Can The Government Confiscate My Firearms During a Disaster?

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firearms confiscation

During the recent disaster wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the impending landfall in Florida of Hurricane Irma, many of our members have been asking if the government can confiscate their firearms if the Governor or Federal Government declare a state of emergency.

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans police went door to door seeking people who rode out the storm in their homes to force them to comply with the forced evacuation ordered by the government. As part of the effort, the officers were also confiscating firearms.

This created an outrage among the law-abiding gun owners of the country and resulted in the passage of state and federal laws to prevent such confiscations from occurring in the future.

In 2006, Congress passed the DISASTER RECOVERY PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2006. The law was intended to prevent the government from seizing legally owned firearms during the time of a disaster. It was incorporated as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act 2007 and signed into law on October 4, 2006.

CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONFISCATE MY FIREARMS?

This law amended 42 U.S.C 5201 Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to add the following provision:

SEC. 706. FIREARMS POLICIES.

(a) PROHIBITION ON CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS- No officer or employee of the United States (including any member of the uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under color of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under control of any Federal official, or providing services to such an officer, employee, or other person, while acting in support of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may–

(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation;

(2) require registration of any firearm for which registration is not required by Federal, State, or local law;

(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any firearm, in any place or by any person where such possession is not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; or

(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person otherwise authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, or local law, solely because such person is operating under the direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in support of relief from the major disaster or emergency.

(b) LIMITATION- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person in subsection (a) from requiring the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a major disaster or emergency, provided that such temporarily surrendered firearm is returned at the completion of such rescue or evacuation.

Following the lead of the federal government, most state legislatures adopted their own version of this law.

TEXAS LAW ON FIREARMS CONFISCATION

In Texas, Government Code Chapter 418 (EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT) permits the Governor to declare a State of Disaster which suspends certain state laws and regulations to allow local authorities to conduct rescue and recovery operations.

However, it does not allow for the seizure of any legally owned firearms, with limited exception.

Specifically,

Sec. 418.003.  LIMITATIONS.  This chapter does not:

(5)  except as provided by Section 418.184, authorize the seizure or confiscation of any firearm or ammunition from an individual who is lawfully carrying or possessing the firearm or ammunition;

Sec. 418.184.  FIREARMS.

(a)  A peace officer who is acting in the lawful execution of the officer’s official duties during a state of disaster may disarm an individual if the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual.

(b)  The peace officer shall return a firearm and any ammunition to an individual disarmed under Subsection (a) before ceasing to detain the individual unless the officer:

(1)  arrests the individual for engaging in criminal activity; or

(2)  seizes the firearm as evidence in a criminal investigation.

To read Governor Abbott’s actual declaration, click here.

FLORIDA LAW ON FIREARMS CONFISCATION   

Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution permits the Governor to issue an Executive Order to declare a State of Emergency in times of a natural disaster, allowing him to enact provisions of the State’s Emergency Management Plan.

For Hurricane Irma, the Executive Order provides specific provisions regarding the activities permissible to state and local officials during the emergency, as provided for in  Florida Statutes beginning with Chapter 252.31  “State Emergency Management Act.”

In part, the Executive Order states:

Section 2. I designate the Director of the Division of Emergency Management as the State Coordinating Officer for the duration of this emergency and direct him to execute the State’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recover, and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency. Pursuant to section 252.36(1)(a), Florida Statutes, I delegate to the State Coordinating Officer the authority to exercise those powers delineated in sections 252.36(5)-(10), Florida Statutes, which he shall exercise as needed to meet this emergency, subject to the limitations of section 252.33, Florida Statutes.

But those powers have certain limitations with regards to firearms. In particular,

Chapter 252.36(5)(h) states the Governor may:

(h) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31-252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.

FINAL WORD

So, there you have it. During our times of disaster, we can all focus on recovery and not have to worry about the authorities coming along and confiscating our firearms. The Second Amendment survives disasters.

Surprising Hurricane Harvey Heroes

 

[Addendum: Due inquiries from Members, this story was updated on Sept. 7.]

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS CONFISCATING FIREARMS

On Tuesday, the island’s Governor ordered the National Guard to confiscate weapons and ammo that may be required for them to carry out their mission.  What that specifically means is unclear. Also, the U.S. Virgin Islands IS NOT governed by the U.S. Constitution, but instead by the “Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands,” a federal law approved by Congress in 1954. The island does not have its own constitution yet.

The NRA has threatened to file a lawsuit, and here is their take:

In 1997, the chairman of the House Committee on Resources asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to clarify just how the U.S. Constitutional applies to various “U.S. Insular Areas,” including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its findings were inconclusive and unsettling, especially to those now living under Governor Mapp’s orders. Said the report:

Under the Insular Cases and subsequent decisions, rights other than fundamental rights, even though they may be stated in the Constitution, do not apply to the territories or possessions unless the Congress makes them applicable by legislation. The Congress can by law extend the coverage of the Constitution in part or in its entirety to a territory or possession, and has done so with respect to some territories. In the absence of such congressional action, however, only fundamental rights apply.

Digging further, one finds that only parts of the Fifth Amendment are considered to be “fundamental” based on court rulings, and none of the Sixth Amendment applies. And nothing is said in the 75-page report about the Second.

If the NRA does sue and their position is sustained by the courts that people living on the island are U.S. Citizens with full protection of the U.S. Constitution, the issue will be settled. If not, or no suit is filed, those living on the island will be subjected to having their weapons confiscated by the National Guard.

Review: IWI Galil ACE Rifles

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Not only is the Galil ACE an updated version of the AK-platform rifles, it’s an updated version of itself. And one very capable rifle series. Read the full review…

Galil ACE

SOURCE: NRA: Shooting Illustrated, originally by Steve Adelmann

As a young gun enthusiast, I did’t pay much attention to the Kalishnikov family of firearms. That wasn’t due to any bad experiences with AKs, but rather because I had no experience with them whatsoever. In those days, when the Vietnam War was still a fresh memory that our parents were trying to forget, the Kalashnikovs were either disdained or ignored all together by my shooting influences. There were no commercially-available AK-based variants available here in the U.S. until the Finnish-made Valmet M62S, first imported as a legal-to-own rifle in 1970, and thereafter the Egyptian-made Steyr/Maadi.

The Valmet, like the IWI Galil line reviewed here, improved and updated the basic AK design. The Valmet provided such upgrades as buttstocks better suited to larger-statured people, synthetic furniture, and good iron sights. I read everything I could find on the M62, which wasn’t much in those pre-internet days, but the search nonetheless led me to the Israeli-made Galil family of firearms. Here was a design that incorporated the best of the AK and Valmet features in one platform. Most commonly chambered in 5.56 NATO and carried in near-daily conflict by Israeli troops, the Galil made frequent appearances in my adolescent daydreams.

Most mid-20th-century fighting-rifle designs that have endured into the new millennium have also been upgraded to meet evolving needs. The modern Galil is no exception. It comes to us now as the ACE platform, courtesy of Israel Weapon Industries (IWI). The Galil ACE is offered in two pistol and two rifle configurations. Both pistols are chambered in 7.62x39mm and use 8.3-inch barrels. The only discernible difference between them is that one model has a stabilizing brace and the other does not. One rifle is likewise chambered for the Russian cartridge, while the other is designed around the longer 7.62 NATO. IWI’s U.S. product literature also shows new-for-2017 pistol models chambered in 7.62 NATO and a 20-inch 7.62×39 mm. Several 5.56 NATO models were also introduced at the SHOT Show in January. All Galil ACE models carry the same improvements over the old Galil models like a smaller (left-side) charging handle, reduced iron-sight profiles, magazine commonality with other popular platforms, and integral Picatinny rail mounting surfaces.

IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO
IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO.

One important note: all members of the Galil ACE rifle family are assembled in the U.S. from a combination of American-made and imported parts to stay in compliance with 18 USC§922(r).

I recently tested two Galil ACE rifles, and in spite of their different chamberings and receiver sizes, these modern Galil incarnations share many common features. The ACE’s reciprocating charging handle is manipulated through an easy-to-grab knob protruding through the receiver’s left side. A spring-loaded cover plate positioned below the charging handle’s slot moves down and out of the way as the handle moves rearward, then closes up to protect internal parts as the bolt moves back into battery. A polymer pistol grip that’s molded into a larger plastic section that is attached to the receiver does not appear to be interchangeable with either AR or AK aftermarket parts.

IWI Galil ACE 7.62x38mm
IWI Galil ACE 7.62x39mm.

Right-side-folding stocks have the added ability to extend or collapse to any of six positions. Each rifle includes a polymer cheek piece that snaps over the buttstock for use with high-mounted optics. The rest can be attached in one of two positions on the stock to better fit the shooter.

Galil ACE buttstocks
(left) A proprietary yet familiar-looking buttstock is shared by both platforms. (right) Standard on the 7.62 NATO variant, an extended rubber butt pad is an accessory for the 7.62x39mm rifle.

The ACE’s forend has a very stout, aluminum, assembly that provides rails at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions. Each section is protected by a textured, sliding cover. The 6-o’clock cover has a slight bump at the front edge that should function as a sort of handstop for the pistol variants. Recesses are milled into the front of each aluminum rail section to allow pressure switches and cables to be inset into the forend; covers can then be reattached while providing access to the accessory buttons beneath them. The outer diameter of the fore-end with rail covers attached is a tad wide for my liking at 2.3 inches. The bare-aluminum rails are pretty tough on skin, and a set of silicone, aftermarket covers would be wise addition.

Galil ACE lower receivers
Subtle differences in the lower receiver distinguish these two Galil ACEs. Note the variances in pistol-grip shape, the location and type of magazine-release actuator, and in the trigger-guard geometry.

Milled-steel receivers and stamped-steel gas cylinders are topped by linked sections of Picatinny rail. The gas cylinder’s bottom surface slides into receiver slots, but it still has some play when fully seated. Thanks to a stout return spring, the receiver cover is held under enough tension to keep it (and the rail attached to it) very snug. A set of robust iron sights are protected by steel ears on each of the ACEs I tested. A massive front-sight post is easy to spot through either of the rear apertures, and the larger hole and front post come standard with tritium inserts. An included sight-adjustment tool moves the rear sight for windage and the front sight for elevation ala those of the AR family (a bullet tip will work, too). Front sight housings are transverse pinned to dovetails in the barrel and double as gas blocks (also AR-style). They are positioned at the front end of each rifle’s handguard and provide seats for the gas cylinders to mate with.

There are multiple sling-attachment loops, including one on the left side of the folding stock hinge. The right-side folder covers the selector on that side when fully closed, which is right where it stays until needed. The stock quickly deploys into a rock-solid extended position.

Internally, the Galil ACE rifles are very much AK-like in basic design. The long-stroke piston’s chrome-plated operating rod is affixed to the bolt carrier and the bolt itself is assembled into the carrier just like the rest of the AK family. Likewise, the trigger and hammer assemblies appear to be quite Kalashnikovian in design. Both test ACEs had very long trigger pulls that stacked up quickly to the 6-pound, 9-ounce average measured on both rifles.

A small selector lever is present on the receiver’s right side in the familiar Galil location. This lever is positioned so that a right-handed shooter can actuate it with the right forefinger. We lefties are out of luck on that side, but the ACE’s left-side selector was retained from the older model Galils. The positioning just above the pistol grip is best-situated for righties, but a left-handed shooter can either bring the firing thumb over to the left side or use the trigger finger to manipulate the selector. Neither technique is great, but proficiency is possible with practice. Still, a more ambidextrous design would be nice to see in this 21st-century upgrade.

Both rifles fieldstrip the same as any other AK variant. The main difference I found was that the return spring’s guide-rod end protrudes through the rear of the receiver cover much farther than the small button on the back of a standard AK. This button locks very positively through the receiver cover and is a solid way to ensure the receiver cover stays in place. Traditional AK receiver covers are notorious for popping off when the rifle takes a hard hit or is in close proximity to a blast.

Because the rear of the Galil ACE’s receiver and stock hinge are higher than the line of bore, they should be cleaned from the muzzle rearward.

Fire-Proofing
These rifles are clearly intended for rough-and-tumble fighting roles, but I wanted to note accuracy potential just the same. So, the first shooting was conducted with a magnified riflescope mounted. The ACE’s fixed iron sights are sufficiently high that many one-piece scope mounts will not clear them. The rear sight is removable, but I wanted to leave it intact as designed, so I used an old backup scope mount that sits much higher than my normal rings. I also attached the snap-on cheekpiece to better align my shooting eye with the scope. For close-in work, I brought along a Meprolight Tru-Dot RDS Pro optic. As high as the fixed sights are, they do not co-witness with any of the red dot/reflex sights I have, so I planned to test the irons with no optics attached.

Galil ACE details
(left) An A2-style “birdcage” flash hider caps the barrel of the 7.62x39mm Galil, while the 7.62 NATO ACE has a muzzle brake for recoil mitigation. (right) Unlike most AK variants, the rear sight is at the very back of the solid receiver cover, much better!

After cleaning and lubricating both rifles, I gathered three different ammo types per gun and headed out. Relatively lightweight bullets were chosen for testing the 7.62 NATO-chambered Galil ACE model, due to the 1:12-inch barrel twist rate.

The 7.62x39mm was first on the line and also presented me with my only functional problem. One of the loads I selected for this gun was Golden Tiger, steel-cased 123-grain FMJ-BT. This Russian-made ammo is usually accurate, but the primers are notoriously hard to detonate reliably in anything other than AKs. Well, despite its lineage, the Galil ACE experienced an 80-percent failure-to-fire rate. That is in no way the rifle’s fault — this ammunition is just plain difficult. After hand-cycling through about a dozen rounds to get the scope on paper, I dropped this problematic ammo and moved on.

The 7.62x39mm recoil was predictably tamer than that of its big brother and was helped along by a synthetic rubber buffer installed on the return-spring guide. Shooting groups with the long, stiff triggers was difficult with each rifle. They tended to shoot three shots in five in a respectably tight group with two shots typically going wide. I attribute that to the triggers, or rather my manipulation of them. Neither of these rifles was a tack-driver out of the box. Fortunately, ALG Defense debuted a purpose-built trigger for the Galil ACE rifle and pistol platforms during the 2017 SHOT Show. I have not laid hands on one, but if it is anything like the company’s AKT family of AK triggers, the new AGT will be worth every penny paid for the retrofit. Overall grouping tended to hover around 2 MOA, which is about what I expected considering their lineage and design.

Galil ACE magazines, forend
(left) Magpul supplies magazines for both Galils, with the PMag AKM feeding the 7.62x39mm ACE and a Gen 3 LR/SR25 PMag for the 7.62 NATO. (right) Sliding rail covers allow purchase on the quad rail handguard at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions. A handstop cover is provided on the bottom rail. Interesting note: to comply with regs, IWI literature states to use only U.S.-made magazines (they are one of the firearm’s three U.S.-made parts needed for compliance).

Each rifle digested 100 rounds after initial zeroing and no malfunctions were noted beyond the bad ammo already mentioned. The 7.62 NATO model really put a hurt on its brass during the extraction and ejection processes. It was not quite at the Heckler & Koch fluted-chamber damage level, but it was almost universally banged up to the point of being non-reloadable.

Rapid-deployment drills revealed that the ACE ergonomics and handling were top-notch.

While time and exposure to other firearms have dulled the romanticism of my youthful battle-rifle dreams, I fully appreciate any gun that performs its core tasks with total reliability. The Galil ACE is every bit a 21st-century redesign of a storied and battle-tested platform. Either of the ACEs I tested could fulfill the battle-rifle role with aplomb.

galil ace specifications

Check it out HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Jump, Three

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In this final installment you’ll learn how to take bullet jump completely out of the equation, but it’s not just that simple… Here’s how to get the results you’re after. Keep reading…

Glen Zediker

There’s one more concept to consider to fully finish the topic of bullet seating depth, and it’s literally on the other end of the equation from discussions on bullet jump.

Last two articles were all about a combination of the evils of jumping bullets and also some ideas on reducing the ill effects, and hopefully to the point of zero measurable group size differences. I also mentioned that there are some bullets that just don’t tolerate jumping.

JLK 105 VLD
Bullets like this tend (a true Davis-drawn VLD) not to shoot well unless they start right on or very near the lands. I sho don’t know for certain, but I really think it has at least some to do with, for want of a better way to describe it, their leverage: it’s a lot of front end ahead of the first point of land diameter. These really long bullets don’t have to tip much to shift alignment relatively more.

For many (many many) years it’s been generally held that starting a bullet touching the lands is the easy ticket to better accuracy. That’s hard to disprove. It’s a tactic very commonly used by Benchrest and Long Range Rifle competitors, and savvy long-shot hunters. Now we’re talking about zero jump. Myself and many others have referred to this bullet seating tactic as “dead-length” seating. To be clear: it’s the cartridge overall length that has the bullet nosecone actually sitting flush against the lands (touching on whichever point along the nose that coincides with land diameter). Some literally take that a step farther and increase contact force such that the bullet is sticking into the lands one or more (sometimes several more) thousandths, actually being engraved by the lands prior to launch.

There are two ways to attain or approach dead-length. One is through careful measurement using something like a Hornady LNL Overall Length Gage. That tool should be paired with a bullet-length comparator, and Hornady has one of those too, as do others.

Measure enough bullets using a bullet-length comparator and you will find length differences in a box of most any brand. A comparator, as has been shown before in my articles (because it’s a very valuable tool to increase handloading precision), provides a more accurate means to measure bullet length. It’s a simple tool: the bullet nosecone fits into the opening on the gage, stopping at a point (determined by tool dimension) along the nosecone. Not all such gages coincide with land diameters because both comparators and land diameters vary from maker to maker. They are all “close” but perfect coincidence doesn’t really matter because a comparator will allow a reading at the same point of diameter regardless. Measuring from the base of a bullet to the bullet tip is inaccurate, and not nearly “good enough” to provide a precise enough measurement to venture into lands-on seating depth experiments. The reason measuring from base to tip isn’t good enough is because, especially in hollowpoint match-style bullets, there are relatively huge variations in the consistencies of the tips. I’ve measured easy 0.020 differences in a box of 100. Can’t make bank on that.

Using the combination of the gage that shows overall cartridge length that has the bullet touching the lands and the comparator to precisely record this length, it can then be reproduced via seating die adjustment.

Hornady LNL gage setHere’s a tool set shown many times in my books and articles this pair or something similar is necessary to negotiate this step in handloading. Check it out HERE and HERE at Midsouth.

If using this method, maintain whatever usual neck sizing dimensions are for your routine loads. There’s no need or benefit from lessening the case neck “tension” (which is the amount, in thousandths of inches, of the difference between resized case neck outside diameter and the resulting diameter after a bullet is seated). If that’s, say, 0.003 then keep it at 0.003.

There’s another, maybe better, method to follow if (and only if) you have a bolt-gun that’s to be fed one round at a time. By that I mean the rounds are not feeding up from a magazine but are being manually inserted into the chamber. That method is to reduce the case neck tension or grip to a level that the bullet is free enough to move within the case neck such that it seats itself when the round is chambered and the bullet makes contact with the lands. That’s awfully light in-neck resistance. It can’t be so light that the bullet falls into the case neck, but light enough that it can be scooted more deeply with little pressure. For a number it’s 0.001, minus, and half of that is workable if the case necks have been outside turned (so they are dead consistent in wall thicknesses and therefore will reliably “take” that little tension, meaning respond consistently to the sizing operation). Need a bushing-style sizing die to get that sort of control over the neck sizing dimension.

This method is often called “soft seating.” It’s, as said, very popular with competitive precision shooters. The bullet, keep in mind, isn’t just touching the lands, it’s actually engaging the lands to whichever degree or distance that resulted from overcoming the resistance from the case neck. If you feel anything more than slight resistance in chambering a round, that’s too much resistance. Chances are that any soft-seated bullet will stick in the barrel so extracting a loaded round will likely result in a big mess (elevate the barrel a little to keep the propellant from dumping into the action). Pushing the lodged bullet back out and looking at it carefully gives a good idea of how much resistance it’s overcoming. If the engraved area is much over 1/16-inch, increase the neck sizing bushing diameter to likewise loosen up the case neck. The amount of engraving has a whopping lot to do with the bullet jacket material (you’ll see more with a J4 than with a Sierra).

If you follow this method, then finish the die-seated bullets “out” 0.005-0.010 inches.

Redding sizing die bushing
It’s necessary to be able to fine-tune neck sizing dimension to experiment with soft-seating. A bushing-style sizing die is best. The bushing might also change for different brands or lots of brass if there are thicker or thinner neck walls. Clearly, outside neck turning is a step toward consistency in this sizing operation.

The reason this method can give the overall best results is because it’s accounting for teeny differences in bullet ogives and it also is adjusting itself for throat erosion. As gone on about in the last couple of articles, a barrel throat is lengthening with each round that passes through. What was touching the lands, or jumping 0.015, even one hundred rounds ago is no longer valid, and it’s totally corrupt five or six hundred rounds later. It’s no longer a precise setting, meaning a precise seating depth, and it has to be checked and reset as the barrel ages.

Again, this is not a casual experiment. The level of control and precision necessary to make it work safely and as expected is a step or three beyond what most reloaders are tooled up to deliver.

Will lands-on seating work for a semi-auto? Yes. But only with adequate bullet grip to retain the bullet firmly in the case neck, and that means the same tension that would be used with any other cartridge architecture, and that means a minimum of 0.003 inches difference between sized and seated outside case neck diameters. I do it often with my across-the-course High Power Rifle race guns. Clearly the “soft-seating” tactic is in no way wisely feasible in a semi-auto.

WARNING!
MOVING A BULLET OUT SO IT TOUCHES THE LANDS WILL (not can) INCREASE LOAD PRESSURE! Even going from 0.001 off to flush on will spike pressure. When the bullet is in full contact it’s acting like a plug. I strongly suggest backing off one full grain (1.0 grain) before firing a bullet touching the lands. Then follow my “rule”: work up 0.2-grains at a time but come off 0.5-grains at a time! If there’s ever any (any) pressure symptom noted, don’t just back of a tenth or two, that’s not enough, not considering all the other little variations and variables that combine to influence the behavior of the next several rounds you’ll fire.

THREE REASONS DEAD-LENGTH SEATING WORKS
ONE: Accounts for and overcomes any minor variations in bullet dimensions.
TWO: Minimizes bullet jacket disruption on entry.
THREE: Virtually eliminates misalignment between bullet and bore.

SIDE NOTE
If you’re one who, as many readers have suggested to me, has found that seating a bullet to touch the lands is the only way they get good groups, consider the above three reasons this seating method works and then interpret. If, and this is more common than we’d like to see, you’ve got a factory bolt-action rifle the chamber is likely to be overly generous in size or a tad amount non-concentric, or both. The case wall consistency and also sizing and seating tooling, or all three, might likewise be sub-par. In other words: lands-on seating is overcoming a few rifle issues, not, in itself, proving it’s the one-way ticket to great groups. Mostly, getting the bullet into the lands essentially straightens out alignment of the whole cartridge sitting in that (maybe) big chamber.

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

Optics Terms Defined: Magnification and Objective Lens

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When it comes to optics for firearms, the specific terms that people use to describe them can be confusing. Here’s what all that argot actually means…

optics array

by NRA Staff
SOURCE: NRAFamily

Magnification
The magnification, or power, of a riflescope is expressed as a number corresponding to the size of an object viewed at a specified distance through the scope, relative to its size as seen with the naked eye. Put another way, an object 100 yards distant viewed through a 10X scope will appear to be the same size as if it were viewed with the naked eye from 10 yards away. Different scope magnifications are used for specific shooting activities.

High-magnification riflescopes from 15X to 50X with objective lens diameters of 40-50mm or more with adjustable objective-lens systems are popular for various types of centerfire rifle competitions such as benchrest and F-Class.

Varmint shooters normally prefer a scope with magnification levels of 12X to 24X and adjustable objective lens diameters of 44-50mm for their precision work.

Long-range big-game hunting demands a scope with an adjustable objective lens system of approximately 40mm diameter with power levels up to 15X that enable the hunter to judge game and wind conditions at extreme distances.

At dawn, dusk or during poor light conditions, scopes with large objective lenses of 50mm and above that gather all existing light are preferable, with powers between 6X and 12X. Illuminated reticles are a popular option on these scopes.

Low-power scopes of 1.1X to 4X with a wide field of view and fixed objective are well-suited for hunting in woods or brush at close range.

For general-purpose hunting, most sportsmen are well served by a 3-9X-40mm variable scope with fixed objective, which is a good compromise between a wide field of view for close shots (at 3X) and added magnification (at 9X) for distant shots.

As magnification levels increase, the field of view decreases, which makes target acquisition increasingly difficult. Increasing magnification also magnifies movement, making the reticle appear less steady and thus hampering the ability of many shooters to hold their point of aim. These factors conspire to make most scopes over 8X very difficult to use without a solid rest. When shooting from a rest on a bench, a narrow field of view and high magnification are less of a problem.

Objective Lens
The objective lens is the light-gathering lens at the front of the scope. The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light will be admitted into the scope. This results in a larger exit pupil with a brighter image.

Most riflescopes have objective lens diameters from 32mm to 44mm. These provide a good balance between light-gathering capability, cost and image quality. Such riflescopes are relatively lightweight and easy to mount on most rifles. For many hunting applications, such riflescopes are an excellent choice.

For hunting at dusk, dawn or in very low light conditions, the increased light-gathering capability of a larger objective lens may be a better choice. For such conditions, most scope manufacturers offer models with 50mm to 56mm objective lenses. However, there is a penalty to be paid for th is increased performance in the form of substantially increased weight, higher cost and difficulty in mounting a scope with such a large objective.

Varmint hunters and some target shooters prefer riflescopes with large 50mm or greater objective lenses for a different reason. They want a higher-power scope of 12X or more with a clear, crisp, flat image with excellent contrast and an adjustable objective to remove parallax. The image quality reduces eyestrain and enables them to clearly see small targets at long ranges and to judge wind and mirage precisely. They also spend considerable time looking through the scope with the rifle held on a solid rest, so unsteadiness from high magnification and a narrow field of view is less important.

4 Weird Things People Ask Women Who Carry Guns (and How to Answer)

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Prepare yourself for a good chuckle, but, really, it’s not “ha-ha” funny… There are a lot of misconceptions many have about CCW, and seemily especially so for women who chose it. Keep reading!

confused woman

SOURCE: NRAFamily, by Wendy LaFever

If you’re a woman who chooses to carry concealed, chances are quite good that sooner or later someone will question you about your decision. Most of the time, anyone with whom you’re close enough to have shared that information will be respectful towards you, but let’s face it: There’s a lot of misinformation out there about guns, gun owners, the laws about armed self-defense and carrying concealed. We responsible gun owners are usually facing an uphill battle trying to gently and respectfully correct those misperceptions.

For some reason, the conversation tends to be even more difficult when the subject is a woman who carries a firearm for self-defense. The reasons why are both beyond the scope of this article and this writer’s qualifications — although a tentative guess might be cultural expectations of women as nurturers — but it’s a fact that the questions directed at women who carry concealed tend to be a bit more pointed, shall we say, than those directed at men. It can be frustrating. That said, it remains important that we serve as good ambassadors for our beliefs, and that we do our best to be respectful towards people who (however clumsily) are at least trying to understand. One key to success is to keep your initial reaction on the inside…and have some polite replies ready to go. Here’s what that might look like…

Weird Question #1: “Aren’t you scared the gun will go off?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Firearms don’t really work that way. The only way to get my gun to discharge is to grip it securely in both hands, releasing the grip safety, then to deliberately squeeze the trigger. It’s not something that can happen on its own, or if the gun gets jostled or dropped.”
(Of course, different kinds of guns have different safety mechanisms, from passive to active, or both, so you’ll want to tailor your response. Just keep it simple and try to avoid using specific firearms terms that people unfamiliar with guns may not know.)

Weird Question #2: “Aren’t you worried the ‘bad guy’ will just take the gun away from you and use it against you?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“The only reason I would ever even let the ‘bad guy’ know I had a gun is if my life were already in immediate danger. It’s an absolute last resort. What’s more, I’ve undergone extensive training to learn how to draw the gun from concealment and fire it quickly and accurately to stop the threat.”
(Of course, you have had the training, right?)

Weird Question #3: “Can’t you just carry pepper spray / get a whistle / learn martial arts?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Some people do choose ‘less lethal’ methods of self-defense, and that’s entirely up to them. The problem is that they’re generally not as effective at stopping a person who is determined to harm or kill. Even martial-arts experts can be overpowered physically by someone who takes them by surprise or is much bigger and stronger. Whistles won’t help unless there’s someone around to hear it…and they’re willing to intervene. Finally, although pepper spray can be quite incapacitating, it doesn’t work the same way on everyone. Some aggressors who are intoxicated or just very determined are able to power through it. It’s not a risk I choose to take.”
(Of course, “less lethal” self-defense tools can certainly be a part of your overall strategy, depending on your circumstances!)

Weird Question #4: “So…can I see it?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“No. It’s irresponsible and, in some areas, illegal for me to display my concealed-carry firearm in public unless I am actively using it to lawfully defend myself. But if you’d like to go to the range with me and let me teach you the rules of gun safety, not only will I let you see it, I’ll let you shoot it.”

What weird gun questions have you been asked? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments!

7 Things to Do Before Rifle Season

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Preparation is the key to virtually any successful venture, and deer hunting is no exception! Here are some valuable tips on how to best spend your time getting ready to go… Keep reading.

hunting trip
Image by Jim Bulger/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

by Steve Johnson, NRA Publications

Hunting season officially starts in September in most states…even earlier in others. Most states open with archery season and, as things progress and the rut draws nearer, they have a shorter season for folks who hunt with firearms. As a kid, firearm deer season in Nebraska was always the holy grail of hunting. We would get our rifles out and head to the range, usually on a cool October afternoon, staple a paper plate up on the 100-yard backstop and head back to the bench. Most of the guys I hunted with would take a shot or two, and if they hit the plate say, “meh, good enough,” then case their rifle back up and let the next guy shoot. Strictly speaking, you may only require a permit, rifle, ammo, and knife to go hunting, but there is more to it. A lot more.

ONE: First off: Boots
If you’ve never had a bad pair of boots, it can make it hard to appreciate a good pair. If you’ve only had good boots, you’re lucky or smart. Before you rush out and just buy a pair of “hunting boots” think about where you’ll be hunting and spend some time researching the correct boot for your environment. We grew up hunting in Sorel pack boots, which are great, as they’re waterproof and warm. If you go with a leather boot, Danner is worth a look, just make sure to protect them with the manufacturer’s recommended product for waterproofing.

TWO: Clothes
Both underwear and outer wear require thought beyond “what’s the coolest camo pattern”: Consider breathability, insulation properties (especially when wet), how well it layers, windproofing, etc. Will you be hunting in a tree stand-stationary and exposed-or still hunting, where you can find a warmer spot to sit? Think about where you’re hunting and which performance features will mean the most to you, then purchase accordingly. Check out companies like Icebreaker for out-of-this-world wool clothing. Synthetics have come a long way in the past 10 years, and one of the very best is Sitka.

THREE: Blades
There are a lot of good knives on the market, from the timeless Buck 119 to hunting knives that are bound to be classics like the KA-BAR Gamestalker. The one thing a knife needs to do is get sharp and hold an edge. Taking a dull knife into the field is dangerous. A sharp knife makes work quicker, easier and safer. Trying to cut tough materials, tendons, cartilage and hide with a dull and slippery knife is a good way to earn a trip to the emergency room. Keep your knife sharp. Sharpening a knife is a lost art, so take the time and learn how to sharpen your blade, get a good one and build a “relationship” with that piece of equipment. It will likely be one you can pass to a son or daughter along with your love of hunting.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

FOUR: Gather Intel
Trail cams have become a very important tool for the hunter, regardless of the species you hunt. They provide a lot of information about the type of critters passing through and their schedules. Trailcams can be found easily online. Spend some time researching features and talk to friends to get recommendations on the best camera for your hunting application.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

FIVE: Prepare Your Hunting Grounds
Prior to season, you’ll also want to head out for an afternoon and make sure your stands are in good repair, and that nothing has broken over the off-season. If you pull your stands after the season, this is the time to get them reinstalled. Cutting shooting lanes while branches still have foliage is not a bad idea either, as the foliage makes it easier to see all the little branches that might be missed if you cut a lane after the leaves have dropped.

SIX: Pack it Up
Make sure you’ve selected the correct pack for your hunt. There are many types of packs, frame packs, soft shell packs, hybrid packs…it’s almost limitless. The basic rule: “go in light, come out heavy.” This is the right idea. Take in only the essentials, and make sure and include spare batteries for any device that you will be using. Carrying a separate GPS is still a good idea, as cell phone battery life is normally very short when compared to a handheld GPS unit. Plus, there is a very good chance your cell phone GPS won’t work in a remote area. If you are hunting a large expanse of land on foot or horseback, it’s also wise to carry an old-fashioned paper map of the area, as paper maps are lightweight, and the batteries never go dead. At least one good flashlight is a must. LED flashlights have much longer battery life and generate more light with less energy. Basic firs- aid equipment is also a requirement. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve got a back up knife, extra gloves and stocking cap so you can rotate them as they become sweaty or wet.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

SEVEN: Nom Nom Nom
Nothing will make you long to leave your tree stand like an empty stomach (not to mention how noisy it can get.) Some healthy, high-energy snacks are also a must. Nuts provide excellent energy and salt that you need to help replace minerals. Beef jerky is also an excellent, high protein, higher sodium snack that is very lightweight.

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

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The SHARE Act could have a very positive effect on gun-owning sportsmen as well as all gun enthusiasts. Here are some details…

SHARE Act.

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

On Tuesday, September 12, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which had been introduced on September 1 by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC). Following the subcommittee hearing, the full Committee on Natural Resources marked up and passed the SHARE Act by a vote of 22-13. All amendments offered in an attempt to weaken the bill were soundly defeated. The bill now awaits floor action in the U.S. House.

As we have reported, this year’s version of the SHARE Act is the most expansive and far-reaching yet. Besides previously-introduced provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting, and broadening access to federal lands for these purposes, this year’s SHARE Act contains reforms that would widely benefit sportsmen and the gun-owning public at large.

These reforms would protect Americans traveling interstate with lawfully-owned firearms, amend provisions of federal law that have been abused by antigun administrations to impose gun control by executive fiat, and make the health-promoting benefits of firearm sound suppressors more accessible.

Attorney and constitutional scholar Steven Halbrook, who has litigated firearms issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, testified at Tuesday’s hearing that the Act would “enhance protection of Second Amendment guarantees” without “adversely affect[ing] law enforcement interests.”

Halbrook provided background on several key provisions of the act. He noted that under current law, for example, certain federal courts have denied plaintiffs remedies for violation of their federally-protected right to transport unloaded firearms interstate between jurisdictions where they may be lawfully carried. This has emboldened certain states, like New York and New Jersey, to ignore these protections and arrest law-abiding Americans for exercising their rights under federal law. “Title XI of the bill will rectify this affront to the right to travel and the Second Amendment by explicitly immunizing law-abiding travelers from arrest and recognizing a civil action for violation,” he stated.

Halbrook also testified about the benefits of suppressors and how they were rarely implicated in violent crime. “That is why suppressors are freely available,” he noted, “even over the counter or by mail order, in many European countries.” In this regard, the bill would eliminate the current $200 transfer tax and a federal approval process that can take as long as a year to complete.

Others testifying focused on Title IV of the bill, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which will reduce the regulatory burdens for federal agencies to promote hunting, fishing, and shooting on federal public lands across the nation.

Testifying against the bill was David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor for the Gabby Giffords/Mark Kelly gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Chipman claimed to draw on his experience as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in arguing that the Act “assaults the interests of our nation’s law enforcement officials and threatens our public safety and security.” In particular, his comments focused on the Act’s removal of impediments to the lawful purchase of suppressors. He also criticized the Act’s reforms to the “sporting purposes” standard for firearm importation.

Ironically, Ronald Turk, ATF’s current second-highest ranking official — who has spent over two decades working up the ranks of the agency from his initial assignments as a street agent — offered far different takes on these same issues in an interagency white paper that became public in February. Turk cited both of these issues as ripe for “regulatory changes or modifications … that would have an immediate, positive impact on commerce and industry without significantly hindering ATF’s mission or adversely affecting public safety.”

Turk characterized the import restrictions cited by Chipman as serving “questionable public safety interests,” because they often affect firearms “already generally legally available for manufacture and ownership in the United States.” He also suggested a broader understanding of firearm “sports” was appropriate, to include activities and competitions that use “AR-15s, AK-style, and similar rifles.” Regarding suppressors, the white paper opined, “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act].”

The SHARE Act now heads to the House Floor, where it could receive consideration as early as September 25.

Please contact your U.S. Representative NOW and ask him or her to vote YES on H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act. You can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office.

There has never been a better opportunity to pass this important and far-reaching legislation, but your help is urgently needed to ensure it goes the distance.

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Jump 2

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Tips that help take bullet jump out of the accuracy equation. Find out how!

leade
This is an aluminum staub cut with a chamber reamer. It’s easy to see the transition to the lands. The more smoothly a bullet enters the lands, the better it will shoot. When seating depth can’t be idealized, choosing a “gentle” bullet is the best defense against ill effects of jump.

Glen Zediker

Last time I shared some insight about bullet “jump,” and specifically with respect to the viability of setting up a “zero-jump” chamber/ammo combination.

To hit the highlights: Jump is the gap the bullet must traverse when it leaves the case neck to engage the lands or rifling. Generally, best (and better) accuracy comes with this gap is reduced to a minimum amount, or at the least reduced. Better is better.

To go farther into this topic, it’s worthwhile to move the bullet around, seating it more or less deeply (nearer or farther from the lands at rest) to maximize accuracy. Clearly, there’s a limit on cartridge overall length if the rounds have to fit into a magazine box so they can feed right. In NRA High Power Rifle competition, the AR15 pilots are specifically not allowed to have the rounds feed from the magazine in semi-auto mode; each round must be loaded into the chamber one at a time for the “slow-fire” segments, which includes the 600-yard event. That means competitive High Power shooters using AR-platform rifles are free to move the extra-long 80+ grain .224-caliber bullets out to near or on the lands when chambered. That doesn’t really matter but it explains the popular “Wylde” chamber we tend to use. It’s got a long enough throat to free more case volume and also provide a bigger “expansion chamber” for burning propellant gases, but it’s not as long as a NATO-spec so should perform better with bullets that do have to be loaded deeply in enough to fit the magazine box. Something like a Sierra 80gr or 82gr Berger won’t usually shoot worth a flip loaded to mag-length. That bullet, and others similar, are simply too dang long for a .223 Remington case. A huge amount of the bullet swallows up the case interior.

Sierra bullets compared.
It’s not all in the ogive specs, but it’s influenced by it, because those specs influence the overall profile of the bullet. Here’s a .224 Sierra 77gr MatchKing next to an 80gr MatchKing. The first is approximately 8 calibers, the 80 is approximately 12. The marks indicate the location of the first point of coincidence of land diameter. Considering the overall profile differences, it’s pretty clear that the 77 jumps with better results when each is loaded to the same cartridge overall length. There’s just 3grs difference in these bullets but they’re worlds apart in both tolerance and performance.

The best defense against ever worrying over jump, meaning whether you’re getting good accuracy regardless of the amount of bullet jump (well, at least within reason…) is bullet choice. Specifically, a tangent-profile bullet with a conservative ogive. Recollecting from some materials I did a while back, a “secant” profile is a sharper taper-in from bullet body to bullet tip; a tangent is a smoother transition. Secants, more or less, have a “shoulder” indicating a more abrupt taper rather than a smooth arc. For examples: true VLD (very low drag) and the Hornady A-Max are secant.

Bullets with relatively shorter nosecones and relatively longer bearing areas (length of the bullet that’s in contact with the rifling) are likewise more tolerant of jump.

Sierra 69, JLK 70 VLD
Here’s an example of different .224 bullet profiles at essentially the same weight. A Sierra 69gr MatchKing on left and a JLK 70gr VLD. The tangent 8-caliber-ogive (approximate) Sierra shoots great when it’s jumping; the secant 15-caliber-ogive VLD tends not to shoot well at all unless it starts touching the lands.

There’s been a trend for many years now toward creating bullets with higher ballistic coefficients. Worthwhile pursuit! Only issue is that when a bullet design features better aerodynamics, the features of that are, yep, longer nosecones with shallower angles. The ogive (what I’ve been more descriptively calling the nosecone because it’s easier to picture) usually is expressed in calibers. Technically it’s “calibers of ogive,” and that’s the ogive radius divided by the caliber. To me it’s easier to picture looking at the “other side” of the equation: the arc that scribes the profile in multiples of the bullet’s caliber. So, a 7- to 8-caliber ogive is a tighter circle (more rounded profile) than a 12- or 15-caliber ogive. Most of the “high-BC” profiles use a 15, some more. In other words, they’re stilettos.

calibers-of-ogive
Here’s an illustration of calibers-of-ogive from Sierra. That transition area from bullet diameter to first point of contact with the lands (which will be land diameter, and at least 0.005 smaller) has influence on how well a bullet endures jump. A lower-number is favorable in this regard. In this illustration the ogive radius, 2.240 inches, divided by the caliber, 0.308, gives 7.27. That should tolerate jump well.

I’m kind of breaking this down farther and faster than exercising good technical care in covering this topic should warrant, but: comparing both same-weight and same-caliber bullets, the longer it is the more sensitive it’s going to be to jump.

I have shot way too many high-X-count 300-yard cleans with bullets jumping 0.030+ inches to say that it’s not possible to have good accuracy unless jump is minimal. I admit that’s only a 1 moa group. I’m also using what some makers call a “length-tolerant” bullet, and specifically that’s a 77gr Sierra Matchking, and the same goes for a Nosler 77 or Hornady 75 HPBT (not A-Max). It’s the bullet form, not just its weight, that has the strongest influence on all this.

So, do you have to abandon better ballistics to attain better accuracy? Maybe. At least to a point. With the smaller calibers, which don’t have other advantages larger calibers have simply by virtue of weight and sectional density, there tends to be an effectively greater discrepancy between the lighter and heavier (again, it’s really shorter and longer) bullet ballistic performances.

A rifle with a generous-length magazine box provides greater jump-reduction via loaded round architecture. If there’s enough room, a bullet can be scooted out to the limit of the space within the box.

As always, well at least usually, there are tools! Get them and use them. A gage “set” from Hornady is well advised. There are others similar. I’ve been using their LNL Overall Length Gage and Bullet Comparator for many years and receive needed results. The first tool indicates the seating depth that touches the lands, and the second provides more reliable and accurate means to measure and record it.

Hornady LNL gage
This Hornady LNL gage pair gives you the tools needed to determine the jump you’re getting with the bullet you’re using. Check it out HERE

The leade, which, again, is the transition to the lands and determined by the chambering reamer (or throating reamer if custom-done) does influence tolerance for jump. The shallower the angle the better, but, that’s a two-edged issue. Take a commonly-used 3-degree leade and make it a more preferable 1.5-degree leade and that takes way on more than double the distance (length of cut) to attain. Again, when there’s a magazine getting in the way of bullet seating depth flexibility, a shallower leade eases transition into the barrel bore for a jumping bullet, but also increases jump. There are some cartridges, like David Tubb’s 6XC, that were designed specifically to “perfect” all these relationships: magazine-mandated cartridge overall length, bullet choice, and leade in, and it’s one reason it owns the records it does. Otherwise, it’s often a compromise… But don’t compromise accuracy for anything. A smaller group is, in the long run, the best defense against both wind and distance when it comes to hitting a target. Reliable feedback equals correct adjustments.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

REVIEW: Beretta APX Pistol

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A radical departure from the infamous (and respected) Beretta Model 92/M9, this new handgun from the Italian maker has so far proven to be just about as good as a striker-fired pistol can get… Read the full review.

APX

by Jay Grazio
NRA: Shooting Illustrated

News of the Beretta APX, a full-size, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol, took some by surprise, but the handgun has been in development for quite some time. The manufacturer best-known for its double-action/single-action Model 92, has rolled the dice on the APX, opting to break into the full-size, striker-fired market in a big way. While the company’s polymer-frame, striker-fired Pico and Nano subcompact pistols have been available for a while, the mainstay has always been the Model 92 and its military sibling, designated the M9.

Reaction has been somewhat mixed to the introduction of the Beretta APX. Some have wondered why the manufacturer has decided, seemingly out of the blue, to break with its tradition of double-action/single-action semi-automatics, which includes the Px4 Storm line. Others aren’t fans of the unconventional design — the prominent slide serrations are a “love it or hate it” kind of thing. One thing is apparent, though: Beretta did its homework when researching the APX’s target audience.

Beretta APX colors.
Its Italian design allows the Beretta APX to be color-matched with the fashionable shooter’s gear.

A common misconception around the Beretta APX involves the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) program for choosing a new handgun for our soldiers (which was ultimately won by SIG Sauer’s P320). Because APX development occurred during the original phase of the MHS project, it was assumed that the pistol was developed in response to the MHS program. Well, the APX had been on the drawing board before that process began, but make no mistake: The APX was designed with the law enforcement and military communities in mind.

A phrase that pops up repeatedly in discussion with Beretta’s engineers is “extreme duty use.” John Tamborino, tactical products manager for Beretta, pointed out that the APX’s prime duty was to work every time, under every condition possible, for people in harm’s way. Police, military, and civilians who carry concealed alike can benefit from the “function over form” design of the Beretta APX. While Beretta obviously recognizes that aesthetics are important in a firearm, for the APX, making sure it works every single time no matter what the task was the be-all, end-all purpose.

Tamborino stated, “Our intent during the development of the APX was to develop the pistol for duty use. Form was secondary to function as we integrated user needs into the pistol based on research conducted with Military, law enforcement, and citizens.”

APX sights
(left and center) Seated in dovetails for adjustment, sights are of the traditional, three-white-dot variety. (right) Controls are well-planned, ergonomic, and ambidextrous for the most part, and can be operated easily.

When talking with Tamborino, another aspect quite apparent in the design of the Beretta APX is the legwork that went into gathering information before the pistol even began. Literally years of crisscrossing the country, talking to hundreds of law enforcement and military members — from beat cops and front-line grunts to SWAT team members and Spec Ops door kickers — intel was plentiful and varied. What various operators liked, didn’t like, found useful, wished they had available; all information was collected, disseminated and studied. The APX project was based around one overarching question: “What does the user need?”

So, what sets the Beretta APX apart from what is an ever-increasing crowd of polymer, striker-fired pistols? The aforementioned slide serrations are the most visible, of course. However, the differentiation doesn’t end there. It’s obvious from even a cursory look at the APX that ergonomics are key: Some companies offer a multitude of backstraps and even side panels to custom fit the owner’s hand; others offer different frame sizes and configurations to achieve that goal. In the case of the APX, it’s both: three backstrap sizes are available, and while only a full-size frame is currently released, Beretta has plans for other options in the coming months and years.

APX features.
(left) Small, medium and large backstraps are available to better fit the APX to the shooter’s hand. (center) Swapping grips requires the pistol be stripped and a pin pulled at the bottom of the magazine well. (right) Two 17-round magazines keep the APX fed and feature sculpted floorplates to assist in removing them if needed.

Naturally, the removable fire-control group (FCG) sets the Beretta APX apart from most competitors as well. Introduced with the SIG Sauer P250, the concept of an integral FCG that comprised the actual firearm was a quiet game-changer. Even now, the concept isn’t really recognized as revolutionary, with the argument that “I’ll just buy another gun” offered to counter the modularity of the removable FCG. While the ability to change calibers isn’t exactly new, being able to change frame size at the same time is — and it’s astounding that the implications of this ability haven’t been better explored.

The trigger on the Beretta APX is pretty good right out of the box. I attended a Beretta Tactical event earlier this year when the APX was introduced, and we were given the opportunity to test it in various “real-life” scenarios with instruction from EAG Tactical (now Forge Tactical) trainers. Weak-hand-only, strong-hand-only, low-light, no-light and other scenarios were played out with the APX, and it repeatedly proved itself up to the task. In a group in excess of a dozen seasoned gunwriters and editors, nearly 5,000 rounds of plain-Jane bulk 9 mm ammunition was chewed up by the various APXs, and the only glitches experienced were a small number (able to be counted on one hand) of times where the slide didn’t go fully into battery on the first round. Given the novelty of the heavily textured slide, it was theorized the glitches were operator-induced (one of the writers who experienced the failure admitted he may have been overzealous in his overhand slingshot of the slide, which is not recommended with the APX).

APX mounting rails.
(left) Lights and/or lasers can be added to the accessory rail under the prominent “APX.” (center) Removable with some care, the fire-control group can be swapped between frames if desired. (right) Equipped with an internal safety, the trigger isn’t as mushy as others in its class.

Back to the subtle differences in the Beretta APX, one feature will appeal to the safety-conscious: the striker-deactivation button. Some striker-fired pistols require the trigger to be pulled as part of the firearm’s takedown procedure, which can lead to a discharge if all safety rules aren’t obeyed.

If you’re of the type who dislikes pulling the trigger to take a handgun apart, the Beretta APX is a handy choice. If you’re not, though, you can certainly disassemble the pistol traditionally: First and foremost, check and double-check to ensure it is unloaded, then drop the magazine and lock the slide to the rear. Turn the takedown lever 90 degrees and release the slide, pulling the trigger as the slide releases. Make sure you’ve got a spot for the slide to go, though, because it’ll come off the frame quick. Remove the captured guide rod and barrel, and you’re ready to start scrubbing.

APX takedown.
Capable of being taken down with or without pulling the trigger, disassembly is easy and intuitive.

The functional component of the Beretta APX was readily apparent on the range. On the first day, right out of the box, 440 rounds went through the APX with zero malfunctions. We chose a variety of bullet weights and profiles, opting for the most-common combinations of 115- and 124-grain full-metal-jacket bullets folks are most likely to use for practice as well as 115-, 124- and 147-grain JHPs suitable for defensive use. Nothing stopped the APX or even slowed it down.

In fact, the single glitch experienced with the Beretta APX occurred on a subsequent function-test range trip. We gathered up in excess of 700 rounds of ammunition from 80-grain PolyCase ARX to 147-grain Browning FMJ and even an old box of lacquered, steel-case ammunition of questionable origin in an attempt to get the APX to hiccup. Note, at no time was the pistol cleaned or even lubricated from the previous range trip. Around round 750, enough fouling had accumulated in the frame that the trigger was resetting more sluggishly than we would like for rapid-fire exercises. One spritz of oil and we were back in business; it’s hard to call this a failure given the total lack of lubrication at any other time in this test. Overall, in excess of 1,200 rounds were fired through the APX, with precisely zero failures to feed, fire, or extract a dozen different types of ammo.

It’s also important to recognize that the current Beretta APX pistol is only the first in what Beretta expects to be a full product line. Offered in 9 mm and .40 S&W initially, more calibers — including .45 ACP — are expected to become available, along with new frame/slide/barrel variations as well. It defies credulity to think Beretta won’t capitalize on this modularity to launch a complete series of compact and sub-compact variants to complement the full-size frame. The company plans on a compact version to become available in 2018, and hinted that a version compatible with a micro red-dot sight is also in the works.

So, you’ve got a pistol that has a decent trigger out of the box, has a variety of backstraps and frame color options, is easy to maintain and has been engineered for years of hard (ab)use. What, exactly, is not to like about that? Does it boil down to the aesthetics? If you’re letting the unconventional look of the slide serrations stop you from checking out the Beretta APX, don’t. Give it a look anyway. Take it to the range and shoot it. You’ll come away impressed.

APX specifications

CHECK IT OUT HERE

SKILLS: Sheriff’s Tips: What’s Your Stance?

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Sheriff Jim Wilson shares some recollections and history on development of the pistol shooting stance, and, most importantly, puts it all into perspective for today’s modern world. Keep reading…

by Jim Wilson
Source: NRA American Rifleman
Images courtesy Gunsite.com

The first experience that I had with a two-handed shooting stance was the isosceles stance as taught by the FBI at our police academy. The shooter stood erect and shot with both arms extended and elbows locked. This was also the same stance that we used in department qualifications and PPC matches.

Jim Wilson

This stance worked pretty well as long as we were firing .38 Spl. wadcutter ammo out of our revolvers. Where it got weak was when we were trying to make multiple hits with .357 Mag. ammo, or even .38 Spl. +P. We simply could not do a good job of managing the extra recoil of the fighting ammunition.

Isosceles stance
Isosceles Stance.

It was this same need to manage recoil when firing more than one shot that caused Jack Weaver, a California peace officer, to develop a slightly different technique. Weaver bent his elbows and made sure that his support elbow was pointed down towards the ground. He also exerted an isometric hold on the pistol, pushing forward with his shooting hand and pulling back with his support hand. Using this technique, Weaver’s arms absorbed most of the recoil and made the gun more manageable under rapid fire. Col. Jeff Cooper quickly noticed that Weaver’s technique was helping him to win quite a few matches and incorporated it into the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

Weaver Stance
Weaver Stance.

For quite some time, a healthy argument ensued as to which technique was really the best to use in actual gunfights. The Weaver camp often suggested that the Isosceles was best used in target shooting, while the Isosceles crowd quickly pointed to the number of actual gunfights won by people using the Isosceles method. As it turns out, what the arms are doing may not be nearly as important as what the rest of the body is doing.

The defensive shooter should use an athletic body position. He should be squared to his target. The feet should be about shoulder width apart, with the support foot just slightly ahead of the strong-side foot. By that I mean that the ball of the support foot should be about even with the tip of the toes on the strong-side foot. The knees should be slightly bent and the shooter’s weight should be on the balls of his feet. The shoulders should be slightly forward of the feet.

In this kind of position, the shooter can manage the pistol’s recoil better. And it also puts the shooter in a good physical stance that allows him to move quickly in just about any direction. And, depending upon body size, the shooter may adjust this position a bit in order to be most effective.

Whether one shoots with both arms straight or arms bent, he or she can exert a firm grip on his pistol and somewhat of an isometric, push-pull, hold. The key is to be in an aggressive, athletic body stance without getting into a crouch. As Richard Mann puts it, “Do it like you are killing snakes!” A firm stance and a firm grip are what is needed to manage recoil and allow for multiple, accurate hits.

Many of us older shooters well remember the magazine articles by Col. Cooper and Massad Ayoob as they argued back and forth on the merits of the Weaver vs. the Isosceles. I am told that, later in life, Col. Cooper made the statement that he wished he hadn’t made such as issue of the two stances. Whichever one a person chooses to use, his success will be noted in his ability to deliver quick, accurate shots with full-power defensive ammunition.

It may even be that a good defensive shooter should be well versed in both techniques. Depending upon the available cover, whether he is shooting over or around something, and the angle in which he may have to deliver his shots (we can’t always plant our feet and assume a classic stance when under a surprise attack) one or the other technique might work best.

I have come to the conclusion that arguing the Weaver vs. the Isosceles is about as productive as arguing .45 vs. 9 mm. I have better ways to spend my time and the guys who want to argue these issues might spend their time more productively in good training and practice.