So here’s a pretty cool couple of products for managing your dope: the Sidewinder Industries Python and Bison Tactical Sidewinder Refill Cards! Sidewinder Industries produces the Sidewinder and the Python. Both are clear plastic holders for business card sized paper which are then held on the rifle for easy viewing. The Sidewinder and Python have a flexible tie that mounts the card holder to the rifle allowing you to bend and shape it to hold your DOPE where you want it while you shoot. That’s only half the equation though. You could just use blank business cards for jotting your DOPE down for a trip to the range or on a given stage at a shooting match. That would be a mistake! The Bison Tactical Sidewinder Refill Cards are a much better option than blank business cards. Read on and I’ll tell you a story that surely had a lot to do with their development!
Managing Your Dope
There are a lot of different ways to manage your dope when you’re out shooting. Competitive environments tend to bring about new ideas and ways of doing things. I remember the first time I saw or heard about the Sidewinder Industries product, the Sidewinder. It was during the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup and the first day was just brutally wet and cold. Guys were having some real issues with their data cards and the wet weather. When I say wet weather, I’m talking about fairly constant cold driving rain for the majority of the first day. If you had your data written down on any kind of paper product you likely had some serious issues managing your DOPE during that first day.
Marcus Blanchard of Sidewinder Industries was present and sold several of these during the match. It’s a neat product that’s basically a flexible tie that’s mounted to the rifle that holds business cards up to the side of the rifle for your weak eye to glance at without coming off the rifle. It’s a neat idea and there are a lot of folks out there that really like it. I think it works well and given the choice between the Sidewinder and the Python I would probably elect to go with the Sidewinder. The difference is how they mount to the rifle. The Python has an extra long flexible tie that you can just wrap around a scope ring, scope base, handguard, whatever. The Sidewinder has a flexible tie that mounts the card holder to a velcro pad which then mates up with another velcro pad you stick on the rifle. I think that’s probably a little better way to go about this particular way of mounting your DOPE cards up.
Bison Tactical came to the rescue at the Hide Cup that year by providing the RO’s weatherproof score sheets. Fortunately, the weatherproof paper proved it could hold up to the rain! I saw some of the score sheets that were done on stages with regular paper and it wasn’t pretty. There was some drama that ensued over scores and totals and what not and the weather was part of what caused the issues. Everybody that was using Bison Tactical weatherproof score sheets had no issues.
Bison Tactical Sidewinder Refill Cards
Frederick who owns Bison Tactical is an avid shooter! He’s also a really nice guy. If you’re a front range shooter that can make the trip up to Boulder, Colorado to see Frederick and Bison Tactical it’s well worth the trip. He stocks good equipment and reloading supplies that are hard to find elsewhere. So it was a natural evolution of the experience at the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup for Bison Tactical to get together with Sidewinder Industries and start producing business card sized refills for the Sidewinder and Python made of that same awesome weatherproof paper!
The Storm Proof paper used for the Bison Tactical Sidewinder refill cards is pretty awesome stuff. I’ve had these for a few weeks. In addition to taking them out shooting a bit I also did some “laboratory” style testing too. The first day I got my hands on them I wrote on one of the gridded cards. I used Pencil, Ink Pen, Grease Pencil, and Sharpie on the card. I let that card sit for a couple weeks and broke it back out when I was working up this article. I wanted to give all the different inks and such plenty of time to dry and sit and really work their way into that card. Then I went about testing some of the claims made by Bison Tactical. I pulled out an alcohol wipe and went to work seeing how hard it was to clear off what I’d written down a few weeks earlier. At first I thought it didn’t work!
The instructions say that repeated rubbing and scrubbing will eventually wear off and damage the finish on the paper. My issue was I was being too gentle! Trust me when I say these cards can take some real abuse. Once I really started pressing harder and working at what I’d written down it started to come off very quickly and without hardly any effort. My point in telling you this part of the story is don’t pussyfoot around with these. You may have to lean into the cards with your finger and the wipes to get it to start to come off. Once you get the hang of it cleaning these off is really pretty easy. I also wanted to test their claim of being tear proof. As you can see above I grabbed and twisted and pulled one of these cards on each edge as hard as I could. Never had a tear or rip start to form.
Now it’s important to point out that some of these pens and such come off easier than others and some work better than others. For example the grease pencil and traditional pencil are pretty easy to wipe off. Ink pens and especially the Sharpie are a little harder and require a more vigorous scrub to remove. The point is that this one test card has been through multiple cycles of writing and wiping pretty hard to get the Sharpie permanent ink off of it. Personally I like that combination the best. A fine point Sharpie makes it very easy to write out your dope and adjustments neatly so it’s easy to read.
I dropped the test card in a tupperware container and completely submerged it. The paper did not care in the least. Next I wiped my finger across the top of the card right after I pulled it out. I wanted to illustrate why I think the Sharpie works best. The grease pencil smudges and the regular pencil does a little as well. The pen and Sharpie hold up better to scuffing but they’re also harder to clean off. The easiest is to use a pencil and just erase it with the eraser when you’re done. I feel the Sharpie shows up better against the white background. The instructions for the Bison Tactical Sidewinder refill cards suggest picking one method, pencil, sharpie, whatever, and sticking with it!
Personally, I think the gridded Bison Tactical Sidewinder refill cards are great for keeping handy for the casual range trip. I think the blank cards are better for matches since you can use them to draw impromptu range cards that will help you orient yourself to where the targets are spread out across the landscape in front of you. The nice thing is that a pack of 10 Gridded cards is only $8.00 USD and the non gridded cards are $6.78. You could buy yourself a couple packs and break out a fresh card at each stage you walk up to at a rifle match or a class and jot down your DOPE or draw your range card. Then, at the end of the day, an alcohol wipe and some elbow grease would clean them off and you could then reuse the same cards again the next day.
So the long and short of it? The Bison Tactical Sidewinder Refill Cards are awesome! They’re very durable, they work as advertised, and they’re reusable. I like running dope on a wrist coach type device so I asked Frederick about adhesive cards. They already have them available! You could stick one on, write down your information the same way and get out and shoot! Later on, when you’re done for the day, break out the alcohol wipe and clean it up for later!
I haven’t found myself falling in love with the Python but I’m not discounting the theory yet so I may find myself purchasing a Sidewinder to try out. What I can say for sure is that if you plan to run a Sidewinder or Python from Sidewinder Industries that these refill packs from Bison Tactical are a must! Bad weather has a way of helping point out any weaknesses in gear, equipment, training, etc. I’ll tell you first hand I saw a lot of grumpy people that first day at the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup. There would have been less frowns walking around if they had been running a Sidewinder and using Bison Tactical Sidewinder Refill Cards!