One of the best things to happen to guns and shooting is social media. One of the worst things to happen to guns and shooting is, well, social media. We all have our opinions on the various personalities that grace the endless frenzy of firearms-focused feeds. Some teach, some entertain, and some just take up space and bring negative attention to this pastime we love so much. It can be hard to tell who’s legit. But it all comes down to rights and freedom—the cornerstones of the 2A lifestyle.
Who Is sandmangoespewpew?
You’ve probably never heard of Amir Bichay, a resident of Southern California and student striving toward his physician’s assistant degree. But you may have heard of “sandmangoespewpew,” Amir’s Instagram handle, and whom he is known as by nearly 60,000 followers.
I remember my first time encountering the dark and mysterious bearded badass on my smartphone screen. My initial reaction was “Who is this guy? Is he even legit?” There is irony in this initial response because Amir will be the first to tell you that he is no more than a person who likes to shoot. He’s someone more interested in learning and improving than being perfect. While he expertly wields a pistol and an AR, he is equally proficient in long-range and runs the bolt faster than an impact wrench. His precision shooting is what brought us together.
I met Amir while attending the Max Ordinate Academy’s Precision Rifle II training course. He and several others came out to assist with the instruction. A person’s social media success brings many assumptions from onlookers, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t initially make my own. Regardless, an encouraging and humble student of the gun emerged, and we immediately hit it off. I often hear that meeting certain Internet personalities in the flesh is less than rewarding, but that wasn’t the case here. What you’ve seen from Amir is the real deal.
After the training course, sandmangoespewpew — excuse me, Amir — came to hang out for a weekend. We shot rifles, ate good meals and discussed several topics, shooting related and not. A good time was had and much was learned about the popular Instagram personality who, more than anything else, is extremely funny, witty and just plain down to earth.
How did you come up with the “sandmangoespewpew” name?
The nickname “Sandman” came from high school football. We all had nicknames for the “D-Boys” defensive team, and I played outside linebacker.
When did you first start shooting?
I started to shoot over a decade ago when I bought my first pistol, a Kimber Eclipse Custom II, from Karl’s Hardware, where you can buy .45 ACP ammo and parts for irrigation systems. Yes, I know that sounds super backcountry. I used to go out with my old friend Ruben to the Mojave Desert area and set up targets.
Pistol, carbine or bolt gun—which is your favorite?
Honestly, they all are my favorite because they all incorporate a solid foundation of fundamentals in which I am still trying to master myself. I am also a firm believer in being proficient in all three.
Favorite caliber for precision shooting?
Definitely the 6.5 Creedmoor with Hornady’s 140- and 147-grain ELD-M rounds, and I’ve had good luck with Nexus Ammo’s 142-grain SMK load. I’m a fan of the 6.5 because it’s abundant and easy to find, which is important considering I don’t handload. I simply don’t have the time with so many other things on my plate, such as school, work and volunteering at a hospital.
Tell us about your current precision rig.
My current precision rifle is a Surgeon Scalpel in 6.5 Creedmoor with a fluted, 24-inch Bartlein barrel, an Accuracy International AX chassis and a Little Bastard muzzle brake from American Precision Arms. It’s topped off with a Schmidt & Bender PMII scope that uses the Horus H59 reticle. I was a bit intimidated by the H59 at first because of all the “busyness” inside the reticle, but once I got used to it, I ended up loving it, especially when I’m making wind calls and spotting my shots.
Why on Earth did you name your Surgeon rifle “Mike Lowrey”?
Becaue one of my top three movies of all time is Bad Boys. The other two are Die Hard and Beverly Hills Cop. So if I get two more precision rigs down the road, I’ll probably name
them John McClane and Axel Foley.
What’s currently your dream rifle?
It was the Scalpel that I mentioned earlier, but when I toured the Strategic Armory Corps facility and got my hands on a McMillan TAC-50 in a Cadex Defense chassis as well as another Scalpel in a J. Allen Enterprises stock, I was like “Bruh! Add to cart please!”
Are you from California?
I was born in Texas but raised in Cali. I’m a die-hard Cowboys fan and a die-hard Dodgers fan.
Do you remember when it was easier to shoot in California?
Oh absolutely, but we make do with what we have.
Do you have any sponsors?
I’m a brand ambassador for the Safariland Group, though I’m still trying to figure out how I deserved that. I am also a part of Mike Glover’s FieldCraft Survival, Tyler Hughes’ Max Ordinate Academy and U.S. Elite Gear, and I recently started to work with Dynamic Weapon Solutions who does custom work on Glocks.
How have people responded to you not having a military or law enforcement background?
Honestly, for the most part it’s been pretty good. It’s important to have a healthy balance in knowing what you’re talking about—even if you aren’t military or law enforcement—and at the same time staying in your lane. It’s also important to note that I have a constant thirst for knowledge and am a firm believer in striving for improvement and not perfection.
Why do you like shooting?
I love the learning process, and quite frankly, it’s my out from the stressors of life with school, work and taking care of my parents. People like to fish or go to Vegas. I just simply love to shoot.
What’s your biggest pet peeve with social media?
Oh dear lord, where do I begin? If there is one thing that bugs me, it’s that people can’t create a balance between real life and social media. I am all good with having Instagram, but we need to remember that social interactions with real people are incredibly important when we’re going about our daily lives.
What’s the best thing about social media?
The incredible people I have an opportunity to meet who share the same appreciation for the Second Amendment and what it represents.
What do you think the precision rifle world needs more of?
I think it’s gaining really good steam, and people are really starting to like and enjoy it. There are plenty of guys and gals who represent the long-range community quite well, and I hope to be in their shoes at some point.
Do you compete in PRS matches?
I have done one match, a local one, and trust me I want to do more, but currently school takes precedence over everything else. PRS also requires more ammo, and seeing as I am paying out of pocket, that isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
Where’s your favorite long-range shooting locale?
Hands down, Max Ordinate Academy. Not only is it local, but it has targets all the way out to a mile with high-angle shooting and winds that can go all the way up to 55 miles per hour. If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that wind is the great equalizer.
What’s in your future?
I just recently finished my bachelor’s in psychology and am currently applying to PA [physician’s assistant] school. Believe it or not, sending rounds downrange is not my top priority right now.
Best thing about shooting?
Real talk? The people I meet.
Worst thing about shooting?
It costs money!
What advice do you have for those who want to get into the precision game?
Don’t be scared because it costs money. Just be smart and wait and save like I did, or sell one or two of the guns you have that collects dust in the safe and put it towards a nice build.
This story on sandmangoespewpew is from the 2019 Precision edition of Ballistic Magazine. Grab a digital or physical copy over at OutdoorGroupStore.com.