Category Archives: Tactical Gear

REVIEW: Savage Arms BA10 Stealth 6.5 Creedmoor

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If you’re in need of an out-of-the-box long-range tack driver, and don’t want to pay thousands, this Savage proved a great choice in this test. Read more…

by Patrick E. Kelley

Savage Stealth BA10

The Savage Arms BA10 “Stealth” is anything but stealthy! This rifle shows up “in your face” ready to put bullets in little groups up close, or where the real test is — way out there!

CUTTING TO THE CHASE…
Lets start at about “half way” to way out there. This AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) compatible box magazine-fed turn-bolt is accurate! While many may claim half-minute accuracy, this stick actually is that precise, and it can do it right out of the box. Take a look…

Savage Stealth 450 yard groups

Now I would love to take credit for those groups, but knowing my longer-range skill set was less than what I expected the rifle could shoot, I enlisted the help of my shooting buddy Bill. As an F-Class competitor, he knows his way around long range shooting. It took a few shots to get him settled in behind this rather lightweight (9.2 pounds) long range bullet placement tool, but settle in he did. Yes, I included ALL 5 groups! We got to take the good with the bad, but I would ask you to really look at those groups…this rifle wants to shoot 1/2 MOA or better! Thanks Bill!

benchrest setup
This was Bill’s set up. A good shooting rest setup is very important to good groups.

SET-UP
With the Savage carrying a MSRP of $1207 I thought it would be a good idea to marry this rifle up with a comparable scope. I chose one that, like the Stealth itself, has value well beyond its modest price: the Burris XTRII 5×25. I tell people, “Don’t buy cheap scopes!” Buy good glass and then put them in the best mounts. You will break a scope someday, but a good mount will last though several scopes! The scope base is part of the Savage BA10 package and is made by the good guys at EGW, and the scope rings I supplied are 34mm units from Xtreme Hardcore Gear. “On right stays tight” — use a proper inch-pound torque wrench!

Savage Stealth, Burris scope

HITS
This bolt gun’s “chassis system” is made by MTD and is a solid, well-made unit. I popped the barreled action out of the stock before the first rounds went downrange and looked it over. It is very nice and beautifully machined. I mentioned using an inch-pound torque wrench for scope mounting, well it is a good practice to use one when installing the barreled action back into the chassis. I did 60 inch-pounds.

Savage Accutrigger
Savage has really put their AccuTrigger front and center as a high quality unit and this one did not disappoint! It broke clean and crisp at a factory-set 22 ounces! In keeping with the “practical/tactical” nature of this bolt gun you’ll find an appropriately over-sized bolt handle, a comfortable Hogue pistol grip from which to trip that excellent trigger, and quick access to the magazine release latch. The excellent ergos on this rifle were no accident.
AICS magazines
Above are the 3 magazines I tested…all worked perfectly. The tall one on the left came with the gun as is an MDT 10-rounder. The other two are 5-round mags from MagPul, and are AICS compatible.
threaded muzzle cap
The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24tpi and finished with an 11-degree target crown and thread protector: a handy addition to accommodate a suppressor or muzzle brake.

I could not just watch my friend Bill shoot so after he completed his session with the Hornady factory ammunition at 450 yards I tried my hand at 300 yards with some Federal American Eagle 140 grain OTM (Open Top Match). Even with me behind the incredibly nice 22-ounce Savage AccuTrigger, sub-minute of angle groups were the norm. Norm…that is not normal! Sub-MOA groups from a factory-fresh rifle without any tuning or tweaking or even barrel break-in with off-the-shelf factory ammo! I think I am going to like this long-range game! Thanks Savage!

300 yard groups

MISSES
We covered most of this, but let me point out a nit-pick or two. You knew I would have at least one… The EGW scope rail appears to be a “flat” rail, not a 20 or 30 MOA rail that is common in long-range circles. If you have enough elevation adjustment within your optic you might be okay, but give me a 20 MOA base any day.

Then there’s the buttstock… I don’t like it. It is okay for an AR but this one lacks two elements that I want (need): first, the cheek rest sits too far back to get proper eye relief, and second, for use with a rear bag the bottom of the buttstock ought to be flat. Small nits to pick, and both are easily remedied through the aftermarket.

LAST WORD
The BA10 Stealth has proven itself to be accurate and reliable with a trigger that has me wishing every rifle I own were so equipped! It does this “right out of the box” and it does it within the wallet of a “working man.” Ultimately, Savage Arms has assembled an excellent long-range tool that in capable hands shouldn’t have any problem running right along side guns with price tags several times the Stealth price. Stealthy?…not a chance. This one screams “I am a winner!”

Savage Stealth Specifications
So as to not leave anything out, Savage literature states: Factory Blue Printed Savage Action, Monolithic Aluminum Chassis Machined from Solid Billet, M-LOK forend, One-Piece EGW Scope Rail, Fab Defense GLR-SHOCK Six-Position Buttstock with Adjustable Cheek Piece, 5/8×24 Threaded Muzzle with Protector. Nice!

Click here for MORE information on the Savage Stealth series

About the author: Patrick E. Kelley is a competition shooter, instructor, gunwriter, photographer, and videographer. After four years as a featured competitor on 3-Gun Nation he was hired as the Expert Analyst and commentator for the show. He started to compete actively in 3-Gun in 1999, placing Top Tyro in his first championship, the Soldier of Fortune 3 gun match. Patrick has earned numerous first-place finishes at major matches in 12 U.S. states and Canadian provinces. He has mastered several shooting disciplines, from NRA Bullseye and Metallic Silhouette to the world of Practical Shooting. Patrick is also a member of the NRA 2600 Club and was ranked in the USPSA’s top twenty early in his shooting career. Patrick’s articles on shooting and firearms, as well as his photography, can be found within the pages of Shooting Illustrated, Outdoor Life, and 3 Gun Nation Magazine. His YouTube channel includes instructional and exhibition shooting videos, including the series “Patrick’s Tac Tricks” produced in concert with the NRA. Check one out HERE

 

REVIEW: Burris AR-332 AR15 Optic

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Looking for a durable, practical, effective AR15 optic useable over any realistic range? And one that’s not going to break the bank? Read about this Burris…

Burris AR-332

by Major Pandemic

According to the US Army Laboratory Command (Small Arms Technology Assessment: Individual Infantryman’s Weapon, Volume I, March 1990, to be specific), 98% of all targets across all terrain are engaged at less than 600 meters, 90% at less than 400 meters, and in urban terrain 90% at less than 50 meters. With this in mind we need the ability to be able to reach out to targets beyond the 15-25 yard lines but it is unlikely we will ever shoot out beyond 600 meters in a defensive or even hunting situation.

Adding even a marginally magnified optic enables more precision, faster target acquisition, and will deliver all you need to place hits quickly even way out there when yards adds up. More than a few serviceman and Designated Marksman know that the 4X Trijicon ACOG very positively transformed hit ratios within all ranges of combat engagement out to the 600 yard line; however, it also comes with a steep $1400 price tag. Burris to the rescue with a great $350 option.

BURRIS AR-332 3X PRISMATIC OPTIC
Burris is well known for building rugged, bulletproof optics. The AR-332 is a mil-spec brute of an optic which has stayed compact with a prismatic design. The design is a really nice crossover optic for CQB and scout rifle distances in a durable fixed power optic. Essentially the AR-332 is an ACOG but for 60% less money plus it includes a dual red/green illuminated BDC reticle. According to Burris, with the explosion of AR15 sales, they have been selling truckloads of these along with their 5X model.

FIT, FEEL, FINISH & FEATURES
Like all Burris optics, the AR-332 is excellent quality from the fog- and weather-proof construction through the very clear optics. At first I was wondering what I had committed to with the AR-332, however after a couple range visits I am sold on the design. The “donut” reticle definitely grows on you and in my experience is way faster up close and allows more precision than a more conventional duplex reticle at varied distances.

Burris AR-332
Picatinny rails allow piggybacking additional sights, lasers or lights. The AR-332 is backed by the Burris Forever Warranty.

There are a significant amount of refinements and extras on this scope. The Burris AR-332 comes ready to mount right out of the box with a picatinny base included ($50-$100 extra on other scopes here), scope caps that flip open all the way out of field of view, and wire retained windage/elevation caps. If you have an A2 AR15 with a carry handle, the AR-332 will work right out of the box after your unscrew the included picatinny base. On top of those features, the AR-332 is a very clear optic with an etched reticle visible as a black reticle after the illumination is turned off. The runtime is expected into the months range, but even when the standard CR2032 battery is dead you still have 100% of the reticle to work with.

Burris AR-332
The rotary, 10-position power selector allows quick changes from red to green powered reticle, or a black reticle when power is off. 5 red and 5 green power levels suit differing lighting conditions. A CR2032 battery powers the reticle.

FUNCTIONS
The illuminated reticle works and is brilliantly bright that can be seen in direct sunlight. The donut reticle is very fast on target even at distances under 25 yards or even at 2 yards. Dedicated points from 100-500 yards can make this a bit more precise than optics with just a single duplex style reticle or wider dispersed hash marks when the yards add up. Burris also includes picatinny accessory rails around the optic to bolt on things like lights or lasers. The circle hold marks for 200+ yards work great and allows small distant targets to be centered quickly.

AR-332 reticle
The reticle design provides a great combination of shorter-range speed and longer-range precision.

The eye relief needs to be more forgiving as it does not have a wide workable range compared to others. Plan on mounting the AR-332 at or very near the rearmost position. My stock position is always one detent in; however, longer-armed shooters may have to dispense with a rear back-up iron sight to mount the AR-332 in a proper position.

Burris needs to add a super-low illumination setting as even at the lowest option is still just a bit too glary when the lights go out. The reticle is still perfect for CQB ranges at night using the CQB Optic but a little annoying for shooting night dwelling critters in the pitch black.

With a variety of Hornady and Winchester 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington rounds, the Burris delivered all shots on 12-inch steel plates all the way out to 500 yards;, however point of impact did vary with each round. As with all BDC reticles, the aiming points will get you within a few inches; however, each round’s ballistics is different.

Burris AR-332
The author found the Burris AR-332 to be an outstanding performer, and at more than $1000 lower cost than the similarly-designed AGOG Trijicon, the AR-332 represents a tremendous value. The Burris is capable, durable, and rugged.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Designed for a 100-yard zero with BDC index points for 100-500 yards. This is a fixed power optic that is actually exceptionally good at CQB work thanks to that glowing donut. The Burris AR-332 is a great all-purpose optic for an AR15 owner to extend the range to allow confident placement out to 500 yards. That big glowing dot provides a great aiming point even at room-clearing distances. The more I use this optic the more I like it as a combat defensive scout optic covering the US Small Arms study ranges.

AN OBSERVATION: We all get older and usually with that comes deteriorating eyesight. I have been incredibly lucky that I still have fairly clear 20/20 vision, however I am starting to do that trombone move to focus in on the small print up close. The point is that magnification and sighting aids help aging eyes. A few of my buddies clearly need magnification and this is where even just a little 3X magnification can make all the difference between making a shot and being frustrated. If you are older, I recommend taking a serious look at what these low-power optics can provide you on your AR platform.

CQB OPTIC TIP: For optics with illuminated reticles, a tip to use them in a CQB environment is to close the front scope cover and shoot with both eyes open like you would with a red dot. With the scope objective cover in place, the eyes and brain will conspire to make the illuminated reticle appear as an 1X lit reticle regardless of the magnification, even if it is a 32X scope.

Burris AR-332

Check it out at Midsouth HERE

Factory Link: HERE

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.comMajor Pandemic

 

Heckler & Koch VP9 Tactical 9mm Pistol Review

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Looking for a suppressor-ready high-quality handgun? Here it is! Read full review…

by Major Pandemic

VP9 Tactical

Recently I reviewed the H&K VP9 and frankly am in love with that pistol — the quality and the features are all top-of-the-line. As a defensive pistol it has a level of refinement that is competitively only seen on Sig Sauers and the high-tier Walthers, but with features unique to H&K. The P30 line has been one of H&K’s most popular pistol lines and is the reference benchmark for quality in a defensive polymer handgun. That said, H&K fans have been demanding a modern production H&K striker-fired option built on the popular P30 ergonomics and magazine. H&K delivered the hugely popular VP9 and now is extending the line with this VP9 Tactical model featuring a threaded barrel. What really sets the VP9 apart from other Heckler & Koch pistols is the more affordable price tag and is the company’s first sub-$700-priced gun in recent history.

Now with the popularity of suppressors on the rise, civilians are asking for suppressor ready firearms. The Tactical model is about $200 more than the initial VP9 model.

VP9
The HK VP9 Tactical features a 13.5×1 LH thread.

Essentially, the H&K VP9 Tactical is identical to the original VP9 model with the same supremely awesome trigger break and very fast short trigger reset. The VP9 continues to offer swappable rear backstrap and side grips to customize the handle and the substantial charging notches to help with high-speed weapon manipulation. The completely ambidextrous design via ambi-slide and paddle mag release is carried over on the VP90 Tactical Model, as are the luminous sights.

There are only two differences between the VP9 and VP9 Tactical. The H&K VP9 Tactical features a threaded barrel and according to H&K’s site the tactical models do not use an O-ring-assisted lockup like other H&K models. Allegedly the O-ring caused problems when a suppressor is attached and only marginally decreases the precision of the barrel-slide lockup. The barrel threading is the infuriating but well thought out 13.5×1 LH thread. The intent behind the left-hand threads was to not allow the suppressor or other muzzle accessory to loosen while shooting due to a right hand barrel twist. It works but irritates me that I need to buy and swap back and forth between the standard European 13.5×1 LH and U.S. 1/2-28 thread adapters for my Liberty Mystic X suppressor instead of being able to do straight swap like I can between my other other 9mms.

VP9
Exactly like the original VP9 the Tactical model features ambidextrous controls.

There was some early rumbling that the VP9 had an operating spring that was too weak. I was informed at this year’s SHOT show that all models now feature the same stouter spring I noticed on this VP9 Tactical.

Though H&K is usually a little behind the curve in keeping up with the U.S. market, they may now actually be a bit ahead of the curve with the pending Hearing Protection Act having a good chance of becoming law. This is a durable and well-tested host.

VP9
The VP9 Tactical comes nicely equipped with 2 mags as well as swappable back and side grip panels.

I have found the VP9 line of pistols to be extremely accurate with 124gr ammo. At a recent tactical training we had a drill where we had to run from barricade to barricade and pop out and deliver two shots on a steel torso placed at 15 yards. After the first run and with my confidence instilled in the VP9 Tactical, I ran the course two more times and was delivering quick double tap head shots. The VP9s are very accurate and with the right ammo notably more accurate than my stock Glocks.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The VP9 pistol represents everything we have asked for and whined about on our Glocks with a level of striker fired pistol refinement which that has only previously been represented in the Walther PPQ. The VP9 Tactical, though, is not a Walther or a Glock or a Sig Sauer: it is a Heckler & Koch which has its own legacy of extremely high quality, infallible durability and reliability, with leading-edge innovations. H&K did not only hit a homerun with this pistol, because with the extension of this model to potentially capture a new suppressor market with the Hearing Protection Act pending is a very smart move for H&K.

SEE MORE HERE

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

Major Pandemic

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

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The “scout rifle” concept delivers a handy, accurate, and capable firearm for use in the real world. Thanks to Savage it’s now affordable! Learn more.

By Major Pandemic

Savage Model 11

Despite being quite old, the scout-rifle concept originally developed by Col. Jeff Cooper is still very hot. Ruger’s versions are reportedly still selling well on the retail shelves and now Savage Arms has joined in with its own Model 11 Scout Rifle offering. Like all Savage rifles, the already frequently backordered Model 11 Scout Rifle delivers a lot of value and accuracy for customers paired with Savage magazine compatibility and a design with proven durability and accuracy. For an $818 MSRP, customers now have available an affordable scout-focused rifle that is about $300 less than the competing Ruger model.

THE COOPER SCOUT RIFLE CONCEPT
The late great Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying: “The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert, and the mountain -– not the shooting shed with its bench rest. To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light, and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions.”

In 1983 the Cooper-influenced Steyr Scout Rifle was offered in .223/5.56, .243, 7mm-08, .376 Steyr, and of course, .308/7.62×51 NATO. The rifle weighed only 6.6lbs without an optic and was only 38.6 inches in length. By today’s standards, it was very light and still had a number of forward-thinking features such as spare mag in the buttstock, forward mounted optic, and integrated bipod. Most people have netted Cooper’s concept down to a magazine-fed .308-Winchester-based bolt-action rifle with a length around 40-inches and a weight under 8-lbs which allows for a forward-mounted optic and can support iron backup sights. That noted, any Scout Rifle student knows that an individual’s “scout rifle” can look much different depending on the shooter’s needs.

Savage Model 11
The Scout Rifle delivers everything you could want from a single do-it-all rifle, and that matches the Col. Cooper concept perfectly. The forward-mounted scope rail and fixed front sight are also true to the Cooper Scout Rifle concept. Built on the proven Savage action, owners can expect excellent accuracy from this rifle.

SAVAGE’S TAKE ON SCOUT RIFLES
I am going to jump in with both feet and make comparisons between the Savage and Ruger offerings, because after all, buyers will at the gun counter. The Savage Arms Model 11 Scout rifle follows closely to the original design intent of a scout rifle as outlined by Copper, but does have a few welcome departures. The Savage Scout Rifle shared many great features with the Ruger including adjustable stock pull length, magazine fed action, free-floated barrel to maximize accuracy, dual sling studs to support a scout sling, a forward optic mounting rail, and iron sights. When customers are comparing the two competing rifles, that is where the similarities end and value starts to tip over to the side of the Savage.

Savage Model 11
The adjustable cheek rest can be removed if an optic is not used, but it makes for much better ergonomics if an optical sight is installed. The cheek rest is simple and well-designed.

Out of the box, the Savage Scout rifle arrives with an exceptional peep sight system that is significantly higher quality than the included Ruger iron peep sight system. The same can be said for the Savage trigger system which is arguably as good as most entry-level aftermarket match triggers. The Model 11 Scout includes an incredibly effective muzzle brake that takes a huge bite out of the bolt-action .308 recoil and delivers a rifle that is extremely comfortable even during all-day range training. The current line of Ruger Scout Rifles can start to pummel the shooter after a day at the range.

Savage offered the initial Scout Rifle released with a top tier billet aluminum pillar-bedded Hogue Polymer stock that is completely waterproof and allegedly stiffer than a wood stock. On the Ruger, even after using the lowest rings possible for mounting an optic, the cheek rest height was still too low for a comfortable cheek weld. I solved the problem on my Ruger with a Hornady cheek rest bag, however Savage solved the problem up front by including an adjustable cheek rest out of the box. Notably, with the cheek rest in place, the factory peep sights are too low for regular use. If you plan on using the iron sights, owners will need to remove the cheek rest first.

The stock on the Savage is better equipped than the Ruger out of the box for those that want to add an optic. On top of integrated cheek riser, I found it ergonomically more comfortable as well with less felt recoil that the Ruger. Overall the Savage is 1-inch longer and about a half pound heavier than the Ruger, though both felt nearly identical in weight.

FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Feeding and functioning was perfect from the Savage box magazines. My only complaint with the proprietary Savage magazines is that they are proprietary vs being AICS magazine compatible like the Ruger Scout Rifle. For someone with a couple other bolt guns with AICS magazines this may alone be a deal breaker for them.

Savage Model 11
The Savage Scout rifle accepts standard Savage box magazines. Function was flawless in my testing. Note the sling swivel location, true to the original “scout sling” concept.

The adjustable Savage AccuTrigger on the Model 11 is impressive. The trigger weight is adjustable from around 2-lbs to 6-lbs, however I would leave it set at the factory 2.25lb weight (as measured by my Timney trigger gauge). As is, this trigger is amazing compared to the crunchy Ruger trigger.

Savage has made a name for itself in the accuracy department and this scout rifle format delivered good accuracy for its $800 price tag. I think it would be an epic battle between the Ruger and Savage as to which could deliver better accuracy out of the box. I spent the better part of an afternoon attempting to find the clear winner, but there was no clear winner. Both guns will easily deliver 1.25-inch 100-yard groups, and I have personally seen both of them deliver touching 5-shot half-inch groups.

FINAL THOUGHTS
With a better factory trigger, stock, sights, brake, included adjustable cheek rest, and lower price, the Savage Arms Model 11 Scout Rifle is sure to please Savage loyalists and may just convert many Ruger customers. Out of the box it is easier to shoot and better equipped.

Federal Gold Medal Match
Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr Sierra MatchKing BTHP delivered the best accuracy during testing.

The Cooper Scout Rifle concept mandates accuracy sufficient for the application and the Savage Model 11 Scout delivers easily on that concept.

Savage Model 11

Learn more about this rifle HERE

About the author: 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.  MajorPandemic.comMajor Pandemic

 

Do You Need A Rail Gun?

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Maybe yes and maybe no, but if you do need a rail gun you will need it badly!


By Bob Campbell


rail gun light
Tactical illumination is a great advantage best utilized with the rail gun. When you have a rail gun with mounted light in the home-you can light them up! A rail gun and light can give a homeowner a great deal of confidence, and also avoid an unforgivable mistake… See your target, know your target!

Among the decisions to be made when purchasing a personal defense handgun is caliber, action type, and size and weight. Also now among the options to be considered is the light rail. A “rail gun” is common parlance for a handgun with an accessory rail. The rail is there to mount a flashlight bracket or a laser sight. Some handguns leave the buyer no choice. All modern Glock pistols, save for the very smallest such as the Glock 42 and Glock 43, have light rails. The Colt 1911 may be had with or without a rail, and the popular CZ75 is another available in both versions.

An important part of owning a handgun is pride of ownership. You have to be happy with the handgun.

Some feel that a light rail isn’t fitting on a traditional design such as the 1911. Others feel that the added weight and the possibility of snagging on the holster are real problems. There are also difficulties in finding a proper holster for a rail gun. As an example, the Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator and the Rock Island 2011 Tactical have different light rail designs and demand different holsters.

1911 rail gun
Some don’t think a rail is a good “fit” with a traditional handgun design, but the rail on this 1911 Springfied Armory Range Officer Operator adds great utility in a defensive application, and it’s not obtrusive or awkward in this instance.

But then there are those who like the light rail and some have been in a position where white light has been beneficial to their survival or in situations where they wish they’d had the light. Many handguns feature the technical over the tactical, but the light rail is a tactical improvement. The catch is the pistol is a reactive weapon, when the pistol is drawn in response to an attack. Few, if any, concealed carry permit holsters will carry a handgun with the light attached. They may carry a light in their pocket, but very few will practice quickly attaching the light to the handgun. If you can anticipate a fight, then you had best avoid it or at least get to cover. It is better to have the rail and not need it than to need it and not have it of course. You just have to ask yourself, “Are you are willing to embrace the rail and obtain a suitable light or laser and learn to use it properly?”

rail guns with lights
Rail guns top to bottom: CZ P-01 with Lasermax laser, Springfield Range Officer Operator with Viridian light, and Glock 35 with Insights light.

Practical Concerns
The 1911 pistol balances well. Nothing feels better in my hand. Some 1911 rail guns are neutral.  The new Rock Island 2011 with its monolithic rail is very well balanced. It isn’t quite muzzle-heavy but it certainly dampens recoil due to extra weight out front. The Colt Rail Gun may be an improvement in balance over the Colt Government Model. The CZ 75 is among my favorite handguns. But after a hard test and firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition I find the CZ P-01 a great compact 9mm that is very well balanced. I can fire the pistol more accurately than the full-size CZ. The P-01 features a light rail on its long dust cover. I like this a lot. Keep an open mind when considering a rail gun.

Home defense
The best place for a rail gun is home defense. No handgun is too large to keep at home ready! As an example, one of my personal favorite handguns for “just shooting” is the Glock Model 35 .40 caliber. This long-barrel pistol balances well and it is plenty accurate. The accuracy load, the Hornady 155 grain XTP, breaks over 1180 fps from the Glock 35. The pistol has factory night sights, and with an Insights M3 combat light I don’t think there is anything better as a home defense handgun. This brings us to another consideration.

CZ P-01
The CZ P-01 is a good fit with the Lasermax laser. This stays behind the muzzle even on a pistol this short.

When choosing a combat light make the choice one that is appropriate for the application. A neat compact light such as the Viridian types seem ideal for the Glock 23 class of handguns. No need in having a light protruding past the muzzle. With the Glock 35 this isn’t a consideration but with my compact CZ pistols the smaller lights are best. And it isn’t always lights: it might be the Lasermax Spartan laser for some applications. This is a handy, affordable, and well-designed laser that gives the user a sharp point of reference when the sights cannot be seen. If you do not have a rail gun you would have to purchase expensive laser grips, which are are not available for every handgun.

The rail gun should also be proofed with its attachment in place. On occasion handguns have had their cycle reliability affected with the light attached. I think that this is less likely with steel frame guns. Handguns with frames that give or flex a little in recoil are most susceptible to this problem. This is simply another consideration when you deploy the rail gun, and the answer is simple: test it!

For myself I continue to deploy standard handguns for the most part, usually a Commander .45 or a CZ 75 variant. But I am not blind to genuine progress. I keep a rail gun with light attached and ready to go in the home. Just in case.


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).


Check out the accessories Midsouth has to offer CLICK HERE

Top 5 New Rifles at SHOT Show 2017

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Tale of the Tape

By Richard Mann:
Though the 6.5 Creedmoor still gets a lot of attention, there’s a
whole lot more going on this year for hunters and target shooters.

The tale of the tape with regard to rifles in 2017 has more to do with a single cartridge. The 6.5 Creedmoor seems to have taken the rifle world by storm, and more and more rifles are now available for that cartridge. However, that’s not the only news. Although new MSRs do not dominate this year, a major manufacturer has entered that
playing field. You should find plenty new to like in the rifle world for 2017, with new rimfire offerings, new youth offerings, and plenty of threaded muzzles.

Barrett

barret lightweight rifle
➤ The Barrett Lightweight Rifle
is a bolt-action rifle designed to
be carried farther on long days in
the field and perform like a
Barrett at critical moments. The
stock is crafted from carbon fiber
to provide an ultralight yet stiff
platform. The actions are scaled
for their specific caliber, and precision
barrels are contoured for
their application. There’s nothing
one-size-fits-all about this rifle.
SRP: $1,799. Booth #11371.

CMMG

The CMMG MkW ANVIL XBE
➤ The MkW ANVIL XBE, an all-new mid-sized AR-rifle platform, is
chambered in .458 SOCOM. The most defining feature of the new
MkW ANVIL is that the rifle utilizes CMMG’s unique Powerbolt
design, which allows the rifle to use a modified AR10-sized bolt for
increased durability. The rifle is also built on an AR10-sized frame,
with the upper receiver shortened by ¾ inch to minimize weight and
increase ergonomics. It comes with a 1:14 twist 16-inch barrel, a billet upper and lower receiver, and a single-stage mil-spec trigger, and weighs 7.5 pounds. SRP: $1,849.95.

MARLIN

limited-edition 1894

For Marlin collectors, the limited-edition 1894 is sure to
be a hit. Available in .357, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt, these
American-made rifles feature a straight-grip American black walnut
stock, a polished 20-inch octagonal barrel, and Marble sights.

For 2017, Marlin has announced the return of
one of its most popular rifles, the 1894
Cowboy. Available in .357, .44 Magnum, and .45
Colt, these 100 percent American-made rifles
feature a straight grip American black walnut
stock, a receiver and bolt machined from solid
steel, a polished 20-inch octagonal barrel, and
Marble sights. SRP: $1,041. The standard 1894
with a round barrel is also available for $789.
To further celebrate the reintroduction of
the 1894, Marlin is offering a limited-edition
version in .45 Colt with B-grade American
black walnut stock, highly polished metalwork,
and an engraved gold-inlaid receiver.
Only 1,500 rifles will be offered. SRP: $1,349.
Another lever-action that has been missing
from the Marlin line for some time is the 444.
Chambered for the .444 Marlin and built on
the 1895 action, this rifle has an American
black walnut pistol grip stock, 22-inch round
barrel, and Marble sights. SRP: $789. Booth
#14229. (marlinfirearms.com)

FN

FN M249S
➤ The FN M249S is a semi-auto version of the M249 SAW light
machine gun, which was originally developed by FN Herstal as the
FN MINIMI and adopted by the U.S. military in 1988. The rifle features the signature 18.5-inch FN cold-hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel and operates from a closed-bolt position. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, the rifle will accept a magazine
or a linked ammunition belt and offers a 4- to 6.5-pound trigger.
The rifle weighs 16 pounds, is 40.7 inches long, and has an 18.5-
inch barrel. SRP: $8,799 to $9,499. The FN 15 DMR II has been
re-engineeredfor enhanced performance and features the all-new FN proprietary rail system with M-LOK, which provides extreme
rigidity and less deflection, ensuring that all mounted accessories remain affixed without shift. Like its predecessor, the rifle offers an 18-inch match-grade cold-hammer-forged barrel with a 1:7 twist, a Surefire Pro Comp muzzle device, and an upgraded mil-spec lower with a Timney trigger and Magpul MOE grip and buttstock. SRP: $1,999. The FN 15 Tactical Carbine chambered for the popular 300
AAC Blackout is duty-ready straight out of the box. Equipped with the new FN proprietary rail system, the carbine provides exceptional strength and durability, and offers a stronger, more rigid platform for accessories and optics. In addition, the FN 15 Tactical Carbine 300 BLK II, like its rifle and carbine siblings, features a 16-inch alloy steel cold-hammer-forged and chrome-lined barrel, a carbine-length gas system, a low-profile gas block, a Surefire  ProComp muzzle brake, and Magpul MOE furniture.
SRP: $1,599. Improving upon the existing platform with the addition of FN’s proprietary rail system, enhanced mil-spec lower receiver, and legendary match-grade free-floating chrome-lined, cold-hammer-forged barrel, the second-generation FN 15 Tactical Carbine offers extreme durability and performance. Features include the three-prong flash hider, the mid-length gas system, and the H1 buffer to decrease recoil. It’s fitted with a Magpul grip and buttstock and the M-LOK accessory-mounting system. SRP: $1,599. Booth #13662. (fnamerica.com)

Mossberg

mossberg mmr

➤ Mossberg has added two new MMRs to its line. The Tactical
Optics Ready MMR is offered with or without a Vortex
StrikeFire II red/green dot sight. This is an optics-ready AR15 that
is shipped without open sights. It has a six-position stock, a forward-assist M-Lok handguard, a 1:8 twist barrel, and the new Mossberg JM Pro drop-in 4-pound trigger. SRP: $1,253 to $1,399.

The other new MMR from Mossberg is the MMR PRO.
This rifle is similar to the optics-ready MMR but comes with an
18-inch, 1:8 twist 416 stainless barrel with a Silencerco ASR
muzzle brake. SRP: $1,393. Mossberg has several additions to the Patriot line. First is the Patriot Predator, which comes in a synthetic, flat dark earth stock with a 22-inch barrel and threaded muzzle. It is available in .223, .243, .308, and 6.5 Creedmoor. SRP: $441. Two additional Patriots are available in .223: the Patriot Synthetic and Super Bantam. Both retail for $396. For those who love the value and performance of the Mossberg Patriot but would like a  higher-end, dressed-up version, Mossberg is offering a Patriot Revere with high-grade walnut stock, rosewood grip and forend caps, and an upgraded blue finish. Finally, in addition to the Patriot
Predator, four more Patriots will now be chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Booth #12734.

Glock G29 10mm Pistol Review

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Here’s a “real” 10mm Auto for the real world. If you’re looking for a very compact and very powerful semi-auto, the author thinks you can’t do better than this one… Keep reading.


By Major Pandemic


msss_g29_from_glockDuring my behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Glock factory, many things drifted through my mind. At that time I was one of eleven editors invited to the unveiling of the secret release of the Glock G43. That predictable and yawn-able moment of the G43 introduction where we all exclaimed, “Good Lord, finally…” my mind was thinking about a G29. The G29 is in essence a G19 in 10mm and is Glock’s “compact 10mm” pistol. Though the G29 is actually about 1/4-inch shorter than the G19, the reality is that the G29 is like a G19 9mm that has overindulged a bit at the pasta bar.

The 10mm G29 is also Glock’s most powerful compact pistol, capable of delivering 550+ ft/lbs of energy depending on the chosen ammo. Not bad considering there’s 10+1 rounds on tap… It’s a lot of power in a small and concealable package.

Brief History of the 10mm Auto
The development of the 10mm round is a story that dates back to the 1970s. The idea was a high-power flat-shooting semi-auto cartridge that would run in a 1911-platform pistol, and that would approximate .357 to .44 Magnum (mid-weight loads) ballistics. In the end, Col. Jeff Cooper was involved in its development at the point Norma began producing ammunition in the early 1980s. The FBI felt a little outgunned on the streets and briefly adopted the 10mm with the full-bore loads that were first released. The reality turned out to be that the vast majority of the agents were uncomfortable shooting and handling the larger-dimensioned and significantly more powerful 10mm guns. The ammo manufacturers responded with the 10mm “Lite” rounds which essentially dropped the power all the way down to about .40 S&W levels; however, the FBI and the public then wanted a smaller cartridge format with less power than what the original 10mm round delivered. Smith & Wesson thought there was a waste of unused powder space in the longer 10mm brass and developed a “10mm Short,” or what we now know as the .40 S&W. That round delivered everything the FBI specs wanted in a format that would fit in a smaller 9mm-sized pistol platform.

10mm, .40 S&W, 9mm
10mm, .40 S&W, 9mm

The current crop of 10mm rounds from Hornady and others are not powered-down to the degree the earlier “Lite” rounds were, and some are certainly loaded hotter as we see with the higher-power Buffalo Bore, Federal, and Liberty Ammunition rounds. The current 10mm rounds are much more powerful than .40 S&W. .40 S&W usually delivers around 450 ft/lbs of energy and the 10mm typically delivers around 550, about 20-percent more power.

Today the 10mm cartridge has devoted fans and still has a following in Special Forces, Special Law Enforcement, and is growing as a hunting cartridge.

Glock’s 10s: G20, G20SF, G29
Glock began producing the G20 in 1991 to answer market demand in the 10mm Auto’s heyday. Even after demand tapered off there was still a desire for the 10mm Auto pistol, but the major complaint was the overall large size of the grip. Later in 2007, Glock introduced the G20SF which is the “Short Frame” model. The G20SF model provides a grip feel circumference equal to a standard .40 S&W-chambered Glock.

G29 vs. G19
The G29 is about the same size as a Glock 19 but a little thicker.

The net result is that those with medium to small hands can establish a comfortable and secure grip. Glock has been specifically marketing the G20 and G20SF as hunting companion firearms to be used for the hunt or to provide a humane finishing shot on very large game. For those hunting in bear country, a 15-round pistol that can deliver power that rivals some magnum rounds is an asset to personal security, to say the least. Many of the relatively rabid 10mm fanatics, myself included, requested/demanded a smaller concealable gun… The small format G29 10mm was born.

Why I Had To Have One
I would argue why wouldn’t you want one, however I can see there may be some folks who just do not understand. I’ll put it this way: Why would someone carry a .357 Magnum Ruger LCR snubby revolver when they could just carry the same gun and shoot it with less recoil in .38 Special? The simple answer is POWER and the same reason muscle cars were created. Do I need the power in a handgun to down small aircraft? Well not recently, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have it. In fact, I have been lusting after the rather surprisingly mild-recoiling G29 since I picked up my G20. Who doesn’t need .41 Rem. Magnum power in a concealable 11-round pistol? Well I did.

Fit, Finish, Feel, Features, Function
The G29 has the fit, finish, and features the same as any other Gen-3 Glock you may have handled, however the slide and barrel is even wider and beefier than Glock’s .40 S&W pistols to handle the power of the 10mm Auto round. The side profile of the G29 is just a bit fatter than a G19 but about a 1/4-inch shorter as noted previously.

If you want night sights, I recommend getting them as an option directly from Glock as they are a bit less expensive than adding them later plus they will come factory zero’ed.

Just like any other Glock, reliability was flawless from the first to the last round. Thankfully Hornady sent me a couple boxes of their lighter-shooting 560 ft/lb Custom 10mm Auto 180gr XTP rounds and Federal supplied some of their full power 650 ft/lb 10mm 180gr Trophy Bonded JSP rounds. What surprised me most was that the recoil was really quite pleasant and even easily tolerable and controllable with the harder-hitting rounds. I will admit, the full-size G20 is a treat to shoot with hot rounds, the G29 is a bit snappy and I had to take a break after every three mags. Not painful, but the lighter G29 is snappy enough with the harder-hitting rounds that the snap feels more like bite after more than three or four mag-fulls.

Accuracy
My friend and I have made it a habit to routinely plink and hit the 12×12-inch steel 100-, 200-, and 300-yard gongs with our Glocks. Oddly enough, once you figure out the 12-15 foot holdover at 300-yards, it is not that difficult. Just like the G20 testing I did, shooting flatter shooting 10mm at distance was a whole new game. 100-yard torso shots were simply and downright easy. The original intent of the cartridge was clear: this is a longer-range handgun round and if zeroed at 50 yards, the 10mm Auto only drops about 4.5 inches at 100 yards and is only 36 inches low at 200 yards and still delivering around 400 ft/lbs of energy (about the same energy a 9mm has at the muzzle). This is a very impressive round that is more than adequate for hunting deer-sized game at a little distance.

Otherwise at normal combat distances, the G29 was marginally less accurate than your average G26 or G27 due to the increased recoil the shooter is managing.

G29, G43
10mm power is not that much bigger than the 9mm G43.

Final Thoughts
I love this little 10mm. If you have a need to drop something with about 70 to 90 percent more power than your average 9mm then the G29 is your pistol. What I love about the G29 is that it delivers the most powerful semi-auto pistol round in a reliable gun outside of a Desert Eagle. I own two Desert Eagles, and would argue the Glock 10mm is the most reliable high-power semi-auto pistol, and the G29 is the smallest format available.

G29 specifications


SOURCES
Glock – http://us.glock.com
Federal Ammo – http://www.federalpremium.com/
Hornady Ammo – http://www.hornady.com/


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.  MajorPandemic.com

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EVALUATION: Ruger SR1911 9mm

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A fan of the 1911, the author found this Ruger to be a great pistol, perhaps as good as it gets!


by Wilburn Roberts


SR1911

Ruger is an old-line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. They were a latecomer in the 1911 market but introduced their version that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy, and, as always with Ruger, value.

The Ruger SR1911 9mm is an aluminum-frame 1911 in the Commander configuration. “Commander” is a generic description of a 1911 with a full-size grip and frame but shortened slide and barrel. Taking that 3/4 inch off the slide makes for a fast-handling handgun that’s more compact to carry.

There are many 1911s available. Unfortunately some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made, and with high price tags, but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol. I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus (and it wasn’t only his but as he stated “the conclusion of learned minds”) was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating this pistol I found a service-grade handgun well worth betting your life on. And it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.

SR1911
Ruger’s two-tone treatment creates a handsome handgun. The fit and finish on both pistols tested was excellent. A custom-grade beavertail safety makes handling easier and shooting more comfortable. CNC machined front strap grooves are a nice touch and improve feel.

Examination
The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the chevron-style cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original-style 1911 serrations. The gray hard-anodized aluminum frame look great, well done. The pistol does not incorporate a Series-80-style firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters. The Ruger accomplishes the effect of a drop safety by means of a low-mass firing pin backed up by an extra-power firing pin spring. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more. The hammer is a lightweight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked, which is correct as designed. With the hammer to the rear and the safety on, the disconnector is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is depressed the trigger is blocked. The grip safety is a “memory-bump” type, which aids in properly depressing the grip safety with a less-than-perfect grip.

novak
Lo-profile Novak sights front and rear offer excellent visibility along with precise shot placement at reasonable distances.

The barrel features conventional 1911 locking lugs and barrel bushing. The recoil spring plug is likewise conventional and there is no full-length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years quite a few “target” features have crept into 1911s. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons. The barrel is a ramped type, an asset to improve case head support and feeding reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes can become problematic over time. The trigger is a long target type. I can live with this. The trigger is superb. It is crisp and clean, breaking at 5.25 pounds. The mainspring housing is a flat type, the only way to go with a custom-grade beavertail. The slide lock safety snaps into the locked position smartly indicating a tight, quality parts fit. The grips are hard rubber. They are comfortable and provide good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap beneath the trigger guard that aids in gripping the pistol and also lowers the bore axis. The relatively short height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is so controllable in rapid fire; there is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.

SR1911
The SR1911 comes with two high quality stainless steel magazines. These have stout springs and will feed anything I asked them to digest.

The magazines are well-made stainless steel units, with stout springs. It is a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle the slide at different speeds. A stout spring presents the rounds more quickly for better assurance of feeding reliability.

The 9mm chambering offers modest recoil yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those who cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber. Accurate shot placement can make up for power; the reverse is seldom true. 9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115 grain FMJ is one example, and the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1200 fps we see powerful performance.

SR1911
Despite its shorter slide, lighter weight, but also its 9mm caliber, the Ruger SR1911 is controllable, fast on target, and reliable. Fast, accurate shots are easy with this gun.

The Firing Line
The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the range. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, but after that it was smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired, and ejected every cartridge. Like most firearms the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over others for accuracy but not for reliability.

The combination of lighter weight, shorter slide, and 9mm chambering means that this pistol is fast from leather, fast on target, and offers excellent control. The 9mm just doesn’t kick much so fast and accurate double tap and controlled pair hits were easy. This is simply a great-handling 1911.

ruger-sr1911-9mm-c9

I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.

SR1911
I was able to test and evaluate a number of loadings. The Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P is a good choice for personal defense. The balance of expansion and penetration is impressive. If you do not wish to run +P loads in your 9mm, and many do not, the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip offers good expansion in a lighter load. I fired a number of loads for accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. 15 yards is a long distance for personal defense.

Wilburn Roberts is a veteran police officer, gunsmith, and professor. His articles have appeared in numerous publications over many years.

LINK: Ruger.com

Why Nine?

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Why not? One of the most disrespected of all handgun cartridges, Dr. Fadala says there’s plenty of good reason the 9mm Parabellum is the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the world. Keep reading…


by Sam Fadala


Many cartridges from long ago rage on. My Professional Hunter (PH) rifle in Africa for eight seasons running was .45-70 Government (1865, standardized 1873) handloaded with a 500-grain bullet to 1,800 feet per second. It was replaced two years ago with a .416 Remington Magnum for longer-range shooting, not because of 45-70 inferiority. The 1902 9mm Parabellum (para-bellum, “for-war”), thrives in the 21st century for hardcore reasons: for military, police, self-defense, it is powerful yet manageable even in lightweight handguns, plus pure shooting enjoyment, which alone is a “good enough” reason to own a nine.

1911 9mm
Author Fadala carries a Springfield Armory Range Officer chambered in 9mm Parabellum. His on-target impact testing methods used for big-game cartridges convinced him the nine was right on target for defensive reliability. The FMJ 115-grain load (on right) is undeniably the most popular for 9mm pistols, and there are also very effective open-cavity defensive loads that pack a punch.

After consulting with my handgun instructor, a retired SWAT commander, I latched onto a pair of Springfield Armory Range Officer (RO) pistols, 41 ounces of reliable accuracy. My usual practice session burns five magazines, five rounds short of a 50-pack. And though I handload for many cartridges, the nine is not one. Considering today’s cost of fuel, grub, house, car, mandatory insurances, and just plain living, a box of factory 9mm is a “bargain.”

Factories worldwide produce a dizzying array of loads in two major bullet types, FMJ (full metal jacket) and “upset,” most often hollow-point. Bullet weights as this is penned, and as far as I know, run as light as 50-grains (that is not a typo) to 147gr. Most of my shooting is with 115gr FMJs, such as Russian Tul-Ammo with non-reloadable brass, okay by me since, as said, I don’t reload the nine.

The Russians say trust, but verify. I trusted information on 9mm performance, but also ran my own demonstrations in “Sam’s Bullet Box.” This device is as scientific as tossing monkey bones to tell your future, yet it works “tolerably well,” and the box is far cheaper than ballistic gelatin. While gelatin is the standard, I have proved to others as well as myself that the box reveals vital information. Projectiles that penetrate deeply in the box do likewise in other mediums. Those that blow “big holes” in the clay behave the same in “the real world.”

9mm ammo
The vast array of 9mm Parabellum rounds cover all needs and all price ranges. It’s plentiful! This is especially important if one is not a reloader.

 

The wooden box is simply long and narrow with open top and closed ends. It’s the “stuffing” that counts. For my 9mm demo, constants were two: water balloon and clay block, neither representing tissue of any kind. Water tortures bullets. Shoot into a swimming pool, even with high-power rifle, and watch bullets die quickly. Clay provides the performance channel, also known as “wound channel.” Test mediums were arranged in this order: entry into end of box (0ne inch thick), water balloon, quarter-inch plywood separating balloon from 50 pounds of damp modeling clay. Beyond the clay: compacted wrapping paper one foot thick, and finally the inch-thick box end. Backup was our winter woodpile.

When oak, juniper, and aspen were removed for the wood-burning stove, several 9mm bullets were collected. Some of these were FMJs (expected). But many were also self-defense-type with open-cavity noses. That’s a lot of penetration! Massive cavities in the 50-pound block of modeling clay displayed extreme disruption with self-defense ammo. Surprise: FMJs also did terrific “injury” to the clay.

After the bullet box, all test loads were directed into gallon-size water-filled milk containers. Devastation is the word. The little 50-grain copper monolithic, starting at around twice the speed of sound, blew the bottles into pieces of ragged plastic. The FMJs also splattered the water bottles. Any thoughts of lacking energy flew away as I picked up the debris. My wife, who is the woodworker of the family, had leftover plywood panels that I stacked close, again for demonstration only. The half-inch plywood boards verified the effective penetration of the 9mm round.

The “little nine” did “big work” with little more offense than shooting a .22 pistol. In a lighter handgun, this statement might not bear up; but my “full-size” 1911 ROs were easy-on-the hand.  I carry a nine daily in open carry. Scouting and exploring hikes, an RO rides on my hip in a Triple K Number 440 Lightning Strong Side/Crossdraw holster. Concealed carry, you bet. Not a compact, but my ROs fits neatly into a U.S. Army Tank shoulder holster under a coat. Home protection, obvious. Self-preservation of life and limb, as well as coming to the aid of an accosted innocent, no concerns. My big fist fit into the channels in the clay.

1911 shoulder holster
A full-size handgun chambered in 9mm Parabellum is a joy to shoot. The light recoil belies its effectiveness, according to the author.

When I went for handgun antelope not long ago, I packed my S&W Scandium .44 Magnum, same I carry along for hikes to fishing lakes in grizzly country, and twenty-two pistols remain my choice for small game and mountain birds. But it’s easy to see why the 9mm Luger is the most popular pistol cartridge in the world.


Dr. Sam Fadala has been a full-time author for 30 years and authored 30 books. Sam is a lifelong big game hunter, using bows and long guns, and is Professional-Hunter-licensed in Africa.

U.S. Law Shield: Untraceable “Ghost Guns” On the Rise, But Are They Legal?

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Ghost Gun .(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Ghost Gun (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Gun enthusiasts and hobbyists have long been building their own firearms by purchasing lower receivers or kits and other parts needed to assemble a firearm.

The lower receiver is a small block of metal about the size of a deck of cards where the trigger mechanism is housed and where bullets pass through. A gun cannot function without it. A finished lower receiver is the piece of the firearm regulated by federal law and must contain a serial number stamped into it.

Technology today and the hundreds or even thousands of websites selling lower receivers, kits, and parts over the internet makes it even easier. There are no background checks required to purchase these lower receivers or kits.

There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, so long as it does not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA), according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the Gun Control Act of 1934 (GCA). That stage is “80 percent complete.” ATF regulations hold that receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA.

Furthermore, under federal law, no serial numbers are needed on firearms that are built for personal use, making them untraceable by law enforcement.

By leaving the lower receiver unfinished— meaning only partially drilled — it fails to meet the ATF’s requirement of being more than 80 percent complete and is therefore not considered a “firearm” subject to regulations. Buyers can finish the receivers at home by finishing the drilling.

The ATF refers to such guns as unfinished receivers, though they’re also called 80 percent receivers, home built firearms, or “ghost guns.”

And it’s all perfectly legal.

These self-assembled and untraceable “ghost guns” are becoming increasingly more popular amongst gun enthusiasts across the country and is becoming big business for parts manufacturers and for dealers selling kits.

Elite Custom Railing in Holly Hill, Florida, for example, specializes in unfinished lower receivers for a do-it-yourself AR-15. A company spokesperson said they sell between 100 and 150 lower receivers each day.

It is just one of six companies in Volusia County alone engaged in manufacturing and/or selling kits or unfinished receivers that allow buyers to assemble military-style, semi-automatic rifles at home.

Another Volusia County company, Stone Mountain Gold ‘n Guns in DeLand, will sell the “80% receivers” to a customer only in person and not over the internet as others in the county do. A manager said he will complete the sale only if he feels comfortable with the person buying the receiver. Stone Mountain sells about 20 a month, according to the manager.

The ATF and some law enforcement agencies have expressed a concern about these homemade firearms, believing that the availability of the untraceable receivers will encourage criminals and terrorists to start building their own weapons.

Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said in an interview in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “We’re making it easy for the criminals. I have a concern — a huge concern over that.”

Mary Salter, ATF Tampa Field Division public information officer, believes some criminals are purchasing non-serialized and therefore untraceable firearms because their intent is to commit crimes.

“ATF, and law enforcement, in general is seeing homemade firearms without serial numbers at crime scenes,” Salter said. “Tracing firearms found at crime scenes to the original purchaser is a valuable tool in law enforcement,” Salter added. “When a homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, investigators are left with a dead end, where a trace of a firearm may generate valuable investigative leads.”

“With advancements in technology in regards to 3D printers,” Salter said, “CNC milling machines, and the availability of receiver blanks, it has become much easier for a person to build a firearm. “When a “homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, it means investigators are virtually left with a dead end,” said Salter.

And in California, Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge at the ATF’s Sacramento Field Office, said he started seeing crimes involving untraceable guns about two years ago. In November of this year, Barlowe’s undercover agents arrested eight men for manufacturing and selling illegal firearms, seizing about 90 un-serialized firearms out of the more than 230 illegal firearms found. His agents have also found electronic mills that carve a complete receiver in 12 minutes.

“It is one of the biggest problems in Northern California for our office, if not the biggest problem,” Barlowe says. He estimates that his office has seized about 500 un-serialized receivers since 2013.

The Santa Monica shooter, John Zawahri, used a rifle made from parts he purchased online to kill himself and five others on June 7, 2013.

atf-receiver-1
From ATF.

And in neighboring Arizona, between 2009 to 2011, ATF reported that it seized 191 of the 80 percent receivers in Tucson that were headed to Mexico to be assembled, possibly by cartels.

In Florida, law enforcement officials claim the unregistered guns can make it easy for criminals to arm themselves with untraceable weapons.

However, others disagree with that assessment, claiming the skill and equipment necessary to build the firearms is anything but easy and, therefore, makes this approach more costly and time-consuming than simply acquiring an already completed firearm. A milling machine (or at least a milling guide kit), for example, can cost around $1,500, and it could take weeks to complete an AR-15 kit.

And to complete an unfinished lower receiver, a person must carefully mill or drill out a portion of the inside of the receiver, which can take many painstaking hours. Without a properly milled lower received, a functioning firearm would be impossible to produce.

Many believe manufacturing a homemade weapon is generally too costly, too troublesome, and too expensive for criminals.

Furthermore, FBI statistics indicate semi-automatic weapons are used in less than one percent of crimes in the U.S. Most criminals use handguns, and most guns used in crimes are stolen. Criminals looking to buy a weapon can get them from private sales without a background check and do not have to go through the trouble and expense of building their own rifle.

Rob Dunaway, President of American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona, says most of the customers who buy the incomplete receivers are people who like to personalize their semi-automatic rifle and or more worried about changes to the gun laws.

“Some people buy them to store them for potential future use,” Dunaway said.

Previous attempts to regulate “ghost guns” in California failed, when a bill that would have allowed the manufacture or assembly of homemade weapons but required the makers to first apply to the state Department of Justice for a serial number that would be given only after the applicants underwent a background check, was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.

However, earlier this year, Gov. Brown did sign a bill requiring people who build guns from these 80% receivers to register them and get a serial number. That law takes full effect in 2019. — by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog

Do you believe “ghost guns” or the 80 percent receivers pose a serious problem? Should you have to undergo a background check to even buy an 80 percent receiver or kit before you are allowed to build your own firearm for your own personal use? Should you have to register a firearm you build yourself and obtain a serial number? Let us know what you think.