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Yamaha FZ09 Review – WOW!..Awesome bike! January 27, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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fz09_25Those who know me know I love motorcycles.  I have had everything from Ninjas to Buell’s to Harleys to Enduros…after my son was born I sold my highly modified and beloved (and fast) XB9SX (at right).  xb9_25

A few weeks ago I decided to buy another motorcycle.  After a lot of online research I decided upon Yamaha’s FZ09.  Since I am a speed junkie I figured a 900cc (well..850) streetfighter would be sane enough for me to ride without too much temptation to speed.  The price was right and the bike looked cool, as well.  I found one in Austin, TX and headed out to pick it up.  After 3 weeks on the bike (and over 400 miles) here is my review.

  • Power/Engine?  Yamaha claims about 115HP at the crank and roughly 70ftlbs of torque at 11,500 rpm. Stock Rear wheel is about 105HP.  With a full race exhaust and ECU tune, most are getting about 115hp at the rear wheel.  The bike is geared short for street riding and, as such, it has a ton of low end power.  The power curve is linear from below 2K all the way to the 12,500 RPM.  The power is smooth, and controllable.  It is aided by a 3 setting engine control setting.  A- max power or “track mode”, B- is a lower powered mode used for rain and around town.  Std Mode is good for street riding and around town.  You can switch modes on the fly.
  • Fun Factor?  That thing is FAST!…That motorcycle absolutely rips from 0-120!  Claimed 2.7 second 0-60 and 7 seconds from 0-100.  The upside?  Wheelies…wheelies everywhere!  Wheelies when you want them…wheelies when you don’t…grab too much throttle?  Wheelies.  I did  not realize the acceleration when I bought the bike.  The flat plane crank triple has tons of torque and makes this bike rip.  This bike is the most fun I have had on a motorcycle.  It sounds awesome, as well!  Here is a great video of a rider pulling a wheelie on his FZ09 at 100mph.

  • Handling? At only 414lbs in stock form and wet the bike is light, nimble, and well balanced.  It is very easy to flick this bike through traffic and keep a line around corners.  Yamaha claims a 51 degree lean angle.  While I have not yet scraped a peg on the bike, I can say it does lean tightly.  With an upgraded exhaust and some other changes my bike weighs in at less than 400lbs dry.  It is very narrow due to the 3 cylinder engine and flicks well through twisties.  Unfortunately, the suspension is not great and the front end tends to dive in hard braking.  The rebound and damping are limited, as well.
  • Beginner’s bike?  It is NOT a beginner’s bike!  Read #1.  While only about $8K new, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  This bike will punish you if you are not careful.  I would NOT advise a new rider to get an FZ09.  If you are not careful on the throttle or you dump the clutch you may find yourself bouncing down the road on your rear end with the bike on top of you.  In a corner, too much throttle and you may find yourself sliding out in a low side (if you are lucky) or being launched through the air from a high side if you are unlucky.  As a writer from RevZilla said: “It’s the best thing ever!”…“It’s absolutely incredible and blows everything else like it out of the water, and that’s before you factor in price. It’s also basically un-rideable and feels like it could be trying to kill me.” (Video below is a high side by not an FZ)

  • Safety? – The 2017 FZ09 comes with Anti-Lock Breaks and Traction Control which should improve the nasty tendencies.  I have never ridden with ABS or TC so I don’t think I am missing much but for less experienced riders, I have little doubt that the additions will help in the safety department.

Overall impression?  Most fun I have ever had on a bike.  Best bang for the buck and an amazing motorcycle.  Yamaha hit it out of the park with the FZ family.

A Marine Sniper’s Review of the Mossberg Patriot in .375 Ruger (UPDATE) December 4, 2016

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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img_0248img_0252UPDATE…I was finally able to mount a scope and go to a proper range to shoot without driving rain.  I put a Nikon ProStaff5 2.5×10 on the rifle and headed out to properly zero the Patriot .375 Ruger “Beast” and scope at 100 yds.  My first shot was high and left (no surprise as it was only ‘bore sighted’).  I adjusted down and hit two very nice shots.  The next 2 “shifted” and I realized the scope had been loosened a bit by the recoil.  I wrenched it back down and went to shooting.  I had a great group and then noticed the shots were shifting left and high…I shot a few more groups and they kept ‘shifting’….I was a really concerned that the scope could not handle the recoil…then I touched the barrel and it was ‘smoking’ hot! WOW! That .375 Ruger (really a Ruger Compact Magnum) heats that barrel up quickly!  Here is an article on hot barrels. I had not been shooting ‘fast’ for a .308 or 6.5CM and taking 25-45 seconds between shots…but..this .375 RCM is a different animal! It needs some time to cool.

So…I let it cool down for about 10 minutes…re-zeroed and took my time shooting between rounds. (about 90-120 seconds per shot)  the last group was the last 4 shots.  img_0255About 2 MOA but…in all honesty after nearly 30 rounds on the bench I was beat to hell by this rifle!  Still…a pretty respectable group for a hunting rifle. My objective was not bullseye but grouping near bull.  As you will read in the original post...that rifle has a stiff recoil on the bench!  When the RSO at the range comes up to ask what you are shooting because “it looks like it hurts”…you know it is kicking you…All, in all..I love this rifle more every time I shoot it…still getting used to the feel but man..that LBA trigger is AWESOME!…it breaks cleanly and shoots consistently..good job Mossberg!  Bench recoil is just a part of shooting…I have shot this badboy offhand and it is a dream to handle…

Original Article…

In January, 2016 I purchased a Ruger RPR and wrote a review that has had nearly 200,o00 readers.  Given the interest and the holiday season I thought I would write a review of my newest rifle the Mossberg Patriot in the hard hitting, dangerous game cartridge .375 Ruger.

I purchased this rifle after some horse trading with my wife.  We agree that if my old Recondo friend Bill and I could go hunting in Africa she could go to Europe with Bill’s wife (and Heather’s friend) Jennifer.  The deal was set and I started looking for a rifle!  I already own a Ruger M77 Hawkeye Alaskan in chambered in .416 Ruger but was looking for something that could reach out for plains game while still taking down a Cape Buffalo. After some research I settled on a rifle chambered in .375 Ruger.  The reasons are simple.

1) The .416 Ruger and .375 Ruger have nearly identical performance as the venerable .416 Rigby and .375 H&H Magnum, respectably while being less expensive to shoot.

2) The .375 Ruger provides .375 H&H Magnum performance in a standard length action. For someone like me who is 5’7″ tall…this is important as a Magnum length action is more challenging to work effectively for a person of my stature.

3) The platforms that shoot the rifles are becoming more common and are generally less expensive.  With an understanding that I wanted a .375 Ruger over a .375 H&H Magnum I was then in the market for a rifle.

After some research I stumbled upon the new Mossberg Patriot in .375 Ruger.  I was cautious as Mossberg is not as well known in the rifle market (although certainly very well known in the Shotgun market) as some of the other players like Remington, Winchester, Savage, and Ruger.  After reading a few reviews of the new Mossberg Patriot in .375 I decided to take a closer look.  The reviews were overwhelmingly positive so I figured I should at least not discount the rifle just because they are not as well known as some other brands.  Given my experiences shooting the Mossberg 500 series shotguns I felt comfortable checking out their rifles.  Mossberg’s motto is AAA…”Attractive, Accurate and Affordable”.  I would say that is not far from the Mark (pun intended).

The first thing I noticed was the price.  I was shocked to see that the big Mossberg wasbeing sold for as little as $317 for a synthetic stock a walnut stocked Patriot in .375 Ruger was only $400 and the Laminate and Marinecote rifle was only $480!


375 Ruger with 45/70 for comparison

This is about 1/2 the price of the Ruger M77 and roughly 1/3 the price of the Winchester Model 70 Safari Express chambered in .375 Ruger.  For $400 I calculated it was worth the risk.  If the rifle didn’t work as I liked I was out $400 and learned a good lesson.  After purchasingthe rifle I ordered six boxes of Hornady Super performance ammo shooting 250 grain bullets at 2,900fps.  For you big game hunters, this is 4,669 lb feet of energy!

I opened the box at the dealer and the first thing I noticed was the weight of the rifle.  Even my 100lb Wife commented that the rifle seemed very light.  This is indeed a very light rifle!  The listed weight is 7.5 lbs but I took this rifle home and weighed it and my scale showed it at 6.6 lbs!  This is both good and bad.  While it is great if you are carrying the rifle over long distances you have to keep in mind this is a .375 Ruger and not a .308! I fully expected this rifle would have a brutal recoil.  Not to be dissuaded I checked the rifle further  and made some observations.

While the rifle was light, it was very well made.  I chose the Walnut stock and it was clean, well crafted and mated well with the action.  The 22 inch barrel is free floating and sits in the stock that is reminiscent of a Winchester Model 70.  To be sure the rifle has some sexy lines and lives up to the ‘attractive’ part of the motto.  The walnut stock, double stock bolts common in heavy recoiling rifles as well as the open sights truly make it look like a safari rifle.

The action was very smooth and the detachable magazine worked perfectly without it sticking or jamming.  I loaded up 3 rounds and practiced chambering from the various shooting position.  The bolt cycled smoothly and were no issues chambering the big rounds and I felt comfortable taking this bad boy to the range.  The front sight comes with a standard fiber optic orange sight.  This is a nice touch on a rifle that may well be used without optics or in fading light (read on).  Finally, the patented LBA (Lightening Bolt Action) trigger was crisp and anticipating the break was easy.  While the trigger does adjust from 2 – 7 lbs I decided not to adjust the trigger until after some range time.  I mounted my Vortex Crossfire II 1 x4 onto the rifle and headed to Lake Jackson!

When I arrived at the range it was alternating between drizzling and dumping 2 inches of rain per hour.  We had an hour at a time where it was a torrential rain.  I felt this was a good opportunity to see how this rifle held up in ‘real world’ use.  While hunting in a driving rain is not preferable, it is important to understand how the rifle handles the elements and shoots so I decided to just carry on with my test.  The first 3 rounds fired at paper at 100 rounds were solid.  It held about 1.3 MOA. Given that this was the first 3 rounds from the rifle and in bad shooting elements, I felt this was a solid group to prove the rifle was accurate.  I then sat down to begin ‘zeroing’ the rifle.  Now…about that recoil.

As all shooters understand..physics dictate recoil.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In short, if you push a 250 grain projectile at 2,900 fps, the rifle will be pushed backward with an equal amount of force.  Let me be clear.  Unless you like hard recoiling rifles this rifle is not fun to shoot from the bench.  I am not recoil sensitive and have some hard recoiling rifles.  This rifle packs a punch on the bench.  While the .375 Ruger is a hot round, the Patriot is a light 6.6 lb rifle.  For comparison, the Winchester Model 70 Safari Express in .375 Ruger weighs 9lbs.  How much of a difference in recoil does this 2.4lbs make?  Here are some calculations.

Using the ChuckHawks recoil table the .375 Ruger shooting 270 grain bullets at 2,840 FPS in a 9lb Rifle has the recoil of 17.3 fps and 41.2 lb ft of energy.  This puts higher than a .375 H&H Magnum and a .338LM shooting 225grains at 3,000fps.  Using the calculator provided at ShootersCalculators.com I was able to reverse engineer the findings and calculate using a 6.6lb Rifle instead of a 9lb Rifle.   Both ‘impulse’ (fps) and energy of the recoil increase nearly 27% to 23.44fps and 56.38ftlbs of energy.  This puts the .375 Ruger in a 6.6 lb rifle in the territory of the .416 Rigby in a 10lb rifle and greater than both the .375 Weatherby Mag in a 10lb rifle and .375 Ultra Mag in a 8.5 lb rifle.  Needless to say, shooting more than 10 rounds from the bench is an exercise.  I put 30 rounds down range yesterday and my shoulder is pretty sore today.  Below is a super slow motion video of my brother in law shooting the .375 from a bench.  Bill is about 185lbs and these are 250 grain bullets.

After shooting 3 ‘zero rounds’ the rain increased to the point where the scope was virtually useless.  I removed the scope and decided to put the open sights to use on the steel targets.  I alternated between offhand shooting and modified bench shooting.  The rifle was amazingly accurate with open sights.  The orange fiber front sight allowed me to quickly and accurately place the front sight post on the target.  The LBA trigger is a dream.  From the outside, it resembles the Savage AccuTrigger but I don’t know if the inner workings are similar.  Either way, it broke perfectly and had very little play.  Mossberg did a great job with the LBA trigger.

From the offhand I was able to hit a round 10 inch AR500 target cleanly at 100 yards, cycle the bolt and fire another round to hit the target cleanly within 2.5 seconds.  This, to me, is an indication of a very solid rifle.  It cycled effortlessly and chambered perfectly even in the deluge at the range.  I feel comfortable that I could quickly take multiple shots at a charging Buffalo and hit the target.  Over and over I was dinging targets on the pistol tree as well as the gongs and other targets at 100 yards with the open sights.  Needing to give my shoulder a rest after 30 rounds I asked some of the other Scout/Snipers and Recon Marines if they wanted to shoot the rifle.  We put about 60 rounds through the Rifle in a couple of hours.

All who shot the rifle were impressed and were able to hit accurately on gongs as small as 6 inches at 100 yards with open sights.  The common comment was that the trigger was very nice, the rifle was light and very accurate.  One of the Snipers commented that the rifle was very light but he felt it would be a great mountain gun to take into Montana and Wyoming to hunt Elk and Moose.  Most of the shooters felt that the recoil was on par with the .416 Ruger I brought that was pushing 400 grain solids. After putting 30 r0unds down range in various positions I feel fully confident taking this rifle on my South African hunting trip in 2017.  While not a controlled feed action, the action of the Mossberg was flawless even when cycling rounds quickly.  The magazine is a nice touch and makes reloading easy.

I took the rifle home and cleaned it and checked it for any wear or loose parts given that it was wet and we fired 60 rounds in a short period of time.  The rifle held up as I would expect from a quality firearm.  Cleaned up easily and there was no separation from the stock and the bolt and action were still firmly matted to the stock with no loosening.


Overall, my impression is that Mossberg has hit it out of the park with the Patriot rifle!  For the price I cannot envision getting a dangerous game rifle with the features available in the Patriot.  It is good looking, well constructed rifle that shoots like a dream and is very accurate.  I think of some of similar priced rifles I have purchased in my younger years and they were light years behind what Mossberg is producing today.

Here are my ratings.

1) Fit and Finish- B (A for the price but a $400 rifle should not compare to a $1,500 rifle!)

2) Accuracy – A

3) Ergonomics – A

4) Recoil – C (it will remind you that it is a lightweight dangerous game rifle)

5) Value- A+ (simply cannot see a better rifle for the money)

If you are looking for a holiday gift for your significant other or simply a new large game hunting rifle, take a look at the Mossberg Patriot.  It is an impressive rifle that is sure to change the game!


Kurobuta Ham & Snake River Farms Review November 28, 2016

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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srfpork-bihamhalf-raw_1_9One of my favorite parts of holiday season is all of the great food.  I hope this review helps you find a great Ham for your own holiday festivities.

I am a bit of a Pork lover and ham snob.  For the past year I have had my eye on a very specific type of pork known as Kurobuta pork which comes from the Berkshire pig.  The Berkshire pig is a rare breed of pig originating from the English County Berskhire.  According to Heritage Pork International:

The Berkshire hog breed dates back to the 1600’s, rumored to have been first discovered by Sir Oliver Cromwell who prized Berkshire hogs for their superior meat quality.”

So what is Kurobuta ham?  In short, Kurobuta pork is the Kobe beef of pork.  In addition to being required to be a registered breed the pigs must be raised in a very specific manner to qualify as Kurobuta pork.  You can read more from the American Berkshire association.

This year I ordered an 8lb Kurobota Ham for Thanksgiving to go along with the Turkey and asked all the guests (12 of them) their opinion of the ham.  It was overwhelmingly positive!  I thought I was biased until I heard our guests complimenting the taste of the pork.  In actual scientific studies, the Kurobuta pork has shown to be more tender and more flavorful than commonly raised pork. In short, if you are looking for a great ham for a special event, you cannot go wrong with a Kurobuta ham!  I have eaten all the major brands (Honeybaked, Harry and David, Omaha Steaks, etc.).  While they are all very good, they pale in comparison (in my humble opinion) to the Kurobuta. At the risk of messing up the flavor, I did nothing…no glaze, no anything except to warm it in the oven (it comes pre-cooked and frozen).  Without glaze or anything aside from the smoke curing it still beat every ham I have ever tasted.  In short, amazing flavor, great texture and very tender.  You can cut it with a fork alone.  Truly is the Kobe beef of pork.

That being said, get ready to pay a premium for the meat.  An 8lb standard high quality, Spiral Cut ham will generally set you back about $60-$80. You can get an 8lb ham in the local supermarket for $25-$30.  A smoked (no glaze), uncut 8lb Kurobuta will set you back about $140 or so.  Keep in mind that these pigs are hand raised and of a very particular variety.  After having tried the Kurobuta and served it to guests, it is worth every dime!

srflogoThere appear to be a few companies that can provide Kurobuta but I ordered my first Kurobuta Ham (and a rib roast) from Snake River Farms.  The first order was ‘mishandled’ by UPS and when I called Snake River Farms they were awesome!  They said that the meat was likely not good by that point so they (on their own dime) sent a new Ham and Rib Roast overnight!  When UPS again had a mixup, Snake River Farms stayed on the phone with UPS until it was delivered on time for Thanksgiving.

Hopefully, this post helps someone find a great new product to try or simply something that you may want to send as a gift.  Happy Holidays!



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