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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.]

REVIEW: Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock

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Here’s a quality upgrade for the popular Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle model. Read the complete review HERE

magpul takedown stock

magpul takedown stock

Major Pandemic

Magpul has been on an aggressive innovation design track for the last few years. One of the coolest products is the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock. Magpul took all the great features and ergonomics of their awesome X-22 stock and created a light packable version specifically for the Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock which allows for compact storage of the barrel and receiver.

FEATURES
The notable feature of the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock is that instead of a separate barrel and separate receiver flopping around in you pack, Magpul has designed the hand guard to lock into the under part of the buttstock. This provides an all-in-one stowable secure rifle solution which does not require a secondary soft case to keep parts from banging around. Deployment is easy — press the release buttons on each side of the handguard and the barrel releases from the buttstock and the barrel breech is pulled from a passed hole. This little hole that the breech keys into offers protection to a critical part of the barrel which if damaged or dented could cause significant problems.

The barrel is then just slipped into the receiver like any other Ruger 10/22 Takedown model and rotated into place. Simple. This stowable feature is the big feature, but there are still plenty more Easter Eggs hidden in the stock.

From a feature perspective this is a standard-sized stock with real buttpad and does not feel like the dwarf stock Ruger included with the factory takedown models. The funny thing is that although the Magpul stock feels larger, it is actually shorter than the factory Ruger stock. The Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock features a MOE SL compatible buttpad which means that if you want you can extend the length of the stock with a swap to the 0.7-inch buttpad. The larger size has not gone to waste. Magpul has hidden a sizeable ammo compartment and water-resistant compartment inside the stock.

magpul takedown stock
The barrel breech is protected with the rubber key hole and the handguard locks into the buttstock.

The stock includes both a flat and elevated cheek rest. The cheek rest is actually a hinged lid for the ammo compartment which can accommodate three full loaded 10/22 10-round magazines or one magazine and a 50-round paper box of ammo with still a little room to spare. Even more, this compartment is configurable via slip-in dividers. You could jam far more than 60-rounds of ammo plus other items into this space if you worked at it! The taller cheekpiece riser provides additional space compared to the low riser. Because I had AR-style Techsights on my Ruger 10/22 Takedown I was able to use the high-rise cheek rest and maximize my onboard storage.

magpul takedown stock
The storage compartment is configurable.

The other little compartment is located in the base of the grip and is o-ringed and water resistant. The plug is quite tight so I would imagine that it should do a pretty decent job of keeping water out, but I would probably place dry tinder or matches in a secondary waterproof bag before stuffing it into this area. In this case, a partially disassembled ferro rod with flammable firestarter tinder paracord fit easily into the grip with room to spare.

magpul takedown stock
The small grip compartment space is water resistant.

The Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock is compatible with Magpul QD mount inserts at four points on the stock and is compatible with the new Backpacker optic mount which provides a solid base sized for any red-dot optic.

magpul takedown stock
Room for two mags or a mag and a full 50-round box of ammo.

EASY INSTALL
Install is so simple it only requires about five minutes and just a standard screwdriver: the Magpul Receiver and Barrel groups both re-use the factory screws. Unscrew and remove the factory barrel band and handguard from the factory barrel assembly. Unscrew and remove the reciever from the factory buttstock and reverse the previous two processes to install the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock. It could not be more simple.

SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
I could say that the gun feels worlds different and is infinitely easier to shoot, but I still think I would be under-emphasizing the significant ergonomic upgrade over the factory stock. To be fair, the factory stock never felt even close to comfortable for me — it worked, it just was not comfortable. The Magpul ergonomics delivered more stability than the factory stock. The only downside to the upgrade is that the handguard size is reduced, but I am more than willing to make that trade for the other features the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock provides.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Even with a standard 18.5-in barrel, the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock delivers a disassembled 19.5-in. packable size. Keep in mind this stock’s length of pull is actually about 3/4-inch shorter than the factory stock. It could be slid into larger-sized packs, but is still a little big for most 3-day-sized packs. I am looking forward to swapping out the factory barrel for a lightweight sleeved match-grade Whistlepig or Volquartsen barrel to shed a bit more weight. The bottom line is this is a really excellent stock which has some innovative features — features that solve problems like shrouding the barrel breech from damage. This is as good as it gets to pack up your Ruger 10/22 and take it with you.

MSRP $109.95

SEE FULL SPECS HERE
CHECK OUT THE RIFLE HERE
VIEW 10/22 ACCESSORIES AT MIDSOUTH HERE 

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.]

REVIEW: Burris XTR II Riflescope 5-25x50mm

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Looking for a super-clear long-range scope with all the bells and whistles? This one delivers all the most-wanted features at a lot lower price than its competition. READ ALL ABOUT IT

burris scope

Major Pandemic

One of the trends I am seeing in the market are optics manufacturers really starting to push themselves again to deliver exponential jumps in quality. The Burris’ premier XTR II lineup at this year’s SHOT show is a great example. The XTR II is Burris’ new flagship optic line. The Burris XTR II 5-25x50m was a must for a top end Devil Dog precision rifle build.

burris xtr ii
Burris XTR high precision self centering 0-40 MOA mounts were used to provide ultimate flexibility and precision.

First off let me say that I was disappointed with how the demise of Devil Dog Arms unfolded, however they still made one of the best quality AR format rifles in the industry complete with premium Black Hole Weaponry barrels and HiperFire Triggers. This Devil Dog .308 has proved to be an exceptionally accurate gun with the capability to easily deliver groups in the 1/2 MOA range — the high power crystal clear capabilities of the XTR II 5-25x50m allowed me to take advantage of that accuracy. The SCR Mil Reticle also allowed a lot of data for on-the-fly windage and elevation compensation adjustments without the need to touch the dial.

The original XTR v1 line of scopes was a huge success for Burris, but customers were asking for even more. Not only did Burris deliver a crystal clear 5-time zoom range on this XTR II 5-25x50mm optic, but they upped the tube thickness by 25-percent over the original. Burris also configured the optic design as a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope. FFP is the hot feature among precision and sniper-style shooters. It, in essence, zooms the reticle along with magnification changes. The result is that whatever holdover you have on the BDC or Mil-dot is the same at any magnification, in this case from 5X all the way through 25X. The big thing is that this design makes elevation and wind holdovers simple and easy without having to think about what magnification you are on. If you have a 5-MPH cross wind on a 300-yard target and that is the second dot down and a quarter mil over based on your zero, then no matter what magnification you are on that same holdover will deliver the same shooting solution. Pretty cool. When comparing this to a standard BDC equipped standard second focal plane scope, the reticle does not zoom, so your hold at the maximum range is not the same at any other magnification level.

XTR II
This XTR II was mounted on a Devil Dog 308 to take advantage of the accuracy potential of the Black Hole Weaponry match barrel.

I choose the SCR (Special Competition Reticle). This is designed to offer the faster-paced long range shooter a significant amount of data including 1/2 Mil-Dot markings, 1/10 Mil-Dot ranging brackets, and an extended illumination reticle. The goal of the design was to provide the shooter with all the data they needed to take the shot quickly and accurately whether they reached for the turrets or used the precision Mil-Dot hold over points in the reticle. Once a shooter knows their bullet drop holds based on Mil-Dot target sizing, they can quickly take a precision shot extremely quickly even at multiple targets at different distances.

First Focal Plane Mil reticle
The Burris XTR II 5-25 optics features a First Focal Plane Mil-based reticle.

FIT, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
There is a lot to love about this high-tier optic. At around $1400 on the street, it’s priced up there with the premium Japanese and German scopes, but, for the quality it is considerably less expensive than many with similar features at double that price. The glass is unbelievably crisp and clear, and this is what you get in the higher tier.

Burris has everything packed into this optic with the exception of laser ranging including the new style thicker and heavier duty and allegedly brighter 34MM tube, big audible click turrets with MRad adjustments matched to the Mil-Dot reticle (as they should be). And the reticle is even illuminated.

I generally have serious gripes about illuminated reticles because most companies try to deliver sunlight red dot illumination brightness, however in this case Burris delivered perfection. Too many times, manufacturers make illuminated reticles far too bright for the night work they were originally developed for. The illumination on this 5-25x50mm XTR II delivers 11 settings of illumination plus “OFF” positions between each setting so you don’t need to cycle through all the brightness settings just to turn the reticle illumination on or off.

XTR II subtense
The sub-tense of the reticle can be used in a variety of ways according to the shooters needs.

Burris even has a well-thought-out side-focus knob. Then there is the huge magnification range! Normally you would see a 3-10X or 3-14, but here we have a scope that can deliver everything you might need on close targets all the way out to very long distance.

XTR II knobs
The XTR II line feature heavy audible click turrets which make adjustment precise.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This optic has lived on a few builds already but settled on my Devil-Dog-based AR .308 build.

I am not one of those who likes or enjoys figuring out the math on a reticle calibrated for 25X when I need to be at 5X of magnification. For me, simpler is better and I like the FFP concept both in theory and in use. Literally just print out a ballistics card noting all the holdover points for your pet round and you are good to go at any magnification. This is a great optic which deserves to be on a rifle that can match its precision, and that’s the reason I tightened it onto one of my most expensive and accurate AR10 builds.

xtr ii

READ MORE FROM BURRIS

Shop All Burris at Midsouth Shooters Supply

xtr ii specs

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.]

REVIEW: Why I bought A S&W Governor

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With the huge popularity of the Taurus Judge, Smith & Wesson has its own take on the “multi-cartridge” revolver. Find out how well it works HERE

S&W Governor

Major Pandemic

The S&W Governor was a gun a publicly said I would never buy. I thought it was a pointless gun that can shoot a mixed 6-round cylinder of 2-3/4 .410 shotgun shells, .45 ACP, and .45 Colt rounds with dubious utility. In essence a Swiss Army knife, not particularly good at anything but marginally handy at everything when otherwise empty-handed. I thought why would anyone want a gun that shoots .410, 45 ACP, and 45 Colt and none of them extremely well as a dedicated gun? Owners report typical 3-inch 10-yard groups — not great. My accuracy results were about the same, but notably the Governor does deliver acceptable combat accuracy with .45 Colt rounds and some slug shells. With shotshells of shot a pattern or hole of some sort is delivered downrange with the accuracy limits of a 5-inch sawed-off shotgun. Of course the droves of Governor owners did not agree with my initial assessment.

S&W Governor
An effective and versatile personal arsenal, or a tourist trap? You decide, but I came to see its merit!

Indeed the Governor is not a 25-yard gun and instead is a highly effective 7-yard gun. You would not want to be downrange when it goes off, but do not be fooled that you are going to drill 25-yard A-Zone groups like with a Glock or shoot clays with any regularity beyond 15 yards like with any typical shotgun.

WHY WOULD I WANT THIS?
Maybe I needed something to shoot down misguided drones, use up the surplus ammo from a retired cowboy, or prove to my 1911 friends that the .45 ACP cartridge is not an inherently accurate round.

Maybe I just wanted the thumb-breaking and nail-ripping experience of removing spent .45 ACP rounds from full moon clips when I forgot the moon clip loader.

Maybe I wanted to wreak destruction. If you are on the wrong end of the S&W Governor, the gun can be a nightmare. All of the projectiles exiting theGovernor are devastating. The gun may not be accurate, but it makes a big hole in anything in front of it.

S&W Governor ammo supply
The .45 ACP can be shot with full 6-round or partial 2-round moon clips.

DUMB TV SHOWS & MY ADDICTION TO THEM
Actually it was the character Daryl Dixon in the AMC Walking Dead television show that made me buy it… That and my dealer had a screaming deal on this used night-sight’ed S&W Governor. On the AMC Walking Dead show, Daryl pulls the gun off a dead bad guy and realizes it is apparently loaded with explosive incendiary rounds and blows stuff up with it. Though my FFL did not have any of the explosive rounds used on the show, we did pop off a few buckshot rounds on his range and the raw insanity of the gun sold me. Like many people, I saw a potential survival appeal of having a gun that can shoot three different rounds including shotshells and with caliber conversion inserts can even shoot everything from .22LR to .38 Special. Anyway I have named this gun “Daryl.”

DARYL — JACK OF ALL TRADES, MASTER OF NONE
The Governor is not a “master of all” as many would hope. Despite all that, shooting the Governor is a blast.

Shotshells are the best to have fun with if you can manage the sharp recoil of this lightweight 29-oz. revolver. To me the .410 shotshell recoil seems similar to a 44 Mag round. Watching fruit, coke cans, water bottles and clay pigeons explode with the shotshell rounds is a laughter producer. The Governor can realistically teach how to point shoot when loaded with bird shot. Place a few clays on a backstop and hammer through point shooting them and you will become a better point shooter with a pistol.

Governor ammo
A mixed cylinder of .45 Colt, .45 ACP, Buckshot, #4, and slugs.

AMMO & WHERE IT WORKS
The original marketing from S&W noted: “Highly accurate with .45 Colt and .45 ACP,” but the MajorPandemic.com marketing would have read “Shoots most ammo pretty well.”

The .45 ACPs were some of the least accurate, good plinking rounds, offer really fast reloads with full moon clips, and deliver minimal recoil. If you want to shoot the Governor a lot, you will likely be shooting .45 ACP. Through all my testing, the .45 Colt rounds were by far the most accurate through the S&W Governor, producing 3-4-inch 7-yard groups, reliable center of mass hits at 15-yards, and accurate enough to hit a full sized silhouette out to 50 yards. .45 ACP groups were roughly double that size. Surprisingly some .410 slugs were also pretty accurate. If I ever chose the Governor for defense use, my choice would be the devastating Hornady Critical Defense Triple Threat slug/buckshot or those in a mixed cylinder with .45 Colt.

For an outdoor trail gun there really is nothing better for quickly handling everything from snakes to wolves to general personal defense. There is also utility in being able to easily swap ammo based on the need out on the trail or load a mixed cylinder of shotshell, bucksho,t and .45 Colt round. This is where the Governor is like the proverbial Swiss Army knife. Where I really see the lightweight Scandium alloy Governor as a relevant firearm is in the hiking, trail, packing, or trunk gun category that can be slipped into the pack.

Despite being considered “old fashioned” the new breed of defensive .45 Colt rounds are similar is power to the .40 S&W. Notably the Governor is not suitable for the insane 1200 ft/lb Buffalo Bore .45 Colt +P rounds or any other .45 Colt +P rounds, but there are plenty of standard .45 Colt defensive, bonded hunting, and hollow-point rounds with energy in the 550 ft/lb+ range.

The Governor can be a small game getter with #4 shot if you are decent at close-range stalking. The flexibility of shooting .410 shotshells opens up the Governor to a enormous range of ammo types including birdshot, BBs, slugs, combo defense rounds, survival flares, rubber/plastic less-lethal ball shot, mace/pepper rounds, rock salt, and yes even Dragon’s Breath incendiary rounds. In reality, though, being not the ideal tool, the Governor can be extremely useful in a lot of potential situations when you have nothing else.

allen rifle ammo pouch
The Allen Rifle Ammo Pouch perfectly holds a ton of ammo.

To carry a variety of ammo simply, an Allen 14-round ammo pouch for rifles makes for a convenience belt or MOLLE-compatible ammo carrier in a backpack. I found that each pouch could carry a variety of 14-shotshells, 2 full speedy-loading 6-round .45ACP moon clips, and 2 2-round partial moon clips straddling the bottom flap to hold in the .45 moon clips. This overstuffed pouch setup didn’t add any more bulk and provides a mixed variety.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a blast to shoot and I can see it can deliver good enough utility that it is a worthwhile gun. Would this be my “one and only gun”? Emphatically NO! I would rather have a high-capacity striker-fired pistol, AR15, or shotgun first if I could, but the S&W Governor fits into the category of a Swiss Army Tinker knife. A real set of screw drivers, a full sized knife, an actual working can opener, and hole punch would be superior in every way to the Swiss Army Tinker except one — the Tinker allows you to carry the base utility of all those tools in your pocket without a tool belt. The S&W Governor is a lot like that. Toss the Governor into a pack as a survival option with a variety of shotshell, and .45 ammo backing up a hunting firearm or bow or as a camp or trunk defense tool and it is plenty good enough when you have nothing else.

SEE COMPLETE SPECS HERE

CHECK OUT AMMO HERE

OTHER SOURCES
Allen Cases –www.byallen.com
Hornady –www.hornady.com

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.]

REVIEW: PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 Pistol

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Designed to replace MP5-style weapons, this “Daiblo” is a sleek and sturdy AR15 pistol. READ ALL ABOUT IT

PWS AR15 pistol

Major Pandemic

While almost every other manufacturer of AR15s is chasing the entry-level price-point customer, Primary Weapons System introduced a $2000 fully-loaded AR15 pistol which sold out immediately! Every inch of this reliable push-rod long-stroke piston-driven AR pistol is dripping with custom and innovative parts.

The market success of the MOD2 MK107 should be proof enough that customers are craving something different, something exclusive, and are more than willing to shell out the cash for feature-loaded AR15s. PWS is regarded by many as one of the top tier of high-tech combat AR platform guns, and has a long history of delivering super premium AR platforms complete with their famed and super reliable piston system.

PWS MOD2 MK107
Feed it good ammo and the accuracy will astound you! Reliability in my test was 100-percent.

CONCEPT
It is important to understand that this AR15 pistol is unlike any other. It’s more than a standard pistol with a cool set of receivers and fancy flash hider. Instead this pistol represents PWS’ latest AR15 platform refinements from its push-rod long-stroke piston-driven MOD1 predecessor. Many consider the PWS piston system as the best on the market. It is in essence a reduced-size AK-47 piston system. PWS modified this design into the AR platform which delivers a push-rod attached to the carrier, a much lighter recoil impulse than other piston systems and a significantly better platform for suppressor use. Disassembly is easy and simple. Break open the upper, removed the charging handle, BCG, and attached long stroke piston, clean the piston and reassemble. Since there is no gas blowback with the piston system, the BCG and upper stay clean and cool even after 1000s of rounds of suppressed shooting.

PWS MOD2 MK107
The gas piston system is a scaled down AK type, and it’s been well proven. Gun stays clean even with a suppressor.

The intent of this pistol was to offer a transitional firearm which could be purchased and shot as a pistol. If the owner wants to have a registered SBR, this configuration delivers a lot of fun shooting during the long wait for an ATF short-barreled-rifle tax stamp. Once a tax stamp is in hand, the rearmost cheek brace and guide rods can be swapped to a Maxim Defense buttstock. Of course some people may elect to just leave it as an AR15 pistol to allow more flexibility in ownership and transportation over state lines.

FEATURES
The MOD2 series adds additional refinements. Additional weight savings is one. A new custom-forged receiver incorporates weight reducing reliefs. Yes I did say “forged.” These are not modified mil-spec receivers, or billet, but rather custom forged upper and lower. For the record, forging does deliver a stronger part.

In the process of strategically lightening the receivers they ended up looking amazingly cool!

PWS MOD2 MK107
Proprietary design forged receivers are lightened and feature full ambi controls.

The lower ambi controls are similar to the Sig MPX with ambi-selector and bolt release in the same position. The lower receiver features an integrated trigger guard, larger flared mag well, and inlets for all the extra ambi-parts. The upper receiver has been trimmed down though reliefs, but also lightened with the omission of the forward assist. Other nice touches are beefing up certain areas to increase strength such as near the barrel extension union on the upper and also adding a captured ejection port door pin.

PWS reduced the number of piston gas pressure adjustment points to just three on the MOD2. To assure the hammer-forged 1-8 twist .223 Wylde barrel’s bark was directed away from the shooter, they attached the PWS CQB brake. I have used this brake on many firearms over the years and personally believe any AR or AK intended to be shot indoors should not be without it. There is magic within that CQB flash hider that I have not found any other muzzle device to deliver.

PWS MOD2 MK107 brake
The PWS QCB muzzle device is amazingly effective, really taking the blast and bark away from the shooter.

The bolt carrier group is PWS’ own anti-tilt piston design finished in a lithium embedded salt nitro treatment (Nitromet). Trigger group is a tuned ALG NiBo which feels extremely good for a duty trigger. The PicMod handguard is yet another PWS innovation which delivers standard picatinny rails which are also KeyMod compatible.

PWS maxim defense adjustable cheek rest
The Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest gives a solid cheek weld and is easily adjusted, collapsed, and extended via a lower paddle latch.

The most noticeable accessory is the Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest which delivers a solid cheek weld in a variety of shooting positions. The cheek rest is easily adjusted, collapsed, and extended via a lower paddle latch. The cheek rest can be easily swapped out with an arm brace accessory, or with prior ATF SBR registration, a buttstock using the same paddle latch. PWS has officially switched from Magpul to Bravo Company furniture, and the angle of the Bravo Company grip is excellent for a compact shooting format.

THE EXTRAS
Included is an exceptionally well-made Crossfire soft case capable of accommodating many accessories, 1 Lancer 30-round (depending on state) magazine, BCM Keymod Quick Detachable Sling Mount, a set of Keymod RailScales, $50 gift card to PrimaryWeapons.com, $70 discount card off a Vertx backpack which is sized to fit this pistol, a PWS patch, brochures and manuals. In total, about $300 worth of accessories and coupons is a well appreciated package that lets PWS customers feel the love on a firearm of this caliber.

SHOOTING
With the MOD2 version, PWS did drop factory sights off the installed equipment list, so some type of optic is needed. I elected for the brand new Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc. This true 1X optic features a button changeable red or green illuminated double-circle dot reticle. It’s freaky fast to get on target, runs on 1 AAA battery, has an etched reticle reticle that is visible even if the battery is dead or removed, a swappable MOA or 5.56 BDC turret, and enormous field of view and stunning clarity.

Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc
Vortex 1x Prismatic Sparc optic is an outstanding choice.

Due to the fun involved of shooting this setup, I went far beyond my typical 400-round testing and had not one single issue with any ammo tested. Switching to a 1-6 Lucid scope, the PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 pistol is more than capable of 1-inch 100-yard groups with Federal Gold Match or Hornady Match ammo, but back with the Vortex mounted it was fun to bang away on 6-inch steel all the way out to 400 yards. I found the Vortex Sparc BDC turret settings put me on the target and offered accurate holdovers at the extended ranges.

CARRY
This is a pistol… So based on your local, you should be able to carry it concealed inside a pack just like you would your Glock if you have your concealed carry license. As mentioned, PWS includes a discount for a  Vertx pack which will enclose the entire pistol, but I did had a Sneaky Bags 27-in. SPYDER case which has the look of a tennis racket bag. The SPYDER was a perfect single-sling pack for the fully assembled PWS pistol with 20-round magazine loaded plus offered a ton of storage. Most importantly, this clandestine concealed carry “Sneaky” setup allowed a very fast presentation.

PWS case
A well-made Crossfire soft case is included, and it has plenty of room for accessories. I prefer a much smaller package, so choose a SPYDER bag.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Where the budget AR15 rifle market is softening, the short-barreled PDW AR15 pistol and SBR market is blazing hot. There has been so much un-needed attention to the AR pistol segment from the “Arm Brace ATF re-clarifications,” I am sure some dealers are throwing their hands up on whether to carry AR15 pistols at all. PWS has side-stepped all that with the Maxim EXO adjustable cheek rest while clearly laying out two options for owners — buy and shoot now as a pistol and/or register as an SBR.

PWS pistol

This pistol is targeted toward those who want all the benefits of an SBR without the headaches of going through the long wait and registration process…and want the best AR in the process. The PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 pistol is an ideal PDW firearm for personal protection without legal headaches and oversight that a rifle or registered SBR might bring. After all it is “just a pistol!”

READ FULL SPECS HERE

SOURCES
Primary Weapon Systems
Vertx
Crossfire
Bravo Company
Vortex Optics
Sneaky Bags

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.]

 

REVIEW: Sig MPX Pistol

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The “new” MP5? Author says it’s better than that! Read MORE…

Sig MPX

Major Pandemic

The Sig MPX is an innovative configurable PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) platform that can be purchased in a variety of forms including pistol, pistol plus Sig Brace, rifle, and NFA regulated SBR. The model I choose for review is the MPX Pistol with folding Sig Brace adapter. This setup can be easily purchased just like any handgun on the market.

Sig PDW
It’s compact, just like other PDWs, but its capabilities in this role are unparalleled.

WHY A SIG MPX
Of the guns most lust to have, the H&K MP5 is on that list. It is the quintessential 9mm PDW that still serves in many militaries, law enforcement SWAT teams, and global hostage rescue teams for many reasons — it is utterly reliable, short, accurate, easy to shoot fast, and pretty hard hitting. We have all built up an image of perfection in our minds and all want one. Then you actually fire an MP5 and find out that the looks are still there, but the years of experience are showing.

As a civilian, you cannot buy a new MP5. Original $5000+ used MP5s are a bit beat up with a been-around-the-block-a-few-times look, sights are not as user friendly as modern day designs, mag well is not particularly easy to find during reloads, the manual of arms is so different from our ingrained AR15 habits that it feels a little weird, there is no last round hold open on most MP5s (some do), optic mounts are goofy, the stamped receiver looks cheap and outdated, replacement parts are getting super pricey, and the price the user pays (if they can find one) is still too high. In this case, pulling a factory-fresh MPX from its box delivers everything I want without the worry of the mileage and cost of an MP5.

Sig brace
A Sig brace completes the package.

Despite its reputation H&K has made some poor marketing decisions. H&K was in some financial deep water and why they would not do consumer retro releases of some classic guns is beyond me. At a time when $400 Euro H&K P7 trade in guns are going for $3000 on GunBroker.com and shooters are still screaming for a civilian MP5 it seems H&K is leaving money on the table. Why has the semi-auto SP6K (updated MP5 semi-auto pistol) not made it to U.S. shores? Sig Sauer decided there was money to be made in the MP5 market and developed the MPX to go right after the throat of H&K with a supportable, adaptable, highly configurable 9mm PDW format. Instead of “me too” product, Sig also addressed all those gripes users had with the MP5 design. If you have always wanted an MP5, the Sig MPX will deliver more grins per dollar and I would argue is far better!

SIG SAUER MPX
The MPX is arguably the sexiest and most titillating thing in decades to come out of Sig Sauer since the MCX was introduced with the same profile but in 5.56 NATO. I mean good lord look at this thing — it is dripping with custom design concepts.

The design perfectly mimics the AR controls; however, Sig did not stop there and added full ambi-controls on the magazine release, bolt charging handle, bolt release, and selector switch. Everything you can do with your support hand, is possible with the shooting hand. Ambi selectors always annoyingly rub on my trigger finger, however Sig has made the right side selector toggle as short as possible to minimize this known AR15 ambi-selector issue. The charging handle stroke is a bit shorter than your AR15. All around all the controls are well executed.

MPX controls
Controls are well thought out and ambidextrous.

Sig made the MPX easy to customize. The new G2 version is fully KeyMod-compatible with the plethora of aftermarket keymod accessories. The picatinny spec rail at the rear can be left bare, or with just one torx screw a folding or fixed adapter can be used to mount a AR15 compatible cheek stabilizing tube and/or Sig Pistol Brace. If you have received your Form 1 NFA Tax stamp, one of Sig’s fixed, folding or or collapsible stocks can be added. Even the grip and trigger group are AR15 compatible. Flexibility is the base of this design.

The MPX is also a caliber-convertible platform which offers users the option to swap out barrels and bolt systems from the factory 9mm to .357SIG or .40 S&W all just by removing two bolts.

MPX barrel swap
Barrels can be interchanged to allow .40 S&W or .357 Sig.

The heavily flared magazine well makes authoritative insertions fast and easy. Honestly, the MPX is hard to shoot without cracking a giant smile.

Even the magazines are freaking awesome looking. Lancer Systems who is well known for premium magazines developed the design for the MPX. Mag functioning is smooth and flawless. Restocking rounds is push-in AR-style versus slide-in handgun mag style which lessens thumb pain.

MPX magazines
The 30-round magazines are a thing of beauty, and function perfectly.

YES THAT IS IT
Make sure you go ahead and get extra mags! I now have six. Also just plan on buying 9mm ammo in 1000 round bulk packs, because otherwise if you only take 50-100 rounds to that first range session you will feel like your hot new girlfriend/boyfriend got you worked up and then left you high and dry.

Shooting the MPX really does not feel any different than shooting any other AR15 pistol or registered SBR other than the recoil is almost non-existent. Although a completely unfair comparison, by contrast my 9mm Keltec Sub2000 has a sharp little snap but the MPX does not. Sig did a great job with the piston-driven gas system to deliver a cleaner running gun and strip out that jarring snap of the 9mm round hotly exiting the longer barrel.

Accuracy is superb. Where the MP5 would really shine were head shots under 75 yards, the MPX shines at this range as well. Hitting my Action Target hostage swinger (6-in.) at 100 yards was pretty easy also, however I did notice the 9mm round did not have the power to swing the hostage target to the other side at that range. The gun is easily a single-ragged-hole gun at 25-yards, and at 50-yards 3-4 inches for offhand groups was not difficult with quality defense ammo.

This is a superb home and personal defense gun. With the Hi-Lux Micro B-Dot red dot sight added this was a fast little gun that delivered everything I love about .223 AR15 pistols without the deafening report. The MPX has a softer handgun report out of the 8-in. barrel, far from the ear splitting boom an AR15 pistol delivers indoors and outdoors. With the right low penetration ammo such as Federal Guard Dog or the very hot Liberty Civil Defense 2000-FPS 450-FPE, the MPX delivers accurate high-energy dumping rounds combined with limited liability from pass through rounds. For me, this gun is starting to make more sense for home and backpack carry personal defense than my AR15 pistols…

MPX ANNOYANCES
The painful price point allows one to be critical of annoyances. The MPX is expensive. I understand there was a ton of R&D on this gun, however that does not lessen the entry pain when it comes time pay. Current MSRP is $2162.00.

The magwell is easy to find, as said, but tactical reloads where the bolt is not locked back require a very firm whack to get a full magazine to seat. Although technically a piston-driven gas system, and cleaner running than straight blowback operation, this is still one dirty gun after a few hundred rounds. There really is no way around it — handgun rounds equal dirty guns.

Sig mag well
Mag well is hard to miss!

For the price, I would have expected a Tritium insert on the front sight post and two included magazines. The polymer dust cover and finger stop booth feel like they will break and any moment, but have not. The dust cover needs to be a bit beefier and I suspect one hard whack in a door jam and it’s a goner.

The magazines themselves are selling for $60-$70 each which is painful even though they are stunningly well-made. The trigger is horrible. I am stunned Sig Sauer could make something this terrible. How can Sig give me one of the smoothest double-action pistols on the market but includes a trigger that feels like it had sand dumped into it. I am glad the trigger is compatible with AR15 replacements because it is possibly the worst feeling AR-style trigger ever.

The instructions were terrible. The ten pages of obvious safety warnings should have been used to tell how to configure everything that came in the box: the extra QD slung mount took a good hour to understand how and where to attach it..

Until you break in the folding stabilizing brace, which takes about forty or fifty repetitions of feeling like you are going to snap the stabilizing brace off, you could swear that it locks both open and closed. I also found the stabilizing brace length to be about an inch too long to stabilize against the cheek. Some might find it perfect though.

MPX gas system
Operation is via gas piston.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The MPX had zero functional issues wasting away an afternoon and 1000 rounds of whatever was the cheapest 9mm ammo available in bulk.

This little pistol can slip into most small packs or messenger bags and delivers a very fast response option with crisp precision. I would recommend buying 20-round magazines for this carry option as the 30-rounders are a bit long. The MPX system screams for SBR stamping and that cool Sig collapsible stock. The MPX was designed for the person wanting a gateway to SBR registration — once you have your SBR Stamp, a stock swap is only one bolt away. Buy the MPX like any other pistol, go and shoot it, send in the Form 1 NFA eForm to “SBR” the gun with a gun stock, and you can still go shoot the gun while you wait for that process to complete.

The Sig MPX is well thought out, totally flexible and configurable for future upgrades. This is an investment firearm which is more than just a fun gun.

SEE FULL SPECIFICATIONS HERE

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.]

FIREARMS: Justification for Packable AR15 Pistols in Vehicles

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Much more than a fun-day-at-the-range curiosity, the Major offers compelling reasons why an AR15 pistol just might belong in everyone’s roadside assistance kit…

Ms Pandemic Trump Trunk Gun

by Major Pandemic

Just a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of having a packable AR15 pistol tucked into my vehicle although I have kept a cased and stowed AR15 or Tavor in the truck for years. More times than I can remember that rifle came in handy for impromptu range trips plus the assurance 30-rounds of M855 5.56 can provide if stranded at night alongside the road. It also delivered personal assurance that I would have more than just a handgun in an extended survival or personal defense situation, and greately increased range. Over the past months I have worked through a set of theories based on some discussions with experienced friends which I would like to share. One high-ranking Army friend, formerly a Night Stalker, said, “There is no one perfect small arm for any situation, the dynamics of the environment you expect to be engaged in dictate the armament.” For several reasons, it is my theory that an AR15 pistol is the better personal defense and road-travel firearm to have stowed in your vehicle.

ar pistol
From stowed to ready to shoot in under 3-seconds.

THE POTENTIAL NEED
Beyond the zombie-apocalypse type events, there only a few logically probable scenarios which could occur:

One is personal defense and security during an active shooter situation.

Two is general support of survival and security needs (such as being stranded or coming home to a forced-entry situation).

Another is support of movement to a safe location during a hostile/riot situation.

The logical needs were for a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) which could deliver 90-percent of the capabilities of a full-length rifle with an acceptable tradeoff of shooter comfort. In all those situations — accuracy, legal transportation, accessibility, maneuverability, and concealment would all be factors for a firearm stowed within a vehicle.

short ar15
A 7.5-inch barreled AR15 pistol slips into even small ultralight day packs.

ACCURACY & SHOOTING
Over the last couple years I have changed my perspective of AR15 pistols from just range toys to serious viable PDWs. The accuracy of these little AR15s has shocked me. One in particular I own can deliver sub-MOA groups from its 7.5-inch barrel, easily out-shooting most rack-grade rifles. Most of my other AR15 pistols with premium barrels can stay under the 1.5-inch 100-yard group mark and will keep a 6-inch steel target clanging away out to 400-yards. After all, AR15 pistols are in essence just short-barreled rifles without the stock or rifle classification.

KAK Buffer Tube
An extended KAK Buffer Tube greatly improves comfort

Statistical reality of most urban combat shooting engagements is that they occur well under 100-yards, a sweet spot for an accurate PDW. Statistically, it is also unlikely that more than 10-20 rounds would be needed to address a situation, but this PDW can plenty more. A few extra mags thrown into the carry bag provides substantial capability. From light 40gr high-shock hollow-points to M855 steel-core rounds, the 5.56/.223 offers many effective options for defense, survival, and threat engagement. It is also unlikely to have a need for supporting a long-term armed engagement, this PDW can handle that requirement as well. Though I was a little sore afterwards, I spent an afternoon hammering 500 rounds through my truck AR15 pistol. That problem-free beatdown of that pistol changed my perception of what AR15 pistols could deliver. I gladly suffer a little discomfort for a one-foot shorter gun that’s 2-3 lbs. lighter for this particular use.

LEGAL TRANSPORTATION
One important point as a civilian is assuring that you’re arming yourself in a legal manner. If you have a rifle stowed in your car, it can be problematic as you drive from one city to another or across state lines. Many cities and states have goofy rifle laws which can include requirements for rifles to be partially disassembled and cased and almost always unloaded. Conversely, if you have a concealed carry permit, carrying an AR15 pistol is covered under your permit because, after all, it is a pistol.

PWS MOD2 MK107
A PWS MOD2 MK107 Pistol nestles nicely into a Sneaky Bags SPYDER.

STOWING, CONCEALMENT & MOVEMENT
Aside from legality, it’s accessibility that’s also in the favor of the AR15 pistol, compared to a rifle. Plus, maneuvering a rifle inside a vehicle is tricky and most would agree that an AR15 pistol is easier.

Being able to move discretely with an AR15 pistol is probably the biggest advantage of all. A 10.5-inch barreled AR15 pistol equipped with a Law Tactical folding buffer tube adapter or stowed with the upper and lowers receivers unpinned slips nicely into any standard backpack or messenger bag. A 7.5-inch barrel means that same setup can fit into just about any smaller pack.

I think that any firearm permanently stored in a vehicle should be easily concealed, and able to be clandestinely moved in a public setting. There was one situation where my truck needed unexpected overnight service and another where the hotel only offered valet parking. In both situations I had to de-weaponize my truck and walk through some clearly public areas with what was clearly a gun case. Those incidents taught me that discrete cases should always be used to house firearms in vehicles.

DISCREET CARRY OPTIONS
AR15 pistols, of course,  drop easily into almost any backpack and no one pays any attention to your standard Swiss Army or Eddie Bauer backpack. 5.11’s Select Carry sling pack is designed specifically for PDW use. It has an innocuous shape/style and rapid-draw feature that makes it one of my favorites.

ACCESSORIES TO MAKE COMPACT EVEN SMALLER
If you own an AR15 pistol you are missing half of the functionality of the firearm if you have not installed a Law Tactical Folding Buffer tube adapter. This accessory negates the need of disassembling an AR15 pistol to stow it in most backpacks. Deployment is fast — pull from the pack, slam the buffer tube over and charge the AR15 pistol.

Other options worth looking into to include the DOLOS V2. The DOLOS delivers a ratcheting quick takedown option to remove the barrel with assembly and disassembly occurring in under 5-seconds.

Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit
Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit.
Dolos
A Dolos and Law Tactical equipped AR15 is a tiny package

DON’T PUSH THE LAW
Any firearm within a vehicle has a high potential to be viewed, handled, and checked during any routine traffic stop. It is my belief that most law enforcement folks are tragically uninformed about what “is legal” when it comes to anything other than a classically sized rifle or pistols.

Additionally, if your AR15 also looks like an SBR with something a non-firearms educated officer presumes as a stock, you can double the hassle. Sure Sig Braces are legal, however this is where I suggest a standard buffer tube might be the better less-gray option to avoid extra hassle.

OUR RIGS
After a whole lot of shooting, I like the compromise of a 10.5-in. barreled AR15 pistol. Its has an exponentially quieter bark and fireball, delivers a bit more velocity than a 7.5-in. barrel, and provides a shooting platform that gives more room to stretch out.

major pistol
This Faxon barrel and Nikon 1-4 optic equipped ultralight AR15 pistol is very capable at intermediate ranges.

Parts breakdown: Faxon Ultralight 10.5-in. barrel; Faxon BCGs; Aero Precision upper; a billet lower; CMC Match trigger; Clark Carbon Fiber handguard; Rogers rail light; Nikon 1-4X scope, Aero Precision optic mount; YHM Quick Pull Take-Down Pins; Law Tactical Folding Buffer Tube Adapter.

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.]

REVIEW: Mossberg JIC II 12 Gauge

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The ultimate survival gun? Maybe. Here’s one from Mossberg that’s designed to be there for you “just in case…” KEEP READING

mossberg jic
Mossberg JIC.

by Major Pandemic

When you think of the ultimate survival gun you should think of the versatility, durability, and power of a proven 12 gauge shotgun. Available shotshells run the gamut from slugs capable of downing any North American game, fletched long-range defensive rounds, door-breaching rounds, signal flares, heavy goose and turkey loads, light-recoiling clays loads, and the standard variety of buckshoot, BB, pellets, and many more.

12ga. shot shells are also among the easiest and most forgiving to reload and can be even reloaded using black powder. If you were faced with having only one gun for survival, most any survival expert will tell you that a 12ga. will serve you better than any other type of firearm.

This was the thinking behind the Mossberg JIC — Just In Case — series. The series features Mossberg’s 500 line originally packaged in waterproof, floating, bury-able tubes which provided protection. The newer JIC II series takes the concept a step further by offering a Cordura pack-based carry solution.

jic
The JIC is a very compact package.

FIT & FEEL
The JIC II version is packaged in a more user-friendly format than the giant tubes on the previous models. Mossberg found that people loved the ready-to-shoot concept of the original JIC watertight tube, but were also asking for a more compact and discreet soft-cased version as. Mossberg worked with 5.11 (a top tactical clothing and accessories manufacturer) to come up with a simple case design which was durable, light, and as small as possible. The result was the Cordura JIC II case which holds the Mossberg 500 in disassembled state, and houses assembly tools, a gun lock, and provides plenty of room for ammo.

12ga
The 12ga. is one of the most versatile rounds available and an outstanding choice for a survival gun.

What makes this and the other JIC kits cool, convenient, and unique is a shotgun and storage solution wrapped into one. In this kit, the insanely popular 500 Series Cruiser shotgun which features a pistol grip and 18.5-in. barrel reduces the overall size of an average Mossberg shotgun to just under 29 inches.

jic tools
All the tools needed to assemble the JIC are included in a small pouch.

FEATURES
From a features perspective, I was a little confused when my Mossberg JIC II arrived, as it differed a bit from the pictures I ordered from and even from Mossberg’s own website. The end result was that all the pictures show a model a bit different than what I received. Mossberg’s picture shows an included sling and attached loop forend sling, but the model I received included neither, which was a bit of a bummer.

The case itself is designed to hold the barrel, action, and pistol grip securely via Velcro straps in a disassembled state, and provides a pocket for the takedown pistol grip bolt, washer, and hex wrench. With the case packed, it measures a very compact 22x9x2 which can be easily slipped under a seat, secured to a pack via the rear Velcro loops, or carried via the included shoulder strap. The disassembled action with the pistol grip removed just barely fits in the pack, which indicates to me that Mossberg was making every effort to reduce carried size.

The Mossberg 500 should, at this point, need no review, but for those that are not familiar with this slick-cycling shotgun, it features twin action bars for positive functioning, 5+1 shot capacity (with 2-3/4-in. shells), 18.5-in. barrel, pistol grip, and sling swivel studs. The shotgun can handle up to 3-in. magnum shells if you dare, and is finished with matte phosphate.

This version of the 500 Cruiser is less frilly version than some of the versions Mossberg now makes; this one is tipped only a simple bead sight. Ergonomically, the Mossberg 500s differ from other brands in the position of the safety and slide release. The slide release is located next to the thumb versus forward of the trigger guard, and the safety is a thumb-operated tang mounted for ambidextrous use, versus being located behind the trigger guard. The receiver is made from mil-spec aluminum and has a polymer trigger guard. It may not be fancy, but the 500 Series is light, simple to use, and is a proven design that works every single time.

FUNCTIONS
Assembly from the case is pretty quick and very simple. Unzip the full-length, lockable zippers to fully open the case, un-velcro the receiver, barrel, and pistol grip, and remove the grip’s bolt, washer, and hex wrench from the little internal pocket. Press the slide release and move the action to half open and insert the barrel and then tighten the thumbscrew until tight (about seven turns) to secure the barrel. Install the pistol grip with the included bolt, washer, and hex wrench and the gun is ready to shoot! In total, you can have the entire shotgun together in about a minute.

jic assembly
Assembly takes about one minute.

Pump shotguns all work about the same way: load shells by pushing them into the magazine, press the slide release, rack the action to chamber the first round and release the safety, if necessary, to shoot. Once a round is fired, the slide action automatically unlocks and the shooter can rack-cycle the action again to shoot again and again. It could not be more simple.

The pistol-grip version has its sizing, maneuverability, and weight advantages, and the pistol grip even mitigates a fair amount of recoil. The downside it that the pistol grip does take a little practice for accurate shots while managing the recoil at eye level. Shooters need to assure a safe recoil zone is maintained for eye level shooting or you may find the backside of your fist smacking you in the face.

mossberg 500
This package is wise and impressive choice for “just in case.”

Hot buckshot and slug rounds generate a fair amount of recoil; however, firing the JIC II Cruiser was manageable for both hip and line-of-sight shooting. For new shooters, shotgun recoil takes a while to adjust to. It just just takes practice.

I was pretty impressed that even with Hornady Zombie Max 00 Buckshot loads at 25 yards, I was able to easily destroy a 20oz Coke bottle with eye level shots over and over again. These rounds usually group in the 2-3-in. range at that distance so a fair amount of accuracy was required. Turkey loads make it easy to hit just about anything at 25 yards with the Improved Cylinder choke of this barrel. My prefered shooting grip was a solid two-hand pistol grip when shooting for accuracy off hand. For less-stationary defensive shots I used a “pushing” forend grip and “pulling” trigger-hand grip to manage recoil.

Dropping the shotgun down on the bench, I found it pretty easy to keep all my slugs in a 2-3-in. circle at 25-yards, but to be honest, 6-rounds of slugs and I decided that I was done with that experiment. Slugs are a bit brutal to shoot in any pistol-grip-style pump-action shotgun.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Thankfully Mossberg did not adorn the JIC II case also with the household name of “Mossberg” otherwise it would be obvious what the case carried. The prominent JIC II logo can be clandestinely recolored with a black sharpie or by removing the stitching for those who require a more subdued case look.

This is a compact little kit that goes together quickly and takes up very little room and provided all the functionality of the well-refined and time-tested Mossberg action. Slip a 50-round shot shell bandolier sling into the case with a variety of buckshot, slug, bird shot, flare, and BB rounds and you can cover about any need which may arise.

The 12 guage shotgun is the ultimate survival firearm. It’s also great for home defense, and for around $350 on the street, this shotgun remains one of the best deals in firearms. The JIC II kit just makes it that much easier to take a great shotgun along, you know… “Just in Case.”

LEARN MORE HERE

jic specs

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.]

REVIEW: Henry Evil Roy .22 Rifle

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How about some pure fun on the range? This .22LR blends authentic style with competition-ready quality. READ MORE

henry 22

by Major Pandemic

When the Henry Rifles first re-appeared, the public enthusiastically embraced the brand and for good reason. Anthony Imperato and family have made it a passion to restore the Henry firearms name and even made it better in the process. The Henry rifles are beautiful to own, look at, and shoot. This Evil Roy .22 is yet another incredible rifle from Henry.

I have noted before that when it comes to Henry Rifles, there are only two types of people; those who have yet to shoot a Henry and those who have and now lust after them. Just as Ruger has arguable made one of the best updated single action cowboy revolvers, Henry has updated the Henry design to deliver something so refined that Benjamin Tyler Henry himself would have only dreamed was possible back with the original design. I love them and own several Henry rifles in .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, and .22LR and this Evil Roy Henry seemed to be just the perfect gun to add to the collection.

The international winning CAS (Cowboy Action Shooter) Gene Pearcy with his CAS alias of “Evil Roy” partnered up with Henry to create something a bit different. Evil Roy suggested taking the very popular Henry Golden Boy .22LR rifle but with a shorter 16.5-inch barrel, with a more durable plastic buttpad, a brushed nickel receiver and barrel band, and a shorter overall stock — a combination and/or slight modification of existing parts of various models. The result is a short, quick-handling, and accurate .22LR rifle that is a blast to shoot.

gene pearcy
Gene Pearcy, AKA “Evil Roy.”

FEEL
The Evil Roy is at its heart a Golden Boy with a few configuration changes which include the nickel finish receiver with grooved scope rail, shorter 16.5-barrel, shorter stock, and plastic buttpad instead of brass.

Although I have no real complaints with my original Golden Boy, there were times where I felt the 20-inch barrel was a bit long. For youth shooters, the full-sized Golden Boy stock can seem a bit big.

evil roy 22
Short and fast compact package that is perfect for plinking or a hunting.

The thought of a lever action rarely crosses many people’s minds when shopping for a new rifle, until they put one in their hands. Henry Rifles draw you in, the fit feel and finish begin your mind’s journey back in time to the Old West, and by the time you pull the trigger and rack in the next round as you watch your tin can dance, the hook is set so deep that a love affair of Henry rifles is inevitable. Someone once told me more Henry rifles are sold at the range than in gun stores… Everyone falls in love with Henry rifles not only because of their history and quality, but also because they shoot and cycle exceptionally well. Most people will say the same thing when they pick up a Henry, “they knew something about firearms and shooting back then.” The Evil Roy is a bit lighter than the Golden Boy but still retains the balance, pointability, and of course accuracy.

evil roy rifle

FEATURES
The Evil Roy is priced with an MSRP of $499 and is about $50 less than the standard Golden Boy. It carries the same high quality features as their Big Boy brothers. The Evil Roy rifles feature the same historic semi-buckhorn style rear sight, brass bead front sight, stunningly beautiful blued octagonal barrel, banded barrel, steel parts, and perfectly finished American walnut stock. It also add a large action charging loop versus the smaller loop. The Big Brother has a solid brass receiver, the Golden Boy a Brasslite receiver and the Evil Roy has a nickel-base alloy receiver that is also grooved for a .22 scope mount.

henry stock
Henry has brought back the art of the stock.

FUNCTION
The Henry Evil Roy tube magazine holds 12 rounds of your favorite .22LR ammo or up to 16 of the spooky quiet 22 Short/CB rounds. That is a huge ammo capacity by any standard which makes the Henry Evil Roy a blast to shoot up box after box of inexpensive ammunition. The Evil Roy feeds and fires anything from a .22CB all the way to hot .22LR high velocity rounds. The reload does takes a bit longer than a magazine change but is simple enough and requires the magazine spring tube to be pulled partially out and rounds slipped into the tube. One company makes a speed loader if you are so inclined, but I just use a 3/8-inch aluminum tube with a stopper as a speed loader.

The next point I feel I must make is how fast the Henry Lever actions can be fired. Shoot the Henry Evil Roy next to a semi-auto 22 and you will be surprised how well you keep up the pace. The large loop helps to improve speed. The action is safe and simple to operate, shoots faster than a bolt action and slows the beginners (and old) shooters down enough that shots connect more consistently connect due to better sighting. Lever actions are also far less dirty than their semi-auto cousins because gas is not being blown back during the cycling process. Due to the cleaner cycling, lever actions are also very reliable as the round count continues to grow all afternoon.

henry scope
Aided by a Burris scope, the Evil Roy shot very accurately.

From a safety perspective, the simplicity of the transfer bar safety prevents accidental firing when decocking/lowering the hammer. The Henry Rifles have what I call a “single-action revolver safety” which negates the need for additional safety mechanisms. For hunting, having the ability to safely have a live round in the chamber and only requiring the hammer to be cocked prior to a shot makes this a very safe rifle to carry. As the rifle’s lever is racked, a new round is automatically chambered and the hammer is cocked — it could not be simpler.

ACCURACY
The Henry Evil Roy rifle is an easy gun to shoot accurately using only the semi-buckhorn sights, but adding on the 4X Burris Micro scope delivered some nice little1/4-inch 25-yard groups with SK Standard and CCI Standard Velocity rounds.

Once you see how well the Henry Evil Roy shoots, you start to forget about shooting bulls-eye targets and start hammering spinners and cans.

The front brass bead front sight works great. The rear semi-buckhorn is also highly functional, but just notmy favorite. My plan is to swap the rear sight with a historically fitting brass Skinner peep sight which I have on several of my other Henry Rifles.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I was not sure at first whether I would shoot it as much as my Golden Boy, but with the flexibility to pop a scope on and off really added a lot of utility and upped the precision.

Any time someone wants to start shooting, I start with the Henry. These rifles are safe, simple, and non-threatening for anyone to use, and with the shorter length stock it is also a kid friendly rifle to use for learning. This is one heck of a family-oriented rifle that everyone loves and it is that universal appeal that is special about the Henry Evil Roy — everything about this gun is not just good but great.

henry rifle specs

Click HERE to see more!

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.]

REVIEW: Walther PPS M2 9mm

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Looking for one handgun to serve well for home-defense and concealed carry? This might be the best one! Read all about it…

pps m2

by Major Pandemic

Even despite the insanity of the gun market some manufacturers have stayed true to their roots. Walther has retained its long history of innovation while ushering in a completely new era of firearms. Sure they still faithfully produce those great symbols of 007 spycraft and have even expanded that line with new entries, but the new Walther pistol designs have rightly captured a lot of attention. A few years ago I reviewed the original PPS in 9mm — one that became a favorite concealed -carry gun. The PPS was a gun ahead of its time delivering a feature -rich, accurate, and configurable single -stack that could behave like a compact-, mid- and full-sized gun. Based on the two years of carrying and shooting the PPS, I think it is one of the best subcompact concealed-carry single-stack guns on the market despite the introduction of many other competitors.

pps m2

FIT, FINISH, FEEL & FEATURES
What many did not like about the first PPS was that it was a bit blocky and featured a European-style paddle magazine release which Americans are not terribly excited over. The PPS M2 resolved those complaints with a standard button magazine release and more rounded ergonomics that mimic the amazingly comfortable PPQ and other Walther pistols.

The Walther PPS M2 retains the hybrid design which allows it to morph from a sub-compact sized pistol to a larger hand -filling gun. Included with the gun are three magazines — one each in 6-, 7-, and 8-round capacities. With the flush- fit 6-round magazine your pinky is left dangling like it would with any sub-compact or micro-compact format pistol. But just a swap to the 7- or 8-round magazines deliver a full-sized grip and control plus extra rounds. In essence this allows the user to swap out a magazine and transform the PPS from a full-sized feel for home defense to a smaller magazine for concealed carry.

The original point of the PPS was not to be a high-capacity firearm, but to deliver an extremely thin and slim profile for concealed carry that is small enough that both men and woman can carry comfortably. It is a “lifestyle” gun that was designed so it would always be with you versus being left in the car or at home. From my perspective, this has to been the most comfortable sub-compact pistol I have handled, carried, and shot. I love my Glocks, but this fits my hand better and has a far better grip surface which adds up to a more confidently handled gun. I used a few male and female friends as testers to shoot the PPS M2 and all loved it. In fact several loved it so much they may buy one. The finish and fit are exceptional, the milling on the slide is well thought out with the front and rear serrations providing enough bite to charge the PPS reliably.

m2 glowing sights
Luminescent sights glow for around 15 minutes after being exposed to light.

The PPS M2 has low -profile snag-free three -dot metal luminescent combat sights with the rear sight adjustable for windage (Tritium night sight options are available in the LE version). The luminescent sights will pick up ambient light or a quick flash from a flashlight and glow with usable illumination for about 15 minutes. A Tenifer-coated slide and barrel are provides corrosion resistance, and other features include a loaded chamber viewport and red cocking indicator at the rear to give both tactile and visible status, smooth beveled snag-free slide stop with a lock back on empty, and features one of the most crisp, smoothest, and lightest 6.1 lb trigger pulls I have tested on a factory compact gun. The PPS M2 trigger feel is better than the PPS M1 though both tested to break right at the same 6.1 lb point. The short trigger reset is similar to a Glock reset window. Walther did drop the front picatinny mount from the PPS M2 model. Likely with the proliferation of weapon specific lights and lasers, they saw it as an unnecessary feature that bulked up the gun.

Some of the other details to enhance functionality are minor but I notice them. Rarely you will end up with an especially non-acrobatic piece of spent brass that will almost make it out of the ejection port. The PPS design has an angled front cut on the port, a bevel on the ejector size, and a ramped area at the top rear of the port on the slide which all work in tandem to lift, turn, and push out brass attempting to cause a jam.

pps m2 grip
Extreme comfort are the words most describe the PPS M2 grip.

FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Functionally, the Walther PPS M2 is a striker-fired pistol with a mechinism similar to a Glock. There are some differences, but to my eyes they look the same which is a great thing because it is a proven design. In fact it even takes down identically to a Glock: clear the gun, pull the trigger, pull down on the two take -down tabs, and move the slide off the frame.

Walther even has the double guide rod spring assembly we see in the newer Glocks. Accuracy was excellent for a gun this size and delivered 3.5-in. 25-yd. groups with Federal Guard Dog ammo from a shooting rest. Functionally I have had no issues from the first round to the last shot before writing this article: excellent reliability all the way around. I have easily cleared a regulation police qualification test with the PPQ and do carry it as needed for some security work. Holster options are already everywhere, but I choose a Klinger Stingray Flush Fit 0-cant holster which delivered everything I needed for testing of this pistol.

m2 magazines
Upsize the PPS M2 easily with just a magazine swap from 6 to 7 to 8 rounds.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The trigger unit works like a Glock also with all those wonderful internal safeties and there is even the joyous absence of a safety or decocker. The fit and finish is better than a Glock, the trigger is leagues better as well. Compared to Glock there is more steel rail contact between the frame and slide with equates to a smoother action, the grip actually offers “grip.” Most importantly the PPS M2 looks like it was designed by someone with an eye for design. The PPS M1 was the the single- stack Glock 43 we were waiting for (that Walther delivered many years earlier than Glock). Well at least that is how I would compare it to a Glock if I was working the gun counter. The bottom line is that I own a Glock 43 and carry the PPS M1 and M2 versions far more than I ever do the Glock 43 because they feel, carry, and shoot better for me. The PPS is flexible enough to accommodate a wide array of clothing, defense, and concealment needs. It is big enough not to feel under-gunned and small enough to conceal better than any double -stack . The PPS M2 is a top-grade pistol that can easily fulfill everything from home defense to concealed carry.

Check it out HERE

pps specs

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.]