Category Archives: AR-15

Why You Should Have An AR-15 For Home Defense

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Choosing a home-defense firearm is a very important, and very personal, decision. Here’s a few ideas on another to add to your list. READ MORE

ar15 home defense

Team Springfield

Good news is, a relatively small percentage of people will experience a home invasion during their lifetime.

Bad news is, unless you possess the ability to see into the future, you won’t know if you are one of them until it happens.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably already had that realization and have decided to equip yourself for home defense. #BePrepared

Many law abiding gun owners will advocate hard for using a pistol vs. a rifle for home defense. We suggest going to the range yourself and putting the two to the test. Once you’ve put in some trigger time and are familiar with the operations of both weapons, your home defense pistol and an AR-15 rifle, put yourself on a timer and keep score. You might just surprise yourself at how well you perform with the AR.

Having said that, here are a few reasons you should consider selecting an AR-15 to defend your legacy.

EASE OF USE
The primary benefit of the AR-15 platform lies in its intuitiveness and comfortable ergonomics. The position of the fire controls and its overall light weight make the AR easy to operate, and that’s an important factor, especially under pressure.

As with any firearm though, familiarity and continuous training are mandatory. Those who have spent a lot of time with the M16, like so many of our military veterans, will most likely find use of the AR-15 seamless, but first-time rifle owners will obviously need to invest time in training at the range.

EASE OF ACCESS
The biggest challenge to having a firearm for home defense is ease of access. If you need to defend yourself quickly, accessibility is obviously pertinent!

An AR can be just as easily accessible in a home defense situation as another type of firearm. It can be stored in many of the same locations as a shotgun or even a pistol. The sheer size of an AR-15 rifle may also make it easier to grab when things go bump in the middle of the night.

But it’s also mandatory to be diligent with security. It’s common sense and common knowledge, but all firearms must be stored in a secure location, so that non-authorized users cannot gain access.

So, if that means you must unlock your AR-15 at night so you have quick access to it, and then lock it back up in the morning (after you’ve put on your EDC gun), then that is what you must do — every day and every night. #GoodHabits

CAPACITY OPTIONS
Many self-defense shootings involve only a few fired shots, but if you can gain extra capacity with your home defense weapon, you may as well have it. While many double-stack pistol magazines can hold 15 to 18 rounds, a standard AR-15 magazine capacity is 30 (although not legal in some states).

Another, often over-looked, option is the 20-round AR-15 magazine. It makes the rifle just a tad lighter, and you may really like how much more maneuverable it becomes.

SIGHT ACQUISITION
Another great aspect of using an AR-15 for home defense is its ability to be customized with attachments. Putting on a red dot optic will make “finding” your sights far easier in a high-pressure, low-light situation. Again, training is paramount. Those of us who have firearms with optics know that initially, that little red dot may not show up in the center of the scope as quickly as we would like it to.

Mounting a flashlight or laser sight onto the handguard can also be beneficial, though there are pros and cons to these illuminating options. All of the SAINT™ models have either Keymod, or M-Lok rails, so attaching a light or laser can be done quickly and easily.

PENETRATION
A common knock against the AR-15 for home defense is that the 5.56×45 NATO chambering will over-penetrate. This statement is somewhat controversial.

All ammunition, whether for pistols, shotguns, or rifles, is developed for different uses / purposes. With the plethora of 5.56 and .223 ammunition on the market today, you have many options. Most of the lighter weight rounds, and many “varmint” hunting rounds, are designed to break apart when hitting a hard object. There are several other cartridges designed specifically for personal / home defense, such as Hornandy Critical Defense, Black Hills TSX, Federal Vital-Shok, and Winchester PDX-1 Defender.

Take a look around YouTube too. You can search for penetration tests where 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP pistols and 5.56mm and .223 rifles penetrate a variety of materials such as wood or cinder block.

Do your research, and choose the option that fits your needs within your fortress.

And always make sure your home defense firearm is zeroed with your ammunition of choice.

In the end, regardless of what gun you choose for home defense, if and when the time comes to take a shot, you must always be aware of what’s behind your target and what’s in the line of sight between you and the target.

Check out some great choices HERE

 

REVIEW: Leupold FX-II 4x28mm Handgun Scope

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Looking for a high-performance scope to realize the accuracy potential of your handgun? Get a good one… READ MORE

leupold handgun scope

by Major Pandemic

During my review of the EXTAR AR15 pistol, I saw that it had accuracy potential far more than what people give the AR15 pistol format credit for. This pistol deserved a fitting optic that could take advantage of the accuracy without diminishing its close-range capabilities. I chose the Leupold FX-II 4x28mm scope. This scope has enough magnification to exploit the potential of the AR15 pistol format but also plenty of eye relief for arms-length aiming.

EXTAR
Adding this Leupold FX-II brought out the full accuracy potential of this fine EXTAR pistol.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
Leupold has a long and well-deserved reputation for high-quality optics. Leupold really only makes two pistol models: the FX-II fixed power 4X magnification and the VX-3 variable power scope.
Compared to a rifle scope, handgun optics are actually subjected to higher than normal recoil due to the lower weight of the firearm, and the sometimes very powerful cartridges being shot in handguns. In the past, some shooters used triple or quad rings to help distribute recoil more evenly to the scope tube and provide more rigidity. The reality, though, is that lower quality optics just do not hold up to the punishment some handguns dish out. Leupold pistol scopes are famous for their durability on heavy recoiling pistols. And they have a warranty that will put anyone’s mind at ease.

The Leupold 4x FX-II pistol scope offers all the usual Leupold optic features including their Multicoat 4, Xtended Twilight Lens System, Diamondcoat II and other proprietary image, reflection, light transmission, and durability enhancements. Leupold also delivers some impressive gas waterproofing which actually increases image quality as well.

The 4x FX-II features Twin Bias Spring Erector System, Super Fast-Focus Eyepiece, Lockable Fast-Focus Eyepiece, Clasic/Standard Lockable Eyepiece, Micro-Friction 1/4 MOA, and 1/4 MOA Finger Click. With a 1-inch tube diameter 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum main tube the FX-II delivers a simple mountable scope with very common and less expensive rings.

leupold fx
Leupold makes some of the finest and most durable optics on the planet.

Most people incorporate far too much magnification on both handguns and rifles. The 4X Leupold FX-II handgun scope delivers a usable magnification that is not frustrating to hold steady at arms-length. Once you up magnification beyond that, you can become frustrated with a reticle which keeps jumping around unless shots are taken from an very stable rest. 4X magnification on a handgun is just right and provides the precision needed to reach out beyond distances that eyesight and iron sights can deliver.

Having shot behind a number of handgun optics, the biggest challenge is having an optic that delivers a large enough eye-relief box/window. If the eye-relief box is too narrow, the shooter is constantly fighting the distance the gun is from the eye to see the full field of view and reticle. The Leupold delivers a huge flexible eye-relief box which enables you to concentrate on the target and not finding the right scope mount length.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Leupold FX-II Handgun scope delivers a proven and reliable design which is specifically built to take the increased punishment a handgun can deliver even the really big handgun rounds like 45-70 and even .308. Obviously the EXTAR 5.56 AR15 pistol didn’t even phase this scope, however it did deliver a super light pistol which when equipped with a scope was more than accurate enough for varminting and plinking all the way out to the 300-yard-line.

leupold fx-II specs

Check it out HERE at Midsouth
Leupold information HERE
Extar

Major Pandemic

[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Ballistic Coefficient

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Ballistic coefficient is a term that’s often used but sometimes not fully understood. Keep reading to find out exactly what it is, and what it isn’t…. HERE

nosler rdf
BC is essentially a race between a real bullet and a mathematical bullet. Real bullet never wins… The closer the real bullet gets to the “standard” bullet, though, the higher its BC and the better it’s going to fly. I’d love to get a Kroger-sack full of G1s… Until then, one of these Nosler RDFs will do nicely.

Glen Zediker

A “ballistic coefficient,” or “BC,” is a number that suggests a bullet’s aerodynamic performance.

BC is a component in bullet design that matters much, and it matters more the farther it travels. Bullets that flat out fly, fly flat far out, are of great interest to any longer-range shooter. A bullet with a high(er)-BC is also an advantage at shorter distances, especially when there are variations in the shooting distance. A flatter-shooting (one of the traits supported by a higher BC) bullet means a more flexible zero, a smaller difference in the elevation hold from, say, 100 to 300 yards. BC is influenced by sectional density, bullet weight, and, mostly, its shape or profile.

BCs are derived by comparison. Here’s how that works: There are “standard” bullets that are mathematical models. Bullet designers and ballisticians know which model to apply to different bullet styles. Pistol bullets, for instance, are calculated from (compared to) different models. For the majority of rifle bullets we’ll encounter, one common model is a “G1” (there are others, like G7, which is becoming the popular standard for boat-tail bullets; G1 is based on a flat-base). The flight of this G1 bullet has been calculated at varying velocities and distances. It’s “all math” because a G1 doesn’t exist in a tangible sense.

vld blueprint
Here’s a bullet blueprint. It’s the Bill Davis original 105gr 6mm “VLD” (very low drag). Design factors that influence BC are pretty much every design factor: length, ogive, boat-tail, meplat, weight. All these factors, in this instance, calculate a BC of 0.560. By the way, there’s about a 5 point BC increase for each added 1 grain of bullet weight.

The standard bullet has a BC of 1.000. An actual bullet that’s compared to, for example, the G1 at points, distances downrange, will either be flying faster or slower than the G1 model. If it’s faster, its BC will be greater than 1.000; if it’s slower, it will be less than 1.000. So it’s a percentage of the standard or model bullet’s performance.

Comparing bullets with different BCs, the one with the higher number loses less speed over distance. Losing less speed means its flight time will be shorter and it won’t drift and drop as much as will a bullet with a lower BC. So, a 0.600 flies better than a 0.550.

Depending on the bullet-maker, assigned or published BCs are either calculated or measured. More mathematics than I can wrap my mind around can get these calculations done based on a blueprint. Measured BCs involve chronographing at the muzzle and then at other points on downrange, same bullet, same flight.

Which method — math or measure — provides the best information? Some, and this only “makes sense,” believe that a measured, tested BC is more realistic and, therefore, more valuable. But, if the point is to compare bullets, calculated BCs might be more reliably accurate. I know a number of very serious NRA High Power shooters who have gone to great lengths to “field test” different bullets. It’s not easy to chronograph at long range. Given that information, measured BCs are quite often lower, but not nearly always. Reasons follow.

All the drift and drop tables (whether printed or digital) you’ll see are based on a bullet’s assigned BC. The accuracy of those tables clearly revolves around what the actual, at that moment, BC performance is from the bullet you’re shooting. Also, some bullets have a different stated BC based on muzzle velocity to start.

A whopping lot of things affect the actual, demonstrated BC: anything that can influence bullet flight influences the actual BC performance.

Bullet stability is a factor. For a stated BC to be shown on a shot, the bullet has to be “asleep.” If it’s not stable, it’s encountering disruptions that will slow it down. The rotational speed of a bullet in a test can influence BC. We’ve seen differences comparing different twist-rate barrels, and the faster twists often show a little lower BC outcome.

Atmospherics, which add up as a list of factors, influence BC mightily. Air density is probably the most powerful influence. Any conditions that allow for easier passage of a bullet through the air don’t detract as much from its BC as do any conditions that serve to hinder its flight. BCs are based on sea-level so can easily show as a higher number at a higher elevation.

uniformed meplat
BC uniformity is important to a long-range shooter’s score (less elevation dispersion results). There will be variations in any box of hollowpoint match-style bullets, and a source for variation is the meplat (tip). These variations are the result of the pointing-up process in manufacture. I’ve measured as much as 0.020 inches sorting through a box of 100. A “meplat uniformer” tool eliminates this variance. Uniforming reduces BC 3-4 points, but it’s a trade many serious long-range shooters say is worth the effort. Uniformed on right.

meplat uniformer

Range-realized reality is that the demonstrated BC changes from morning to afternoon and day to day and place to place. The calculated BC is not changing, of course, but the mistake is assuming that a BC is a finite measure of bullet performance. If you’re interested, there’s some valuable information from David Tubb (visit DavidTubb.com). He’s done a volume of work on calculating influences from atmospherics as it applies to his DTR project, which, in one way of seeing it, gets down to understanding why it’s really rare to dial in what a ballistics table says for a particular bullet and speed and distance, and hit the target.

One last (for now) bit of information I’ve always found valuable: a BC is a finite thing in one regard, and that is that any BC derived from a G1 model, for instance, fits all bullets with that same BC. This was helpful before ballistics apps were as common and easy as they are now. For instance, if there was a new .224-caliber bullet with an advertised BC, but no tables, just find another bullet, of any caliber, with that same BC, plug in the velocity, and the drift and drop figures will be accurate.

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: Bullets 101

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Bullet structure should play an important part in your selections. Here’s a short course in bullet architecture, and why it matters!

224 bullet comparison
There’s probably a wider variety of .224 caliber bullets than any other diameter, and there are whopping differences available! Left is a Hornady 35 V-Max, right is a JLK 90gr VLD. That’s the longest .224 I’ve had to work with.

Glen Zediker

These days we don’t have to settle for much of anything. Pretty much whatever it is, there are options. That’s a good thing, as long as we figure out how to sort through all the options. I didn’t count them all, but there are way on more bullets available now than ever. This article sets out to help you all understand the essential engineering of this all-important ammo component.

The reason there are so many bullets is because there are so many different ultimate uses we put them to.

All bullets are designed or intended to do something, and, clearly, the first idea is to hit a target.

There are bullets engineered to perform variously on target, including the proximity of impacts on target. I say it that way because a “match” bullet’s job is to perforate a piece of paper. A bullet designed for varmint hunting, on the other hand, is designed to produce explosive impact, and one for larger game hunting strives to strike a balance between expansion and penetration. All bullets have to meet their target to be effective, and different premiums often also result in a few trades. Specialty hunting projectiles, for instance, don’t usually out and out group as well as those engineered for target shooting.

However! No matter how it’s built inside, there are universal elements of any bullet design, and those are found on the outside.

bullet parts
Here are the pieces-parts of a bullet. Each element is influential not only in downrange performance, but also in how tolerant or flexible the bullet will be in different rifle chamber and cartridge structures.

Bullet parts: base, that’s the bottom; boat-tail, or not (flat-base); shank, portion of full-caliber diameter; ogive, the sloping “nosecone,”; tip, either open or closed (open it’s called the “meplat”). The shape of the ogive and the first point of “major diameter” are extremely influential elements. The first point of major diameter can vary from barrel brand to barrel brand because it’s the point on the bullet that coincides with land diameter in the barrel — the first point that will actually contact the barrel as the bullet moves forward. When there’s a cartridge sitting in the rifle chamber, the distance or gap between the first point of major diameter and the lands is called “jump,” and, usually, the less there is the better. More in another article.

bullet bearing area
This gives an idea of bearing area. The point that contacts the lands is the first point of “major diameter,” and from there back down the body is what will be in contact with the barrel. Longer area means more tolerant behavior, but lower potential velocity.

The first point of major diameter and the shank combine to determine the bullet “bearing area.” This is how much of the bullet is riding the barrel surfaces. Usually, bullets with greater bearing areas tend to shoot accurately, but, might not get to velocities as high as one with a shorter bearing area. Longer bearing area creates more drag in the bore. Longer bearing area bullets also tend to be more tolerant of jump.

magazine box rounds
This is the round architecture that matters the most to the most of us. We need good on-target performance from cartridges with bullets seated to feed from a box magazine. Choose a tangent profile that’s no more than 8-caliber ogive.

The two essential profiles a bullet can take are “secant” and “tangent.” This refers to the shape of the ogive. A tangent is a more rounded, gradual flow toward the tip, while a secant is a more radical step-in, more like a spike. Secants fly with less resistance, but tangents are more tolerant of jump.

tangert and secant
Tangent, left; secant, right. Tangent ogives are more tolerant of jump, but not quite as aerodynamic at extended distance.

Ogives are measured in “calibers.” That’s pretty simple: an 8-caliber ogive describes an arc that’s 8 times caliber diameter; a 12-caliber is based on a circle that’s 12 times the caliber. The 8 will be a smaller circle than the 12, so, an 8-caliber ogive is more “blunt” or rounded. (So I don’t get comments from engineers, there’s more to it than this, as it applies on blueprints to different profiles; it’s the ratio of its radius to the diameter of the cylinder. But my description is accurate as an overview.)

Bullets with lower-caliber ogives are more tolerant of jump and (usually) shoot better, easier. Higher-caliber ogives fly better, farther. This is an important component in the “high-BC” designs. Same thing comparing tangent and secant: the first is easier, the second beats the air better.

bullets compared
Here’s a good example of the differences in bullets. These are both 75 grains. The one on the left is engineered to be fired from a magazine-length round; the other is engineered to provide better performance over more distance, and it should not be fired at magazine-length. Look at the ogives closely and see the curve difference.

When you see terms like “magazine bullet” or “length-tolerant bullet” that is referring to those with tangent profiles and lower-caliber ogives. (“Length-tolerant” means that it’s not sensitive to seating depth.) If you want to experiment with the longer “high-BC” style bullets, you might find they don’t group well until they get close to or right on the lands when the round is chambered.

More soon…

Check Midsouth for a massive selection of bullets of all calibers 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.

NRA Statement on Long Gun Purchases by Law-abiding Adults

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For the record, here’s what the National Rifle Association has to say about the rights to own rifles and shotguns. Read it HERE

nra logo

Federal Law prohibits adults under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer. Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection. We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals. The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms. At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens. These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals.

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

RELOADERS CORNER: Pressure Signs

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We usually want the most velocity we can SAFELY get, and here’s all about how to stay safe. Keep reading!

Glen Zediker

I’ve been on the topic of load development — “working up” a load — for the past couple of editions, and, based on the excellent feedback from you all, here’s more. As always, there’s only so much I can write before I have to cut myself off.

I’ve said that velocity is the initial leading indicator of pressure. Velocity, in itself, however, is not a definitive indicator of pressure. I’d like to clarify… The first point is that I am a big believer in establishing a goal for load development, and, for me (and likely most others) that is a velocity. Accuracy is a given! I will never consider a combination that’s not shooting little knots downrange, but accuracy and velocity are not mutually exclusive. I also would never consider a combination that produced very small groups at an unacceptably low velocity, and that’s because I’m shooting (always) beyond 200 yards. The super-accurate low-velocity load gets its bullet shifted that much more in a variable wind, so it’s way on less likely to maintain those small groups.

I want to hit the velocity ballpark I have in mind and that’s why chronograph readings as I’m incrementally increasing the propellant charge are my leading indicator to how close I’m getting. I am also, always, looking for pressure signs on the spent cases — each and every one ejected.

So about those pressure signs…

Primer condition gets first attention.

primer pressure signs
Middle is what I want to see: pretty much a new primer with a nice round dimple in the center. Right, well. Massive pressure! But notice that the primer still shows a radius on the edges and is only a little rougher in appearance, well, aside from the crack…

A primer should have a smoothly dimpled firing pin indention, a shiny appearance, and a visible radius on its edge. If any of those are missing or compromised to varying degrees, there’s your sign… A dull and flattened primer has been abused, as well as one with a pitted or cratered appearance. Clearly, a crack or leak (indicated by black fouling) is way over the limit. After experience, backed up by gauged measurements, you’re liable to find that judging what’s “normal” and “safe” from one rifle can be different from another. I have had individual guns that flattened primers at any point near a safe-maximum charge. And, I’ve had them that just lied. Unfortunately, small-rifle primers don’t show always show pressure signs as reliably as large-rifle primers (structural differences). I’ve had experiences where the primers are all nice and shiny like and then blow out with the next increment. Shame on me for taking it there, and, speaking of: don’t get greedy! That’s one reason a velocity goal is important. Despite what your kindergarten teacher told you, you’re not that special… If you’re reading another 50+ feet per second more than what consensus says you should, better bet you’re over-pressure. “We” went through a lot of that when coated bullets got popular: those changed all the rules for “maximums.”

flattened primer
Here’s flat. My experience has been that large-rifle primers tend to display this indication more so than small. What’s happened is that the primer has flowed quite forcibly to fit the confines of its pocket and the bolt face. It’s also normal for some rifles, but that just means you have to know: pay attention and back off if you see a flattened primer.

The best pressure indicators show at the loading bench.

primer seating
My best “gage” for pressure is seating a primer in a fired and resized case. It’s a feel, gained through comparative experience, but too easy means there was too much pressure.

The reason I suggest (strongly) doing load work-up with new cases is because you then have a baseline. Measure the case head diameter (on the case, not the rim or groove) on the new case and compare it to the fired case. Up to 0.0005 (that’s ten-thousandths) is really high but some say acceptable (not me), and 0.0002-0.0003 is what I’d prefer. Plus, since a new case is at its smallest, meaning it will have a little less capacity than a fired case, you’re getting some assurance that the pressure will likely be a little lower from the same load in subsequent reuses of that case.

All dimensions are at their minimum in a new case. Primer pocket expansion is related to case head expansion. I get (what’s proven to be) a very accurate indication of pressure based on the resistance to seating a primer in that resized case. You have to use a priming tool that gives adequate feedback (meaning low leverage) but if the primer just slips right back in, that load was over-pressure. In a more extreme circumstance, the primer won’t stay seated. Yes. I have seen that. Shame on me, again.

Finally, a new case easily points out the difference between a “pressure ring” and a “sizing line” that can show just above the case head along the case body. A bright ring there indicates excessive stretching (a sizing line comes from the die reducing that area, and is perfectly normal). That “pressure ring” sign is also likely an “improper headspace” sign, but that’s another article.

pressure ring
Here’s a “pressure ring.” This poor old fellah used to be a brand-new Lake City Match case. I suspect there was some issue with this rifle’s headspace, but if you see this bright stretch mark, red flag it! It means the case is going to crack right there next use (called an “insipient head separation”).

Pierced Primers
This is a common malady on AR-platform guns, and especially on the big-chassis versions (SR-25, AR-10, and similar). Pressure both isn’t and is the culprit and the solution. Lemmeesplain: What causes the pierce is a firing pin hole that is too large. It is not the fit of the firing pin tip to the hole! An engineer can explain it, but it has to do with surface area covered by the firing pin hole, and then along with it the surface area of the primer. Simply: the firing pin hole turns into a cookie cutter. A primer pierce creates all manner of ills, including wrecked firing pins, gas flow through the charging handle area (where your face is), and abrasive debris scattered throughout the lower interior, including the trigger parts.

firing pin hole size
Blueprints call for a 0.058-inch diameter firing pin hole on an AR15 bolt. If the hole is too large then primer structural failures (pierces) will, not can, rear up. Too big is anything more than 0.062 inches, and I’ve seen plenty bigger than that. I use machinist’s drill bits to quick-check bolts: 1/16 (0.0625) and #53 (0.0595). If the first fits the hole, find another bolt. If the #53 won’t go, use that bolt with confidence.
pierced primer
Notice that this primer doesn’t really show excessive pressure signs. Just has a hole in it…

Excessive pressure gets blamed for a pierce but what’s really going on there is that it’s not certain that amount of pressure would be judged as “excessive.” It’s just gotten high enough to bring on this result. So, yes, lightening the load will stop the piercing, but, in my experience and that of many others, the pierces can start happening before reaching what most might agree on is a max load. I say that because “we” are all shooting about the same bullet/primer/case/propellant combinations in NRA High Power Rifle (with respect to Service Rifle division AR15s, for instance). Seeing pierced primers before hitting the proximity of competitive velocities points to “something else,” and that is the firing pin hole.

In a truly over-pressure load, the primer can crack or blow slap out, but it won’t pierce.

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.

REVIEW: BPM-15 Barnes Precision Machine AR15 Pistol Review

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Looking for a SERIOUS AR15 pistol? Check out this one… READ MORE

Major Pandemic

BPM AR15 pistol
Overall, the BPM embodies everything an AR-platform can be. It’s a capable, very serious, tool. And a lot of fun to shoot!

Last year Barnes Precision Machine (BPM) added AR15 pistols to its line-up. Being a long-term fan of BPM, and reasons for that will come out in this article — I had to have one.

WHY BARNES PRECISION MACHINE?
Generally, as a reviewer of a continuous stream of AR15 rifles, I have to strain a bit to understand the benefits X-brand delivers vs Y-brand…because in most cases 99-percent of AR15 manufacturers all use the same parts from the same OEM manufacturers. Barnes is one of those OEM manufacturers in the list who makes parts for the biggest names in the industry.

With nearly every part being made in-house Barnes has the ability to assure every part they use comes together in the most optimal fashion. The result is a tighter fitting and feeling rifle with a higher potential for accuracy.

Barnes has both the build and part quality down; however, what sets them apart is the 100-percent in-house production (excluding springs, trigger, and furniture). I know of four manufacturers in the US actually making a majority of the AR15 parts in house — LMT, Daniel Defense, Colt, and Barnes Precision — however there are a few others starting to pop up here and there.

sig brace
The BPM pistol comes with the excellent Sig Brace over a KAK buffer tube, which can be easily replaced with a stock, given proper approval.

BPM DOES NOT DO IT BECAUSE IT’S COOL
Many manufacturers are creating ARs and AR accessories because they look cooler than the original. Do they work better? No, generally it is about blinging out your AR versus increasing any real level of performance. Barnes Precision takes a different route with the belief that the overall AR15 platform and design is excellent as is, but some smart tweaks can make it exponentially better without huge cost increases — and still maintain the integrity of a Mil-Spec rifle. Little things make a difference like a captured take-down detent spring that doesn’t go flying when you remove the buffer tube, a tight receiver-to-receiver fit that can even be tightened with an internal receiver tension screw, a sub-MOA match-grade barrel included even in their least expensive rifles, and softer-shooting mid-length gas systems. BPM includes their own Barnes NiBo (Nickel-Boron) coated bolt carrier group and a nice lockable hard-sided Patriot Case with die-cut foam inserts.

There are other innovative design concepts BPM pioneered to improve reliability and durability of the AR15 platform. The in-house made bolt’s cam pin hole is reamed versus being peened which increases the strength of the bolt. BPM designed the first long extended barrel nut design for free-float handguards which does not require indexing, allows perfect torquing of the barrel, and delivers a significantly stronger rigid handguard (in my opinion it is the most solid in the industry). The design is so rigid that certain Military units are using the handguard to mount precision sighting systems. BPM was also the first in the industry to offer NP3 coating on AR15s not because it was cool looking, but because it protected all those typical phosphate coated parts from rust and corrosion in a marine environment. Of course all these great features are included in the BPM-15 Pistol as well.

BPM pistol
On this model, the stainless match barrel, gas block and gas tube are Melonited inside and out.

NOT JUST ANOTHER AR15 PISTOL
Back in 2014, I had several discussions with Andrew Barnes (President BPM). His perspective was that he did not want to offer an AR15 pistol because everyone else had one, he wanted to assure it could be a tool for military, law enforcement, and civilians from a practical perspective. With the rise of the Sig Brace and civilian comfort with Trusts to register SBR — Short Barreled Rifles — he believed there was a niche. Input from his military and LEO contacts really wanted a fast AR15 pistol or SBR which could get in and out of vehicles fast with all the same features as the BPM-15 rifle, including good accuracy. College campus security wanted something light and fast which could address terroristic threat on campus, but be light and small enough to carry every day on the golf carts and Segways used on campuses.

The base of the pistol is exactly the same as their rifles, but with a shorter 7.5-in. barrel, shorter handguard, and Sig Brace with extended buffer tube. The result is a civilian-legal short, fast, and powerful defensive and sport pistol that is a tool versus a toy.

The handguard for instance is not the cool-looking extended-over-muzzle-length style because the handguard length is sized to assure clearance of any muzzle device or suppressor without worrying about handguard interference. Barnes also used a heavier barrel to assure it could satisfy the demands of sustained continuous fire versus a faster-heating skinny barrel. Instead of just slipping a Sig Brace on the back of a standard pistol buffer tube, BPM used a KAK buffer tube to provide a more comfortable shooter platform with the Sig Brace. The end result is a tight, well-thought-out AR15 pistol which is useable out of the box as a defense and sporting tool, but can be easily converted to a shoulder-stocked SBR with the properly acquired tax stamp.

BPM handguard
BPM uses a proprietary extended barrel nut design that produces a very rigid handguard.

BPM ROBAR NP3 & MELONITED MARINE AR15
Almost every other manufacturer who offers some fancy diamond hard finish are only at best delivering a upper and lower receiver with a really hard finish. The problem is that they are coating the hard anodized items which are already the most impervious to corrosion, but all the other phosphate parts are left exposed which can rust of corrode quickly in a marine or wet environment. Barnes offers 100-percent NP3 coated firearms as a BPM NP3 Parts Upgrade Package.

BPM pistol
My test gun featured Barnes Precision Machine NP3 Parts Upgrade Package.Trigger assembly pins, trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, selector, take-down and pivot-pins, springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are NP3 treated.

The package includes NP3 coated trigger assembly pins, a trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, selector, take-down and pivot-pins, springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, te handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are are NP3 treated. On my model, the stainless match barrel, gas block and gas tube are Nitrocarburization treated (AKA: Melonited) inside and out which is better than chrome because it delivers superior corrosion resistance and does not degrade accuracy like chrome can.

In the end, the coatings deliver a totally corrosion-resistant AR. All this was done not to deliver the stunning custom-look it has, but, as Andrew Barnes was quick to point out “the cool factor is only a side benefit…it’s all about performance.”

Mepro 21
An Israeli Mepro 21 is the perfect sight for this firearm.

FINAL THOUGHTS
My testing did not center around the conventional accuracy testing, but instead testing the pistol for what it was designed for — fast shooting on man-sized targets from 0-300 yards. For this task, I attached an Israeli Mepro 21 sight which has proven itself easy in combat environments as one of the best combat reflex sights on the market. My Mepro 21 features the triangle dual (fiber optic and tritium) illuminated reticle. Frankly I love this optic and it proved perfect for this BPM15 Pistol.

Once I established a 25-yard zero and confirmed no additional tweaks were needed at 300 yards, I started having A LOT of fun. With my steel Action Targets set up at 25, 100, 200, and 300 yards, I was extremely impressed how easy the Barnes pistol was to shoot. They had done their homework. I was able to keep my hostage 6-inch swinger swaying on the 200-yard line. Of course I missed a few shots here and there, however for an AR15 Pistol, this gun is well-suited to serious work whether for defense or sport.

AR15 pistols are, of course, just as legal and easy to acquire as any other handgun through your local FFL. An AR15 pistol is a great path to acquiring a Short Barrel Rifle complete with any rifle shoulder stock you might want. A buyer can purchase and enjoy the AR15 pistol while waiting for ATF SBR tax stamp to come through and then swap out the Sig Brace for a rifle stock. I cannot wait to push my SBR stamp through on this build to convert from pistol to Short Barrel Rifle.

About a year ago, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of an AR15 pistol in the home and urban environment. Today I stand converted. Once I shot a well-designed AR15 pistol and realize how quick the gun is for urban home interiors, I began to believe that the AR15 pistol is actually the best home defense option that combines the accuracy, power, and capacity of the AR15 with the maneuverability of a pistol. This BPM-15 pistol embodies that concept perfectly.

BPM pistol specs

SOURCES
Barnes Precision Machine
The Mako Group (Mepro sight)

Major Pandemic

[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]

RELOADERS CORNER: Incremental Load Work-Up

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To get the most from your load testing, in the shortest time possible, learn the “Audette Method,” and put it work for you. Here’s how!

sight in target
Use a target that’s, one, easy to line up on, and, two, lets you make notes on the target itself. I usually circle and note the 3-shot increments, or you can add a number by each shot hole to indicate which try they belong to. Midsouth has some HERE

Glen Zediker

Last edition I suggested taking the step toward putting together a “portable” loading setup to allow for load development right at the range. This time I’ll talk about an idea on getting the most out of a test session in the quickest and surest way.

I have followed an “incremental” load work-up method for many years, and it’s served me well. Some call it the “Audette Method” named for the late and great Creighton Audette, long-time long-range and Benchrest experimenter.

Backing up a bit: Being able to employ this method efficiently requires having spent the preparation time, doing your homework, to know exactly how much “one click” is worth on your meter. Whether the meter clicks or not, it’s the value of one incremental mark on the metering arm. The value of that click or mark varies with the propellant, but by weighing several examples of each one-stop variation (done over at least a half-dozen stops) you’ll be able to accurately increase the charge for each test a known amount.

harrell's meter mounted
I count on a Harrell’s Precision meter. Its Culver mechanism allows for easy and accurate incremental adjustments in working up a load. The dryer sheet eliminates static electricity.

I usually test at 300 yards. That distance is adequate to give a good evaluation of accuracy and, for the purposes of this test, is also “far enough” that vertical spreads are more pronounced. Testing at 100 yards, sometimes they all look like good groups… So it’s at about 300 yards where we’ll start to see more difference in good and bad.

Get to the range and get set up, chronograph in place. Put up a target. Use whatever gives you a clear aiming point, but it’s helpful to have a light background not only to see the holes easier using a scope, but also to make notes on. More about that in a minute.

Use the same target for the entire session. (Put pasters over the previous holes if you want, but don’t change paper.) The reason for using the same target for the whole session is that helps determine vertical consistency as you work up through successively stouter propellant charges.

I fire 3 rounds per increment. As it gets closer to “done,” I increase it to 5 or 6. At that point I’ve hit a couple of speed points, two or three increments that represent a performance level I can live with (one is on the “iffy” end of the pressure, and I rarely choose that one) and am focusing more closely on group size. Final confirmation comes with one 20-round group. For what it’s worth, I usually pick the one in the middle.

A 3-round volley might seem inadequate, but it’s not if there’s confidence that the rounds are being well-directed and speed is being monitored. If I’m seeing more than 12-15 fps velocity spreads over 3 rounds, I’m not going to continue with that propellant. Same with group size: if it’s a big group over 3 rounds, it’s going to be a bigger group later on.

I’m sho no mathematician-statistician, but from experience I’ve found that, while certainly there’s some probability that the first 3 rounds fired might represent the extreme edges of the load’s group potential, and that all the others are going to land inside them, uhh, that’s not even a little bit likely. If it starts bad it finishes bad. On the contrary: no, just because the first 3 shots are close together and the velocity spread is low doesn’t mean it’s not going to get worse. Groups normally get bigger and velocities get wider, but, we have to start somewhere. It’s a matter of degrees. Also, the quality (accuracy) of the meter factors, and the better it is the better you can judge performance over fewer examples. And this is new brass, so that’s going to minimize inconsistencies further.

I can also tell you that it’s possible to wear out a barrel testing. No kidding.

Back to the “incremental” part of this test: As you increase the charges, bullets impact higher and higher on the target paper. You’re looking for a point where both group sizes and impact levels are very close together. If the groups are small, you won! That’s what Crieghton called a “sweet-spot” load, and that was one that didn’t show much on-target variance over a 2-3 increment charge difference (which is going to be about a half-grain of propellant). The value of such a load is immense, especially to a competitive shooter. It means that the daily variations, especially temperature, and even the small variances in propellant charges that might come with some propellants through meters, won’t affect your score. It’s also valuable to a hunter who’s planning to travel.

audette method loading
Audette Method: If it would only always work this way… This actually did work as shown so I captured and recreated it for posterity. The numbers on the left represent approximate propellant charge weights and the lines each indicate one click on my Harrell’s powder meter, a value about 0.15 grains of the propellant used in this test. Going up two clicks at a time for eight tries took me from 24.0 grains to about 26.0, which is a good range from a reasonable starting charge to pressure symptoms. I didn’t add in the velocities since that’s inconsequential to this illustration, but will say that “8” was too much and I settled on “6.” To make more sense out of this illustration, that ended up being 25.5 grains — step 6. I also went up using three rounds and skipping ahead by adding more clicks to the meter after viewing the (low) speeds on the first three groups (that’s why there’s no number 4 step; I went from step 3 to step 5). This has a lot to do with intuition sometimes. Point is, and should be, that here’s how the “Audette Method” is supposed to work: impact elevation on target goes up (these were fired at 300 yards) with charge increases, groups get smaller (hovering around two inches for this test) and stay small, and then elevation begins to stabilize. Choose a load that’s within this range. Then it’s a “sweet-spot” load. If this happens in your test, ask for no more!

That was the whole point to following this process. First, and foremost, it’s to find a good-performing load. It’s also how you find out if the propellant you chose is going to produce predictably. I can also tell you that I have chosen a propellant and a load using it that wasn’t always the highest speed or even the smallest single group. It was chosen because it will shoot predictably all year long. I base everything on the worst group, biggest velocity spread, not the smallest and lowest. If that doesn’t make sense it will after a summer on a tournament tour. If the worst group my combination will shoot is x-ring, and the worst spread is under 10 fps, it’s not the ammo that will lose the match…

As said to start this series, I started loading at the range because I got tired of bringing home partial batches of loser loads. And, you guessed it, the partial boxes usually contained recipes that were too hot. The only way to salvage those was to pull the bullets. Tedious. Or they were too low, of course, and fit only for busting up dirt clods. Plus, I’m able to test different charges in the same conditions. It’s a small investment that’s a huge time-saver.

If you do invest in a portable setup, exploit potentials. The possibilities for other tests are wide open, seating depth experiments, for instance.

CHECK OUT MORE TARGETS 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.

A First Look at 2018’s New Guns

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With the SHOT Show at hand, here are a few brand new for 2018 firearms. Keep going…

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by B. Gil Horman

With national firearm sales leveling off, thanks to a gun-friendly administration taking office this year, manufacturers are dusting off some new and interesting models that have been tucked away for a time such as this. Here is a quick look at just some of the new guns for 2018:

BERSA PISTOLS

Bersa TPR Pistols
Eagle Imports is introducing the double action/single action Bersa TPR line of pistols to the U.S. market this next year. These pistols represent the next evolution of the Thunder Pro HC series originally developed for law enforcement and military applications. Available in Standard 4.25″ barrel and Compact 3.25″ barrel configurations, these semi-automatic pistols feature interchangeable SIG Sauer-type sights, an improved Browning Petter locking system, lightweight aluminum alloy frames, Picatinny accessory rails and loaded chamber indicators. The elegantly designed ambidextrous slide catch and thumb safety, along with a reversible magazine release, makes the pistol accessible to right and left handed shooters. Caliber options will include 9 mm (TPR9), .40 S&W (TPR40) and .45 ACP (TPR45). MSRP: $508-$528

caracal

Caracal USA Enhanced F Pistols
When the 4″ barrel striker-fired Caracal F 9 mm pistol first arrived on the U.S. market from the United Emirates in 2012, I was glad to be one of the writers who had an opportunity to review it. The pistol’s design seemed ahead of its time with its sleek reduced mass slide, lowered bore axis for reduced felt recoil and comfortable grip that fit a wide range of hand sizes. Just as Caracal was poised to give Glock, Springfield and Smith & Wesson a run for their money, the company enacted a voluntary safety recall that caused the pistol, much like its namesake, to slip quietly out of sight and off the market until now.

A new American-made series of Caracal USA Enhanced F pistols, with the safety issues resolved, will be shipping soon. These pistols maintain the positive qualities of the original models with three different sight system options, including the company’s proprietary Quick Sight System, 3-Dot and night sights. Customers will have a selection of new polymer frame colors to choose from including black, tan and OD green (shown). MSRP: $599-$699

Charter Arms XL

Charter Arms Bulldog XL
Charter Arms flagship five-shot Bulldog .44 Spl. series will be joined by the new Bulldog XL. The XL’s frame has been enlarged to handle bigger and more powerful cartridges. The Bulldog XL chambered in the popular .45 Colt offers customers a broad ammunition selection ranging from soft shooting cowboy loads to high-quality defensive hollow points. The real surprise of the show was the Bulldog XL chambered in .41 Rem. Mag. (shown). Considering what a handful the Bulldog can be when loaded with .44 Spl., it will be interesting to see how the XL handles when stocked full of magnum cartridges. MSRP: TBA

FIGHTLITE RAIDER

FightLite Industries SRC Raider Pistols
This year’s enthusiasm for Mossberg’s pump-action Shockwave 12-ga. has encouraged other manufacturers (like Remington) to look for ways to install a Shockwave-type grip on its guns. But who would have guessed that FightLite Industries would find a way to use this grip configuration on an AR pistol?

With an appearance reminiscent of a Star Wars movie blaster, the new Raider pistols are possible because they are based on the company’s SRC action system which was originally designed as the foundation for a 50-state’s legal AR platform. This configuration eliminates the typical AR buffer tube by attaching a hinged extension to the bolt carrier group, much like those found in some semi-automatic shotguns, that moves down at an angle into the shoulder stock. So, the same system that allows an AR lower to sport a traditional fixed hunting stock also works with an abbreviated Shockwave-style grip.

Raider pistols ship with a 7.25″ barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. or .300 BLK with an overall length of 20.25″, an unloaded weight of 3.9 lbs. and the customer’s choice of a Keymod or M-Lok handguard. It will be interesting to see how these guns handle. I’m guessing a single point sling, attached to the grip’s QD sling port for added stability, will make a difference when shooting off the bench. MSRP: $865

HEIZER

Heizer PKO9 Pistol
Although we are still waiting to get our hands on the super slim 0.80″ thick Heizer Defense PK0-.45 semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP (which was announced last year), the company is preparing to launch a 9 mm version called the PKO-9. Featuring a proprietary aerospace-grade aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide, the recoil assembly is set above the barrel to lower the bore axis for reduced felt recoil. Other features include a single-action trigger, drift adjustable sights and a grip safety. These pistols will ship with a flush-fit seven-round magazine and an extended 10-round magazine. Color options will include all black, two tone and custom Hedy Jane finish options. MSRP: $699

IWI TAVOR

IWI TAVOR 7 Rifle
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), has launched the newest member of the Tavor bullpup rifle family, the TAVOR 7 chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. with an overall length of 28.4″ and an unloaded weight of 9 lbs. The rifle’s body is built from high-strength, impact-modified polymer and has a hammer-forged, chrome-lined, free-floating barrel for enhanced accuracy and life cycle. Designed for military and law enforcement markets, this rifle is a fully ambidextrous platform. The ejection side and the charging handle can be switched from one side to the other quickly and easily by the user. Additional ambidextrous features include the safety lever, magazine release, and a bolt catch similar to that of the X95.

Two M-LOK slots are located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions along with a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail at the 6 o’clock position for the use of multiple devices and accessories. Other features include a short-stroke gas piston with a four-position variable gas regulator, a rotating bolt system, and an interchangeable pistol grip. The Tavor 7 will be available in four colors: Sniper Gray, OD Green, Black, and Flat Dark Earth, with replaceable barrels available in 17″ and 20″ lengths. This rifle is slated to ship the first quarter of 2018. MSRP: TBA

JRC 9MM

Just Right Carbines JRC 9 mm Pistol
Just Right Carbines is known for its blow-back operated pistol-caliber takedown carbines and rifles designed to accept popular double and single-stack magazines produced for Glocks and 1911s. This year the company is expanding its line-up to include pistol versions of its platform that offer the same modularity and takedown features as the rifles. The Model 1 version of the pistol (shown) features a foam padded Gearheadworks Mod1 Tail Hook buffer assembly and takedown fore-end. Model 2 is dressed up a bit more with a Gearheadworks Mod2 adjustable arm brace and a quad rail fore-end. MSRP: Starting at $699

KEYSTONE CPR W

Keystone Sporting Arms PT Rimfire Rifle
Keystone Sporting Arms has blended the best features of a precision rifle chassis and an enjoyable .22 Long Rifle bolt-action rimfire into the new PT rimfire rifle platform. The Keystone 722 action is paired with the customer’s choice of a 16.5 inch or 20 inch threaded heavy bull barrel. The action is tucked into an American Built Arms (A*B Arms) MOD*X PTTM aluminum chassis. The chassis is made from 6061 T6 aluminum and treated with a Class 3 hard-coat anodized finish. The A*B Arms Urban Sniper shoulder stock provides an adjustable length of pull ranging from 10.5” to 13.75″ while the A*B Arms P*Grip is compact and comfortable to work with. The PT rifle ships with one seven-round Keystone 722 magazine. MSRP: $599.96

mossberg shockwave

Mossberg 20-ga. Shockwave Pump-Action
Released in January 2017, Mossberg’s non-NFA 14″ barrel Shockwave 12-ga. pump-action has been one of the hottest selling guns of the year. So much so, that it garnered the company two NASGW/POMA Caliber Awards at the NASGW Expo this year, including the “Innovator of the Year” and “Best New Overall Product.” So it shouldn’t come as much of a shock (pun intended) that Mossberg is expanding the Shockwave line up for 2018. Along with new finish (Flat Dark Earth) and package (JIC water resistant storage tube) options for the 12-ga. model, the company has developed a new 20-ga. 590 version.

The 20-ga. Shockwave is a more important release than some folks may realize. This is the first time the company has offered a 20-ga. in a tactical 590 configuration. All of the components have been properly scaled down to fit the smaller cartridge while preserving important features like the drilled and tapped receiver and the removable magazine tube cap. This makes the overall package slimmer and lighter than the 12-ga. model while providing a lower level of felt recoil. With all the hard work of resizing the 590 platform already complete, it’s likely that we’ll see long gun versions before too long. As for a .410 Bore Shockwave, we’ll just have to wait and see. MSRP: $455

desert eagle

Magnum Research Desert Eagle L5 .50 AE Pistol
I’m not sure why Magnum Research customers have been chomping at the bit for a Desert Eagle L5 lightweight pistol chambered in .50 AE. Trust me when I say the Standard XIX model, which weighs about a pound more, has a level of felt recoil that will still blow your hair back when chambered in this cartridge. Nevertheless, since the arrival of the .357 Mag. L5 about two years ago and the .44 Mag. version, folks have been asking for a .50-cal. option. This model sports the same reduced-weight aluminum frame, 5″ barrel, integral muzzle brake and accessory rail as the other two calibers. MSRP: TBA

troy slide fire

Troy Industries SideAction Rifle
In order to help shooting enthusiasts keep running their preferred AR-type platforms in as many states as possible, Troy Industries released the 223 National Sporting Pump-Action rifle a couple of years ago. Many of the state regulations that ban certain rifle features on semi-automatic platforms do not apply those same restrictions to pump-actions. This year the company is adding the SideAction rifle to the lineup which employs a bolt action instead of a pump. An A2 flash hider is pinned and welded to the 16″ 1:7 twist RH rifled barrel. The 10.5″ SOCC handguard features M-Lok accessory slots. The side-charging bolt handle is topped with a target knob. The pistol grip, controls and trigger are all mil-spec. The folding shoulder stock is machined from aluminum billet. MSRP: $899

WALTHER PPQ

Walther PPQ M2 Q4 TAC Pistol

Building on the award-winning PPQ platform, Walther Arms has announced the arrival of the new PPQ M2 Q4 TAC which is both optics and suppressor ready from the factory. “The Q5 Match has been very popular and we have had a lot of interest in a 4″ more tactical version. We are excited to combine a suppressor-ready and optics-ready pistol into a best-of-both worlds platform,” said Luke Thorkildsen, vice president of marketing & product development of Fort Smith-based Walther Arms, Inc.

The 9 mm Q4 TAC arrives with a 4.6 inch 1/10 twist polygonal rifled barrel and a muzzle threaded at ½x28 TPI. The gun arrives with a second recoil spring weighted specifically for use with sound suppressors, one 15-round magazine and two 17-round magazines. The optics-ready slide features an LPA sight system with a fiber optic in the front and competition iron sight at the rear. The Q4 TAC shares the same optics mounting plate system as the Q5 Match. The plates are compatible with a variety of popular optics including options from Trijicon, Leupold, and Doctor. The PPQ Quick Defense trigger provides a smooth 5.6-lb. trigger pull and a short 0.1″ reset. The Q4 TAC is backed by Walther’s lifetime warranty. MSRP: $799

winchester

Winchester XPR Sporter Rifle
Winchester Repeating Arms is challenging the modern-day manufacturing practice of producing moderately priced bolt-action hunting rifles with polymer shoulder stocks as the only option. The latest version of the XPR rifle line up, called the Sporter, is fitted with a classically styled checkered close-grain Grade I walnut stock that only costs $50 more than its polymer stocked compatriots. Offered in barrel lengths ranging from 22″ to 26″ (depending on the caliber), this rifle’s Perma-Cote treated milled steel receiver houses a nickel Teflon coated bolt body. The MOA trigger system provides zero creep and no over travel for a crisp, clean trigger pull. The three-round magazines are detachable. The XPR Sporter’s twelve caliber options include .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7 mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Sprg., 7 mm Rem. Mag. and 300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $599

REVIEW: LWRCI Diadem AR-15

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The AR-15 has evolved to become one of the most variously configured guns in firearms history. Here’s yet another step… READ MORE

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Barbara Baird

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

Guns come with stories. These stories create history, and history is being made with the first AR-15 built for women — per what women told engineers at LWRCI that they wanted in this type of popular rifle platform. The LWRCI Diadem is a limited-edition run of a direct-impingement (DI) rifle, produced because two guys from LWRCI met Carrie Lightfoot, founder of The Well Armed Woman (TWAW), a non-profit organization with a mission to educate, equip and empower female firearm owners. The organization boasts more than 335 chapters in 49 states, with approximately 11,500 members.

David Golladay and David Ridley of LWRCI heard Lightfoot speak on a women’s industry panel at a National Shooting Sports Foundation summit two years ago. They said they were impressed by TWAW and its impressive reach, as well as Lightfoot’s articulate and passionate methods for moving the organization forward. She is a go-to person in the industry for the women’s gun movement and has been featured in national media — including Time, “NBC Nightly News,” USA Today, Fox News, and NRA News.

Further conversations ensued between the two Davids and Lightfoot. She reached out to at least 140 women within the TWAW organization, asking them for their recommendations, and the wheels for the perfect woman’s AR started turning. LWRCI became involved with the women’s rifle movement, supporting TWAW and its chapter leaders by sponsoring and attending conferences. At these events, they talked to women on the range about what they wanted in an AR. The result was the LWRCI Diadem.

To build the LWRCI Diadem, Lightfoot and her team compiled a spreadsheet with the results and sent it to LWRCI to use as part of the design process. Lightfoot understood that LWRCI told its engineers to “give the women what they want.” The first gun rolled off the line in July 2017, with a run of 1,000 units and only available for a short time at a discount to TWAW chapter members across the country. The LWRCI Diadem now is available to the public.

I attended a media event in July 2017 at the LWRCI plant in Cambridge, MD, along with Lightfoot. For the first time, she met the team of engineers face-to-face and found out that the guys learned a few things about female gun owners throughout the process. One of the most surprising things to them was the fact that the women didn’t want any color on the LWRCI Diadem, except for the trigger — which is a Cerakote-applied purple, TWAW’s signature color. They did want, however, the TWAW logo embossed on the lower. Women also wanted grooves on the grip, a specially designed, slimmer compact rail, LWRCI rail panels, and a hand stop.

Lightfoot said they worked on the grip for a few iterations, and particularly wanted to get the feel and balance right. “The balance is remarkable; it almost becomes weightless because it’s balanced so well. And the handguard — it’s been designed for a woman’s hand, so that our hands can wrap the guard and control the gun. We wanted that feature,” she said. Other features requested by TWAW and included on the LWRCI Diadem include fully ambidextrous controls, an enhanced padded buttpad for recoil absorption, an H2 buffer to ensure reliable cycling, an ambidextrous charging handle, and LWRCI’s advanced trigger guard.

The name LWRCI Diadem is a play on the LWRCI DI line of rifles, and adds a touch of royalty. “The name is a DI rifle and also is a crown jewel. It’s a crown jewel of the AR-15 line,” Lightfoot said.

After the plant tour, we headed out to LWRCI’s private shooting range on Ragged Island. We shot a few thousand rounds through the present Diadems (as well as other LWRCI guns) on steel at 100 yards. Lightfoot was right. The handguard worked with my hand size, and the balance felt right. We sent hundreds of rounds downrange, mostly offhand, and at times rapidly. The LWRCI Diadem continued to deliver, pinging the gongs with no malfunctions. The only drawback for me was the trigger. I wanted to work with this gun more to see what it delivered.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) LWRCI’s commitment to ambidextrous operation is evident in the safety selector and bolt-catch release. (ctr.) All controls, including the magazine release, are duplicated on each side of the Diadem. (r.) Engraving on the magazine well and the purple ALG trigger further define this LWRCI DI rifle as the Diadem.

After receiving a test model to try, I took it to my range, and was illuminated. Spending some quality time with the LWRCI Diadem, I saw the rifle, as with all mechanical contraptions, was not perfect. Nevertheless, it came very close to meeting the TWAW requirements as they were explained to me. That said, guess what? All women (like all men) are different and we have our own preferences that might not perfectly match up with those of even a large group of other women.

Part of the difficulties I experienced in testing the rifle came from elements of the design, which, although they were features that satisfied the apparent desires for competition-based furniture, hindered quick and consistent medium- to long-range accuracy testing. For example, the trigger seemed similar to the much-maligned triggers on other LWRCI DI rifles in that it didn’t break consistently, was a little creepy and had a pull weight too heavy for accuracy testing at 100 yards.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
Both front and rear sights can be used as stand-alone iron sights, or folded down if an optic is installed, and both are adjustable using simple tools.

The angle of the specially designed pistol grip on the LWRCI Diadem was too extreme for comfortable and consistent benchrest shooting, and its finger grooves were poorly spaced for my hand when shooting from the bench. The combination of a lightweight, small-diameter fore-end and heavy fluted barrel resulted in slow barrel heat dissipation, causing shot groups at 100 yards to open up unless I allowed at least 3 minutes from shot-to-shot. Once the barrel got hot (difficult to touch with my bare hand), it stayed hot much longer (of course) than a “pencil-barrel” AR-15 I was also testing.

The included back-up iron sights (BUIS) have a rotating drum peep system in the rear sight, and a front post with Heckler & Koch-type “ears” in the front sight. I like how it’s like a ghost ring at its most-open setting. I didn’t use the BUIS for accuracy testing, but did use them for chronograph work. Since the LWRCI Diadem did not come with a scope or mounts, I borrowed my Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm from another rifle for accuracy testing.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) Proprietary rail mounts allow accessories to be added to the handguard at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions. (r.) The bolt-carrier group is nickel-boron coated and contains an integral gas key.

The LWRCI Diadem showed a preference for certain loads during accuracy testing. I shot both .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO commercial ammunition. With a 1:7-inch twist rate, one might expect heavier, longer projectiles to stabilize better than lighter, shorter ones, and this generally held true. The gun may have shown better accuracy if I had some ammo with 77-grain projectiles, but, alas, I did not and had to make do with bullets ranging from 52 to 69 grains.

The only operational failures during the LWRCI Diadem range time were occasional failures of the bolt to lock rearward when I was using 20-round Magpul PMags and a couple of 10-round sheet-metal variants. There were no lock-back failures with the 30-round PMag supplied with the gun. Admittedly, the smaller mags have already seen several thousand rounds each and may be a bit worn, but since only one mag came with the gun I had to dip into my stockpile for more. That brings up another point: gun manufacturers (I’m not aware of more than a few that are not guilty in this area) need to include more than one magazine with each gun, since failures with semi-automatic firearms of all types often begin with a faulty magazine.

According to my Lyman electronic trigger-pull gauge, the average pull weight over five hammer drops was 7 pounds, 2 ounces. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though; the pull weight spread was nearly a pound, showing the inconsistency I noticed during accuracy testing. I shoot better when the pull is consistent and averaging at least 3 pounds less than the trigger on this rifle. I have heard and read that companies building ARs are intentionally sacrificing consistent and lighter trigger weights to the gods of safety and reliability — and, the triggers smooth-out with use. I suspect LWRCI is trying to keep the price of the rifle down since “everybody installs aftermarket triggers, anyway.”

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) The Magpul CTR stock is equipped with an enhanced buttpad for comfort. (ctr.) ErgoGrip’s pistol grip is designed with a subtle texture and a palm-filling shape. (r.) Magpul’s 30-round, standard-capacity magazines keep the Diadem fed.

I don’t know if any of these thoughts crossed the minds of the designers, but just in case, I’d like to address these concerns. First, call me an idealist, but I don’t think the lawyers for the aftermarket trigger makers that produce consistent, lighter triggers are going to knowingly allow unsafe and unreliable products to ship. Next, this LWRCI Diadem came to me with more than 1,500 rounds on its odometer, so if the trigger was going to get better with use, it should have already done so. Last, I’m one of those who have replaced stock triggers in ARs, but not in all of them. At last count, of the nine AR-pattern rifles in my stable, I’ve seen the need to replace the triggers in two of them.

Some of my ARs have two-stage triggers, some are single-stage, but none are creepy, all are consistent and their drop points range from slightly more than 3 pounds to a little more than 6 pounds. This last argument for mediocre stock triggers certainly should not have been in the manufacturer’s plan for this design, since TWAW members specifically requested purple-colored triggers — it is doubtful they had any intentions to replace what came with the gun. That said, aftermarket options abound.

LWRCI did not create this rifle from whole cloth, as several of the LWRCI Diadem’s features are the same or similar to other rifles from the company’s DI line, including the integrated gas key on the rifle’s nickel-boron-coated bolt-carrier group, a spiral-fluted NiCorr-treated barrel and LWRCI’s Monoforge upper receiver. It did, however, meet the requirements for a group of women who knew what they wanted. To date, Lightfoot says feedback about the Diadem has been extremely positive. “The women appreciate that the gun is not ‘girly,’ and that it’s in black,” added Lightfoot.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

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