Category Archives: Tactical Gear

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

SKILLS: Riflescopes: Adjustments & Variable Power

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There’s a lot to learn to really understand riflescopes and make the best choice. Here’s another valuable lesson. Keep reading…

riflecope

SOURCE: NRA Staff

Windage and elevation adjustments in riflescopes are made with either internal or external adjustment systems. Here’s what that means.

Internal: Most modern telescopic sights have internal adjustment systems using threaded, cylindrical knobs or screws in the turrets. The adjustment screws move the reticle assembly in the optical axis inside the main tube against spring pressure. The adjustment screws have clearly marked graduations around their circumference and many have a ball-detent system that clicks as the adjustment screws are turned. Each graduation or click represents a change in reticle position that moves the bullet strike at the target. This is expressed in minutes of angle (m.o.a.) and normally has a value of 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 m.o.a. per click.

External: Many older scopes have an external-adjustment system built into the mounts and rings. Such scopes remain popular today for certain types of target competition. In this type of scope, the reticle remains stationary within the main tube and the point of the bullet strike is adjusted by mounts having micrometer windage and elevation mechanisms that move the entire scope laterally and/or vertically. These mounts often allow the scope to slide fore and aft to reduce recoil. An advantage of external-adjustment scopes is that the user is always sighting through the optical center of the tube.

As internal-adjustment systems became more reliable and more accurate, the popularity of external-adjustment scopes faded. Today, external-adjustment models are still offered, however the use of such scopes is now generally limited to a few specialized disciplines of rifle competition.

It is important to note that some scope-mounting systems designed for internal-adjustment scopes still incorporate the ability to accommodate some coarse external windage adjustment.

This leads us to the discussion of variable power. Variable-power riflescopes have an internal mechanism to change the amount of magnification within design limits. This consists of an additional set of lenses mounted in an internal tube that slides forward and rearward under the control of a cam attached to the magnification ring. The design of the lens system and its position in the tube controls the amount of magnification.

The popularity of variable-power riflescopes rests squarely on their flexibility. Variable magnification enables the shooter to adjsut the power to suit a wide variety of conditions ranging from lower power (with a wide field of view for fast shots at close range), to higher power (for greater precision at long range). Once considered expensive and unreliable, variable-power riflescopes have become the most popular type as their design has matured and prices have dropped. Todya, the single most popular riflescope is the 3-9X-40mm, which has become a kind of “jack of all trades.” Smaller variables such as 2-7X-32mm remain popular for smaller-caliber rifles, while 4.5-12X-50mm and bigger models are favored for long-range shooting. Despite their flexibility, no one variable fits all applications and that is why there are so many different models.

Despite their popularity, variable-power riflescopes may suffer from certain drawbacks:
ONE: The variable magnification system introduces another level of mechanical complexity and another source for optical error, potentially decreasing reliability.

TWO: The movement of the internal components of a variable-power scope can produce changes in zero as the scope power is increased or decreased.

THREE: Variable-power scopes are harder to seal than fixed-power scopes by virtue of the magnification-adjustment ring.
As the magnification increases, the field of view and image brightness decrease, often substantially.

FOUR: Variable-magnification scopes are substantially heavier than fixed-power scopes.

FIVE: Variable-power scopes are more expensive than fixed-power scopes.

Review: IWI Galil ACE Rifles

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

Galil ACE

SOURCE: NRA: Shooting Illustrated, originally by Steve Adelmann

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

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

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

IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO
IWI Galil ACE 7.62 NATO.

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

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

IWI Galil ACE 7.62x38mm
IWI Galil ACE 7.62x39mm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

galil ace specifications

Check it out HERE

REVIEW: Beretta APX Pistol

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

APX

by Jay Grazio
NRA: Shooting Illustrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APX specifications

CHECK IT OUT HERE

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

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

Mini-14s

 

by Brian Sheetz, American Rifleman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the Minis HERE

Exercising With Firearms

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No matter how active you might be there’s no reason not to enjoy greater security while engaged in your favorite outdoor pastime. Here’s four ideas on how!

UnderTech Undercover
Belly bands, like this model from UnderTech Undercover, are great for carrying while exercising. They are light, help keep the firearm secure, and dry quickly.

Source: NRAFamily, Brad Fitzpatrick

Like many hunters, I love the great outdoors, but my passion extends far beyond hunting season. I like to ride bikes, run, hike, and fish, and these activities sometimes take me to remote areas. But even if you’re into the most extreme sports it doesn’t mean you have to leave your firearm behind. You can still carry concealed and still feel safe no matter if you’re hiking deep in a remote wilderness area or jogging down a city street at night. Some activities like bicycling and running don’t lend themselves to concealed carry — you’re probably going to be exerting a lot of energy and don’t want a firearm flopping on your side during the process. Unfortunately, exercise makes us vulnerable to attack, and if you have a concealed carry permit there’s no reason not to keep your firearm on-hand even when you’re involved in high-energy activities. You simply need to follow some basic guidelines on how to carry while breaking a sweat. Here are four key points to remember when carrying a concealed firearm while exercising.

One: Find a Compact Firearm That is Easy to Carry
For daily carry, I prefer a 1911 Commander .45. But when I’m out running or biking, that one can be a little bulky, so I had to find a gun that was compact and easy to carry even when I’m working hard. Small semiautos like the Colt Mustang .380, Ruger LCP, and Smith & Wesson Bodyguard are all great choices. Lightweight revolvers also work well, and they are easy to conceal under lightweight athletic clothing.

Ruger LCP
Compact semiautos, like the Ruger LCP, are light, slim, and easy to carry.

Two: Make Sure Your Firearm is Corrosion-Resistant
If you’re going to work out you’re probably going to sweat, and perspiration has a corrosive effect. This can damage your guns if they aren’t resistant to these corrosive elements, so find a gun that has a tough finish that won’t be damaged if it is exposed to perspiration on a daily basis. Tenifer, Cerakote, or Melonite finishes are very tough, and stainless-steel guns are less prone to rusting than blued firearms. Wooden grips are also prone to swelling when wet, but synthetic grips are light, tough, and resistant to the effects of moisture.

Three: Find a Carry Method That Works
Belly band holsters are a great choice, and the elastic will dry out quickly after you exercise. Other good options include fanny packs or holsters designed specifically for running like the Desantis Road Runner. Small inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters work well, too, but they must be comfortable and shouldn’t chafe while working out or expending a lot of energy. Synthetic fibers tend to hold up well and dry quickly; leather will sometimes absorb moisture, and excess perspiration may damage the holster over time. It is critically important that the gun is secured close to the body and can be carried safely, yet is quickly accessible.

Desantis Road Runner
The Desantis Road Runner holster keeps your pistol close at hand and it fit in with just about any outdoor activity.

Four: Perform Trial Runs
You need to break-in new shoes before a really long run to ensure that they fit and don’t hurt your feet, and the same is true for an exercise holster. You don’t want to be four or five miles into a 10-mile hike and suddenly realize that your holster is rubbing or chafing, so start with shorter workouts and make sure that the system you have chosen works for you. If you find out that your holster is uncomfortable you probably won’t wear it, and that defeats the purpose. You may have to wear something under your holster like triathlon shorts to prevent rubbing, and if the holster doesn’t fit and the gun flops while you’re moving, you need to either tighten it or find a different carry method.

SKILLS: Problems (Some) Riflescopes (Can) Have

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The more you know the better choices you can make. Consider all of this carefully before you purchase your next riflescope.

by NRA Staff

There are some problems that riflescopes can experience, but you should note that modern manufacturing techniques can make a real difference. There are three main issues:

Parallax
Many riflescopes suffer from a condition that stems from the inability of a scope to remain focused at all ranges. The compromise solution for most scopes is to design them to focus at infinity or one specific range. This serves most purposes and simplifies scope design. When a scope is properly focused at the chosen zero range, parallax will be minimal.

However, this is not acceptable for some applications, such as varmint shooting and hunting at long ranges. Under such conditions, parallax becomes a problem that must be addressed. Scope makers solve this problem by offering models with adjustable objective (AO) lenses. AO models incorporate adjustable objective bell housings with graduations marked on the traveling edge that allow quick and easy adjustment to remove parallax at any range. Alternately, some models locate the parallax adjustment in a third turret on the main tube for more convenience. Although AO and side-focus models cost more, shooters demanding enhanced accuracy often feel they are worth the asking price.

Sealing
Most quality scopes are sealed. This means the outer lenses and adjustment systems must be sealed against ingress of water, dust and dirt. This is very important, as dust or dirt inside the tube will degrade the image in several ways, mainly by appearing as black spots within the field of view. Dirt inside the tube can also jam the delicate adjustment system. Moisture inside the tube can cause fogging so that the shooter cannot see through it. Moisture can also cause corrosion of inner parts and surfaces.

Scopes are sealed at the factory by first attaching them to a vacuum pump that removes all air from inside the tube. The tube is then filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent fogging and then subsequently sealed. Of course, if you remove a turret or the ocular bell housing, the nitrogen gas may escape, thus compromising your scope’s anti-fogging capability.

Many high-quality scopes have double seals to ensure gas-tight integrity. However, no scope is permanently waterproof despite advertising claims to the contrary. Wear, tear, impacts and age all conspire against the tube holding the nitrogen gas. For this reason, most scope manufacturers will reseal and refill a scope at modest cost.

Want to check your scope for leaks? Try this simple test: Fill a sink or washbasin with warm water. Immerse your scope in the water for five minutes and check for bubbles coming from the tube. Bubbles mean leakage and such scopes should be sent back to the manufacturer for resealing and refilling.

Shock & Recoil
Newtonian physics are not kind to riflescopes. In addition to maintaining their accuracy, reliability, and water-tight integrity, scopes must withstand the considerable shock of repeated recoil many times the force of gravity. The delicate adjustment mechanisms and lens mounts are particularly susceptible to high G loads and must be designed accordingly. Scope makers are well aware of this and have designed shock resistance into their products. They have been so successful that shock resistance is now taken for granted by shooters and manufacturers alike.

Air rifles are a special case. Be careful when using conventional riflescopes on a spring-piston air rifle. If you do, the lenses may come loose, sometimes within a few shots, and your scope could be damaged or ruined. The reason is that spring-piston air rifles recoil in both rearward and then forward directions while a conventional rifle recoils only rearward. Thus, a riflescope for a conventional firearm need resist G forces in only one direction — rearward. Air rifle scopes must resist G forces in both directions. This requires a special scope designed for the purpose.

REVIEW: Vortex Recon R/T, Solo Tactical R/T Ranging Monoculars

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Combining the best of a dedicated range finger with a powerful and handy spotting scope, these new monoculars from Vortex are a big hit.

By Major Pandemic

Warning: One of these Vortex ranging monoculars will end up on your “stuff I need” list. Let me sum this up quick and then I will work through the features. The Vortex Recon R/T and Solo Tactical R/T deliver the shooter a compact, quick, and robust observation, scouting, and ranging solution that starts at only $169. It is an idea that combines an offset MRAD/MilDot ranging reticle with a simple-to-use high-quality monocular. Vortex is offering these monocular models in 8x, 10x, and 15x magnifications. All the R/T (Ranging and Tactical) models feature the mil-dot reticle and pre-ranged 300-, 400-, 500- and 600-meter standard man-sized silhouettes. Look, range, adjust turrets, and shoot. The Mil-based reticle also allows ranging via a standard mil-dot grid system.

Vortex Solo
Vortex Solo and reticle view.

Line up the silhouette with a human-sized silhouette for immediate ranging or use the Mil-Dots for measurement and you can quickly calculate the range all without batteries. This method also prevents rangefinder errors because grass was waving in front of you while you were snuggled into a prone position. Ahh, good old fashioned manual ranging technology paired with enough magnification power to actually see details that an electronic 4x rangefinder would fail to deliver. In my opinion, this was one of the top optic products of the 2016 SHOT Show, and after testing I believe it should be in everyone’s kit.

A great pair of binoculars are handy, however there are a lot of times that they seem too cumbersome or heavy and this is where a quality monocular makes perfect sense. Monoculars can be tucked into a jacket pocket or, in the case of the Vortex Recon and Tactical R/T, clipped to the belt. Technically, you are getting better optics in a monocular for the money than you would with binoculars simply because you are paying for just one eye-full of optics and not two. The clarity of these Vortex Monoculars is really outstanding considering the price. The only shortcoming in the lineup is a focus-free model, but all the current models do feature easy-to-use focusing and ocular adjustment.

Vortex monocular
The Solo is a lower-power and smaller, more compact choice that slips into any jacket pocket.

If you are using a Mil-Dot ranging system, regular scouting optics would require you to find what you are looking for and then get behind your rifle to relocate the target and use the rifle optics’ reticle to measure objects in order to calculate the distance for the shooting solution. With both the Vortex RECON R/T and Vortex SOLO R/T you or a shooting partner can find and range a target and the rifle only needs to be used to deliver the shooting solution. Some people would say, “Why do I care?” The main reason is that the Vortex Monoculars get the measurement tool off a potentially loaded gun so that you can range all sorts of stuff at football games, golfing, and keeping an eye on that car down the street all without waving a gun muzzle around. The other valid reason is that it gives you a ranging and scouting tool which will never require batteries. Once you start burning into your brain the mil-dot sizes of typical animals, human, and environmental objects, ranging can be really fast without any math involved.

Recon strap-handle
The Recon features a strap to help secure the hold and stabilize the image.

Vortex has thought out each of these monoculars very well. Both have belt clips to make it easy and simple to clip to a belt or pack. Other accessories include lens covers, lanyards, and compact and protective neoprene covers. The larger RECON R/T includes a hand strap, picatinny rail, tripod adapter, and mini tripod.

Recon kit
The Recon includes a case, cover, and quick tripod.

Vortex’s Recon R/T is basically a compact spotting scope with 40 mils of positive and negative ranging ability from center. The 10X magnification does require some type of stabilization or the image starts to jump around. Vortex does include a small flexi-leg tripod which mounts quickly via the included multi-mount. The included tripod is just barely strong enough to hold up the Recon’s weight, but it does work if you get the legs bent the right way. The Recon R/T also can be mounted to any screw-on type tripod on either side which would be a preferable mounting if used on a bench. At $689 the assumption is correct that the Vortex Recon R/T is a significantly better optic than its little brother. Notably the Recon is a significantly higher tier of optic with greatly improved clarity and brightness all around. It feels more rugged and is a more featured packed kit compared to the slimmed down Solo. Where I see the primary use of the Recon R/T 10x and 15x models is taking the place of compact spotting scopes in the field while also reducing the weight burden of also carrying binoculars and ranging devices.

The Vortex Solo R/T is the little brother of the Recon but with 60 Mils of positive and negative of ranging front center due to the broader field of view 8x magnification. The Solo does not have the extra lens covers, the tripod, or the hand strap, however it is the perfect compromise of small compact usefulness that would make you carry it everywhere. It does not look “tactical” which I think is important as a multi-tool optics for residential, urban, and even public sporting environments. The Solo R/T still packs in the ranging reticle, silhouette ranging, and pocket clip all protected by a simple slip-in neoprene case. The 8x magnification is more forgiving and easily used unsupported single-handed while still delivering a stable image. I can say that I use the Solo so much I will likely buy at least one more. It gets used a lot at the range to check targets.

Vortex reticle
Here’s the dynamics of the ranging system. Simple and effective!

FINAL THOUGHTS
It is easy to whip out your laser range finder, but there are many situations where I have found these tools to deliver false or unreliable readings. Mil-based ranging may not give you the perfect accuracy of a laser range finder, but the Recon and Solo provide a tool which can validate a range and double as a scouting tool. A brilliant idea by Vortex of offering this concept in an affordable package to the consumer markets.

Vortex specifications

Click HERE to learn more about these  amazing optics.

Click HERE to see Midsouth’s Vortex selection.

[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. www.MajorPandemic.com]

 

SKILLS: Riflescopes: All About Reticles

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This is the second in a series on optic basics, and it covers the most visible component of a scope: the reticle. Read on…

by NRA Staff

basic riflescope reticle

The riflescope’s reticle is the visible reference used as an aiming point to align the gun with the target. There are many reticle patterns ranging from simple to complex. The most popular remains the general-purpose crosshair. However, even the simple crosshair offers choices, such as tapered, ultra thin, duplex, mil-dot, ballistic compensating, range-finding, center dot, center ring and post, just to name a few. Each configuration is intended for a specific type of use and there are multiple versions of all. For example, tapered crosshairs are a popular choice for varmint hunting and duplex crosshairs are a common choice for big-game hunting. There seems to be no limit to the new reticle designs being offered, and most makers offer at least six or more types. Your best bet is to try out several at a local gun store, then consult with experienced shooters or hunters before making a final selection.

Reticles may be illuminated electronically, with tritium or with fiber optics to enhance their contrast against dark backgrounds; this is helpful especially at dusk or dawn or during heavy overcast conditions. Illumination remains an expensive option that may not work well in very cold conditions and has limited usefulness. Still, it has proven a popular addition to many scopes.

reticle choices

The reticle itself may be located inside the scope at the first, or front, focal plane or the second, or rear focal plane. The location is an issue only in variable-power scopes. Reticles located in the first focal plane in a variable-power scope will increase or decrease in size as the magnification is changed while those located in the second focal plane do not change size when the power is adjusted. For this reason, the latter location has become the most popular.

One situation in which a front-focal-plane reticle is clearly advantageous is in scopes with a mil-dot ranging system. This type of reticle employs dots spaced one milliradian apart on the crosshair. (A milliradian is the angle subtended by 3 feet at 1,000 yards.) An object of known size is bracketed between the dots, and a table is used to determine the range based on the number of dots the object measures. With a rear-focal-plane reticle variable, the mil-dot system is only accurate at one power setting. A front-focal-plane location maintains the same relationship to the target throughout the range of magnification, thus enabling mil-dots to be used accurately at any power.

A second benefit of placement in front of the variable-magnification lens system is that the reticle remains unaffected by tolerances or misalignment of the erector tube during power changes. With a rear-focal-plane location, these tolerances may shift point of impact as the power level changes.

In the past, many scope reticles were not constantly centered, meaning they moved off to the side when windage or elevation adjustments were made. Many shooters found this annoying. Today, nearly all riflescopes have constantly centered reticles that do not change position when adjustments are made.

Crosshairs or other reticle patterns are created by laser etching on optical glass or by ultra-thin platinum wires. Some early scope reticles used strands of hair, hence the name “crosshairs.” Others used spider silk…interestingly enough, the silk of the black widow spider, which has a better tensile strength than other types of spider silk.

David Tubb DTR Reticle
David Tubb’s DTR design takes a reticle about as far as it can go, offering built-in aiming dot compensation choices to even account for density altitude.

REVIEW: Springfield Armory SAINT

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

by Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meopta MeoRed
The Meopta MeoRed Red Dot gave good results.

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

Check out the complete specs HERE

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

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