG power tumblers are placed in numbered levels one through ten, and after level ten move to the “elite” division.

United States Trampoline and Tumbling Association (USTA)

Although the USTA does not have the direct association with FIG and the Olympics that the USAG does, it is nevertheless a well-respected organization and has been around for decades. In fact, the USTA was founded in 1971 by George Nissen, the inventor of the trampoline. The USTA is affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union and holds a national championship every summer.

USTA power tumblers are placed in named levels, such as “beginner,” “advanced beginner,” “sub advanced ” and “elite.” USTA levels, passes and routines are comparable to those of the USAG.

15' Trampoline Combo Includes Enclosure

15′ Trampoline Combo Includes Enclosure

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Ultega Jumper Trampoline with Safety Net, 12 ft

Ultega Jumper Trampoline with Safety Net, 12 ft

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Power Tumbling for Fun, Recreation and Fitness

Of course, you don’t have to compete in power tumbling. You can always take tumbling classes for fun, recreation and fitness. It’s great exercise and with hard work, plenty of practice and a solid coach, you’ll learn lots of impressive skills. If you’re into cheerleading, tumbling classes are a terrific way to improve your cheer skills. In fact, many cheer coaches require their cheerleaders to take tumbling classes.

Tumbling classes are available for all ages and all levels, from toddlers to adults and beginners to advanced tumblers. To find tumbling classes in your area, type “tumbling classes” or “trampoline classes” and the name of your town into your favorite search engine’s home page, or look in your phone directory under gymnasiums, tumbling classes, gymnastics classes or cheerleading teams. You can also ask friends and neighbors if they can recommend a tumbling gym in your area.

Every gym is different, but many offer classes in floor tumbling only or trampolining only, as well as classes that teach combined skills in all three power tumbling events. Some also offer cheer-tumble classes especially geared toward cheerleaders who want to improve their tumbling skills.


2004 Olympics Men’s Trampoline Gold Medalist

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Is power tumbling or artistic gymnastics a better fit for you?

If you love gymnastics, it’s likely that you’ll love power tumbling, also. Many of the floor skills are the same. However, if your favorite apparatus is bars, beam, rings or pommel horse, you may prefer to stick with artistic gymnastics. If you enjoy performing skills on the trampoline and are disappointed by the fact that you don’t get to train on it very often in your artistic gymnastics classes, power tumbling may be a better fit for you. Many gymnasts find that the vault and double mini trampoline are comparable, although of course these two pieces of equipment do have their differences.

There are additional items to consider when choosing between artistic gymnastics and power tumbling:

Height, Weight and General Body Size: The most advanced artistic gymnasts tend to be short in stature, thin and very muscular with a great deal of upper body strength. However, power tumbling is much more forgiving of those who do not fit that physical mold. Typically, athletes who are taller and/or heavier have a better chance at doing well in power tumbling as opposed to artistic gymnastics. I’m not to saying that those who are short, thin and muscular will have less chance at succeeding in power tumbling. I’m simply pointing out that in power tumbling, an athlete’s size is less important because trampolines provide plenty of bounce to propel participants into the air.

Also, while upper body strength is important for power tumbling, power tumbling skills typically do not require the degree of upper body strength that many artistic gymnastics skills do. Specifically, bars, rings and pommel horse require a great deal of upper body strength, while floor tumbling and trampolining skills require mainly “leg power.”

The Dance Factor: For females, artistic gymnastics requires dance skill. If ballet is not your thing, you might prefer power tumbling. In power tumbling, skills must look as though they are effortless and must be performed correctly and in clean form, such as with straight legs, a tight body position and pointed toes. However, in power tumbling, body control and overall power is more important than grace and artistry.

Joint Impact, Injuries and Age: While tumbling on either a gymnastics floor or a power tumbling rod floor poses the threat of impact injuries, working on a trampoline is gentler on the joints because of the bounce and give. For this reason, athletes with injuries are often able to remain competing on the trampoline, or switch to trampoline, even though their injuries may force them to abandon other gymnastics pursuits. Additionally, because less stress is put on joints, trampolinists often find they can remain in the sport long after artistic gymnasts have been forced to retire. For example, British Olympic trampolinist Jaime Moore retired in 2010 at age 30, although many expected her to continue training for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.

Training Time: If you’re a busy student with tons of homework and lots of extracurricular activities and interests, you may find it difficult to compete in artistic gymnastics, as a rigorous practice schedule is needed to properly train for the different artistic events. Many busy people find that power tumbling fits into their schedules more easily than artistic gymnastics, because power tumbling typically does not require such an extensive number of practice hours for athletes to succeed on a competitive basis.

Competitive Meets: Because power tumbling is not as well-known as gymnastics and has fewer participants, there are fewer competitive meets. If you have plenty of time and the desire to compete at a gymnastics meet every weekend, artistic gymnastics may be a better choice for you. On the other hand, if you have a busy schedule and a number of interests, power tumbling might be a better fit. Tumbling competitions are much less frequent, leaving you some free weekends each month for other pursuits.

Leveling Frustrations: It has been my experience with children’s competitive artistic gymnastics that kids are placed in one level for all disciplines. When my own daughter was participating in competitive artistic gymnastics, she was quite good on vault but fairly weak in the other events. Her coach allowed her to learn and practice higher-level vaults during class time, but unfortunately my daughter could not move up to a higher level of competitive vaulting until she was ready to move up on every apparatus. In power tumbling, however, athletes are leveled on each individual apparatus, and my child now is able to compete at the appropriate level for each. This allows her to take her time and improve on her weakest events without worrying about being held back in her best.


Excerpt from the FIG 2011 Trampolining and Tumbling World Championships in Birmingham, England

Olympic Dreams

Although plenty of kids and adults enjoy the thrilling sensation of flying through the air by way of trampoline, many don’t realize it is an Olympic sport. Trampolining is relatively new to the Olympic scene, having been added to the games first as an exhibition sport in 1996, then as a medal sport for men and women at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Unfortunately, at this time, trampoline is the only power tumbling discipline that is an Olympic sport. Athletes wishing to compete on floor and double-mini trampoline are limited to competitions put on by power tumbling or gymnastics associations. Watch the video to the right and I think you’ll agree that this world-class athlete and other elite tumblers of his skill level are performing feats worthy of Olympic competition.

Edward J. Palumbo

Varminting for Small Game


Edward J. Palumbo

Ed Palumbo scans an alfalfa field for ground squirrels and jackrabbits.
Ed Palumbo scans an alfalfa field for ground squirrels and jackrabbits.

Source: Tom Zingalis

If you live in or near a farming or ranching community, crops and livestock are among the foundations of your area’s livelihood, local economy and a part of life, but there are other elements of nature that oppose your efforts, devour your profits, waste your labor, threaten your livestock or damage your equipment. We call these “vermin” or, more colloquially, “varmints”, and they came in various sizes and appetites.

A varmint may be a rat, mouse, fox, coyote, snake, wolf, weasel or other pest or predator, including a broad spectrum of insects, that eat the crops or infest the livestock; however, for our purpose, we will discuss those creatures that we can class as “small game animals” that can be dispatched with a firearm.

Ground squirrel photographed in Lake County, Oregon.
Ground squirrel photographed in Lake County, Oregon.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Wherever agribusiness and nature come in close contact, we can expect some issues of habitat encroachment. The wildlife may have gotten there first, and may grudgingly give way in time, but predators and livestock do not coexist well, nor do herbivores and crops. The urban thought process may support coexistence or suggest the rancher be patient with the wildlife, perhaps allowing for a percentage of predation, but we’re not discussing a rental agreement. If you have a sheep ranch and coyotes are killing lambs, you cannot tolerate that. Aside from the waste, you are a steward of that livestock and have a moral obligation to protect them. From a purely financial perspective, you’ve invested your time, efforts and resources into your livestock and crop, and must control or minimize your losses.

Pivot irrigation of an alfalfa field. Christmas Valley, OR.
Pivot irrigation of an alfalfa field. Christmas Valley, OR.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

An urbanite sees a grasshopper and finds it a curious example of insect life. Multiply that grasshopper by many thousands, and they are a plague. Priorities change when you’re responsible for farm loans, equipment maintenance, veterinary bills and wages. I won’t reduce it to purely financial terms, but I understand the ranchers’ angst when a cluster of legislators wearing three-piece suits makes laws that directly affect farms and ranches. However well-intended, the legislators apparently do not have to suffer the consequences of many of the laws and regulations.

High desert (4,400 ft. ASL) of Christmas Valley, OR.
High desert (4,400 ft. ASL) of Christmas Valley, OR.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Whenever wildlife impacts agricultural interests, that problem must be addressed. Cougars, wolves, coyotes and other predators may be protected by seasons or Federal law, but they will not limit their appetites to elk calves or fawns when there is no more formidable barrier between them and beef or dairy cattle than a triple-strand barbed wire fence. Livestock and crops are a tempting, irresistible feast for vermin. If the rancher was paid to provide this sustenance to wildlife, he could earn a livelihood, paying his expenses and feeding his family in the process. In reality, any predator or pest erodes profit and undermines effort.

I am not a rancher or farmer; I live in a northern Oregon community of 26,000 with farms and ranches nearby. I recognize hunting as a tool of game management, though I no longer hunt medium game, but I’ve been a shooter for more than 50 years and, over time, have focused my efforts, preferences and resources on pest control. In my opinion, it’s a productive exercise of basic marksmanship principles and serves a beneficial purpose.

I will discuss preparation for varminting with an emphasis on high-velocity .22 caliber rifles, and tell you how I prepare for my time afield. I don’t regard varminting as “hunting”. In practice, it’s a different exercise. Most (>96%) of my shooting is done on the firing lines at a nearby rifle range. Another 2% is done in the field under realistic conditions, duplicating or simulating the situations I typically encounter with targets. The remaining 2% of my shooting is conducted in the field, eliminating ground squirrels, jackrabbits, coyotes and whatever the farmer, rancher or property owner defines as a problem. Since 2010, my favorite area to conduct this pest control is in Lake County, south central Oregon, but there are many other counties and areas that offer varminting opportunities.

A woodchuck (groundhog) falls to the Sako rifle in  .222 Remington on a dairy farm in Upstate NY.
A woodchuck (groundhog) falls to the Sako rifle in .222 Remington on a dairy farm in Upstate NY.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Equipment Choices

When I was a lad, a .22 rimfire rifle was all I needed for small game, and I was assured a good day afield with a box of .22LR ammo in my pocket and a .22 rifle in my hands. Other than a significant passing of time, little of that has changed. I’ve accumulated an assortment of firearms over time, but I occasionally get back to basics, and I still eliminate pests with my Remington Model 580, a single-shot .22 bolt action rifle, or my Ruger 10/22 autoloader.

Whenever we plan a varmint trip, I usually bring two to five rifles with me and reach for the one that suits the situation best, much as a golfer will choose the best club for situation. If I was limited by resource or choice to one rifle, I’d probably choose a light .222 Rem or .223 bolt action, but colleagues may disagree and it is that exercise of choice that adds to the interest, social dynamic and humor on a weekend in the field.

What you select as a varmint rifle depends on the distances at which you take your shots, your preferences as a shooter, the type of rifle you prefer and (to some extent) your budget. I seem to rely primarily on bolt action and single-shot centerfire rifles because they demonstrate the highest accuracy potentials. A good bolt action locks up like a bank vault when a round is chambered, the brass is easily controllable when I eject a spent case, and I need only neck-size my brass when I handload because the case is fire-formed for that specific chamber. I’ll discuss that at greater length later.

Ammunition prepared for my bolt action .223 rifle
Ammunition prepared for my bolt action .223 rifle

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Since varminting often involves some hiking to a good position or favorable location, I would recommend a sling or carrying strap so the shooter’s hands can be free to carry other items or to maintain balance in rugged terrain. I would also suggest binoculars of 7X to 10X magnification to find small game when you’ve reached a good shooting position. Properly used to scan the field, a pair of binoculars will clearly improve your results.

Don’t think you need an expensive or highly specialized rifle for varmints. The bolt action, single-shot .22 rimfire rifle you received as a youngster for your birthday or Christmas present will serve you well, but you must accept the limits imposed the .22 rimfire cartridge. You may need nothing more for the pasture or land where you customarily shoot at pests. If your targets present at greater distances, you may opt for something a bit more powerful. My bolt action Ruger M77/22M is a .22 Magnum that extends my limit, compared to .22 Long Rifle ammunition.

Despite recent problems with ammunition availability and a noticeable increase in the price of ammo and reloading components, any accurate rifle that reliably eliminates squirrels can be a basic choice, or it could be the very accurate, well-crafted and expensive custom rifle with heavy barrel and a high-magnification telescopic sight for long-distance shooting, chambered for one of today’s high-velocity .22 centerfire cartridges. The latter may extend the distances at which you shoot accurately, but you can still enjoy that .22 rimfire rifle. After decades of use, I still take my .22 rimfire rifles afield occasionally, and they still provides me with a day’s shooting satisfaction. It may be a nostalgic exercise, but I will always value my time with those .22 rimfire rifles.

So many places for small game to hide!
So many places for small game to hide!

Source: Edward J. Palumbo


The terrain in which we shoot or hunt is as varied as the nation in which we live. It could be dense woodlands or endless plains, desert or pasture, sagebrush or swampland. The environment in which we do our varminting will dictate, to some extent, the choices we make for cartridges and optics. If the terrain varies, choose a scope with versatility. If your favorite area is characterized by heavy, dense vegetation and most of your shots are taken at relatively close range from the standing position, choose an optic with lower magnification or rely on a receiver sight.

Bureau of Land Management acreage - Christmas Valley, Oregon
Bureau of Land Management acreage – Christmas Valley, Oregon

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Any accurate rifle/cartridge combination can be used as a varminter. Years ago, when I lived in the Northeast, I occasionally used a scoped .30-’06 bolt action rifle for woodchuck in Upstate New York, because the cartridge is versatile and served well as my whitetail deer rifle, so I used it for varmints in the off-season. Admittedly, it was an impractical choice (overkill – my lovely wife would describe this as the equivalent of striking a fly with a sledgehammer) and it proved too loud and concussive for many of the dairy farms where we often found our woodchuck or groundhog population.

My first dedicated varmint rifle was a Remington Model 788 bolt action purchased in late 1967. It was chambered for the .22-250 cartridge. Despite being a plain (one might say “homely”) rifle, it was affordably priced and every bit as accurate as rifles costing much more. It was topped with a Weaver K10 scope (10X) and a good number of woodchuck fell to that rifle.

The deer season was relatively short, but the varmints provided a three-season challenge for marksmanship. After dropping woodchuck (groundhogs, marmots) with the .22-250, I was “hooked” and enjoyed the challenge of small game at distances previously undreamed of with my .22 rimfire rifles.

Within a year, my .22-250 was followed by a Sako L461 “Vixen” with heavy barrel, chambered for the .222 Remington cartridge, purchased in late 1968. I initially topped it with a Redfield 12X scope. It was a well-crafted, impressively accurate rifle, and it was the first for which I handloaded ammunition. Other varmint rifles followed in what seems a rapid succession.

Firing from an elevated platform is a benefit I've seldom enjoyed but greatly appreciated.
Firing from an elevated platform is a benefit I’ve seldom enjoyed but greatly appreciated.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

In the past five decades, I’ve cycled through a great many rifles and sidearms. I relocated to southern California in 1972, purchased and regularly visited a small property in southwestern Colorado in 1980, and 18-19 years ago my family and I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Throughout, I’ve taken particular delight in assembling my own ammunition and testing it for accuracy in an ongoing process of load development.

There are rifles you swear by and others you swear at, but varmint cartridges that have performed well for me over time include the .22 Hornet, .221, Fireball, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .22-250 Rem., .225 Winchester, and others. I won’t dwell on cartridges like the .219 Donaldson Wasp or the .218 Bee because I no longer own those rifles and the current generation of shooters hasn’t voiced an interest in them.

I do not overlook smaller or larger bullet diameters as good choices, such as the .204 Ruger, .243 Winchester, 6mmBR, .250-3000, .257 Roberts or .25-’06, but I hope to limit this discussion to .22 centerfire cartridges because they provide good performance at acceptable noise levels, and components are more affordable for this bullet diameter. The shooter gets “more bang for the buck” with .22 varmint cartridges and many of the rifles chambered for them.

Remington Model 700BDL-V with Weaver 16X Micro-Trac scope and bipod, zeroed for 200 yards.
Remington Model 700BDL-V with Weaver 16X Micro-Trac scope and bipod, zeroed for 200 yards.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

If you usually fire from the prone position, which is a very stable position if the vegetation before you permits it, I’d recommend a bipod that attaches to your front sling swivel, such as a Harris bipod or Caldwell XLA bipod. Sometimes a terrain feature or vegetation will obstruct your view through the scope when you’re that low to the ground. I’ve used a backpack, sleeping bag or accessory box for a forend rest to facilitate the shot. If I need better clearance, I go to the sitting position. Admittedly, I lack the flexibility at this point in life to optimize the kneeling position. I won’t take a shot from the standing offhand position unless the rifle and distance make that a good choice. Under ideal circumstances, you can fire from a elevated position, from the bed of your pickup truck (if legally permitted) or a raised platform that will permit a better view of your field of fire and a stable rest for your rifle.

You may want to consider hearing protection. If you and a colleague are working together, do not stand or sit where muzzle blast may damage your hearing. Hearing damage may be a singular event or a cumulative effect but, speaking as one who wears hearing aids, I suggest you take every precaution and protect your hearing.

I would seriously recommend a compact digital camera, a point-and-shoot, because every trip afield is fuel for good memories and the photo images are a great source of enjoyment when we review the trip. The photo illustration for this article was captured with Canon, Nikon and Olympus cameras. I wouldn’t recommend one brand over another; I’ve had entirely satisfactory results with all the cameras I’ve used.

For predators, such as coyotes, a hand-held or electronic call is an asset. You can rely on chance encounter, but a predator is a hunter; if the predator is drawn by the sound of its quarry, it will approach warily or aggressively (depending on its hunger or desperation) and the likelihood of drawing that predator close enough to present a shot is noticeably improved. A hand-held call, with practice, will mimic the squeal of injured small game or the howl of a competing predator. That said, I use a hand-held, mouth-operated call that sounds like a wounded or distressed small game animal. They cost $10 to 20 and fit in the pocket of a game vest or parka.

Electronic calls are a more sophisticated approach. I have not purchased an electronic call (yet) because much of my activity is focused on the foundation of the food chain, the creatures that predators hunt, though I’ve dropped predators as targets of opportunity. Of what I’ve seen or researched, these electronic calls are priced between $35 and $700, weigh between 2 and 13 lbs, can be powered by batteries or battery packs, and can offer a spectrum of 40 to 1,000 sounds projected from two or more speakers. They offer the predator (coyote, fox and others) a promise of an apparently easy dinner. The best of these electronic calls are programmable and surprisingly sophisticated in design.

Howa Model 1500 with Heavy Barrel, Bushnell 10X Mil-Dot Scope
Howa Model 1500 with Heavy Barrel, Bushnell 10X Mil-Dot Scope

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Optics or Scopes for Varminting

Generally speaking, a scoped rifle used for small game has to have the magnification and the clarity to visualize the target. That wasn’t a major consideration when I was younger, but it seems my lights are dimming a bit and I purchase scopes with much the same discernment that I choose prescription eyeglasses; I want a rugged scope with edge-to-edge clarity and light transmission when I look through the eyepiece.

You must consider the distance and terrain, the accuracy potential of your rifle and your own ability with it when choosing a scope. I candidly suggest buying a quality optic, the best you can afford or one for which you are willing to stretch your budget. If your scope can do no better that provide a blurry blob or shapeless dot when you aim at a distant ground squirrel or prairie dog, then you are too far away or must adjust for parallax (in scopes with that capability) or focus an eyepiece for your vision.

Much the same is true if the crosshairs of your scope completely subtend or cover the creature’s body. You need to get closer or opt for greater magnification. Your experiences in the field will better define your needs. Not only must you clearly see the small creature, you should be able to choose the part of the body for optimum bullet placement. We do fire to wound the creature. Many varmints cling tenaciously to life and, if merely wounded, they will escape to a burrow or nearby dense brush to die a painful and lingering death. My intent, when I fire, is to instantly and humanely eliminate the varmint. If you, as a shooter, cannot obtain those results, then you are ethically required to operate within distances that will permit you to shoot accurately or to practice until you are capable of it.

Remington Model 600 in .222 Rem., with Burris 6X Compact Scope
Remington Model 600 in .222 Rem., with Burris 6X Compact Scope

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Three of my rifles are equipped with 3-9X variable power scopes because I appreciate the versatility of this magnification range. A colleague prefers his versatile 4-12X variable on his .223 for the same reasons. Another of my rifles, a heavy-barreled Howa 1500 in .223, is equipped with a Bushnell 10X Mil-Dot scope, and that combination has been a fine performer at 200+ yards. My .22-250 wears a Weaver 16X Micro-Trac scope that allows me to visualize a ground squirrel at 200-300 yards. My Remington Model 600 in .222 Rem wears a Burris 6X Compact scope and has a crisp Timney trigger; it’s pleasure to work with that bolt action carbine, though I usually rely on it up to 125 yards.

There is no formula or standard profile among my varmint rifles; my basic requirement is reliable accuracy and the optical equipment that provides the sight picture I need. If I intend to fire my rifle in the standing offhand position, a scope magnification greater than 6X will not be an asset. High magnification exaggerates every movement and sighting error. I candidly cannot hold steadily enough to exploit high magnification in the unsupported standing position, though I practice regularly.

High magnification works against you in a hand-held rifle. That’s why my .22 Hornet, a Ruger #3 single shot (falling block) carbine, wears a Leupold 4X Compact scope on the receiver, and it has proven one of my best choices for jackrabbits in the high desert sagebrush. My Remington Model 580, a .22 rimfire, the simplest or least sophisticated of my rifles, wears a Weaver 3X scope on the receiver and it has dropped a great many varmints over the years. For a heavy-barreled rifle that will be fired from the prone position or benchrest, higher magnification is definitely an advantage, but the terrain and the vegetation do not always favor that equipment choice.

One of my .22 rimfire rifles is equipped with a Tasco ProPoint dot sight that does not magnify but superimposes a red dot on the target. Initially intended as an exercise of curiosity, this is one of the fastest sight arrangements I’ve used! Once adjusted for windage and elevation, the shooter superimposes the dot on the target and fires. My eyeglass prescription is getting stronger at this point in life, but this dot sight is remarkably fast and efficient. Lacking magnification, I use it in sagebrush for closer distances of 15 to 50 yards, when jackrabbits break from cover.

Companions have borrowed this rifle and enjoyed unexpectedly good results. This is a battery-operated sight, so the dot must be switched on before we stroll afield and switched off as our session ends. As long as I remember to do that, the wafer-thin #2032 lithium battery lasts a great while, and I carry a spare in my kit. An assortment of batteries have become a routine in my life – hearing aid, camera, dot sight, small flashlight, etc.

Tom observes my point of impact ("spotting the shot") and advises that my shot was high.
Tom observes my point of impact (“spotting the shot”) and advises that my shot was high.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo


I recently fired at a distant jackrabbit with .223 handloads and my bullet went just over its head, but the mild recoil was just enough to lose the target from my scope’s narrow field of view, so I didn’t see the strike of the bullet. I wasn’t certain how high, and didn’t adjust my point of aim sufficiently for the next shot. The jackrabbit continued to feast on the alfalfa. My friend observed and commented, “Your shot was high.” I adjusted lower and made solid contact on the next shot. When we paced it out, the jackrabbit was further than I originally guessed, so I must improve my ability to estimate range. I’ve been doing this for years and still learn something whenever we go afield.

The 14-foot platform behind me provides a fine view of the terrain while minimizing the possibility of ricochets.
The 14-foot platform behind me provides a fine view of the terrain while minimizing the possibility of ricochets.

Source: Tom Zingalis

Cartridge Choices

Today’s most popular cartridges for varminting are the .223 and the .22-250, but many cartridge options exist. In 1980, I purchased a Ruger #3 single-shot carbine chambered for the .22 Hornet. This falling block, single-shot carbine was very solidly built and it carried well; however, despite my best efforts on the reloading bench, the Hornet provided lackluster accuracy, so I but traded it four years later for a sidearm. Years passed and I found and inspected another (lightly used) Ruger #3 in .22 Hornet at an irresistibly low price. Production of the #3 falling block was discontinued in 1986, and I wanted another. I expected the same results I’d gotten in the past, but we now have a new generation of bullet technology.

I assembled a series of handloaded .22 Hornet cartridges with Hornady 40 gr, V-Max and 35 gr. V-Max bullets. Results at 50 yards were much better than I’d observed in the past, before these and other polymer-tipped bullets were available. The Ruger #3 now wears a Leupold 4X Compact scope and it’s one of my favorite “walking varminters”, a rifle I can carry easily and fire with acceptable efficiency from the standing offhand position.

This Hornet has consistently done very well on jackrabbits, Belding ground squirrels and Columbia ground squirrels in the sagebrush and high desert areas where I’ve carried it. Briefly, it hits harder and more accurately than one would expect, using the older ammunition and has a basis for comparison. I shared my loading data with a friend who owns a CZ 527 bolt action rifle in .22 Hornet, and he is very pleased with his results.

Ruger #3 single-shot in .22 Hornet, equipped with a Leupold 4X Compact scope.
Ruger #3 single-shot in .22 Hornet, equipped with a Leupold 4X Compact scope.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

The .223 Rem and .22-250 are the most popular varmint cartridges in today’s market, and excellent rifles are available for both cartridges. The popularity of the .223 can be attributed to its adoption as a military cartridge. I appreciate these and other .22 centerfire cartridges, some of which are on the verge of obsolescence, and I still handload for all my rifles. Gunsmiths continue to rebarrel rifles for the .225 Winchester, .221 Fireball, .218 Bee and others, but used rifles in these and other chamberings are difficult to find and, despite good performance and reputation, a few cartridges are slipping closer to obsolescence. With the exception of limited production, custom or semi-custom rifles like Cooper Rifles of Montana, I don’t believe factory rifles are currently chambered for some of these reliable performers.

For long distances and flat trajectories, the .22-250, the .220 Swift and .225 Winchester are good choices. These are fine performers, but the .22-250 is the most popular of this trio. The .220 Swift still has its loyal following. Though a fine cartridge, the .225 Winchester is clinging to existence by a thread, and brass or factory ammunition is difficult to find. If I had to choose one (1) cartridge in this class, I’d embrace the .22-250 and be done with it.


If you handload (and I recommend it), you’re aware there are 7,000 grains of powder to the pound, and one pound of smokeless powder goes much further for these .22 centerfire cartridges than in cartridges of greater powder volume or larger bullet diameters, better suited to deer. The primary benefit of handloading is the uniformity and attention to detail that can provide the best results in your particular rifle, and that’s is largely a result of individual preference. You are producing ammunition custom-made for your rifle. Accuracy testing and experience in load development will demonstrate what works best for you.

Bullet choices of .224” diameter on my workbench vary in weight from 35 to 80 grains, which is a remarkable spectrum of versatility. The choice of bullet will depend on cartridge volume, approximate bullet velocity, the barrel rifling’s rate-of-twist, the propellant (and resulting chamber pressure), and intended purpose or performance (e.g., target-shooting, thin-skinned game). You are not expected to intuitively know all this, but if you follow the recommended loads in your reloading manuals as one would follow a cooking recipe, you will use the appropriate amount of smokelss powder and bullet weight for your intended purpose. Do NOT start with or exceed the recommended maximum loads!

A friend asked, “What’s the difference between ‘reloading’ and ‘handloading’ ammunition? Good question! As commonly used, “reloading” refers to recycling your expended brass cartridge case to use them again, essentially remanufacturing your brass. “Handloading” implies extra steps in precision reloading to exploit optimum accuracy potentials. I reload my centerfire pistol and revolver ammunition; I carefully handload my varmint and target ammunition. The goal is consistency, and there are tools and techniques that are useful, but experience will dictate what may or may not contribute to precision shooting. My colleague regards handloading as something akin to alchemy, and it need not be difficult.

In the past, it was easy to improve upon the accuracy and performance of factory rifle ammunition. Technology and quality assurance have noticeably improved, and some premium ammunition performs remarkably well. The shooter is the beneficiary of that improvement, but premium ammunition is understandably more expensive.

Using quality dies, you can tailor your component choices with a great variety of bullets, powders, primers and seating depths.
Using quality dies, you can tailor your component choices with a great variety of bullets, powders, primers and seating depths.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

Cartridge brass is 70% copper and 30% zinc, there is no secret about that. Despite being chambered for the same cartridge, we can expect variations in brass cartridges from different manufacturers on issues of consistent case wall thickness, internal volume, base thickness, annealing, and other production steps. The greater the consistency, the more uniform the chamber pressure and the greater the potential for downrange accuracy. The handloader has the ability to provide individual dimensional measurement for greater uniformity. This is a labor-intensive issue and mass production cannot compete with that. The factory may measure powder volumetrically; the handloader can load powder by weight with an accurate scale, keeping the powder charge to less than one-tenth of grain variation.

A benefit of reloading is reduced cartridge cost. I won’t call it “savings” because I really don’t save money; I simply shoot much more for the dollar I spend. If I had to purchase factory ammunition, I’d consider shooting in volume prohibitively expensive. Instead of purchasing a box or 20 factory-loaded cartridges, I load 50 cartridges on my workbench with no compromise in quality or accuracy potential. I normally purchase in bulk, when I can, buying boxes of 250 varmint bullets instead of 50 or 100 per box, thus saving on packaging. You will spend less on one box of 500 bullets compared to five boxes of 100 each. For that reason, I try to purchase boxes of 250 varmint bullets for my .22 centerfire rifles, or boxes of 500 cast or swaged bullets for my .38 Special revolver.

I’m an Oregon resident; I have lived elsewhere and I am keenly aware that my family and I are extremely fortunate to live where we do. I live less than four miles from a well-established gun club with well developed resources, and those firing lines are my “laboratory” for load development. When I lived in the Northeast, the woods provided fine whitetail deer habitat but my varminting opportunities or long shots on small game were limited to privately owned or cultivated land, to dairy farms and pastures.

There are areas of Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado that have presented remarkable opportunities for outdoor recreation, and there are many areas where I’m sure I could be happy and consider myself fortunate to reside there, but I am definitely thankful for my corner of Oregon. Over time, I’ve explored other areas of the state, networked and found places to practice realistically to improve my accuracy, then used those abilities in the field.

There are presuppositions I hope to avoid. Simply purchasing a varmint rifle and zeroing at 50 to 100 yards may not effectively prepare us for the field. Practice (the more realistic, the better) provides a great advantage.

When I practice, I use targets that are readily available at a well-stocked sporting goods store or gun shop. Other shooting associates have adopted some of the same methods. My targets are as simple as party balloons, paper plates, clay skeet/trap targets, beverage cans, or paper targets with life-size varmint silhouettes. Bullseye target quickly become boring. I set my targets at varying distances in an effort to better acquaint myself with range estimation and changes in my rifle’s point of impact at 25 to 300 yards.

I don’t use glass bottles as targets because they disintegrate in sharp fragments that will not biodegrade. I’d suggest avoiding the use of containers for harmful chemicals as targets because what remains of the contents or of the container itself may pose a threat to nearby water sources and area wildlife. Leave the site in as good or better condition than you found it.

There is a new generation of targets that will permit a great many bullets to pass through before their useful service ends, and I use those with satisfaction. When using my .22 rimfire rifles and handguns, I include a few targets I would not use for the more powerful .22 centerfire cartridges. I’d recommend practice in the standing offhand, sitting, kneeling and prone positions with the rifle(s) or sidearm(s) you intend to take afield.

Avoid trashing your practice area; always bring trash bags to collect your mess. You carried it in, so carry it out. Pick up your expended brass. Reloaders will collect their brass for the most practical reason; it’s 50% of the cost of their ammunition! Some shooters their leave brass on the ground, and that is wasteful. If you don’t reload your ammunition, give the brass to an appreciative shooter who does reload that cartridge, or save it in a cool, dry, airtight container because you may choose to reload someday.

Other Considerations

While savoring a cup of coffee with conversation, a friend (who is not a shooter and is averse to hunting) asked why I didn’t consider it cruel to shoot varmints, and I tried to explain that our purpose is not to inflict pain, it’s to eliminate the varmint. As we spoke, a mosquito landed on his left forearm and he reflexively swatted it with his right hand, so I asked if he could see the correlation; he’d just eliminated a pest or nuisance without any hesitation. He countered that the insect was an insignificant parasite, and I suggested that his parameters for pest elimination apparently paralleled my own.

He shook his head and said, “You can’t list a mosquito and a mammal on the same page. Besides, the mosquito experienced no pain when decisively slapped into oblivion.” Admittedly, the mosquito made no sound that indicated it experienced pain, but I tried to put it in perspective. “Varminters don’t shoot fuzzy puppies, Jim; we target critters that injure crops or domestic animals.” He paused to sip his coffee and added, ““I’m just not psychologically geared to kill things.” I nodded and joked, “I bet there’s a mosquito that would disagree with that.” My friend and I enjoy these exchanges, these differing opinions, this conversational swordplay, because it’s fine mental exercise.

An acquaintance commented that he wouldn’t kill anything he wouldn’t eat. Small game is the bottom of the food chain, and in the areas where I shoot, the carrion-eaters (buzzards, coyotes, crows, magpies, etc.) will reach that squirrel or jackrabbit before my shooting session is finished. Further, a well designed bullet appropriate for small, thin-skinned animals will not likely leave much to retrieve. The Hornady SX, Sierra Blitz, and Speer TNT bullets, among others, create a pronounced impact and hydrostatic shock that may produce a “red mist” when striking the varmint, an indication that the creature expired immediately, like a lightning strike or blowing out a candle with a powerful jet of air.

I’m well aware that may be an insensitive, upsetting mind-picture for some readers. Consider, if you will, that small game does not die in a retirement home of old age. These creatures form the foundation of the food chain for predators, for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, owls, hawks, etc. Typically, the last moments of their lives will be a panicked effort to escape a predator. The predators usually die fighting for dominance and mating rights. We like to think that Nature is kind; it is not. It’s a daily life-and-death struggle for existence. A bullet is instantaneous and, in my opinion, a relatively merciful end.

Tom and Mike start the day's varminting with a brief hike.
Tom and Mike start the day’s varminting with a brief hike.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

For me, time afield is usually a social exercise, a time shared with friends, and every trip provides reasons for humor. We spot for each other, one shooter looking through a spotting scope or binoculars to assist in adjusting fire. We learn from each other’s rifle modifications, equipment and cartridge choices. We witness each other’s long, difficult shots, often with an exercise of humor. We may compete informally for the greatest number of varmints, marvel at the near misses, or commiserate with each other for the ones that got away. If an accessory performs well, we learn from it (and probably purchase it for ourselves when we return from the trip). At day’s end, we cover the highlights and compare notes. I learn something with every trip afield.

The morning's activity begins.
The morning’s activity begins.

Source: Edward J. Palumbo

I have no argument with those who regard varminting as unworthy of their time or effort. I haven’t hunted medium or larger game with a rifle or handgun in more than four decades, though I continue to “hunt” with a digital camera. It’s all a matter of preference. Maximum range and minimum target continues to challenge me. One associate commented that varminting is “sniping, not hunting” and I suggested he accompany me on a small game trip to get a better personal perspective. He has since added a .223 sporter to his battery of personal rifles and has asked when we can return to Lake County.

If varminting interests you, I urge you to explore the subject for yourself, preferably with an experienced friend. If you are a shooter, you will have new reasons to practice regularly, to challenge and productively utilize your marksmanship, and to enjoy a relaxed environment of shooting. Varminting is not a high-stress pursuit, and I enjoy operating at my own pace. Time has imposed a few physical limitations, but I can sit patiently, observe carefully, and shoot accurately. I enjoy the satisfaction of firing at a distant varmint and placing my bullet properly. If you’ve absorbed the basics of marksmanship with your favorite rifle, whatever the chambering, I encourage you to consider varminting. I believe you will find it challenging and you will continue to develop.

International Tennis Hall of Fame: Newport, RI

Top 10 Greatest Women’s Tennis Players of All Time

International Tennis Hall of Fame: Newport, RI

The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum
The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum

Source: By Smart Destinations via Wikimedia Commons

Selecting the top ten of anything can be a difficult and subjective task. As difficult as it was to choose the top ten all-time greatest male tennis players, the women’s top ten proved no easier.

There have been so many great women players over the last 50 years, and this doesn’t even take into consideration the great players from the early 20th century. Changes in fitness regimes, nutrition, and racket technology over the years have only served to complicate an already difficult task.

After pouring through countless statistical records and my own personal memory banks, I have come up with a list of the best female tennis players of all time. Here they are.

10. Justine Henin

Justin Henin
Justin Henin

Source: By Glenn Thomas via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: June 1, 1982
    Liege, Belgium
  • Resides: Brussels, Belgium
  • Turned pro: 1999
  • Retired: 2008, 2011
  • Career prize money: $20,863,335
  • 50 career titles
  • 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 4 French, 2 US Open

Known for her mental and physical toughness, Justine Henin was one of the most athletic women to ever play the game. Despite her small stature, she packed a powerful punch and played a complete game that included a powerful serve and a forehand shot that she hit with both power and accuracy. Known as one of the best volleyers in the game, Henin was as comfortable at the net as from the baseline.

In 2003, she achieved the number one ranking in the world, having won both the French Open and the US Open. In 2004, Henin won the Gold Medal at the Athens Olympics to go along with her first Australian Open title. She won seven Grand Slam titles in her career but retired abruptly in 2008 citing burnout from over twenty years of competitive tennis. A brief comeback in 2010 was short lived, and she retired for good in early 2011.

9. Venus Williams

Venus Williams
Venus Williams

Source: By Sascha Wenninger via Wikimedia commons
  • Born: June 17, 1980
    Lynwood, California
  • Resides: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • Turned pro: 1994
  • Career prize money: $ 30,595,369
  • 46 career titles
  • 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5 Wimbledon, 2 US Open
  • Current active player

If not for having to compete against her sister, Serena, Venus Williams may very well have had many more Grand Slam titles to her name. The sisters have gone head-to-head in a Grand Slam final eight times with Serena winning six of those matches.

While Venus’s career has been fraught with injuries, there is no doubt that in the early 2000s she was the woman to beat on tour. Between 2000 and 2001, Venus captured four of her seven Grand Slam victories. In 2002, she finally attained the number one ranking in the world, a spot she would capture on three separate occasions. Wimbledon has been Venus’s favorite court as she has won five titles there, the last coming in 2008.

Venus is currently attempting a comeback on tour after suffering through two years of knee and hip problems. She started the 2014 season ranked number 47 in the world but climbed back into the top twenty for the first time since 2010 and finished 2014 ranked number 18 in the world.

8. Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Goolagong
Evonne Goolagong

Source: By Anefo / Mieremet via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: July 31, 1951
    Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
  • Resides: Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia
  • Turned pro: 1968
  • Retired: 1983
  • Career prize money: $1,399,431
  • 68 career titles
  • 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 1 French, 2 Wimbledon
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1988

Often overlooked because she played during the Chris Everett and Martina Navratilova era, Goolagong was the epitome of grace and beauty on the court. Despite playing during one of the most competitive periods in women’s tennis, Goolagong was still able to win seven Grand Slam titles and in 1976 was ranked number one in the world.

She has the distinction of being the only mother since before World War I to have won Wimbledon, having won the title in 1980 after giving birth to her daughter in 1977.

The only Grand Slam title to elude her was the US Open, where she reached the finals in four consecutive years, 1973-1976.

7. Monica Seles

Monica Seles
Monica Seles

Source: By via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: December 2, 1973
    Novi Sad, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
  • Resides: Sarasota, Florida
  • Turned pro: 1989
  • Retired: 2008
  • Career prize money: $14,891,762
  • 53 career titles
  • 9 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 3 French, 2 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2009

Were it not for the unfortunate on-court attack and stabbing by a deranged fan in 1993, Monica Seles would certainly have gone on to win more Grand Slam titles. Her epic battles with Steffi Graf were classics, and we the fans were deprived of some great matches because of one fan’s sick obsession.

While Monica did return to tennis two years after the incident, she was never quite the same. To her credit, she did go on to win the 1996 Australian Open, her only post-attack Grand Slam victory. Monica continued to play until 2003 and officially retired in 2008.

There is no doubt that Monica Seles was the most dominant player from 1990 to 1992. During this time, she won seven of her nine Grand Slam Titles and in 1991 was the top-ranked woman in the world.

6. Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King

Source: Peter Clarke, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: November 22, 1943
    Long Beach, California
  • Resides: Chicago and New York
  • Turned pro: 1968
  • Retired: 1983
  • Career prize money: $1,966,487
  • 129 career titles
  • 12 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 1 French, 6 Wimbledon, 4 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1987

Who can forget the weird and wacky battle of the sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973? Not only did King dispose of Mr. Riggs in short order but she also dominated women’s tennis from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.

Her hard-charging aggressive style of play was in sharp contrast to the stately ground game of Chris Evert who came along in 1972 to challenge King as the queen of women’s tennis. Nevertheless, King owned Wimbledon from 1966 to 1975, when she won the title six times.

5. Margaret Court

Margaret Court
Margaret Court

Source: By Verhoeff, Bert via Wikimedia commons
  • Born: July 16, 1942
    Albury, New South Wales, Australia
  • Resides: Perth, Western Australia
  • Turned pro: 1960
  • Retired: 1977
  • Career prize money approximately: $500,000
  • 192 career titles
  • 24 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 11 Australian, 5 French, 3 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1979

There are many experts out there who feel that Margaret Court is the best player of all time. With a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, it’s hard to argue. Add in her 19 doubles and 19 mixed doubles titles and Court has a record 62 Major titles to her credit.

She was the first woman in the open era to win the singles Grand Slam in 1970, and she is the only women to have won a Grand Slam in mixed doubles, which she did twice. Undoubtedly the best player in the 1960s to early 1970s, Court was the first woman to incorporate weights and fitness training into her routine. The result was a long and injury-free career.

4. Chris Evert

Chris Evert
Chris Evert

Source: By unknown, Florida Memory (Chris Evert) via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: December 21, 1954
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Resides: Boca Raton, Florida
  • Turned pro: 1972
  • Retired: 1989
  • Career prize money: $8,895,195
  • 157 career titles
  • 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 Australian, 7 French, 3 Wimbledon, 6 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1995

Was there ever a player more graceful on the court than Chris Evert? She was a machine from the baseline, and with that two-handed backhand shot, she dominated women’s tennis from the mid-1970s into the early 1980s. Evert still holds the record for reaching the most Grand Slam singles finals with 34, and she managed to win 18 of them including every major at least twice. When Martina Navratilova came along in the late 1970s, it provided fans with a great on-court rivalry. Evert was the year-ending number one player in the world for seven years and had a career winning percentage in singles matches of over 90 percent.

3. Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova

Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: October 18, 1956
    Prague, Czechoslovakia
  • Resides: Sarasota, Florida
  • Turned pro: 1975
  • Retired: 1994
  • Career prize money: $21,626,089
  • 167 career titles
  • 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 Australian, 2 French, 9 Wimbledon, 4 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2000

One of the toughest competitors to ever grace the court, Martina Navratilova dominated women’s tennis from the late 1970s through a good portion of the 1980s. Known for her extreme physical conditioning, Martina brought the big serve and volley back to the women’s game.

She holds the open era record for career titles with 167 and has 59 total Grand Slam titles including singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Martina also holds the record for career Wimbledon titles with an amazing nine championships. She will be remembered as one of the greatest doubles players ever, having won 31 grand Slam Doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles.

2. Serena Williams

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Source: By Sascha Wenninger, Melbourne, Australia via Wikimedia commons
  • Born: September 26, 1981
    Saginaw, Michigan
  • Resides: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • Turned pro: 1995
  • Career prize money: $72,976,354
  • 68 career titles
  • 21 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 Australian, 3 French, 6 Wimbledon, 6 US Open
  • Current active player

One of the strongest and most powerful women to ever play the game, Serena Williams has certainly left her mark on tennis. Together, Serena and her sister, Venus, have been a dominant force in women’s tennis since the late 1990s. Together, they have won 13 Grand Slam Doubles titles. With 20 Grand Slam Singles titles, Serena gets the edge over her sister.

At the age of 33, Serena regained the number one ranking in the world, a distinction that she first achieved back in 2002. Serena’s game has certainly withstood the test of time and competition. Her Grand Slam titles have come over a 16-year period starting in 1999, with her latest victory coming at the 2015 Wimbledon. Williams is certainly on a roll at the moment, having achieved the “Serena Slam” and she is now on the verge of a Grand Slam, winning all four majors in the same calendar year.

With her play over the last three years and her 2015 Australian, French Open, and Wimbledon titles, Serena appears to be getting better with age. I have elevated her all-time ranking to the number two spot. If she’s able to keep her game at this high level, there is certainly the opportunity to overtake Steffi Graf for the number one spot.

1. Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf
Steffi Graf

Source: Chris Eason, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Born: June 14, 1969
    Mannheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, West Germany
  • Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Turned pro: 1982
  • Retired: 1999
  • Career prize money: $21,891,306
  • 107 career titles
  • 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 6 French, 7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
  • Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2004

While some may argue that the top spot belongs to Martina Navratilova or Serena Williams, for me it goes to Steffi Graff. Able to win on all surfaces, Graff was a model of consistency throughout her 17-year career. Her record 377 weeks ranked as number one in the world is a record for any player, male or female. In 1988, Graff became the first player to achieve what is regarded as the calendar year Golden Slam by winning all four majors plus the Olympic Gold Medal in the same year, a remarkable feat.