Category Archives: AR-15

Feinstein’s “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act” Might Make Replacement Triggers Illegal

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Almost immediately following the wake of the tragic events in Las Vegas, Diane Feinstein has already introduced a bill that could have devastating impact on the aftermarket parts industry, and on all shooters. Here’s what we know so far…

feinstein

SOURCE: TheTruthAboutGuns.com, Nick Leghorn

Just this morning [October 5, 2017] we heard that Dianne Feinstein had introduced her “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act,” a bill which would ban bumpfire stocks like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting among other things. In an attempt to make her new law apply as broadly as possible she not only specifically wants to outlaw bumpfire stocks, but also any modification that makes a firearm fire “faster.” But what exactly does that mean?

Here’s the relevant section:
Except as provided in paragraph (2), on and after the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, it shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a trigger crank, a bump-fire device, or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.

The issue is in the definition of “accelerate.” Bumpfire stocks are an obvious step, and are specifically named. The same with hand cranks for triggers. But the bill wants to make anything which increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle illegal, yet it doesn’t do a good job of outlining exactly what that means.

For semi-automatic firearms the rate of fire is completely subjective. An untrained shooter and legendary speed demon Jerry Miculek will be able to achieve two very different rates of fire with the same firearm. The bill thankfully isn’t silly enough to outlaw training sessions and gym memberships — it concerns itself only with attachments and physical devices. Tools like the bumpfire stock are obvious targets, but other factors can have similar effects.

Lighter replacement triggers are a great example. A lighter trigger in a firearm can allow the shooter to fire faster than with a heavy trigger simply because their finger is less fatigued. We reviewed one such trigger years ago, the Geissele S3G trigger, which absolutely increases the rate at which a shooter can fire their weapon. For that reason, according to Feinstein’s bill the Geissele S3G trigger would be illegal to purchase or possess in the United States.

Another issue: what exactly is the baseline for the rate of fire?
The baseline rate of fire that can be achieved with a finely-tuned competition rifle and a bare bones budget rifle are two very different things. Would there be one baseline for each weapon platform against which all other examples would be compared? Would manufacturers be required to install the worst trigger possible in order to reduce the rate of fire? Or would it simply be illegal to modify the trigger from the factory installed version, making drop-in replacements like Timney and Geissele illegal?

On its face, it sounds like Dianne Feinstein’s bill, as written, would kill the aftermarket trigger industry and make it illegal to improve the trigger on your rifle. We’ll have to see whether this bill makes it out of committee, and what (if any) amendments would be added to give some clarity to the situation.

Watch this one closely!

Ultimate Reloader: Gavin’s First PRS Match

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Ultimate reloader first precision rifle series
Gavin goes prone!

Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Experience

By: Ultimate Reloader

For a long time I’ve talked with friends about trying out a PRS-style match. Life has been busy, but when the right opportunity came, I decided to give it a try. My friend and shooting partner Jim Findlay offered to help me prepare, and told me it would be “fun to shoot gas guns together”. I decided I would shoot an AR-15, and thought that would be an ideal opportunity to try something new: the 22 Nosler. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting myself into, but that’s typically the way things happen when you’re really trying something new. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about shooting. I also made some great connections and friends during the match. If you are at all interested in PRS (Precision Rifle Series, or just Precision Rifle in general) I would suggest you enter and compete in a match. You most likely won’t regret it.

In this post, I’ll talk about preparing for the match, and the experience of competing in the match. In a follow-up post, I’ll go into more detail on the gear we used, and some of the gear we’d like to try in the future. So stay tuned for that!

Preparing For the Match

There were a few things to take care of before I started practicing with Jim in earnest for the match. I decided on the rifle platform I’d be shooting: it would be the AR-MPR AR-15 rifle, but with a 22 Nosler Upper. While I was waiting for the upper and components to arrive, I started practicing with 5.56 ammunition that I thought would be close to what I’d be shooting with 22 Nosler. I signed up for the match and paid my entry fee, and then downloaded the Practiscore Match App.

Practiscore is great, because you can read about each of the stages in order to prepare for each activity within the match. Here’s an example from the match I participated in:

After reading up on the match, it was time to create a game plan with Jim, and start practicing!

Practicing For the Match

Jim and I spent quite a few range trips preparing for the match, and I did quite a bit of practice up at my place, the “Ultimate Reloader Outpost”. First up was to sort out our gear, and get on target- we started at 600 yards. As I mentioned, this initial practice was performed with a .223/5.56 AR-15 configuration. With distances going out to 700 yards on match day, I chose to load 77 grain bullets for practice in 5.56 cases. At our 600 yard practice distance, these rounds did fine, but I wasn’t as confident about going out to 700 yards as they were getting into the trans-sonic zone.

Enter the 22 Nosler. The added velocity provided by this new cartridge combined with the extreme performance of the 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets I decided to use were a great combination. Here are the first shots I fired at 600 yards after the 100 yard sight-in and testing (see bottom group on target). The first round fired at 600 yards was on-target thanks to the G7 BC supplied by Nosler and Shooter App dope I had calculated. That’s a great feeling!

During our practice sessions, Jim and I focused on prone shooting, barricade shooting, and even shooting at a moving target at almost 600 yards. It was a lot of fun, but 90 seconds (the allowed time for each stage) was proving to go *very* quickly. Would I be ready on range day? I couldn’t wait to find out. Here we have Jim (far) and myself (near) shooting at 400 yards in preparation for one of the stages:

Match Day

On match day, I was fortunate to have friends Eric Peterson and Carl Skerlong running the camera and drone respectively. That meant I could focus on the shooting stages, and final preparations. I had printed out the courses of fire, had printed a dope card and zip tied it to my rifle, had dialed in the shooter app, and had all of my gear ready to go.

Overall, the match was more fun and more laid back than I thought it would be. The guys in our squad were all really helpful, and even loaned me gear to try out when they noticed my gear wasn’t right for a particular shooting activity. One such case was when Ken Gustafson (of KYL Gear) offered to loan me one of the bags he had made. Below you can see me shooting off the infamous unstable tippy tank trap with a KYL Gear bag, and I’ll have to say- it was amazing. It helped me lock down my rifle and get on target. What a great feeling!

I did run into some trouble- I had loaded my 22 Nosler rounds to max charge weight with Varget powder and experienced some failure to feed issues during the match. Initially I thought my bolt needed more lubrication, but after the match I discovered pressure signs on the rounds I had fired to investigate what went wrong. While I didn’t have malfunctions in practice, the match day was between 96 F and 100 F at the hottest part of the day- the same time I experienced issues. I was over pressure! I switched to a slower powder after that discovery (H-380) and found 22 Nosler to run perfectly (and at higher velocity), even in similar temperatures. I learned that you have to test everything you plan to use on match day, and take into account things like weather conditions as well. I also had my bipod fly off the rifle while shooting off a barricade- but continued with the stage and did alright. Even with these challenges, I kept on “giving it my best”, and I still had a ton of fun.

Summary

PRS is all about pushing your rifle skills to edge. You may have to hit targets at four different distances in 90 seconds- and dial in your dope between each shot. These kinds of challenges are super-difficult, but with enough experience and practice, it’s amazing what you can do. I saw guys that were so smooth, steady, fast, and accurate, it was mind blowing! It doesn’t come easy, and the guys at the top of the heap are super-dedicated. One such guy named Sheldon Nalos (in my squad) told me about how he dry fired off scale replicas he made of the T-Post Fox Hunt stage- practicing again and again until he was confident he was ready.

I don’t have the goal to be at the top of the heap within the PRS community, but I do think I’ll compete in more matches- they are super fun to experience, and the friends you’ll make may just last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts of trying PRS, I say “do it”! Stay tuned, because in my next post, I’ll talk about the PRS gear I used (and wanted) and then after that it’s time to go deep into 22 Nosler.

Thanks,
Gavin

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.

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

FIREARMS: Five Good Reasons To Reconsider The Ruger Mini-14

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The AR15 platform is decidedly not the only way to go… Let’s revisit another American-made classic that might just win you over. Keep reading…

Mini-14s

 

by Brian Sheetz, American Rifleman

When it comes to .223 Rem. semi-automatic rifles, Ruger’s Mini-14 has long been one of the obvious choices (technically, the Mini-14 has the more desirable 5.56 NATO chamber, which allows use of surplus ammo). And it’s no wonder, considering it offers nearly the same handiness as the M1 Carbine, the ballistics of the AR15, and the feel of the classic M1 Garand and M14. The Mini’s popularity confirms its strong perceived relevance among a wide range of users, and sustained sales for more than 40 years is evidence of its sound design — even if it’s unfairly judged by the same criteria as today’s predominant platform, the AR, which enjoys the huge advantages of U.S. military adoption and unlimited manufacturing sources. So while some consider the Mini a bit dowdy or lowly, it is actually a serious standout worth giving a second look. Here are just five of the many reasons why a Mini-14 Ranch, Tactical, or Thirty model should be on your short list the next time you shop for a modern rifle:

One: The AR may not be right for you.
 As difficult as it may be for some to believe, not everyone finds the AR platform appealing. There are a number of reasons why, but two come quickly to mind. The first is that its appearance may be too “tactical” for some people’s tastes; aesthetics can be subjective. And the second is that its controls may not be intuitive for some users because of their physical makeup and/or lack of prior training. In contrast to the former, most versions of the Mini have a sporter-like profile and some feature wood stocks, making them right at home in saddle scabbards, pickup trucks and, more importantly, in the minds of many for whom the sight of a traditional rifle is less likely to arouse unwanted attention. As to the latter, the Mini’s centrally located safety, its hook-rock-and-lock magazine design, and its beefy, integral charging handle make for a straightforward manual of arms with the respective benefits of rapid employment, secure loading and positive chambering. Add to these factors the Mini’s light overall weight (6 lbs., 12 ozs.) and handiness (36.75-inch length), and you have a combination of qualities that is difficult to ignore.

Two: The latest Minis are more accurate.
The Mini has long suffered from a reputation among many users for poor accuracy. Theories abound as to why that is the case: My own is that the considerable mass of the operating slide impacts harshly against the gas block, which is bolted directly to the relatively thin barrel, not allowing the barrel to return to its precise point of rest between shots. But in 2005, Ruger retooled the Mini-14 production line and most shooters agree that, beginning with the 580-prefix series guns made since then, shooting 2-inch groups at 100 yds. is not out of the question. Again, it may come as a surprise to some, but not everyone needs a half-m.o.a.-capable rifle. Many tasks just don’t require that level of accuracy. In fact, most hunting and self-defense situations are in that category. Also, my experience is that accuracy and reliability in semi-automatic rifle actions is usually inversely proportional. So, anything that the Mini lacks in the way of accuracy is, practically speaking, likely more than made up for in reliability and cleanliness of operation and in lack of ammunition sensitivity.

Mini-14
Classic lines and ergonomics make the Ruger Mini-14 appeal to those who have had experience with more conventional rifles.

Three: The Mini is one of few semi-auto .223s available in stainless steel.
 For boaters, coastal dwellers, and others for whom corrosion is an issue, the Mini is one of the few factory semi-auto rifles available in stainless steel, which can greatly reduce the necessity for fastidious, immediate maintenance. Because of their simple fixed-gas-piston system and Garand-style rotating bolt with two large locking lugs, Minis are generally not maintenance-sensitive anyway, but when it comes to harsh environments, particularly, the advantages of keeping stainless steel free of corrosion are undeniable — especially when gun maintenance cannot be performed as regularly as it should. Note that, with the Mini, stainless construction means that the barrel, receiver, bolt, operating rod, trigger group, and many other small parts are stainless steel. Blued guns, of course, use chromemoly steels in many of those same large components, but even in those guns, many of the smaller components are made of stainless. The broader point, of course, is that the Mini is made largely of steel — not polymers or aluminum — and steel’s material properties lend it a durability and longevity that lighter-weight materials simply cannot match.

mini-14 stainless
A simple, well-proven design that’s even available in stainless steel makes the Mini-14 appeal to many who just haven’t warmed up to the AR-platform firearms.

Four: 20- and 30-round factory magazines are widely available and reasonably priced.
This had been a longstanding bugaboo that plagued the Mini-14’s reputation. Ruger has produced 20- and 30-round magazines since the gun’s earliest days, but, until just a few years ago, it sold the latter only through law enforcement channels. That spurred the production of a raft of inferior aftermarket magazines, which did nothing to bolster the Mini’s otherwise enviable reputation for reliability. Nowadays, factory-fresh, Ruger steel magazines — a durable design that has functioned virtually flawlessly since its inception — are available for sale in the usual commercial channels at reasonable prices. In addition, flush-fitting 5-round magazines are also available. All feature a projection on the follower that activates the gun’s bolt hold-open once the last round has been fired. (The hold-open can also be manually activated by way of a button atop the receiver rather easily.)

mini-14 magazines
A range of quality steel magazines is available from Ruger, and there are many others on the aftermarket. Ruger offers 20-, 30-, and 5-round (flush-fit) magazines. Shown are a 30 and a 5.

Five: It’s recently available in .300 Blackout.
This option should make an already proven platform even more appealing and versatile — especially for those who would like to hunt with a Mini in areas that require a caliber greater than that of the .223 Rem. Of course the Mini has been available in 7.62×39 mm for years as the Mini Thirty, albeit limited to 20-round factory magazines, but the new .300 Blackout Mini brings .30-cal. presence to the familiar platform with the advantage of feeding from the same .223-cal. 20- and 30-round magazines. Ruger is selling the gun with a magazine marked “300 AAC Blackout” simply as a precaution, but there is reportedly no difference mechanically between it and the .223 magazine. It makes one wonder if the smart move might be to buy two Minis, a .223 Rem. and a .300 Blackout, along with a raft of magazines to fit either interchangeably as a practical, powerful hedge against bad times.

Check out the Minis HERE

SAGA: Second Amendment Guarantee Act Would Protect Popular Rifles, Shotguns from Antigun Politicians

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This new act would put a stop to the inconsistencies between state and federal firearms laws. Important!

Source: NRA-ILA

Last week, Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) introduced legislation that would shield popular rifles and shotguns, including the AR-15, from being banned under state laws. The bill, known as the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), would also protect parts for these firearms, including detachable magazines and ammunition feeding devices.

The bill is a response to antigun laws in a small handful of states — including California, Connecticut, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — that criminalize the mere possession of highly popular semiautomatic long guns widely available throughout the rest of the country. Although rifles or shotguns of any sort are used less often in murders than knives, blunt objects such as clubs or hammers, or even hands, fists, and feet, gun control advocates have sought to portray the banned guns as somehow uniquely dangerous to public safety.

Anti-gunners’ focus on these so-called “assault weapons” was renewed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. That decision made clear that handguns — by far the type of firearm most commonly used in crime — were subject to Second Amendment protection and could not be banned. This led gun control advocates to seek out other sorts of guns to demonize, and they’ve since been strenuously promoting the myth that semiautomatic rifles and shotguns with certain features such as detachable magazines, pistol grips or adjustable stocks are “weapons of war” with no legitimate civilian use.
Yet Americans overwhelmingly choose these types of firearms for legitimate purposes, including protection of their homes and properties, “three-gun” and other practical shooting sports, and hunting and pest control. And, indeed, the states’ legislative attempts to ban these guns has spurred a market for innovative products that use the same basic calibers and firing mechanisms, but with stock, grip, and accessory configurations that comply with legislative guidelines.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to review any of these state bans, lower courts have come up with increasingly strained readings of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court precedents to try to justify them. The Seventh Circuit, for example, held that even if a ban’s incursion on Second Amendment rights had no beneficial effect on safety whatsoever, it could still be justified on the basis of the false sense of security it might impart to local residents with exaggerated fears of the banned guns. “[I]f it has no other effect,” the majority opinion stated, the challenged “ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety.” That’s hardly an acceptable offset for the infringement of a constitutional right.

Members of the Supreme Court have criticized their colleagues for failing to review these cases and the lower courts for misapplying Supreme Court precedent. As noted in a dissent filed by Justice Clarence Thomas and joined by Heller’s author, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, “Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles.” Moreover, the “overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting.” “Under our precedents,” Thomas concluded, “that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

With states’ violating Americans’ rights and federal courts allowing them to act with impunity, it is up to Congress to ensure that all Americans, wherever they may live, have access the best, most modern and innovative firearms for their lawful needs, including the protection of themselves and their families.

The SAGA would ensure that state regulations could not effectively prevent the manufacture, sale, importation, or possession of any rifle or shotgun lawfully available under federal law or impose any prohibitive taxes, fees, or design limitations on such firearms.

The NRA thanks Rep. Chris Collins for leading this important effort and urges his colleagues to cosponsor and support this staunchly pro-gun legislation.

Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3576, the Second Amendment Guarantee Act. You can call your U.S. Representative at 202-225-3121.

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Jump: does it really matter? (Part One)

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The distance a bullet travels to enter the lands is a topic of much concern to the precision shooter. This series takes a look at why it matters, and also when it doesn’t…

Glen Zediker

bullet jump
Here’s jump: it’s the distance from the end of the case neck portion of the chamber to the first point the bullet will engage the lands or rifling.

Bullet jump: the open space a bullet must span until its first point of sufficient diameter engages the barrel lands.

Last week I had a long phone conversation with a fellow who had been bitten by two bugs, two somewhat conflicting bugs (at least seemingly so on the onset). The one was a regrouping equipment project for USPSA-style practical rifle competition, and the other was for a desire to maximize accuracy, which is to minimize group size. This fellow had been involved in competition long enough to decide to stay with it, and was re-upping his AR15 upper with a new custom barrel. He wanted to have the best accuracy he could buy, and that’s a worthwhile pursuit as long as there’s a budget that supports it.

The subject of bullet jump became the dominant topic.

Yep, he had read my books and a few others and developed the impression that minimizing bullet jump was one crucial component to maximizing accuracy. That’s fair enough. I’ve gone on about it, as have others. Adjusting bullet seating depth can make a big, big difference in shot impact proximities. However! The reason bullet jump matters — usually — is largely, almost exclusively, because of some bullet profiles being more finicky than others. Namely the longer and spikier “very-low-drag” type bullet profiles.

The first point of “major diameter” on a bullet is what coincides with the land diameter in the barrel. If that’s a .22 caliber with 0.219 diameter lands, then the first point along the nosecone of a bullet that’s 0.219 is the distance. Gages that measure this distance (Hornady LNL for instance) aren’t necessarily going to provide perfect coincidence with land diameter, but still provide an accurate bullet seating depth that touches the lands.

If you find the cartridge overall length, which really means bullet seating depth, that touches the lands (coincides with land diameter) then subtract that from what you then measure when the bullet is seated deeply enough to fit into a magazine box, that right there is the amount of jump.

Hornady LNL gage
There are other ways to find it, but the Hornady LNL Overall Length Gage makes it easy. I’d be lost without this tool. Use it to determine the current distance to engage the lands for any bullet you’ll use (it works also as a way to monitor throat erosion). Get one HERE

Dealing with an AR15, or any other magazine-fed rifle, assuming we are wanting the rounds to feed from the magazine, is that there’s a finite cartridge overall length that will fit into the magazine. So. We’re almost always going to be dealing with some amount of jump, unless one or two things can be manipulated to reduce or eliminate it.

AR15 loaded magazine
A box magazine sets the effective limit on overall cartridge length. Getting a bullet to sit close to the lands when the round is chambered requires either some trickery in chambering specs or, mostly, bullet selection. However, with selection there is also limitation. For safety’s sake, no factory loaded round is going to approach lands-on seating structure. When a bullet touches the lands at rest, pressures will, not can, spike. All good, if it’s accounted for. This sort of “fine-tuning” is strictly a (careful and knowledgeable) handloader’s realm.

The one is that the influence of rifle chamber specs with respect to either more or less jump is pretty much exclusively in the leade or throat. That’s the space that defines the transition from end of the chamber case neck area to entry into the lands. The closer the lands are to the chamber neck area the shorter the jump will be with any bullet. That is the leading difference between a SAAMI-spec .223 Remington chamber and a 5.56 NATO chamber. The NATO has a much longer throat. I’ve written on that one a few times…

A shorter throat has goods and bads. The main good is that, indeed, any and all bullets are going to be closer to the lands in a round loaded to magazine-length.

But the “two” in the things that influence jump is bullet selection. It is possible to find a combination that will easily have the bullet sitting right on or very near the lands at the get-go. That’s going to be a short, and light, tangent ogive bullet within a SAAMI-spec .223 Remington chamber, or (and this is what I have done) a barrel chamber finished using a throating reamer to get even closer. In general: the nearer the first point of major bullet diameter (remember, that’s the land diameter) is to the bullet tip, the shorter the jump will be, and that’s because this point is “higher.”

Hornady 52gr HPBT
Looking through a good factory loading manual down amongst the “lighter bullet” selections, take a notice of the overall round length used in the test ammo. Magazine box maximum for an AR15 is 2.25 inches (it’s actually 2.26 at a maximum, but don’t cut it too close). If you see a length less than that, then there’s a bullet that can be seated on or near the lands at magazine length. Simple.
Here’s a great example that I can tell you absolutely will engage the lands in an AR15 loaded to magazine length. As a matter of fact it will be over 0.020 into the lands at magazine length, so certainly must be loaded to an overall length well less than that… It also shoots little groups. Check it out HERE

Throat erosion is going to lengthen the throat. Can’t stop that. The cartridge structure that was jumping, say, 0.005 on a new barrel is jumping more than that after literally every round fired through it. After some hundreds of rounds it’s jumping a few multiples of 0.005. (How much or how many is not possible to forecast because way too many factors influence the amount and rate of throat erosion. Just have to keep checking with the gage I suggest you purchase.) This is the reason I specify a custom dimension to get reduced jump: with the right hands using a throating reamer it’s easily possible to maintain land contact at magazine length seating even after a lot of rounds have gone through. Bullets will begin being seated more deeply and then get nudged out as the throat erodes.

So, where the conversation ended was this: If (and only if) someone is willing to take the time and make the effort to carefully establish and then control a reduced or eliminated amount of magazine-loaded jump then, yes, it’s a fine idea! It’s also an idea that likely will result in the best accuracy. I’ve done it in one of my AR15 match rifles, and it’s the best shooting I’ve ever owned. The hitch is that the rifle becomes what I call a “one-trick pony.” It’s not always going to accept bullets and loaded round architectures that stray from the carefully calculated dimensions originally set down. It’s also not likely going to perform safely with every factory-loaded round out there, and you can forget (totally forget) ever firing a NATO-spec round.

There’s a whopping lot more to this whole topic, and we’ll look at the other end of the spectrum next time.

The reason that reduced amounts of bullet jump increase accuracy, in a perhaps overly simple but entirely correct way to understand it, is because there’s simply less potential for disruptive entry into and lands and then through the bore. There’s less misalignment opportunity, less jacket integrity disruption opportunity. There is a lot more that can be discussed in finer points, of course…

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

California Court Blocks Enforcement of Recently-Enacted Magazine Ban

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Second Amendment advocates are cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. Read more…

judge in California

Source: NRA ILA

The battle to secure Second Amendment rights is ever-evolving. Last Monday, gun owners were dealt a disappointing blow with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the legal scheme that empowers California counties to effectively ban the bearing of arms. Yet by Thursday, Second Amendment advocates were cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. That opinion, in Duncan v. Becerra, shows what’s possible when a federal judge treats the right to keep and bear arms with the respect deserved by all provisions within the Bill of Rights.

The case is challenging the ban enacted last fall by Proposition 63 on so-called “large capacity magazines” (i.e., most ammunition feeding devices “with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds”). California’s law went beyond similar laws in other antigun states by prohibiting not only the manufacturing, sale, or importation of such magazines but also their possession, including by those who had lawfully obtained them before the ban’s effective date of July 1. As Judge Roger T. Benitez put it in his order, “On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime.”

Thanks to the injunction issued by Judge Benitez, that is no longer the case. His order prevents enforcement of the ban on possession and the requirement that those in possession rid themselves of their magazines, pending further proceedings in the case. The order left intact, however, the bans on manufacturing, sale, or import.

Judge Benitez held that standard capacity magazines like those affected by the ban are “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment. He further ruled that the law burdens the “core” Second Amendment right of possessing an arm commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of home, self, and state. The burden, he wrote, was “more than slight” and the ban was neither presumptively legal nor of long-standing pedigree. And even if the ban were subject to the more forgiving brand of “intermediate scrutiny” under which many gun control laws have been upheld, he found it would not be a reasonable fit with the state’s asserted purpose of public safety because it is squarely aimed at law-abiding persons.

Judge Benitez had some unusually sharp characterizations of California’s gun control laws. “The language used, the internally referenced provisions, the interplay among them, and the plethora of other gun regulations, have made the State’s magazine laws difficult to understand for all but the most learned experts,” he stated. “Too much complexity fails to give fair notice and violates due process,” he continued, noting that even the attorney for the State of California could not describe all of the magazine ban’s intricacies during the hearing. “Who could blame her?” he asked rhetorically. “The California matrix of gun control laws is among the harshest in the nation and are filled with criminal law traps for people of common intelligence who desire to obey the law.”

Judge Benitez also assailed the creeping incrementalism that retroactively seeks to punish facially harmless behavior by upstanding people who are acting in good faith.

“Constitutional rights would become meaningless if states could obliterate them by enacting incrementally more burdensome restrictions while arguing that a reviewing court must evaluate each restriction by itself when determining constitutionality,” he wrote. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was exactly the complaint that the NRA and others had raised with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion the Supreme Court had earlier in the week declined to review. By focusing narrowly on the question of whether the Second Amendment was specifically meant to protect concealed carry, the Ninth Circuit had ignored the fact that California has foreclosed every option to lawfully bear arms for self-defense in public.
Judge Benitez framed the questions in Duncan case as whether a law-abiding, responsible citizen has “a right to defend his home from criminals using whatever common magazine size he or she judges best suits the situation” and “to keep and bear a common magazine useful for service in a militia.” He opined that “a final decision on the merits is likely to answer both questions ‘yes’… .“

Last Thursday’s opinion represents a very encouraging development but unfortunately is not the last word in the case. It remains to be seen if the state will appeal the injunction, and the court must still resolve the underlying claims. Once that happens, further appeals are likely to follow.

Overall, however, the week’s events were a reminder of the critical role that federal judges play in the freedoms that Americans enjoy (or don’t enjoy). And having a president who respects the Constitution when appointing those judges is a safeguard that no liberty-loving American can overestimate.

REVIEW: Springfield Armory SAINT

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We have been waiting a long time for Springfield’s AR15 and it is worth the wait, and worth the money. Here’s why…

by Bob Campbell

Springfield’s ads had been teasing us with the introduction of a new product and very recently we learned that the SAINT was an AR15-type rifle. This is the first-ever AR15 with the proud Springfield Armory stamp. The rifle had been described as entry level but this isn’t really true. There are more expensive rifles but the Springfield isn’t cheap — it is simply below the $900 threshold. That is a pretty important price point. The rifle has good features and is built for reliability. The SAINT is intended to appeal to the young and adventurous and to those serious about taking responsibility for their own safety. I agree but older shooters such as myself who are able to discern quality at a fair price will also appreciate the SAINT. As a Springfield fan, the SAINT will take its place beside my 1903 Springfield and the modern 1911 Operator handgun, but there is more to the puzzle than the name. At present I have fewer than 600 rounds fired through the SAINT but the experience has been good. (I fire the rifles I test for real on the range, and not with the typewriter. I know the difficulty in firing one thousand rounds or more in an economic and physical sense.)

SAINT and 1903
The SAINT is shown with a 1903 Springfield. A proud tradition!

Let’s look at the particulars. The SAINT features the A2-style front sight/gas block and a folding rear sight. The rear sight is stamped with the Springfield “crossed cannons” emblem. The rear sight isn’t target grade but it is useful for short-range defense work and snagging predators to perhaps 100 yards, the use I will put this 6-pound, 11-ounce rifle to. The gas system is a mid-length architecture. Without getting into a discussion that would fill these pages all its own, the mid-length system is ideal for use with common bullet weights. The SAINT has a 16-inch barrel chambered for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. This means you can fire .223 Remington or 5.56mm cartridges without a hint of trouble. Its 1-in-8 inch barrel twist is increasingly popular. Midway between the 7- and 9-inch twist this barrel twist rate has proven accurate with the majority of loads I have tested. So far this includes loads of 52 to 77 grain bullet weights.

SAINT
The SAINT handles well. The author found the SAINT exceptionally controllable.

The trigger is a GI-type that breaks in my example at 6.7 pounds. This is in the middle-ground for an AR trigger and it is clean and crisp. There is also a special coating that allows the trigger group to ride smoothly. The receivers are anodized aluminum, no surprises there, but the bolt carrier group is also specially coated, and stamped with the Springfield logo. I like that a lot. Springfield has added a new design with the Accu-Tite Tension system. This is a set screw located in the lower receiver that allows the user to tighten the receivers together. I like this feature and I probably will not add any other tightening measures to the SAINT. The furniture is Bravo Company and the handguard is a Springfield exclusive. The three-piece handguard features a heat shield in the lower base, and allows for accessory mounting via a keylock system. The handguard offers excellent grip when firing but doesn’t abrade the hand when firing in long practice sessions. I like the stub on the end of the handguard that prevents the hand from running forward onto the gas block. Optics are not optimally mounted on the handguard since it isn’t free-floated, so the receiver rail is available for mounting optics. The six-position stock utilizes a squeeze lever for six-point adjustment. The grip handle is the famous BCM Gunfighter.

SAINT sights.
The front and rear sights are adequate for shorter-range use, and the controls are excellent. Note bumper on handguard to prevent the hand running forward off the handguard.

To begin the evaluation I filled several magazines with Federal Cartridge Company American Eagle cartridges. The rifle had several hundred rounds through it and I expected the same performance for this Shooters Log test. These 55-grain FMJ cartridges burn clean, are affordable, and offer excellent accuracy in a practice load. I loaded the supplied MagPul magazine and a number of other various magazines I had on hand. The bolt was lubricated. AR15 rifles will run dirty but they will not run dry. I addressed man-sized targets at 25 and 50 yards, firing as quickly as I could get on target and align the sights. Keeping the hand forward on the handguard (and avoiding the gas block!) and controlling the rifle fast and accurate hits came easily. The rifle is controllable in rapid fire but then it is an AR15… The sights are adequate for the purpose. The Gunfighter grip is particularly ergonomic allowing excellent control. As for absolute accuracy with the iron sights, it isn’t difficult to secure 3-shot groups of two inches at 50 yards, par for the course with an iron-sighted carbine.

Accuracy Testing
For a complete evaluation, you have to go further with accuracy testing and this means mounting a quality optic. I settled down with a mounted Lucid 6x1x24 rifle scope. This optic provides a good clear sight picture and has many advantages a trained rifleman can exploit. I settled down on the bench and attempted to find the best possible accuracy from the SAINT. Hornady has introduced a new line of AR15 ammunition. Since black rifles run on black ammunition the new loads should prove popular. My test samples of Hornady Black Ammunition featured the proven 75-grain BTHP. This is a good bullet weight for longer-range accuracy and it proved to give good results in the SAINT. I also tested a good number of popular .233 loads including a handload of my own, using the 60-grain Hornady A-Max bullet.

Meopta MeoRed
The Meopta MeoRed Red Dot gave good results.

I have also mounted a MeoRed red dot with excellent results. For use to 50 yards this red dot offers good hit probability and gets the Springfield up and rolling for 3-Gun Competition.
I like the Springfield SAINT. I drove in the rain to get the rifle and was at the door at my FFL source when they opened. I had to wait to hit the range! I am not disappointed and the SAINT is going to find an important place in my shooting battery.

Check out the complete specs HERE

SAINT free-float
The SAINT is also available with a free-floating handguard tube.

Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).