All posts by glen Zediker

REVIEW: 450 Bushmaster Ruger American Rifle Ranch

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The new Ruger American Rifle Ranch chambered in .450 Bushmaster was inspired in large part by new deer-hunting regulations in Michigan. The result is a handy, lightweight brush gun that packs plenty of punch. Read more!

SOURCE: NRA Publications/American Rifleman, by B. Gil Horman

Michigan expanded what was formerly known as the “shotgun zone” (in the lower peninsula) into the Limited Firearm Deer Zone in 2014, much to the delight of local hunters. In addition to shotguns, deer hunters can now use rifles chambered for straight-walled cartridges between 1.16- to 1.80-inches in length topped with .35-cal. or larger bullets. This definition allows for popular big-bore revolver cartridges including the .357 Mag., .44 Mag., .454 Casull, and .500 S&W.

However, there is a straight-walled rifle cartridge designed for the AR-15 platform which also meets the Michigan requirements. The .450 Bushmaster thumper round launches .452-cal. bullets weighing 250 gr. or 260 gr. from a 1.70-inch long cartridge case at velocities over 2000 fps. The resulting round boasts performance on par with the .45-70 Gov’t but in a more compact configuration. With Michigan hunters buying up straight-walled cartridge carbines and rifles like hotcakes, the folks at Ruger saw an opportunity to modify an existing platform to fill the niche.

.450 Bushmaster
.450 Bushmaster is a compact but hard-hitting cartridge ideal for whitetails in thickly wooded areas. At less than 6 pounds, recoil is stiff.

The new Ruger .450 Bushmaster American Rifle Ranch is the third member of the American bolt-action line designed to fire AR-15 semi-automatic cartridges, including models chambered for the .223 Rem. and .300 Blackout, and 7.62X39mm. The 16.12-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel is free-floated and has a muzzle threaded at 11/16-24 TPI. The muzzle is then fitted at the factory with a specially-designed muzzle brake.

The steel receiver is topped with a factory-installed 5-inch long aluminum optics rail compatible with Picatinny-type mounting surface. The single-piece, three-lug bolt features a full diameter bolt body, dual cocking cams, and a round knob bolt handle; the handle’s 70-degree throw keeps it clear of the optic.

Rifle Ranch safety
The tang-mounted sliding safety provides easy and intuitive operation. On the left side of the receiver is a bolt release which can be used to remove the bolt assembly without the need to touch the trigger.

The receiver is mounted to the lightweight Flat Dark Earth synthetic stock using Ruger’s patent-pending Power Bedding integral bedding-block system, which plays a key role in the rifle’s top-notch accuracy. The exterior of the stock is nicely shaped with non-abrasive texturing and serrations along the fore-end and grip. Other stock features include a rounded integral trigger guard, an exceptionally soft recoil pad, and front and rear sling swivel studs.

The Ruger Marksman single-stage adjustable trigger provides the feel and performance of aftermarket upgrades, which are often fairly expensive to buy. An Allen screw mounted to the front of the assembly (which is exposed when the action is removed from the stock) can be used to shift the trigger pull weight from 3 lbs. to 5 lbs. This particular trigger was set to 4 lbs. 4 oz. when it arrived, and exhibited a clean, crisp break with almost no overtravel. The safety lever found in the center of the trigger, much like that of a Savage Accutrigger or Glock pistol, locks the trigger and prevents it from cycling until it’s properly depressed.

Ruger Rifle Ranch trigger
Ruger Marksman single-stage trigger adjusts from 3 to 5 pounds.

Other versions of the Rifle Ranch ship with flush-fit 5-round rotary magazines. To accommodate the sausage-sized .450 Bushmaster, this rifle ships with one single-stack, 3-round magazine that extends about an inch below the magazine well. The magazine’s polymer release lever is incorporated into the front of the magazine instead of the receiver.

Rifle Ranch magazine
Due to the bulk of the cartridge, this Ruger Rifle Ranch model holds 3 rounds in a single-stack configuration, unlike its siblings which feature a rotary-style 5-round. The magazine release is built into the polymer magazine.

I’ve had the opportunity to handle a few different models of the American bolt action and I have to say that overall I am impressed with the line. They’re not fancy or pretty like some of the classic hardwood-stocked bolt guns. But the fit, finish and performance are a big step above their price tags.

Some folks may see the addition of a muzzle brake as a nicety, but in truth it’s a necessity for this gun. Experiencing the hearty recoil of this 5 lbs. 8 oz. rifle with the brake firmly installed quelled any curiosity I might have had to shoot a few rounds with the brake removed for comparison. This is not a gun for the recoil sensitive. However, the combination of the muzzle brake and effective recoil pad keeps the rifle manageable for those who don’t mind a little excitement when pulling the trigger.

At the range the American Rifle Ranch ran flawlessly. The bolt cycled smoothly and the trigger felt great. The rifle fed, fired, and ejected with zero malfunctions. All of the controls functioned properly. It’s a compact rifle that swings nicely and will be comfortable to carry on those all-day hikes.

Rifle Ranch bolt
The smooth-operating bolt features a 3-lug design and a short, 70-degree lift.

The primary limitation of choosing to buy a .450 Bushmaster these days is a limited selection of ammunition. At the time of this writing, the only two companies offering this cartridge are Hornady and Remington — with both providing just one option. Remington didn’t have any of its Accutip loads in stock for testing. So, the only load I had on hand to work with was Hornady’s Black label 250-gr. FTX with a listed velocity of 2200 fps. (using a 20-inch barrel) for a muzzle energy of 2686 ft. lbs. To see how this load performed out of the shorter 16.12-inch, 10 consecutive rounds were fired across a Lab Radar chronograph. The velocity average was 2184 fps. for a muzzle energy level of 2648 ft. lbs. That’s about a 1-percent drop in velocity with only a 38 ft. lb. loss of energy with a 3.88 shorter barrel.

Hornady .450 Bushmaster
There’s not a wide variety of different loadings available for .450 Bushmaster, but this Hornady Black demonstrated outstanding performance on target. Learn more HERE and HERE

For accuracy testing, the rifle was couched in a benchrest and fired at 100 yards using a trusty Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 3-9x40mm riflescope. Of the five, 5-shot groups, the smallest was 1.03-inches with an average of 1.10. Based on these results, if Hornady’s Black load is the only one on the dealer’s shelf, you’re going to do just fine.

Ruger’s new American Rifle Ranch chambered in .450 Bushmaster is another example of how the company is striving to meet customer needs with quality products at a reasonable price. This brush gun and ammunition combination is well-suited to taking medium and large game at moderate distances. If you prefer a wood stock to synthetic, then take a look at the new Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle, which is now offered in .450 Bushmaster as well.

.450 Bushmaster group

Ruger American Rifle Ranch 450 Bushmaster specifications

Visit the factory information page HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Priming, Part 2

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Last time the tooling and process of seating a primer got detailed, and now more details about The Thing Itself. Read all about it…

primer close up

Glen Zediker

A primer consists of a brass (usually) cup filled with impact-detonated explosive compound, lead styphate specifically. Right. Primers explode. The compound starts as liquid, not that that matters, and while it’s still wet, a triangular metal piece called an “anvil” is positioned in the opening. When it’s hit by the firing pin, the center of the cup collapses, squeezing the explosive compound between the interior of the cup and the anvil. That ignites the compound and shoots a flame through the flash hole. That ignites the propellant.

There are two primer sizes, and then type variations. The two sizes are “small” and “large.” For example, .223 Rem. uses small, .308 Win. uses large. Rifle primers and pistol primers are not the same, even though they have diameters in common. Rifle primers have a tougher cup, and, usually, provide a hotter flash. Do not substitute pistol primers for rifle primers! Some pistol shooters using very high-pressure loads substitute rifle primers, but also often need to increase striker impact power.

Variations: There are small variations in primer dimensions, heights and diameters, and also variations exist in new-case primer pocket dimensions, among various brands, and, of course, lot-to-lot variations can and do exist within any one brand. Usually, these variations are not influential to suitability. Usually. However! On occasion, small diameter variations can affect how well different primers will feed through various make priming apparatus. This can and has become a hitch in some progressive loading machines. Cup height variations can lead to seating depth (primer height) issues.

Remington 7-1/2 primers
I have my “go-to” primer, as do most, but I’ve found best results in certain circumstances with another brand. I will not vary primers, though, in my tournament ammo for any one day: as with propellants and bullets, each leaves a different residue in the bore, and that will, not can, influence zero making the switch. In other words, I won’t use CCI for short-line loads, and Remington for 600-yard ammo, not on the same day.

There are also “magnum” primers. These have a hotter spark. They are engineered to deliver a stouter kick-off to larger, more dense columns of slower-burning propellant. They also work well with spherical-type propellants (less air space between the granules). There are also “match” primers. These ostensibly are more consistent quality. Not all manufacturers offer these options. If they do, unless you have a scheme or more carefully-considered reason, just go with what fits your application. There’s no need for match primers in blasting ammo. There are, no doubt (and no doubt significant) differences among varying brand primers with respect to “output.” As mentioned earlier on, there are also pretty well-known tendencies that are either more or less preferable among varying primer brands.

The primer is, in my experience, the greatest variable that can change the performance of a load combination, which is mostly to say “pressure.” Never (never ever) switch primer brands without backing off the propellant charge and proving to yourself how far to take it back up, or to even back it off more. Don’t deny this one.

I back off one full grain of propellant to try a different primer brand.

Finding the best-performing primer for any particular combination of cartridge, bullet, and propellant isn’t just always as easy as putting a “match” primer in there. I have my preference, and it’s what I try first, but, to be certain, sometimes best accuracy and consistency (related) come with another. Again, it’s a combination of propellant fill volume, burning rate, propellant type (single-base, double-base, extruded, or spherical), and column “packing” density that favors either a “hotter” or “cooler” flash.

Priming cup composition also factors mightily in my final choice, and that’s a big factor in some semi-autos. More next time.

primer tray
Here’s handy. A primer “flip” tray puts all the primers in the sams orientation and orients them for easy loading into a primer magazine feed tube for use in many automated systems. See what’s available at Midsouth HERE

SAFETY
Do be extra careful handling primers! No kidding. It’s the most explosive element in a cartridge, and it’s intended to be detonated from impact, so… Wearing safety glasses at the loading bench might seem nerdy, but it’s wise. Likewise, and this has happened way on more than once, but, fortunately, never yet to me, is a mass detonation of primers contained in a feeding device, such as a primer feeding magazine tube. Such circumstance is grave indeed. Progressive loading machines, as well as many bench-mounted appliances, use a tube magazine that contains the primers. This tube must be filled, like any magazine. Make sure you know when full is full, and don’t try to poke in one more. This is usually when “it” happens. Remember, primers are detonated via pressure. Said before, but important enough to say again now: Never (ever) attempt to more deeply seat a primer on a loaded round. And keep the priming cup (the tool part that holds the primer for seating) clear of all debris. I’ve heard tell of brass shavings, leftover tumbling media, and the like, getting between the primer and the tool cup, and forming its own little firing pin.

See what’s available at Midsouth HERE

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.

SKILLS: 4 Things Shooting Instructors Do That Drive Students Nuts

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There’s good and bad firearms training instruction, and it’s all about the instructor/student relationship. The Sheriff writes this one to offer some insight for those on the instructor-side of the equation… READ MORE.

Driven crazy

SOURCE: NRA Family
by Sheriff Jim Wilson

A while back I did a piece on the things that students do to give defensive instructors gray hair. Well, my friends, that knife cuts both ways. An instructor can easily ruin a class for his students. Being a good shot or a gunfight survivor does not automatically qualify a person to be a good instructor. If that instructor lacks basic teaching skills, a student may learn very little and be very disappointed with the class. Here are some of the common errors that instructors make.

ONE: FAILURE TO THOROUGHLY EXPLAIN…
Some instructors think that it makes them sound authoritative when they use tactical terms such as OODA Loop, EDC and Watch Your Six, to name a few. There is nothing wrong with those terms as long as an instructor takes the time to explain them instead of assuming that his students actually know what he means. It’s never a mistake to just use common English, although some High Speed/Low Drag instructors haven’t figured that out yet. I know of one instance when an instructor finished the morning lecture only to have a student ask, “What is a muzzle?” While some may chuckle at this, it is a legitimate question and indicates that the instructor and the students were not operating on the same information level.

TWO: TOO MANY WAR STORIES…
Now I love a good war story, but the fact is that too many instructors use war stories to impress the students with the instructor’s experience. A few war stories aren’t bad, as long as they are used to illustrate certain important points that the teacher is trying to get across. I know of one instructor who loves to show a video of himself killing a man during a police action. There’s no point to the video except to have the class see him do it. “Unnecessary” and “tasteless” are two descriptive words that come to mind.

THREE: EXPECTING TOO MUCH OF THE STUDENTS…
Students in a defensive class should be challenged to learn and perform tasks that often put them outside of their comfort zone. A good defensive teacher knows when the class is ready to try something new and when they are not. One must have a good handle on the basics of defensive shooting before moving along to learn other skills. Knowing when to safely push a student into something new is one of the marks of a good defensive teacher.

FOUR: FAILURE TO MAINTAIN A SAFE RANGE & TEACHING ENVIRONMENT…
Some instructors run a hot range (guns are always loaded) and others do not, preferring to have guns unloaded except during actual firing. Neither one is less safe than the other, as long as everyone understands the safety rules and adheres to them.

A safety lecture should be the start of every defensive class. Students should be reminded of the required safety rules throughout the class. More importantly, the safety rules should be strictly enforced at all times.

There is never a good reason for firearms to ever be pointed at students, instructors or range assistants. Nor is there ever a good reason for students, or anyone else, to be downrange when guns are being fired. I know of these things being done at some schools in the past, and my only hope is that this no longer occurs. I can’t imagine what kind of defensive instructor would allow this sort of thing to happen.

Editor’s Note: Looking for training? Check out classes from certified NRA Instructors here and here.

A good defensive school and a good defensive instructor should be all about the students. The instructor should be as good at his teaching skills as he is at his shooting skills. His job is not to be cool; his job is to help people learn. In short, his job is to save lives. Fortunately, we are blessed with a large number of defensive instructor/teachers who fully understand this important fact.

NEW: Springfield Armory SAINT™ AR-15 Pistol

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The long-awaited pistol version in the proven SAINT lineup has been announced by maker Springfield Armory. Here’s what they have to say about it: READ MORE

Springfield Armory SAINT Pistol 5.56

SOURCE: Chad Dyer, Springfield Armory

With the new SAINT™ AR-15 pistol, Springfield Armory brings the same impact of its SAINT platform to a whole new category. The SAINT Pistol is highly capable and upgraded out of the box but in stock-free pistol form.

Instead of a rifle buttstock, the new SAINT AR-15 pistol features a rugged SB Tactical SBX-K forearm brace to reduce size, stabilize recoil, and enhance accuracy in one or two-hand shooting. A 7.5-inch barrel with a 1:7 twist makes the SAINT pistol small, fast, and ideal for CQB. The 416R stainless steel barrel is Melonite® treated to be harder and more accurate than chrome, and is chambered for 5.56 NATO (.223) so ammunition is affordable, versatile, and seriously capable.

The SAINT AR-15 pistol is built around high-end features that make SAINT rifles so popular. Springfield Armory’s exclusive Accu-Tite™ tension system increases the tension between the upper and the lower receivers, ensuring an ideal fit and reducing slop — no shake or rattle. Upper and lower receivers are forged Type III hard-coat anodized 7075 T6 aluminum.

The SAINT pistol’s muzzle is equipped with a blast diverter that pushes sound, concussion and debris forward towards the target — instead of at the operator or fellow shooters — ensuring a more comfortable shooting experience.

The slender, agile handguard is Springfield Armory’s exclusive, patent-pending free-float design, with locking tabs and features a forward hand stop. The rifle’s crisp, enhanced nickel boron-coated GI single-stage trigger is paired with a Bravo Company trigger guard. The smooth-operating heavy tungsten buffer system, low-profile pinned gas block, GI style charging handle, and Bravo Company Mod 3 pistol grip are all well-proven in SAINT rifle models. Springfield Armory is known for no-compromise design and, as usual, the attention to detail is obvious.

To ensure durability, the M16 bolt carrier group is precision-machined from Carpenter 158 steel, shot-peened and magnetic particle inspected and finished in super-hard Melonite®. For ample shooting capacity, the SAINT pistol carries a Magpul Gen 3 30-round magazine.

The compact frame makes the SAINT AR-15 pistol an ideal choice for home defense. In addition to high-quality engineering, the SAINT AR-15 pistol is just 26.5 inches long, and weighs under 6 pounds. This pistol delivers the punch of a rifle caliber in a small, fast-handling frame. It’s highly accurate and it’s seriously fun to shoot.

SAINT™ AR-15 Pistol – 5.56

SKILLS: Top 3 Terrible Pieces of Advice Women Get in Gun Stores

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With an increasing number of women purchasing firearms, Tamara Keel advises that’s it’s about time the counter staff wises up… Read the story!

Girl gun

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated, by Tamara Keel

Every now and again, I get a writing assignment that’s not even work. This is one of those. “Hey, Tamara, would you like to do a piece on some of the worst advice women get in gun stores?”

Oh, honey. Pull up a chair…

I wouldn’t have worked in the gun sales business as long as I did if I didn’t enjoy it, but like all career fields, you get a wide range of quality in employees. You know that one guy in your office who means well but still hasn’t figured out which part of the envelope he’s supposed to lick? Well, his cousin sells guns, and for some reason I have interacted with him from the customer side of the counter a bunch of times over the years. Let me tell you, he has some downright awful ideas about women and guns. Let me share a few of them with you.

ONE: The worst piece of advice I’ve gotten in a gun store…
…is hopefully an artifact of the past. I haven’t heard it in many years, but who knows? Maybe some dude working in a place out back of beyond is still handing it out. Basically, it’s the, “What do you want a gun for? Let your man defend you…” The first time I heard this in a gun store I was dumbstruck. I am standing here trying to give a dude money for merchandise and he’s trying to talk me out of it. That was a unique retail experience.

It didn’t happen often and, like I said, it hasn’t happened for years, but I swear it happened. There was this occasional guy behind the counter who thought I was intruding in his clubhouse, and told me that I didn’t have the defensive mindset or mechanical aptitude or whatever for a gun, because, well, icky gurrrrl.

Closely related to this is the next piece of bad advice, usually delivered by a guy who is affecting the “veteran persona,” which is this: “Oh, what you need to do is load the first chamber with [a blank/snakeshot] because you don’t want to kill anyone. You don’t know how horrible it is…” At which point they gaze off at a far corner of the shop with a 10-yard version of a 1000-yard stare.

I mean, he’s sort of right, in that I don’t particularly want to kill anybody. But another thing I don’t want to be doing is explaining to a judge and jury why I blinded or maimed a person for life when I didn’t think they rated the use of deadly force. Because make no mistake about it, pointing a firearm at someone and pulling the trigger is deadly force, and “snake shot” or “rat shot” is not some kind of harmless stun ray. It’s perfectly capable of blinding and maiming at defensive distances.

TWO: The second-worst piece of advice I’ve gotten in a gun store…
The second most common piece of bad advice I’ve gotten in gun stores is the “cute gun.” This is where the clerk, apparently operating on autopilot, steers you to the tiniest little nickel-plated, pearl-handled .25 or .32 in the case. Apparently he has decided that those are girl guns, and you’re a girl, and so… Obviously a match made in heaven, right? It sometimes doesn’t even matter if you’re in there to get a trap shotgun or a long-range precision rifle, it can take a crowbar to pry the clerk off trying to sell you that little .25, because you’re fighting (or frightening) his automatic programming.

THREE: The most common piece of advice women get in gun stores…
And this brings us to the most common piece of bad advice given to women in gun stores, and it’s one often given with the best of intentions: The lightweight .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver. If there is a single firearm configuration that has put more novice women shooters off the idea of shooting as a hobby than the lightweight 5-shot .38, I don’t know what else it is.

Don’t get me wrong, the lightweight .38 snubbie has settled a lot of bad guys’ hash over the years, but it’s not really a beginner’s gun. The light weight amplifies recoil and also hurts accuracy, in that a 12-pound trigger pull on a 1-pound gun will really test the shooter’s abilities to keep the sights aligned through the whole trigger press. The sight radius is short, the sights are minimalistic and low-contrast, and the grip is tiny.

In short, the little snub is an expert’s gun that gets foisted on novice women shooters because it’s small and light and has a reputation for being effective. I think there’s also this idea that because it’s a revolver that it’s “simpler” and therefore easier for our lady-brains to understand or something. Nothing is more discouraging than being handed a gun that’s unpleasant to shoot and challenging to fire accurately when you’re a novice, especially when you’ve been told it’s the perfect gun for you.

So there are a few of the worst pieces of advice I’ve been given in gun stores, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Hopefully this will become a quaint relic of the past as more and more women get involved in shooting.

HUNTING: 5 Tips for Getting Along With the Game Warden

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These are hard-working folks doing a dangerous job. Here are a few ideas on how to eliminate the chance for the adversarial encounter most anticipate… Keep reading!

game warden

SOURCE: NRA Publications, American Hunter
by Captain Larry Case (Ret.)

Game Wardens, Conservation Officers, Natural Resources Police Officers, whatever they are called in your state, have a tough job. First, they are law enforcement officers and any job in law enforcement is no walk in the park, especially these days. Next, if you think about it officers in this field have the duty to enforce law and regulations dealing with people’s leisure time and doing what they enjoy, hunting, fishing, boating. I feel I can talk about this because I retired after 36 years as a Natural Resources Police Officer.

I have always felt that our hunters and fishermen and wildlife officers should all be on the same team. Law abiding sportsmen (this means men and women) want what is best for wildlife populations and by and large they support the laws aimed at that. So if you would like to cultivate a good relationship with your local officer, what are some of the things to think about?

ONE: Use the right name.
One of the many things most sportsmen don’t understand about wildlife officers is that they are often called by the wrong name. This is a sore spot for many and it may seem a trivial thing, but would you want to be constantly addressed by an incorrect title? In the work a day world people from other walks of life are quick to correct if you use the wrong term for their occupation. Inquire as to the correct name for officers in your states wildlife law enforcement agency and use it. Save the rabbit sheriff and opossum cop jokes for later when you are better acquainted.

TWO: Be proactive instead of reactive.
If you anticipate a problem in a certain area, such as a new hunting lease, most officers would like a call in advance. They may ask to meet with you and look over the area. This is a win for both parties involved, you get to meet the officer, and he gets to see the terrain before responding to a call there. Many hunting camps issue a standing invitation for officers to stop by whenever they are in the area. This is a gesture they will appreciate; they can get a cup of coffee and catch up with the news in your part of the county.

THREE: Be willing to give information.
Conservation Officers are traditionally the most understaffed law enforcement in the country. One officer in a county can’t be everywhere and they depend on conscientious sportsmen for information, they can’t operate effectively without it. If there are blatant violations going on in your area, be the guy that steps up and calls the officer about it. Game hogs are stealing you and everybody else’s deer and turkeys; it’s just a matter of how long you want to put up with it.

FOUR: Support your officers at the state capitol.
Most fish and game departments live with budget problems and their law enforcement division’s salaries are rarely up to par with other policemen in the state. When the legislature is in session you can call your representatives and urge them to support a pay bill for the officers in your state’s agency. Believe me; it won’t happen without a lot of public support. (Mostly it doesn’t happen anyway)

FIVE: Meet at Joe’s Diner.
All of this really isn’t science related to rockets. Give your county game warden a call and see if he wants to have lunch one day. You will find most are average Joe’s like you with car payments and a mortgage. Most are hunters, so you will have a lot in common. The advantages of personally knowing the warden can be numerous. Can he tell you where all the big bucks in the county reside? No, but he may very well give you a tip on a good spot that you did not know about. You may be surprised that he will learn things from you as well; part of his job is collecting information. Like many things in life, it is all about communication.

Wildlife law enforcement is a tough job, but it can be very rewarding. Especially if the officer knows he has allies in the ranks of his local sportsmen. It’s up to you to make that call.

Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Commonly-Owned Semi-Autos, Again!

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I guess we all figured THIS one was coming, and, well, here it is… Read more.

Dianne Feinstein

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

On Wednesday, November 8, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 2095, which she is calling the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2017.” The 125-page firearm prohibition fever dream is perhaps the most far-reaching gun ban ever introduced in Congress.

Subject to an exception for “grandfathered” firearms, the bill would prohibit AR-15s and dozens of other semi-automatic rifles by name (as well as their “variants” or “altered facsimiles”), and any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable magazine and be equipped with a pistol grip, an adjustable or detachable stock, or a barrel shroud. And that’s just a partial list. “Pistol grip” would be defined as “a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip,” meaning the ban could implicate even traditional stocks or grips specifically designed to comply with existing state “assault weapon” laws.

Needless to say, semi-automatic shotguns and handguns would get similar treatment.

Also banned would be any magazine with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds or even any magazine that could be “readily restored, changed, or converted to accept” more than 10 rounds.

While Feinstein’s bill would graciously allow those who lawfully owned the newly-banned guns at the time of the law’s enactment to keep them, it would impose strict storage requirements any time the firearm was not actually in the owner’s hands or within arm’s reach. Violations would be punishable (of course) by imprisonment.

Owners of grandfathered “assault weapons” could also go to prison for allowing someone else to borrow or buy the firearm, unless the transfer was processed through a licensed firearms dealer. The dealer would be required to document the transaction and run a background check on the recipient.

Should lawful owners of the newly-banned firearms and magazines decide that the legal hazards of keeping them were too much, the bill would authorize the use of taxpayer dollars in the form of federal grants to establish programs to provide “compensation” for their surrender to the government.

This bill is nothing more than a rehash of Feinstein’s failed experiment in banning “assault weapons” and magazines over 10 rounds. Except this time, Feinstein would like to go even further in restricting law-abiding Americans’ access to firearms and magazines that are commonly owned for lawful self-defense.

The congressionally-mandated study of the federal “assault weapon ban” of 1994-2004 found that the ban had little, if any, impact on crime, in part because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction” of firearm-related crime.

Don’t let Dianne Feinstein infringe on our Second Amendment rights with a policy that’s been proven to do nothing to stop crime. Please contact your U.S. Senators and encourage them to oppose S. 2095. You can contact your U.S. Senators by phone at (202) 224-3121.

REVIEW: FN 509 Pistol

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Here’s a close look at FN’s entrant in the Army’s XM17 trials. It turns out there weren’t really any losers, and the big winner was the American pistol shooter. Read all about it…

FN 509

SOURCE: NRA Staff, by Tamara Keel

The Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition ended up delivering an embarrassment of riches to the American pistol shooter. The Sig Sauer P320 MHS won, but several of the runners-up have found their way to gun dealers’ shelves in the months since the competition ended. This is the offering from Fabrique Nationale, which has trickled to the commercial market as the FN 509.

While not the exact gun used in the trials, it is, I want to say, “close enough for government work,” but that would be a lame joke. It would be somewhat true, though, since between the MHS contest and the release of the 509 to the market, FN met with representatives from law enforcement agencies to solicit input on various changes that would make its XM17 entrant more marketable to the domestic-law-enforcement market.

Basically, the FN 509 is an improved version of its existing striker-fired, polymer duty gun, the FNS, which has seen some success in both law enforcement and in the action-pistol world. The new version features a plethora of modifications from the familiar FNS, some to fit specific requirements of the MHS contract and others to make it an even more attractive choice as a fighting pistol than its predecessor.

Gone is the slight beavertail on the back of the full-size FNS frame; the FN 509 has the more rounded contour of the FNS Compact. I’m assuming this has something to do with the maximum overall length specified by the MHS program. The gun measures overall at just under 7.5 inches.

The slide on the FN 509 is similar to that of its progenitor, but the grasping grooves fore and aft are more aggressive, and worked well even with hands that were slippery with sweat and sunscreen. The slide boasts a satin-textured, rust-resistant finish.

The sight dovetails are dimensionally identical to those of Springfield Armory XD and Sig Sauer. This means there are a variety of aftermarket sighing options. Unlike the factory sights on the FNS, the 509’s rear-sight body features a bluff front rather than a Novak-style slope, the better to perform one-handed malfunction clearances by running the slide off a boot heel, belt, or holster mouth.

FN 509 details
Takedown is accomplished in a familiar manner, and the pistol breaks down into the expected component pieces.
(left) More-aggressive front serrations aid in press-checks and slide manipulation. (center) Want to change the white dot up front? Numerous options exist. (right) The rear sight’s front face is a ledge for one-handed racking of the slide.

The grip on the FN 509 is full-size, as it must be to accommodate the 17-round magazines specified by the program. The gripping surface textures are a quilt-like combination pattern of pyramid-shaped raised points of varying sizes as well as “skateboard tape” style accents. It looks odd, but it works fine. One of my last days with the gun was spent at a very hot and humid indoor range. Even dripping with sweat, the FN 509 had enough texture in the right places to allow me to shoot 4- and 5-round strings rapid fire without feeling like I was trying to hold onto a bar of soap.

FN 509 grips
(left) A variety of textures and patterns help to anchor the FN 509 in the shooter’s hand. An interchangeable backstrap contains a lanyard loop. (center) Two backstrap offerings allow the 509 to be fitted to the shooter’s hand. (right) Magazine capacity, as established under the MHS program guidelines, is 17 rounds.

The bottom of the grip on the FN 509 is heavily scalloped on the sides to permit a good grip if one needs to rip a magazine out to clear a malfunction. When I unpacked the gun, I field-stripped it and lubricated it with a few drops of Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil in the usual places, and then commenced to shooting. Over the course of the next 784 rounds without any further lubrication or cleaning, the gun suffered one user-induced failure-to-feed, on the last magazine, trying to provoke a “limp-wrist” malfunction with some Speer 147-grain TMJ Lawman ammo.

One of the stated goals of the MHS program was to get a gun that was as adaptable to the gamut of end users as possible, regardless of hand size or hand preference. Implementation of this ranged from the completely swappable frame shells of the SIG Sauer P320, to the wraparound backstraps of the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0, to the Glock entry’s add-on backstraps carried over from the company’s Gen4 offering. The FN 509, by way of contrast, ships with two interchangeable inserts that take up the lower three quarters of the backstrap. There is a choice between either arched or flat, and neither really alters the reach to the trigger. No worries about it being too large for any end user, though, since the circumference around the trigger is, at just less than 7 inches, less than an eighth of an inch more than an M&P with the small backstrap and barely a quarter-inch greater than even a diminutive single-stack 9 mm like the Walther CCP.

Trigger pull weighed in at a consistent 6 pounds on my scale, with a light takeup that met an abrupt wall, and then broke cleanly. Before I actually put it on the scale, I would have bet money that the trigger broke at 5 pounds — it feels lighter than it is.

 

Trigger reset was distinct and short. It was easy to shoot this gun well. My very first day at the range, I pulled it out of its box, lubed it to spec, and used the first 50 rounds from the gun to shoot a clean Dot Torture drill, cold. This impressed me even more, since the last three days had seen me consistently dropping a shot for a 49/50 with my Glock G19 carry gun.

FN 509 details
(left) External extractor, enlarged ejection port, and protected levers all lead to improved reliability. (right) A four-slot accessory rail allows attachment of lights, lasers, or combination accessory items.

The barrel of the FN 509 features a thicker bearing area around the muzzle, with a smaller contour along the remaining barrel length, which shaves ounces compared to a full-thickness barrel for the entire length. This likely contributes to my postal-scale measured empty weight of 26.5 ounces. Even with 17+1 rounds of 124-grain Federal Premium HST in the gun, it still weighed only 34.3 ounces, which is well less than an empty M1911 Government model.

The muzzle’s crown is countersunk to enhance accuracy and protect it from damage. Grabbing three different factory loads at random from my ammo stash, accuracy testing was performed at 15 yards shooting off sandbags. Two of the loads, Winchester NATO 124-grain FMJ and Federal 147-grain +P HST Tactical, turned in best five-shot groups smaller than 2 inches. Even steel-cased Russian TulAmmo 115-grain FMJ turned in a couple groups right about 2 inches. (The TulAmmo, or at least this lot, was also amazingly consistent, velocity-wise, from the FN 509, with a standard deviation for the 10-round string of only 10.77 fps.)

 

The FN 509’s Spartan origins are reflected in its packaging, at least with the test gun. It arrived in a brown cardboard box with a hinged lid, and inside the box was a zippered black nylon pouch with a tastefully embroidered FN logo in gray thread on the outside. The inside is lined with fuzzy soft cloth and has a pocket to hold the spare mag and whichever of the two backstraps isn’t in the gun.

There is the mandatory cable lock and an instruction manual in the box as well. There is no pin or punch provided to drive the roll pin out that secures the backstrap in place. The first time this is done will probably require a bench block and maybe a second set of hands. I’m not saying it’s depot-level maintenance, but nobody’s going to be doing it at the range.

One other praiseworthy change from the FNS is that the controls are better “fenced off” with raised areas around them. It’s a lot harder to inadvertently eject a magazine or ride the slide stop and prevent the slide from locking back (or to accidentally bump it up and lock the slide back on a full magazine) on the FN 509 than it was with the FNS.

The magazine release is noteworthy, in that it’s not just reversible, but actually ambidextrous. There’s no need to pull the button out and flip it around, and that’s what caused problems for large-handed shooters in the FNS — the flesh at the base of the shooter’s trigger finger could activate the right-side button. Not so with the new FN 509, or at least not that I could make happen.

The only real issue I found with the test sample was that the rear sight was just enough off-center to the right that it was throwing groups off slightly in that direction. A bit of attention with a sight pusher or a whack with a dowel would fix that in short order, but I just held an inch or so of Kentucky windage at 10 yards and everything was cool.

All in all, this is a mature pistol from FN. The time the company took to solicit opinions from potential end users shows in the finished product. It runs reliably, shoots accurately, and has a very usable trigger right out of the box. If these are things that are important to you, the FN 509 is definitely still in the running for Your Handgun System competition.

FN 509 specifications

Check it out HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: The Priming Process

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Priming is the final case preparation step, and it’s one of the most important. Read how to do it right.

Glen Zediker

There are pretty much three different style tools used to seat primers.

The first, and way on most common, is the priming “arm” attached to most every single-stage press. This works, but it’s the least best way to do it. There’s too much leverage at hand, and that makes it hard to feel the seating process to its best conclusion.

Take a close look at how a primer is constructed: there’s a cylindrical cup, inside the cup is the incendiary compound, and then there’s the anvil (that’s the little part that extends below the cup rim; it’s like a flat spring with three feet).

rifle primer close up
Take a close look at a primer. The anvil is the tripod-shaped thin metal piece protruding above the bottom of the primer cup. Getting the primer sitting fully flush on the bottom of the primer pocket in the case, without crunching it too much, requires some keen feel for the progress of primer seating, and that’s where the stand-alone tools come in to help. I strongly suggest using one.

Ideally, a primer will seat flush against the bottom of the primer pocket, with compression, equally of course, against the anvil. Also ideally, there should be some resistance in seating the primer (if there’s not then the pocket has expanded an amount to cause concern, and a rethink on the suitability of reusing this case, and its brothers and sisters).

If it has to be a choice, even though it doesn’t have to be, it’s better to have “too much” seating than not enough. The primer cannot (cannot) be left too “high.” That’s with reference to the plane of the case head. There are both safety and performance concerns if it is. First, if the primer is not seated snugly to the bottom of its pocket, then the firing pin will finish the job. No doubt, there will be variations in bullet velocities if this happens because it affects ignition timing.

Each and every loaded round you ever create needs to be checked for this. Every one. Get in the habit of running your finger across the case bottom and feeling a little dip-down where the primer is. Look also. Rounds loaded on a progressive machine are susceptible to high primers. The reason is no fault of the machine but rather because the feel or feedback is that much less sensitive than even when using a press-mounted priming arm. If there are a half-dozen other stations on a tool head in operation at once, then the one doing the priming is that much more obscured from feel. And also because we’re not usually able or willing to inspect each finished round as it emerges from the rotating shell plate. But do check afterwards as you’re filing the loaded rounds away into cartridge boxes. Much more to be said ahead on this topic next edition.

correctly seated primer
Check each and every (every last one always) primer you seat to make sure it’s below flush with the case head.

The better priming tools have less leverage. That is so we can feel the progress of that relatively very small span of depth between start and finish. There is also a balance between precision and speed in tool choices, as there so often is. Also, so often, my recommendation is one that hits the best balance.

The press-mounted primer arm styles exhibit variations from maker to maker, but they’re all about the same in function. What matters most in using a press seater is going slowly and double-checking each and every result. Again, it’s the lack of feel for the progression of the primer going into the pocket that’s the issue.

press priming arm
Here’s the most common means for seating primers: the attached arm assembly on most single-stage presses. It’s tough to really feel the primer seat correctly because there’s a honking lot of leverage at work.

The best way to seat primers, or I should say the means that gives the best results, are the “hand” tools. They are also a little (okay, a lot) tedious to use, and, for me at least, aren’t kind to my increasingly ailing joints after priming a large number of cases. Those types that have a reservoir/feeding apparatus are less tedious, but still literally a pain. The reason these type tools give the best results is that they have poor leverage. The first few times you seat with one, you’ll be amazed at just how much pressure you need to apply to fully seat a primer.

LEE hand priming tool
Here’s a “hand” tool. This one from LEE works plenty well, despite its low cost. There are others similar from most major makers. The whole point to these designs is absence of leverage. Check it out HERE at Midsouthl

The best choice, in my book, are the benchtop stand-alone priming stations. They are faster than hand tools, and can be had with more or less leverage engineered into them. I like the one shown nearby the best because its feeding is reliable and its feel is more than good enough to do a “perfect” primer seat. It’s the best balance I’ve found between speed and precision.

Forster Co-Ax priming tool
Here’s a Forster Co-Ax bench-mounted tool. It’s a favorite. It provides relatively low leverage for better feel for the progression of primer seating.

Forster Co-Ax priming tool

Get a good primer “flip” tray for use in filling the feeding magazine tubes associated with some systems. Make double-damn sure each primer is fed right side up (or down, depending on your perspective). A common cause of unintentional detonation is attempting to overfill a stuffed feeding tube magazine, so count and watch your progress.

RCBS APS
Another good one is available from RCBS, the APS. Check it out HERE at Midsouth.

It’s okay to touch primers, by the way. Rumors abound that touching them with bare fingers will “contaminate” the compound and create misfires. Not true. All the primers I’ve ever used, and all those anyone else is likely to encounter, are treated to a sealant. Now, a drop of oil can penetrate the compound and render it intert, but not a fingerprint.

The priming process, step-by-step is almost too simple to diagram. Place a primer anvil-side-up in the device housing apparatus, position a case, push the primer in place. It’s learning feel of the whole thing that takes some effort. As mentioned, using a tool with poor leverage, you might be surprised how much effort it takes to fully seat a primer. On anything with an overage of leverage, there’s little to no sensation of primer movement into the pocket. It just stops.

TWO DONT’S:
Don’t attempt to seat a high primer more deeply on a finished round. The pressure needed to overcome the inertia to re-initiate movement may be enough to detonate it.

Don’t punch out a live primer! That can result in an impressive fright. To kill a primer, squirt or spray a little light oil into its open end. That renders the compound inert.

ONE (BIG) DO:
Keep the priming tool cup clean. That’s the little piece that the primer sits down into. Any little shard of brass can become a firing pin! It’s happened!

See what’s available here at Midsouth HERE

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.

SKILLS: Pocket Pistol Drills

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Preparation is key to concealed-carry success, so make sure you take the time to prepare! Here are 4 drills for skills with the smaller end of the spectrum. Read on…

pocket pistol kit
This pocket pistol is the popular Ruger LCP II, carried in a DeSantis Gunhide SuperFly holster and loaded with Hornady Critical Defense .380 ACP ammo.

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Ed Head

Small, easily concealed handguns have become an increasingly popular choice among firearm consumers. It makes sense to assume many of these pistols are carried in pockets. Pocket carry may actually be the most-popular mode of carry, but I wonder how many folks actually practice with it? Being small, lightweight, and often equipped with miniscule sights and heavy trigger pulls, pocket pistols aren’t the easiest guns to shoot well. Then again, attributes such as compact size and light weight make these handguns easy to carry around. Some folks use them as primary-defense pistols, while others relegate them to the role of backup guns.

There are a good number of folks who often rely on a pocket pistol but spend their practice time with a larger handgun. Don’t assume that because you’re confident and competent with the preferred “full-size” pistol that you’ve developed the skill set necessary for equal competence on the pistol you perhaps more likely will have to rely on.

Pocket pistols should be carried in a holster! Well-made pocket holsters protect against accidental firing by covering the trigger, position the gun in the same way in the pocket every time and break up the outline of the gun, making it more concealable and less likely to “print” while in the pocket. With the pistol in the pocket, you should be able to obtain a firing grip, with your finger straight along the outside of the holster, and pull the gun from the pocket, leaving the holster behind. Now here’s the important part: Never, ever attempt to re-holster the gun with the holster in the pocket. Keeping the pistol pointed in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, safety on (if there is one), take the holster out of the pocket, re-insert the pistol, then carefully place the holstered handgun back into the pocket.

Depending upon how big you are and the size and cut of your pockets, you may wish to pocket carry with the pistol in a front trouser pocket or rear pocket. Pocket carry is possible in jacket pockets as well. Have you ever seen a police officer approach a driver with his or her support hand in a jacket pocket? You can bet that hand is grasping a gun, most likely a small revolver. While not strictly pocket carry, I know people who use a pocket holster as an inside the waistband holster, either in the appendix or behind the hip position. The same careful holstering rules apply to this carry method.

Here are a few drills you can practice with your pocket pistol. If you’re really comfortable with drawing the pocket gun, start these drills with the handgun holstered. If not, it’s best to start with the pistol in the hands at a low-ready, muzzle-depressed position. After each shooting drill, top off or reload the pistol and carefully and safely return it to your starting position. This isn’t a quick-draw drill. Take your time and keep the finger off the trigger until your sights are on target. Considering the role of the pocket pistol, you can do these drills at close range — 3 to 7 yards — on paper. If you want to practice on steel targets, maintain a safe distance of 7 yards or farther.

Drill #1: Fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of your target. Repeat. Total of 4 rounds.

Drill #2: Fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of your target and 1 round to the head zone. Repeat. Total of 6 rounds.

Drill #3: With two targets placed side by side, fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of each target. Repeat. Total of 8 rounds.

Drill #4: Repeat Drills 1 through 3 by taking a step to the side as you bring the pistol up on target. Total of 18 rounds.

A little practice with your pocket pistol will pay big dividends in improving your accuracy and confidence. Put down your favorite big pistol for a while and spend some time with your little, constant companion.