Category Archives: New Product

REVIEW: Winchester XPC Chassis Rifle

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This venerable rifle maker jumped on board following the modern trends in bolt-gun construction and design in a big way with a new “chassis rifle.” Here’s all the details…

Winchester XPC
Winchester XPC

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Steve Adelmann

The bolt-action rifle world sure has changed over the past 10 years. Even after the Y2K scares, rifles with traditional lines were still very much the norm. Contrast that with today’s bolt-action offerings: a plethora rifles with skeletonized, aluminum “chassis,” fully adjustable stocks, and copious rail-mounting space. That is a good thing in my book; it’s called progress, or maybe it’s just the natural evolution of things. Turnbolt purists may object, but I am fairly certain rifle purists of a century ago were still scoffing at any rifle that held more than one cartridge. Rifle manufacturers wishing to get into the tactical or long-range-precision markets all have at least one modernized bolt-action model in their catalogue now. Winchester Repeating Arms is no exception, and its new-for-2017 offering, the Winchester XPC chassis rifle, is a solid entry.

Now, I have to be perfectly honest before diving into my evaluation of the Winchester XPC. I am definitely not the best guy to cover the finer points of Winchester bolt-action rifles — at least not in any historical context. I have not had much exposure to them, but that also means my slate was clean going into this test. Uninfluenced by brand experience and bias, my approach to evaluating the new Winchester rifle was the same as any other new design: I looked at it in terms of reliability, durability, accuracy, practicality, and affordability. And performance.

The Winchester XPC is billed by the company as a “full-house precision chassis rifle,” and at first glance it seems to fit that category. But, you have to go deeper in to get the real details. It is based on the company’s existing XPR action, and strikes a nice balance between a precision target rifle and a long-range tactical tool. Its 20-inch, chrome-moly, button-rifled barrel wears Winchester’s “Permacote” matte-black finish and comes threaded with standard 5/8×24-tpi at the muzzle. My test gun was chambered in.308 Winchester. A knurled thread protector is included for use while you decide what to ultimately mount on it, if anything. At 0.75-inch in diameter at the muzzle, the meaty barrel balances nicely in its Cerakoted alloy chassis. A floating recoil lug is nested in that chassis, mating to a slot machined into the underside of the barrel. The fit is tight on both ends, and the lug can be removed when the action is out of the stock. A pair of screws mate action to chassis, one in front of the magazine well and one behind, concealed under the paddle-style magazine release.

Winchester XPC mag release

An extended freefloat tube continues the 20-MOA-slope receiver rail and provides ample space for day and night optics or other ancillary devices. The fore-end tube slides over a curved protrusion on the bottom of the chassis and is held in place with three Allen screws. Additional M-Lok-compatible rail sections can be added along the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock sections of the fore-end.

Winchester XPC bolt

Ammunition feeding is handled by way of the increasingly popular AICS-pattern .308 Win. magazines. They drop free from the XPC action after pressing an easily accessible, paddle-style release located in front of the trigger guard. A beefy, three-lug, 60-degree throw, cock-on-opening bolt is the heart of the XPC action. A conical, oversize bolt handle is threaded-on in case the shooter wants to change it. The bolt head and fluted body are machined from a solid piece of steel and wear a nickel-Teflon coating to enhance smooth operation.

Extraction on the Winchester XPC rifle is well-managed by a Sako-style extractor with a spring-loaded, recessed plunger doing the ejecting through an oversize ejection/loading port. The bolt release is set into the tactical-familiar left-side of the receiver at the stock line. Incorporated is a two-position safety that locks the bolt when engaged; a separate button just in front of the safety unlocks it while on “safe” so the action may be opened. This is a bit cumbersome; however, the safety and bolt controls worked as designed.

Winchester XPC rail

Winchester chose to use an AR15-compatible buttstock and handgrip, giving a near-endless range of possibilities to customize the XPC to their needs. Unfortunately, I could not get close enough to any riflescope I tried for proper eye relief due to the length of the Magpul PRS Gen III stock that comes standard on the XPC. It is adjustable for cheek height, buttplate height, and length-of-pull and well-suited for modern sporting rifles, but is not the best choice on this platform. The rail on top of the rifle’s receiver is significantly forward of where it would be on an AR’s upper receiver, so a riflescope mount has to be placed in the rearmost slots and the scope must be slid as far back as possible in the rings or mount to see the target clearly.

Were this my rifle, I would swap the A2-style buffer tube for a carbine buffer tube and go with a collapsible stock. The stock has a socket for a QD sling mount and a longer sling-routing loop, and both can be swapped from one side to the other. The MOE-K pistol grip is also an odd choice here. I love this grip on light, fast-handling carbines or AR-type pistols, but it is a bit small for a precision rifle like the Winchester XPC.

Winchester XPC details

Winchester’s “MOA” trigger system provides an advertised adjustability range of 3 to 5 pounds, and my Timney scale measured the test sample at just a hair lighter than 3. The trigger was very clean and consistent, so I left it alone. Adjusting the trigger requires removal of the action from the stock to access weight and overtravel screws with a 1/16-inch Allen wrench. After ensuring the rifle’s bore was clean, the action and scope mounting screws were torqued to 65 inch-pounds, and after applying light grease to the locking lugs I headed for the range. Production rifles are supposed to have a 1:10-inch twist, but my test gun’s barrel turned out to have a 1:11.5-inch twist. I made sure to include a couple of lighter-projectile loads in the mix to ensure twist rate did not hamper accuracy testing.

I elected to shoot from the bench using a bag rest because being seated brought my eye closer to the scope eyepiece than when prone. Still, I struggled to maintain a clear target image throughout the test due to the Winchester XPC’s excessive length-of-pull. The only other problem I had was that the bolt knob loosened up every few shots. A couple drops of a thread-locking compound could solve that problem easily enough. The action was slick as a small-town lawyer and worked efficiently. The barrel’s weight helped the rifle remain settled during recoil. Federal Premium American Eagle’s 130-grain varmint JHP load managed the tightest group and barely edged out Black Hills’ match load for best accuracy. The 125- and 130-grain loads’ light recoil made the XPC particularly fun to shoot.

XPC testing

After testing three supersonic loads, I attached a SureFire muzzle brake and a SOCOM762 suppressor for subsonic-ammo testing. The rifle did not care for the 175-grain subsonic load and with a low standard deviation in muzzle velocity, I cannot really blame that on the ammunition. The subsonic Nexus ammo had very little recoil and my shots were clean, so the loose barrel twist combined with slow velocity were the likely culprits. Overall, accuracy was solid. Any production rifle that displays sub-MOA averages from multiple factory ammunition types has strong potential for a wide range of uses. If all Winchester XPC rifles shoot like my test gun, this model should be a solid performer for anyone.

I put a total of 125 rounds through the XPC without any hiccups. The rifle showed itself to be a capable shooter with a weight and size best-suited for long-range precision work. If I were in the market to buy a new tactical turnbolt, the Winchester XPC rifle would be hovering near the top of my list of possibles, alongside rifles that cost three or four times as much. I can no longer claim to have zero useful Winchester rifle experience, and I am a happier man for it.

The Winchester XPC is available in .308 Win., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor with an MSRP of $1599.00

Winchester XPC

CHECK HERE FOR MORE

REVIEW: 450 Bushmaster Ruger American Rifle Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.450 Bushmaster group

Ruger American Rifle Ranch 450 Bushmaster specifications

Visit the factory information page HERE

NEW: Springfield Armory SAINT™ AR-15 Pistol

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

Springfield Armory SAINT Pistol 5.56

SOURCE: Chad Dyer, Springfield Armory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAINT™ AR-15 Pistol – 5.56

REVIEW: FN 509 Pistol

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

FN 509

SOURCE: NRA Staff, by Tamara Keel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

FN 509 specifications

Check it out HERE

New Hornady Products for 2018

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Hornady has just announced their new products for 2018, from the much anticipated new reloading tools, to innovations in ammo and projectiles, Midsouth is eager to fill our shelves with their new offerings! Read on for a brief breakdown of what’s coming soon!

New in Reloading:

Cordless Vibratory Powder Trickler:

Some cool tools are on their way from Hornady MFG., like this Vibratory Trickler, which makes “quick work of various reloading chores!”

The Vibratory Trickler, powered by two AAA batteries, features variable settings to trickle all kinds of powders, ensuring the precise amount for each charge. Its modular design means you can use it with or without the base and also makes cleanup quick and easy.

Featuring:

  • Trickles all powders
  • Light-up LED screen
  • High, low, and variable trickle settings
  • Use in base or outside of base
  • Weighted for stability
  • No-slip base

Hornady Rotary Case Tumbler:

hornady rotary case tumbler

Clean and polish brass cartridge cases to a brilliant shine with the rotary action of this tumbler, coupled with its steel pin tumbling media (included). Use in conjunction with Hornady® One Shot® Sonic Clean Solution.

Six-liter drum holds 5 pounds of brass cases. Set tumbler to run for up to eight hours in half-hour increments using the digital timer.

Check out all the new items coming to our reloading category by clicking here!

New Projectiles:

Speaking of reloading, lets take a look at some of the new projectiles being developed by Hornady!

hornady dgx bonded bullets

DGX Bonded®

The DGX® Bonded (Dangerous Game™ eXpanding) bullet features a copper-clad steel jacket bonded to a lead core to provide limited, controlled expansion with deep penetration and high weight retention. Bonding the jacket to the core prevents separation from high-energy impact on tough material like bone, ensuring the bullet stays together for deep expansion.

DGX® Bonded bullets are built to the same profile as the corresponding DGS® (Dangerous Game™ Solid) bullets but expand to 1½ to 2 times their bullet diameter.

Thicker Jacket

The thicker 0.098” copper-clad steel jacket of DGX Bonded sets it apart from other dangerous game bullets, allowing it to tear through tough material like hide, muscle and bone.

Controlled Expansion

DGX Bonded features a flat nose with serrated sections to deliver a uniform expansion from 100 to 150 yards and straight penetration, reducing possible deflections.

Bonded Jacket and Core

The bonding process locks the jacket and lead core together, improving the retained weight of the expanded bullet.

ELD-X and ELD Match Bullets:

eld-x hornady bullets

There’s also a few new calibers coming to the ELD-X line of projectiles. The Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding bullets are a technologically advanced, match accurate, ALL-RANGE hunting bullet featuring highest-in-class ballistic coefficients and consistent, controlled expansion at ALL practical hunting distances. You can find them right here at Midsouth!

New Ammunition:

There’s some interesting complete cartridges coming out this next year, and a few to really examine will be the subsonic line, the 6.5 PRC, and the new line of .223 ammo called Frontier®

New 6.5 PRC

The Ultimate Trophy Magnet

The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.

The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.

Utilizing moderate powder charges that result in repeatable accuracy, low recoil and reasonable barrel life, the 6.5 PRC produces high velocities for target shooting with performance well beyond 1000 yards.

Rifle makers currently chambering the 6.5 PRC include GA Precision, Gunwerks, PROOF Research, Stuteville Precision and Seekins Precision. Check back often as additional gun manufacturers confirm chambering the 6.5 PRC.

There’s a lot more to cover, and information is still coming in daily on the new products announced for next year. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at these items as we get a chance to demo them.

REVIEW: Colt Cobra Revolver

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One of America’s premiere handgun makers just redesigned one of its premiere handguns: read all about the modernized Colt Cobra. Full REVIEW.

Colt Cobra

SOURCE: NRA/Shooting Illustrated, Dick Williams

From the mid-19th century (including our Civil War) up to World War I, Colt single-action revolvers were almost mandatory issue for the intrepid adventurers who put their shooting skills to work taming the Old West. Moving forward through the first 3/4 of the 20th century, vast numbers of lawmen and civilians alike carried the new Colt double-action revolvers manufactured at the company’s Hartford facility. No change in purpose: the newer revolvers were still used to correct unacceptably rude behavior, or advance unacceptably rude behavior. Despite the massive changeover to semi-auto pistols by law enforcement agencies around the 1970s, Colt continued providing double-action revolvers to private citizens (and backup guns for cops) until the new millennium when the company finally phased out production of the classic wheelgun. Well, they’re back!

Recognizing the strong demand for small revolvers in the self-defense market, Colt redesigned and is now producing a newer (and much better) version of its Cobra. It has a stainless-steel frame rather than lightweight aluminum and a shrouded ejector rod, but it still has a hammer design that allows both single-action and double-action firing, a push-to-the-rear cylinder-release latch, and holds 6 rounds of .38 Special. In keeping with today’s ammo trends, the new Colt Cobra is rated for +P loads.

Colt Cobra
(left) Prominently displaying its serpentine heritage, the Colt Cobra’s barrel sits atop a shrouded ejector. (right) Considering that most single-stack 9 mm semi-autos carry only six or seven rounds on board, the capacity of the Cobra isn’t much of a disadvantage.

The Colt Cobra is larger than the typical S&W J-frame 5-shot revolvers but still quite compact. It will fit in a box 7.2 inches x 4.9 inches x 1.4 inches. You could shrink the height and width a bit by replacing the Hogue grips with a smaller set of panels, but to me that would be a bad trade. While reduced dimensions might allow the gun to fit in a trouser pocket, the revolver’s empty weight of 25 ounces is more than double that of some 5-shot competitors making pocket carry dubious depending on one’s wardrobe and lifestyle.

Colt Cobra
(left) Colt’s signature cylinder release pulls to the rear, like Colt double-action revolvers should. (center & right) Despite “turning the wrong way,” the cylinder mechanism on the Colt Cobra rotates cleanly and offers smooth operation.

The new Colt Cobra has an attractive matte, satin finish, and while looks may be irrelevant in a self-defense handgun, the finish looked about the same after five days and perhaps 400-500 rounds fired without any cleaning. The Hogue rubber grips fit me perfectly, which helped absorb recoil and made the little six-shooter almost as easy to shoot well as a service/duty-sized gun. The plastic Cobra box contained an interesting trigger profile graph, which I didn’t find particularly interesting because I didn’t understand all of it. Doesn’t matter, because just dry firing the Cobra double-action convinced me it had a superb trigger. After a couple days on the square range, I took another look at the graph. It says that within the first 0.05-inch of travel, trigger pressure rises to just under 7 pounds and then smoothly increases another pound or so before the hammer falls after a total of 0.50 inches of travel. While the chart presents the facts, it doesn’t prepare you for just how great the Cobra’s trigger is. The trigger guard is enlarged behind the trigger to allow for the use of gloves.

Colt Cobra
(left) Carved into the topstrap, the rear sight’s simple notch is snag-free and intuitive. (center) Slightly too large for pocket carry, the Cobra is right at home in a Galco leather holster on the belt. (right) Hogue’s overmolded rubber grip makes for excellent purchase, but may catch on cover garments and outer layers.

The rear sight is simply a 1⁄8-inch-wide notch in the topstrap. It will not be readjusted either by you or by any hard object it might crash into. The front sight is a replaceable blade, and the test gun was in current vogue featuring a black blade with a red fiber-optic insert. The whole sight is replaceable because Colt anticipates offering other options up front such as a night sight or a plain-black post. Throughout my close-range drills, the front sight was superb. With any reasonable level of ambient light, the red optic almost forces the shooter to focus on it, and with the Cobra’s excellent ergonomics, the gun seemed to emerge from the holster with the red fiber pipe properly located in the rear notch and centered on the target. For my eyes, the rear sight could be a bit wider. Even in relatively bright daylight I could not see any light around the sides of the front sight blade, so I had no ability to judge windage. Such was not a problem inside 20 to 25 yards; if the red fiber is visible and on target, simply press that incredibly smooth double-action trigger for consistent hits.

Colt Cobra
(left) With the exposed hammer on the Colt Cobra, precise shots can be taken single-action. (right) While a red ramp or black blade might be more traditional, the red fiber-optic pipe is easily acquired in most settings.

As mentioned, the ejector rod is protected by a shroud that is integral to the barrel. Good thing, since a bent rod can really ruin your day in an armed confrontation. As on other “pocket revolvers,” the ejector rod is, by necessity, quite short with less than one inch of full travel.

When fully pressed, the .38 Spl. cases are still partially enclosed in the cylinder’s chambers. There’s good news and bad news here. Good news is that for a tactical or partial reload, a full-length stroke on the rod with the muzzle pointed downward leaves the fired cases sticking out of the chamber almost an inch while the unfired cases drop back into their chambers. It’s considerably easier plucking those empties from the Colt Cobra with that much case exposed. The bad news is that you really need to practice your speed loads, i.e. keeping the muzzle elevated when stroking the ejector rod, allowing gravity to help the empties drop clear of the weapon and ensure an empty case doesn’t drop back into its chamber beneath the extractor.

Colt Cobra
The Colt Cobra revolver, along with a Safariland Comp II speedloader, Al Mar SERE 2000 folding knife, LA Police Gear Operator Mini EDC flashlight, Galco Gunleather holster, and an NRA Carry Guard insurance card. It’s the centerpiece art of a complete defensive kit.

I don’t usually look forward to range visits with a pocket pistol when the objective is to perform the protocol tests. Firing through a chronograph or from a rest to test groups can be enlightening, but it is also usually boring and sometimes painful. It was not until after a five-day class at Gunsite that I took the still-uncleaned Colt Cobra to my home range for the basic data gathering. I set the distance at 15 yards. At Gunsite, I used Cor-Bon’s 147-grain FMJ .38 Spl. ammo. It has a small meplat (flat nose), which in my opinion, means it could be used for both training and defensive purposes. As it turned out, I had enough left to take some velocity measurements but not for the full-protocol accuracy tests. At 783 fps, the Cor-Bon’s velocity was exactly in the middle of all ammo tested through the Colt Cobra. Selection of other ammo was based on including as many “known” .38 Spl. preferences as possible.

Both the Remington wadcutters and lead round nose bullets demanded a seat at the table based upon historical usage. I’ve used the lighter-weight Hornady .38 Spl. loads before and been pleased with them, particularly in small revolvers. They are designed specifically for defensive use in short-barreled, light guns and are very manageable. In addition, they are “friendly” enough in popular, lightweight revolvers to encourage practice sessions, the elemental ingredient for competence.

But it was the Super Vel ammo that sparked a real romance and swept the little Colt Cobra across the dance floor. With an average muzzle velocity of 1,260 fps, it smoked the competition. Perhaps even more importantly, it was totally comfortable and controllable to shoot, something I attribute to the Hogue grips and the 25-ounce weight of the stainless steel gun. The Super Vel didn’t produce the single smallest group of the day (that was a string of Remington wadcutters, which somehow seems fitting after a decades-long reputation as the accuracy load for .38 Spl.), but it did produce the smallest average 5-shot groups for five strings. The new Super Vel .38 Spl. loads are absolutely my first choice of ammunition for the Cobra. It’s like an upgrade to .357 Mag. power without the pain.

There was not one malfunction during the five days at Gunsite or later when I shot the Colt Cobra at my home range.

So what is the niche that Colt’s new Cobra could fulfill in today’s self-defense market? Its 6-shot frame equipped with the oversize Hogue grips appears large for a trouser pocket pistol, clearly too big for all the jeans and most of the casual trousers I have, but it should carry well in a coat jacket pocket or ankle holster. I carried it for a week in a Galco belt holster and felt both physically and psychologically comfortable. Perhaps a purse or pouch carry technique might be best: manageable weight with no tell-tale bulge.

But to me, new shooters — especially those who are a bit intimidated or confused by the required manual-of-arms that must be mastered by the user of semi-automatic pistols — may benefit most from Colt’s return to wheelguns. There are two members of my family who much prefer the simplicity of revolvers, and the new Cobra is a superior choice to other the revolvers previously selected by my family crew. Think about the Cobra’s “not too heavy, not too light” 25 ounces, the excellent ergonomics and grips that mitigate recoil, and the gun’s incredibly consistent trigger. This is a revolver that can easily serve as a house gun, car gun, or carry gun. So please don’t tell me there’s no room for a new, compact revolver!

Colt Cobra specifications

Colt Cobra

Check out the factory site HERE 

REVIEW: A Long-Range Story: Hornady 4DOF Ballistics Calculator

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Here’s a new ballistics calculator that takes four important ballistic factors into account, not just BC, to provide radically more precise calculated bullet flight figures. Here’s how it works…

4DOF

by Richard Mann

The new Hornady 4DOF ballistics calculator is so precise because it combines what Hornady calls the Four Degrees of Freedom. In other words, it takes into account windage, elevation, range, and angle of attack to generate a drag coefficient.

4 DOF

Recently, a few magazine editors visited for a week. Egos were on display and opinions were as thick as brass on the range at Gunsite Academy. The purpose of this get-together was to test about two dozen rifles, some purpose-built for connecting at extended distances. I have access to a 1,700-yard range and we spent the day there. My 17-year-old son, Bat, served as the official “range rat.”

After our 500-yard testing was complete, I told my associates I needed to get the DOPE (data of previous engagement) on my son’s African rifle. This would save a trip back to the range and give him some time behind the gun as payment for the support role he’d been filling.

The previous evening we had chronographed the Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X load for the 6.5 Creedmoor my son would be using. That velocity, along with the bullet and related specifics were entered into Hornady’s 4DOF ballistic calculator, which is available online. I’d printed the results and our goal was to confirm elevation come-ups out to 500 yards. Amazingly, this was done with 5 shots; my son connected center target at 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 yards. The data generated by the Hornady 4DOF calculator was spot-on.

Bat was having fun and shooting well, and since he now had the attention of the visiting editors, I figured, what the heck, he might as well try 700 yards. His first shot at 700 was about 2 inches high so he made a .25-MOA correction and fired again. Center hit! Now he really had their attention.

The next farthest target was at what I was told was 1,100 yards, and Bat asked if he could take a poke. I was skeptical and worried he’d blow the impression he’d already made on these experts, but figured the boy deserved a chance. The Hornady 4DOF ballistics calculator data called for a 38.25-MOA adjustment at 1,100 yards. I got on the spotting scope and told him, “Send it.” He did, and he missed high, by what appeared to be several feet.

I Instructed Bat to walk the reticle in the Bushnell 2.5-10X Engage riflescope — yes, this was a 10X riflescope — down 1 MOA at a time. At 3 MOA below center, I called the shot just left. (Wind is a terrible thing at 1,100 yards.) My instructions were to keep the same elevation hold but to also hold 2 MOA off the right edge. He pulled the trigger six times and achieved six hits. The onlookers were stunned, I however, was confused.

With the 4 DOF calculator from Hornady you can input your data and go to the range with total confidence it will be precise. Of course, remember, garbage in, garbage out. You have to input the right information.

4DOF printout

How could the Hornady 4DOF ballistics calculator data be so correct out to 700 yards and be off so much at 1,100? A range finder and a return to the Hornady 4DOF ballistics calculator answered the question. Instead of 1,100 yards, the target was at 1,048 yards. Resetting the Hornady 4DOF calculator to display come-ups in increments of 10 yards, it showed the proper correction for that distance to be 35.25 MOA. With our original 38.25-MOA correction we were 3 MOA or about 33 inches high. Had we known the correct range to the target, the 4DOF-generated data would have allowed for an easy first or, since we had a bit of wind, second-round hit.

What makes all this possible is the math and mechanics behind the Hornady 4DOF ballistics calculator system. Its four degrees of freedom, taking into account windage, elevation, range, and angle of attack, allow trajectory solutions to be calculated with a drag coefficient instead of a ballistic coefficient (BC). It’s also the first publicly available ballistics calculator capable of determining the accurate vertical shift a bullet experiences as it encounters a crosswind, which is known as aerodynamic jump.

By using Doppler radar and actually shooting bullets, Hornady calculates the exact drag curve for every projectile in the 4DOF Bullet Library. (Currently there are more than 100 projectiles from Hornady, Lapua, Berger and Sierra.) BC can change as velocity changes, a drag curve doesn’t. Explained simply, instead of using BC, which gives you a snapshot of a bullet at various distances; Hornady has created a video of the bullet’s flight. This allows the 4DOF calculator to predict drop with perfection at any distance, every time.

The takeaway from all this — the one that’ll matter to you and your ammo — is that the Hornady 4DOF ballistic calculator is extraordinarily precise. Taking data this exact to the field on a first try is as rare as 17-year-old boys who can hit at 1,100 yards, six times in a row.

Check it out HERE

Download the app HERE for iOS

Download the app HERE for Android

REVIEW: Remington RP9 Pistol

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After many, many years without a pistol of any kind, Remington has been increasingly turning out new handguns. And finally: a polymer striker-fired pistol. How good is it? Keep reading and find out…

RP9

Source: Shooting Illustrated, NRA by Duane A. Daiker

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

Since 2010, “Big Green” has been churning out new handguns, including various models of the 1911-style R1, the compact R51, and the pocket-size RM380, but also with some notable missteps along the way. Until recently, however, Remington was still missing a staple of modern handguns: the full-size, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9mm. Since the introduction of the Glock G17 in the 1980s, most of the major gun companies have been innovating by building upon this concept. As a result, the “Remington Polymer 9,” or RP9, enters a crowded market of similar pistols. So, the question: How does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition?

At first glance, the Remington RP9 appears pretty typical. The pistol has a striker-fired action with no external safety, other than the ubiquitous trigger-paddle safety. While polymer-framed guns are often described as ugly or lacking the soul of traditional steel-and-wood pistol designs, the Remington RP9’s smooth, rounded lines give it a distinctly European look. While opinions may differ on the Remington’s aesthetics, the Remington RP9 is definitely a recognizable and distinctive-looking pistol design.

RP9 details
(left) A section of Picatinny rail allows mounting weapon-lights and/or lasers. (center) While the author found the “R” on the grip a touch gaudy, the grip itself proved remarkably comfortable in testing. It also provides excellent ergonomics regardless of the shooter’s hand size. (right) Perhaps the greatest benefit of the RP9 compared with most competing models is the added capacity of its 18-round magazine.

Another differentiating factor with the Remington RP9 is its impressive 18+1-round capacity. The proprietary Remington magazines are slightly longer than typical 17-round magazines in similar guns, which explains the slight increase in capacity. I also appreciate the slightly longer grip frame to accommodate my large hands.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Remington RP9 is the impressive grip. This gun is designed to fit almost any hand. Small hands will appreciate the more rounded grip shape, which seems impossibly small for this full-size, double-stack handgun. Large hands will appreciate the lack of finger grooves, which never seem to fit anyone with bigger-than-average mitts, and the ability to install larger interchangeable backstraps. Each pistol comes with three backstraps, and almost everyone should be able to find a good fit.

RP9 features
(left) The slide- stop lever is small and somewhat difficult to actuate from a shooting grip. (center) The RP9’s trigger has a familiar paddle device for added safety and broke at a respectable 5.5 pounds. (right) In addition to the ergonomically-designed grip, three interchangeable backstraps ship with the RP9 as part of Remington’s goal to have the pistol fit the hands of 95 percent of shooters.

Shooters with smaller hands, in particular, will be very pleased. Aftermarket gunsmiths have created a whole industry of grinding polymer pistol grip frames, but this gun won’t likely need any such work. After passing the Remington RP9 around at the range, no one seemed to find the gun uncomfortable or ill-fitting, from the smallest woman I could find to the largest man.

Left-handed shooters are accommodated well: the magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters and the only other external operating control, the slide-stop lever, can be operated from either side of the frame without modification.

The three-white-dot fixed sights typical, but the rear sight features a flat “fighting surface” to permit one-handed racking of the slide in an emergency. This can be accomplished with a belt, shoe, or similar improvised surface. The factory sights are drift-adjustable in the dovetail, and easily replaced if white dots aren’t your preference.

RP9 sights
(left & center) Both the front and rear sights are dovetail-mounted to the slide and can be adjusted laterally. This also means they can be replaced with potential future aftermarket options. (right) The external extractor also serves as a tactile loaded-chamber indicator.

Disassembly is simple: aafter ensuring the gun is unloaded, employing a single takedown lever enables removal of the slide. From there, removal of the metal recoil guide rod, recoil spring, and barrel is easy. Field-stripping the pistol does require pulling the trigger, but that is pretty common for guns in this category. Use caution.

RP9 disassembly
Disassembly is simple and tool-free, though it does require a trigger pull.

Overall, the design and features of the RP9 are impressive. Remington has included all the features required for a modern, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol design. There is nothing particularly innovative, but there is really nothing missing either; the RP9 is a solid offering in a crowded market of similar pistols.

With any new design, the first question must always be: Does it work? Over the course of several weeks, I put more than 1,000 rounds through the RP9. To make the testing as thorough as possible, I shot a wide variety of factory ammunition, including 115-grain range loads, 115-grain hollow points, 124-grain hollow points, 124-grain +P hollow points, and 147-grain hollow points, along with an assortment of 115-grain commercially-reloaded ammo.

RP9 slide

The RP9 digested it all without a single hiccup. Its reliability was pleasantly boring and made testing easy. During one session the pistol digested more than 300 rounds in an hour, getting uncomfortably hot. Even with such high-volume shooting, there were no functional problems. In fact, the entire testing protocol was done with only a single quick cleaning right before accuracy testing.

The only functional issue encountered was a tendency for the pistol to fail to chamber the very first round of a magazine unless the slide was worked vigorously with the “slingshot” method. Simply pressing the minimalist slide-stop lever to close the slide and chamber a round would not work with all ammunition types. Most trainers would agree that the gross-motor movement of the slingshot method is a better gun-handling habit anyway, and the Remington’s slide-stop lever is a bit small to be reliable under stress, as is true of many modern pistols. With proper pistol technique, the slide-stop lever is rarely used under stress, so it is not a major concern.

Remington emphasizes the “shootability” of the Remington RP9. Frankly, I have always loved this term, but I was never convinced it was really a word, and, well, now I feel like I can get on the bandwagon. The RP9 pistol rates high in shootability for a number of reasons. A major factor is the relatively small and ergonomic grip. The trigger guard is undercut for a higher hand position, and the web of the hand is well protected from slide bite by a generous, integrated beavertail. As said, the Remington seems to fit a majority of people well, and a good fit makes accurate hits easier and makes recoil softer and more manageable.

RP9

Despite its reasonably sized grip, the Remington RP9 as a whole is on the large side, and carries plenty of weight. The size and weight help dampen perceived recoil; even the hottest loads are pleasant and manageable in the RP9.

Shootability is also a function of the trigger mechanism. The Remington RP9 has a middle-of-the-road trigger for a striker-fired gun — not the best, but definitely not the worst. It’s not as “mushy” as a standard Glock trigger, nor is it as crisp as an aftermarket job. The trigger itself has a wide face and minimal overtravel. The reset is a bit long for my taste, but it can certainly be felt (and heard if you’re dry-firing).

Assuming most people will use the Remington RP9 for personal defense, I focused my accuracy testing on self-defense ammunition. In particular, I was impressed with the Federal Personal Defense 124-grain +P JHP, and the SIG Sauer Elite Performance 124-grain V-Crown JHP. Both averaged better than 1,200 fps, with impressive accuracy at 25 yards. The RP9’s performance at the range was quite exemplary.

While the Remington RP9 is high on the “shootability” scale compared with other pistols in its category, its “concealability” is a different issue. Nothing about the RP9 pistol is small, so carrying concealed is more difficult, though it is similar to other duty-size guns. For most people, that means belt carry with a cover garment of some kind. If you want to carry a full-size service pistol, you will have to dress around the gun.

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

The Remington RP9 has an MSRP of $489, which makes the pistol $50 to $100 cheaper than a comparable Glock, Smith & Wesson, or Springfield Armory. Better yet, actual street prices can be considerably lower, with aggressive discounts and occasional factory rebates. At press time, reputable retailers were offering the RP9 handgun for less than $300 after rebates. While such prices may not be available all the time, the Remington is clearly going to be less expensive than most competing handguns.

Remington ships each pistol with two, 18-round, metal-body magazines and the usual accessories, including the obligatory cable lock. Given this price point, Remington packages the gun in a cardboard box as opposed to a lockable plastic box.

So, how does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition? Its quality and performance is similar to all of its most obvious competitors. There are a few factors that favor the RP9, like the accessible grip, and the 18-round magazines, but the Remington’s strongest appeal may be its price. For price-conscious shoppers, a new Remington RP9 with a lifetime warranty may be priced comparably to used guns from other manufacturers. While not necessarily innovative in any particular way, the newest Remington offers an outstanding value in a good quality pistol from a historic company.

RP9

RP9 specications

CHECK OUT THE REMINGTON RP9 HERE
Check out available ammo at Midsouth HERE

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

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REVIEW: Beretta APX Pistol

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

APX

by Jay Grazio
NRA: Shooting Illustrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APX specifications

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