Category Archives: Tactical Gear

REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Make Mine an M1 Carbine

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The M1 Carbine was one of the most widely produced of all U.S. Military rifles. Here’s how to get your own piece of shootable history! READ MORE

audie murphy

Robert Sadowski

Millions of M1 Carbines were produced. This firearm served during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, and at one time surplus models were commonly found and inexpensive. Today things are different. A well-used, vintage M1 Carbine is expensive and the cost will vary dramatically depending on which manufacturer produced the M1 Carbine and the model. I collect, but I shoot what I collect and that’s why the M1 Carbines from Inland Mfg. and Auto-Ordnance are important to me and other shooters who favor the M1 Carbine.

AVAILABILITY
The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine ($1062) and Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper ($805) are reproductions of carbines built in the mid 1940s. The Inland is a copy of the last style of Carbine built for the Military. The Auto-Ordnance (A-O) is a copy of the Model M1A1 designed for Paratroopers with a folding wire stock. These reborn Carbines offer a lot for collectors, competitive shooters, and home defenders.

Inland M1 1945 Carbine
Inland M1 1945 Carbine.

inland

The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine is made with an investment cast receiver mated to an 18-inch barrel with 4 grooves and a 1:20 inch twist rate. Features that make the Inland historically accurate are numerous and include the type 3 bayonet lug and barrel band, a rear sight with a siding ramp, and a push button safety. Original M1s had a flat bolt, basically the top of the bolt was milled flat. Late models used a round bolt to reduce manufacturing time. These features are also incorporated into the Inland carbine. The walnut stock is also referred to as a “low wood” stock which means it is relieved next to the operating slide. Early M1s had wood nearly covering the slide and the wood was prone to splitting in this area. From a historical perspective, the Inland was a good copy of the original carbine.

Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine.
Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine.

AO m1 carbineThe A-O is a reproduction of the Model M1A1, which was a model variant specifically designed for paratroopers who required a shorter weapon. Like early original M1A1s the A-O had no bayonet lug and the stock was close to originals even down to the brass rivets that attached the leather cheek rest to the wire stock. Sights were per the original a simple flip up aperture with a two settings one for 150 yard and the second for 300 yards. Windage was drift adjustable.

The stock does not lock in an open or closed position. A detent keeps the stock in position and when I fired using the stock I could easily knock it out of the open position. This is a feature of this older design. The rest of the stock was plain walnut, and pistol grip is thick and filled my hand.

Magazines are easy to find and inexpensive from $8 to $35 depending on manufacturer and capacity. Carbines were originally issued with a 15-round magazine, and 10-, 15- and 30-round magazines are the most commonly available.

AMMO & PERFORMANCE
There is no shortage of .30 Carbine ammo. I had on hand quite an assortment: Hornady Critical Defense with 110-grain FTX bullets ($33/20-rnds), Hornady 30 Carbine with 110-grain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets ($39/50-rnds), Aguila 110-grain FMJs ($24/50-rnds), and steel-case TulAmmo also with 110-grain FMJs ($15/50-rnds). If you see the trend, the .30 Carbine’s sweet spot is the 110-grain bullet.

m1 carbine groups
This was a typical group with both Carbines at close range; at 100 yards the groups naturally increased.

These modern reproductions are lithe and fast handling. Using the Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine at 100 yards the Aguila ammo performed well and I fired my tightest 3-shot group which measured 2.05 inches. The TulAmmo ammo and Hornady Critical Defense also gave good accuracy averaging close to 2.75 inches on average. In fact I was quite pleased with the results since I were using iron sights and a mil-spec style trigger. The trigger is a single stage with some creep that broke at 6.1 pounds. Typical service style trigger.

m1 carbine group
This 3-shot group was fired with the A-O at 25 yards with inexpensive TulAmmo.

Recoil is mild with not a lot of muzzle blast. At 25 yards fast follow up shots were quick. Since the rifle is only 36 inches long it is easy to maneuver.

In my opinion, the Inland is well suited for Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) M1 Carbine Matches. These matches are fired at 100 yards in 4 stages with slow and rapid fire and from prone, standing, sitting or kneeling.

shooting m1 carbine

At 25 yards I shot a near perfect, 3-shot clover leaf with A-O using the inexpensive TulAmmo. Recoil was more noticeable with the A-O since the cheek against the wire stock was not as comfortable. I was able to shoot a 2.0-inch 3-shot group at 100 yards with inexpensive TulAmmo; 2.1-inch best groups were obtained with Aguila and IWI. On averaged I achieved 2.3 to 2.8 inch groups at 100 yards with three shots. The trigger pull weight averaged 7 pounds but I still was able to shoot some decent groups.

As a home defense weapon or truck rifle, the new breed on M1 Carbines from A-O and Inland Mfg. are good choices. There are less-expensive options available, but they are not “as-original” M1 Carbines.

hip shooting carbine
With the stock folded I fired from the hip and found it quite easy to walk in hits on clay pigeons set out on a bank at 25 yards. The A-O was also light enough that I could shoot it one-handed. It is a fun carbine to shoot!

For more information on Auto-Ordinance click HERE
For more information on Inland Manufacturing click HERE

REVIEW: Kel-Tec’s RFB Ultimate Big Bore Bugout Bullpup

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Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: read all about this very different evolution of tactical firearms design HERE

rfb

Will Dabbs MD
Photos by Sarah Dabbs

Did you ever notice that looking at a gun is like morphologically analyzing a family member? Little Timmy might have Dad’s ears, Mom’s nose, Uncle Edgar’s dour disposition, and Aunt Edna’s penchant for eating her boogers. He’s his own kid, but the raw material is drawn from a motley well. Likewise, most tactical weapons come from recognized families. Master Stoner or Comrade Kalashnikov beget the lion’s share of them. Those left over hearken from John Moses Browning or one of half a dozen lesser minds. The point is, most modern weapons simply evolved from something simpler. That is just not the case with the Kel-Tec RFB.

RFB
The RFB .308 Bullpup from Kel-Tec is the ultimate bugout rifle. The RFB packs .30-caliber firepower into a compact package that is optimized for maneuvering indoors and in and around vehicles.

Weird, But a Good Kind of Weird
RFB stands for Rifle, Forward-Ejecting Bullpup. Bullpup, for those of you who might be new to the game, means that the action of the gun is located behind the fire controls. The origins of the term purportedly spawn from a diagnosably strange WW2-era Japanese submachine gun called the Experimental Model 2. The legend goes that American Ordnance folk were examining the odd weapon and declared it to be as strange as a bullpup, and the name stuck. The RFB is a 7.62x51mm battle rifle that occupies less space than your typical unadorned AR. It also conquers the Achilles heel of most bullpup combat rifles. It figures out what to do with the empties.
Most bullpup weapons can only be fired off of one shoulder or the other. Swap to your weak hand to shoot around an uncooperative corner, and the gun will spit hot brass into your face. As by definition half of all the corners on the planet will not be amenable to management on your strong side, this becomes a real boon in a CQB environment.

RFB safety
The safety is easily accessible by either thumb and therefore fully ambidextrous.

The RFB employs an ingenious dual extractor system that ejects its rounds forward into a pressed steel ejection tube. A small dimple in the tube prevents empties from sliding backwards and jamming the action. Once about five rounds have been fired empty cases start to spill out the front of the gun. Tipping the rifle nose down empties the tube. An odd side effect of this system is that when you drain a magazine the last empty cartridge case remains secured to the bolt face by the aforementioned twin extractors. Dropping the bolt on an empty chamber releases that last fired case into the feed chute. In a sea of firearm designs that do things pretty much the same way, it is simply fascinating to see it done so differently.

RFB bolt lock
The manual bolt lock is ambidextrous and mounted behind the pistol grip. Pulling back slightly on the charging handle disengages the device. Everything about the RFB is innovative and cool.

This unconventional design is nicely sealed against the elements, but it does make it a bit of a chore to clear the rifle visually. Doing so involves locking the action open and then peering into the open magazine well from the bottom. This maneuver takes a little getting used to, but it’s a small price to pay for so much unfiltered awesome. The charging handle is readily reversible, and the safety is fully ambidextrous.

The bore and chamber are chrome plated, and the overall workmanship on my test piece is perfect. Recoil is fairly spunky as this is a small rifle firing battle rifle cartridges but yet remains thoroughly tolerable. The top rail is long enough for any reasonable optic, and there is an ingenious optional quad rail that screws directly onto the barrel for lights and lasers.

RFB
The Kel-Tec RFB is a remarkably powerful .308 Battle Rifle that occupies less space and weight than many of its .223 brethren.

The RFB uses any standard metric FAL magazines. Magazine changes are fast and intuitive once you take the measure of the gun. Bullpup triggers are usually mushier than their more conventional counterparts. The unavoidable necessity of a long mechanical linkage connecting the pistol grip with the action typically takes a toll. In the case of the RFB, the trigger is simply well executed. The trigger pull on the test rifle was a bit over six pounds and pleasantly crisp.

rfb

I was curiously enraptured with this rifle. The compact envelope makes the weapon eminently maneuverable, and the 7.62x51mm round means not having to say you’re sorry under any imaginable circumstance. The thing’s not cheap, but it is incredibly cool. My copy runs like a scalded ape and is as intriguing as a pretty girl in a pair of boxers (Admit it, it’s a compelling metaphor.) The Kel-Tec RFB is a breed unto itself.

Click HERE to see more.

REVIEW: Sig MCX Rattler

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Dr. Dabbs takes us to the range with SIG’s Sinister Stubby Snake. READ MORE

sig rattler

Will Dabbs MD

What do you get when you take some of the finest firearm engineers in the industry and ask them to design the smallest AR-based close-combat weapon imaginable? Stipulations include that the gun needs to be piston-driven for the ultimate in reliability and ruggedness, modular for maximized flexibility, and chambered in .300BLK so it will run a sound suppressor well. The culmination of that ballistic quest is the SIG MCX Rattler. This thing just drips cool.

sig rattler
The SIG MCX Rattler is as compact as Physics allows an AR-based firearm to be.

Pertinent Particulars
The SIG MCX is actually a broad family of weapons. Easily interchangeable barrels and forearms combined with SIG’s proprietary recoil system offer unprecedented versatility. The action contains the reciprocating bits within the confines of the receiver. This feature negates the need for a buffer tube and allows for a side-folding buttstock or collapsible pistol brace. The end result is positively Lilliputian.

The sliding Pistol Stabilizing Brace allows the MCX Rattler to transfer as a standard handgun without any NFA baggage. This PSB collapses into the receiver for storage or portage and extends when extra stability is needed. The PSB includes the obligatory rubber forearm interface and Velcro attachment.

sig rattler
The key to the Rattler’s success is a collapsible Pistol Stabilizing Brace. This PSB lets the gun transfer as a standard handgun.

The gas piston action is readily adjustable using either the tip of a cartridge or your fingers. This allows the action to be optimized for subsonic or supersonic ammo. The forearm has plenty of M-LOK slots. The magazine release is replicated on both sides of the gun, and there is plenty of rail space up top for optics.

sig rattler
The gas system on the MCX Rattler is readily adjustable with either a bullet tip or a standard set of fingers.

The pistol grip is a bit smaller than standard but still remains both functional and grippy. The entire gun weighs just a bit north of 5 pounds. The forearm and barrel assembly swap out readily. There have been rumors that a 5.56mm conversion is in the making, but to a certain degree this would defeat the purpose of the gun. What really makes the Rattler unique is its .300BLK chambering.
The .300BLK is essentially a .30-caliber bullet seated into a shorter 5.56mm casing. By adjusting powder charges and bullet weights the round may be configured for either subsonic or supersonic performance. When running subsonic ammo through a sound-suppressed MCX Rattler the rig is just stupid quiet.

sig rattler
Even with a superb SIG sound suppressor installed the MCX Rattler is not terribly bulky. The .300BLK chambering makes the suppressed gun surprisingly quiet.

sig rattler

SIG calls themselves the Complete Systems Provider, and this is not an overstatement. SIG makes optics, ammo, accessories, and apparel. Most anything you could conceivably want for your SIG rifle is available from the parent company. Their .30-caliber suppressor is sealed for durability and features welded construction along with the most evil-looking miniature steel spikes on the end. In a pinch the device would make a superb prod should your foe end up both unarmed and recalcitrant. SIG’s electronic sights will hold their own with the best in the business. These sights are nicely matched to the personality and comportment of the host weapons.

Trigger Time
The SIG MCX Rattler seems heavier than it is given its diminutive dimensions. However, the gun is legitimately tiny and runs like any other M4-style rifle. The Rattler will feed from any standard M4 magazine or drum.

At close combat ranges the Rattler is eminently controllable. The gun will collapse down into something that could conceivably fit into the center console of a pickup truck. However, the Rattler can also be ready to go in moments. Nothing runs faster.

sig rattler
The magazine release is replicated on the left side of the receiver.

With the suppressor in place the SIG Rattler runs quickly and well indoors. In confined spaces you may still need earplugs, but it will indeed help preserve both your hearing and your situational awareness should you have to use the gun for real. With the can removed the Rattler will tuck into a briefcase.

Ruminations
If the 5.56mm forend/barrel assembly ever hits the streets, the resulting package would be too short to accept SIG’s 5.56mm suppressor. Really stubby 5.56mm barrels release so much chaos they will wreak great mischief upon most 5.56mm sound suppressors. A 5.5-inch barrel on a 5.56mm weapon would look cool but would in essence create a very expensive .22 rifle. The Rattler really is optimized for the .300BLK.

sig rattler and skorpion
You really don’t appreciate how tiny this gun is until you juxtapose it against something small for comparison. The SIG MCX Rattler is not all that much larger than a Czech vz61 Skorpion.

The SIG Rattler is a special purpose tool, and it is not cheap. There are rumors floating about that certain Tier 1 Special Missions Units have already bought a few specifically for executive protection missions. Given the exquisite design and unimpeachable level of quality imbued throughout this seems a reasonable choice. Reliable, versatile, and just nifty as can be, the SIG Rattler packs unprecedented levels of awesome into the tiniest of packages.

sig rattler
With the PSB extended the Rattler is an unusually effective close quarters tool.

rattler accuracyrattler specs

Click HERE for more!

Range Day Checklist: Advice From The Pros

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A good day at the range can turn into an awesome day at the range with a little preparation. Here are some great tips! KEEP READING

rob leatham

SOURCE: Team Springfield

Packing the essentials, plus a few extras, and having a plan will help you make the most of your time. Good preparation requires a solid organizational effort. But if you’re like us, you may find that your range bag can become cluttered and unorganized. Start each new season by cleaning out your bag. Take everything out and put back only what’s necessary — in an organized manner.

RANGE BAG
And if you don’t yet have a bag, find one that works for you and all of your equipment. There are a lot of options when it comes to range bags. We suggest getting one with several compartments to keep your range items organized. Some shooters prefer one large bag, many like the new backpack style, still others want multiple smaller bags — either way, you will need plenty of room.

Here are the basics that should always be in that bag:

Hearing Protection
Make sure you have ear protection. You may want to also throw in a spare set in case you misplace one, or a friend needs to borrow a pair. Basic ear plugs or earmuffs do the job, but high-quality electronic headsets are a worthwhile investment for both safety and convenience. Backup batteries are a must with electronic headsets.

Ballistic Glasses
Quality eye protection is another must-have, but it doesn’t have to be fancy (or expensive). Your eyewear should however be performance rated by ANSI Z87.1. This standard protects your eyes from high velocity and high mass impact. Grab a pair of safety glasses you’d wear in the shop, or you can opt for something more stylish from Oakley or ESS.

Magazines & Magazine Loader
|You can’t shoot your gun if you forget the magazines. Many shooting bags have specific compartments that hold each magazine individually. How’s that for organization?

Quick tip — number your magazines. This helps to identify and easily separate any magazines that are not properly functioning or need to be cleaned. Our Team Springfield SMEs suggest Dawson Precision magazine grip tape for the base pads. In addition, the aggressive surface helps you maintain a good grip on your magazine as you load  and reload it into your gun.

If you’re shooting a couple hundred rounds, it’s also nice to have a magazine loader — definitely a time-saver. You can find mag loaders for a wide variety of rifle and pistol magazines. They’re inexpensive and easy on the thumbs. Our SME’s favorite manufacturer is MagLULA. #TriedAndTrue

Cleaning & Tool Kit
Toss in a portable cleaning kit designed for your firearm, along with any other maintenance tools you might find handy. You don’t need anything elaborate — just enough to make sure your gun and magazines stay in good working condition. For those of you who shoot outdoors don’t forget sunscreen, lip balm, hat, and water.

day at the range

AMMO & AMMO CAN
You can probably fit a decent amount of ammunition in your magazines and range bag, but if you’re planning on an extended training session, an ammo can is a nice add.

You will also need a container to put your empty brass in. Any sort of receptacle with a lid works, from an empty cardboard box or military steel can to a 5-gallon bucket. One of our favorites is old freezer storage bags. #Reuse

TAPE & TARGETS
You have a lot of options here and most ranges sell targets. The type, shape, color, imprint, and material of targets is more than plentiful. Whether you’re going with a traditional bullseye, a paper silhouette, a Shoot-N-C, a whitetail deer target, or cardboard competition targets, make sure to bring tape.

Depending on the range and what target frames / stands are available, you may also need a staple gun (and staples) or binder clips to attach the targets to frames.

All ranges will designate what ammo you’re allowed to use. Any steel-core or armor piercing ammo will most likely get rejected, as it can spark and / or cause severe damage and cratering on steel targets.

Speaking of steel targets, some ranges may have steel targets you can use. With all steel targets, it’s very important to shoot a safe distance from the target to avoid ricochet. Recommended distance from steel targets (based on manufacturers and practical shooting organizations) varies between 9 and 11 yards minimum. To be certain, check the target manufacturer’s guidelines for safe target distance. Target type, composition, ammunition type, and target placement, position, and angle are all factors to consider.

Shooting on public land designated for target shooting? Leave the scrap electronics, tin cans and appliances at home — and always make sure you take care of the mess afterward. Don’t be the person who leaves their shot-up junk behind for others to deal with. #NotCool #PackItOut

SHOT TIMER
Shot timers are a great tool for training. You can test your skills under the pressure of the clock down to the hundredth of a second. Timers relay valuable information to the shooter: First shot time, target split times, target acquisition times, and the overall time of the drill.

Once you are a safe, proficient, and accurate shooter, speed is the next part of the equation. The timer is one of the best ways to track your progress in this area of skill development.

There are a variety of timers on the market. You can buy an old-school, time-tested, battery operated, handheld style (like PACT or Competition Electronics), or download a shot timer or dry-fire app on your smartphone.

PRACTICE LOG
Practice makes perfect — and it’s a lot easier and much more beneficial if you keep a practice log. Make the best use of your time and ammo by having a plan before you hit the range.

Choose one or two drills to focus on in each practice session. Work on a specific technique until you make some progress. Document the practice session – date, time, drill, target type, distances, number of rounds, procedure, times, and your overall takeaways from the day. Keeping a log is beneficial, as you can revisit old drills to continually re-test your skill level and compare results.

If you’re old school, a physical paper training book / log works fine. Put it in your range bag. More of a smartphone junkie? Try the RangeLog app. Need some drill ideas? Get some cool drill ideas from InstructorZero and Mike Seeklander of ShootingPerformance.

See what Midsouth has to offer HERE and HERE

SKILLS: Handgun Training

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A few thoughts from much experience! Read it all HERE

handgun training
Always focus on your primary carry gun! As simple as that may seem, we all like to use them all! But this is the one that will matter the most.

Bob Campbell

Handgun training, more so than most pursuits, is charged with individuality. Special teams and rifle companies move as a unit and exercise strict discipline. They have a plan of action. The handgun is a weapon of opportunity carried to meet the unexpected difficulty. The action is not planned, and the response is reactive.

For many problems, a trained individual will respond with simple reflex. Reflex is sufficient for some problems, but simple movements set the stage for more elaborate responses. Training and movement should be simple and as straightforward as possible.
In education lectures, presentations are directed toward the crowd; handgun training must be on an individual basis. The direction of training, and the line of solution, must be clear. At present, I practice and work hard at keeping myself fit and prepared. As for games and competitions, I am fast becoming more of a pensioner than a participant.

I have engaged in a great deal of training and some competitions. I understand that study of drills, and then execution on the range, is the double route from which proficiency grows. You must hold a physical knowledge of movement and an understanding of the interplay of tactics. Every time you draw the handgun it must be a studied action reverent of the necessary safety involved and the intent of the handgun, which is to save lives.

handgun training
Hitting offhand with a short barrel 9mm is sometimes difficult but demands practice.

Practice, practice, practice
When I practice and drill, I am not absorbed in playing the game or the drill, rather, in winning. This means mastering the skills and hitting the target regardless of the requirement. I use a handgun of sufficient power for the task at hand. Ask yourself; does the handgun you deploy have enough power for the work for which it is intended? If possible, a firearm of disproportionate power to the work involved would be better, and that means a rifle or shotgun for home deployment — no concealable handgun has a surplus of power.

For many of us, most of the time we choose a reasonably portable handgun, and this will be the weapon with us when we are attacked. When in the home, choose a shotgun or rifle for far superior hit probability and power. We should not neglect to practice with those firearms. The handgun will become near useless if we do not practice often.

When I train, I use drills centered on common sense and real problems. As an example, while modern science stresses the strength of a straight line, I prefer the Greek idea and stress the strength of the circle. Moving and getting off the X is important. When you convert linear motion to rotational movement, you have accomplished much and that means you will be moving out of the line of fire and moving to a more defensible position.

You must understand that when there is a fight for real; you have to dispense with the range notion of the firing line is forward and the safe line to the rear. The whole area is a firing line and there will be people all around you. Moving constantly is a key to survival. Moving to a good firing position and firing accurately is another key.

Moving Constantly Is a Key to Survival
Training is a perpetual challenge. Substance, process determination, and action are needed. Becoming a formidable shooter is gained by action, not contemplation. The brain and hand unite to produce the desired result. I have been training for a long time on a regular basis. The past 35 years have reinforced the need to study and to learn.
I have prosecuted the inquiry to the best of my ability. A great deal of research and an open mind goes into proficiency at arms. The bottom line is to get the basics right. Hit the target. Then learn movement and seek cover when possible.

handgun training
Firing off hand, quickly, and moving is a key to proficiency.

As for the handgun, I have come to a sort of New Year’s resolution on my carry guns. As a professional gun writer, I test a lot of handguns. I am something of a gun crank, if not a collector, and enjoy pushing the envelope and discovering how well a firearm performs against another. Reliability is the baseline.

I have deployed several truly exceptional handguns during the past year and have my favorites for different uses. These include a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec in .38 Super, the Les Baser Concept VI .45, Dan Wesson Guardian .45, SIG TACOPS .45, SIG C3 .45, SIG Emperor Scorpion 10mm, SIG P225 A 9mm, and Colt Series 70 .45. My backups include a pair made in 1962, the Colt Detective Special and Colt Cobra, both in .38 Special, and the Kimber K6s .357 Magnum.

Then there is the Ruger GP100 7-shooter, because everyone needs a magnum. And you need a Glock, too; so I have the Glock 19X. These are fine handguns but too damn many. I enjoy each and try to keep my skill level up but with testing other handguns and teaching it isn’t easy or perhaps even possible.

This year, I am going to carry only the handguns that I fire and use the best. This means the 1911. I am narrowing it down to the most credible choices. So far, it looks like the SIG C3 or Dan Wesson for daily carry. When the pretty girl and I visit the ‘wild, out of the way places’ it will be the SIG TAC OPS with +P loads. That is enough to master.

What are your goals when you practice? Share them in the comment section.

REVIEW: The Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47

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And Now for Something Completely Different… A DYI AK! READ MORE

ak

Will Dabbs MD

Down here in the Deep South where I live failure to build an AR-style rifle with your children before they finish high school can be mistaken for child abuse. Gene Stoner’s inspired contrivance is the most versatile firearm ever conceived. There are estimated to be between five and ten million of the guns in circulation in America. Nobody really knows how many for sure. It is this remarkable fact that keeps the Forces of Darkness from fomenting totalitarian designs on our great land, just like the Founding Fathers envisioned.

One of the most remarkable attributes of the AR15 is its modularity and, subsequently, the ease with which the guns may be bodged together at home. However, sometimes it is kind of cool to be just a wee bit different from the guys standing on either side of you at the range. Now, thanks to Palmetto State Armory, you can craft your own AK in your dining room with no more hassle than might be the case with an AR. They call their DIY smoke pole the PSAK-47.

psa ak
The stamped receiver AK rifle is the most produced military weapon in history. Now thanks to Palmetto State Armory you can build up one of these robust rifles at home easier than you might a comparable AR. Stock options run the gamut from classic hardwood to Information Age polymer.

Pertinent Particulars
The gun is 100% made in the USA and would more realistically be described as an AKM. The receiver is pressed steel, and PSA does the heavy lifting for you by mounting up the trunnion, barrel, and riveted bits. The receiver is the serialized component that transfers through your FFL. All that remains is to install the guts and bolt on the furniture. As this is Palmetto State Armory they naturally offer scads of options at very reasonable prices.

ak parts kit
Here’s what you get. The barrel, trunnions, and ancillary components are already pressed and riveted. Palmetto State Armory does all of the heavy lifting for you.

Installing the entrails of an AKM is easier than finishing out an AR lower. Fitting the sundry springs normally takes three-and-a-half hands with milspec internals, but the kit comes with a proprietary retaining plate that makes that chore lots easier. If you get stumped there is always the miracle of YouTube.

ak psa parts
The hammer and trigger retaining plate makes assembly of the internal parts so much easier than is the case with the GI version. Just snap the plate in place and secure it with the safety shaft.

Furniture options range from 1960’s-era retro chic to Information Age Magpul awesome. Just like your AR, a single chassis can serve as host for a wide variety of options. Each has its own personality. Truth be known it is not philosophically dissimilar to Barbie for gun nerds.

ak stock options
Various furniture options give the rifle very different personalities.

Trigger Time
The PSAK-47 runs just like any one of the other 100 million Kalashnikov rifles in service around the globe. The ranch-gate safety sucks, but that hasn’t stopped the rifle from becoming the most successful Infantry weapon in the history of mankind. Magazines have to be rocked in place, but the subsequent mechanical advantage makes it easy to seat a fully-loaded mag with the bolt closed. Try doing that quickly with your favorite Stoner rifle. The sights were state of the art back in 1947, but they still drop your bullets where you want them. The PSAK-47 comes with a Combloc-standard scope rail on the left aspect of the receiver if you’d like to add something sparkly and electrical.

ak scope mount
The PSAK-47 comes standard with a Combloc scope-mounting rail on the left side.

The big .30-caliber 7.62x39mm rounds can be a handful in the absence of proper technique. However, that’s all relative. Truth be known even a child can run it, and, in your less-respectable war zones, many have.

Availability
Palmetto State Armory consistently has the best prices on gun build kits in the industry. As a result they move quite a lot of iron. An unfortunate byproduct of this fact is the dreaded “Temporarily Out of Stock” appellation to be found at the bottom of several of the entries on their website. Many’s the gun-nerd dream has been shattered by that fateful phrase. Regardless, be patient as their stock does indeed rotate. At present they offer a variety of completed guns even though the build kits might be sparse. Their prices are always great, even for the turnkey AK’s, and their quality is unimpeachable. The USSR wished they could have fielded AK’s that were this awesome back during the Cold War.

palmetto ak cover
The tab at the back of the recoil spring assembly retains the stamped steel action cover. The PSA workmanship is impeccable.

Blondes or brunettes, Mustangs or Camaros, steel pistols or plastic:  it is in our many manifest differences that true diversity begets strength. If AR rifles set your heart aflutter then, by all means, craft the race-gun of your dreams on your diningroom table, go forth, and be well. However, if you find yourself in the mood for a little Combloc chaos then the PSAK-47 offers Kalashnikov brawn along with the delectable capacity for individualization. Any three-thumbed ape can build one, and the subsequent sense of ownership is mighty satisfying.

ak accuracy results
The completed rifle shoots just fine for a combat gun. Younger eyeballs or an optical sight would likely yield better results.

Performance
I tested three loads through my PSAK-47. Group size is best 4 of 5 shots measured center to center fired at 100 meters over open sights from a simple rest using 51-year-old eyeballs. Velocity is the average of 3 shots fired across a Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph oriented 10 feet from the muzzle.

Results: Red Army Standard 123gr FMJ, 2.25 inch group, 2316 fps; Wolf Performance Ammo 123gr FMJ, 2.25 inches, 2399 fps; Russian Steel Case 123-gr HP, 4.25 inches, 2385 fps.

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REVIEW/RETROSPECT: HK MP5 Submachine Gun

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Dr. Dabbs shares some trigger time on the 1980s Apex Predator! READ MORE!

mp5 british flag

by Will Dabbs MD

At 19:23 hours on May 5, 1980, around thirty-five British Special Air Service operators initiated a simultaneous breach of the Iranian Embassy at Princes Gate in London. Inside, six terrorists had held twenty hostages for nearly a week. They had previously released five of their prisoners. Earlier that day the terrorists had murdered Abbas Lavasani, the Iranian embassy’s chief press officer. This event ultimately unleashed the SAS.

The SAS killed five of the six terrorists. The sixth spent twenty-seven years in a British prison. The terrorists murdered one hostage during the assault. The entire operation took place on live international television. The black fatigues worn by the SAS assaulters along with the German MP5 submachine guns they carried created an iconic image that has shaped counter-terrorist operations up until the present day.

nimrod raid
Operation Nimrod raid photos I found online.

nimrod raid

The Origins of a Legend
The Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun began as an evolution of the roller-locked G3 rifle in 1964 and entered service with German security forces in 1966. The recoil-driven, roller-locked design was adapted from the revolutionary German MG42 belt fed machinegun that faced the Allies through much of the Second World War.

The MP5 fired from a locked breech, and was both mechanically elegant and unusually complex. Detective John McClane used one to put paid to a bunch of German ne’er-do-wells in the action movie classic Die Hard. US Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces used the guns for real. HK sold untold thousands of copies to American Law Enforcement agencies. In the process the MP5 developed an almost supernatural reputation. With the benefit of hindsight, however, was this reputation fully justified?

Practical Magic
The MP5 sports an undeniably smooth action. However, the gun is markedly more complicated than buzz guns like the Uzi or MPL. Complicated typically means more stuff to break.

I’m not God’s Gift to Small Arms by any stretch, but I have squeezed my share of triggers. I drank the Kool-Aide and stretched the budget to make an MP5 mine. My gun began life as an exquisite Zenith Z-5RS pistol.

mp5
The Zenith Z-5RS comes as a pistol. However, add a bit of onerous federal paperwork to register the gun as a short-barreled rifle, and a factory sliding stock drops right in place. The resulting weapon is the genuine spitting image of the factory MP5 submachine gun.

The Zenith roller-locked guns are produced in Turkey on HK-licensed machinery. The result is the closest thing to a factory HK MP5 SMG to be had on the American market. The welds, workmanship, and finish on my copy rival the German originals. Additionally, unlike the original semiauto HK94, the Zenith Z-5 includes a flapper magazine release, a three-lug barrel, and a two-pin fire control group. Nothing else on the market comes so close to the original HK military specs.

The trigger is long and mushy, but you really want a long mushy trigger on a close quarters utility gun. The MP5 is still an exceptionally capable weapon at reasonable ranges. Recoil is non-existent, and the closed bolt, locked breech design is innately accurate. The rotating drum diopter sight is the sort of contrivance you either love or hate. Personally, I would prefer a simple peep.
Switching the happy switch over to the Truly Joyful position produces full auto fire at around 800 rounds per minute. Despite the MP5’s many incontrovertible attributes, this is a bit spunky for my tastes. The end result is superb shot density dropping multiple bullets on target in a short period. However, the gun still demands attention to technique for truly precise control. I personally find that I can group a bit tighter with the UZI, Swedish K, or Walther MPL despite the relative crudeness of these designs.

mp5 fire control group
The unique aspect of the Zenith Z-5RS is the fact that the fire control group mounts with a pair of standard HK pushpins just like the originals. There is still the shelf inside to preclude attachment of a full auto trigger group but the extra pin makes the gun look and act exactly like the originals.

Swapping out magazines on the MP5 involves locking the bolt manually to the rear, swapping out mags, and slapping the charging handle down to get the gun running again. While this maneuver earns you a few cool points, it is cumbersome in practice. The UZI is a bit faster. Additionally, while my Zenith gun has been unflinchingly reliable through years of regular use, I have had a few failures on other MP5s in the past. The roller retaining plates on early guns in particular seem a weak spot. I have personally broken two.

mp5 sights
The MP5 front sight is fully hooded. The workmanship on my Zenith gun is simply superb throughout.

Ruminations
The HK MP5 is a fine close-quarters tool. In the hands of a disciplined, seasoned shooter it will drop its bursts into a salad plate at appropriate ranges. However, I would assert that at least some of the MP5s near-supernatural reputation is perhaps a bit over-hyped. As said, the MP5 is slow to reload and runs a bit fast. The modest weight and compact dimensions are admittedly nice, and the gun looks just cool as can be. Despite all that, I still shoot just a little bit better with an UZI.

carrying mp5
The MP5 carries easily, runs fast, and looks cool. However, I shoot a bit better with some simpler SMGs.
mp5 accuracy
At 20 meters over open sights the Zenith Z-5 is deadly accurate. This scope alignment target from Thompson Target flashes when struck to demonstrate hits clearly. The Z-5 delivered precision fire at CQB ranges with all ammo tested. Velocities ranged from 1034 (Winchester 147gr) to 1254 (SIG 124gr).

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ZENITH

 

SKILLS: When Small Is All…

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…that you have to carry. Read what professional trainer Steve Tarani has to say about making the most of a small handgun HERE

steve tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

Why carry a .380 when you can carry a .45 or 9mm pistol? Looking at it from the opposite end of the spectrum, why carry a .45 when you can carry a .50 caliber handgun? Why carry a pistol when you can carry a rifle?

It all filters down to personal decision based on deference to why and how you carry a gun. Further introspection should draw your attention to three important defensive carry factors that you’ve got to consider:

Accessibility
Concealability
Personal Comfort

ACCESSIBILITY IS A MUST
First and foremost is accessibility. Depending upon what you’re wearing, whether it be a business suit, a pair of running shorts, or perhaps a skirt or dress, attire plays a critical role in accessibility.

Accessibility is defined as the speed with which the weapon can be acquired and drawn.

Accessibility is directly affected by the location of the holster on the body, the body position of the shooter when the weapon is drawn, and the ability to establish the proper grip on the weapon while it is still in the holster.

A handgun used specifically for self-defense must be readily accessible. In other words, you need to be able to get at least one hand on it quickly and easily. The more time it takes for you to get to your carry gun, the longer it takes you to respond to the threat and not defending against it.

Will you be carrying your protection piece in a shoulder holster, belly band, ankle holster, IWB, OWB, appendix holster, cross-draw holster, fanny pack hol­ster, handbag holster, thigh holster, or pocket holster? The list of holster types and styles is quite lengthy and how and where you carry will determine your weapon accessibility.

Springfield Armory’s 911 .380 affords you several viable, easily accessible carry position options, including the recommended pocket holster. Depending upon the threat level, pocket carry of the .380 allows you to position your hand on your gun with your hand inside your pocket. Designed for defensive use at extreme close range, the .380 allows for immediate accessibility in stressful close-quarter situations.

springfield armory 911

CONCEALABILITY
Concealability is defined as the ability of the holster to be worn without detection. Concealability is a major consideration to plainclothes (under cover, off duty, etc.) law enforcement officers as well as defense-minded citizens. The smaller the holster and gun, the easier to conceal, especially if large, over-sized cover garments are not an option.

If you’re at the beach or someplace where you may be wearing a pair of shorts, or maybe running or working out, how concealable will a full frame .45 be? And what carry configuration is best should you find yourself in demanding physical exertion or dynamic movement. Again, the .380 may be an optimal choice given your operational environment.

Are you carrying in a place that is predominantly not gun friendly? In some states, if a gun prints through your shirt, either from a larger framed pistol or perhaps due to an OWB holster with a snug cover garment, it may be construed as “brandishing” and could land you in hot water.

COMFORT
Last but certainly not least is comfort. Shooter comfort is defined as the ability of the holster and gun to be worn for extended periods of time without discomfort. This factor is important in that if a holster/ gun combination is too uncomfortable, the shooter may choose not to be armed.

If you’re planning on driving for eight hours a day for the next three days, how comfortable will that full-sized .45 caliber handgun be in your appendix holster after the first ten minutes, let alone a couple of hours?

Unloaded, the 911 .380 weighs slightly over 12 ounces. Given a height of just under four inches with a barrel length of less than three inches, plus an overall length of 5.5 inches, the small lightweight construction of the 911 offers you one of the best concealable options in the industry.

Overhearing one of my students speaking to another student (while attending a forty-hour defensive handgun course), and referring to his .380, one asked, “Hey Joe, what possible damage would that little pea-shooter do against a determined attacker?” Joe’s reply was a pithy, “Well, go ahead and attack me and find out!” #PointTaken

Bottom line is, if you find yourself in a violent physical altercation and he is (or they are), within arm’s reach, things have taken a turn for the worse and are pretty darn serious — especially if you assess it to be a life-or-death situation. Withstanding such duress and imminent danger, your last line of defense must be equally accessible as it is effective.

PROS OF SMALL
Concealability provides you the element of surprise, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Carrying inside the pocket or in your purse, allows for hands-on accessibility while maintaining concealability before even coming out of the holster.

When it comes to comfort, nothing beats small and light — a combination of desirable personal defense attributes that will almost cause you to forget you’re carrying.

The Springfield 911 .380 is approved for the most-advanced and modern .380 defensive ammunition available in its classification.

The 911 also comes with a 6-round and 7-round extended magazine. Add the “plus-one,” and those aren’t bad numbers for a small defensive handgun.

When small is all, it doesn’t matter how tough-guy your assailant(s) may be. A few rounds of .380 hammered in succession will undoubtedly get their attention and cause them to change their course of action.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.

REVIEW: Superlative Arms Short Stroke Retrofit AR15 Piston System

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There’s been much said about AR15 gas system problems. Here’s another solution that really offers something different! READ MORE

superlative arms piston system

Major Pandemic

Over the last decade, piston driven AR systems have gained a lot of attention due to their ability to deliver cooler running reliability similar to the exceedingly reliable piston based AK platform. One of the many advantages of the AK platform has been its piston based operation which isolates operation gas pressures at the front to the gun away from the shooter and bolt and trigger group. This piston based system delivers a cooler and clearer running AK gun which arguably delivers more reliability. Some very bright folks figured out several ways to transfer that piston system over the the AR15 platform thus combining the accuracy of the AR15 platform with the reliability of the AK.

HISTORY
There have been a number of companies offering short and long stroke piston system. Long Stroke systems have the op rod attached to the bolt carrier such as AKs and Tavors. Op rods are not attached to the bolt carrier on short stroke systems. The main compromise between the two is that the Long Stroke system designs are typically heavier but inherently offer an integrated gas design that bleeds off excessive gases. The new Superlative Arms patented system extends this bleed off capability to a low profile Short Stroke system all while still providing gas pressure adjustment.

Let me first point out that Superlative Arms is the co-patent holder of the design offered by Syrac Ordnance and was also its manufacturing partner of the Syrac adjustable gas block and Piston system product line. Superlative could have been offering its own line of adjustable gas blocks and piston systems identical to Syrac’s however they developed their own unique patented gas bleed off design. Superlative’s bleed-off system is offered in both a direct impingement adjustable gas block and also in the co-patented short stroke low profile gas system. Though there are many similarities, Superlative Arms is on the market with their own systems.

superlative arms piston system
The super low profile block fits under virtually any handguard rail.

DESIGN
The Superlative Arms or piston system uses their patented bleed-off. Instead of limiting the gas pressure, this system functions more like a pressure regulator which limits the gas delivered to the gas tube or op rod piston and the rest of the excess gas is vented out the front of the gas block. Typical adjustable gas block systems have had some problems due to gas port and adjustment screw erosion from the captive excessive gas temperatures and pressures at the gas port. Many of us have seen this problem manifest themselves in wandering gas settings or even adjustment screw blowouts.

By porting and venting off that excessive high heat pressure the instant the pressure hits the gas block, the Superlative Arms system greatly reduces erosion and pressure based failure problems right at the gas block all while running cooler and cleaner for both their DI and piston systems. This bleed-off design in turn reduced the beating delivered to the adjustment mechanism and op rod.

Some previous short stroke piston systems have experienced problems with gas block durability and retempering of the op rod springs. In order to assure completely problem-free operation Superlative goes the extra mile and makes the piston block from melonited 416 stainless steel and uses a heat treated Inconel steel spring which is impervious to the pressures and heat generated by an AR15 even running in full auto. Superlative has accomplished this design feat all within a very small compact low profile design that is barely larger than most low profile gas block designs.

superlative arms
Unlike other adjustable systems which block gas, Superlative Arms bleeds it off. This results in a longer-lasting, less problematic solution. Unlike other adjustable systems which block gas, Superlative Arms bleeds it off. This results in a longer-lasting, less problematic solution.

INSTALLATION
Superlative Arms Direct Impingement (DI) adjustable bleed-off gas block is a simple swap for people who want to retain a DI based system. Pull off the old gas block, move the gas tube to the new Superlative gas block, reinstall, tune to assure reliable last round lock back and you done. Like all retrofit gas piston systems, the Superlative arms kit install is a bit more involved.

The Superlative Arms retrofit gas piston system includes everything a user would need for conversion of a existing AR15 including the gas block, op rod, op rod spring, and carrier. Any AR15 bolt can be used with their carrier. All the Superlative kits are all essentially the same with the exception of the pistol, carbine, mid, and rifle op rod lengths — just order the appropriate gas rod length specific kit..

First time installation requires some patience and about thirty minutes. Unlike a DI gas block install, the left/right and fore/aft alignment of the gas block is critical to reliable operation. With a stiff fixed op rod responsible for converting the blast inside the gas block to a shove on the carrier, it has to be free from any binding and also precisely the right length from the face of the carrier to the gas block.

superlative arms
An “AK-style” gas piston promises cooler and cleaner operation, and this did indeed deliver both!

The basic process is to install the gas block loosely on the barrel and insert the stripped op rod (minus the spring) into the gas block and tighten down the gas block piston plug. Then the task is to assure the op rod spins freely without binding with the carrier (minus bolt) fully seated in the upper receiver. If you have a fully seated carrier and freely spinning op rod then you can tighten down the gas block. If the carrier does not fully seat or the op rod does not spin freely, the gas block needs to be turned or moved out as appropriate. Of note the gas block should not be slammed right against the shoulder on the barrel — mine both required positioning the gas block off the shoulder of the barrel about 1/32-in.

Once those initial adjustments are made, the op rod is removed and then re-installed with the spring and the plug fully seated then backed out on-half turn. Similarly the carrier is removed and reinstalled complete with a bolt, cam pin, firing pin, and retaining pin. A final installation check is made to assure the carrier fully seats and positive hammer drop is achieved. All that is required now is to adjust the gas pressure in a process similar to any adjustable gas block.

This is a rise and repeat process of assuring the gas block sees just a bit more pressure than is required to offer a last round hold back of the carrier — generally one half turn pressure increase tuning over the lowest setting that will hold the bolt back.

superlative arms di
A more simple solution is one of Superlative Arms Direct Impingement type gas bleed off blocks. Outstanding quality!

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
If you are familiar with Syrac’s top notch gas block quality then you are already familiar with Superlative’s Manufacturing quality since they have been the manufacturer up to this point. The fit and finish is outstanding and the Ion Bond finish on the carrier and melonite on the block finishes are excellent.

Functionally the system offers a lot of advantages including being able to tune the pressure to just enough to drive the bolt carrier. The result is that there is less recoil, cooler running system, less carbon build up, and greatly reduced gas blowback on SBRs and AR15 pistols.

superlative arms
My two test guns: a Yankee Hill Machine rifle which was a test of the systems low pressure operation. Zero problems. The second build was a conversion of an Aero Precision and Phase 5 Tactical AR15 pistol build. AR15 pistols gas pressure are notoriously high. This was a test of how the Superlative Piston system would handle high pressure systems and it worked flawlessly!

FINAL THOUGHTS
Only a 1000 or so rounds in, I am impressed. Both offer something that is different than anything on the market, and a design which potentially offer greatly expanded durability over traditional AR15 piston systems. I have said many times that an adjustable gas system is the best upgrade any AR owner can make — note due to the low pressure issues I do not recommend any adjustable gas system for 300 Blackout or 7.62×39 AR15 builds.

Find all the parts you need to build your AR at Midsouth Shooters Supply! Click Here to Shop Now!

See more HERE and view all the SPECS

MSRP: $289

Major Pandemic

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

VIDEO: Shooting With Leupold’s Custom Dial System

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Leupold’s CDS gives shooters the opportunity to get a truly custom scope. Read about and it and check out the VIDEO. MORE

leupold cds

SOURCE: Leupold

The Leupold Custom Dial System (CDS) provides a simple way to compensate for ballistic performance customized for your rifle and load.

Each CDS is unique, taking all practical ballistic and environmental factors into account. It’s laser-inscribed just for you! Once the CDS elevation dial is installed, just range the target, dial to the correct position, aim dead-on, and hit the target.

CDS takes into account all of the following:
Cartridge & Caliber
Bullet Weight
Bullet Make/Brand
Bullet Type
Ballistic Coefficient
Muzzle Velocity
Average Elevation
Average Temperature
Sight Height
Zero Distance

The CDS System works by laser-inscribing your scope’s elevation dial to match your load, velocity, and conditions based on the information you provide. Your CDS-equipped scope will be in perfect sync with the way your rifle and load shoots (handloads included).

Check out this video by Leupold with Fred Eichler and Leupold’s Tim Lesser.

It’s amazing! WATCH IT HERE

Check out more amazing Leupold Products Here!