From Practical To Prank-tical – The Evolution Of The Hot Dog Gun

The rifle I initially called Project Gabriel has gone by many other names over its life. Most people currently refer to it as “The Hot Dog Gun”. The nicknames it gets are representative of the external appearance and are mostly arrived at through references made by other people who’ve seen it. The “project” name stays with the receiver forever and never changes so the rifle is still “Project Gabriel” even though the nickname might change occasionally. At least every time I change barrels anyway.

The poor thing has gone through many iterations of appearance. I suspect many of you will do or have done or are in the process of going through the same iterative appearance and accessory changing on one of your rifles even if for different reasons. I maintain finishes on my rifles that are appropriate to what I want the finish to do, not necessarily what I want the rifle to do. If I want it to merely protect the metal then whatever finish it came in is usually OK. What about those times when I want the appearance of the rifle to do more than protect the metal/wood/plastic from the sun / water / etc…? Well, then I am likely to get creative about things.

Black plastic non-accustock and as unimpressive looking as you can get.

Many years ago when I first got the Savage 10FP-SR it was bone stock. I traded into it for a well used Browning BAR in 7mm Remington Magnum. The barrel on that rifle had been treated to a very little bit of target shooting so it hadn’t been burned up and I quite liked it because it really soaked up the recoil from 7mm RemMag full power hunting loads. The rifle itself was 1.5-2MOA rifle on its best day so it wasn’t a tack driver. It was a decent deer killer. As much as I liked it, I had stopped hunting in California almost as soon as I’d picked up the BAR. It only saw a couple trips with me. I’d gotten the BAR on trade for God only knows what; I certainly don’t recall. The BAR was no longer the rifle I needed so it went out and the Savage 10FPSR that would be known by so many names came in the door. When I got it it was bone stock. It didn’t even have scope mounts included in the trade.

The first thing I did was to paint the stock in a light desert sand color and drop a 20MOA rail, a home-made Kydex cheek piece, a SWFA 16x42mm Super Sniper scope and a Barret M468 muzzle brake that I’d opened up the spout on to .330″ from .308″. It was suitable enough to get out and get shooting but it was not soft shooting by any stretch. The brake was only minimally effective.  It was meant as a brake for Barret M4’s in 6.8SPC and I doubt it did much there. My modification let it work on a .308Win until I could afford a decent JP Enterprises Tactical Brake.

The special lady of a good friend ponied up to Project Gabriel in a Caldwell Lead Sled. She was absolutely hammering 500m targets with it immediately. She’s from East Africa and had never thought of firearms as recreation. In her country there were no recreational uses of guns to speak of and she was quite enamored with the sport when she found out it was possible to shoot for fun.

At about the same time as the picture above was taken, I had 3x US Optics ST-10 10x37mm scopes on the way as well as an MDT LSS chassis and some Magpul bits for the butt and pistol grip. The rifle was then taken to the 2015 California State Championships for Metallic Silhouette and I competed with it. This is exactly the wrong combo for that sport. Most people were using much lighter recoiling cartridges than a .308Win with 168’s at 2700fps. Fast 6mm’s and 6.5mm’s were already ruling the roost. I did not lose as I had expected to. I came in 2nd to last which I was excited about being as that was my first match shooting offhand at long range. Here’s a little video excerpt from that match. I was the only guy with a tactical rifle and you can see it kicking the snot out of me.

Right after that match I went and got myself an MDT LSS stock chassis and put together the core configuration that the rifle still has to this day. In addition to the LSS I put a Magpul MOE grip and Magpul MOE butt stock and cheek riser on it and went with Accurate Mag steel 10rd magazines. It had started to take on a “tacti-cool” appearance which I wasn’t necessarily avoiding. In fact, I wanted it to be tacti-cool because who didn’t at the time. Now we had what could be called the optimal .308 combination for a rugged, reliable, accurate and deadly package for prone and obstacle shooting (but not offhand) that’s more or less limited to somewhere near 1000yrds of useful range. At the time hitting a 2MOA target 1000yrds was still considered to be nearly unobtanium by the masses. People had a strange idea of how far that actually is and seemingly figured it was on the Moon.

Add an LSS chassis with Magpul furniture and a US Optics ST-10 and it starts looking like a serious business rifle. The Burris Signature Series rings put the 20MOA in so the 20MOA rail got pulled off.

When a little money came my way by virtue of me quitting my job which cashed out my saved up vacation pay, I used some of the money to upgrade my scope to a US Optics ER-25 which turned out to be a major fiasco. US Optics reputation for optical quality, durability and dead-nuts click values were legendary. It’s ability to execute on their quality standards was, however, not quite so legendary. When you got a good one, it was a work of art. When you didn’t it was an expensive disappointment and an expensive shipping/insurance hassle that should never have happened.

Re-Add the 20MOA rail, the 3/4″ MOE cheek riser and an ER-25 optic. The optic was a disappointment in quality control and it was simply enormous. I still love USO scopes but not that specific USO scope.

US Optics had just been sold and before the sale of the company they squirted OODLES of ER-25’s out of the door which were not all up to USO’s quality standards. I sent mine back 3 times before they got it right and then I said, “Screw it!” and ditched the ER-25 it for a Vortex Razor 2 4.5-27x56mm.

What ever happened to the .308Win barrel that came on the gun? It’s sitting on a shelf with a bunch of other barrels sticking out like a sore thumb. This Texas coral snake pattern was an experiment to see if the concept could work in Cerakote. It worked out well enough with rattle can that I got a similar pattern, a Sonoran coral snake pattern, done in Cerakote on my .223 Mossberg MVP.

At the same time as the scope upgrade I’d decided that .308’s kick too hard for PRS competition, for me at least, and so I ordered a new 26″ barrel from Black Hole Weapons in .243 Ackley Improved and stuck a JP Enterprises tactical brake on it. No recoil in that combo despite running 115gr DTAC’s out at 3200fps. You could put the butt stock on your nose and fire it and not get a bloody nose. The Razor was really quite good in almost every way. Almost. The turret knobs attach with pinch screws that you’re not supposed to over-tighten but which if you don’t get tight enough will eventually work themselves loose. There’s a fine line between the two in my experience. It happened to me in a match and at the bench and that was enough to cause me to rethink my choice in optics. I decided that since new stuff was only disappointing me that I’d drop back to some older models of optic which had proven themselves.

Hot Dog Gun before it was even painted. Getting some early long range testing done. The Vortex Razor 2 was MOSTLY great. You can see the Cerakote’d Mossberg MVP .223 with Sonoran coral snake pattern on the barrel and its own Vortex Razor 2 3-18x50mm. Both Razors have since been replaced by SN3 US Optics 3.8-22x’s

At the same time, I was noticing that a lot of competitors had their rifles in LSS stocks in flat dark earth color and it was getting hard to tell them apart. As well, I wanted to do what we’d done in metallic silhouette competition which was to set up a garishly finished rifle which would accomplish the dual purpose of being very distinctive and getting inside the heads of other competitors. The more garish the better as it would have the other shooters spinning criticism of my rifle in their heads instead of focusing on the match. It is a strategy that has worked well for years and is not entirely uncommon. So, enter the Dodger Dog / Hot Dog gun. I gave it a paint job that looked like a hot dog with mustard and relish on a bun. It proved very effective in being easy as hell to spot on a rack full of otherwise similarly set up rifles.

The Hot Dog Gun’s barreled action next to the spare .308Win barrel and the partially painted stock. The Hot Dog got a lot of attention at matches and nobody ever confused it with their rifle.

While I was at it I had also set up my Mossberg MVP .223 as a Sonoran Coral Snake and my .308Win barrel got painted to resemble a Texas Coral Snake. All of the above had many other competitors commenting snidely which was the goal. They stopped talking when their scores were getting beaten by the scores coming out of The Hot Dog Gun. They were even more surprised when one of my students borrowed my rifle and had me call all of his drops, drifts and holds and he won the match. No, I’m not the best shooter in the world. I’m a better spotter than I am a shooter. I am however a very consistently decent shooter and when I’m on the firing line I find it very easy to be tightly focused. Other competitors mind game in their own ways and I don’t complain. So when I mind game other competitors via a garish and silly paint job, they reciprocate and respond with humor, good will and a desire to beat me. Which means, I’m in their head. Mission accomplished.

Gabriel in back with .243AI barrel and Razor 2 optic. Mossberg MVP .223 in front with coral snake barrel and Razor 2 optic.

I ran the Hot Dog Gun for about 2 years which was the life span of my .243AI barrel. After 1500 rounds it got pulled so that I didn’t have a surprise during a match. It still shoots well but the throat has gotten quite long and it likes to toss a flyer now and then now. In the last 2 years I also started using BipodEXT from Accuracy Solutions to extend my bipod location forward of my muzzle for greater stability. Boy that really worked! During the last year or so I finally found a US Optics SN3 3.8-22x58mm scope that had all the coolest options on it: MTC (more tactile clicks at 1mil intervals), objective parallax adjustment, CAPRC reticle, sunshade with ARD, mil/mil, EREK knob, red illumination and a 34mm tube. I also got 2 other 3.8-22x’s with 44mm objectives, 1 in MOA with a 35mm tube and 1 in mils with a 34mm tube. My US Optics collection was finally full and the rifle got a XLR Industries Tactical butt stock as well as being switched to Accu-Tac bipods from Harris bipods.

Pro PRS shooter Nico Detour seemed to approve of the Hot Dog Gun.

I’ve set up my latest barrel in a new chambering, 6XC, with a tight neck custom chamber. The new barrel is installed and this time sports no brake. Brakes are just loud when your rifle barely recoils to begin with. With the new barrel comes a new paint job. I’d thought about doing a My Little Pony theme but in the end it really didn’t work so the idea perished. Oh what to do for a concept. Google to the rescue.

I’m not into comic books, I’m unaware of the difference between Marvel and DC. I do gather there’s a difference, I just don’t know or care to know what it is. Nor even have I seen much of the movies or TV series’ that have been made to capitalize on the whole genre. What I do know and like is that those comic book heroes and anti-heroes usually are armed and they’re armed with creatively designed and garishly finished weapons. I only needed to pick one. I thought about Punisher but that’s been played out. I Google’d and Google’d looking for themes and found out that I am not forward looking, exceedingly visually creative or prone to coming up with original ideas so I had to adapt from inspiring ideas that already exist. Deadpool seemed like a good theme to go with. It’s basically graffiti and red paint on a black substrate so it’s easy to pull off and if it gets scuffed that will only add to the effect.

So here is where we have arrived. I’ve still yet to do any of the graffiti but I have a set of ideas, including “chimichanga” that will add accents here and there. On the upside, the scope being black really worked and didn’t need any accent paint. I don’t paint my US Optics scopes. 😉

Comment below and tell us what you think!


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